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Prophecy
the end of the world

Summary

Bible prophecy is being fulfilled, and only the atheists can see it.

There is nothing supernatural about Bible prophecy. God is best understood using logic, and logic will win eventually, or else it isn't logic. Ancient thinkers could see that, and they predicted the kind of thing that would happen, and suggested how long it might take

They were right: logic has gradually won. The evidence is all around us every day: compared with the ancient past we are vastly safer, more blessed, and surrounded by miracles. We still have a few hundred years to go before everything is perfect: there is still widespread injustice and suffering. But we are slightly ahead of schedule according to the timeline suggested in the book of Enoch.

The end of the world

The concept of "the end of the world" was not in the earliest gospels. It was added later, by Matthew. He added it to the parable of the sower (taken from Mark chapter 4), and to the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem (taken from Mark chapter 13).

"The enemy that sowed them is the devil ; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels." (Matthew 13:39)
"As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world." (Matthew 13:40)
"So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth , and sever the wicked from among the just" (Matthew 13:49)
"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?" (Matthew 24:3)
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matthew 24:14)

Matthew adds one other reference at the very end, similar to the ending added to Mark:

"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:20)

Why did Matthew add these elements? Probably because his gospel was written quite late, after AD 70. Jesus told how love (e.g. cooperating with the Rome) and a focus on visible results, would lead to triumph. Mark reported what Jesus said and looked forward to those events. But instead of doing hat Jesus said, the church resisted Rome and focused on the supernatural. So the triumph never came. Later Christians had to face that uncomfortable fact, so re-interpreted the teachings and prophecies as being supernatural.

The world to come

Although Jesus did not teach of a supernatural end, he did teach of a better world to come:

"And Jesus answered and said , Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life." (Mark 10:29-30)

Jesus showed the economic rules for making a better world. In that sense it is the end of the world of injustice and suffering. Like all good furure prophecy, it is a logical prediction: as we create an economically more efficient system it will be stronger than the old system and therefore eventually replace it. Thus the triumph of logic (God) is assured.

The Second Coming

Jesus foretold the triumph of "the son of man" - the triumph of the common man. He thought it might happen within the next decade or so, and it almost happened in AD 70, but his followers did not understand his message of peace and equality and opposed Rome instead. (See Mark chapter 13 for details.)

yet his logic was sound. But in the long term his prediction was inevitable. It is now coming true: rising power of the common man is saving the world:

  1. First, in the renaissance, ordinary traders were able to challenge the power of kings.
  2. Then in the Reformation ordinary people, like Eve in ancient times, challenged their religious masters and won.
  3. Then in the Industrial Revolution ordinary people gained access to technological miracles greater than any ancient kings could ever enjoy.
  4. Then the rise of democracy forced elites to care what even the poorest person says. This accelerated economic growth and all its blessings (freedom, health, etc.)
  5. Finally the information revolution makes all inefficient hierarchies obsolete.

This was all foreseeable. In the long term, logic (God) will always win by definition: because logic is cause and effect, and any alternative is not. What we call "good" is simply what makes us strong and healthy over many generations. This means cooperation, thought and work. Logic tells us that ignorance and violence and parasitic elites are economically inefficient, and therefore must eventually be replaced by more stronger modes of society.

The triumph is happening now

That is just what is happening. Kings are gradually replaced by democracy. Between advanced nations, trade replaces war. That same trade allows the less advanced nations to claw their way slowly into the elite club. First Europe, then America, now Asia, eventually Africa. The basis of raw power is moving from land monopoly to business: the most powerful elites are now those who can please the most ordinary people. It is the triumph of the common man.

The triumph that feels like a crisis

Ironically this triumph of the common man always feels like the opposite: as people become more sensitive to injustice we see it more clearly. So it always feels like the government is getting worse. But step back and look at the centuries pass, as the ancients did. See past the many small setbacks, and see the speed of improvement.

