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We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching the Bible and understanding our time in

the light of Bible prophecy

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2012 - Hollywood Destroys the World

‘Never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists and governments.  A global cataclysm brings an end to the world.’  The date is 21st December 2012, the date the Mayan calendar predicts the end of time to occur, an event dramatised in the film ‘2012’ made by Hollywood director, Roland Emmerich, to be released in November.  A trailer for the film on the Internet has stunning visual effects of the cataclysm hitting the earth with world landmarks collapsing – St Peter’s Rome, New York skyscrapers, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio as meteors and floods destroy the earth. The trailer begins: ‘How would the governments of our planet prepare six billion people for the end of the world?’ A moment later come the words, ‘They wouldn’t.’  According to the film ‘2012,’ the earth will rip apart, fulfilling an ancient prophecy.


The ancient prophecy in question comes from the ancient Mayan civilization in Central America, which produced the famous Mayan calendar.  The Mayans were the only native Americans to develop a written language.  They also made remarkable progress in art, architecture, mathematics and astronomy, reaching their highest state of development during the period from 250 AD to 900 AD.  By 1200 AD their society had collapsed for reasons we can only guess at. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived, Mayans still occupied the area, and still spoke the Mayan language, but were unaware of the cities their forefathers had created.


Diego de Landa was a Roman Catholic priest who visited Mexico in 1561 and is infamous for his destruction of priceless Mayan documents and artefacts.  Although Landa was very interested in the Mayan culture, he abhorred certain aspects of their practices, particularly human sacrifice. In July 1562, when evidence of human sacrifice was found in a cave containing sacred Mayan statues, Landa ordered the destruction of five thousand idols. He decided that their books were also the devil’s work and saw to it that they were burned, with only three books surviving. Consequently the majority of Mayan knowledge and history was lost.


The most important of the surviving books is what is now called the Dresden Codex, named after the city in Germany where it was lodged. It is a strange book, inscribed with hieroglyphs, which no one understood until 1880. At that time Ernst Forstemann, a German scholar who worked at the same Dresden library, managed to crack the code of the Mayan calendar.  He discovered that the Codex contained detailed astronomical tables, which calculated the year to be 365.2420 days long and used the tables to predict the solstices and equinoxes, the path of the planets in our solar system and other celestial phenomena.


The Mayans had developed an extraordinarily complex (and very accurate) way of measuring the passage of time revolving around cycles of 52 years. At the end of each cycle religious ceremonies were held in which priests carried out a human sacrifice on the top of an extinct volcano known today as the Hill of the Star situated above Iztapalapa in Mexico.  The purpose of this was to appease the gods so they did not destroy the world with the end of the cycle.  They waited for the sign which would announce the continuation of the world for another 52 years, which was the passage of the constellation of Pleiades across the centre of the heavens.


The Mayans also had another calendar, known as the ‘Long Count’.  The mechanics of this are quite complex and beyond the scope of this article to explain. For those with Internet connection look up ‘Long Count’ on Wikipedia for information. The current Long Count began in 3114 BC.  In Mayan mythology each Long Count cycle is a world age in which the gods attempt to create pious and subservient creatures.  The First Age began with the creation of the Earth, and it had upon it vegetation and living beings. Unfortunately, because they lacked speech, the birds and animals were unable to pay homage to the gods and were destroyed. In the Second and Third Ages the gods created humans of mud and then wood, but these also failed to please and were wiped out. We are currently in the Fourth and Final Age, the age of the modern, fully functional human.  


The popular view featured in Roland Emmerich’s film is that the present age ends on December 21, 2012.  What then? His interpretation is that the world ends in fire and flood.  


Academics actually dispute this. Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, stated that ‘We (the archaeological community) have no record or knowledge that the Maya would think the world would come to an end in 2012. To render December 21, 2012, as a doomsday event is a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.’  Some alternative spirituality views based on New Age mysticism and astrology see the date as being a positive event rather than doomsday - the transition from the ‘dark violent Piscean age’ (i.e. this age) into the Aquarian Age, ‘a millennium of love and light’.


For the record I would not put any significance on the 21st December 2012 date.  However while accepting academic objections to popular interpretations of Mayan culture and leaving New Age mysticism aside, the fact that the film is being made at all says something about the world we live in.  People are aware of the possibility of calamity overwhelming us and Hollywood has picked up on this with a number of disaster films about to be released. The Wall Street Journal (31/7/09) carried an article ‘Hollywood Destroys The World’:

‘A flood of post apocalyptic stories is now headed toward movie theatres and TV screens .  Director Roland Emmerich has nearly destroyed the world three times already. This time, he means to finish the job. In his next movie, ‘2012,’ which comes out in November, the earth will rip apart, fulfilling an ancient prophecy.’

