What is the 2012 Mayan prophecy?
The 2012 Mayan prophecy is a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar and creation myth. It does not mean the end of the world. It doesn't even mean the end of the calendar. It is simply the point at which (according to the Mayans) our world, the fourth created, will reach the same age as the third world, which was destroyed (like the first two) because it failed to be "good enough" to support human life.
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The date of the Mayan prophecy is connected to the Mayan's "Long Count" calendar. In it, days are divided differently than in the Julian calendar, eventually gathering into groups of 144,000 days, which make up one b'ak'tun. According to Mayan legend, the third world lasted 13 b'ak'tun. It was then destroyed, and our current world was created. Our current world will reach 13 b'ak'tun on December 21, 2012. Considering that the first three worlds failed, and only this one has been successful, it's likely that this fourth world would not be destroyed as quickly as the third. The coming of the 13th b'ak'tun would be cause for Mayan celebration, not despair.
The affiliation of the Mayan people with impending world destruction actually started in France. Pierre d'Ailly was an astrologer and Catholic cardinal in the 15th century. His astrology led him to believe the world would end in 1524. Christopher Columbus knew of d'Ailly's ominous prediction, and the eschatological obsession of the day led him to think the natives of the New World had some insight into the end times.
The 13th b'ak'tun is mentioned in Mayan inscriptions, but only once prophetically, at Monument 6 at Totuguero. It speaks of the arrival of the god Bolon Yokte', possibly a god of war. Petroglyphs featuring this god relate that his arrival will herald the end of a cycle of years, but it's unclear how the cycle will end or what the cycle is. In addition, the Mayans often expressed the date of a contemporary event by relating it to a date in the future—akin to someone writing in November 1989, "A decade before the new millennium, the Berlin Wall fell." Archeologists who have revisited the damaged petroglyphs now believe the Mayans used this type of roundabout expression on Monument 6. In fact, other inscriptions allude to dates two thousand years into our future, and one found recently mentions a date seven thousand years in the future.
In more recent years, the concept of the 13th Mayan b'ak'tun has been hijacked by any number of prognosticators, most of whom are astrologers, publicity hounds or cranks. Those predictions not inspired by spirit guides or a handy alignment of the stars are based on bad science. December 21, 2012, is not the date when the earth and sun will be aligned with the galaxy's center; that already occurred in 1998. The solar flares others believe will bring a geomagnetic reversal will peak in May 2012. And the planet Nibiru, whom some say will crash into Earth, is already late; it was supposed to arrive in May 2003.
The Mayan prediction is the misinterpretation of a handful of damaged pictograms which are disbelieved by archaeologists, disproven by science, and validated only through the unbiblical practice of astrology. To believe the Mayans accurately predicted the end of the world is to believe the cosmos has experienced four different creations and that this current world was created in 3114 B.C.—at least one thousand years after the first Mesoamerican calendar was reportedly developed!
Is it possible that God could have given other cultures prophecies about the end times? Yes, but those prophecies would not have directly contradicted Scripture. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Matthew 24:36 says, "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." "No one" would include pagan cultures. Countless predictions concerning the end of the world have come and gone, and, still, people strive to know what God has said we cannot know.
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