I used to get emails all the time from New Agers and so-called Mayan 'scholars' castigating me as a 'cultural bigot' for not giving credence to extra-biblical 'prophecies' from sources like the Maya.
I hate being called a 'cultural bigot'. Fer cryin' out loud, I am a religious bigot -- try and get your pejoratives right. I have nothing against Mayan culture-- since it is largely extinct. (But it is worth remembering that they used to like to cut people's hearts out and eat them as part of their religious services).
Culturally, at least according to the New Age, the Maya were brilliant. According to "experts" presented to the public by the mainstream media, the Maya had calculated the exact date of the end of the world with such precision that it had to be correct.
First, some background babble:
In 1975, the ending of b'ak'tun 13 became the subject of speculation by several New Age authors, who asserted it would correspond with a global "transformation of consciousness". In Mexico Mystique: The Coming Sixth Age of Consciousness, Frank Waters tied Coe's original date of 24 December 2011, to astrology and the prophecies of the Hopi, while both José Argüelles (in The Transformative Vision) and Terence McKenna (in The Invisible Landscape) discussed the significance of the year 2012 and made reference to 21 Dec. 2012.
In 1983, with the publication of Robert J. Sharer's revised table of date correlations in the 4th edition of Morley's The Ancient Maya, each became convinced that 21 December 2012, had significant meaning. By 1987, the year in which he organized the Harmonic Convergence event, Arguelles was using the date 21 December 2012 in The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology. He claimed that on 13 August 3113 BC the Earth began a passage through a "galactic synchronization beam" that emanated from the center of our galaxy, that it would pass through this beam during a period of 5200 tuns (Maya cycles of 360 days each), and that this beam would result in "total synchronization" and "galactic entrainment" of individuals "plugged into the Earth's electromagnetic battery" by 184.108.40.206.0 (21 Dec. 2012). He believed that the Maya aligned their calendar to correspond to this phenomenon."
There are entire websites devoted exclusively to the proposition that the Mayans have somehow calculated the date of the end of the world. The time and effort and energy that must have been devoted to their construction gives some measure of how seriously people were taking it.
They even made a movie about it with this intriguing synopsis:
"Never before has a date in history be so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists, and governments. "2012" is an epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors."
("...tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors of the end of the world? Were they planning a sequel?)
Earlier this month, we actually discussed the fact that about one person in seven (or 15%) believes that the world will come to an end within their lifetimes.
Last month, we discussed the National Geographic program, "Doomsday Preppers" and the fact that "while they all mocked the preppers, nobody mocked the premise."
Every morning for the last five years since Gayle's mom moved in with us, she has let me read the front pages of the four newspapers she has delivered to our door. I'm not allowed to muss them up, but I can read them as long as I am careful.
I was scanning through the front pages of her copies of The Buffalo News, Toronto Globe and Mail, The Niagara Falls Review and USA Today when one stopped me dead in my tracks, making me laugh out loud.
There, on USA Today's front page, in the left margin, was a tiny little two-line blurb referring readers to page 8A where a tiny three column story revealed that the oldest Mayan calendar was just discovered in Guatemala.
What made me laugh out loud was the headline, because it was so tiny compared to previous headlines about the Mayan calendar -- headlines that somehow seemed to make Mayan civilization relevant some four hundred years after Mayan civilization was destroyed by the Spanish conquistadores.
The headline reads.........
"Newly Discovered Mayan Calendar Goes Way Past
"So much for the supposed end of the world," says archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University, lead author of a study in the journal Science, which reported the discovery on Thursday.
Discovered in the ruins of Xultun (SHOOL-toon) , the astronomical calendar was unearthed from a filled-in scribe's room. While about 7 million Maya people still live in Central America today, the "Classic" Maya civilization of pyramid temples had collapsed there by about 900 A.D., leaving only a few birch-bark books dating to perhaps the 14th century as records of their astronomy, until now.
The news that the world won't end on December 21st, 2012 is bad news for countries in Central America who were getting ready to rake in the cash from tens of thousands of Doomsday tourists planning to spend their last day on earth among the Maya.
Evidently, local economies were looking forward to Doomsday tourists concluding that their money would be worthless on December 22nd and counting on them spending it all in one last hurrah. (Personally, I would be more concerned about what to do on December 22nd with all the broke tourists that arrived on one-way tickets.)
There were a lot of reasons why the world was supposed to end in 2012. Over the past decade, we've examined most of them. There was the Planet X, or Planet Nibiru that was supposed to collide with the earth on July 21, 2012.
An alternative for Planet X was the Comet Elenin, which was supposed to destroy the Earth in 2012. But last August, Elenin was hit by a solar flare while literally melted it. By October, it wasn't even detectable by telescopes.
If Planet X or Comet Elenin didn't get us, then the geomagnetic reversal, or polar shift will. According to this theory, the North Pole, which has already shifted so far that some runways had to be repainted to reflect the location of True North, will suddenly "flip" causing the planet to slip off its axis.
While it is true that the location of True North is shifting, it has been shifting ever since its discovery by James Ross in 1831. Why would it "flip" in 2012? Because it fit nicely with the theory of the Mesoamerican Long Count.
The belief that 2012 has any astrophysical, metaphysical, spiritual or other supernatural significance relative to Christianity, Bible prophecy, Bible codes, God, heaven or anything else, is total New Age babble.
But that does not mean that because the Mayan Calendar is wrong, we are not actually living in the last days.
I believe that the Bible indicates we are living in the last days and that the generation born after 1948 is the generation of whom Jesus was speaking when He said, "this generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled."
Bible prophecy and 2012 Doomsdayism are mutually exclusive; if one is true, the other cannot be. The Bible predicts a future Dispensation called "The Tribulation" and specifies its' duration at precisely 2,520 literal calendar days.
And the Tribulation Period won't begin until some point after the Rapture of the Church, which has not occurred yet, after which there remains at least seven years before the Tribulation concludes at the Second Coming of Christ.
Now that the Maya Long Count has been debunked, one can expect the disappointed New Age gurus to try and tar Bible prophecy with the same brush of sensationalistic hyperbole that characterized the whole 2012 phenomenon.
Get ready to hear the whole "scoffers" argument again. But don't let it get you down. It's to be expected.
In the grand scheme of things, very few Christians in these last days have been called as watchmen. Even fewer have responded to the calling. It's not for everybody -- for some it is too much. God has set each of us in the place He wants us to be for this time and place in human history.
That doesn't mean it is a pleasant place – we had our pleasant time. But God in His wisdom, and for reasons known only to Him, has called us – you and me and others like us – as witnesses.
He promises a special crown for us at the Bema Seat. There are only FIVE crowns and the Watchman's Crown is one of them. So what made you think that earning it would be easy? It is supposed to be hard. Out of all the living Christians on this planet, God called YOU to bear witness for all those too afraid to look.
So, what are we to do as Christians? Our job. Be witnesses. Watch and observe and give the warning. We don't know the day or the hour and we don't pretend that we do. Neither do we believe that anybody else does. But we know that it is near, even at the door.
The one thing I was certain of, (until today), was that the one day that Lord wouldn't come back would be December 21st, 2012. I was sure it wasn't 12.21.2012 because everybody else seemed sure it was.
But that certainty died with the Long Count, which is itself in perfect harmony with Bible prophecy.
"Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 24:44)