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The End Times

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End Times and 'Armageddon'

The End Times are a time of tribulation that will precede the coming of a Messiah figure in many world religions. Primarily, the term End Times has evolved from use around a group of beliefs in Christian millennialism. For a more general view, see eschatology.

  Beliefs

These beliefs typically include the ideas that the biblical apocalypse is imminent and that various signs in current events are omens of Armageddon. These beliefs have been widely held in one form, by the Adventist movement (Millerites), by Jehovah's Witnesses, and in another form by dispensational premillennialists.

  Christianity

End times beliefs in Christianity vary widely. Christian premillennialists, who believe the End Times are now, usually articulate a fairly specific timetable that climaxes in the end of the world. For some, Israel, the European Union, or the United Nations are seen as key players whose role was foretold in prophecies. Among dispensational premillennialists, there are those that believe that they will be supernaturally summoned to Heaven by the Rapture before the tribulations prophesied in the Bible's book of Revelation take place.

'End times' may also refer simply to the passing of a particular age or long period in the relationship between man and God. Adherents to this view sometimes cite St. Paul's second letter to Timothy, and draw analogies to the late 20th/early 21st centuries.

  Roots of contemporary belief

Post-Exilic Hebrew books of prophecy such as the Book of Daniel and Book of Ezekiel are given new interpretations in this Christian tradition, while apocalyptic forecasts appear in the Judeo-Christian Sibylline Oracles and in the whole field of apocalyptic literature, which includes the Book of Revelation ascribed to John, the apocryphal Apocalypse of Peter, and the Second Book Of Esdras.

Religious movements which expect that the second coming of Christ, will be a cataclysmic event, generally called adventism, have arisen throughout the Christian era; but they became particularly common during and after the Protestant Reformation. Shakers, Emanuel Swedenborg (who considered the second coming to be symbolic, and to have occurred in 1757), and others developed entire religious systems around a central concern for the second coming of Christ, disclosed by new prophecy or special gifts of revelation. The Millerites are diverse religious groups which similarly rely upon a special gift of interpretation for fixing the date of Christ's return.

The chief difference between the nineteenth century Millerite and Adventist movements and contemporary prophecy belief is that William Miller and his followers fixed the time for the Second Coming by calendar calculations based on interpretations of the Biblical apocalypses; they originally set a date for the Second Coming in 1844. These sorts of computations also appear in some contemporary prophecy beliefs, but few contemporary End Times prophets use them to fix a date; their timetables will be triggered by future events such as the Rapture. Rather, contemporary End Times believers point to current events as indicating imminent world wars and moral catastrophes, and accordingly believe that God's judgment against the conflict-ridden and corrupt world is close at hand.

Dispensationalism, in contrast to the Millerite Adventist movement, got its start in the 19th century, when John Nelson Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren religious denomination, incorporated into his system of Biblical interpretation a system of organizing Biblical time into a number of discrete dispensations, each of which marks a separate covenant with God. Darby's beliefs were widely publicised in Cyrus I. Scofield's Scofield Reference Bible, an annotated Bible that became popular in the United States of America.

Since the majority of the Biblical prophets were writing at a time when Palestine was mostly Jewish, and the Temple in Jerusalem was still functioning, they wrote as if those institutions would still be in operation during the prophesied events. According to Preterism this was the very fulfillment of the prophecies. However, according to Futurists their destruction in A.D. 70 put the prophetic timetable, if there is one, on hold. Many such believers therefore anticipated the return of Jews to Palestine and the reconstruction of the Temple before the Second Coming could occur. (See Christian Zionism)

The Last Judgement - Fresco in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo
The Last Judgement - Fresco in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo

The Apocalypse of John and Gospel of John are held by most current Christian scholars to have been written at least a decade after the fall of Jerusalem in 95 AD, especially those supportive of Dispensationalism the dominant belief in mainline American evangelicalism. But new voices within Christianity contest this claim (See Preterism) and much debate has ensued following publication of Kenneth Gentry's work Before Jerusalem Fell which argues from archaeology and ancient texts (including the Book of Revelation itself) that the book was written during the reign of Roman emperor Nero in the 60s AD.

