Did you miss it? The end of the world, that is. If you are reading this on Sunday, May 22nd, or any time thereafter, you must have missed it. What you likely haven’t missed is all the advertising announcing May 21, 2011, as the beginning of the end of the world. According to HuffingtonPost.com, the date was calculated by an independent Christian ministry called Family Radio Worldwide based on their interpretation of the Bible. The date has been put on everything from billboards to busses to web sites. Harold Camping, the leader of Family Radio Worldwide, is quoted as saying the Bible acts as a calendar by which the dates of prophecies can be calculated. “Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment,” he told the Associated Press. I would not recommend maxing out your credit between now and Saturday, however.
LOTS of theories and dates have been given through the years, including this one. Just Google “world beginning to end on May 21” or anything similar and you’ll get plenty of info. Here’s a tidbit from NASA:
Q: What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in 2012? A: The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved to Dec. 2012. Then these two fables were linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012, hence the predicted doomsday date of Dec. 21, 2012.
Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in Dec. 2012? A: Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on Dec. 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then—just as your calendar begins again on January 1—another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.
What groups and individuals like this do is cause a loss of credibility for the Bible and those of us who seek to live by it rather than run off on tangents that are less important and less threatening than the passages that call on us to live lovingly, faithfully and considerately each day. Matthew 24, Revelation and other passages have been twisted and abused in attempts to come up with interpretations that calculate exact dates and events, usually describing things going on at the current time. But even Matt. 24:36 has Jesus saying no one knows the exact time of His return. 2 Peter 3 says that each day is just another opportunity for God to display His patience with humanity in allowing another chance to repent. But it also affirms that one day God’s patience will run out and Jesus will come and that will be that. I have a feeling the fact that people are saying May 21, 2011, or Dec. 21, 2012, or whenever, is an indication that it will NOT be on that day. Contrary to what some believe, the Bible is not written to tell us when Jesus will return, nor is it to be used as a “calendar” by which dates and prophecies can be calculated. That’s just not its purpose. Scripture is there to tell us how to live today, whether He returns now or a thousand years from now. If you’re living faithfully, it doesn’t matter when He returns. But it’s much more fun and sensational and stimulating and draws more crowds and more headlines to predict the end of the world than it is to say things like how we should love our neighbor as ourselves, be considerate and respectful to others, and live faithfully every day because Jesus loved us so much, and not because the world is about to end.