Are We in the End Times?
This has been a question that throughout history has been asked again and again, when deep suffering and troubles of all kinds have generally beset human society at large in the world. Perhaps people have been saying the world has been ending since the world began. It is certain that for centuries many societies on earth have been, at different times and for different reasons, obsessed with a cataclysmic end to the world and the world system, which now, as in past times, is in many ways disordered, chaotic and filled with suffering of one kind and another. No doubt the ramblings of many a prophet of doom, whether true or otherwise, have been to some degree a reaction to the despair of human beings in brutal societies, and as a warning to those who are deeply corrupt to change. And perhaps doom mongers themselves having suffered hard lives were actually hoping for an end to all suffering, and wishing for an end to end all endings.
I have been a Christian for over half my life, and certainly been an active Christian, trying to live in Christian ways and principles for twelve years now. Having read the Bible many times, and really learning to read between the lines, and to pray for guidance and spiritual knowledge, I have like many people been deeply interested in apocalyptic writings, certainly Biblical stories of the end of the world. I claim no particular expertise or extra hidden knowledge on these writings other than as a concerned Christian, and as someone who is baffled and perplexed by what these writings mean. Of course, as a Christian I am a student of the Bible, and having a New Jerusalem Bible, which is a more modern translation but still completely authoritative version, I have learnt from the translators notes things which I very probably would not have known otherwise. According to the translators of the thoroughly modern New Jerusalem Bible, (hereafter abbreviated to as NJB) ‘The Revelation to John’ was written to help Christians who were then suffering under the Emperor Nero, or even the Emperor Domitian.' Whatever the actual facts of the case may be, the writings themselves are stark, awesome, frightening, overwhelming at times, otherworldly and not the sort of thing a person would probably want to read everyday. But it is a part of a book that I as a Christian consider the Book, the book that I go to when I need written assurance, or guidance, or heartfelt help or even for a good read at night. I have complete faith that whatever God has decided to carry out, in my own life and in the world as a whole, He will carry out completely, purposefully and in the exact way He means to. For this reason, I am convinced in these writings that we can all learn a whole lot, especially if we learn to look between the lines, and with perhaps the eyes of a child, but perhaps a shrewd, intelligent and thoughtful child. Outside of the Bible, I have read little of any other apocalyptic literature, either from other religions or from Christians claiming to know what will happen. I am aware that there are writers who have written books that have sold many copies claiming to say what will happen and how the end will come. Rather than research meticulously every book that has been written on this subject throughout history, and researching the more modern and contemporary accounts doing the rounds now, I want to approach this subject with my own searingly honest yearnings, coupled with the Bible as my only guide and reference point. This is not because I am too lazy to research or lack the necessary abilities or skills to find what I need, three years of university and other higher education taught me that much, but because I want to write an account on this subject which is as searching and questioning as it is knowledgeable and informative. I don’t think I can claim any special insights particularly, nor do I wish to disparage someone else’s perhaps deeply held views on this much debated topic, what I do hope to do is to present an intelligent, well-thought out and readable account; I hope I do that justice.
I am aware that in America there are many Christian writers that have conjectured about the end of the world, and in some cases have given concrete opinions on just what will happen and how it will happen. America as a nation seems, for part of the modern wealthy world, particularly religious and I think particularly self-conscious concerning their role in world affairs. Much of this can be understood; they are the most powerful and most wealthy nation on earth, which they have achieved in a remarkably short space of time. Does this in fact mean that Americans in general are more religious or have a greater insight into Biblical writings and stories? Why should a country with so much wealth and so much going for it be obsessed with the End Times? But I digress; I don’t think Americans especially have any more insight into Biblical prophecies than any other nation that is nominally Christian or has Christianity as part of a cultural heritage. What I am trying to get at here, is that merely because someone says a particular thing will happen or they wish it to happen because they choose wholeheartedly to believe it will happen, doesn’t necessarily mean it will! It is altogether a cosy falsehood of humankind generally to think that if something is believed in enough, that this somehow will make it true regardless of reality. Of course this isn’t the case. One can believe in anything he or she so desires to do so, even that the moon is made of cream cheese or that the world is flat, and no amount of wishful thinking or wholehearted and fervent believing will make it so. Perhaps in some cases, like in End Times debates, it is better merely to accept it will happen rather than believing in it in some particular way. Will conjecture on the nature of the End Times, cemented with downright wishful thinking, make any dent on the reality of the situation? I highly doubt it. There are books about the End Times in America that talk about what is going to happen. I understand that some of these books were also written as interesting fiction but somehow have been accepted as truth or have been engineered to be seen as fiction masquerading as truth, or truth masquerading as fiction. I do not pass any particular judgement on such books, only to say that I think it basically impossible to fully know or assume what is going to happen without really studying the Biblical texts themselves with a heart of complete surrender to truly seeing what is actually there, and perhaps what isn’t there at all. Perhaps some of the writers of these books have done just that, and perhaps they have come to some truths or closer to the truth of the matter. The Bible to me is an open book, but any student or Christian reading the Bible as the inspired Word of God, will quickly, or perhaps more slowly, come to see that within the words and verses there can be hidden meanings. Sometimes those hidden meanings are easily understood as parables or simple but useful allegories, but there are many writings in the Bible which can either be read in many ways, but can also entirely and in some way inexplicably be applicable to specific situations and even to an individual at a particular time praying for very divine, and very individual, attention. Understanding this very incredible nature that the Word of God has in the Bible, perhaps may let us ponder more deeply the depths that Biblical scripture can go to.