Conservatives usually place the writing of the synoptic gospels before the fall of Jerusalem. Liberal Christians place the writing of the three other (synoptic) gospels after the fall of Jerusalem. One prominent Australian theologian from Sydney, Paul Barnett, disputes this and places the writing of John's gospel at an early date.

Dispensationalist prophecies

The Antichrist, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1521)
The Antichrist, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1521)

The foundation of Israel in 1948 gave a major boost to the dispensationalist belief system; Israel's history of wars with its Arab neighbours did even more for it. After the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, it seemed plausible to many fundamentalist Christians in the 1970s that Mideast turmoil may well be paving the way for the Battle of Armageddon.

Leaders of the movement such as Hal Lindsey claimed furthermore that the European Economic Community founded on the Treaty of Rome was a revived Roman Empire, and would become the kingdom of the coming Antichrist or Beast. A Roman Empire, of course, also figured in the New Testament writers' vision of the future. The fact that in the early 1970s, there were (erroneously thought to be) seven nations in the European Economic Community was held to be significant; this aligned the Community with a seven headed dragon in Revelation. This specific prophecy has required revision, but the idea of a revived Roman Empire remains.

The Antichrist was supposed to be the dictatorial leader of a "one world government." He would promise peace to the world while leading Christians into apostasy, and impose a "one world money system" based on the number 666 in which everyone had to have the Number of the Beast branded on them or injected under the skin as a transponder in order to buy or sell. Like the Roman emperors of old, he would impose horrible martyrdoms on surviving Christians. At some point after his appearance, a large number of Jews would convert to Christianity and preach the gospel after the Christians had been removed by the Rapture.

Believers in the system therefore scanned the headlines wondering if various world leaders might be the Antichrist, and wondering whether Mideast violence might be a sign of Armageddon. They feared such things as Social Security numbers and UPC barcodes, fearing that these tax identification numbers may be precursors to the dangerous Number of the Beast, whose receipt destines one's soul to damnation.

The Antichrist, (it is believed), will take the stage initially as the global peacemaker Daniel mentions in Dan.9:27. This coming prince will broker a covenant or treaty with Israel for a period of seven years. Perhaps with global disarmament he will promise to ensure peace in the world after a particularly destructive future war. His ally will be the Whore of Babylon who was seen in vision by John in Revelation 17. John saw this mysterious harlot actually riding the beast and exerting some sort of control over him for a period of time. This harlot entity heads up an apostate church or some sort of global system of false religion.

At the midpoint of the final seven years a world ravaged by plague and turmoil turns to the Antichrist to lead it. Their hope is that a world dictator will deliver it from the beastly chaos the harlot rulership unleashed and was unable to control. The Antichrist at that time is possessed by a beast demon from the Abyss and so becomes the Beast. The prophet Daniel, again in Dan. 9:27 states that at this time this "prince" will stop the daily sacrifices, (which had been resumed again on the Temple Mount). He then commits an appalling sacrilege not unlike the outrages of the Greek Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Now fully revealed as The Beast the Antichrist assumes global dictatorial rule and attempts to establish his 666 economic system. His persecutions of Christians and Jews at that time will be unprecedented. This three and a half year period of intense trouble and travail was referred to by Daniel. It was also spoken of by Jesus Christ in the Olivet Discourse. In Revelation 13 the Apostle John sets the limits to this great trial at 42 biblical months or three and a half years. This is referred to by Biblical eschatologists as the "Great Tribulation". And it coincides with the time of "Jacob's trouble" mentioned in Jeremiah and the trampling of Jerusalem referred to By John in Revelation 11.

Eventually, the Antichrist, under the threat of approaching armies from the orient, musters the armies of the west to attack Israel. At the climax of the story, the Battle of Armageddon, Jesus returns in the Second Coming. He destroys the armies gathering for the campaign against Jerusalem. They are sown into the ground in the Valley of Meggido or Valley of Jezreel in northwest Israel. This is known as the Battle of Armageddon.

