Know Your Bible

VOL. 11                                                                                                                          December 16, 2012                                                                                                                            NO. 46



Over the past several months we have been hearing much about the coming end of the Mayan calendar as a prediction of the end of the world. It is stated that on December 21, 2012, when that calendar cycle ends, that some major catastrophe will occur and it will be the end of the world as we know it. Supposedly on that date, the earth will in some way line up with the sun and the center of the Milky Way Galaxy (I read this on a couple of websites but am far too confused to even try to explain it). Some BELIEVE that the poles of the earth will shift on that date resulting in major changes on the earth and all who dwell on it. It is also a date that some in the New Age movement believe will be the end. So what are we to make of this?  Some even read dates from the book of Revelation into this prediction (so what’s new?)  I offer here a few thoughts. 

The Mayans were an ancient civilization who developed sometime around 2000 BC in what is now southern Mexico and central America.They were known for keeping historical records and developing a calendar based upon astronomical events and the cycles of the earth.   

When I looked up the Mayan calendar, I found a complicated system that I cannot even begin to understand, but in brief I have gleaned it actually consisted of four different calendars that were used individually or combined to record historical events and for different reasons. One calendar was 260 days (based upon the numbers 20 & 13 which were significant to them), but it was not able to accurately record the cycle of the sun and seasons, so another calendar was created that consisted of 365 days. Wanting to record more time, they devised a calendar round that combined the two calendars. With these they developed a calendar round that recorded 52 years. But they wanted to develop a calendar that would record Mayan history for ages to come, so they developed what is known as “The Long Count Calendar.” It was designed to last 5,125.36 years in length and would record what they described as “the “great cycle.” Somehow they established the first date of this “great cycle” as August 13, 3114 BC Based upon that, the “great cycle” is supposed to complete on 12/21/2012 (the winter solstice). It is THIS date that has everyone worked up and predicting the end of the world. [1]

It is worthy of note that not even the Mayans said that this date would be the end of the world, but simply the ending of the cycle, which they believed would simply start over again. It is also fascinating that they had a good grasp on astronomy (don’t confuse this with astrology) and the revolution of the earth around the sun, seasons, and such. BUT who is to say that they figured out when it all began?

As to the New Age movement, in brief, it is a humanistic belief system (man is central) based upon mysticism and eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.). Depending on whom you talk to (since there is no universal hierarchy or doctrine) it could be pantheistic (God is everything) or panentheistic (God is IN everything). Most adherents believe in some form of reincarnation, karma, and that “salvation” is based upon enlightenment which is achieve through mediation, astrology, cleansing, etc.  My point is that as you study the Bible, there are many fundamental beliefs that contradict this religious system. IF the Bible is true (and it is – 2 Tim. 3:16-17, Rom. 16:1-2, John 17:17, etc.) then the belief system of the New Age movement is to be dismissed as false. Therefore, some believing that the Mayan calendar date and/or aligning of the stars will be end does NOT lend validity to their teachings.

So what? Biblically we are reminded, over and over, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2, 2 Pet. 3:10, Rev. 3:3). Jesus Himself taught, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.  But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  (Matt. 24:42-44)

Answering the question, “What will be the sign… of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3) Jesus answered, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.  But as in the days of Noah, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matt. 24:36-37) While in scripture we are told of things that must first take place (cf. 2 Thess. 2:1-12; 2 Tim. 3:1-5, etc.), they are general warnings and things that can be identified as already having taken place. Because of that, we need to beware that the Lord can come back at ANY TIME NOW! The point is not to try and predict the date as so many have done before and failed (and we have documented some of these), but to be ready WHENEVER He does return.

Friends, in the coming days you will probably see some apprehension among those you know and those you hear about on the news. Don’t be alarmed. Will the Lord return on 12/21/12? Probably not! He may return before and He may return after! We DON’T know, which is why we should ALWAYS be ready. What about you?  Are you ready for His return? Not because of the Mayan calendar, but because He has told us He is coming back. (Rev. 3:11, 22:7) Think about it!

---Thomas A. Thornhill, Jr.

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"I still have many things to say to you,

but you cannot bear them now" (Jn. 16:12)

Learning What We Need To Know Is A Gradual Process: -- At the present time, none of us can say that we've received all of the truth that the Lord has to impart. That is why serious study of the Scriptures should be a part of our daily activity and routine. Each day, we need to be adding a little to our storehouse of knowledge.

But coming to full understanding of God's Will involves more than study. Many things that we come across in our study will not "sink in" because we're not yet ready to hear them. Perhaps we've not experienced the things in life that would allow us to see the real significance of what the Lord is saying. Perhaps we don't have the desire for obedience that would let us recognize the truth of particular passages. Or perhaps our study habits are not mature enough for us to penetrate the meaning of certain texts. There may be many reasons, but the bottom line is that we don't always "hear" what God's Word is saying to us.

To His apostles, Jesus said: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." These things would be made available to them later on, when they were more ready to receive them. This illustrates the fact that God is patient with those who are trying to learn. If we honestly want to do His Will, He will see that we have the time and opportunity to learn. He will not ask us to understand more than we're able to receive at the present time.

But therein lies the problem. Often, it is not our lack of ability but our lack of willingness to hear. As the Jewish proverb puts it, "The truth is not always what we want to hear." And even when the problem is a lack of ability, that lack of ability may be the result of neglect on our part. If we've not made growth in obedience a priority, it should come as no surprise that our understanding is immature and underdeveloped. And if this is the case, we need to repent. We need to set ourselves the goal of greater obedience.

Lord, give me the strength to bear the full impact of the truth as it applies to me. Help me, for the sake of Your glory, to be willing to hear whatever I need to hear. Speak, Lord, for your servant hears. 

---Gary Henry 

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