And I feel fine. (thank you REM)
Let's get serious, now. As of today, we only have 57 days left before the Rapture.
So I thought one thing we could do is look at the bible and see what it says about the Rapture, Armageddon and the End of the World.
The End of the World
The SAB does a great job of summing up what the bible says about the end of the world.
The most important thing is that Jesus said in Matthew (twice), Mark and Luke (twice) that people of that generation would still be alive to see the fulfillment of the Son of Man coming, and the Kingdom of God.
Then it was changed from the end coming during the lifetime of Jesus' followers to within the lifetime of the new testament authors.
This is found in 1 Corinthians (twice), Hebrews (twice), 1 Peter (twice), 1 John and a few other vague references.
Then, more vague references to the end of the world, with no mention of exactly when (but the language repeatedly says it will be 'soon'):
Philippians 4:5 The Lord is at hand.
James 5:8 For the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Hebrews 10:37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass.
Revelation 1:3 The time is at hand.
Revelation 3:11, 22:7, 22:12 Behold, I come quickly.
Revelation 22:20 Surely I come quickly.
The Rapture comes from the following verse by Paul:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Armageddon is mentioned only once in the new testament. It's a place, the Mount of Megiddo, not an event. It is a small mount or hill on which ancient forts were built that guarded the main highway that connected Ancient Egypt with Mesopotamia.
Revelation 16:16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon. (SAB)
Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. (NIV)
According to some christians, there will be a battle of Armageddon where Jesus will return to earth and defeat the Antichrist. Where they get this idea, I am not completely sure. It has to do with literally interpreting the mad ramblings of the writer of Revelation, John the Apostle (some scholars say it was probably written by John of Patmos). If you read the verse though, there's not really much to go on.
This is also what is called the Apocalypse, the final battle at Armageddon.
The final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. Apparently Judgment Day will take place after the resurrection of the dead and the Second Coming of Christ.
Revelation 20:12-15 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
According to this, you're either in the book of life or your doomed to hell where you will burn in a lake of fire.
Second Coming of Christ
Signs of his return:
Acts 1:9-11: After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
The coming of Christ will be instantaneous and worldwide. "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." Matthew 24:27
The coming of Christ will be visible to all. "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear 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." Matthew 24:30
The coming of Christ will be audible. "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matthew 24:31
The resurrection of the righteous will occur. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first." 1 Thessalonians 4:16
In one single event, the saved who are alive at Christ's coming will be caught up together with the resurrected to meet the Lord in the air. "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:17
Human life will cease to exist on earth for a period of time. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." 2 Peter 3:10
A great deception is predicted in the end times:
Matthew 24: 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 23-24 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 states that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. And Revelation 1:13-15 and Revelation 16:14 also mention imposters.
I think it can safely be said that Jesus was a little off on those proclamations, don't you think? If you believe the bible is inerrant, how do you reconcile those verses? And if the son of God lied or was wrong, doesn't that discount the prophecies that follow?
And I guess 'quickly' and 'shortly come to pass' are relative terms?
Isn't this more negative proof that the bible is a collection of literary stories and isn't a literal work of nonfiction, inspired by an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent deity?
And when it comes to Revelation, do we really need to take the ravings of a madman literally? Why would we? Why don't we take Dante's Inferno literally then? Maybe I shouldn't say that. I think some people do.
If less than 50% of the prophecies of the bible have come true, that's worse than chance. So I think it's safe to say this was just some crazy drug-induced hallucination, mental illness or bad dream caused by too much wine before bed. But when I was a child, I was taught this stuff as fact. I think it's abusive to teach such crazed ramblings to a child as if it's going to happen.
And the great deception that is predicted, that's just really nasty psychology, isn't it? How insidious is it to tell people that they will be deceived and that they can't trust the Messiah because he isn't the real deal? So it seems to me, everyone loses if they believe this paranoid madness.
It's all so barbaric and crazy. As a thinking, reasoning adult I don't understand how people can take this literally.
And how many times has the end of the world been predicted? Many times:
1757; September 15, 1829; October 22, 1844 The Great Disappointment; 1874 Christ's Invisible Return (along with other predictions); 1914; 1917 to 1930; 1930 to 1939; 1975; June 21, 1982 (Christ was supposed to announce his second coming on TV); 1999; September 13, 2007; September 30, 2008; 1999 to 2009; 1994 Camping's first prediction.
Future Predictions of the end of the world:
May 21, 2011 Camping's second prediction for the Rapture, with the end of the world on October 21, 2011; 2012 the latest in a series of failed predictions; September 14, 2015; by 2057 by a christian physicist.
I hope you're prepared! I know I am. I'm baking Red Velvet cupcakes for The Day After the Rapture Party I'm having for my local heathens on May 22.