The exact date

Nobody knows the exact date for this triumph, but the prophecies suggest a good ballpark figure (to within a few hundred years or so), and we are ahead of schedule. How do we know that? Because the "second coming" prophecy in Mark 13 (quoted in Matthew 24) uses "end of the world" language from Daniel and the apocryphal book of Enoch, and that implies rough dates.

The book of Enoch

The Book of Enoch, although in our Apocrypha, was always considered scripture. It is still in the Ethiopian Bible, though was no included in the later Roman canon. Jesus and the New Testament writers often use the language of Enoch, indicating that they considered it to be scripture. Perhaps the best known reference to Enoch is in Jude:

"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying , Behold , the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints" (Jude 1:14)

Here Jude is quoting Enoch:

"And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgment upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. " (Enoch 1:9, Dead Sea Scrolls)

Seven thousand years for world history

Enoch said that world history would be a total of seven thousand years. Then the eight thousand years is the end of time:

"God shows Enoch the age of this world, its existence of seven thousand years, and the eighth thousand is the end, neither years, nor months, nor weeks, nor days: And I appointed the eighth day also, that the eighth day should be the first-created after my work, and that the first seven revolve in the form of the seventh thousand, and that at the beginning of the eighth thousand there should be a time of not-counting, endless, with neither years nor months nor weeks nor days nor hours. " (From the Ethiopian book of Enoch, the heading and first verse of chapter 33. )

The number seven is no coincidence. The world was created in seven days, and God rested on the seventh. Each week has seven days, and in Old Testament times the seventh was a Sabbath. Every seven years also had a Sabbath year. Every seven sets of seven years had a special Sabbath, a year of jubilee. It seems reasonable to think of these seven thousand years like seven days, with the last thousand years as a Sabbath. That is how the early church understood it:

"Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, ‘He finished in six days. ’ This implieth That the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And he Himself testifieth, saying, 'ehold, to-day will be as a thousand years. ' Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousands years, all things will be finished. " (Barnabas, in the Ante Nicene Fathers, vol. I. , p. 146, chap. XV)

"Since, then, in six days God made all things, it follows that six thousand years must be fulfilled. " (Hippolytus, Commentaries on various Books of Scripture. Sect. 4, on Daniel. )

"In six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year. " (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 5, Ch. 28. 3)

The idea of days referring to thousand year periods is in 2 Peter. Note the context: the author is talking about the creation and the end of the world.

"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying , Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep , all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of , that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store , reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish , but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat , the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. " (2 Peter 3:3-10)

The seven thousand years, the Sabbath, seems to be the thousand year reign of Christ in Revelation chapter 20:

"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished . This is the first resurrection. "
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. "
"And when the thousand years are expired , Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. " (Revelation 20:1-10)

Seven thousand years was logical

The idea of a seven thousand year history seemed logical. The books of the Bible were written between 1000 BC and AD 100. That is, around 3000 to 4000 years after Adam. It seemed reasonable to assume there would be a similarly long time before all their problems were fixed. That suggests around seven thousand years in total.<.p>

Historians can divide history into any lengths they want: the purpose of dividing history is purely as a memory aid. Therefore it was logical to use the existing "sevens" memory aid (seven days in a week, seven years until a sabbath years, seven sabbath years makes a jubilee, etc.) As seven thousand years already seemed reasonable this was a good choice. Progress would naturally be gradual, so the final thousand years would be the best: this makes a kind of sabbath. The original dynasty of Adam lasted nearly a thousand years, and the final sabbath will last around a thousand years, so there is a nice symmetry to it.

Obviously this is not a precise science: but these numbers were the most logical, and they turned out to be correct.

When does the seven thousand years begin?

The seven thousand years begins with the creation account in Genesis. Different Bible translations give different dates, but they are usually within a few hundred years either side of 4000BC. (4004BC was a very popular date for many years). However, it is probably foolish to put a precise date on the event. We do not know the precise date for Adam and Eve, and it is likely that they were composite names representing certain kinds of people. But we do know that those events - the invention of writing and the birth of cities - can be dated to roughly 4000 BC. Similarly the number seven thousand is only a logical guess, so any precision would be what scientists call spurious accuracy. If we only know within a thousand years or so it is wrong to place a precise date on it.

