I REMEMBER with affection the man who, for many years, used to wander along Oxford Street carrying his billboard proclaiming, "The end of the world is nigh".

He became a real feature of the London landscape and he even got his own spot in the coveted Sunday Times, "A life in the day of" column.

Like so many folk before, and since, this anonymous prophet of doom was proved to be wrong - or at least, his own "three score years and ten" were up before the world ended.

But now, even scientists have joined in.

With tremendous precision, they predict life on Earth may end at 6.30pm on October 2028.

At least that's what will happen if an asteroid winging its way towards the earth at great speed gets too close.

No-one ever really takes the eccentric prophets of doom seriously - but the scientists are usually right aren't they?

They are our true prophets today, or so some think.

The bookmakers are even taking bets, though I'm not sure how anyone expects to collect their winnings.

Discerning true prophets from false prophets has never been easy.

Jesus himself never claimed to know when the world would end.

He suggested it would ultimately surprise us - like a thief coming unannounced in the night.

Jesus puts the end-time in a proper wholesome context.

It should not become a morbid focus of fear.

Rather we should always live as though the end-time is imminent.

We should always be prepared to come face-to-face with God.

Of course, we can't possibly do that in our own strength.

It is only because of Gods' faithful love and mercy, seen in God's faithful love and mercy, seen in Jesus' life and death, we even dare approach him.

The scientists may be wrong. But, the God who calls us is faithful.

The Rev Keith Straughan

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.