’2012’, upcoming movies explore end of the world scenarios

The fascination with one date – December 21, 2012 – is growing. Just a little over three years from now, the winter solstice of 2012 will happen with the sun aligned at the center of the Milky Way, a phenomenon that happens about once every 26,000 years. This could be viewed as a mere astronomical anomaly, but online speculation fueled by modern interpretations of centuries-old predictions is fueling fears that the tribulation told by John in the Book of Revelation may be at hand. Much of the speculation centers on a calendar developed by the ancient Mayan civilization of Central America. Interpretations of the calendar show it ending on 12-21-12. Similar views on prophecies made by ancient Egyptians and in the sacred Chinese text I-Ching point to the same date as a possible apocalypse. Some Central Americans of Mayan ancestry are already tiring of the hype. Guatemalan Mayan Indian elder Apolinario Chile Pixtun told The Associated Press, “I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff.” The two greatest disasters of this decade on American soil – 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina – are also viewed by some as concrete evidence of the beginning of the end of human civilization as we know. And in an attempt to capitalize on the fascination Hollywood is tossing its hat into the ring. “2012,” starring John Cusack of ’80s teen movie fame, opens November 13. The movie is directed by Roland Emmerich, who also put out the epic disaster films “Independence Day” about an alien invasion and “The Day After Tomorrow” about worldwide collapse brought on by global warming. In January, “The Book of Eli” starring Denzel Washington opens with the veteran actor in possession of a book that holds the key to mankind’s recovery from at cataclysmic disaster 30 years earlier. Dramatization aside, concerns persist on scientific and Scriptural levels. Author Lawrence Joseph of “Apocalypse 2012” uses a National Academy of Sciences report as the basis for the prediction of a massive solar storm. A similar storm in the 19th century made the Northern Lights visible at the equator, disrupted telegraphs and cause small fires. With the current condition of the atmosphere altered by industrialization over the past 150 years, Joseph fears a similar storm in 2012 could disable the worldwide power grid for years. “In the electrified society of today, a blast the same size as in 1859 would short out the electric grid and leave 130 million in the U.S. without electricity for months or even years,” Joseph told ABC News. “A couple of days would be challenging but livable, but some say it would take four to 10 years to recover from such a megablast.” On a more spiritual bent, Ronald Weinland of Cincinnati claims he was given the gift of prophecy by God in 1997. He has spent much of the past decade foretelling the Biblical end times. He claims the sounding of the First Trumpet (Revelation 8:6-7) signaling Christ’s return came last December with the economic meltdown which resulted domestically in billions being lent to banks and Wall Street investment firms. In his online book, “2008: God’s Final Witness,” Weinland says his gift for prophecy leads him to predict epic disaster for the United States. “This final stage is referred to as the great tribulation which is prophesied to last for a final three and one-half years. It will begin with one-third of the United States being destroyed—followed by World War III,” he writes. This, however, is not a unanimous opinion among clergy. Edmond, Okla,, pastor Mark Hitchcock authored “2012, The Bible and the End of the World.” In an interview with The Oklahoman newspaper of Oklahoma City and in recent blog posts he said the 2012 phenomenon is a valuable entry for Christians to re-introduce the concepts of Jesus’ divinity on a skeptical world. “While the Mayans knew a great deal about astronomy and calendars, they did not know the future,” Hitchock wrote. “No man does. Only God knows the future, and He has not revealed any specific dates for either the Second Coming of Jesus or the end of the world (Matthew 24:36, Matthew 24:42-44). Of course, some unusual things could happen on or near December 21, 2012, but whatever occurs it won’t be the end of the world, the mass extinction of humanity or some quantum leap to a new level of human consciousness. “Don’t panic or be drawn away to rash, impulsive actions by those claiming to know the exact date of the end of the world. They don’t know when the world will end. Only God knows, and He isn’t telling anyone on earth.” A similar view that God’s decisions – not man’s predictions – will ultimately signal the Second Coming is forwarded by Loren Sandford. Sandford is the pastor of New Song Fellowship church in Denver. He has been a full-time minister for 33 years and has authored four books on biblical prophecy. Sandford told Everyday Christian he firmly believes the true timetable is known to God alone. Everyday Christian: The end of the world has obviously been prophesied at specific dates in the past. Is the 12-21-12 phenomenon simply being driven by Internet-based speculation or is there more to it than that? Sandford: I wouldn’t blame it on the Net. Underlying such readiness to embrace apocalyptic visions of the future is the enormous blanket of fear hovering over our nation and the world. This is fueled by ethnic shifts affecting most Western nations, the economic crisis, cries of global warming causing huge disasters and more. Caught up in this overwhelming wave of anxiety, people are ready to believe in prophecies of impending and overwhelming disaster. The 2012 prophecy simply plays into those fears and gives them a focal point. Everyday Christian: In your blogs you indicate beliefs in moral, social and environmental decay. How would you recommend Christians prevent themselves from what they may perceive as panic? Sandford: First, we must learn to live as the church in Acts 2 did. More than ever we need one another. We must learn to bond in fellowship and true self-sacrificial love. Those of us who have resources must learn to share with those who have not. Unfortunately, we’ve become so self-centered in America and the