The movement has spawned various timetables and countdowns to the apocalypse. This general tendency can be summed up with the title of one of Lindsey's books, The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon. The former Soviet Union played a large role in Lindsey's earlier interpretations; his later books understandably tone that down considerably, while new villains like Saddam Hussein take its place. The movement has strained relationships with conservative U.S. governments and in some ways with the government of Israel as some Jews think American Christians' supposed support of Israel is merely a cover for their hope of the destruction of Judaism during the end times.

The separate destinies of the Church and Israel which is inherent in dispensationalism is a particular worry to Jews and to some evangelical Christians. Evangelicals who reject dispensationalism, such as those who hold to a Post Tribulation Rapture, (or more accurately a Post Tribulation Resurrection-Rapture), see both the Church and Israel entering the crucible of the End Time together. These Traditional Pre-Millennialists, as they are called, reject dispensationalism and its end time eschatology as setting forth a dubious eschatology of an "apartheid of the Elect". They consider the dispensationalist doctrine of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture to be self-serving and highly unlikely to be the true last days policy of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Traditional Pre-Millennialists see all the covenant people of the God of Israel being refined together in the crucible of the end time. They also see the "royal priesthood and holy nation" referred to by Moses and by the Apostle Peter being unveiled in the Apocalypse as a single remnant Elect drawn out from Israel and from the wider Church in the nations.

It should be obvious from the foregoing that the apocalypse we see laid out in various parts of the Bible has a variety of viewpoints and interpretations. The Seventh-day Adventists have their own tradition of millennialism arising from the nineteenth century Millerite movement that is distinct, nondispensatioinalist, and unique in the doctrine of the investigative judgement. Because of its uniquenes, the fact that SDA's are often seen as different due to Sabbath-keeping, and because one of its founders Ellen G. White is thought to have had a prophetic gift of the Spirit, it has occasionally been characterised inaccurately by some who do not hold it, or who have abandoned it, as a mass paranoid delusion, with ideas of reference that supposedly reveal secret and sinister meanings that link unrelated events.[citation needed] However, every interpretation and denomination has those who (often bitter) come to reject and attempt to debunk their previous beliefs, something called reaction formation, and an example of why it would be far preferable if critics of any theological interpretation would refrain from using pejorative psychiatric concepts against those they disagree with.[citation needed]

End times speculations have occasionally been made the subject of political controversy, especially in the United States when conservative Christians seek national political office. The implications of the prophecies that turmoil in the Middle East is inescapable, that nuclear war is predestined by Scripture, and that it will supernaturally lead to a divine utopia, give rise to some misgivings among unbelievers in the prophecies. James G. Watt, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of the Interior, once remarked that "my responsibility is to follow the Scriptures which call upon us to occupy the land until Jesus returns;" this was interpreted by political foes as meaning that we did not need to take care of the environment because Jesus was returning soon. Ronald Reagan himself was quoted in 1980 as saying that "we may be the generation that sees Armageddon." It is not clear if this was a prophetic reference, or a simple reference to the ever-present possibility of a war between the USA and USSR that could destroy the world. Similar controversies have followed former United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, albeit in a different geo-political context.

End time speculation has been part of the religious and cultural scene in America since its founding. Many Americans have seen the sweep of western history and have looked at the New World as the seat of the last great Christian superpower. Many evangelicals today see the present Pax Americana as the final waypoint and a threshold into the apocalypse. Americans who are drawn to apocalyptic themes are not just biblical Christians. Unitarian pacifist songwriter Julia Ward Howe saw the Union Army encamped before a great battle during the Civil War. She then wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic. This national hymn of America abounds with prophetic biblical themes. The hymn also suggests an epic future interface of American history with the apocalypse we see outlined in the Bible.

  Views of different groups

Many of the world's religions other than Christianity have a prophetic expectation that equates with the idea of the End Times.[1]. This section reviews some of these views.

