Friday, December 14, 2012

Advent Apocalypse

The end of the world came to Janesville, Wisconsin. Janesville is home to the Administrative Offices of the North Central Conference . . . AND birthplace of “Miracle” the white buffalo. Miracle was born in 1992, and many believed she fulfilled Native American prophesies of the end of an old era, ushering in a new age of peace led by a Christ-like figure called the White Buffalo Woman.  Miracle died in 2004.  The White Buffalo Woman never did come. 
    Around the same time (1997) a red heifer was born in Israel. Many Jewish thinkers believe that when the kosher red heifer is born, it will finally allow for the reconstruction of the Third Temple in Jerusalem, fulfilling Numbers 19:1-22 and Mishnah Tractate Parah.  At this time, animal sacrifices will recommence as part of the life of Jewish religious expression. The Temple Institute (a group that checks such things) says that as of now (2012) there is indeed a kosher red heifer in Israel marking that the time is nigh. The Temple described by Ezekiel (40-47) will at last be rebuilt. Dispensationalists (and sensationalist) Christians like Hal Lindsey point to this Third Temple as possible only under the reign of the Anti-Christ who will use it to proclaim his dominion and demand worship.
   Then there’s the ominous 12-21-12 Apocalypse. Ancient Mayans built great temples to approximate mountains upon which they could cut out the hearts and lop off the heads of countless human blood sacrifices to their gods.  And they were pretty good with calendars. The Mayan calendar and mythology speaks of five ages, and we are nearing the end of the final age. It’s even more mysterious to say, we have reached the 13th b’ak’tun, or Mayan date – December 21, 2012.
     And then there are wars and rumors of wars. And sicknesses. And earthquakes. And tsunamis.  And governments rising and falling.  And the middle-East in turmoil. And over 30% of Americans believe we are living in “end times” while we watch the same stuff that could have been seen on CNN if it aired in 400 AD, 1000 AD, 1500 AD and on and on … Countless other white buffaloes (well, 21 have been counted since 1833), many red heifers, and New-Agers buying into obscure interpretations of long dead civilizations are simply a handful of the truly countless “signs” that have been interpreted as apocalyptic before and after the birth of Jesus.
I anticipate celebrating the birth of the Son of God on Christmas, December 25, 2012. My family will not be hunkered in a bomb shelter or riding a giant neo-ark with John Cusack reading Hal Lindsey or Tim LaHaye novels. 
Instead, we and other Christ followers will be gratefully celebrating the birth of a gentle King in a manger 2000 years ago. A King, our King, who rules over land and sea and the willing hearts of those who follow.  A king whose followers identify as poor in spirit while inheriting the kingdom, mourning yet comforted, strong in humility, hungry for righteousness, merciful to others, pure in heart, living as peacemakers in a world characterized by conflict and revenge. Our king gave his life to save the world. Our king died in apparent disgrace but rose from the dead, the true promise of ultimate victory. Our King lives through faith by the Spirit in our hearts yet today. Our King will return – though he promises no one knows when, so all should be ready.
Fear not 2012. Fear not red heifers, white buffaloes  alien invasions or a zombie apocalypse. “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.”