For many, it is the year of our Lord, two-thousand and twenty. That is, for all of us who live in the context of the Gregorian calendar. Basically, most countries utilize this calendar. It’s based on the Julian Calendar, which is based on the Roman Calendar which, let’s just say it, these are all old. It’s pretty neat that humans have successfully observed the sun and moon and stars really with accuracy for at least a couple thousand years and long ago, we basically knew how long it took to revolve around the sun. This modern human wouldn’t know what the moon should look like without the weather app on my phone.
The Gregorian Calendar may dominate the world, but it’s one of as many as forty calendars at work today. For example, it’s only the year 109 in North Korea. Their calendar is a modification of the Gregorian Calendar, but they start off when Kim Il Sung was born in 1912.
Sometimes, age really is just a number. The Chinese Lunar Calendar has that nation in the year 4718 right now. Saudi Arabia (year: 1441) and a handful of other nations or cultures have their own calendars, largely helping to place religious holidays. This is a thing. Old and young earth creationists have different sets of dates they function on, so everything is wild.
One calendar in particular has caught our attention, and that is the Mayan Calendar. The Mayan Calendar has been followed by plenty of Central American peoples for more than 2,500 years. It’s a solar calendar, divided into 19 months- 18 of which are 20 days long and then there’s one month that’s only five days long. I find that month incredibly attractive as each of our Gregorian months seem to last about 100 days as of late.
The Mayan Calendar has caught our attention for its accuracy, but also for its end dates. As we have it now, the calendar has three interlacing circles. It has the civil calendar (think President’s day), the divine calendar (Christmas and Easter), and the long calendar. Maybe that’s the breadth of the world… maybe not.
One interpretation of this calendar had the world ending on December 21st of 2012. There weren’t any means of termination predicted or described, it was just the end of the calendar. This was highly publicized and therefore plenty of people were either on their knees in repentance, or were partying that day, anticipating either an end, or more of the same. I’ll be honest- I’m a big fan of end of the world parties. But I’m also highly skeptical of this kind of thing.
Why would I be skeptical? I have too many reasons to share, but in reference to the Earth’s last episode, Jesus said, “…concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” That’s from Matthew 24, but there are other occasions when Jesus talks about the end and our incredible ignorance of its actual time. Basically, he says again and again that we just won’t know, God isn’t going to tell us.
So we don’t know when this is scheduled, but it seems like we’d all agree that the world is leaning toward the apocalyptic lately, right? Even if it’s really just aesthetically, with things like a pandemic, murder hornets, police brutality, Australia fires, locusts in East Africa, the death of Kobe Bryant, the swarm of millions of cicadas on the East Coast of the United States and I can’t imagine an election that’s going to be uglier than this next one. I could go on because this has been a hard year for everybody.
It may feel like things are a little on the wild side at the moment which may cause us to wonder if the end is near. Frankly, I’d happily embrace the end of days if we could know it was coming. I’d be out dancing in the streets in a sandwich board reading, “Lemme tell you about Jesus” on one side, the other something about the importance of the Oxford Comma because priorities. But alas, since we can’t know, we should stop guessing. Because what if we’re somehow right and God has to move it so that we’re wrong? That’s totally not his character, and still, it’s a concern I have to live with daily. Let’s not try our luck here, I’m ready for the long nap.
Will the end come on June 21st? Probably not. Some may say unfortunately not. We’ll likely still be here, doing our thing on the 22nd. And the 23rd. And the 24th. And maybe thirty or forty years from now, we’ll have figured out what to say about 2020, the year that the world didn’t almost end, but could have.