For a Christian, it is always important to behave as if Jesus were to come to earth again tomorrow. Being chastened by the imminent arrival of Jesus is a good way for Christians to behave and a way for us to be prepared when He does arrive. Could it also be said that for Christians, Jesus arrives for us also when He pours His Spirit into our receptive and welcoming hearts? I believe that within this question, there are many truths to be learnt and things for Christians to ponder on. God is always imminent in our lives if we choose to accept Him into our lives. In this way, God is not far off or some vague notion of a beneficent Creator but who is so far away and misunderstood that we have no links at all with Him, He is close by spiritually, emotionally and in real terms. An intimate and close Creator, one who came to earth as a man and rubbed shoulders with us cannot be aloof or spiritually distant, He is a prayer away! But at the same time, we should genuinely hold God in reverential fear, awe, respect and love so that we can have a mind that is prepared for closer union with Him.
What significant factors could lead us to believe the end was genuinely imminent? The Bible mentions many things, such as wars and rumours of wars, and other considerations, which mean that the end is genuinely in sight, and even at the gates. A portion of mankind at this time is only too aware that humans have the technology and the capability to destroy the earth and all present societies many times over in a nuclear holocaust of some kind or other. We also know that alongside this there are literally millions of men in highly trained armies able to wage the most brutal and life threatening campaigns and wars and skirmishes which could change the very face of the world if they were given full reign to their powers. The horrors of even conventional but definitely global conflicts could mean widespread famines and starvation through disrupted trade routes, mass epidemics because of the sheer number of people living close together, deep civil strife and outbreaks of civilian violence throughout the world, and a general breakdown in law and order that would be catastrophic for civilisation and the world in general. One thing would keep leading on to other dreadful situations and the results hardly bear thinking about. Anyone who readily scoffs at such awful scenarios can again look at what happened on the European Continent during the 2nd World War.
