After last year’s excitement when Harold Camping prophesised the Rapture not once but twice - and then fell mysteriously silent, perhaps because he’d been Raptured, perhaps because he was very embarrassed, who can say? – this year’s big end-times news has been the alleged prophecy, from the ancient Mayans, that the world will end in December 2012.
In fact, there never seems to have been any such prophecy, but that’s OK, because there is another end-times contender of much more recent provenence, with very specific ideas about the way 2012 is going to unfold. Ronald Weinland, leader of the generically-titled Church of God, is very clear that “Jesus Christ is returning as King of kings on May 27th of this year”. But first there will be global religious war and economic chaos and – um, more stuff like that, I haven’t read the whole of the 250-page .pdf that goes into proper detail.
I am impressed, though, by his statement early on regarding the various people who have previously predicted the world’s end: “Obviously, those who made such pronouncements were weirdos, crackpots and unsound religious zealots”. Good to know that he’s not any of those things.
Weinland is being taken seriously by some but mostly he’s regarded even by other evangelical groups as a false prophet. Not that he cares, presumably, because it’s more fun to be the only one making a prediction – you get to sound persecuted, and you get all the glory if it comes true. Well, assuming you’re one of the few people who survive the whole thing. How embarrassing would it be to prophesy the coming of Jesus and then fail to make the grade when he turns up?
So what of the timeline of events? Well, the book has this to say:
The soon-coming time of trouble and devastation is so great that God says there has never been a time like it during man’s 6,000 year period on this earth. This great physical tribulation will last for three and a half years. Then, on the very last day, the greatest destruction of all will come upon mankind – thereby ending World War III. On that day, God Himself will bring judgment, death and destruction upon this world. On this same day, Jesus Christ, the prophesied Messiah, will return with 144,000 resurrected members of the Family of God – the Kingdom of God – to reign over this earth! A new world order, with a single world government, will begin ruling on the earth.
This is interesting for at least two reasons. Firstly, what he’s describing, as he makes clear here, is the last three and a half years. So since 2008 we’ve been having a worse time of it than any period in the last 6,000 years, apparently. Worse than the Dark Ages. Worse than the Spanish Inquisition. Worse than any of these events. I’m not saying the last 3.5 years have consisted entirely of sunshine, kittens and the tinkling laughter of small children, but in terms of overall human history, calling it the greatest period of trouble and destruction ever is definitely way overstating the case.
The other interesting thing is the use of the phrase ‘new world order with a single world government’. A lot of conspiracy sites talk about the New World Order and single global government, but all the other ones are against those things. Ronald Weinland, on the other hand, is using those phrases to describe the upcoming reign of God. So either Weinland is an unwitting tool of Satan, which of course is what the false-prophet sites are basically claiming - or, intriguingly the leader of the shadowy, homocidal and arguably reptilian New World Order, as described in every other internet conspiracy site, is actually the Messiah. Which would make so terrific a plot for a novel that I think I’m going to end this blog post here and start writing it immediately. After all, I’ve only got a couple of months.