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THE MAYAN CALENDAR AND THE END OF THE WORLD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, December 2, 2012

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (II Peter 3:10-12).


I went swimming at my gym the other night. After I swam I got into the jacuzzi. An elderly man was there. He was talking about the end of the world. He said, “The Mayan calendar says that the world is going to end next month, on December 21.” Many people are saying things like that. I had Dr. Cagan check this out. He told me the Mayan calendar says that this “age” will end on December 21. But that did not mean the world would end. It just meant that this age, that the Mayans called the “fourth world,” would end, and the next age would begin on December 21. Susan Milbrath is the curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History. She said, “We 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, or moment of cosmic shifting, she says, is “a complete fabrication,” a complete falsehood. So don’t make any plans for the world to end before Christmas!

Yet it is interesting that this has become a topic of much discussion. I think one of the reasons is that people sense judgment is coming They have a fear of it. Although they sublimate it, and try to forget it, deep down inside many people feel that we ought to be judged if there is any justice in the world. We have started so many wars. We have murdered 55 million babies by abortion. We have failed to go to church. We have left God out of our lives. We deserve to be judged. People feel it in their hearts.

Escapism is a natural mechanism to avoid reality. It is a mental defense to keep from facing the truth. Many young people turn to alcohol and drugs as a form of escapism. Others play endless video games, or look at pornography for hours to escape from reality. Texting and tweeting, and hours on the telephone can also be an escape from the responsibilities and realities of life.

Yes, we live in a troubled world, a frightening world. You can’t turn on the news without seeing bombings, bloodshed, and turmoil going on throughout the world. The TV brings it all right into your living room, or bedroom. The politicians are talking about a “fiscal cliff.” Everyone is concerned about money. College classes are being cut. Textbooks, even used ones, cost more than you can afford. The politicians don’t seem to know what they are doing. Neither do your parents. They are so busy they don’t have time to talk to you. Neither do your friends. Don’t you sometimes feel that maybe everything’s going to fall apart? A recent study showed that 75% of college students have free-floating anxiety, questioning what’s going to happen to their lives. Many young people are afraid they will never have a good paying career. Many are afraid there won’t be a job waiting for them when they graduate. Many are afraid that they will never be able to find the right person to marry. And many young people are afraid that our whole way of life is coming to an end – and the world itself may end soon. They see monster hurricanes pounding the East Coast. They see monster tornadoes ripping houses from their foundations. They see global warming changing the weather, and threatening our very existence on this earth. And Jesus Christ predicted all that, and more, when He said,

“There shall be...upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).

And, yes, the Bible does teach that the world will come to an end. It will not go on forever. It will end in a fiery nuclear explosion sent by God Himself. Our text said,

“...the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up....the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (II Peter 3:10, 12).

The poet Robert Frost said,

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire...
   (“Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost, 1874-1963).

Dr. M. R. DeHaan said,

A few years ago this description of a future destruction by fire might have seemed fantastic to some. Today...it is not only possible, but probable. Scientists have warned us that man is in possession of knowledge concerning atomic and cosmic energy which may well result in the destruction of the entire world (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., Signs of the Times, Kregel Publications, 1996 edition, p. 134).

The insane dictatorship of Iran is right now on the verge of making nuclear weapons. And they have said repeatedly that they will use those nuclear weapons to destroy Israel and the West. How long will it be before they give those weapons to other Arab nations? How long will it be before the Arabs start a nuclear Jihad, a holy war against us, armed with thermonuclear bombs? They could be preparing to bomb Los Angeles right now. They could smuggle in a “dirty” bomb and blow up this city. Our water supply would be poisoned by nuclear material. Thousands would die a slow, agonizing death, poisoned by the fallout.

Now, I know that there will be people who scoff at what I’ve told you this morning. There will be those who laugh and say, “The old man was just trying to scare those young people.” But earlier in this same chapter, in II Peter, chapter three, we read,

“There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (II Peter 3:3-4).

Those who laugh and scoff at the coming judgment often do so because they believe science can fix all our problems. They think scientists will repair every problem in the world, and God’s judgment will never come. But most young people already know that science has failed to stop global warming, that science has failed to stop hunger and famine, that science has failed to conquer outer space, that science has failed to make the world a safer place for man to live, that science has even failed to cure the common cold! No, those who place their faith in science are going to be rudely awakened when God sends judgment to this world!