Should we fear the end, embrace it or as Christians merely be prepared? And what is the significance of the end of the world, the end of this present system for Christians, and why has God so ordained an ending? Fearing something that we have no control over, or possibly cannot influence one way or the other is probably not the thing to do or the way to be. We as Christians should fear God and ask Him to shield us from what is to come, or to let us live as Christians in the knowledge that this world, this present corrupt system is temporary and will come to an end. Of course any normal human being, Christian or not, will be alarmed and a little frightened and unsettled by such a topic, but in truth as Christians we are to have full confidence in God that He will do what He has to do and make the world a better place. Why should God want to end the world in such a dramatic and frightening way, or give that impression in ‘Revelations’? Is the world merely a little wayward or is it a completely disordered, wicked, chaotic, unjust and intolerant world? As a Christian I believe the latter, not because I am some insanely zealous or fundamental Christian preaching ‘fire and brimstone’ but because as a human being I have observed the world and see quite clearly that the world at its worst is a terrible place. Yet, I pray for peace, and my corner of the world is relatively peaceful, I do not starve or go without, I am clothed in decent clothes and shoes and I have all the normal trappings of a western city-suburban life. But I am compelled to write about the things that concern me and even trouble me; that while many of us sit in even relative wealth and plenty, the world can be a very hard, difficult and dangerous place for many other people and in many parts of the earth. Is it possible that the end of the world is going on all around us and at this present time, while those in the more wealthier parts of the world sit partially in ignorance of such suffering and partially because we don’t really want to know? And in these beginnings, these ‘birth-pangs’ of the End, are we yet, and soon, to see global catastrophe and global conflicts once again draw the nations of the world into utter destruction? I believe in these open questions can be found many answers, and in asking them myself I am interested in coming to educated guesses on the nature of the near future of this planet. Half of the world is on the brink of hunger and even starvation, whilst the other half is overeating and perhaps eating itself to death. Is there not a bitter irony there that perhaps we could all learn to share what abundant resources the world undeniably has in a more equitable and concerned fashion? And is it also possible that the wealthy nations prosper unjustly at the expense of those much poorer nations, by buying coffee, rice, fruit, vegetables and many other raw materials dirt cheap and then selling them expensive technological gadgets and all manner of weapons, guns, missiles and the like which are more often than not used to quell and oppress those already suffering and without? What truly does God think about these and many other worrying things happening in the world? I believe it is our duty as Christians to think about these questions, and to see in our own way how we can balance out the scale in favour of what is just and fair, and what will bring relief to those suffering and going hungry, or suffering persecutions and the horrors of conflict and so on.
Are we in the beginnings of the end at this present time? What exactly is going to happen, and just what does ‘the End of the World’ mean and what will it entail? Are the apocalyptic writings as well as being specific to time and to world events, also highly personal and regarding many such times in the past? I think we have always been close to the end of the world ever since Jesus came to earth, and I think that importantly Christians should live in preparation and as good stewards for when Jesus does come back to earth. To say exactly what is going to happen would be to second-guess God, or would be to claim to know vital and specific information and of course I don’t, but the writings of ‘Revelations’ in their title alone tell us that therein there is information to be read and to be thought on, and no doubt prayed about too. Only God knows precisely what will happen, and as His servants we should in all ways endeavour to stick close to our Saviour so that we can be saved and so that we can know and learn what other people will not know. The signs of the End Times I think are all around us, in mass suffering, mass famines, mass conflicts and wars which affect millions of people, genocides, brutal regimes in scores of countries, vastly unequal distributions of wealth and abundant resources, constant poverty for many and luxuriant wealth for others, unfair and biased law systems and generally a world that seems to be at a loss and gets more violent and intolerant just as more and more of us generally are living better lives. It is true that all these things I mention have been part and parcel of some human societies since civilised and advanced societies began and no doubt before that, so why should we think that this time, this present age is any different? Partly for the fact that many of us do know better, and we cannot claim ignorance of other peoples and other nations sufferings; we are only too aware of the world at large, yet often the governments and corporations of wealthier and more powerful nations are prepared to turn a very blind eye in order to control other nations and to prosper unfairly at their expense. Should we as Christians be concerned about this, and what can we do about it on any particular level?
If the end of the world is going to be as it was in Noah’s day when people refused to believe that the world was going to be covered with water, how will people this time not see the end coming? Will people scoff today as they scoffed in Noah’s day? It seems highly likely that they will. In answer to the first question, in the first instance people will not believe because they will undoubtedly obstinately refuse to believe the end of the world will happen! Their refusal might be for many reasons, but I believe that it will be an obstinacy that flies in the face of what is actually happening in the world. It is possible to believe anything at all and to shape a ‘picture’ or idealised view into that which a particular individual or group desires, and little if anything will change or challenge that incorrect view. We can see this in religion itself, and even in branches and sects that are Christian in appearance and nature. Must we be obstinate in our belief as others are obstinate in their disbelief? Yes is the answer, even if as Christians we are surrounded by non-believers or even other Christians, and in Christian communities that are perhaps Christian more in name only. It is when we think of our own ends, frankly put when we think about our own fate, that we might be fearful for a little time but it enables us also to think more clearly about just what our Christian role in life is to be, and perhaps how much more acutely we should live as Christians regardless of what goes on around us. The reality of the hastening end might be missed by many people, partially because they cannot see and partially because they do not want to see. Who wants to continually dwell on awful situations and tragic circumstances of one kind and another after all? For this reason, it is vital that we hold onto the truth that we already know and learn to be more hopeful, more persevering, more faithful and to ask God to come completely into our lives so that we can live now as Christians as He wants us to live always. It is possible that, as time has gone on, people over the centuries have got tired of fearing the end of the world and have now seen that this modern age of better technology, better ways of living at least for the wealthier nations, better life-spans, better health and better opportunities to live better lives will end the need for worrying. That in our plenty and sophistication, and in our civilisation and advanced technology, we have nothing to fear from old scriptures from a long ago time. But it is wise certainly for those calling themselves Christians and endeavouring to live as the Lord would have them live, to keep an eye on world events and also to have another eye fixed firmly on the spiritual reality, the ‘inner reality’ as St Paul called it. It is this inner reality that is by far the most important, and it is this reality, accompanied by peace, a cessation of all suffering, joy, true godly harmony and everything that is genuinely beneficial to humankind which will win over in the end. To put it in a nutshell, it is better to be on the winning side than the losing side! It is also instead of worrying or fretting or even being fearful, that each Christian learns to lean on the Lord, perhaps as they have never done before, so He can comfort us and can open our eyes to the truth of the matter, be that on a very individual or a more general level. The Lord can open your eyes and make you see the truth.
