Christian Prophecies and the Second Coming of Christ
The idea of Christ's return to Earth or the second coming is something that is mentioned a fair bit in the New Testament in the Bible. It is stressed again and again that followers of the Way and good Christians should be ever vigilant and prepared for his arrival, and it is also described how his coming may happen at any time even when we least expect it. And so it is that in present times, many Christians do expect the imminent arrival of Christ and his second coming.
Prophecies in early Christianity
It seems that Christianity derives, at the outset, from it being a small Jewish Apocalyptic sect with it's original founder preaching a strong message of the end being imminent. And in the first few centuries of the early Christian church it seems that there were many who lived in a state of expectation that the end may soon be upon them. From these humble beginnings Christianity went on to become the state religion of all Rome in the early 4th century under the emperor Constantine. Around this time and later it seems that the idea of Christ's return and the notion of the Apocalypse associated with the Second Coming, became more downplayed and to a certain degree pushed into the background. This is still the case with the Roman Catholic church today. One of the reasons why this came about is probably that there were too many false alarms concerning the end and Christ's imminent arrival during the time of the early church.
St Augustine's influence on the Prophecies
Another reason why the idea of Christ's Second coming and the prophecies became de-emphasized has to do with the writings and thoughts of one man, St Augustine of Hippo who came on the scene the latter 4th century. He is certainly one of the most influential figures in early Christianity and the impact of his ideas were immense. It was Augustine who formulated the doctrine of Original Sin and more relevant to present discussion it was he who pushed for a more symbolic interpretation of the prophecies, particularly those contained in the Book of Revelation; the book most associated with Christian prophecies for the end times. To Augustine the Book of Revelation didn't depict, even allegorically, events that would unfold on Earth, but rather things that would take place in a more spiritual or metaphysical realm. His interpretation gained the upper hand and dominated Christian thinking about such matters. However the Reformation in the 16th century changed this state of affairs.
Prophecies with the coming of the Reformation
With the Reformation came the translation of the Bible from Latin into the common Vernacular i.e. into plain English, German and French etc. Whereas up to the time of the Reformation, only scholars and priests, versed in the intricacies of Latin, could understand the Bible. With the coming of the Reformation and the invention of the Gutenberg printing press, suddenly it became possible for ordinary folk to read the Bible in their native language, in so doing they were able to form their own impressions and make their own interpretations. When it came to the prophecies contained in the Bible, many people decided that they were indeed about the foretelling of actual events that will be occurring on the Earth in the future. And to some in the not too distant and quite immediate future. This gave rise to many new Apocalyptic Sects or Millenarian movements eagerly awaiting, to them, the imminent return of the Christ and his 1000 year reign over an earthly paradise. Ever since the Reformation, people have repeatedly, over the course of time, interpreted the Biblical prophecies as soon to happen events. This has had the effect of stimulating states of feverish expectation in people located in various parts of the World and living at various times.
John Nelson Darby and the imaginative doctrine called Dispensationalism
In the 19th century a particularly inventive interpretation of the Biblical Prophecies for the end times and the Second Coming of Christ emerged in England. From the imagination of one John Nelson Darby, a member of a small Christian sect called the Plymouth Bretheren, emerged a doctrine, concerning the end times, called Dispensationalism. A detailed and complex description of events, essential what it predicts is that Jesus will literally appear in the sky like some giant man shaped aeroplane or airship. This will be the return of Christ and with his return what will happen next is what's called the 'Rapture'. This is when all the Faithful Believers in Christ or the 'Born Again' and Baptised in his name, will literally be lifted up into the air and taken in a magical protective bubble in a process called the 'Rapture'. After this Jesus will rain fire upon the World and 'Scorch the Earth' destroying everyone still left on the planet. Then Jesus will recreate the Earth anew and the true believers will descend down upon the planet and re-populate a perfect World and a Heaven on Earth, living happily ever after.
