In 1806, a hen in Leeds, England laid began laying eggs inscribed with the words “Christ is coming.” When news of these miraculous egg-layings spread, many people became convinced that doomsday was at hand, and that the world, as they knew it, was about to pass away.
Eventually, someone discovered that a jokester had been inscribing the hen’s eggs with acidic ink and reinserting them.
Doomsday wasn’t coming after all.
As ridiculous as this—very true—story sounds, we’ve been falling for the same scenario for thousands of years. Except, in place of an egg, we’ve looked to comets, visions, UFOs, enigmatic numerology, and a host of other equally arbitrary signs.
The human brain is made to recognize patterns—it is, quite literally, the best pattern-finder in the known universe. Sometimes, however, this works to our detriment. In our search for higher meaning, sometimes we see patterns that aren’t really there. We latch on to a meaningless event—a rogue thought, the movements of a celestial body, or perhaps a chance encounter with an oddly shaped egg.
Whatever it is, this meaningless event suddenly takes on new meaning, and from it, the grim tidings of a doomsday prediction.
The Christian Church isn’t immune to this. Through the ages, Christians have comprised the majority of end-times heralds, and history is full of Christian men and women taking a public stand and crying out about one apocalypse or another.
And one by one, they have all failed. Every single one. But if these predictions are coming from Godly, scripturally knowledgeable Christians—many of which have—why do they always fail? Why do these prophecies inevitably end in embarrassment and ridicule?
The answer lies in the very book many of these would-be prophets glean their doomsday predictions from—the Bible. Let’s delve into scripture and find out why doomsday prophecies have always failed, and why, especially as a Christian, you should give them no credence.
Why Christians Love the End
Before we get into why doomsday predictions don’t work, let’s take a dive into the mind of your average end-times-loving apocalypse peddler.
The end is alluded to many times throughout the Bible. Not only this, but endings in general are alluded to throughout our lives. Times change. Friends and loved ones pass away. The seasons pass from vibrant summer, aging into bittersweet fall, and finally terminate in cold, dead winter.
All of this leaves you with the feeling that you’re not really in control of your own life—you’re being unwillingly pushed toward the end.
Apocalypse predictions are attractive because they put a timestamp on the most important ending of all—the end of the human race. A horrible event happening at some unknown point in the future is much more difficult to bear than a horrible event happening at a definite time.
And so we, as human beings, tend to allow ourselves to be drawn into doomsday scenarios.
For many Christians, the tendency to talk about the end comes down to concern. “The urgency was that the Rapture could happen at any time,” says San Francisco-based church information manager, Melisa Blankenship. The feeling that, at any moment, all the world’s unsaved might forever lose their chance at Heaven can be terrifying. Slapping an expiration date upon the world can feel like a blessing in disguise, frightening unbelievers into faith.
In a way, we’re wired to pay attention to the end, and when you’re steeped in Biblical lore, this is doubly true. Now that we know why we keep trying to predict the end of the world, let’s find out why it never actually works.
Why Predictions Fail
If we take the Bible as the infallible Word of God, the failure of end-times predictions comes down to one thing—a lack of discernment.
What does this mean? It means careless readings of scripture. It means assumptions and presuppositions. These always result in error.
Scripture gives us glimpses of what the end of the world will look like. Things will get bad. There will be war. Natural disasters and disease will sweep the Earth. But one thing it doesn’t give us is the very thing we seek so fervently—that expiration date.
In fact, the Bible teaches that no except for God knows when the world will come to an end. Mark 13:32 tells us, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
If Jesus, Himself doesn’t know, then neither do we humans. But we sure keep trying as we go on about holy eggs and astrological signs and Jesus’ face in a piece of toast.
Sometimes, an egg is just an egg—end times predictions fail because, according to God, there are no signs to read. We should exercise discernment by avoiding the assumption that alleged signs mean anything, especially when the very Word of God has revealed them as falsehoods.
Living in Hope and Freedom
Doomsday predictions are, by their very nature, limiting. They drain hope. They make us feel as if our efforts to achieve, communicate, and love are futile. This is disastrous.
Rather than focusing on the end, Christians should be focusing on the life, on loving God and loving one another as Christ commanded. It is in this that we find out meaning, our purpose.
And here’s a little secret: the Biblical end of the world isn’t really even the end of the world. It’s a transformation. In Revelation 21, God says that “I am making everything new!” He goes on to make the promise that He will “wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Rather than trying and failing to control your life by grasping at doomsday predictions, embrace the unknown—embrace God’s promise of a new beginning.
So why not change the narrative: predict impending hope, love and beauty. This is one prediction that won’t fail.