When these end of the world predictions come up, such as the ones involving Harold Camping, or this Mayan Doomsday Prophecy (December 21, 2012), there is always a paranoia that comes up even within Christian circles. It’s most notable in that no preacher has ever gotten into trouble for preaching end-time prophecy. It’s very popular, even to the point that unbelievers will pull up a chair and want to understand things like the book of Revelation. Men have even profited off this tendency, the most notable thing being the Left Behind Series. It always seems when someone brings up the end-times, people always listen, no matter how screwy the reasoning behind it.
This interest can even produce a stumbling block in the new or unregenerate Christian, even the ones I’ve encountered in the previous incarnation of this blog. While we are told much about what will happen in the time to come, it is easy for people to not be willing to prepare. It’s amazing how so many I’ve met would be interested in that, yet not be interested in the conditions behind it and being ready for it.
Jesus sounds a similar warning in Scripture, while answering this question:
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (Matthew 24:3-7)
Many will deceive in many ways, and pretend to be knowledgeable about such things. Jesus describes a number of things and then towards the end of the chapter gives us the answer along with some things to look for:
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. (Matthew 24:37-42)
Jesus tells us to be watchful of the day. An interesting theme that comes out repeatedly is to be mindful of two events: The day that the Lord died on the cross and rose again in bodily form, and the day that the Lord will return again. Peter reminds us as well, echoing what the Lord tells us at the end of Matthew 27:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.(2 Peter 3:9-16)
Matthew 25 gives us more to analyze on what Jesus meant about being watchful. There is much that could be preached about in all of these passages in a much more specific way, but the main point is to be watchful and be ready. No one knows the day or the hour that The Day of the Lord be at hand, either by death or by the Lord’s coming. It’s just incumbent to be ready. We need not know the circumstances or what will happen to be ready, just that we need to treat what we are left to do with seriousness. Learning what is to come in the end-time (as well as any prophecy) can reinforce for us the need to be ready. However, it is more important to be ready when the time comes than it is to know what is written of the end-times.
REM seems to profit off this hysteria as well. Every time one of these things comes along, this song gets popular again (#80 on the Youtube popular music chart this week) and gets airplay all over the radio.