The 2012 phenomenon that is prevalent in the popular culture holds to a series of cataclysmic events that will occur on the earth in 2012 ushering in the end of the world as we know it. These events are rooted in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar which ends December 21 or 23, 2012. These events are derived partly from astronomical, partly from myth, and partly from supposed prophetic utterances of extraterrestrial visitors. As usual, it doesn’t take long before what is popular in the culture creeps into the church.
A decade ago, many Christians were petrified of Y2K. I won’t rehash how foolish many ended up looking before a watching world. Now, some Christians are speculating that perhaps the second coming of Christ will coincide with the 2012 phenomenon. A couple of weeks ago I was working on a sermon from Mark 13:1-13. Jesus had just commented on the temple’s imminent destruction (13:1-2) when his disciples asked him a two part question: when would these things happen and what sign would signify the end (13:3-4)? Jesus’ response in 13:5-8 is a simple one: We must not be deceived into speculating about the end of the age based on world events. We can be confident that many things will transpire: false Christ’s will appear (13:6), there will be wars and rumors of wars (13:7), and there will be national uprisings, earthquakes and famines (13:8). But these are not the sign of the end, but mere birth pangs.
The one thing we can know with complete assurance is what Jesus goes on to say in 13:9-13, namely, that we will be persecuted. We don’t know when Jesus is returning and we should not try and calculate the date. However we are to know the following regarding these last days: we will be persecuted (13:9), the gospel must be proclaimed (13:10), we are to trust in God’s power (13:11), we will be betrayed by those close to us (13:12), we will be hated (13:13a), but by the grace of God, we will be preserved by God (13:13b). So, worry about 2012? 2009 has enough trouble of its own.