People and communities of people have been predicting the end of the world almost since the day the world began. Tomorrow’s Mayan Doomsday is merely the latest in a long, long line of interesting predictions about the demise of the planet and the return of our Lord.

500  – According to his calculations regarding the Bible’s mythical “6,000 Year Rule,” Hippolytus predicted the world would end this year. It didn’t. But that didn’t stop others from figuring their own dates with numbers from Scripture.

989  – Halley’s Comet always brings impending doom. Always.

1874  – The Jehovah’s Witnesses begin a long and lucrative career of predicting Armageddon, starting with this year. By the way, it didn’t happen.

1878 – It didn’t happen this year, either.

1881 – No, really. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were on a roll.

1910 – Again? Well, if the Jehovah’s Witnesses say so.

1914 – People are beginning to wonder about Jehovah’s Witnesses.

1918 – We like the four-year cycle, but could the Jehovah’s Witnesses maybe split it up into a summer apocalypse and a winter apocalypse?

1925 – About this time, people may be forgiven for hoping the world ends just to shut the Jehovah’s Witnesses up about it.

1975 – They gave us a 50-year break (which included World War II, which was full of its own apocalyptic signs), but the Jehovah’s Witnesses think now they’re on to something.

1984 – George Orwell buffs and Jehovah’s Witnesses alike considered this to be a significant year for the end of the world. Unless Van Halen is the anti-Christ (and that’s not completely unproven), they were wrong.

1994 – Nostradamus tries posthumously to beat the Jehovah’s Witnesses record for most failed predictions. Luckily for him, he’s much more vague and obscure, so he’s never really wrong…

1997 – No, really, the Christ is now here according to Share International. He’s already come.

2000 – The change of the millennium makes a great date for the end of time. Turns out to be merely the beginning of survivor-type trade shows and reality programming.

2008 – The Lord’s Witnesses (not Jehovah’s Witnesses!) are pretty sure it’s over this year. Or in 2009 or 2010. It’s one of these years, they’re 100% certain.

2012 – This is a very popular choice. It will remain a fairly popular choice until probably Friday night or Saturday morning.

2014 – This one comes from a Pope, so it must be true. In 1514, Leo IX gave us 500 more years. You’d think that would be long enough to get our act together. Apparently not.

2017 – The “Sword of God Brotherhood” say they will be the only ones to survive this year and they will be tasked with repopulating the planet. Hopefully, there’s a “Sword of God Sisterhood” too.

2240 – The Talmud says the world as we know it will only last about 6,000 years, starting with the creation of Adam. A computer-assisted numerical analysis says this is the year.

2280 – The Qur’an gives us 40 more years than the Talmud. Same kind of analysis of the text. We’ll see.

3797 – This one comes from Nostradamus, but so have quite a few other dates. Just in case this was the year he really meant, clear your schedule.

The Church says, “Lord, come quickly!” And Jesus replies with, “I am coming soon!” And he says this to encourage us, to comfort us, and to empower us. He tells “I am coming soon” to motivate us and keep us going. This “coming soon” assures us that our time of trial is not indefinite. According to God’s plan, our time of suffering and tribulation has a limit. We don’t know when it will end; but we are promised by Jesus it will end.

And that gives us hope. By hope — I want to be very clear on this — I mean knowing that what our God has started, he will finish. Our faithful God is bringing this thing to completion. Our hope is not about wishing this is true, it’s knowing how it turns out. It’s like the cartoons and we’re the Roadrunner: we’ve got an arrangement with the writer! It’s like seeing the Indiana Jones movie for the 40th time: I know without a doubt he’s going to escape!

I don’t know when it’s going to happen. Nobody does. Jesus says it’s happening soon. And in faith, the church says, “Lord, come quickly.”