How can we prepare for the end of the world as Christians? I think this is for each Christian to think about, and to pray about, and to come to his or her own sensible conclusions. The Christian’s role in the world is ultimately to live as a Christian, regardless of whatever background he or she comes from and whatever people or the wider community around them do or don’t do.
After reading through ‘Revelations’ a number of times in my NJB, and really trying to understand it and take it as a whole piece of scripture meant to enlighten, inform, chastise, embolden and in all ways prepare us as Christians to expect the best and the worst of outcomes, I have decided to look at three specific things, perhaps they could be called themes, that particularly caught my eye. The first is about Rome and its downfall, and the criticism of Rome as a monstrous power economically, militarily and perhaps even religiously. The second is a literal line from ‘Revelations’ that goes: ‘The time has come to destroy those who are destroying the earth’ and this can be found in chapter 11, verse 18 and is the last line of the verse. The third and final thing that has caught my eye, and many other people also, is the 1000-year reign of Christians brought to life in the first resurrection who will reign with Jesus for this time. We all know, whether Christians or otherwise, that much has been written, spoken and conjectured about these writings no doubt since Christians, non-believers and scholars of many kinds have been reading and evaluating them. They are not light readings, they are heavy in their approach, content, descriptions, and are completely otherworldly, dramatic and utterly stark in every way. In this it is possible to understand the completely serious nature of this particular piece of scripture, and the fact that it must be looked at and looked at again and again before offering or coming to what might be completely wrong interpretations. In the light of this, by the very fact that so many people have tried to completely interpret it and come to probably wrong conclusions, I am forewarned and at least a little wise to this. So, I can then conjecture honestly and with an open mind about what these things mean and are meant to convey, without claiming specific divine information, of which I do not have, other than that I am a Christian who tries each day to walk with the Lord in a very practical and pragmatic way. It is perhaps in this honesty, and truthful yearning to know what has baffled millions of people before today, that some much needed light may be shed, by anyone at all genuinely wanting some answers. The first thing is understanding why ‘Rome’, which is also called ‘Babylon’, is so painted in such a wicked and evil light. At the time of the writings, Rome was in an ascendant position of power and had an empire that was then the most powerful on earth, certainly in the Classical World at any rate. A mere glance at Roman history, and reading between the lines, will let even a disinterested historian know that Roman civilisation was responsible for much brutality, war, destruction, wickedness and downright evil in the name of Roman power and Roman civilisation. The heart of Rome was empty, filled with various and many gods, whilst its coffers and grain silos bulged with stolen wealth from the four corners of its empire. Rome offered a kind of peace, for many to prosper under its wings, provided that those subservient remained loyal to Rome, and those exploited remained passive and underfoot. Rome then was a despotic and military power, colonising and exploiting many countries so that the very wealthy in Rome and in other parts of the Roman world could live like emperors with plenty of everything. Its much vaunted ‘civilisation’ was often an excuse to subdue and ruthlessly exploit those often seen as different or inferior to the superior Romans. What does this tell us about Rome, why should it be mentioned at least in footnotes in ‘Revelations’ and what does Rome mean for today’s world? I believe that Rome represents, in history and in contemporary life, power and powerful and mighty nations and civilisations, that perhaps also under the guise of civilisation, benign authority and even respectability controlled and exploited and subdued in the very name of civilisation, justice and even religious authority. A person only has to look briefly at recent history to see such nations and civilisations in modern times, like Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Communist China at its worst, and empires like the Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, British, French and even the American empire wielding power and might to achieve very one-sided goals and creating wealth and privilege for a relative few, and suffering, brutality, wretchedness and misery for many many more. I am not saying that people as individuals throughout history in these respective nations or civilisations were any more, or any less, evil as individuals merely that in the name of power, might, civilisation, authority and superiority such nations and empires committed much that made the world in general a worse and more hostile place, whilst making wealth and progress for