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Summary: This sermon reflects on what the John the Baptist says about Christ's coming and how we should prepare, and what Jesus says about when the end of the world will occur.

Well, according to my count, we have about 12 days left until the world ends.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard all about the Mayan calendar and how some say it predicts the world will end on December 21, 2012. Apparently, a stone tablet discovered in the Mexican state of Tabasco in the 1960’s denotes the end of an age and the coming of a great king on 12/21/2012, which some researchers, bolstered by the media, have convinced a large number of people to equate with the apocalypse, doomsday or in the words of Dr. Peter Vinkman of Ghostbusters fame, “forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!”

End of the world or not, many people believe the Mayan calendar points to some significant event that will change life as we know it forever. According to a Reuters survey conducted in May, 1 in 10 people believe the world will end in 2012.

It’s not the first time the media has convinced us the world was going to end. Anyone remember Y2K? We were supposed to be plunged into confusion as every computer-driven system in the world shut own. Banks and Wall Street would be thrown into panic as years of financial data were wiped out or rendered inaccessible. Electrical plants would go offline, and the safeguards against nuclear meltdowns would fail. Mayhem would ensue and life as we knew it would be over.

Or what about the comet Hale-Bopp in 1997 – anyone remember that one? Popular rumor was that some sort of alien spacecraft would come in the wake of the comet to carry us all off, for better or worse. Thirty-nine people in the Heaven’s Gate cult committed suicide based on that belief.

Even among Christians there have been many who claim to know when the world is going to end. In 1982, Pat Robertson of the 700 club made this statement: “I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world.”

And, in case you’ve forgotten, it was a widely held belief in the Christian Church in the first century, even among the apostles, that Jesus was coming back within one generation of his death.

The polar ice caps are melting and we’re all going to die!

Planet X is heading right for us and we’re all going to die!

The bird flu is coming and we’re all going to die!

The seas are rising and we’re all going to die!

The ozone layer has a hole in it and we’re all going to die!

The bees are disappearing and we’re all going to die!

The terrorists have nukes and we’re all going to die!

A solar flare is going to hit the earth and we’re all going to die!

Well, they all got one thing right…we are all going to die!

When and how, and what happens afterward…well that’s where predictions start to fall apart.

I want you to listen very carefully to what Jesus says in about when the end of the world will happen in Matthew 24: 3-8:

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

And then from verses 36-44:

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

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