They say it's coming soon, you know. As early as May 21st, 2011, the day after my birthday, which will make my birthday party the best birthday party ever. But in all seriousness (if you can even seriously assess the inevitable destruction of man), is there any truth to this? Are people just fear-mongering, trying to manipulate public fear in order to indoctrinate potential followers? I have my own crazy (and I'm sure uneducated) theories about the Rapture - the event which marks the official start of The End - but what does the Bible really say about it? There's a lot of artful, creative writing in Revelation, much of it hard to understand, so what I like to do is just go straight to the source and ask Jesus. Turns out He had some stuff to say about the end of the world:
36"But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.
37-39"The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah's. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing—until the flood hit and swept everything away.
39-44"The Son of Man's Arrival will be like that: Two men will be working in the field—one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill—one will be taken, one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up."
Jesus says "But the exact day...? No one knows that." As we all know there are people claiming to be followers of Jesus who think they know, but alas, Jesus their Lord says they don't. And I assume He's probably ashamed that they don't read His words more often.
I for one am not afraid of May 21st, 2011. Partially because, even if I'm wrong, I know I'm right with God, and partially because I don't believe anyone who says "The world will end at this time." According to the Bible, not even Jesus knows that, so by claiming knowledge of that you are putting yourself above Jesus, which makes you a blasphemer and someone that I can't trust any more than I can stand (which is very little). This has been a great kick starter for cults and religions over the years. A leader says "Follow me and my true doctrine, because the end of the world is coming and only people who follow me will be saved."
There have been 44 documented and failed predictions of the end of the world, most of them religion-based. In the last century there were plenty made by The Watchtower Society of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Since the late 19th Century, the Jehovah's Witnesses were taught that Armageddon would happen in 1914. Membership grew, as you can imagine, in anticipation of this great event. When Armageddon failed to happen in 1914, Watchtower Magazine predicted, "The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914; but it would be presumptuous on the part of any faithful follower of the Lord to assume just what the Lord is going to do during that year." Good call on that last part, because it bailed them out of looking like complete clowns again. But, they always need some motivation for people to join so...
The Watchtower Society selected 1975 as its next main prediction. This was based on the estimate "according to reliable Bible chronology Adam was created in the year 4026 BCE, likely in the autumn of the year, at the end of the sixth day of creation." They believed that the year 1975 a promising date for the end of the world, as it was the 6,000th anniversary of Adam's creation. Exactly 1,000 years was to pass for each day of the creation week. This prophecy also failed.
The point is this, people will use the Bible for false motives. They will use it for power and government, for financial gain, for prestige and fame, for just about anything other than what it was intended for. If you ever have any questions about what people are saying concerning the end of the world or anything else, go to the source. Jesus Himself, in the Bible itself, says "You have no idea when the Son of Man will show up." So you can be rest assured that those claiming to know are contradicting the same Jesus they claim to follow, probably because of some selfish motive to get people to join their cooky, twisted Church sect.
I won't go into detail about how I have this theory that the Rapture is a metaphor for death. And since death brings us into eternity, and eternity is timeless, all of us will be caught up at the same time in death, in "Rapture" form. I won't talk about how there are correlations between Jesus' language about the Rapture will be an unexpected occurrence and how death can happen any moment. I just won't, because it's not the point I'm making. The point I'm making is that we can all have our bogus theories about what's going to happen, but we can't jump to conclusions, and we especially can't trust the conclusions of those who contradict their own source.