2012—Mayan mystery

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It may seem odd, but I started 2012 dreaming about Mexico. Mexico? Why on earth would any Aussie or Kiwi be dreaming of Mexico at that time of year? After all, Mexico is experiencing almost unimaginable levels of drug gang violence, is one of the most corrupt nations on earth and is teetering on the edge of the financial abyss. It isn’t the kind of place that would seem to be much of a draw to anyone living in a relatively prosperous, secure and stable nation.  

And yet I’m not the only one in our region who began the year thinking about all things Mexican. This is because we’ve finally reached 2012—a year shrouded in mystery and foreboding for many people around the world. And that mystery derives from a Mayan calendar found in southern Mexico.

When knowledge of the true God is lost, society is wide open for the most preposterous counterfeits. And our society has fallen hook, line and sinker for age-old occultist practices.

Who were the Mayans, and why are they the centre of so many western mystics, seekers and new agers?

The Mayans developed a highly complex culture, with elements of enormous sophistication. They invented a complex writing system that some liken to hieroglyphics but which has an element of phonics; they built enormously impressive stepped pyramids; their cities were large and diversified; they were the first to develop chocolate as a food (a mixed blessing!); they developed complex sports; their mathematics were advanced; but in 2012 they are best remembered for their sophisticated astronomy. We’ll come back to that shortly.

First, it’s worth noting that the Mayan culture was not all about civilised conduct and scientific advancement. The Mayans did not use wheels to transport people or goods, for example. Imagine building towering stone structures without carts, wheelbarrows or pulleys! And yet they did make little children’s toys with wheels. It’s a mystery why they didn’t transfer their wheel technology from toys to work. 

It was in the field of religion that the most repulsive aspect of ancient Mayan culture was practised. In what must have been scenes of almost unimaginable horror and suffering, Mayan religious leaders ritually held the arms and legs of those unfortunate enough to be selected as human sacrifices, and plunged a knife deep into their chests. As the screaming victim writhed in almost uncontrollable agony, the Mayan priest gripped his beating heart and ripped it from his chest cavity and presented it as an offering to their grotesque concept of gods. 

How glad I am for a loving Saviour who died for me, rather than a vengeful concept of false gods who require me to suffer sadistic torture at the hands of cruel men! And yet here we are today and some actually adore the Mayan depraved distortion of religion, and reject our loving Saviour. What a remarkably strange world we live in. 

As noted earlier, while all these aspects of Mayan culture are interesting, it’s the Mayan fascination with astronomy that continues to enthral many. 

Though it is not certain, there is evidence that Mayans were the first culture on earth to discover that the Orion Nebula is not a singular solid mass. They built relatively advanced observatories. And they created calenders. Complex, intricate calendars. All remarkable achievements. And it is their long calendar that has the mystics murmuring. 

The Mayan Long Count Calendar is built around base 20 counting. I won’t go into the intricacies, but one of the periods involved (called a bak’tun) probably concludes in less than six months, on December 21, 2012. 

If that isn’t an auspicious number, what is—21/12/12! (or, as Americans express the date, 12/21/12). Of course, it’s only remarkable in our western Gregorian calendar—as the Mayan calendar had 18 months a year, not 12. So, using the Mayan calendar system there is no special numeric alignment of 1s and 2s. But why let that get in the way of hype?

Our astrological industry is in overdrive over 2012. Some are claiming December 21 is when the Earth will collide with the Sun in a cataclysm for the ages. Others claim it will be the beginning of a mystical new age of cosmic convergence. Others suggest that if you stop by and lay down your hard-earned money for insights into life after 21/12/12, you will be able to stare deeply into the future of this world, and the world to be . . . 

But who would fall for all this mumbo jumbo? Certainly not sophisticated, well-educated people today. Not us! 

Not us? Have you looked in the back of the newspaper or popular magazines lately? It’s astounding how many advertisements there are for psychics, astrologers, seers and mediums. You can rest assured there’s plenty of money in this wicked business—even in modern western nations. Maybe, most particularly, in modern western nations.

Our pseudo-intellectual chattering class told us that the destruction of Christianity would result in an age of reason. Instead, the systematic destruction of Christian faith in our media and public institutions has not resulted in an era of rational enlightenment. Quite the opposite. When knowledge of the true God is lost, society is wide open for the most preposterous counterfeits. And our society has fallen hook, line and sinker for age-old occultist practices.

Fortunately, you and I have the Bible. There are many passages that warn us away from the pernicious nonsense that is deceiving our culture. I think my favourite is found in Isaiah 8:19:

“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?” 

So why was I thinking about Mexico at the beginning of this year? Is it because I’ve been duped into placing credence in an ancient calendar? No! It’s because I know how effective these kinds of deceptions can be for modern people. I’ve seen it time and time again when I’ve led evangelistic efforts. Our cities are teaming with genuine people derailed by spiritualism and astrological mysticism. These are people who are seeking something spiritually fulfilling, but are searching in the wrong place. I think of those hundreds of thousands—probably millions—and my heart breaks. 

But thanks to the Lord, we don’t have to sit by exasperated and powerless. We have a way to get the other side of the story out. A way to bust the myths and preach the truth. God has given us a voice and the means to get the truth out.

That is why earlier this year we went to Mexico and filmed programs that expose the fallacies underpinning the 2012 myth, and explore God’s truth found in His inerrant Word. The programs are going to pique people’s interest at just the right time, they will scratch people precisely where they itch, and for some, they will be the first step on their journey to find the Redeemer.

The devil set out to use this year for his purposes. But God has a plan for 2012 that is far greater. Each one of us has the opportunity to do our part to reach out to our society in 2012.

Pastor Gary Kent is speaker/director for It Is Written Oceania. He is indebted to online sources, including Wikipedia, for information in the piece.