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Simon Dein
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You are watching: Book of revelations predictions of the end of the world


This article has been cited through other write-ups in PMC.

Abstract


The existing Covid-19 pandemic has actually led to existential crises. One method of finding an interpretation in this is with apocalyptic narratives. We differentiate between religious (based top top eschatology) and secular apocalypticism (based ~ above radical political and economic change) and also argue the both space to be found in the wake up of Covid-19 infection. For religious believers, the apocalypse signifies the rapture that the faithful right into heaven while those on earth will experience the tribulations. For secular believers, the apocalypse signifies sociopolitical change. The document ends by speculating top top the socio-political and economic changes during and also after the pandemic- the new Jerusalem.


Keywords: Apocalypse religious, Secular, Covid

Covid-19 is highlighting significant deficiencies in ours existing system. An effective solution to this is most likely to call for radical society change. Ns have said that it needs a drastic relocate away from markets and the use of profits as the primary way of arranging an economic climate (Mair 2020).

Then I observed a new heaven and a brand-new earth, for the very first heaven and the an initial earth had actually passed away, and also there was no longer any kind of sea (Revelations 21:1 KJV).


Introduction

The coronavirus covid-19 pandemic is the most far-reaching global health crisis of ours time and also presents the greatest difficulty we have actually faced because the 2nd World War. To date there have been 9,738,975 cases and also 492,390 deaths global as of June 26 2020 (Worldometer 2020). Arising in Asia in so late 2019, the virus is present in every continent except Antarctica. Situations are increasing on a daily basis throughout Africa, the Americas, and also Europe. When Covid-19 is of food natural, the way it spreads is extremely influenced by social, political and cultural factors.

Historically pandemics have been attributed to both spiritual and naturalistic causes. If epidemics in the ancient world were typically accounted because that in spiritual terms, a ide of contagion still exist (Feder 2013). Throughout background pandemics and apocalyptic narratives have run carefully together. Together one example explanations that the Black fatality (1347–1352) associated ideas that sin and apocalypse, action of God and also alignments the the planets. While bad air, divine punishment and also witchcraft to be postulated causes, for plenty of the Black fatality signaled the end-times (Lerner 1981; Dwyer 2016). In one more case, Howard (2008) reports on religious explanations that the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic whereby appeal to be made to ideas of sin and also of an eschatological authorize of Christ’s second coming. One member of the dutch Reformed Church, Johanna Brandt, prophesied that the job of Judgment had actually come. A pamphlet, TheMillennium—APropheticForecast, warned readers the the flu epidemic was just the beginning of the affliction the was declared in the book of Revelations.

Pandemics show the fragility of life and the world, chaos, engender paralysing stress and anxiety that the civilization is dissolving, a feeling of detachment and also raise far-ranging issues of meaning resulting in gift crises. Self-isolation and quarantine produce a sense of gift separated indigenous the community and also world generally—a sense of anomie. This was summed up well over 2 thousand years earlier by the roman poet Virgil’s id of a ‘maze the dread’: ‘The people itself seems totally unreliable: not only dangerous but additionally deceptive. The illustration of being a safe and also thriving land becomes only a façade that hides the risk of death.’ together Schwetz (2020) states: ‘Pandemics scare united state partly since they change other, much less concrete, fears about globalization, cultural change, and community identification into tangible threats.’

And later:

Instead, narratives around contagious condition hold up a mirror to our deepest, many inchoate fears around our current moment and also explore different feasible responses to those fears.

While the global death rate from Covid-19 has actually been phenomenal, the virus cannot be divorced from its sociocultural context. But global events are always enacted in a local context and it behoves social scientists to know the definitions of Covid-19 in particular contexts. Together anthropologists would argue, pandemics are more than metrics (numbers, cases, and prevalences), they are embodied, affecting situated lives. Anthropological research study is crucial for put the virus in context.

Covid-19 threatens crucial symbolic frameworks and also presents unprecedented obstacles for both human being and society globally in terms of its affect on mortality, morbidity, economic decline and the ways in which us lead our lives. It has highlighted concerns of work, social inequality, globalization, individualism and social interaction generally. Thinker of science Bruno Latour (2020) discusses the ‘astounding lesson’ the the coronavirus has ‘taught us’: ‘That that is possible, in a few weeks, to put an economic system top top hold anywhere in the world and at the exact same time, a system that we were told the was difficult to slow down or redirect’.