Others who laugh and scoff at a coming judgment do so because they want to go right on, living a sinful life. Billy Graham said, “They want to eat, drink, and be merry without any interference in their self-centered lives. This is why the scoffers in Noah’s time refused to believe in the flood of which he tried to warn them” (Billy Graham, World Aflame, Doubleday and Company, 1965 edition, p. 222). I disagree with Billy Graham on some things, but not on that. He was exactly right about that!

How about you? Are you prepared for the coming judgment? I had just turned 20 years old when I went to Biola College (now Biola University). I only went there for one semester. But during that semester they brought in Dr. Charles Woodbridge to speak in a series of chapel services. Dr. Woodbridge had recently left the faculty at Fuller Seminary because of incipient liberalism. He was a great and godly man, and a terrific preacher. Dr. Woodbridge spoke every morning on Second Peter. Toward the end of the week he came to the chapter I am speaking on this morning. The chapel was filled to capacity with students. I was seated next to my friend, Dr. Murphy Lum. Dr. Woodbridge read those verses I gave you a few minutes ago,

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (II Peter 3:10-12).

The “day of the Lord” refers to the time when God intervenes in a climactic judgment. It will come “as a thief in the night.” That is, it will be unexpected. People will not be prepared for it. “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise.” The “heavens” refers to the atmospheric heavens around the earth (Morris). “The elements shall melt with fervent heat.” The Greek word translated “elements” is “stoicheion.” It refers to “atomic particles which are the basic structure of nature” (Rienecker). “The ‘elements’ are the atomic components into which matter is ultimately divisible, which make up the composition of all created matter. Peter means that the atoms, neutrons, protons, and electrons are all going to disintegrate...The whole of the physical, natural earth in its present form, with the entire universe will be consumed” (MacArthur).

Dr. Woodbridge explained all that vividly – the whole universe will be on fire. It will be consumed. It will “melt with fervent heat.” But that is not all. The next verse says,

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Peter 3:13).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said,

      The old cosmos will have been dissolved, its material elements having been converted temporarily into energy (light, heat, sound, etc.) but will then be made over again as a “new”...cosmos, with all the age-long effects of sin and the curse forever removed (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995 edition, p. 1408; note on II Peter 3:13).

There I sat in the chapel as Dr. Woodbridge drew this picture of a burned out universe, and a new creation. I was thunderstruck! As you would say today, I was blown completely away! Then he told us to look at II Peter 3:13 again,

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

He said that lost people, people who are not real Christians, have no such hope. In fact they have no hope at all! “Nevertheless we” have this hope, this promise of a new world without sin and pain and death. Then he said that we have this hope because we have Christ. Christ, who died to pay for our sins, has risen from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of God. Christ will save us. Christ will pardon our sins. Christ will lead us into the new world that God has prepared for us.

In that moment I looked to Jesus. I had heard about Him for years, but now He was there for me. He came to me. He pardoned my sins. He filled me with such joy that I walked out of that chapel literally born again!

You see, I am a child of the Cold War in the 1950s. I was desperately afraid of nuclear war. It is almost impossible for you young people to feel the terror we felt in those days. But when Jesus came to me and saved me, all those fears were gone. My soul felt as light as a feather. My sins were gone. I was free! I was saved!

And since that morning, on September 28, 1961, the purpose of my life has been to preach Jesus Christ to young people like you. Jesus hung bleeding on a cross. Why was He nailed there? To pay for your sins, and to shed His Blood to cleanse you from all sin. Jesus has risen, flesh and bones, from the dead. He is alive up in Heaven for you. Turn from your sins and unbelief, and trust Jesus. He will save you. He will cleanse you. He will save you, as He saved me fifty years ago in that chapel service!

If you would like to speak with us about being saved by Jesus, please leave your chair now and go to the back of the room. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place where we can talk and pray. Please go quickly to the back of the room. Mr. Lee, come and lead us in prayer. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: II Peter 3:10-14.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Eve of Destruction” (by Barry McGuire, 1965).