opinionBy Muthende Nduucu
The Christmas season is here with us once again. This is the greatest period of festivity in the world calendar where over two billion Christians mark the birth of Jesus Christ.
It means good food, new clothes, gifts, cards, prayers and songs. It means friends and relatives coming together and holidaying of all sorts. And it also means good business for those with items to offer for sale.
But the full meaning of Christmas is the realisation by Christians of God's great show of love to mankind by giving out his only Son. This can be seen in some quotes from the Bible: "And they will call him Immanuel, which means 'God with us...' He will save his people from their sins." And the angels to the shepherds; "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."
But while we are celebrating this important birth that took place in 7 BC in Israel and which meant everlasting life for believers, thousands of miles away, from a people whose population is about seven million almost the same as that Israel, comes very bad news.
The Mayan people mainly inhabit Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. They have a calendar cycle called the 13th Bak'tun, also known as the Long Count, consisting of 5,125 years. When this cycle comes to an end, it means the end of life on earth.
This year archeologists in Guatemala from Rutger University in New Jersey and University of Rome discovered a 1,300 years old Maya text which provides the only second reference to the end-date. It was announced at the National Palace.
According to Professor Katya Malley who with colleagues unearthed discarded hieroglyphics, "They (the Maya) knew how long the world would last and they were extremely confident about the apocalypse. They were much more advanced than we are today."
It is said a massive rogue planet called Nibiru or Planet X will collide with the earth killing everyone. The death and destruction will occur on December 21, 2012 at 11:11 GMT. What a sad irony just about 100 hours from Christ's birth commemoration!
This is not the first time the world is hearing prophesies of doom. There was Nostradamus, a French prophet who predicted 1555 as the day; Christopher Columbus (1656); Father of Seventh-day Adventist William Miller (1844); Sir Isaac Newton (1948). The new millennium 2000 prediction was also widely publicised. But it becomes more disturbing when these Seers who sometimes seem mentally deranged or on drugs do it for personal gain and in God's name at a great loss of human life.
Johann Tetzel was a Dominican monk commissioned by Pope Leo X to raise money for reconstruction of St Peters Basilica in Rome by selling indulgencies.
He conned believers with his claim that, "As soon as the coin 'clinked' in his money chest the souls of those for whom the indulgencies have been purchased would fly out of the purgatory. Religion gone awfully wrong
In 1955, Jimmy Jones founded The People's Temple. He practised fake faith healing while at the same time assisting the jobless, homeless, the elderly and drug addicts using the income generated from his followers.
Jones preached the imminent end of the world in a nuclear war set for July 15, 1967 which never came to pass. Soon after relocating from the US to Guyana, Jones led his congregation in a massive suicide and killings as he ordered them to drink a concoction of cyanide-laced grape drink. On this day, November 18, 1978, some 918 people died including 276 children.
The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, a breakaway from Catholic Church, was formed in the late 1980s in Uganda and led by 68-year-old Joseph Kibwetere.
He predicted the apocalypse to fall on January 1, 2000. He ordered followers to sell clothes, cattle and property and to stop children from going to school.
On March 17, 2000, three bulls were roasted and 70 crates of soft drinks taken. The doors of the church building were locked and windows boarded and nailed shut.
Then an explosion was heard and the building caught fire killing 530 worshippers. Later, more bodies were discovered buried in the vicinity; in wells and latrines which investigators said were strangled, poisoned, or had stab wounds -a total of 778.
Closer home, there was the House of Yahweh cult, based in Nakuru. Its leaders told members to dig 20ft underground tunnels where they stocked with food and water in anticipation of nuclear wars to end the world on September 12, 2006. They also donned protective masks.
But the most publicised doomsday prediction came from Harold Camping, a civil engineer and owner of Family Radio. He first named September 6, 1994 but nothing happened. He excused himself that he had done mathematical miscalculations.
Then he put May 21, 2011 as the day when the righteous would fly up to heaven and there would follow five months of fire, brimstone and plague on earth with millions of people dying each day.
