Mankind has always had a fascination with the end of the world, and we often see this in pre and post-apocalyptic sci-fi films such as Terminator 2: Judgement Day, where the character Sarah Connor gives a monologue in the aftermath of a future war that has humanity’s fate hanging in the balance.
Earlier this week the national newspapers including The Express and The Metro reported that a hidden planet known as Niribu, or Planet X, is on course to crash into the earth this Saturday (23rd September), wiping out all life. Yes, that's right, the world is going to end tomorrow! (For the sci-fi geeks, it sounds like the plot of an episode of the classic TV show, The Outer Limits).
What’s more is that Christian Numerologist David Meade is claiming that Nibiru has been mentioned in the Bible, adding more fuel to the fire that the end of the world is tomorrow.
To state the obvious, every previous attempt to predict the end of the world has failed! (Remember the hysteria in the run up to the year 2000, or concerns about the ancient Maya calendar coming to an end in December 2012?) It was only a matter of time before someone or some group would yet again make another prediction.
It's not that the idea of the end of the world is wrong in and of itself. After all, many religions agree that there will be a foretold final climax in world events. And plenty of atheists think this age might end by meteor impact or nuclear war.
So we're agreed: The world will end. Or at least, the world system we are governed by will end when Christ establishes his Kingdom here on earth. But what Christ makes crystal clear, is that no one, not even himself (at the time), knows when he will return except his father in heaven (Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32). Therefore anyone who attempts to predict the end of the world is guarenteed to fail.
These predictions often involve astrology or numerology, which are dangerous for us as believers, because along with horoscopes and tarot card readings, it is a direct attempt to use divination to predict future events, rather than seeking God’s will. Furthermore, the revelation of when the end will come will not be given to any man or even angel, so it’s futile to ask God to reveal the date to you.
One might overlook the ignorance of most of these groups and individuals making these false predictions because 2 Corinthians 4:4 says the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers. But what’s embarrassing is the apparently Christian groups who proclaim they know when the world will end when the Bible tells them in plain English that no one except God possesses that information!
I once bumped into such a group in London's West End a couple of years back. They all had on yellow T-shirts and were handing out leaflets, telling everyone the world would end a week from that day. Lo and behold, when the deadline passed and I went to check on their website, the URL was conveniently not found.
There's a serious point here: Christian groups which attempt to predict the end of the world run the risk of undermining the believability of the gospel when their prediction fails (and it will). So instead of trying to predict when the end will come, why not put efforts into preaching repentance?
Thankfully not all media outlets are buying into the hype. And time is ticking on David Meade's five minutes of fame. When that time elapses he’ll end up with egg on his face.
Andrew Hamilton-Thomas is a social commentator, aspiring political journalist and co-presenter for a weekly Christian radio show - The Genesis Show