To day much of the scholarly work on religion and Covid-19 has concentrated on spiritual practices and the infection of the virus (Dein et al. 2020). Below I emphasis upon an additional aspect that religion-apocalypticism- together one means of expertise Covid-19. That is religious fundamentalists who generally associate coronavirus as a authorize of end times or a final judgment. Yet apocalypses have the right to be secular and also religious. In the time of Covid-19 it has actually become obvious that the current people order is becoming a point of the past and also the future is extremely likely to be different.

Peter Berger (1967) explained a ‘plausibility structure’ as the ‘symbolic base’ that every society ‘has to repeatedly construct and maintain because that assuring its existence as a world’. Our current plausibility structures upon i beg your pardon the presence of culture is dependent and also threatened and also we room urgently in need of alternative sociocultural contexts to carry out structures of meaning.


Religious Apocalypticism

While in the lay mind the hatchet apocalypse signifies some violent and also cataclysmic ending of the world, words derives indigenous Apokalypsis—the Greek word for Revelation. Aldrovandi (2014) discusses the etymology that this word:

Apokalypsis’ in the original, etymological expertise of the word: a sudden breaking suggest in person destiny unveiling an ultimate truth (aleitheia) that has always been present, but remains most of the time hidden, denied or forgotten.

The idea was carried down indigenous the publication of Revelation, the final text of the Christian Bible, and also denotes a time when some reality or understanding, previously unknown, is revealed. Apocalyptic literature, together a genre, files the authors" visions of the finish times which have actually been revealed by an point of view or some other heavenly messenger.

Fundamentalist Christians, especially those who organize to the rapture, assert the the book of Revelation forecasted the pandemic 2000 years ago. Throughout the course Christian history, apocalyptic expectations that the civilization will imminently finish have waxed and waned. The idea that history is moving inexorably to a catastrophic end is a longstanding one in the West. The millennial years, 1000 and also 2000 were connected with heightened apocalyptic expectations. Catastrophic events, such as the Black fatality in 1348 or the Cuban Missile situation in 1962, consistently bring about panic and also the expectation that doomsday is imminent. Background is replete with groups maintaining the the finish of the human being is imminent: Millerites, Shakers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, members that the Oneida Community, Mormons, and Seventh work Adventists, Rappites, Christadelphians, and also Native American millennialists come name just a few.

Apocalyptic narratives, specifically premillennialist, have significantly affected American religion and also politics and also fuelled evangelical political activism and also continue come exert a great influence end the modern American mainstream (Sutton 2014). Similarly, Kyle (2012) notes just how dispensational premillennialism drives doomsday concepts in the USA. For this author apocalyptic thought “breaks out” and also on chance “infects the broader culture” (xi–xii). Pre-millennialism asserts the the 2nd Coming that Christ is imminent, the Biblical prophecies carry out clues as to when it will certainly take place, and also that once it occurs all true believers will be ‘raptured’ to sky while everyone remaining on planet will endure the ‘tribulation’. Because that this author radical Evangelical Christianity is inextricably linked to cost-free market economics. Those who keep the immanence that the apocalypse repeatedly attempt come align biblical prophecy with modern-day world events.

Until the beginning of the twenty Century apocalyptic narratives were usually the purview that religion. According to Kyle (2012) the to trust of Apocalyptic concepts in the confront of continual disconfirmation outcomes from the consolations they carry out in the wake of global adversity. However, that is not just fundamentalist Christians who associate adverse events with the finish of the world. Weber (2004: 11) notes:

More than one-third that Americans claimed that since the terrorist strikes of 9/11, they have been thinking more about how present events could be leading to the finish of the world. While just 36 percent of all Americans think that the scriptures is God’s Word and should it is in taken literally, 59 percent to speak they believe that occasions predicted in the publication of Revelation will pertained to pass. Almost one out of four Americans believes that 9/11 was predicted in the Bible, events predicted in the book of Revelation will concerned pass. And virtually one in 5 believes the he or she will certainly live long enough to see the end of the world.

Some groups proactively prepare for the apocalypse. Garrett (2020) reports ~ above USA preppers—individuals that prepare because that the imminent cataclysm through hiding in secret bunkers. The term prepping follow to Garrett advert to techniques of anticipating and adapting to impending problems of calamity. These selection from low-level situations to ‘extinction-level events’.