So we can only say that the Bible foretells the reign of Jesus would probably begin around AD 2000, but it could be several hundred years either side. It is therefore remarkable that the prophecy was fulfilled at the first available date.

The fulfillment of the prophecy

The whole world changed forever a few hundred years before AD 2000. It was called the Industrial Revolution. It was by far the greatest upheaval since civilization began, and had an even greater effect on the world that even the birth of civilization.

Look at any graph of human progress (population growth, scientific progress, energy use, etc.). The graph will be almost static throughout pre-history. It begins to climb slowly when farming is invented (around 10, 000 BC) and begins to climb a little faster once writing and cities are invented (around 4, 000 BC). But once machines are invented the graph shoots upwards: the amount of food increases in huge leaps, medicine and comforts increase, life becomes better and better. There are now many times more people, and average wealth is typically fifty times greater than it was before the industrial revolution, and climbing every decade. We are more aware of problems, but due to increasing wealth we are more able to solve them: objectively the world is getting better and could be much better with a little effort.

(For an objective measure of world progress compared to world problems, see "How Much Have global Problems Cost The World? A Scorecard from 1900 to 2050" from Cambridge university press, 2013. For a view of the world after that, find any TED talk by Hans Rosling of Gapminder.org)

All of this is due to the reign of knowledge. It is the reign of logic, of the logos. As John 1:1 told us, the logos is God. The reign of the logos is the reign of Christ.

We living in an era of miracles: we can talk to people on the other side of the globe, we can fly, we can even fly to the moon!

We live in a great Sabbath of rest. At last mankind can rest from labor: machines can do all the work.

Of course, this Sabbath has not yet arrived for everybody – there is still suffering and war – but this thousand years is like a Sabbath day. The Jewish Sabbath day began on sunset of the previous day. The first few hours are darkness. If the day began with the industrial revolution in 1750 then the sun will not fully rise until morning: perhaps around 2250.

Modern day Elijahs

The great irony is that the Christians generally teach that the world is getting worse: they point to all the sin and suffering, and see this as a sign that Jesus must come in the flesh to rescue us. But Jesus (the spirit of the logos, logic) has already come, and only the atheists can see it!

In part 4 of this book we saw how the great prophets Elijah used technology to perform miracles, and mercilessly mocked those who trust in the supernatural. The modern day Elijahs are the militant atheists. While many Christians say the world is getting worse, and pray for deliverance, the atheists point out that the world is getting better, and they trust in miracles of science. While mockery is not Christ-like, the atheists do have a point. Despite its many problems, the world is now much better than in the past. For most of us our "first world problems" are nothing compared to the starvation, war, oppression and disease faced by our bronze age ancestors who wrote the Bible.

But God (logic) as ever is impartial and has the final laugh. The atheists testify to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy but do not realise it.

An end to the greatest evils

Modern advances are not just economic and technological: there is moral improvement as well. Steven Pinker's book, "The Better Angels of Our Nature" gives the statistics. Mankind is becoming less violent. Ironically it seems the opposite, because we are becoming more sensitive to violence, and we see more of it on the news. But look at the numbers. If somebody hits a child now it's news, A few generations ago almost everybody hit their children. When thousands die in a war today it's news. A few generations ago it was just expected that you would volunteer to kill and die for your country, no questions asked. These trends take generations, but gradually we are becoming less tolerant to violence.

So the prophecies are being fulfilled. The logos is increasing his rule. Satan is being gradually bound. The difference between today and the pre-industrial age is like night and day, it is everywhere we look. But many of those who should lead us, the religious scholars, are blind guides, just as in the days of Jesus: they praise the ancient prophets and condemn the modern ones. Not all religious people are blind to the changes of course: Jesus himself was a religious scholar, and the people of God can be found everywhere, among Christians, atheists, and everywhere else. But they are known by their fruits, not by their labels.

