Are we living in the “End Times?” 

North Korea has a hydrogen bomb, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic is poised to strike Miami, Harvey drowned Houston, an earthquake rocked Mexico, Oregon and California are burning, a total eclipse of the sun crossed the US, a powerful solar flare exploded, and Donald Trump is the leader of the free world. I don’t believe that we’re living in the book of Revelation, but is the universe trying to tell us something? Is prophecy being played out around us, or are humans careening toward our own extinction because we are fools?


Biblical Prophecy

The Bible is rich with prophecy, much of it vague and terrifying. The prophets, men like Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and John of Patmos had a direct connection to God, more visceral than others, and were often viewed with suspicion because they were erratic and strange. The visions God gave them may have fried their brains. Prophecy is open to interpretation, and even among fundamentalists, there are questions about the nature of scripture. Is the book of Revelation literal or figurative? There is a lot of wild stuff in that book, with creatures that sound like aliens, multi-headed beasts, plagues, famines, and an actual war between heaven and hell.

Revelation was written by John on the island of Patmos, where he recieved a series of visions from God. The book, the last in the Bible, predicts the end of the world in a series of cataclysmic events, laying out unthinkable losses throughout the world which intensify as they progress through the opening of seals, culminating in Christ’s triumphant return. Many Christians believe in the Rapture, an event where Christians are taken up to heaven prior to the tribulation, while the rest of the world is left behind to endure the coming wrath of God. Christians fall into two camps when debating this, the “pretribulative,” folks, who think they will be spared, and the “post-tribulative” believers who believe Christians will have to wait while the earth goes to hell.


The Antichrist

One constant, though, is the rise of the Antichrist. Throughout history, Christians have pointed to many leaders, believing that each one was the Antichrist. From Nero to Hitler and President Obama, there have always been candidates. Hitler certainly seemed to fit the bill, persecuting Jews and dragging the entire world into war. The Antichrist is said to be charismatic, a great deceiver who unifies the world, only to plunge it into darkness. He is a liar who professes Christianity, while serving Lucifer. President Donald Trump possesses something earlier leaders did not: nuclear weapons capable of ending the world. His hypocrisy, lies, and the way he dribbles scripture to pander to fundamentalists make Trump a pretty good candidate.

Global politics and war

Revelation states that there will be war and rumors of war as the earth hurtles toward the apocalypse. For the first time in human history, mankind has the ability to cause its own extinction in war. With instability in the Middle East, a resurgent and aggressive Russia, and someone with a questionable grasp on geopolitics in the White House, we are teetering on the abyss.

Opening the seven seals:

Revelation 6:12: I watched as he opened the Sixth Seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth…”. 

We just experienced a total eclipse, an earthquake, a blood-moon, and a meteor shower. Interesting.

Sounding the seven trumpets:

Rev 8:7: The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned down, and all the green grass was burned up.”

Sounds a whole lot like a nuclear war! With North Korea threatening to attack the US, the threat of nuclear war is at its most dangerous since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Rev 8:10: A great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of the water. The name of the star is wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter and many people died from waters that turned bitter.

Radiation poisoning would do this to global water supply, and huge portions of the population would die. This is followed by locusts and plagues, all of which could happen due to the war.

Pain continues to rain down upon the earth as the book continues, with the seven bowls of God’s wrath. The waters turn to blood and the sun scorches people with fire, and plagues spread as the Beast rules a world plunged into darkness. Nuclear winter, perhaps? Babylon falls, and then comes the rider on the white horse, Christ himself leading an army of angels, throwing the beast into a fiery lake.

Conclusion

We may be in a tribulation of our own making if we do not collectively make better decisions. As the climate changes and the oceans warm, our children and grandchildren will face the consequences of our utter disregard for science and lack of stewardship of our planet. Displaced populations will be on the move, competing for dwindling resources, causing war and famine. Prayer is a powerful thing, and so is action. We must not blindly follow leaders who would lead us to our own destruction.