  Baha'i Faith

The founder of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah claimed that he was the Return of Christ as well as prophectic expectations of other religions. He also provided proofs of the End Times and His station. The inception of the Baha'i Faith coincides with Millerite prophesy pointing to the year 1844. With respect to particular expectations of the end times, it has been argued that the Battle of Armageddon has already passed[2] and that mass martyrdoms anticipated during the End Times had already passed within the Historical context of the Bahá'í Faith.

  Buddhism

As part of their Buddhist eschatology Buddhist have prophecies of the time before the promised next Buddha named Buddha Maitreya would be characterized by impiety, physical weakness, sexual depravity and general societal disarray.

  Catholics

Catholics refer to the 25th chapter of Matthew's Gospel in which Christ says that "no one knows the hour or the day," except the Father. While Catholics believe the prediction of dates or times is futile, many believe that Jesus foretold of signs which would indicate that the "end of days" was near. Some of these signs include natural disasters, civil problems, and other catastrophes. Of the precise time, however, it will come like a "thief in the night."

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Catholic beliefs about the "end times" are addressed in the Profession of Faith. An explanation of these beliefs can be found on the Holy See's website: [3]

  Hopi

Among the Native peoples of the Americas, the Hopi also have expectations of a Hopi mythology#The .22Day of Purification.22 followed by a great renewal.

  Hinduism

Hindus have a cyclic understanding of history. The Cycle or "Kalpa" illustrates the pattern of decline in the state of nature and civilization between periods of timelessness when the Brahman regenerates the world of existence. There are four yugs or ages in this process from complete pure to completely impure. The final is Kali Yuga or the Iron Age where civilization becomes spiritually degraded, human lives are shorted by violence and disease and there is a general state of decay in nature. This is the worst period before complete destruction and then a following Golden Age, see [4].

The length of Kalpa is said to be different by various groups from 5,000 years according the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University to 4,320 million years in the terms of orthodox Hindus. The BKWSU is unique amongst Hindu cults in believing in a 5th age called the Confluence Age which correlates to the Christian concept of "End Times", a time of both destruction of the world and revellation of God. According to the BKWSU, humanity entered the End Times in approximately 1936 and the world will end currently in approximately 2036. Although there was a failed prediction of the end of the world in 1976.

  Islam

Main article: Islamic eschatology

According to one of most important parts of Islamic (especially Shia) concept, Imam Mahdi, who is accepted by Shia as the last one of the 12 true and just successors of prophet Mohammad, is going to appear to the world, bringing them a real Justice after the world is full of darkness. Prophet Mohammad said that he will fill the earth with justice in the same way as it had been filled with cruelty and injustice. The Shia sect believes Imam Mahdi to be alive now. According to them, in the times that are called end of the time by some Muslims, he will appear for an everlasting justice. And his appearance is preceded by several signs, for example: Dajjal will appear, people commit sins very frequently, etc. Shia, also, believes that Prophet Jesus is now alive and he will come to earth from skies when Imam Mahdi appears, being a very close friend of him. Although Prophet Mohammad's hadithes about Imam Mahdi are relatively many, Faith in Mahdi, is not an essential one in the view of the Sunni sect of Muslims. But they believe that Imam Mehdi will become before Judgement Day.

  Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses have very specific doctrines on the End Times, explained in detail in the literature of the Watchtower Society. Witnesses teach that the Greek word parousia, often translated as 'coming' really means 'presence', that the presence (invisible coming) of Christ began in the year 1914, and that he now sits at God's right hand, ruling amidst his enemies.(Ps. 110:1,2; Heb.10:12,13) Jehovah's Witnesses calculate the year 1914 from Bible prophecy.

