Since the beginning of recorded time, people have been thinking about the end of the world and making predictions about how and when it might happen. According to a 2007 article in The New York Times: "Gnostics predicted the imminent arrival of God’s kingdom as early as the first century." The Shakers thought the world would be over in 1792, while the Jehovah’s Witnesses pegged various years between 1914 and 1994 as an end date.
More recently, some doomsday forecasters have focused on the year 2012. Citing the conclusion of a lengthy cycle in the ancient Mayan calendar, certain theorists anticipate the end of life as we know it on December 21, 2012. These theorists believe that on December 21, 2012, the Earth will experience unprecedented, cataclysmic disasters ranging from massive earthquakes and tsunamis to nuclear reactor meltdowns. In order to prepare for these events, some proponents of the 2012 prophecy have already begun stocking up on survival supplies.
The planet’s major religions each have their own beliefs about the end of the world, the triumph of good over evil and Judgment Day. In Christianity, the Book of Revelation, the last chapter of the Bible’s New Testament, mentions Armageddon, the final battle on Earth between the forces of God and Satan. The word Armageddon is thought to come from the Hebrew for "mount of Megiddo."
Located in present-day Israel, Megiddo, an ancient, strategically positioned city, was the site of a number of battles. Some Christians interpret the Book of Revelation as a roadmap that lays out exactly how the world will end. They contend that Judgment Day will take place on Armageddon and Jesus will save the true believers, while non-believers left behind will face enormous suffering.