What do you think of when you hear the word apocalypse? Is it a positive or negative event?
I was raised in a strict fundamental Christian family. My parents stressed repeatedly that I be prepared and watch for the second coming of Jesus. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42). They firmly believed it would be the culminating event before the end of the world. “Christianity is unique,” they said, “no other religion has such a glorious prophesy about the future.”
I was alert and watching. I was prepared.
I was also stressed. My parents prayed for the return of Jesus Christ to earth. I thought he was in heaven. But the Bible says, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matt. 24:42). This was to be the biggest event in the entire history of humanity.
I believed my parents and pastor that Jesus would soon return. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7). According to the prophecy, people would know that Jesus was soon to return when these signs occurred. Daniel Silliman, a Valparaiso University professor of religion, said a long tradition of Americans is “looking to prophecy as a way to absorb the chaos.”
As I read about history I thought, “Just a minute, “haven’t these things always been happening, throughout history?” The accounts of humanity are filled with famines, disasters, pestilences, and chaos. If these are the signs, then no wonder Christians could not predict when Jesus would return.
Many Christians have tried to pinpoint the date. Soon after Jesus was crucified in 33 A.D., people started to place his return in 66 AD. More than 175 dates were predicted over the 20 centuries since–all of them wrong. The dates came and went with no Jesus, and no knees bowing at his public appearance. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me” (Romans 14:11).
One Christian version of the apocalypse, “end times” goes like this: an increase in war, famine, natural disasters; Christians who have died and then those living shall be “beamed” up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; seven angels blowing seven trumpets in heaven; the rise of the Antichrist and the Beast; a group of world leaders and governments wage war on the forces of God in Israel at a place called Armageddon. Finally God pours out His wrath and judgment over the earth and casts into hell all those who do not believe in Jesus. Even some Christians say this sounds crazy, maybe because it absolutely is!
As a teenager, I believed the prophesy was true; I felt scared, but secure that I was “saved.” But why would Jesus (the Prince of Peace) cast most of humanity into hell to suffer forever just because they did not believe in him? How could I worship a Jesus who was so vindictive, evil and mad?
It seemed to me that fundamentalists praying for such a “glorious return” were seriously nutty.
I felt compelled to verify my parents’ belief that that no other religions had similar prophesies. I don’t know what motivated me, maybe it was my deeper-than-conscious memories of past lifetimes as a non-Christian. Maybe I hoped and wanted to look forward to a more sane and reasonable future.
I was surprised and happy to find out that Buddhism also had prophecies. So does Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism.In addition, so do many shamans, indigenous traditions, Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Druid, Mayan, Hopi among them. Here are a few. Notice the different outcomes, and keep in mind that within some traditions there are different versions.
Zoroastrianism: An ongoing 9,000-year battle between good and evil will culminate in the final assault this century. The sun and moon will darken and humanity will lose its reverence for religion, family, and elders, the world will fall into winter, and a most fearsome miscreant will break free and terrorize the world. A “savior” called Saoshyant, brings about the final renovation of the world in which falsehood is finally destroyed. He will resurrect the dead, whose bodies will be restored to eternal perfection, and immortality will thereafter be everlasting.
Islam: Very complicated, one version of the end of the current world is: The Mahdi, redeemer of Islam appears, the Anti-Christ (called the dajjal) whose right eye is blind and deformed like a grape appears. Then Jesus (Isa in Arabic) returns. He kills the dajjal. During this time, the entire world will be engulfed by smoke, earthquakes, the sun will arise in the West, and vicious beings will ravish the earth. Finally Islam becomes the world religion.
Buddhism: Maitreya, the future Buddha, will appear five hundred years after the passing of the first Buddha (about the time when Jesus was on earth). Another prediction is for Maitreya to appear in five thousand years. In the future when the Dharma (“spiritual truth or righteousness”) will have been forgotten by most in the world, Maitreya comes to peacefully (not violently) restore the Dharma, for humanity’s spiritual evolution.
Hinduism: (3100 BC). In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna promises his disciple Arjuna, “Whenever virtue declines and vice predominates, I incarnate as an Avatar (Incarnation of Divinity). In visible form I appear from age to age to protect the virtuous and to destroy evildoing in order to reestablish righteousness.” One such Avatar was foretold to be born in 2019 AD.
By the time I had discovered all these other prophecies, I had left Christianity. I thought Jesus was actually going to do those horrible things that Christian leaders preached, and wanted no part of it.
It took me decades of intense research and reflection to truly understand the meaning of the second coming of Jesus. It was very painful to conclude that the religion I had been raised in had such violence in it. This caused me deep despair, as most Christians I know are kind. I rejected Jesus and Christianity, because at that time, I could not separate the kind message of Jesus from the chaos of Christianity.
It is the fundamentalist Christians with their psychotic mind-set that makes Jesus out to be so arrogant, petty, and vicious. The message of Jesus is a wonderful spiritually evolving message, “ye are gods” (John 10:34).
The word Apocalypse does NOT mean violence and chaos. It means the revealing of divine mysteries, revealing hidden spiritual truths. As usual, a mistranslation has caused a lot of problems. My next blog will discuss the revelation of Jesus, “The Revelation (apocalypse) of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass” (Rev.1:1).