  1. Daniel 4:17 says that the dream that God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar deals with the Kingdom of God and God's promise to give it to " the one whom he wants " or " the lowliest one of mankind." The Bible says that Jesus Christ was indeed "the lowliest one of mankind." (Phil. 2:7, 8; Matt. 11:28-30) Then Jehovah's Witnesses believe this dream also fulfilled to Jesus Christ.
  2. Rulership over mankind, as represented by the tree and its rootstock, would have "the heart of a beast." (Dan. 4:16) As Jesus showed in his prophecy pointing to the conclusion of the system of things (end of the world), Jerusalem would be "trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations (gentile times)" were fulfilled. (Matt.24:3; Luke 21:24) According to Jehovah's Witnesses, "Jerusalem" represented the Kingdom of God because its kings were said to sit on "the throne of the kingship of Jehovah." (1 Chron. 28:4, 5; Matt. 5:34-35) So, the Gentile governments, represented by wild beasts, would 'trample' on the right of God's Kingdom to direct human affairs and would themselves hold sway under Satan's control. (Dan. 7:2-8, 17, 23; 8:20-22; Rev. 13:1, 2; Luke 4:5, 6)
  3. Revelation 11:2, 3 and 12:6, 14 clearly states that 42 months (3 1/2 years) in that prophecy are counted as 1,260 days. "Seven times" or Seven years would be twice that, or 2,520 days. Bible shows that a day is counted as a year in calculating prophetic time in two of its many prophecies (Ezek. 4:6; Num. 14:34), then prophetic "seven times" means 2,520 years.
  4. According to Jehovah's Witnesses, the counting of the "seven times" begin after Zedekiah, the last king in the typical Kingdom of God, was removed from the throne in Jerusalem by the Babylonians. (Ezek. 21:25-27) Jehovah's witnesses believe that this took place 70 years before 537 B.C., the year in which they believe the Jews returned from captivity; that is, it took place by early October of 607 B.C. (Jer. 29:10; Dan. 9:2) Counting 2,520 years from early October of 607 B.C. brings us to early October of 1914.

Jehovah's Witnesses generally do not use the expression 'end of the world', with its connotations of the destruction of humanity or the planet, but prefer to use the expression 'conclusion of a system of things', thus maintaining the distinction between the original-language words kosmos (world) and aion (age, or system of things)

Witness eschatology envisages the following series of events at the end of the system of things:

  1. Christ becomes King in heaven in 1914 and Satan and his angels are hurled down to the earth.(Revelation 11:15; 12:7-12) "last days" of 2 Timothy 3:1 begin.
  2. Fulfillment of prophecies in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 about the 'conclusion of the system of things.'
  3. Possibly cry of 'peace and security' (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
  4. Destruction of Babylon the Great (all religions throughout the world who do not practice true Christianity) by the 'wild beast' referred to in Revelation 17 (understood by the Witnesses to be the worldwide political system through the United Nations.)
  5. Satan's attack on true Christians. (Ezekiel 38)
  6. Armageddon - God's war against the 'Kings of the Earth' (political rulers); destruction of the wicked.
  7. 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ. Survivors of Armageddon will work to make the earth a paradise, like the original Garden of Eden, and will gradually be restored to perfection. It is thought that the dead will be resurrected at this time and given the chance to learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9, 10)
  8. Final test; Satan let loose for a short time, destroyed along with his followers (Revelation 20:7-10)
  9. Christ hands the Kingdom over to his Father (1 Corinthians 15:28)

Witnesses remain neutral in political affairs and teach that believers on earth will be spectators only in the above-mentioned scenario, not participating in any type of warfare.

  Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons, has taught that we are living in the last days.

Some Latter-day Saints believe that the earth does have a temporal existence of 7000 years, and that the present day is somewhere near the 6000th year. They do not speculate as to the time, day or year of the second coming, but watch for indications that the event is approaching.

Latter-day Saints believe that their church is led by prophets who receive inspiration and direction from God. A number of Mormon leaders have taught that the Earth is allotted seven thousand years of existence, and that the earth is nearing the end of the sixth such millennium. Mormon leader Orson F. Whitney stated that we are now in the "late Saturday night" of earth's existence, and that the seventh thousand years will be marked by Christ's second coming and the millennial kingdom, which will be Earth's sabbath and day of rest. The seven seals and seven trumpets of the Book of Revelation relate to the seven millennia allotted to Earth by Latter-day Saint theology.