Since that was first written in 95 ad by john of Patmos, the publication of Revelation has deployed to account for people events in terms of the ‘end times’. It was finally welcomed as the last publication of the Christian Cannon in 367CE by Bishop Athanasius that Alexandria. While there is disagreement among scholars as to how the text is to be interpreted, the book spans three genres: Epistolary, the apocalyptic, and also the prophetic. Many have taken the message as a literal description of the finish times if others have actually used it as a revelation of divine will. The book provides an interpretation to the past and future by the town hall all occasions as a component of god’s plan. Yet others view it as a social allegory-a diatribe against the be suppressive of imperial Rome. And also for rather it is a direct criticism that power focused in the hand of a tiny elite and also systemic injustice both bring about poverty, famine, hunger, pestilence and disease. In regards to Revelations, the Beast from the Sea (Chap 13) and the woman (Chap 17) stand for the Roman realm (Collins 1977) and also represent a politics perspective in this book. Reidl (2014) notes that the apocalypse is a millennia-old symbolic complex which arised in Jewish intellectual circles who were experiencing oppression and social and also political alienation as a an outcome of international imperial power. For him apocalypses are characterized by a finish rejection of present reality and also an outlook towards an entirely various future fact where power relations will it is in reversed.

Pagels (2012) suggests that apocalyptic literature which consists of visions, prophecies and also predictions that cataclysm always carries political overtones, both revolutionary and reactionary, liberal and conservative. This is the instance from that earliest starts until today, as have the right to be discovered in conservative iterations that millennial dispensationalism and the highly popular ‘Left Behind’ series of novels concerning the world’s ending. In her watch apocalyptic definitions are constantly malleable and can adapt to any kind of crisis. I would argue that its use as political critique is one reason for the widespread appeal of the publication throughout the last 2 thousand year or so.

Revelation describes four horseman the the Apocalypse who show up when the 7 seals room opened. The an initial symbolizes Christ. The 2nd represents war and bloodshed. The 3rd is determined with famine and also the 4th is associated with pestilence and also death. Some Christians case that COVID-19 is proof the the plagues of the book of Revelation, and also in certain the seven Seals the Revelation 6:1–8:1, are emerging now and Jesus’ return is imminent. For them, Revelation has actually indeed guess the COVID-19 pandemic. Corona has been associated with the 4th horseman.

Lindsey and Carson’s (1970) The LateGreatPlanetEarth check a near relationship in between end-of-time prophecy through then-current events and soon ended up being the most well-known non-fiction book of the 1970s, through over 28 million copies sold by 1990. Its author claimed that the rapture would happen by 1988. This book, alongside plenty of other films and also television series since, resulted in a shift of apocalyptic thinking from fringe spiritual belief to fundamental tropes which room popular and known to numerous in modern American culture.

Finally, the Left Behind collection of 16 bestselling religious novels by Tim LaHaye and also Jerry B. Jenkins, deals with Christian dispensationalist interpretation of prophecies in the Biblical publications of Revelation, Daniel, Isaiah and also Ezekiel, in which true faithfulness in Christ have actually been "raptured", leaving the civilization in a chaotic state. These books dating indigenous 2000 have had a profound influence on apocalyptic despite in the USA (Forbes and Halgren Kilde 2004).

Christian social media threads choose #Jesusiscoming room replete with discussions the the imminence the the end times and WatchJerusalem editor-in-chief and Evangelist pastor, Gerald Flurry (2020), freshly asserted the coronavirus is a sign from God redirecting humankind on the ideal path before the ultimate clash in between the forces of good and evil:

God is pleading, he’s pleading. We recognize there’s all kinds of imminent pestilence epidemics that room going come sweep across this human being during the an excellent Tribulation. The epidemic, disguised as one of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, will wipe out a 4 minutes 1 of the planet’s population.

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In current months, Christian resources on the net quote a selection of biblical sources about the preceding of the finish of time with pestilence. There are several examples: Revelation 6:8—And i looked, and behold a pale horse: and also his surname that sat on him to be Death, and also Hell complied with with him. And power was provided unto them end the fourth component of the earth, come kill with sword, and also with hunger, and also with death, and also with the beasts of the earth. Matthew 24:7–13—For country shall rise against nation, and also kingdom against kingdom: and there shall it is in famines, and also pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. Ezekiel 38:22—“I will plead against him with pestilence and also the blood.”

But Revelation is no the only publication in the Christian scriptures to speak about an end-time return of an illness outbreaks. Follow to the Gospels, Jesus himself proclaimed that pandemics the pestilence would certainly happen before His return: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and also there shall be … pestilences … in divers places” (Matthew 24:7; see also Mark 13:8 and Luke 21:11). Pestilence in this context refers to complete scale an illness outbreaks.