Well, again nothing happened in May but he said the "spiritual judgment" had occurred on that date, and that October 21 would be when the 200 million people would be raptured with simultaneous final destruction of the universe by God.
Well, Camping reportedly ended up with $80 million (Sh6.8 billion) donations from the public. Even while awaiting the fulfillment of his prophesies, he had continuously rejected cash offer for his car and house. Finally, he apologised for his "timing" and "sinful statement."
End of the time prophecies' are not confined to the Mayan or Christianity. The Hindus have it that the Kali Yuga calendar began on February 18, 3102 BC and will end December 21, 2012! A new era, Satya Yuga, will begin and there will be natural calamities, financial problems, wars and global warming.
Islam too believes in the end of the world when all will be judged according to their deeds and admitted to paradise or hell; when the earth and the mountains will be carried off and crushed; when the inevitable event will come to pass.
Prophets and Seers have been an important part and parcel of many a society but in the modern world they seem to lack the power to predict events correctly.
Probably humanity has no choice now than to sit comfortable and believe the words of the old. The book of Daniel says that, "The words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end." The New Testament says, "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with great noise."
It also says no-one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Albert Einstein, the great scientist said that "The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is very incomprehensible." Otherwise with all these past prophesies why are we still here?
And rightly so the law should be applied accordingly to these prophets of doom. Why would God, for instance, like to meet his people in sack-clothes, going to no schools, taking no medicine, starving, bankrupt and having sold all their belongings?
Or why God would He like to meet the people in bunkers like those of Sadam Hussein of Iraq or the Ultra-High Performance Concrete reportedly being built in Iran?
Or, in masks? Remember the parable of the prodigal son where the father first puts on him the best robe, ring on his finger, sandals on his feet and slaughters the fattened calf.
The earth is about 4,000 years old and we are told to God this is like a second. Instead of constantly worrying about doomsday people should be asking God for more time to mend their ways.
Are we ever ready for the D-Day?
From time immemorial, all religions have taught and preached to their subjects the perfect way of co-existence: between a person and God. Actually the Ten Commandments could be one of the best Constitutions for man.
But just like a country has laws to be obeyed by the citizens, yet more and more magistrates and judges continue to be recruited and courts expanded to deal with the ever-increasing number of law-breakers, so are Gods laws.
It started with one-on-one conversation of "dos" and "don'ts" between man and God. Then came a spokesman and eventually several of them, called prophets.
In 7 BC Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He took his time and began his mission at 30 years. Three years later he was killed. Even the Holy Spirit and the disciples he left could not contain man's ways.
Some 2,000 years down the line there has been popes, bishops and priests of varying ranks, in their thousands, but the story is still the same: defiance of Gods laws.
Today it matters less how the world would end: Christian-style, Muslim-style, Mayan-style, Hindus-style or others. The end result would be more or less the same. The question is, how much will be God's harvest from his work?
"144,000 believers will be sealed and rise with Christ, and the rest of the dead will not come to life until 1,000 years were ended." It is a difficult arrangement to follow but the Bible also says that there will be a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before the throne and wearing white robes.
We are actually told that, "All have sinned and fall short of glory of God and whoever has not sinned should throw the first stone." It is estimated that 40 billion people have lived and died since the beginning of time, seven billion are still living giving nearly a whopping 50 billion souls to bring into judgment.
In this figure there will be believers of other religions or all those who had died before hearing of Christianity. There will also be millions of unborn babies in their mother's wombs and millions of innocent children whom Jesus called the little angels. But the Great Judge only has the authority to decide what to do with every single soul.
Professor Malley is quite confident that the apocalypse will take place today. "There have been a lot of reports and editorials stating that the Mayan prophesies is a hoax or that the prediction will prove to be false," he says, "But almost all the predictions of the Mayans have come true." He adds, "If you were a betting man, you'd bet on the world ending. I am. I wouldn't make any long-term plans; there is no need to buy Christmas presents."
Whatever happens or fails to happen relating to this prediction, some verses from Revelation remains relevant: "Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy."