It is human nature for humans to ask questions. Many of these questions are without answers and there is no possible way to come up with one. A common question that plagues the human race is When will the world end? For thousands of years, astrologers and psychics have been trying to come up with clues to when it all will end. There is a source, the Bible, which aids humans, specifically Christians, in trying to come up with some answers. Many places in the Bible such as Revelations, Ezekiel, Matthew, Daniel, and I Corinthians all give some clues to how and when the end of the world will come.
Two articles that give some insight on this subject are Visions or Heaven, Dreams of the End by Barbara E. Bowe and Are We Living at the End Time? by Alfred McBride and O. Praem. These articles help to aid us with the answers to such questions as: How will the end time happen? Does the Bible tell more of a symbolic happening or are all of those horrible things going to happen? They also give details and hints that happen all over the Bible, such as the number seven.
In the article Are We Living at the End Time, authors McBride and Praem look at the end time from a millenarians perspective and backs up their claims with the Bible. Instead of using the Churchs four end time happenings: death, judgement, heaven and hell, the millenarian uses its own four criteria: Rapture, tribulation, millennium, and the Second Coming. Looking at these questions in a theological way, by asking questions, the authors make these four criteria easier to understand (McBride & Pream, 58).
The first question asked is When will we experience Rapture? The millenarian looks specifically at Pauls letters to the Thessalonians and to the Corinthians. In Pauls first letter to the Thessalonians, he uses imagery to describe to them what Rapture will be like when Christ returns. He tells the Thessalonians in 1Thessalonians 4:16-17, For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so well be with the Lord forever. (NIV) This is what millenarians call the Rapture and think this is exactly what will happen. They also except the concept of the three heavens. The concept is that God has put the sun, moon, and stars into a huge dome, and above the dome is where the Trinity, angels, and saints live. The Catholic Church, even though they do not speak of the Rapture (McBride & Praem, 65) believes that we will be with God someday. They are not sure though how this will happen (McBride & Praem, 58).
The second question a millenarian would ask is What about the years of tribulation? A millenarian says that there will be seven years of tribulation. They base this claim on the happenings in the book of Revelations. In the Book of Revelations the number seven is used several times like, the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and so on. Nevertheless, millenarians are not sure when all of this will happen. The Catholic Church believes though that the tribulations will come along with the Second Coming.
The third question is What, exactly, is meant by millennium? In the American Heritage Dictionary, millennium is defined as In the NT, a thousand-year period in which Jesus is to reign on Earth. (AHD, 529). This same definition is found in The Book of Revelations 20:1-6 (McBride & Praem, 61).Millenarians believe that after the seven years of tribulations and the Battle of Armageddon, comes the millennium as described in Revelations, will come.
The final question is When can we expect the Second Coming? Millenarians believe that the Second Coming is the last criteria for the end of the world. Not only do millenarians believe that Christ will come to judge the living and the dead.They also believe that God will send the unrepentant sinners to hell and the just to heaven. However, they are constantly trying to pin down an exact date. Contrasting that, the Catholic Church believes that it is not important when this will happen, but to be ready when it does (McBride & Praem, 65-66).
The whole gist of this article is that because we have faith, in immediate union with Jesus through the power of the human spirit, we can get on with our lives, (McBride & Praem, 66) and basically its everyday activities. The religious happening do not have to be taken literal but maybe in some sort of symbolic meaning.
What I learned from this article was that sometimes certain groups may take what the Bible says very literal. I think that often the Bible may use symbolism to make a point. In the letter written to the Thessalonians from Paul, he uses imagery to show them how the Rapture will happen. Back then the people very much believed in the three heavens, so to say that the people would rise puts that believe into action. Not being Catholic either, I do not necessarily believe everything that was stated in the article.
The second article, Visions of Heaven, Dreams of the End, had a lot to do with the end time and how the Book of Revelations addresses the issue. The article starts by saying how humans have always dreaded the turn of the century and what comes with the new millennium. The whole article is mostly based on the writings in the Book of Revelations. The article explains how the word revelation means to reveal. Out of all of the books in the Bible, Revelations reveals many good and some very scary details about the last days of the world.
A man named John the Seer writes the Book of Revelations. It is said that he was a visionary (Rev 1:1-3) who was exiled and sent to the island of Patmos. He was a prophet of his day and what is written in the Book of Revelations was supposedly told to him by an angel. The angel also told him in Rev. 22:8-9 to not seal up the book and that the end was near. This is a very important passage because it gives Christians hope. Many believe that the symbolism used is a sort of code language. That when John used imagery, such as the great beast and 666,he was referring to Rome and its ruler, Emperor Domitian.
The writer of the article goes on to explain why the Book of Revelations is so hard to understand. John the Seer uses many examples of symbolism to explain certain events. It uses many images that had already been used in the Bible. For instance, the final chapter where Jerusalem descends from the sky was taken right out of Ezekiels writings. Some think that John uses symbolism to communicate certain messages to Christians of his day. We may not see exactly what he is talking about, but maybe back then they knew exactly what he was getting at.
Next in the article, Bowe looks at how the Book of Revelations is ultimately scary to the believer, but how it offers some hope. Through all the beast, dragons, and fire, John tells a tale of a beautiful Lamb (the Lord) surrounded by thousands of people (I took it as angels). This is not at all bad, and this image gave the Christians of then and now much hope.
At the end of Revelations, John speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. This vision was not at all new, as its mentioned in Isa. 65:17. This vision is available to the reader to make a future for their world.He describes the new heaven and the new earth as a place with no evils, filled with the presence of God. The new earth in Revelations is not some burning fire pit with poison spitting animals, but a place of paradise. The author then goes to say that this was the view that we should all have had for the millennium.
This is the view that I have always had for the end time. I am not one to sit around and be scared. I am so excited to meet my God in his paradise. Unlike the millenarian in the first article, I could really care less when or how I get to be there with him. The whole purpose of this paper was to come up with an answer to when the end time would be. However, I think through reading both of these article, I have come to find out in my mind, that no one knows but God. It is pointless to sit around and wonder if this 10-horned beast, rode by a past prostitute, is going to fall out of heaven in the end time. What I think is more important is making yourself ready for the coming of the end time.