The End of the World As We Know It: Doomsday or a New Beginning?
I'm interested to note that more and more people are becoming convinced that a great change is in the making, and the end of a vast cycle of time is drawing to a close. I feel that, too, that we are on the cusp of a great change, and that the times we live in are a time of rapid and sometimes cataclysmic change. Whether it will be the end of the world as we know it, quite soon, within the next year or the next week or the next month, or whether we have another couple of hundred years to go, is not given to us to know.
Some faithful Christians believe in end times according to the book of Revelations, when the four horsemen of the Apocalypse ride, and the world is beset with famine, drought, plagues of locusts, horrible wars; the sea turns to blood. (In the book of Revelation, it describes the locusts as having breastplates and human faces. Ye gods!) They believe that the world as we know it will come to an end, and that the faithful will be transmuted directly up to heaven, to sit near the throne of God.
The Revelation of St. John the Divine:
"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord."
(Revelations Ch. 10, Verses 5 through 7)
..."And sware by Him that liveth forever and ever, who created heaven and earth, that there should be time no longer...
...But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished.
(Revelations Chapter 16, Verses 17 and 18)
..."And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven from the throne, saying, it is done.
...And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not seen since men were upon the earth...Every island was fled away, and the mountains were not found."
(Revelations Chapter 21, verse 1)
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea."
What does this mean? The overall picture in the Book of Revelations is pretty grim. For one thing, the book says that all the fornicators will be thrown in the lake of fire, to suffer torments forever...
Well, I guess I'd qualify and so would most of my friends. I'm a fornicator and so were most of my friends according to the Biblical definition: most of us were not virgins when we married. Most of us have been married more than once, or lived with someone to whom we were not married. Uh-oh! We're all in very big trouble in End Times according to the Book of Revelations.
The descriptions of human suffering in the Book of Revelations are graphic and appalling. People are tormented and killed in various and sundries ways: the rivers and the seas turn to blood. It seems that everyone must die: but no, only a third of the world at a time.
This is definitely a dystopian eschatology.
- "Eschatology" means the study of the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of mankind
- "dystopian" means means a negative view of the ultimate destiny of mankind. It is the opposite of "Utopian", where the new world resulting from the death of the old one is sort of a heaven.
A "fin de siecle", the end of a cycle, in history, is often heralded by vast changes to the planet which few survive.
An ice age, a world-wide flood, are historically true events which changed the world for human beings, and which they barely survived.
So most cultures and religions have some recognition of the cyclical ways of nature, time, the planet...
Most cultures and religions have a tradition, whether it be the coming of the Messiah, the second coming of the Messiah, or, in the case of the Brahmins, a huge series of destructive natural events will wipe out the entire human population, and we'll start all over again, with divine human beings being born on earth; a new Golden Age, where human vices will not exist. This has happened before: it will happen again. Human vices will gradually creep in and contaminate and corrupt the species until the end of the cycle...
Buddhists have a similar belief, that human behavior becomes corrupt or "unskillful" over time. When the end of the cycle comes, people are almost totally corrupt, or "unskillful", hunting each other, eating each other...a few run away, hide in the mountains, and when the mass slaughter is over, they come out of hiding and resolve to live virtuously once again.
Hindus also believe that each period of time sees a degeneration of human character and morals; then a great cleansing...then, Shiva simultaneously dissolves and regenerates the universe. Not just our world: the universe. The true concept of Hindu time is cyclical: one age may end but another begins, always. The human life cycle of birth, growth, decay and death is echoed by the cosmos.
Islam believes in the Day of Judgment. It's surprisingly similar to Christian beliefs.
The Prophet Muhammad says:
- Before the Day of Judgment there will be great liars, so beware of them
- When honesty is lost, then wait for the Day of Judgment.
- It [The Day of Judgment] will not be called until the ten signs have appeared: Smoke, Dajjal (the Antichrist), the creature that wounds people, the rising of the sun in the West, the Second coming of Jesus, the emergence of Gog and Magog, and the three sinkings, or cavings in, of the earth.
There is also that New Age thing about the end of the Mayan calendar.
True, the Mayan calendar ends at December 12, 2012.
However, (and this is directly from Wikipedia, a source that I trust):
Misinterpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is the basis for a New Age belief that a cataclysm will take place on December 21, 2012. December 21, 2012 is simply the day that the calendar will go to the next baktun.
A "baktun" is a "Long Year". What this precisely means and how the Mayans measured time is a subject for an entirely different hub. We won't go into it here.
What I find even more intriguing, and having a substantial basis, is the "Prophecy of the Popes".
St. Malachy was an Irish saint who was the Archbishop of Armagh during his lifetime. He lived from 1094 to 1148, and several miracles and prophecies were attributed to him by the Catholic church. He did good in his lifetime. He reformed his diocese. He was very zealous in his faith. He reformed and reorganized the Irish Catholic Church, bringing it more in line with Rome.
The Prophecy of the Popes is a list of 112 Popes, beginning with Pope Celestine II, who was elected in 1143, and ending with a pope described in the prophecy as "Peter the Roman", at which time the city of Rome will be utterly destroyed, during the onset of the Apocalypse. We are at the 111th pope now.
This list of popes isn't by name but by a short Latin phrase describing each successive pope. Some of the descriptions are a lot more recognizably apt than others: it's reaching to say they all fit.
This prophecy was originally published as part of "Lignum Vitae", by Arnold de Wyon, a Benedictine monk and historian, in 1595. The list was purportedly rediscovered in the Roman Archives in 1590, where it had been lost since 1139. Some people think it's a forgery... others think it was originally by Nostradamus and attributed to St. Malachy because of its negative ending...
Is it a valid sign?
The end of the Revelations According to St. John predicts a new heaven, and a new earth, because the first heaven and earth had passed away. The new heaven is described as not having time, having no days or nights, having no sun...the souls in residence live in the Light of God...
I find that prophecy hard to imagine but easy to believe, for some reason. I read a book by a man named Edgar Cayce, who lived from 1877 to 1945, and made many predictions of the future as well as being a very successful faith healer.
Edgar Cayce was a strong Christian and a very modest and unassuming man. He did a lot of good, to help people, in his lifetime, and he didn't capitalize on his strange powers.
Some people thought he was a charlatan but the body of actual evidence indicates he was for real. Many people were helped, many people were healed by him. He attributed those healings to the power of God.
Mr. Cayce, though a strong Christian, also believed in reincarnation. On the topic of the Apocalypse and the End of Days, he says:
"Tendencies in the hearts and souls of men are such that these upheavals may be brought about...Man is not ruled by the world, the earth, the environs about it, nor the planetary influences with their associations and activities. Rather it is true that man brings order out of chaos by his compliance with divine laws. Or, by his disregard of divine laws, man brings chaos and destruction into his experience."
"...All those who have forgotten God have gradually been eliminated...those souls who have reached a certain level of development and remember God are the ones who reincarnate...though there is room for us all in the Great Heart (God) of the Universe."
Mr. Cayce says that "coming into earth is for the soul's evolution" and he envisions a time when the soul's need for material manifestations of any kind have ended, and passed away with the passing of the world.