other people. Perhaps the name ‘Rome’ or ‘Babylon’ in ‘Revelations’ can then be seen as POWER or MIGHT in its own right, and it is in this that then we could begin to see what John is condemning. Were Romans particularly more evil than Israelites? Was greed in a Roman more sinful than greed in an Israelite, or anyone else for that matter? I don’t think so, so in this case perhaps when ‘Rome’ and ‘Babylon’ is mentioned, we might do well to reflect on contemporary power in our modern world and see what could be opposed to God and opposed to true justice today. In this respect, the ‘Revelations’ take on a wholly modern and contemporary flavour, and most of us could honestly say, even privately, where power of many kinds is exercised merely for its own sake and often to the detriment of people who are already suffering or exploited in some way. Does this mean that all wealthy and powerful nations, world wide, are evil and utterly corrupt? It is human beings, and not really systems at all, that use political machinery and military machinery and economic machinery of many kinds to do unjust things whilst perhaps hiding behind a sheen of respectability and perfect responsibility. If Rome is castigated as an evil, wicked place full of sin, does this mean that all Roman citizens were bad people? Certainly not, and it is for each individual to remain true to what he or she knows to be just and fair, and ultimately to what is godly and divinely true whatever sort of world or community or family he or she might be in. It is better to suffer for doing what is right than to suffer for doing what is wrong, in the end. So, I think that ‘Rome’ and ‘Babylon’ could represent any form of power or authority which in the final analysis is used to unjustly divide people into oppressed and oppressor, which ultimately will be against God and Jesus. This type of power can be seen all over the world, in every situation and at every level of society. It is for the Christian who fears God to refuse to be involved in such activities and to ask God for a better life in the here and now.
The second thing I wish to look at which perhaps could be related to power and authority in some way is the line: ‘The time has come to destroy those who are destroying the earth’. In this very line, which I think is hardly possible to take out of any form of context, although people often evaluate and re-interpret the Bible in such a way, there is a clue in why God Himself may end the world before human beings wipe each other out. In this statement also, we might begin to understand other things about the nature of the End Times and perhaps understand that God is ending this present corrupt system precisely because the end result of man’s disordered inclinations and ambitions have brought us to such a state of affairs. Again, some reflection and genuine thinking, and also prayer itself, might begin to yield answers that make the most sense and that more importantly are in line with what we know and understand about God, and what seems even just and right. How is the world being destroyed? What could be deemed destruction, and what could be so bad that God will end this present system? I think the destruction of the world can be seen all around us, in the depletion of resources, the depletion of the rainforests, the pollution of the atmosphere, the poverty and near starvation of millions and millions of people globally, the war-zones and countless big and little conflicts that scar the earth and mean tragedy and suffering on an unimaginable scale for many people, the brutal regimes that maim, torture and kill, the corporate mentality which abuses power and wealth to obtain even more power and wealth, and the untold injustices and grievances and corruptions that make the world a worse place than it ever truly needs to be. Have those who in general have power and wealth and authority used their resources and power fairly and justly, or is power and wealth used to divide even further the ‘haves’ from the ‘have-nots’? A scant look at the world will tell you the answer to this question. What could be deemed destruction is perhaps that which is destructive to people and land and resources, and that which in some way impacts negatively on a human and individual level and to a more general and global level. I could also mention that which is destructive could also be those humans who, whilst being already wealthy and powerful, use that power destructively and make their own consciences and hearts hard and empty while filling bank vaults. Destruction for a Christian is perhaps also what hinders our relationship with God, and Jesus. Any person really putting God first would not in any way willingly want to harm their standing with God. Of course, many people engaged in such destruction might have no belief at all, but it is for all to understand that we are to be judged entirely on our own merits, without being able to hide behind other excuses, and it is certain that guilt might fall heavier on those who could have stopped such destruction rather than on those who had less choice. But, and it is in this that you may begin to see God’s nature, God is completely able to take the worst sinner and make him or her