The term “Apocalypse” comes from the first part of the Book of Revelation ἀποκάλυψις ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ (The Revelation of Jesus Christ). Some even still call the book “The Apocalypse.”
The term itself simply means “to reveal” or “to show” and only took on the connotation of “the end of the world” because most take the book of Revelation to be dealing with that topic.
In my own life, “End-Times” has always been a topic of fascination and something that I’m very interested in from the perspective of the New Testament. When I went to college I was confident in my opinion and I could draw a detailed chart revealing all the events surrounding the end of the world. Fortunately, I learned that Freshmen Biblical Studies majors know nothing of value 😉
I signed up for a class called “Eschatology” by Dr. William E. Bell Jr. because, in my mind, that would be an “Easy A,” after all, I already know all the answers… (HA!).
As it turns out, I did make an A, but it was not easy… far from it. I was shocked to find that there were “options” of interpretation within conservative theology!
Over the next couple of years I dove into the Bible like never before and started a journey that continues even today of interpreting the New Testament’s picture of “End-Times.”
But here is the problem with “End-Times” studies, most of them are simply repeating the same old tired maxims and applying them to new headlines to convince people that the end of the world is next Thursday.
The latest example of this was Harlod Camping’s prediction of the end of the world in May. (See my blog post Chicken Little Theology)
How many times can people say that the end is happening RIGHT NOW? The problem is, most people present their views as “the Bible says…” and then they present their wacky interpretations, and everyone who heard them have another stone to throw saying “see, the Bible isn’t true…” and after a short time, people won’t even listen any more.
Well, the Bible IS true! And this is a topic that we must tell people about. But because of what I call “Apocalypse Fatigue” they are not willing to hear.
…This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.
Jesus is coming back, but let’s be careful to speak only of what the Bible actually says, not what our imagination can come up with.
We see the same thing in politics. Why did we all vote overwhelmingly to “bailout” the banks? Because it was the end of the world if we didn’t. Why did we approve the government putting us TRILLIONS of dollars into debt on a peace-time spending spree unprecedented in the whole human race? Because it would be armageddon (the final war in chapter 16 of the book of Revelation, which is an allusion to Megiddo as a place of great defeat of unrighteous kings 2Kings 9:27; 23:29 or just search “Megiddo” in the OT) if we allowed our unemployment rate to go above 8% (it’s currently 9.2% over 2 years later – not to mention, Gov’t spending, regulation, and unemployment benefits don’t bring down unemployment).
Now the latest “Apocalypse” is congress reaching it’s self imposed “spending limit.” This is ridiculous. Our problem isn’t that the world is ending, it’s that we don’t want to allow ourselves to feel the pain of failure. When we fail it hurts, and we learn not to do that again.
Most of us, now, simply tune people out when they begin to argue that “the world is going to end if we don’t…” – but the problem with Apocalypse fatigue is that there really is a day of judgment coming:
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
The big picture here is, live your life knowing that God will set everything right one day. The secondary lesson is, don’t listen to “Chicken Littles.”