Is the Apocalypse upon us?

I don’t know much about interpreting the symbolism in Revelation, but I have heard a few theories about it being applied to the current time – SSNs being the Mark of the Beast, and something about AIDS, IIRC. And with the massive destruction this year from natural causes – hurricanes in the southeastern US, and of course the tsunami in Asia – are there any other signs that the Biblical Apocalypse is taking place right now?

Is the Apocalypse upon us? Probably not. People have been interpreting the latest disaster/ war/ catastrophe as a sign of the “end times” pretty much since the Apostles. Consider what’s already happened in the last two thousand years: The collapse of civilization in Europe, the Black Death which wiped out 1/3 of the entire population, more empires rising and falling than can be briefly recounted, any number of natural disasters. The latest earthquake was by no means unprecedented in severity or loss of life.

The language of Revelations is so cryptic that it could mean almost anything, and some passages in the New Testament support the idea that we shouldn’t even try to guess when the Second Coming is due.

Hurricanes aren’t exactly unusual - even that many hitting Florida is hardly unprecedented. Tsunamis, while rarer, are recurrent events - yes, recurrent on the scale we’ve seen, although thankfully the gaps are centuries and not months. And there’s been epidemics which easily compare to Aids, from the Black Death to the 1918 influenza outbreak.

Anything, with enough conviction, can be interpreted as something predicted by Revelation. Or as something predicted by the fortune-teller at the fair. Or as something signified by the entrails of a goat. Or whatever.

In a word, no. The effect of the tsunami is shocking. But don’t start to imagine that it’s the worst time humans have ever faced.

Look at the list ‘Natural Disasters’ halfway down this page.

People have seen the “Biblical apocalypse” in every generation. Revelation is probably the most widely cited and least understood book in history. Most of what Revelation describes relates to late 1st century Rome and has no application to the modern day. It does not make predictions about our future. It was a coded message of comfort to persecuted Christians during the reign of Domitian. Most of the popular images relate to that time and place.
A lot of what people think is in Revelation is not even present in the text (there is no Antichrist, for instance…also no “Rapture”).
There isn’t a damn thing in the Bible about social security numbers, AIDS or last week’s tsunami. Relax. There isn’t going to be any apocalypse.

Wow, I’m posting in Great Debates :eek:

One thing I distinctly remember from my teachings about Revelations and the “end times” quite specifically was the portion that mentioned a man who would come to power as the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, and who would unite the world. I looked through Revelations just now, the King James Version, and saw references to familiar warnings from my youth.

Specifically Revelations 13 , which mentions the infamous branding that people of the world would have to allow to be able to “buy or sell”. This is supposed to be the Mark of the Beast, displayed either on the right hand or in the forehead.

I have been told since I was a small child that the end times were upon us. I wonder sometimes, when I hear about horrible things happening, but I don’t think that we are supposed to know, as Lumpy stated.

The “Beast” was the Emperor of Rome. The “mark” was the currency with his face on it. Christians and Jews at the time believed that forcing them to use Roman currency symbolically “branded” them as slaves to the Emperor (slaves were typically marked on the right hand or forehead with the names or initials of their owners).

It’s all symbolically about the Romans. All of it.

A christian I know told me there is a verse which says at the end times there will be “signs in the sky and stars and the roaring of the sea.”
He claims that tsunami was the roaring of the sea in that verse and I’d better get ready.
Hasn’t the sea roared before?

I’m mostly in agreement. Revelation was written to persecuted Christians of the 1st century.

However, much of what is written there is symbolic language that could be applied to modern-day happenings. Not that I think that it’s forcasting the coming Apocalypse, I think the prophetic portions of that book were fulfilled during the 1st century. But the descriptions of the Beast could be just as easily applied to Hitler or, well, it remains to be seen what nefarious activities Dubya’s going to get up to now that he doesn’t have to worry about re-election.

So even though Revelation was written to a specific group at a specific time, the symbolism can apply to just about any nasty world (or very large nation) leader who brings about the end of Civilization As We Know It.

I would agree that in a broader, more metaphorical sense, the “Beast” is human tyranny in any form and the message to keep the faith and that God will have the last word are applicable in any generation.