a new person, with a new heart and a new conscience, one who not only does good and acts justly and fairly, but will also want to actively do what is just and right for the rest of their lives. It is in this state that I find myself, being a consummate sinner amongst other sinners, and it is in this absolute yearning to serve God, and remain a friend of Jesus, that I try to live my entire life and in all the areas of my life. The businessperson, or soldier, or doctor, or street sweeper, the black or white, rich or poor person who endeavours to walk with the Lord, day in day out, will find what is genuinely true and will see what is reality, and more importantly will put the spiritual before the material. God is merciful, and one sinner repentant is more joyous to Him than a hundred who have always been steady and faithful. It is seeing God’s mercy for ourselves that we can begin to understand who God is and what He is about. It is then plain, returning to the theme of destruction, that God will punish those who actively destroy, terrorise, maim, kill, deplete, ravage and in all ways act in an evil and wicked manner towards other people, and in the destruction of land and livelihoods and so on. I believe this to be the case also with those who might destroy, kill and maim ‘in the name of God’ as much as those who merely destroy and ravage in the name of their own greed, ego, vanity or other such negative and selfish emotions. That few really see the irony of ‘killing in the name of God’ whatever religion is supposedly being fervently professed, says a lot about the world we are living in. I am not saying that many people do not see this utter absurdity for what it is, and its utter abomination and blasphemy too, but in general it seems to be an almost accepted or even expected consequence of present world affairs. I make no attack as a Christian on any other religion or belief, because looked at coolly and honestly all major religions have their fundamentalists and have their so called zealous fanatics who commit acts ‘in the name of God’ or use their religious beliefs to altogether unjust ends. This goes for Christianity as well as Islam, Judaism and even Buddhism and Hinduism. Surely when a person murders other human beings in the name of God, they are using their religion as a cloak to justify their own vanities, depravities and political ends? And we must be very careful as Christians, or indeed any other religion we might proclaim to believe in, not to act in the name of God, when those actions might really be only too worldly, selfish and not from God at all. I believe, and it is something that I have spent the last couple of years musing over on and off, that those who will destroy the earth ‘in the name of God’ be they fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, Orthodox Jews and so on, will incur the heaviest wrath and punishment of God, and it is those who truly see God as love and life, regardless of religious affiliation or even a lack of religion, who will in all ways endeavour to love their neighbour as themselves in spite of any differences. A healthy respect for God regardless of religious or otherwise belief is perhaps what might indeed see some much needed justice and compassion.
The third and final thing I looked at is the 1000-year reign of Jesus with all those who remained true to the Gospel throughout the ages. In stark printed fact, it is hard to understand what this means or rather how it will be. According to scriptures, those who have truly lived as Christians even whilst the world has been disordered, wicked, sinful and unjust and so on will be the first to be resurrected so that they can reign with Jesus for this glorious 1000 years. In cold light of day print, this seems strange and unusual even to my ears as a Christian, but at the same time I believe implicitly in the reality of this event. I cannot obviously envisage how it will be, but understanding God and knowing from times past when I have felt God’s Spirit in me, I can believe that it will be a glorious and fulfilling time. Part of the thing here is that belief in such a reign might come for Christians when they genuinely and truly ask God into their lives and to fill them with His Spirit and open their eyes more fully. I speak for myself in this respect as much as for any other Christian. It will happen, and it will be a reality for those who stay true to the end and learn truly to serve Jesus in all aspects of their lives. I think in this respect also that we might learn to shed what is less relevant in our belief system and to enhance and hold onto what is more godly living, and living a more truly godly life. We can all do this, and it should be coupled with earnest prayer and a desire to change for the better. My limited mind and intelligence can see this in some ways but I cannot fully comprehend how it will truly be or how it will be carried out, but my faith in the truth of God means that I know it will be a certainty and that God will carry out what He has ordained. There are many other specific points to dwell on in ‘Revelations’ but I think for the most part I have covered what are important points for Christians to reflect on and pray about.
