There are two ironic aspects of end of the world predictions. One: it doesn’t really matter, because everyone in the world eventually dies; and Two: all of the false predictions don’t mean it isn’t really going to happen. In the midst of the ever present prophecies of the final metamorphosis, we are bombarded with voices despairing of the depravity of man, or rejoicing in the progress of man, and making us responsible for how it all turns out. A little review of history is all it takes to show that nothing is new under the sun.
The end of the world has been foretold so often since the beginning of our records of history that it really should have its own national day of celebration! Why not codify it? Make it like Easter, so the date cycles through the calendar a little, but skip leap years. This would keep people guessing just enough, but a time could be chosen that doesn’t conflict with other festivals. Everyone could have a time period, kind of like lent, where they would review their priorities and set affairs right they have been procrastinating about. The day after The Day the World Ends, we could have the Annual Day of Relief or Disappointment. Take your pick.
It would be a holiday that all could enjoy without religious or cultural division. It’s not like the end of the world wizards all belong to the same cult. Men and women of every acknowledged religion (respected and not), scientists (evolutionary and creationist), explorers, and those deemed psychotic are all well represented in various lists of predictorians. It’s kind of like putting out a Christmas album. Gain a little fame, then announce when the world will end. Everyone who is anybody does it.
But again, false information doesn’t mean there isn’t truth. Not everything is relative. Maybe one reason that the subject is so popular is everyone’s innate awareness that this world is a wicked place and it would be hopeless if it just continued on that way. It has been wicked since the moment the first humans chose to know evil. From then on, things have been bad – people killing people, dishonesty, selfishness, with God holding it in check so as to give us the option of choosing truth (i.e. 2 Peter 3:7-9), but not forcing it on us. So, we have been left in a broken and decaying world for a limited time.
God, and God alone, knows his timing on this. That is probably in our best interest. How would we really act if we knew exactly when the world would end? I expect there would be a huge amount of irresponsibility and manipulation. There is plenty now, even when people think they’ll have to live with it.
There is no indication that God is waiting for anyone to do something in particular to move His plan along. Rather, there is much evidence that He moves His plan along in spite of people. Even cooperative people are generally surprised by what God’s timeline is (i.e. Matthew 24:36). Even cooperative people seem to want to choose the wrong next step (i.e. Acts 1:6). God is not in the habit of delegating. He is not twiddling His thumbs until we finally get around to making the world a better place.
Most of us actually have a very limited sphere of influence. We barely have time to take care of ourselves and make a living (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). Those who appear to have more impact on the masses really rise and fall rapidly, born and dying naked like the rest of us (i.e. Daniel). Whatever parade a person is in between those two events matters little.
Whether and when the world ends is no one’s problem except God’s. The world is not getting better or worse. The human heart has the same trouble it always has. People have rebelled against God to find themselves in various states of despair or arrogance. There is only one thing that can fix that problem. Because we are each individually treasured by God, it can only happen on a heart by heart basis. It just needs to happen before each person’s own world ends.