Harold Camping’s second date for the end of the world has passed and we’re all still here. I’m used to this by now. I grew up with yearly predictions about God’s wrath coming in various horrible ways, and when I was about 19 I realized it was a huge distortion in thinking. (But we’ve talked about that before: the Phase I Christian keeps waiting for God to come show everyone He’s awesome and you’re right.)
This weekend I began wondering about all these dates for the end of the world. Jesus told us not to waste our time trying to figure it out, but people keep doing it (fine, that’s human nature) because there’s a certain immature thrill to thinking you’re one of God’s inside buddies. This appeals to us as a legitimate non-evil way of getting that hit of adrenaline.
Numerology is weird. But here’s what puzzles me: when they come up with these dates, invariably they’re five to ten years off.
I posed this question to my Patient Husband, and he was of the opinion that people do it as a scam. My experience says no, that the people who come up with these dates do so believing they’re doing the will of God. Besides, if they wanted to scam folks, they’d choose a date fifty years off, so they’d be dead by the time we found out.
If you’re positing that the way all these numbers are assembled are meaningless, then you would expect people to come up with end-of-the-world dates that are all over the place: the year 3912 should come up just as often as the year 301, for example. But instead it’s almost always five to ten years in the future.
- add together the days of creation, and
- multiply by the number of days of Noah’s flood, and
- multiply that by the years Abraham lived, and then
- divide by the number of generations between Adam and Jesus, and
- then add the number of churches that get letters in Revelation, and then
- multiply by the number of vowels in Jesus’s middle name
If after all that they figure out that the world’s going to end at 3:45pm on Tuesday, April 29th of 9831, they throw away the page and start over. Why? Because that’s not satisfying. There’s no thrill in saying the world will end in seven thousand years. At that point, you might as well go back to doing what Jesus said and just keep your own life in order.
Well, since the world didn’t end, I’ll just leave you for now recalculating the dates of the end of the world and remembering the four rules my guardian angel gave me:
- Love God
- Do the work God wants you to do
- Forgive your enemies
- Find the image of God in everyone around you, and love that part of them
I think that’s enough for now, don’t you?