The blockbuster movie 2012 opened s this weekend in theaters across the country.
By Mark Hitchcock
Senior pastor, Faith Bible Church in Oklahoma
Over the past few years, Americans have been bombarded with one huge concept that can be summed up on one little word: change. Both political parties, and most Americans, recognize that major adjustments are needed in the economy, education, and health care. If one is to believe the political pundits, big changes are on the way. But few people are prepared for the change that many are predicting. A change they believe has been bearing down on the planet for 5,000 years, the colossal transformation of our solar system and our collective psyche that many believe will happen on December 21, 2012.
Many believe that ancient prophecies indicate that change is coming. Big change. Predictions vary widely about what will happen. They range from total, all-out apocalypse to some kind of quantum shift in human awareness and consciousness. Yet they all agree that big change is coming for planet earth and the human race. And they appear to all focus on one specific day–December 21, 2012–the final day on the Mayan long count calendar. Never before have so many people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints pinpointed one day as the expiration date for human civilization. It’s like Y2K gone wild.
As you can imagine, there are thousands of Web sites devoted to 2012. On several websites there’s an official 2012 countdown that will give you an up-to-the-second indicator of how long we have to wait for the end of the world. Books on 2012 are flying off the shelves. Network news, cable channels and major internet outlets are all featuring programs and articles on the 2012 phenomenon. The $200-million movie “2012” will debut on November 13, 2009. I was shocked to find that in 2008, 16 percent of Americans answered “yes” when asked, “Do you expect any apocalyptic events to happen on December 21, 2012?” Another barometer of the swelling interest in 2012 is the “Ask an Astrobiologist” section of NASA’s Web site where senior scientist David Morrison answers questions from the public. According to CNN, more than half of the inquiries on the most popular list were related to 2012. People everywhere are asking questions about 2012 and seem to share a collective sense that the world is getting near closing time. Apocalyptic thinking is in the air. A U.S. News and World Report poll revealed that about 20 percent of Americans say earth’s life expectancy is just a couple of decades.
Crises of alarming complexity are emerging and accelerating with frightening regularity–depletion of vital resources, peak in oil production, food shortages, nuclear threat, economic meltdown, vanishing species, potentially pandemic flu viruses, wars and rumors of wars, turmoil in the Middle East, record tsunamis, erratic weather patterns, unprecedented earthquakes and the escalation of battering storms. Life on planet earth in the last few years has been anything but business as usual. We live in a fragile, increasingly dangerous, interdependent world. There’s an amazing confluence of tipping points. And the world’s problems are multiplying. Is this all a build-up to some imminent cataclysm? The prelude to the grand finale of unspeakable destruction? Is 2012 the year the cosmic clock winds down to zero? A time of epic disaster? Was the warning of the earth’s grand finale encoded in the Mayan calendar?
While there are many issues surrounding 12.21.12, the bottom line is this: While the Mayans knew a great deal about astronomy and calendars, they did not know the future. No man does. Only God knows the future, and He has not revealed any specific dates for either the Second Coming of Jesus or the end of the world (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44). Of course, some unusual things could happen on or near December 21, 2012, but whatever occurs it won’t be the end of the world, the mass extinction of humanity or some quantum leap to a new level of human consciousness. Don’t panic or be drawn away to rash, impulsive actions by those claiming to know the exact date of the end of the world. They don’t know when the world will end. Only God knows, and He isn’t telling anyone on earth.
Dr. Mark Hitchcock is the author of the new book “2012, the Bible, and the End of the World” (Harvest House Publishers). Senior pastor at Faith Bible Church in Oklahoma, he is leading the “call for reason” among Christians on the topic of 2012 and will be giving a series of lectures this October podcast for distribution online.