As terrible as these tsunamis were, they are a once-per-century occurence, not a once-per-planetary-history occurence. At least, earthquakes of this severity happen once or twice per century. There was an earthquake in China in the 1970’s that killed a quarter of a million people (some say over half a million). If you look at geological time, you are confronted with such things as megatsunamis and supervolcanoes. These things could happen again, at (sort of) any time.

Wait for this to happen, then ask us if the apocalypse is at hand.

The main New Testament passages about “the End Times”-
Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21 (lumped together here as they are the same
talk by Jesus with different nuances)
I Thessalonians 4:13-18 (the Rapture)
II Thessalonians 2 (the Man of Sin aka AntiChrist)
Revelation (especially from Chapter 6 onwards)

Old Testament passages-
Isaiah 2, 11, 24, 60, 66 (Messianic Kingdom)
Ezekiel 37-39 (Restoration of Israel & Attack by Northern Powers), 40-48 (Messianic Kingdom as Perfect Temple)
Daniel 7 (Rise & fall of Gentile Empires until Messianic Kingdom), 11:35-12:3 (the same)
Zechariah 12-14 (Siege of Jerusalem, The LORD stands at Mount Olivet, His Earthly Kingdom)

Some Jewish & Christian commentators apply these passages to other events besides the End ones- like the ancient Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Syrian & Roman attacks on the Jews and the survival & restoration of Israel as a nation &/or the Jews as a people.

The Apocalypse? No, not yet.

What you’re seeing now is just the birth pains.

“…dogs and cats sleeping together!”

Well, since there is no god, and since the bible is just an old book with a bunch of stories and fables, its pretty safe to say that no, the mythical apocalypse is not upon us. Just as Ragnarok is not upon us, Croesus didnt eat his young, etc.

The only reasons I think we have any reason to consider the possibility of the
actual Apocalypse coming upon us…

the restoration of Israel as a nation & Jerusalem as its capital

globalization of human interaction (communications, commerce, warfare)

Mark 13 is about the Jewish-Roman War and the ensuing destruction of Jerusalem (and the Temple) in 70 CE. Mark placed the “prophecy” in Jesus mouth but mostly the author was talking about events which had already occurred (or perhaps were still occurring) relative to the date of composition. The “abomination” and “Son of Man” business are allusions to Daniel and do show Mark’s expectation of an imminent parousia but basically, Jesus’ “Little Apocalypse” as it is somtimes called had already happened when Mark wrote his Gospel. I wouldn’t “flee to the mountains” just yet.

The passage does mention “earthquakes,” though. Are you serious;y proposing that last week’s tsunami is a sign of the apocalypse?

Just out of curiosity, what the hell is God’s motive for murdering tens of thousands of people with an earthquake (if indeed you believe that God did so or will do so)? What purpose does it serve?

You still need the Temple. No Temple, no boom. :wink:

If I remember my terminology correctly, the Essenes were very fond of a technique called pesher where verses in the Hebrew Bible directed to people of a certain era were used to interpret events in the present. They used obscure verses in Habakkuk, for example, to explain current events and back up their theories, beliefs, practices, etc.

I would say that Christians throughout history have been found of pesher too. John’s Apocalypse is a wonderful example: written about those bad Romans, it has been used for centuries to predict or demonstrate the End of Days, Armageddon, the upcoming Parousia, or whatever the Great Big Event at the End of Time is called.

Now, the tricky part about interpretation is that any Sacred Work can be manipulated to say anything. Does Revelation tell us the End of Days is upon us? The case may be made for both cases, and both arguments would be right.

Now, regardless of what Scriptures say, is the End of Days upon us? Of course. My End of Days may be tonight or tomorrow or in one year’s time or after seven decades. Christians ought to be more concerned about when their days are over rather than when the great End of Days will arrive.

I would suspect a good, faithful response to the question, “Is the great End of Days upon us?” could be: Perhaps it is, perhaps it is not; however, no one but the Father knows for sure, so our speculation is worthless and it detracts from our Christian mission here and now. People asked this question of the Lord and we ought to take to heart His response as if He were speaking to us today (pesher!): “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).

WRS - Mar anatha!

Is anyone else reminded of a scene from SLC Punk?


ok… I’ll go now.