Western world that hard times tend to drive us apart rather than together. Believers grow angry with God and isolate from church and fellowship just when they need to be embracing both Him and His church. Second, if we live for Christ and not for material prosperity, then we should be experiencing the time of our lives just now. Never in my lifetime have people been so vulnerable to, and hungry for, a genuine experience of God. A loving church, steeped in the theology and faith of the kingdom of God, should be carrying the power of that kingdom in signs and wonders into our neighborhoods, the marketplace and the places in which we work. Love overcomes fear. We can overcome our own panic and even the fear resident in those we minister to in the world by means of walking in and ministering love. Historically, moral, social and environmental decay have set the stage for revival. We therefore live in a time of the greatest opportunity most of us have ever known. It’s not a time for panic. For those who want to see revival, this is a time for hope. Everyday Christian: From a biblical perspective, how do you view the confluence of the Mayan calendar, I’Ching, etc., matched up to Revelation? Is there any correlation to be made in your view? Sandford: The key passage of Scripture is Matthew 24. First, verse 36: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” When Jesus returns, the world as we know it ends – and not before. Any attempt to fix a date must therefore end in failure. Second, I believe we can recognize certain signs of the Lord’s impending return, even if we cannot know the specific day or hour. The most cursory reading of Matthew 24 must lead us to conclude that the only sign of the Lord’s return yet unfulfilled is verse 14: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” We are nearer that goal than ever before, but we have not yet achieved it. On that basis alone we know that we yet have time – years – before the Lord returns. Everyday Christian: How should environmental disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the recent Pacific earthquakes and typhoons be viewed in the context of the 2012 scenario? Sandford: I don’t think they belong in the 2012 scenario. They belong in the Matthew 24 scenario as I have noted. They belong in the context of the fact that the sin of mankind affects creation. Creation can no longer bear up under the collective sin of mankind and reacts as we now see it reacting. More than at any other time in history Romans 8:19 and 22 apply. Verse 19: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” Verse 22: “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” I believe this means that those who have embraced the character of God and made it their own must rise and shine in this time, and I believe it means that what we see in creation is just the beginning of the whole of creation straining to give birth to the coming kingdom of God at the Lord’s return. Everyday Christian: Certainly there is a lot of skepticism, but also curiosity being fueled by upcoming movies such as “2012.” How should Christians view these pop culture interpretations and not just assume it’s a manufactured concern like Y2K was? Sandford: Christians must view everything not through the lens of the Mayan prophecies, or Nostradamus, or the I’Ching or any other extra-biblical influence, but through Scripture itself. We will certainly see escalating world turmoil, both in nature and in the political realm. Tensions between ethnic groups will accelerate. Wars and rumors of wars will increase. Economics will continue to be difficult for some time to come. But come December 21, 2012 we’ll all be preparing for another Christmas, which will come right on schedule four days later. A lot of people are going to find themselves embarrassed when it all comes and goes and the world is still here. Good prophecy is tested by Scripture and flows from the heart of God, not from anyone’s astrological calculations, dreams or visions. Links: The History Channel: Armageddon Video Gallery: http://www.history.com/video.do?name=armageddon&bcpid=3887230001&bclid=5983807001&bctid=6085856001 “2012” movie trailer: http://www.whowillsurvive2012.com/ “The Book of Eli”: http://thebookofeli.warnerbros.com/ “Apocalyptic Films Explore 2012 End of World Prediction,” ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/apocalypse-fears-mount-film-books-2012/story?id=8653187 “Hollywood Destroys the World,” The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204619004574318630585925804.html “2012 isn’t the end of the world, Mayans insist,” The Associated Press: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5geddMD9F2E4JN9acD5IJvqHtll9AD9B8P09G0 “2008: God’s Final Witness,” by Ronald Weinland: http://www.the-end.com/2008GodsFinalWitness/2008_Gods_Final_Witness.pdf “Edmond pastor challenges Mayan calendar-based date,” The Oklahoman: http://newsok.com/edmond-pastor-challenges-mayan-calendar-based-date/article/3411345 Pastor Mark Hitchcock: http://marklhitchcock.com/ Pastor Loren Sandford: http://newsongfellowship.org/staff.html

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  1. PolishBear said:

    I’ll probably see “2012” only because I’m a sucker for spectacular special effects, but I know I’ll hate myself afterwards. That people take all this Mayan calendar mumbo-jumbo seriously is downright embarrassing. Why? Because there is no such thing as prophecy. Of course, there is such a thing as what we call “self-fulfilling prophecy” … that is, a prediction that is so broadly-phrased that, given enough time, SOMETHING will occur that will fit the bill. Someone solemnly says, “One day a man will come who will lead our people out of bondage!” And given enough time, some guy may eventually come along who matches that description well enough. This is an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. And of course it’s those rare prophecies that DO fulfill themselves that are remembered and celebrated for ages afterwards … whereas the majority of prophecies that are NOT fulfilled are subsequently, conveniently FORGOTTEN. But prophecy in a supernatural sense? No such thing.

    November 13, 2009

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