Are we confusing the end of the world with dreadful wars and famines and upheavals, instead of seeing that the end will be specifically engineered by God? This is something else that I think needs to be thought about too. I believe that the End Times will be accompanied by all sorts of disasters, wars, famines, upheavals and a general trend towards lawlessness and godlessness; some might say we are experiencing all these things now. These things I believe will act as an alarm to those who wish to live according to God’s Law, so that nobody is fooled into missing such events. Who can be unaware of these tragedies and terrible circumstances today? Few if any of us, and a wise person might now learn to fully put his or her trust and hope in God. I believe, and have come to believe, that God will end the world because these troubles and terrible and dreadful things will become so bad and horrific that no one will remain untouched by them lest God end them. I have read a few other Christian’s accounts on this as well as trying to understand these things with the knowledge I understand about God and His nature. The end may be a blessing more than a great punishment.
There is a small but quite important amount of apocalyptic writings in the Bible, Old Testament as well as New Testament and it might do for a student of the Bible to have a look for themselves what can be gleaned from the pages. The Book of Daniel is one such book with verses that are specific to End Times theology and it might be a good start for someone to really look and read and reflect on the visions Daniel received about such contemporary things.
If God is going to end the present corrupt system, what is He going to put in its place? Well, it is in this question that perhaps a lot of conjecture has been made. What is the godly thing to do, and what deep down do we all really want from life? Surely we want life with all the good bits left in and all the bad bits taken out!? And does it sound so far-fetched as to want a heaven right here on earth? In this I believe is God’s plan for a future perfect system, a perfect earth, a ‘New Jerusalem’ for all humanity to live completely and utterly in harmony with the living God as our King, Leader and Benefactor. It is this that makes the most sense to me, a heaven on earth, an earthly paradise as well as a spiritual heaven that will be in harmony with the earth. Rather than claim some specific knowledge of this, it is the culmination of reading other views of a future paradise and my own thoughts and reflections.
I have already at length reflected on why the world will come to an end, but how much confusion exists about the End Times? Lots apparently! And why should we think that the world is going to end just because we happen to think it is?! We tend in the modern age to want things right away, and I also think that there is a strong sense of egotism in the world that assumes a thing merely because we as nations or as people or as individuals think about them. But this aside, what confusion does exist about the End Times at this time, and why should we think that the world is going to end soon? Well, for a start, I think that ‘Revelations’ itself is couched in a certain type of language and is written in such an abstract and visionary way so that what is needed as well as study is help from God to make sense of what is written. At the same time, ‘Revelations’ is almost childlike and straightforward in its analysis of events and perhaps at times people have either read more into it than there is or missed what is vital and important. And in missing or interpreting wrongly something or other, there then might come a wholly wrong interpretation of what is actually before our eyes. I am a British writer and I am aware that in America, although I haven’t read any such books or writings, there are a number of writers who have written specifically about End Times scenarios and have conjectured about what will happen. In Britain we tend to be more harshly cynical and more pragmatic and realistic, whereas in America people are perhaps a little less cynical and maybe a little more genuinely open to suggestion. I must stress concertedly that these are specifically generalisations about the national characteristics of millions of very diverse people. I would be a fool to think all Americans believed in this or acted like that, anymore than anyone thinking all British people sip tea with their little finger sticking out, talk terribly posh or live in a stately home! I certainly don’t anyway! So you understand that I mean that in America such musings on religious and End Times theology is more acceptable and more readily bought than it is in Britain. I also certainly do not claim to dismiss anyone else’s writings on this subject, and hope that we can all remain honest and objective in our yearnings for the truth. So, where were we? I come to the nature of what some writers I think have called ‘the Rapture’, where there is now for some people a belief that there is a time coming very shortly where Christians will be spirited away all over the world, and in workplaces, schools, colleges and all forms of activity and life people will disappear having been snatched and taken by God, whilst all the troubles of the world are going on around them. I have not given this a great deal of thought I have to admit, and there is a verse that attests to some sort of people being spirited in some way, so I have to write on perhaps shaky ground. What I think again is that people are reading too literally into something which will happen on a spiritual sense, that God will comfort Christians to shield them emotionally from all that is going on around them, and more importantly will allow us as Christians as much as is possible to live as Christians in spite of the ensuing chaos and corruption in the world at large. In this case, people might be hoping vainly to disappear from site when in fact God might have no such plans! I know and understand that this is a simplistic view, but it makes the most sense to me at this time. The second question then more