Latter-day Saints are frequently counseled to watch for the "signs of the times" but not to fear them. The statement "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (from Doctrine and Covenants 38:30) has become somewhat of a mantra among the Latter-day Saints. Wars, pestilence, economic despair, natural disasters and more are all part of what Latter-day Saints see as signs of the times. In particular, a great earthquake is mentioned in all cases.

Other events that Latter-day Saints regard as important, and the dates some of them have purportedly occurred:

  • Priesthood authority, which had been lost in the great apostasy, to be restored (this happened in May of 1829).
  • The pure gospel of Jesus Christ to be restored, and taught in His church (this happened April 6, 1830).
  • Elijah would return and give priesthood keys (this happened on April 3, 1836).
  • The return of the Jews to Jerusalem and Israel, as dedicated by Orson Hyde on October 24 1841 (first wave of Jewish immigration to Israel, or Aliyah (עלייה) started in 1881).
  • The building of a temple in Israel (has not yet occurred).
  • The building of a temple in Zion, Jackson County, Missouri (has not yet occurred, though the location is marked).
  • Temples will "dot the earth" (131 temples as of January 2006).
  • A meeting of priesthood leaders with angelic beings and Christ in Adam-ondi-Ahman (has not yet occurred).
  • Christ will appear in the Temple in Jackson County, Missouri (has not yet occurred).
  • Wars will be poured out upon all nations.
  • The nations of the earth will be gathered to fight Israel.
  • Wicked will be consumed by fire (some traditions allude to a nuclear holocaust, and some hold that this will be at the coming of Christ.)
  • The restored gospel will be preached in all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples.

Many LDS temples feature a statue of Moroni on the highest spire. Such statues face East, the direction from which Christ will come. The Salt Lake City temple has two large doors on the east side of the building, that are never opened. Tradition holds that Christ will enter the temple through these doors, when He comes again.

After the coming of Christ to the mount of Olives, and the destruction of the wicked, the righteous will live on the earth in relative peace and prosperity during the millennium, under the leadership of Christ. Other churches still may exist during this time, and not all people living will be Latter-day Saints, but such people will represent the "more righteous" part of the peoples of the earth. Missionary work and temple work for the deceased (see Baptism for the dead) will continue during the millennium and missionary and genealogy work will be a main focus of Church members and other righteous individuals who live during the time leading up to the final judgement.

Joseph Smith produced an inspired rendition of Matthew 24, relating to the end times.

  Preterism

Another view of the 'end times' known as Preterism differentiates between the concept of 'end times' and 'end of time', and promotes a different understanding of these prophecies, in that they took place in the first century, more specifically in year AD 70, when the Jewish Temple was destroyed, and animal sacrifices were stopped. In this view, the 'end times' concept is referring to the end of the covenant between God and Israel, rather than the end of time, or the end of planet Earth. Unlike all the other Christian theological systems, Preterism holds an exclusive and unique view on the nature and timing of the 'End Times', in that Preterists teach the 'end times' to be in the first century AD.

Preterists believe that prophecies such as the Second Coming, the defiling of the Temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, the advent of The Day of the Lord and the Final Judgment were fulfilled at or about the year AD 70 when the Roman general (and future Emperor) Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple, putting a permanent stop to the daily animal sacrifices.

Proponents of Full Preterism do not believe in the bodily Resurrection of the dead and place this event as well as the Second Coming in AD 70, whereas proponents of Partial Preterism do believe in a bodily resurrection of the dead at a future Second Coming. Full preterists contend that those who consider themselves to be partial preterists are actually just futurists since they believe the Second Coming, Resurrection, Rapture and Judgment are still in the future.

Many preterists believe the first-century living Christians were literally raptured off the earth to be with Christ. At that time, their bodies were changed to be like Christ's. Preterists also believe the term 'Last Days' or 'End Times' refers not to the last days of planet Earth, or last days of mankind, but to the last days of the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant which God had exclusively with Israel until year AD 70.

