Rubbish day to be a Mayan eh? Still, I guess it was to be expected. It seems that every time the end of the world is predicted with startling accuracy the only thing startling is the fact that anyone thinks that such a thing can be predicted. Christian sects aside, there is a delicious tension in knowing that a day is coming, but not being on the inside running as to when it is. And that is the remarkable thing about traditional Christianity. Despite all of the weird twists and turns throughout the centuries (not to mention medieval Christianised folklore – historical Ed), the central thread of the faith has been that the day cannot be known by us, indeed is known only by the Father as Jesus himself said (Matt 24:36).
The striking thing about Christianity is that idle curiosity doesn’t get a look in. Indeed this lack of speculation is central to our doctrine of revelation. Deuteronomy 29:29 is a central plank to the Bible’s understanding of revelation. It states:
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
After all of that front-end revelation to Moses and the people you would think that God might just drop the odd bit of amazing revelation unlinked to salvation, just because their curiosity was piqued. Hey, it might even confirm a few things about who God is and impress people. Except, that’s not how God works. He gives us what we need in order to live as he would have us live. If his mighty acts of salvation would not convince people to worship him alone as King then no amount of smoke and mirror acts would either. The same is true with the coming of Jesus. Even resurrections were not enough. Lazarus was undoubtedly raised, but the leaders simply wanted Jesus dead all the more. And as for his own resurrection? Jesus himself said in relation to the story of the rich man in hell, that even if someone were raised from the dead people would not believe (Luke 16:18ff). Then set about proving it.
So what would happen if we knew The Day, as in the capital “T”, capital “D” day? We would, I suspect, not live as waiting people. We would, I suspect, live the kind of lives we wanted to live. Oh we would have the date circled in red in our calendars, but we would not be careful, we would not be watchful, we would not wait and prepare as if for a thief. In short, we would not be doing what the apostle Peter (who must have been one of the more curious ones when hanging out with Jesus) urges us to do in light of The Day:
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Would we be as holy, as careful, as watchful if we knew which day? I think not! Would we be living intentionally so as to hasten that day or would we be living lazily right up to it? And of course, it won’t be a day that ends the world, it will be a day that renews the world through salvation and judgement. A day that will usher in a new creation – one in which, as Peter says, “righteousness dwells”. We need to heed Peter’s explicit warning: righteousness may dwell in the new heavens and the new earth, but we won’t be at home there – indeed we won’t be received into it as our home – unless our waiting is marked by “holiness and godliness”.
Today is the start of day one of the new Mayan calendar. The world hasn’t changed. Unrighteousness still feels right at home. And, I suspect, you are all pretty busy getting ready for December 25th. The start of the new creation calendar – whenever that will be – will be a day you will never forget, a day when the King who turned up the first time 2000 years ago in humility and weakness, makes his second appearance in glory and power.