The doctrine of Dispensationalism, described above, would be a harmless fairy tale if it wasn't for the fact that it is the most widely held belief, concerning the end times, among Pentacostal and Evangelical Christian denominations around the World today. How this came about is partly through the lecture tours that John Nelson Darby made throughout the United States during his lifetime. As a result of this, his doctrine came to be incorporated into the annotations of the famous Scofield Study Bible which became a very popular text in the majority of Fundamentalist seminaries or religious colleges in the US. And so the doctrine of Dispensationalism and the Rapture spread far a wide and came to be believed a great number of people. This is still the case today and through the zealous evangelizing of the various Fundamentalist Christian groups, it is becoming increasingly prevalent. There are reasons why the doctrine of Dispensationalism has an inherent downside and can cause some negative attitudes in some of its adherents.
For instance, there is the case of a nuclear weapons factory in Colorado USA, where most of the workers there were Fundamentalist Christians who actually believed they were building the instruments that Jesus will one day be using to 'Scorch the Earth'. Of course it's sensible for any employer to find motivated and diligent workers who believe that their paid labour is for something that serves a higher purpose. The real problem emerges when the employer, in this case the United States government, and the President at the very top of the chain of command also believes in the imminent end of the World and the the Rapture. This was particularly the case during the Reagan administration in the 1980s.
Dispensationalism and its influence on U.S. Politics during the Reagan years
During the time of the Reagan administration it was quite widely known that he was a firm believer in the end times and also that the end was imminent. A Born Again Christian Reagan firmly believed that the end was nigh and also that the Soviet Union was Gog and Magog, or the dark powers decribed in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. In an October 1983 interview Reagan told the Executive Director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Thomas Dine, ""I turn back to your prophets in the Old Testament and the signs foretelling Armageddon, and I find myself wondering if we are the generation that is going to see that come about. I don't know if you have noted any of those prophecies lately, but, believe me, they describe the times we are going through." Also later the same year he told two reporters from People Magazine, in a White House interview, "There were times in the past when we thought the end of the world was coming, but never anything like this."
It is believed that Reagan's views regarding the end times had an influence on his policies. One former advisor suggested that the budget deficit got so big during the Reagan years for the simple reason that he thought because the end was imminent then it made sense to spend borrowed money without thinking about having to pay it back. He was spending money like there was no tomorrow because he thought there was no tomorrow. Also it has been suggested that his 1984 platform calling for the United States to keep building more and more nuclear weapons so that the United States will "clearly prevail" in any US-Soviet nuclear conflict, was influenced by Apocalyptic beliefs. More specifically the idea promoted by Rev. Jerry Falwell, a supporter and influence on Reagon, who taught that Armageddon in the Bible will be a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, and that Born Again Christians World wide will be saved from all the damaging effects of nuclear weapons through the Rapture, as described earlier. It is a disturbing thought that Reagan was at the top of the chain of command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
But even worse, during the 80s, it wasn't just Reagan who was a Born Again Dispensationalist who thought that the end was imminent. His defense secretary, and second in command of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, Casper Weinberger shared similar views. While he was in office he told students at Harvard University, "I have read the Book of Revelation, and, yes, I believe the world is going to end - by an act of God, I hope - and every day I think that time is running out." Also there was James Watt, Reagan's Secretary for the Interior who famously didn't care much for the environment. He said, “We will mine more, drill more, cut more timber.” and also describing environmentalists, “A left-wing cult dedicated to bringing down the type of government I believe in." His most notorious remark came when testifying before the U.S. Congress, in 1981, he was asked whether it was important to preserve the environment for future generations to which he replied, “I do not know how many future generations we can count before the Lord returns.” This clearly shows how certain fantastic beliefs concerning the end times and the Second Coming of Christ can shape people's attitudes and behaviour concerning environmental and ecological matters. And most alarming of all people in positions of great power.
The World has recently endured another Bible Bashing Born Again United States President, George Bush Jnr. His track record on the environment has not been good and may have been influenced either consciously or sub-consciously by his religious views. And in the recent U.S. presidential elections the World was lucky to have avoided another Born Again Dispensationalist Sarah Palin, getting into the position of Vice President.