According to Preterism, many 'time passages' in the New Testament indicate with apparent certainty that the Second Coming of Christ, and the 'End Times' predicted in the Bible were to take place within the lifetimes of Christ's disciples: Matt. 10:23, Matt. 16:28, Matt. 24:34, Matt. 26:64, Rom. 13:11-12, 1 Cor. 7:29-31, 1 Cor. 10:11, Phil. 4:5, James 5:8-9, 1 Pet. 4:7, 1 Jn. 2:18.

  Rastafarians

The Rastafari movement believes the end times began with the crowning of Haile Selassie as Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930, and that he will soon reveal himself as God.

They moreover believe that Ethiopian historical events such as the Second Italo-Ethiopian War are prophecied in the Bible. The rastafarians are waiting for Selassie to call the day of judgement, punish the wicked, and take the righteous back to Africa to live in Mount Zion in Africa to live with him forever in perfect peace, love and harmony. The present society in which they find themselves is referred to as Babylon, and will be destroyed on the day of judgement.

Rastafarians have a unique interpretation of the end times, based on the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation. They believe Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is God incarnate, the King of kings and Lord of lords mentioned in Revelation 5:5. While on the one hand Selassie's crowning was seen as the second coming, and events such as the Second Italo-Ethiopian War were seen as fulfilments of biblical and specifically Revelation prophecy there is also expectation that Selassie will call a day of judgement, when he will bring home the lost children of Israel (the black peoples taken out of Africa during the slave trade) to live with him in peace, love and harmony in the Mount Zion in Africa. Mount Zion is not a place, but the Rastas do believe that they will live there with Selassie in the physical sense of the word; e.g., living in their physical bodies in a physical place. There they will never die.

  Fictional treatments

Varying beliefs about the end times have been the subject of a number of works of fiction.

  Literature

  • The Left Behind series of novels, comics, and motion pictures, originally by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, are a fictional telling of these tales from the most popular, Futurist point of view, of an evangelist who wishes to convert people to belief in these prophecies.
  • A rapture of sorts occurs in the novel Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein.
  • "The Dead" by Mark E. Rogers depicts a fearful end to Humanity's reign on Earth. A (surprisingly small) number of people are "Raptured" from the face of the Earth - perhaps more controversially than anything else that happens in the book, the Pope is *not* "Raptured" - and the remaining people find themselves coming under increasing attack from reanimated corpses under the control of the Biblical demon, Legion. The corpses are all but unstoppable, being vulnerable only to fire, and continue to attack even when their bodies have suffered traumatic damage. (A bullet to the head will not stop them.) Legion and his host are committed to slaughtering all of Mankind in a series of extremely horrible ways. Technology fails at every level rendering Humanity all but defenceless. This novel could be considered the darkest vision of Mankind's final hours.
  • An end-times novel that depicts a Preterist point of view, entitled The Last Disciple, was written by well-known apologist Hank Hanegraaff (aka "The Bible Answer Man") and Sigmund Brouwer; it was released in Autumn 2004, ironically by the same publisher as the futurist Left Behind series.
  • A contemporary Marian visionary, Michelle Rios Rice, has written a superb account of Marian end-time revelations, "A Time of Fire~A Way of Fire", which argues that we are currently in the end times and that the Battle of Armageddon, which is being fought on many levels, has already begun.
  • The end-times of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos involves the destruction of all we know. Though multiple versions of how it will come to pass exist, one version he mentions comes in his short story The Call of Cthulhu, in which he states...

    "The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom."
    —H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"

    Essentially, humanity will have reverted to pure instinct and desires, and Cthulhu will usher in a new age in his own image.

  Television

  • In Buffy The Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel, the end of the world is treated less as a religious event and more as a general world-scale cataclysm that will not discriminate between Christians and non-Christians. In these shows, the end of the world is the moment when the Old Ones will return to the world and rule again. In this case, the end of the world is a negative event rather than a positive one.

  Motion pictures


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