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The End of Times… War and Rumors of War

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Mankind has always possessed a morbid fascination with the apocalypse. From the Biblical Flood and Mayan calendar to modern day science fiction, civilizations have been aware and intrigued, sometimes terrified, by their impending doom. In fiction, this is entertaining, but the reality is more chilling. Societal collapse has been a recurrent theme in our history, and perhaps this is one of the reasons we are drawn to books like The Stand  and television shows like The Walking Dead.
For many Christians, the End of Times means the rise of the Anti Christ, Armageddon, and the return of Jesus. Christians have been looking toward the heavens for about two thousand years now, wondering if this is it.

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Sad ruins remain to remind us that the world as we know it is far from eternal. Entire cultures in the Pacific rose and fell, and disappeared. The mighty Mayans are gone, the Roman Empire fell, sacked and destroyed from within. Yet, even those breakdowns did not lead to the destruction of the human race. Life went on.

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Only in the last sixty years, the blink of an eye in terms of history, has mankind developed the ability to cause its own extinction. While in the past, a meteor strike, super-volcano, or a blast from a star light years away could have erased us from the planet, we now can do it ourselves with the push of a button.

A global nuclear war is one obvious way this could happen. To put this in perspective, consider that Russia and the United States possess thousands of nuclear weapons. Russian weapons are dirtier and their largest nukes are more powerful than those in the United States’ arsenal, but it’s irrelevant. The tipping point for a nuclear winter is roughly one hundred explosions, according to the most recent science. There has been debate over the years on this topic, with some estimates coming in at only thirty or forty simultaneous explosions causing the planet to go cold. If thousands of these weapons were launched, that’s the end of us. The atmosphere is choked with radioactive ash, obstructing sunlight, the temperature falls, plants die, and there is no more food. The animals die, and homo sapiens  perish right along with the rest of them.

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In the last sixty years, we have also decided to come up with other, creative weapons of extinction. Biological weapons could do the job just as well as nuclear bombs. Our scientists tinker with viruses, which actually alter DNA, finding ways to make these things more deadly. A genetically altered virus could end our species. We’re looking at the worst outbreak of Ebola, a virus as scary as its name, which according to Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “is the world’s first Ebola epidemic, and it’s spiraling out of control. It’s bad now, and it’s going to get worse in the very near future. There is still a window of opportunity to tamp it down, but that window is closing. We really have to act now.”

Against this backdrop, we now have the greatest level of danger in the world we’ve seen since World War II, with Russia poised to trigger a global war over the Ukraine, and Vladimir Putin on the throne and his finger on the button, not the kind of man to face in the ultimate game of chicken. Because, he’s the guy that doesn’t swerve at the last minute. Then of course, there is the militant, insane, ISIS movement which is spreading like the black plague, a tide of evil which is consuming countries torn by war. The radicals are willing to stop at nothing, bereft of the slightest shred of morality or human decency, killing innocents without remorse or hesitation, and seeming to relish every shot  Shia, every cut throat.

In Gaza, Israel sends in armored vehicles to stop rocket attacks on civilians, and levels schools, homes, and lives. Israel is defending itself against attack, against those who use children as human shields in order to gain support from around the world. Hamas WANTS to provoke Israel into these attacks. It’s Terror 101. Israel becomes more isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly vulnerable to attack from neighbors who have invaded time and time again. Israel also has nuclear weapons, and while they will never confirm this, everybody knows. If Israel is attacked, and it’s really just a matter of time, they will use these weapons if it looks like the war is lost. It’s called the Sampson Option, and it is chilling.

The Old and New Testament in the Bible lay out some things which have come to pass that are irrefutable, though seemed highly unlikely. Israel, it was foretold, would cease to exist, and it’s people would be scattered. That happened more than once. The temple would be torn down. The Romans did that. Israel would become a nation again. This seemed impossible, yet in 1948 Israel was again a nation. One of the last important pieces of scriptural prophecy is the rebuilding of the Temple. There are plans underway now in Jerusalem to do just that.

Whether one believes in the prophecy or not, those things did happen. The book or Revelation, the last and scariest book of the Bible, is rife with images and verses open to debate, with the scrolls and seals being opened, the four horsemen of the apocalypse coming, and death on a pale horse riding to doom mankind.

These may not be the end of times, and perhaps humanity will figure out a way to become better, alter its essential warlike nature and selfishness and transcend the hatred we wield like a sword. At no time in all of human history, though, has the end seemed quite so imminent or possible.

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