Dispensationalism is an inherently evil doctrine
So the doctrine of Dispensationalism, where Jesus literally appears in the sky and those born again are lifted into a sort of protective bubble while the Earth is destroyed and remade anew; is an example of how prophecies can be completely misinterpreted to produce fantastic fairy tale scenarios. It also shows how gullible and lacking in judgement people can be. If there was ever an idea or doctrine that can rightfully be labelled evil then Dispensationalism is it, in that it has enormous potential to wreck havoc and death on an unimaginable scale, together with immense pain and suffering. Those who seriously believe in Dispensationalism have bought into a ghastly lie and one which causes people to be unable or just plain unwilling to be part of the solution to the problem of saving the planet. Furthermore it is an idea which can actually make people into active agents happily and knowingly aiding in the very process of destroying the very environmental and ecological substrates of this World upon which all human life depends; on the mistaken and blind belief that Jesus will physically save them and miraculously restore the living Earth for the Born Again, and for them only. If Satan really was some sort of supernatural arch villain who spent all his time thinking up ingenius ways to mislead people with the aim of causing as much misery and suffering as possible then what better way of satisfying his aims than to invent the doctrine of Dispensationalism?
Prophecies for the end times and Second Coming of Christ in the Bible
We present some of the prophecies from the Bible concerning the end times and the Second Coming of Christ. We believe that a sensible interpretation can be made in relation to these prophecies which will have a good correspondence to what will actually occur here on Earth in the next 10, 20 years or so. The prophecies have been grouped in sensible categories.
Prophecies about the state of the World at the time of Christ's return
'When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains . [ Birth of the new age ]' - Prophecy given by Jesus. NT Mark 13:7-8
'Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the Sun be darkened, and the Moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from Heaven, and the powers that are in Heaven shall be shaken.' - Jesus NT Mark 13:23-24. [ Some explanation needed here. The Moon is to the Sun as religion is to God. As the Moon reflects the light of the Sun in the dark of the night, so religion is supposed to reflect God's light. That the 'Sun be darkened and the Moon shall not give her light' can be taken as a reference to the state of religion in the world today. ]
'But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it.' - Bible, 2 Timothy 3.1-5
'A great star , blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water - the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.' - Revelation 8:10 - It is of interest that Chernobyl the name of the Soviet Nuclear Reactor, which exploded in 1986, means Wormwood in russian.
'And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.' -Bible, Matthew 24:14
Many False Prophets around the time of the End
'And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' - Matthew 24:10-13
Jesus said - "Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray.", "And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray." - Matthew chapter 24
'Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship .. The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.' - Bible, 2 Thessalonians 2.3-12
Prophecies concerning the attributes and role of the Second Coming of Christ
'Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himselft. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords.' - Revalation 19.11-16 [ In this passage a powerful image is given of Christ's second coming ]
'For as the lightning cometh out of the East, and shineth ever unto the West; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.' - Matthew 24:27
Prophecies Concerning the Anti-Christ
'And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the Dragon gave his power and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshipped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast saying, "Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?"
And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blaphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months; it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain...
Also it caused all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.' - Bible, Revelation 13.1-18
The Final Battle between Good and Evil at the End of Time
'And I saw the beast, and the kings of the Earth, and their armies gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the Beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him .. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the [birds] were filled with their flesh.' - Revelation 19:19-21
'And I saw an angel standing in the Sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in mid-air, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.". Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse [ Second coming of Christ ] and his army.' - Bible. Revelation 20:17-19
The Last Judgement
'The kingdom of Heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' - Bible, Matthew 13.47-50
'The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great - and for destroying those who destroy the earth." - Revelation 11:18
Heaven on Earth and a New Jerusalem
'And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city.. descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Isreal.. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations.. And the city lieth four square and the length was as large as the breadth.. the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
And the buildings of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper, the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelth, a amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb[Christ] are the temple of it. And the city had no need of sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of god did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the Earth do bring their glory and honor into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.' - Revelation 21:2,10-12,14-25
'They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the Sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.' - Revelation ( 81 - 96 CE )