If you haven’t seen the movie, then you may not be aware of the discussion. It seems that the Mayan calendar ends in the year 2012, causing speculation that the world will end in 2012. In the movie, the planets and the sun line up, causing a tremendous change in the earth’s composition and crust. As the movie progresses, the entire world crumbles while people who are “in the know” make their way to a series of arks, built to save a portion of humanity from the disaster, while the other 99.99 percent perish in the earthquakes and floods.
Several friends have contacted me with concerns about this. “What if it really is true?” “Do you think it could happen like that?” While it is possible, I first of all want you to repeat after me:
It’s only a movie.
It’s only a movie.
Now that we have settled that, let me break the news: Yes, the world as we know it will end one day. We don’t know how, or what the instigating factors will be, but the world, as we know it, will end. Will it be like the movie?
Jesus said, “There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). Jesus also said, however, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36).
For centuries believers have been looking for the end times and the second coming of Christ. Earthquakes have been in the news around the world, and yet, this is nothing new. Volcanoes have erupted, earthquakes have occurred, and tsunamis have overtaken land for centuries, and yet we still remain.
No one knows the day. I remember a book that came out a few years ago called, “88 reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.” Obviously, the author needs to revisit his research, because we are still here!
This is not a theological discussion on the end times, but how we can be prepared, whenever it occurs! None of us knows our own end, much less the end of the rest of the world, but we can live our lives ready for whatever comes our way.
We want our lives to continue on as we have experienced them, with the people we love and the things we have collected. When nature brings its worst against us—flooding, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, etc.—we feel dwarfed by its power. Yet, for all our technology and learning, the most we can do is hide and hope for the best.
How can we prepare for the “end of it all”? The Bible provides several guidelines that can help us.
1. Life is more than possessions. “Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’” (Luke 12:15). “You can’t take it with you.” We all know it is true, but that often makes no earthly difference. We try to hold on to everything, which can steer us away from God’s presence in our lives. Our possessions become our treasure, rather than our treasuring the One who gave them to us.
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:21-23).
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures here on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy” (Matthew 6:19,20).
2. Life is more than earthly relationships. Don’t buck the tide. Just get along. These bits of advice are contrary to God’s plan for us. While positive peer pressure can be a very good thing, encouraging us always upward toward God, negative peer pressure serves to drag us away from God.
On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked…. The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison. (Matthew 14:6-10).
Herod succumbed to the perceived pressure by his guests to do something he knew in his heart was wrong. And in so doing he sinned greatly.
In the courtyard of the high priest, on the night Jesus was arrested, Peter followed behind to get information, but he was recognized as one of Jesus’ followers. For fear of the crowd, Peter denied Christ strenuously. The fear of what would be done to him caused him to reject the One who loved him most. (Matthew 26:69-75).
Even our family members’ influence should take a back seat to the gospel. A friend of mine once had a dream. In everyday life her daughter had been made consistently bad choices. My friend wanted to see her daughter saved and prayed for her regularly. One night, in a dream, she heard a loud sound coming from heaven. Looking up, she saw people flying upward toward Christ, as He returned for his church. But she was not rising, because she was holding on to her daughter’s hand, trying to drag her into the Kingdom. She heard a voice asking, “Do you love her more than me?” Her love for her daughter, in that dream, conflicted with her love for God.
To be ready for our own “last day,” it is important that we respect those around us and love them with the love of Christ, but to put our relationships, fears, and need for acceptance after our need for God. We need to entrust our loved ones to God, who will care for them better than we can.
3. Life is more than this earthly existence.
As pleasant and wonderful and happy as this life can be, we need to recognize that life is so much more than this earthly existence. Paul emphasized this truth in 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14.
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
There is so much more to life than this existence; at least that is what I believe, by faith. The apostle Paul taught “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it” (2 Corinthians 5:8,9).
While it is heartbreaking to be separated from a loved one, we do have this hope, that we will see them again, and that God will provide for each of them through his great mercy and grace.
Will 2012 be the end of the world as we know it? Who knows? Even if it is, there is still nothing that we can do about it. However, there is something we can do about today. Along with believers from the beginning we must remember to “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29)
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church