It used to be the fodder for the daily comics.
But these days, the sandwhich sign purveyors of doom come across as models of restraint.
At least they didn’t have the nerve to tell you when the end was coming, just that we are in the ball park.
Maybe it’s the effect the information superhighway has made on our culture, but the new prophets of doom are into precision.
It’s not enough to predict the apocalypse – we demand a date!
Now date setting and doom saying has proved a tricky mixture to handle as of late.
The dreaded “Y-2K” frenzy ended up fizzling like a cheap sparkler on the 4th of July.
But not to worry – courtesy of the Mayan calendar and NASA, the next convergence of Chicken-Little-ism is now set for 2012.
The 2012 Apocalypse — And How to Stop It
For scary speculation about the end of civilization in 2012, people usually turn to followers of cryptic Mayan prophecy, not scientists. But that’s exactly what a group of NASA-assembled researchers described in a chilling report issued earlier this year on the destructive potential of solar storms.
Entitled “Severe Space Weather Events — Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts,” it describes the consequences of solar flares unleashing waves of energy that could disrupt Earth’s magnetic field, overwhelming high-voltage transformers with vast electrical currents and short-circuiting energy grids. Such a catastrophe would cost the United States “$1 trillion to $2 trillion in the first year,” concluded the panel, and “full recovery could take 4 to 10 years.” That would, of course, be just a fraction of global damages.
Worse yet, the next period of intense solar activity is expected in 2012, and coincides with the presence of an unusually large hole in Earth’s geomagnetic shield. But the report received relatively little attention, perhaps because of 2012’s supernatural connotations. Mayan astronomers supposedly predicted that 2012 would mark the calamitous “birth of a new era.”
Whether the Mayans were on to something, or this is all just a chilling coincidence, won’t be known for several years. But according to Lawrence Joseph, author of “Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation into Civilization’s End,” “I’ve been following this topic for almost five years, and it wasn’t until the report came out that this really began to freak me out.”
Sounds impressive and ominous.
After all, when pagan shamans and scientists agree there has to be something to it, right?
Well, like a lot of these situations there are some problems with the actual science.
The 2012 date normally would be a time of intense solar activity. Sunspot cycles tend to run in 11 year periods from high to low. And since the last projected low was about a year ago, things should be turning around and cranking up for the coming solar storm.
The only hang up?
The sun doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo.
The latest assessment from the US Air Force solar observation service tells us that the predicted start of a new sun spot cycle has yet to begin.
In fact, the upswing of a new solar cycle seems to have been put on indefinite hold.
So despite the impressive graphics, and History Channel attempts at fitting all this into one of Nostradamus’ incomprehensible limericks, this particular prediction for 2012 is running out of steam.
So what is the spiritual lesson to be learned in all this?
There is no doubt that this world, in its present sin and death ridden state can’t go on forever.
But when we try to pin point when the expiration date is going to hit we are on shaky ground.
This is precisely what Jesus told us concerning the Last Days.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.
It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.
Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.
And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:32-37)
There are two equal and opposite errors we can make concerning the return of Jesus and the End Times.
One is to become caught up in someone’s speculations, rather than God’s revelation.
Invariably, people who say “I know the day and hour!” gather a large following.
But when the assured predictions fail to come to pass, not only is the publicity seeking preacher discredited, but those who were taken in become cynical.
“Oh, right! Like Jesus is ever going to come again!”
But Jesus will come.
In fact, if we pay attention to His instructions concerning the end, we won’t be taken in by those who either say He has already come back (in some convoluted spiritual way) or that He will never come again.
The second error to avoid is going on spiritual auto-pilot.
Jesus told us to live as if He could come today.
That doesn’t mean we will veer off and join the sandwich sign set.
It does mean that we will want to make the most of every day.
It does mean that we will seek to share Jesus’ number one priority for our lives – To love the Lord and our fellow man.
The wisest course is not to live in fear of the latest prediction of disaster.
It is to live in anticipation of that awesome moment when we will see the Master!
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