Apocalypse Now

Recently, apocalyptic headlines have run in some of the most reputable publications. Is there any semblance of reality in this tendency for doomsaying?
From the May 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

‘’And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.”

These beginning verses of the ninth chapter of the book of Revelation presage a frightening litany of future events to unfold in the prophesied last hour of man’s civilization on Earth.

These scriptures portray, in symbolic language, the use of weapons of mass destruction on a grand scale, vaporizing a whole third of the population of this Earth! (v. 18). Certain verses within this chapter also indicate mass use of chemical and biological agents in warfare. Those types of weapons are described as inflicting excruciating pain for five months, without actually killing the victim (vv. 5-6). This is nuclear, chemical and biological warfare such as has never been witnessed by man.

But to a largely secular society, such horrific visions of death and destruction have long been relegated to the realm of the fanciful imaginings of an ancient religious nut—until very recently.

Sound Minds—Horrifying Visions

Oxford graduate Paul Johnson is one of the most respected of British historians. A prolific author and articulate journalist, Johnson is renowned for his “feet on the ground” analysis of history and of current events. Mr. Johnson’s regular contributions in the British Spectator magazine are gems of distilled thought captivated in pristine English prose.

But last December, Johnson’s first contribution to the Spectator for that month was a complete change from all that he’d penned in the past. This piece reflected in dark language a powerful nightmare he had experienced—a dark vision within a brilliant mind attuned to the symphony of history, caught in a time-warp of catastrophic proportions.

“The sound of the explosion was so loud, so prolonged and so unusual that I knew at once I was listening to a historic singularity. Indeed, it may not have been an explosion: more a catastrophic global event. Was it the end of the world?” (Spectator, Dec. 7, 2002).

Thus Johnson set the scene for his apocalyptic vision of terror. Here was a mind, in its senior years, thoroughly familiar with the human condition having observed the degree of “man’s inhumanity to man” through a lifetime of studying the history of humankind. Yet this accomplished scholar could but dream of a horrifying end to civilization of biblical proportions.

“It was, rather, as if the entire earth moved, as a unit, but out of its regular axis. … It was now, audibly, the noise of destruction on an immense scale. … To the north, the sky was blue, yet there was no daylight. … When I glanced south, into central London, I saw why …. The whole of the southern view was occupied by a dense, swirling, expanding and ascending column of smoke. … What incalculable force had done this monstrous thing?” (ibid.).

What made this view of doom so real to any reader who has visited London was Johnson’s ability to render detail into the swirling canvas of his nightmare.

“It was alive, this prodigious sore or cancer in London’s heart, expanding its frontiers all the time. It had swallowed and vaporized all Westminster, and sucked out the entire contents of the Thames and turned them into thick clouds. It had gone down the river at thousands of miles an hour, engulfed the City and its tall towers, vaporizing steel, concrete, glass and water as it punched and thrashed and pounded the streets of massive buildings into nothingness …. Now it was crumpling and atomizing St. James’s. …

“[It] advanced before my eyes, having snuffed out Buckingham Palace and the Mall in an instant, snapped at Mayfair with cavernous jaws, swallowing it in three rapidly succeeding mouthfuls, while simultaneously devouring all Belgravia in one tremendous gulp. Appetite unappeased and seemingly unappeasable, it was now guzzling up Hyde Park, its trees whooshing into brief candles of flame, the Serpentine quaffed and vaporized in an instant, the Round Pond licked away in one fiery rub of its tongue” (ibid.).

The source of this conflagratory confusion on a mass scale in Johnson’s nightmare was then revealed: “This was not an episode, like an earthquake … but more like a volcano, spreading its lava with all deliberate speed over a vast area. How many billions of tons of high-explosive equivalent had gone into what I assumed to be the detonator, at ground level, of an enormous hydrogen device, I could not guess” (ibid.).

This is a man of sound and sane mind. The Spectator is one of the most reputable of weekly British periodicals. It appeals to thinking people, concerned people, involved people, all over the world. What would possess its editors to include such a nightmarish piece for one of their pre-Christmas editions?

Paul Johnson’s dramatic dream had a powerful impact on another thinker—John Derbyshire, author, journalist and regular contributor to the well-respected American journal National Review. In his contribution to that magazine’s _February 6 edition, he wrote, “For as long as I can remember, the historian Paul Johnson has been doing a weekly as-I-please column in the Spectator …. These are chatty, personal pieces; one thoughtful man’s view on current events …. Even within these wide boundaries, though, Johnson’s December 7 piece was … strange.”

To Derbyshire, “Johnson’s nightmare was the more striking because he normally doesn’t write like that at all” (ibid.). Mr. Derbyshire is aware of the Johnson persona—a “level-headed, practical sort of fellow, worldly and very knowledgeable about politics” (ibid.).

Then Derbyshire starts to consider the condition of this world in the 21st century in relation to Johnson’s nightmare. “The genie is now out of the bottle. Now nutcase nations or pseudo-nations like North Korea and Pakistan have nukes, and the principle of deterrence, which served us so well 1949-89, will break down. Deterrence only works with responsible people” (ibid.).