The article goes on to list a number of coming films about a future calamity destroying civilisation and how a handful of people remain to scratch around a ruined world for survival - ‘The Book of Eli,’ ‘Day One,’ ‘The Colony,’ and ‘The Road.’  Giving a reason for this it says, ‘Most of the storytellers say they are reacting to anxiety over real threats in uncertain times: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, two U.S. wars abroad, multiple pandemics, a global financial crisis and new attention to environmental perils.  Roland Emmerich says, “I’m really very pessimistic these days.”’

Of course it is not just in Hollywood that people are talking about a cataclysm coming, either to destroy the world, or to reshape it beyond recognition.  Israeli news has featured items about the War of Gog and Magog, the biblical prophecy found in Ezekiel 38-39 of the last days’ battle in which God rescues Israel from an invasion of hostile nations. Some Israelis believe the time has come to build the Third Temple, prophesied as happening in the ‘last days’ of history. Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei called on Muslim nations around the world to unite militarily in response to the imminent coming of Islam’s messianic saviour – the Mahdi. The radical Muslim leaders of Iran believe the Mahdi will usher in the end of the age, causing the Muslims to defeat Israel and the west and rule the world. Radical environmentalists say doomsday is coming quickly due to global warming. Evangelical Christians, like me, believe global events are lining up just as Jesus Christ and the Biblical prophets said they would in the ‘last days.’

The danger of the Hollywood versions of the end of the world is that they either make people so fearful of coming calamity that they see no way out, or sceptical of the real message of the last days prophecies of the Bible.  The multiple versions of the ‘end of the world scenarios’ also mean people may put Mayan prophecies, the writings of Nostradamus or Islamic hopes of the Mahdi on the same level as the prophecies of the Bible.  

At the same time many people are waking up to the fact that the world really is threatened with disaster on multiple fronts – the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the threat of economic collapse, the dependency of the world system on oil which will run out, the environmental issue, the Middle East conflict, violence and lawlessness abounding, breakdown of family life and the resulting insecurity facing millions.  All these lead many people to ask ‘Is the world as we know it coming to an end?’  

According to the prophecies of the Bible it is.  All these factors and more are prophesied in the Bible for the last days of this age. Jesus said that in the last days before His coming there would be a time of such trouble that if God did not cut it short no life would survive:  ‘For then there will be great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.  And unless those days were shortened no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.’  Matthew 24.21-22.  


A number of Old Testament prophecies focus on a conflict around Jerusalem (Joel 3, Zechariah 12-14) and Jesus said ‘Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.  And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations with perplexity (the Greek word used here ‘aporia’ means ‘with no way out’), the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see the Son of Man (i.e. Jesus) coming in a cloud with power and great glory.’  Luke 21.24-27.


In the Book of Revelation we read of a number of disasters striking the earth which tie in with current world problems.  World wars and famines cause mass death (Revelation 6.1-8).  Trees and the grass are burned up, the fish of the sea die as something like a great mountain is thrown into the sea (asteroid?) and fresh waters become undrinkable (Revelation 8.7-11). A dictatorship arises which forces people to accept a mark and a number (666) without which you cannot buy or sell (Revelation 13).  Rivers dry up and people are scorched with great heat (Revelation 16).  The final battle of Armageddon brings the armies of the world together in Israel and closes this age with the physical return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth (Revelation 16.16, 19.11-21).  


The Bible also gives us a great hope in the physical second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the deliverance of all those who accept Him as Saviour and Lord.  The disaster movies end with either no survivors or a handful of survivors scratching around in a dying planet.  In the Bible the catastrophic events of the last days will be followed by the physical return of the Lord Jesus with all those who have put their trust in Him.  The survivors of the tribulation who accept Jesus as Saviour will live in a restored earth during the 1000 year Millennium in which time Satan will be bound and unable to deceive the nations (Revelation 20) and there will be universal peace (Isaiah 2.1-4) and harmony in the natural world (Isaiah 11).  This will be a prelude to eternity when God will create new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3.13).


The first stage in this process will be when the Lord comes to take all those who believe in Him now to be with Himself.  We cannot know exactly when this will happen but we need to be ready.  Jesus said:  ‘Of that day and hour no one knows.’  Matthew 24.36.  Paul wrote about what will happen: ‘For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout. …  And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.’ 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17.  


This event will happen ‘as a thief in the night’ (1 Thessalonians 5.1) which means it will happen unexpectedly without warning. Therefore we need to repent (turn away from) our sins and accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord of our lives. If you want to be saved from God’s judgement you must trust in the Lord Jesus who died as a sacrifice for our sins and rose again from the dead to give us eternal life.


‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’  John 3.16.  


For more information about this subject please send for our booklet ‘What is the world heading for?’  This is currently available in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi and Malayalam.