Is the End of the World at Hand?

This entry is part 21 of 57 in the series Mysteries

Question 22

Is the End of the World at Hand?

Believers have often talked about the end of days, or the end times, as if they are just around the corner.  As I write this I am 69 and this attitude has not changed in my lifetime. I remember back when I was a kid that religious people were telling me that the Second Coming of Jesus, the end, or some type of general apocalyptic doom or collapse was coming within a couple years. “The time is so close at hand that it’s scary to think about,” was the general tone I heard.

After I learned a little history I discovered that the end times has been seen as something just around the corner for thousands of years, dating back to the Bible itself. The Apostle Paul wrote this:

“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: I Thess 4:15-16

The fact that Paul said, “we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord” indicates that he personally believed that many in his day would live to see the end times.

Talk of the end times did not cease with the death of Paul and his generation.  Each succeeding generation had their prophets and teachers warning the people that the time was short.  As the year 1000 approached concern about the time of the end increased and then faded for a while when nothing happened.

In the 1800s there was a renewed interest in the end of days. The Mormons officially called themselves “Latter -Day Saints” because they thought the Second coming and the end of times were at hand. Most of those who joined at the founding of the church believed they would live to see Jesus coming in clouds of glory. Now more than 180 years has passed since the founding of the church and life is still going on as normal.

The Adventist movement was another in that century that was anticipating the end of days. William Miller and Samuel S. Snow were famous for preaching that Jesus was going to arrive no later than sometime in 1844. Many thousands were expecting this and some went so far as to give away all their possessions.  After the date came and went the followers were greatly disappointed to the extent that the time was even named “The Great Disappointment.”

Charles Taze Russell who founded the Jehovah Witnesses predicted that 1914 would mark the time of the end.  When that didn’t materialize other dates surfaced and failed.

Since that time there have been too many end time predictions to mention. We read about some strange ones in the news on a regular basis.  Several known to most people involve the Hale Bopp Comet, Y-2K and the 2012 Mayan prophecies.

So what is the reason that so many have such a high expectation of the end of the world?  Does the Bible spell it out?

It appears on the surface that Jesus is responsible for all this expectation of the end of the world. In Matthew Chapter 24 we read of an answer he gave to his disciples’ inquiry:

“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Matt 24:3

There it is.  The disciples asked for signs of the end of the world and Jesus answered them with lots of predictions.

The problem is that a key word here is mistranslated which alters the whole meaning.  The Greek word from which “world” is translated is AION.  This is the word from which the English “eon” was derived and has a similar meaning.  The disciples were not asking about signs of the end of the world, but of the end of the age. Most of the newer versions now translate this correctly, but until recently this mistranslation set a false tone for an end, which was not really predicted.

An age has a beginning and an end.  The end of an age is the end of a cycle of time, not the end of the world.

The second Biblical scripture that gives people the idea that the world is coming to an end is the Book of Revelation. If a believer reads this through and expects the events predicted to literally take place then, yes, it would seem that the Bible predicts the world is coming to an end, and soon.  After all, that is what the first verse of the book says – that the things in the book “must shortly come to pass.”

Actually, the grasping of that first verse is the key to understanding that the Book of Revelation has been misunderstood for 2000 years.  Let us take a look:

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”  Rev 1:1-3

John was shown things “which must shortly come to pass.”

This seems to be an odd statement indeed when almost 2000 years has passed since it was written and most believe that the events have still not come to pass. Where is the great comet striking the earth? Where is the antichrist and where are the waters that are turned to blood, etc? 2000 years is not a short time by any standard, yet the scripture says these things would “shortly come to pass.”

Now note the end of verse three: “the time is at hand.” Not only is the time short, but the time is at hand.

2000 years is a long time in anyone’s book and who would say today, that “the time is at hand,” if they were writing today and predicting events that would take place in the year 4000 and beyond? No one.

If we take the scripture at its word then obviously it was not talking about the end of the world. The first sentence gives us a key of understanding. It says the book is a “Revelation of Jesus Christ.” “Revelation” here comes from the Greek APOKALUPSIS. Does this Greek word look a little familiar? It should, for it is the word from which “Apocalypse” is derived. The book is sometimes called “The Book of Revelation” and other times “The Apocalypse,” but in reality the name is the same. “Apocalypse” is the Greek rendition but “Revelation” is the English of the same original word. Let us examine the Greek word a little more carefully. APOKALUPSIS is translated in a variety of ways including, “revelation, be revealed, to lighten, manifestation , coming and appearing.” It is derived from the Greek APOKALUPTO which means “to take off the cover.” This is perhaps the reason the Concordant Version translates the word as “unveiling.” In fact, their translation does not name the book Revelation, or the Apocalypse, but “The Unveiling Of Jesus Christ.”

“Unveiling” has a deeper meaning than the word “revelation”. A revelation of Jesus Christ could occur by having a brief vision and seeing his image. But an unveiling is a different story. A brief vision could not do this. To unveil Jesus Christ would imply the revealing of his mystery, layer after layer until there is a full understanding of the Master himself.

That which will shortly come to pass for the reader is not the end of the world, but the understanding of the mystery of Christ.  This understanding is presented throughout the book in symbolic language that reveals this mystery and was not intended to tell us the world was going to end soon.

I have written a whole book, called “The Unveiling” explaining the meaning of the Book of Revelation. Here the reader will be amazed to discover a fascinating interpretation unlike any seen before.

The original question was, “Is the end of the world at hand?”

The answer is no.  The world will continue for millions of years. The real question should be, “Is the end of the age at hand?”

The answer is yes.  A new age is dawning upon us and the old is passing away.  It is up to us to make sure the coming age is a good one.

Copyright by J J Dewey 2014

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