Derbyshire has noticed a new phenomenon among his circle of friends and acquaintances. Many are sharing his apocalyptic thoughts. “Then I started to notice how many other people were thinking the same way. ‘Thinking’ is actually the wrong word. This isn’t something thought so much as something felt, something in the air. And what I really didn’t like a bit was that the people who are thinking it are people I have found to be pretty reliable guides to what is going on in the world” (ibid.).

His conclusion? It merges well with Mr. Johnson’s nightmare: “And the things people say in conversation nowadays! —things like: ‘It’ll take another 9/11 …,’ which I seem to hear roughly five times a day. And my friend here on Long Island, waving his arm at the busy suburban landscape beyond the window of the diner, and saying: ‘When New York City’s been taken out, all this real estate will be worth zip.’ Nobody talked like that ten, five years ago. Nobody even thought those things.” Nobody, that is, except maybe the crazed doomsayers wearing sandwich boards declaring the end is nigh! But these are nominally sensible folk, sharing a creeping fear that something has gone wrong, gone terribly wrong in this society.

“Is something unspeakably horrible going to happen? I don’t know. I’m only saying that there is something in the air—a grimness, a bracing. … ‘The future casts its shadow into the past,’ said Schopenhauer, who actually was a philosopher. I can’t shake off the feeling that we are living, right now, in that chill shadow. … I just think that we have come to the end of a golden age of peace and security, and there are some nasty things lurking in the near future. We are heading, in Kevin Myers’s memorable phrase, into the realm of chaos” (ibid.).

Just to make the point that the apocalyptic visions of these two thinking men are far from the exception, we shall consider the recent thoughts of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Krauthammer: “The domestic terror alert jumps to 9/11 levels. Heathrow Airport is ringed by tanks. Duct tape and plastic sheeting disappear from Washington store shelves. Osama bin Laden resurfaces. North Korea _reopens its plutonium processing plant and threatens pre-emptive attack. The Second Gulf War is about to begin.

“This is not the apocalypse. But it is excellent preparation for it” (Washington Post, Feb. 14).

Krauthammer then summed up the dangers facing mankind in this early 21st century: “We are in a race against time. Once such hostile states establish arsenals, we become self-deterred and they become invulnerable. North Korea may already have crossed that threshold.

“There is a real question whether we can win the race. … 2003 could be as cataclysmic as 1914 or 1939” (ibid.).

Pointing to the vast extent of time within which scientists estimate the universe has been in existence, Krauthammer then contrasted this with another fact: “[W]eapons of mass destruction [have existed] for less than 100 [years]. A hundred—in the eye of the universe, less than a blink. And yet we already find ourselves on the brink. What are the odds that our species will manage to contain this awful knowledge without self-destruction—not for a billion years or a million or even a thousand, but just through the lifetime of our children?

“Those are the stakes today. Before our eyes, in a flash, politics has gone cosmic” (ibid.).

Apocalypse Now

The Apostle John’s vision has been around for over 1,900 years. Few have understood it. Few today comprehend its meaning within the context of history, prophecy and current world events. Yet if we attune ourselves to the flow of global events, which have taken on a heightened drama, a more frenetic pace, over the past two years, the vision becomes clearer. The apocalypse is becoming a reality!

Even the headlines that the most respected of publications are employing to describe the current state of the world speak volumes as editors strive to convey a sense of the disproportionately unusual, unprecedented nature of current world trends.

“The Last Days?” is the headline over John Derbyshire’s article in National Review. Charles Krauthammer’s piece appeared in newspapers around the U.S. and Canada, including in the National Post, where it had the title “The Four Horsemen Are Saddling Up.” The Spectator even resorted to a scriptural quotation straight out of the biblical book of Revelation for a headline over Paul Johnson’s article, “There Arose Out of the Pit the Smoke of a Great Furnace.”

If you cannot identify with the concern expressed by thinking people such as Johnson, Derbyshire and Krauthammer, you are simply out of touch with reality. Yes, this is real! We are indeed living in the beginning of apocalyptic times. The outcome for the masses of humanity will be horrific.

“And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads” (Rev. 9:4). The only people to be saved from this living nightmare will be those who have the seal of God in their foreheads! Do you know what that seal is? You need to know!

These are desperate times. We literally live, right now, in that prophesied time of no more delay in the fulfillment of end-time prophecy (Rev. 10:6). Time is running out!

Did you know that, right within the midst of the end-of-the-age prophecy of the apocalypse, God guarantees a place of safety to those who are sealed with His seal in their foreheads? (Rev. 12:6). It’s time to get serious about what you are going to do in response to this heightened pace of apocalyptic events beginning to engulf this world.

That place of safety has to do with a deeprepentance from sin. Failure to repent will result in the most terrible of consequences: “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Rev. 9:20-21). Their ultimate end if they refuse to repent is forecast in Revelation 22:14-15. Their hope of eternal life is cut off—forever!

Yes, even after punishment for sin is enacted, some will refuse to repent! But those who do heed this final warning from God to repent of sin, even within this last hour, and submit to His government over their lives in complete obedience to His authority, are promised the greatest of rewards: “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” (Rev. 20:4).

Request now your own copy of our booklet Repentance Toward God and begin to live the only way that will guarantee you peace and safety in a world that faces the nightmare of nuclear annihilation.