The four horsemen of the apocalypse

The Book of Revelation uses the symbols of four horsemen to herald the end of this world:

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:1-8)

Later we see Christ on the white horse triumphing over his enemies. This seems like a reasonable summary of the end of th old world and the start of the next:

  1. The white horse is the triumph of Jesus, representing the triumph of God (logic) and the son of man (the common man).
  2. The red horse is war. Jesus taught sound economic principles, principles of trade: trade slowly turns enemies into friends, and ends war. We saw this first within Europe, then between all the democracies, and gradually the number of advanced countries increases.
  3. The black horse represents famine. As trade makes everyone wealthier the problem of famine is gradually ended - replaced by the problem of obesity.
  4. The pale horse, which accompanies the sword and hunger, and causes the most death, is usually taken as pestilence: disease.

Disease kills more than famine and war put together. The gradual triumph over disease is perhaps the greatest sign of the new and better world. Disease was always the hardest to conquer, because it's caused by bacteria and viruses, life that is so different from ours that it's hard to predict. Worse, even if we fight off a disease, and grow immune to it, somehow the plague comes back in a new and different form, How do we fight something like that?

Evolution

The key to defeating the last horseman of the apocalypse was to defeat bacteria and viruses. But they change rapidly, faster than we can react. So we need a theory to explain how things change: a theory that can predict how changes occur, so we can be ready for them.

Eventually God revealed the theory of constant biological change, or "evolution". Darwin and others did what Job had advised: studied God's amazing world, applied logic, and like a revelation it all became clear. Since then armies of scientists have battled the last horseman... and won. Evolution is not the only weapon against this horseman: we also have vaccines and antibiotics. But evolution makes them work more effectively:

Evolution also revealed in detail how God made the world: it is part of the flood of knowledge that marks the start of the millennium. It is part of the second coming of the son of man: for the first time, ordinary people can understand the framework of how the world works. Ordinary people no longer need to rely on experts: with such simple theories anybody can now understand.

A new heaven and new earth

According to the seven thousand year prophecy, we should have heaven on earth by around the year 3000. We are not there yet, but we can see the economic progress to an ever more comfortable life:

How long before China becomes a first world nation in terms of comfort and technology? It's almost there. India will then follow. Africa will perhaps be last, but that will just be a hundred years or so. By that time, according to the United Nations, world population will be stable. By the year 3000 even the poorest person will be as wealthy as a king today, and science will let them work miracles.

But will there be justice? As information spreads, and the pressure to compete increases, sooner or later some group will try the economic law of Moses and Jesus (ban all taxes, charge rent on land instead) because it makes them more money. Itwill also bring more equality. More equality plus great wealth means we all have a fair chance to get what we want. For why land rent makes more money, and how it leads to a better world, see AnswerAnswers.com.

When poverty has gone, and people are more equal, we will finally have the triumph of the ordinary person: the triumph of "the son of man".

In two hundred years we will surely have colonies on Mars. In four hundred, on the outer planets. In eight hundred, on other stars. By then we will probably also have solved physical death, and almost any problem we can imagine. The earth will look very different. It will be a new heaven and a new earth. It will be everything the ancients imagined, the rule of logic promised by Moses and by Jesus.

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. 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 I heard a great voice out of heaven saying , Behold , the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 22:1-4:)

Conclusion

We still have a way to go. We still need economic justice, but the Bible has the plan and it is progressing on schedule. Improvement is inevitable the long run. Taxing work is economically inefficient so the first country to switch to land rent will be more powerful than the rest. Land rent reduces inequality, and so brings greater justice and all that justice implies.

We can wait a few hundred years for this to happen naturally (and perhaps weather a few more wars and global catastrophes) or follow the simple rules (replace tax with land rent) and have justice and efficiency within our lifetime.

A better world is coming, and we can bring it within our lifetimes if we want.

Rejoice!