May 21st and the End of the World

Maybe you’ve seen the billboards. Apparently many people have been wrong about the end of the world. It will not come in December of 2012 like some students of the Aztec Calendar think. We don’t have that much time. In fact we have very little time. Only to this Saturday to be exact. At least that is according to Harold Camping of Family Radio in California.

For the past several months, caravans full of Camping followers have been selling all their possessions and traveling America, preaching a message of impending doom. People have left behind family members, jobs, and empty houses. They are warning people, the end is near, Jesus is coming back on that day and the Rapture will happen. To a person they believe that Camping has accurately interpreted the Bible and picked the right day. Part of the reasoning is that according to Camping, May 21st will be exactly 7,000 years since the Flood of Noah. Of course they are not paying much attention to the fact that Camping had predicted that the world would end in December of 1994. Clearly that didn’t happen. Camping himself admits to a miscalculation the first time but is certain he has it correct now. Of course, I am sure he was certain that last time.

What is tragic is that these folks have completely upended their lives. They have sold homes, emptied bank accounts, cashed in pensions and annuities, and have been on the road for months preaching on street corners and putting up billboards. And they have been doing this not only in the USA but in Europe as well. In many cases they have left behind family members who just could not go along with this insanity. I keep wondering what will happen to them when they wake up on May 22 and are still here. What will happen to their faith? What kind of depression and grief will overwhelm them?

Jesus said we can never know the day or the hour of His return. InMatthew Chapter 24 He makes it crystal clear that nobody can possibly know this. He also makes it clear that this is intentional on God’s part. If we knew when He was going to return, being the kind of people we are, we would go about living our incredibly self-indulgent lives until a day or two before hand. We would live one way for years and then totally change how we live for a few days. What Jesus urges us to do is live each day as if that could be the day He comes back. He wants us to live in anticipation of His return just like servants should always serve their absent master as if he could walk in the door at any moment. He wants us to live lives that are always about our relationship with Him, always about being faithful, always about serving our King.

Recently at a small group discussion for Financial Peace University we were dealing with the question of being prepared for retirement. Someone asked, “What do we want to do when we retire?” My answer was immediate. I want to keep doing what I am doing now. I love what I get to do and to retire just seems like a waste of time and potential. I don’t look at work now as a burden to endure till I don’t need to anymore. I look at it as a blessing and privilege and joy. So why would I change that? If that is the case when I think about retirement then I think it is the case if I knew Jesus was coming tomorrow, I don’t think I would really change of what I am doing. I might make a few extra phone calls to some people I have been trying to introduce to Jesus, just to give it one more shot. But that wouldn’t really be any different from anything I am doing now. I wouldn’t hunker down with my family awaiting anxiously for the end. Why do that? If I am right on how I read the Bible, that would only be the beginning of us spending eternity with Jesus as part of a new heaven and new earth. No need to hunker down at all. I certainly wouldn’t travel around in a caravan declaring the end is near. That would be counter-productive. Who really listens to those folks anyway.

I think the only thing I might really do differently is look up a lot more, just in case I could catch a glimpse of the clouds rolling back and see the triumphant return of the King of Kings.

If you know and love Jesus there is really no need to get all worked up over end of the world scenarios. It is something we are told to look for, anticipate, be ready for. How do we do that? By serving Jesus everyday is if it could be the last day of this age and the first of the next.