or less asked why should we think the world is going to end soon. Simple answer I suppose, that humankind now has the enormous destructive capability to completely engulf the world in the most cataclysmic of terrifying disturbances, which even eighty years ago was not deemed possible, or even really dreamed about. This in itself has made even the harshest cynics of the Bible and Biblical prophecy sit up and perhaps ponder a little deeper on events. We are aware of what our ancestors were not, and with that awareness has come a realisation that prophecy can be fulfilled, at least in a destructive sense. Notwithstanding this, It stands to reason that there will be people who will still not believe the end is coming even as it is, so what does this tell us about these End Times? Perhaps it tells us that we should look ‘between the lines’ and that we should, as a weather man predicts rain, look harder for the signs that might be all around. That many people will not see the end coming even as it does is mentioned in the Bible, so what again does this tell us about the state of the earth at the very end? Perhaps that there will be places that will remain untouched in some way and where it is possible for people to ‘bury their heads in the sand’ and refuse to see what is going on in the world. Could this be said at this time with rich nations and much poorer nations? Whatever the case, heartfelt prayer may help us see more clearly the truth of the matter whilst allowing us to prepare for Jesus to return to earth again. Can we be deceived and should we in fact look harder for what will actually happen? A Christian who has spare time might do well to spend some time studying ‘Revelations’ and also reflecting on what they have read and praying for help on what is most definitely not an easy read or an easy to understand collection of writings.
One thing I have understood is that those who will willingly destroy the world and other human beings ‘in the name of God’ are really religious maniacs whatever religion they profess to believe in, and in their so-called religious zeal they might embrace everything about religion but understand nothing about God. It is for those who wish to destroy the world in the name of God to understand that God does not create death He creates life. I believe that those who understand the true nature of God will learn to humbly live in peace with their fellow human beings whatever religion they profess, or even if they don’t profess any belief at all.
It seems that as general standards of living are better for more people than they ever have been, the world in many ways is even more of a terrifying place now than it ever was. This could be because of the sheer number of people on the planet and the many hard and awful situations that appear part and parcel of the present world’s woes. Of course, cranks and prophets of doom have been saying that the world is ending for thousands of years, why then should now be any different? What makes people again more concisely believe that the world is going to end soon? Well, partly I think it is in the nature of the present dominant nations and the way the world is being run and the sheer destruction, in all ways possible, of so much of the world and its resources and even the people on it. There is the destruction of the environment in Canada, South America, Australia, North America and other large landmasses, there are all sorts of diseases and epidemics which claim millions of peoples lives yearly, global warming which is already heating the world up and causing heat-waves, freak weather conditions and flooding in many parts of the world, growing terrorism and minor and major conflicts around the world, multi-religious fundamentalism around the globe, a more stressful, harder and depressed world, a more truly secular and less genuinely God-fearing world, a world of untold wealth yet so much poverty and lack of work; certainly all these and many more such rising factors indicate that we are indeed in the End Times and that we should be forewarned and learn to see things in the cold light of day. Why are people obsessed with the end of the world in such large numbers? I think partially this has much to do with the passing of the millennium, which again made people think about these things but I think it goes deeper than this for the aforementioned reasons. Our ancestors were obsessed with death and destruction, violence and suffering because up until fairly recent times it was such a large part of most people’s lives. In the West at least, we cannot say that this is true anymore for most Westerners, so why is their a gradual trend towards ruminating on End Times topics? This isn’t easy to answer completely notwithstanding all the reasons I have already quoted but part of it must be because we can now understand the apocalyptic nature of End Times literature because of the technology and the destructive capabilities of our weapons and armies and the many other such advances in destructive substances.
Finally, is the Bible the best interpretation for the way the world is today and does the Bible show us more clearly what is going to happen and what is to come? I believe, without a trace of arrogance or smugness, that the Bible is the best source for understanding, interpreting, accepting and learning about End Times theology than any other source of information. It isn’t an easy read and no one is going to understand everything in the first read, because these writings are so stark and otherworldly, but in time and with prayer and reflection, much useful information can be gleaned on how we as Christians and those who genuinely love and fear God should prepare for whatever the near future brings, be it good or bad, and whenever things happen. Do not worry seems to be the message, but merely have faith and hope in the Lord that He will see things through as they were meant to happen. It is having faith and hope in God, and believing in Him, that we might actually see things that we never dreamed or believed possible and to understand that with God nothing is impossible!