World Ends This Week—Not!

By Mark A. Kellner | Posted June 16, 2020

Just when it had mostly disappeared from the headlines, the dreaded Mayan calendar has returned, this time offering the prospect of the world ending on June 21, 2020. If you’re reading this on June 22 or later—as we expect you’ll be able to—then that’s yet another failed prediction.

Readers with good memories may recall that in 2012, there was much speculation about how the Mayan calendar, etched in stone using ancient symbols, had predicted the end of all things that year. The popular theory was even coupled with a threat of a cosmic collision with a planet called Nibiru. (Neither in 2012 nor at any time since has NASA seen Niburu.) As we all know, what ended at the end of 2012 was … the year 2012!

Was Date-Setting Off Course?

The Mayans had promulgated their calendar at a time when the Western world used the Julian calendar, so named for Julius Caesar. But in 1582, Pope Gregory introduced a revised Julian calendar that advocates said would better track the Earth’s movements around the Sun. It is this same calendar, called the Gregorian calendar, that much of the world uses today. Subsequently, in the changeover to the Gregorian calendar, in order to correct the error in the Julian calendar, 11 days were skipped: The day after Thursday, Oct. 4, 1582, became Friday, Oct. 15, 1582.

Numerous media outlets reported last week, however, on a theory that the Mayan calendar had been interpreted incorrectly. This new doomsday date surfaced from a man described in The Sun online newspaper as “scientist Paolo Tagaloguin,” apparently from the University of Tennessee’s plant research unit, who stated that due to the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, the Mayan calendar’s proposed date for the end of the world had been incorrectly determined. (The original article for The Sun story has since been removed.)

Besides his dubious calculations—adding to the original date of December 21, 2012, 11 days for every year the Gregorian calendar had been in use instead of only once and counting from the year 1752, the year Great Britain implemented the change, instead of 1582—Tagaloguin has since vanished from the university’s website and from Twitter, where his prediction had first been made.

As a result, we’d recommend against maxing out your credit cards this week—or at any time, for that matter. The world will not end on June 21, 2020.

What Are the Signs?

The coming failure of the new Mayan calendar “prophecy” is just the latest in a long line of date-setting foul-ups that have ensnared many, even more than a few Bible-believing Christians.

Whether it was Christopher Columbus’ claim of a 1658 end date or televangelist Pat Robertson’s predictions of 1982 and 2007, we know one thing: Setting a specific date for Jesus’ return—and consequently for the end of this world—is a losing proposition.

On one level, such deceptions are highly understandable: This world is not the believer’s home; we long for that “heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16), “for our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). On another, predicting doomsday dates is entirely refuted in Scripture.

Speaking with His closest followers on the Mount of Olives, Jesus said this about setting a date for His return: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36). When Jesus said this, He was on Earth and had “[come] in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). However, currently seated at the right hand of the Father, Jesus, we can imagine, now knows “that day and hour.”

Yet while God the Father knows and while Jesus, God the Son, knows, that knowledge hasn’t been given to mere humans. We have indications of what the signs of His coming are, but we don’t have a day and a date. 

In Luke 12:40, Jesus said, “You also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” The unfortunate effect of setting dates is that it relegates the end of the world to a joke in the neighborhood of conspiracy theories and science fiction. But Jesus will come to Earth again; the end of the world will occur.

Ship in an ocean storm

A parable in Luke’s Gospel account gives us a big clue. Jesus said, “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:29–31).

What are “these things”? You can find them in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and earlier in Luke 21: Global conflicts and crises will arise, pandemics, famines, and more tragedies on a scale never before seen in this world.

But through all of this, there is hope. Find that hope in these free, online resources.

Pastor Doug Batchelor recently presented a Sabbath School Study Hour on the subject of “The Bible and Prophecy,” in which the end times are discussed. It’s a great starting point to understand what the “signs of the times” are and how best to relate them to current world events.

Also helpful is our Bible study lesson “Right on Time! Prophetic Appointments Revealed.” This dynamic lesson will strengthen your faith in the validity of prophecy.

No, the world isn’t ending on June 21, 2020. But the end times are upon us, and we all need to prepare!

Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.

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