Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lessons Learned at the End of the World

Douglas Adams four-part trilogy, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, includes a curious setting where at the edge of the universe, one is able to sit down to a nice restaurant meal and watch the oscillating beginning and end of all things. Reflecting on this last year leaves me with the impression that we’ve had the appetizer and salad, now awaiting the arrival of the main course (or at least one of its features). Take a moment and think through the headlines: how many times has the world ended?

There is the first lesson I’ve learned: think. Think about the source of the information. Some may quickly say, “ religion and religious fanatics are the source.”

The second lesson I’ve learned is this: God can be trusted.

Now, let’s process this. It takes not much thought to agree there will be an end to the world and it will happen in two ways: our personal death and the leaving of it; and, the actual cessation of all things as we know it. One will happen before the other, and should the latter occur first while we yet live, the first would still be in order. This takes no philosophical, theological or scientific thought. This is simply thinking.

Certainly the loudest voices are of those religious, but what connection is there between religious voice and what God has said? The difference is that “religion” does not mean that one actually represents God. God has made it clear that 1) many will speak in His name that will prove themselves to be untrue; and 2) no man knows the day when all things will come to an end. Let’s consider the record:

Jehovah’s Witnesses have proclaimed the end of the world and Jesus’ return in 1878, 1879, 1880, 1886, 1888, 1889, 1894, 1897, 1902, 1903, 1914 (when it was declared that 1874 was the year), 1915, 1916 (when it was declared that Oct. 1914 was the year), 1922, 1923, 1925, 1931, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1966 (be ready for Oct. 1975), 1968 (be ready for 1985), 1980 (the world would not see 2000), just to name a few. I quote from the April 15, 1990 Watchtower, “Some set their hope on a date when they were sure Armageddon would come. When nothing happened on that day, they felt let down.” (p. 27)

"Does this admission of making mistakes stamp them [Watchtower] as false prophets? Not at all, for false prophets do not admit to making mistakes." (Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1972, p. 644)

The Mayans were much less specific. The non-thinking that has driven the most recent hype is just that: non-thinking. The hype also demonstrates the danger of blind open-mindedness.

Who has proven to be true, so far? The one who says that only He knows, or the one who presumes to speak in His name? Personally, the more people talk, the more I understand the wisdom of God in not revealing the last hour. Either He will be trusted, or He will not. The record stand, that everything that has been predicted as recorded in scripture has come true, so we can expect that when He says it is time, it will happen just as He says.

Interestingly, scientists and certain philosophers are waiting for the end, only with less enthusiasm. Scientific law confirms the function of the created order: everything is winding down-- they simply cannot circle the date on the calendar.

This morning, I did not roll out of bed and shout that the The Doctor delivered the world (once again--although it would have been fun). Instead I give thanks that I have a brain, use it and live in expectation for the day the world does in fact end, for me.

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