Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Mayan Apocalypse - An Approach You Might Not Expect

For those of you in the U.S., you're already familiar with the Mayan Apocalypse that's supposedly going to occur on December 21st.  For those of you from other countries who read this blog, I'll summarize this issue breifly in case the hysteria hasn't reached overseas.  Basically, the Maya were an ancient people group in Central America, and they created this really, really long calendar that ends on December 21st of this year.  In addition, the Mayan religion held that the earth goes in cycles of their gods creating humans, finally getting fed up with them, and destroying them on a global scale to start over (sound familiar?  They even had a global flood story.).  So, people today assume that the Mayans believed that the Earth would be destroyed again on what we now call December 21st, 2012.

Here's what I think about all this: The world is probably not going to end on December 21st, but there are certainly Biblically-based reasons to conclude that the Mayans might have correctly predicted some major global disaster.  Either way - if something bad happens, or nothing happens - it does not contradict the Word of God, and should not negatively impact our faith.  Don't worry, I'll back up my opinions. :-)  Let's just explore a few sides of this issue.

First, let's look at one verse a lot of Christians are using to combat the argument for a Mayan Apocalypse, Matthew 24:36: "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."  The problem with applying this verse to the Mayan Apocalypse is that it's taken completely out of context.  If you look at the full context, namely verses 29-41, this verse follows a description that is explicitly identified as Jesus's final return to earth at the end of the tribulation.  Therefore, I believe the correct way to interpret that verse is in reference to that final coming (which is one reason I reject that verse as an arguement for a pre-tribulation raputre - but that's a discussion we'll get to a little later).  Furthermore, assuming that interpretation is correct, it seems abundantly clear that humans at that time could not know the date of the End, but that humanity would one day be able see what date God had set up (i.e. once the Tribulation starts - because it is a very precise 7-year period counted out in Scripture to the day).  This is supported by the numerous lists of signs of the End Times found in Scripture and the fact that we are commanded to pay attention to those signs and recognize when the end is near...these indicate that we certainly can figure some stuff out.  Combining all those elements, you arrive at the conclusion (which I believe is fully Biblical and logical) that although it is anti-Biblical to claim to know the date the world as we know it will actually end (which is the day Jesus comes back at the end of the Tribulation), it is completely in line with Scripture to claim that humans can understand the events leading up to that to a certain point.  The Mayans getting one major global disaster that leads up to that correct does not contradict Scripture in any way.

"But, the Mayans were pagan heathens," some might say.  True, but that doesn't mean they couldn't have caught on to one part of God's plan for the world.  First of all, they were an ancient culture, and the farther back you go in time, the closer you get to the Fall of Man, which means the less time humanity had to degrade from its original state.  Think I'm being crazy here?  Consider that life spans are shorter as one proof of this, but also that ancient wonders like the pyramids could not be replicated using the same methods (i.e. no power tools, etc.) today - and that these ancient peoples invented math and music and so much more.  Humanity is devolving, not the other way around - ancient peoples arguably had greater mental power than we do today, because they were closer to God's original, glorious creation.  So, it is conceivable that by looking at the stars (the Mayans were big on astronomy), the Mayans figured something out about a pending global disaster.  Think it's a stretch?  The Wise Men, also pagans, found the Messiah the exact same way.

What's my point here?  Do I actually think something terrible is going to happen on the 21st?  Eh, it's *possible*, but highly unlikely (we humans, or at least Americans, tend to freak out about specific dates, not just general trends, a lot - remember Y2K?).  But if some major disaster does occur, don't let that endanger your faith - there is absolutely nothing contradictory to Scripture in the Mayans potentially getting this right.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Image: Maya Mask, by Wolfgang Sauber.  Wikipedia. Used by permission.

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