The Apocalypse of Jesus

A broken clock keeps perfect time twice a day.

The above saying is meant to capture the essence of biblical prophecy. This report is about Jesus' apocalyptic prophecies, but it applies to all biblical apocalyptic prophecies. Since the dawn of civilization, there have been famines, pestilence, economic depressions, wars, earthquakes, eclipses, false prophets. And every year, the Son of Man appears and stars fall from heaven. Like a broken clock, the Bible has predicted these calamities countless times-except for the end of the world.

That is not to say that the end of the world won't come some day. Earth is known to be subject to great calamities that could and will destroy much of life as we know it. Someday they will be right, but not for reasons of divine prescience. When such a calamity comes, there won't be any Jesus coming on a cloud to rescue the righteous.

The biblical doomsday prophets saw life as getting worse from the time of their existence; when instead, human conditions have improved by incalculable proportions. That fact alone nullifies all biblical prophecies; though it doesn't seem to discourage today's apocalyptics. To justify their baseless predictions, the doomsayers keep moving the baseline. Certainly, it keeps the fears alive and sells books.

To Christians, Jesus' teachings are the most important. The record shows that he believed that the day was imminent when God would overthrow the forces of evil and bring in his good kingdom. This is arguably the best evidence against his divinity. They haven't come true as he predicted; and he hasn't returned either.

Jesus' most popular end time prophecy is known is his Sermon on Mount Olive, in Matthew 24. So let's examine it for the nonsense it is. Take notice that Jesus is talking to his disciples, telling them what they will see, not what credulous Christians will see two thousand years later. When Jesus uses the pronoun "you", he does not mean you the reader; he is talking to his disciples. This is one of the most flagrant misinterpretations by which Christians perceive the Bible.

Matthew 24

Nobody really knows when the gospels were written. But whether or not the gospels were written before or after the Fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, Matthew has Jesus predicting the destruction of the temple. Okay, the temple was destroyed. So what? Nothing else has happened since.

1Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.
2But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down."

Jesus' disciples want to know what they will see at the close of the age. This is the premise upon which his prophecy is based.

3As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?"

For the first sign, Jesus warns of false prophets. On that note, there have been innumerable false Christs within the Christian community in the past two thousand years. The reigning quack is Tim Lahaye with his Left Behind novels. According to Time magazine, July 2002, his last book sold 3 million copies. In 1970 Hal Lindsay made apocalyptic fame with The Late Great Planet Earth. His book also sold in the millions.

4And Jesus answered them, "Take heed that no one leads you astray.
5For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray.

Jesus tells his disciples of the warning signs. They will hear of wars and rumors of wars. There will be famines and earthquakes. Which wars? Which famines? Which earthquakes? These events occur someplace every year. Warfare in Israel has been going on since Joshua crossed the Jordan. They are all broken clocks.

6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
8all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs.

Jesus tells his disciples they will be persecuted, put to death and be hated for his name's sake. That Israel and the United States are so hated by Muslims has nothing to do with Jesus.

9"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake.

Many will turn away from the faith. There will be betrayal and hatred. There will be false prophets. Wickedness is multiplied. What's new? About a third of the world population is Christian. Christianity has come a long way since Jesus' time. When is there not betrayal and hatred going on every day? These prophecies are so vague that they could apply anytime-more broken clocks.

10And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another.
11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
12And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold.
13But he who endures to the end will be saved.

The gospel will be preached throughout the whole world. This silly prophecy could be taken to mean that the growth of the internet means that the world is soon coming to an end.

14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.

You will see standing in the holy place, the desolating sacrilege spoken of by Daniel. One Christian interpretation has it that some antichrist will appear in Israel and declare he is a world leader. This sounds like George W. Bush. This born again Christian thinks he is going to save the world.

15"So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

When the antichrist comes, the Jews will flee to safety to escape destruction. Despite the chronic terrorism in Israel, it has been the Palestinians who have been kicked out of their homes. The wall the Israelis are building around the West Bank, doesn't suggest that the Jews have any intention of leaving.

16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains;
17let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house;
18and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle.
19And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days!
20Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath.

There will be more distress than the world has ever seen since the beginning of the world. Without doubt, the twentieth century was the bloodiest in human history. In the twenty first century, the war on terrorism doesn't compare. Technology as actually reduced bloodshed.

21For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.

If the days had not been shortened, no human would be saved. God made the days shorter for the sake of the elect. Well, the days get shorter every winter. So the question is: which winter?

22And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

False Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders to lead the elect astray. They are known as priests and politicians. Which ones? When? Where? Pope John Paul? George W. Bush? William Jennings Bryan (Scopes trial)? Pat Roberson? Billy Graham? James Baker?

23Then if any one says to you, 'Lo, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it.
24For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
25Lo, I have told you beforehand.
26So, if they say to you, 'Lo, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out; if they say, 'Lo, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it.

Jesus will come on the clouds of heaven when there is lightening and eagles gathered together, and the sun and the moon will be dark and stars will descend; all the tribes will mourn. These things happen every day.

27For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
28Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
29"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken;
30then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory;
31and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Jesus tells his companions that they will see these events when the summer is near. His generation will not pass away until these things take place. No one knows the day and the hour except the Father. Once again, Jesus' companions have been dead for two thousand years and the world is still standing. All that is left standing is Jesus' idle words.

32"From the fig tree learn its lesson. as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.
33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.
34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place.
35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
36"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

As in the days of Noah, people were having a good time without knowing they were to die in the flood. First of all, the world was never flooded. The scoffers have been right all these years.

37As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,
39and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man.

When that day comes, there will be a great separation. Yes, and like in Noah's flood, only eight people will be left. Millions of Christians will be disappointed as life withers from their body.

40Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left.
41Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left.

You do not know on what day God is coming. And neither does God, since he has been wrong for the last two thousand years.

42Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

Finally Jesus warns his listeners that they must be ready, for they do not know what hour the Son of Man is coming. Of course they don't know which millennium either.

43But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into.
44Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Revelation

We close this report on Christian neurosis with two passages from the Book of Revelation in which John tells us that the events of which he is to tell us about must soon take place. They were told to him by Jesus Christ.

1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place; and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
2who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. (Rev: 1:1-2)

When the end comes, only 144,000 virgin men with an ear for music will be saved.

3and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.
4It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are chaste; it is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes; these have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb,
5and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless. (Rev. 14:3-5)

Previous End Times

The year 1,000 was a big event for apocalyptic Christians. Thousands of pilgrims in Europe sold their belongings and journeyed to Jerusalem to await the Son of Man to come on a cloud. Like a hoard of locusts, they destroyed and pillaged whatever they needed to sustain themselves. Jerusalem became overcrowded with more people than the city could support. Every phenomenon of nature filled them with alarm. The plague added to their excitement while fanatic preachers kept the flame of terror. When the end didn't come, they were left impoverished because they had sold their belongings.

During the great plague between the year 1345 and 1350, it was generally considered the end of the world was at hand. Pretended prophets in the principal cities of Germany, France and Italy were predicting that within ten years the archangel would sound the trumpets and the Savior would appear in the clouds to call the earth to judgment.

This is just a sampling. For more, see Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay. This book is such a classic that it has been in print since 1852. He covers the Crusades, witch mania, economic bubbles, plus a host of others. For a longer view of these false prophets of Armageddon, see Apocalypses by Eugen Weber.

RELATED LINKS

We're All Gonna Die! A discussion, from a science view, of the possible calamities that can happen to earth.

Jesus Christ's Son of Man

The Pillar of Cloud