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Popular End-Time Christian Expectations That Will Not Happen

I write on diverse religious issues, often analysing perspectives from the Abrahamic faiths (Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Bahá’í).

Angels with trumpets

Angels with trumpets

Religious Exceptionalism

The diverse faith communities await the coming of a holy personage, a Messianic figure, in our time, albeit with names and characteristics that do not match across all religions. Included in these faith groups are Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. What is most interesting is that every one of them expects to be at the centre of events on the appointed day of the messianic appearance, mostly (if not wholly) at the expense of the others.

Yet the fact that all religions have the same position on this question must be an indication that they are all in the right but also all in the wrong. Each is right in claiming that the Holy One comes for its community but wrong in assuming that he is exclusively theirs.

What must be closer to the truth is that he comes for all the diverse religions without exception. That in itself should not be a surprise. After all, did Jesus not claim ownership of other non-Christian religious communities?

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

And so, the world prepares for the era of the “one fold, and one shepherd,” the era of the religious dispensation of the end-time Christ. Don't expect any faith groups to be excluded from the banquet hall of the Lord in this coming era.

(Note: All biblical references in this article are from the King James Bible.)

Sugarcoated Interpretation of Prophecy

When one surveys the full range of end-time prophecy, one observes a juxtaposition of the sugary-looking aspects (i.e., those aspects that worshippers are generally enthused with) with the other aspects that don’t look so sugary (i.e., those that they will rather ignore or shelve to the background). Unfortunately, failing to give equal weight to both aspects only goes to distort the unchangeable truth of the last day.

The Rapture

Let’s turn our attention to one of the many sugary-looking prophecies. It is a prophecy that was not even given by Jesus but by the Apostle Paul. Despite not being corroborated in any other verse of the entire Holy Bible, many Christian groups have built their end-time expectations around a sugarcoated interpretation of this prophecy—so much so that they even consider it the reference point for some of the key events of the appointed day. Indeed, the sequence of events derived from this prophecy has come to be known by its own name— “the Rapture”. Curiously, the word “rapture” does not appear even once in the entire King James Bible.

Here is the prophecy as given by Paul:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Christians who are enamoured with this mystic vision of the end times (and it is exclusively Christians) expect to be mysteriously lifted up in a literal sense to meet the Lord in the air. The absurdity of this situation becomes apparent, however, when one considers that the world is a globe (not flat) and so people inhabiting diametrically opposite sides would have no choice but to shoot upwards in opposite directions.

As an example, while Christians in America are going up in one direction, their coreligionists in Asia would be zooming up in the opposite direction! And that’s not all. Should Americans be bathed in daylight at the time (meaning the inhabitants are generally awake and about their daily affairs), Asians, on the other hand, would be experiencing the darkness of night (with people likely to be asleep).

The bottom line though is that it is never in man’s power to fly upwards. Man was not created with wings, his lungs are not adapted to the scarcity of oxygen at high altitudes, nor his physiology to the extreme cold up there. So, on what basis would man be flying upwards to the clouds to meet his Lord? And to what benefit?

Sadly, the more magical and miraculous (i.e., sugary-looking) a prophecy, the more believers are enamoured with it. And the more mundane the predicted event (i.e., lacking the sugary look), the less they care about it.

Another point to be carefully noted is that the expectations outlined in the Rapture doctrine are far more spectacular than any of the expectations the Jews ever had of their Messiah. As is well known, the children of Israel—the biblical “chosen people” of God (Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2)—fared so badly when their promised Messiah (Jesus) appeared in their midst in less glamorous circumstances than what they had anticipated. So, how can Christians, with their far more outlandish expectations, expect to fare any better on the appointed day?

The Jews not only missed their Messiah, but they have also been waiting for him ever since. That is some 2,000 years after they rejected Jesus in favour of the Messiah of their imaginations!

Landmasses extend on opposite sides of the globe.

Landmasses extend on opposite sides of the globe.

A Son Is Given

Now coming back to the fundamentals. Heaven, as we understand from scripture, is a spiritual world, a realm for disembodied souls. It is not a place inhabited by beings in the fleshly forms of their earlier mortal existence. So then, who conjured up the idea that the end-time Christ appears physically on earth through descent from heaven? Does that conform to reason or to the natural order of things? No.

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What makes far better sense is for the Christ to be born, like Jesus and all past Mediators of God were born. We will cite two arguments in support of this premise. The first relates to a well-known prophecy of the Old Testament:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end…. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

1. The Father and the Son

The above prophecy is often attributed to Jesus, the son of Mary. Yet, it is important to note that Jesus never called himself “the Father” (nor “The mighty God” for that matter). Instead, he styled himself “the Son” (the Son of God, the Son of man). However, he did allude to the coming of the end-time Christ in the station of “the glory of his Father” (Matthew 16:27; cf. Mark 8:38).

Even more interestingly, he demonstrated in the Parable of the Vineyard (Mark 12:1-9) that the one who comes after the son (Jesus) is killed is the father, “the lord of the vineyard” (meaning God Almighty).

And so, the link is established that “The everlasting Father” and “The mighty God” of Isaiah’s prophecy are titles that properly belong to the Christ of the end times.

But what is in a title?—one may ask. These exalted titles can only suggest that the Christ of the end times comes with a mission that is more far-reaching, universal, and world-embracing than was possible with the mission of Jesus of Nazareth.

2. The Sovereign

Additionally, that holy personage has “the government… upon his shoulder”; and to “the increase of his government… there shall be no end….” But we know that such a responsibility was not exercised by Jesus of Nazareth given his own disclaimer that his “kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). It is only at the end times, however, that:

The kingdoms of this world… become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

3. The Prince of Peace

As to the title of “The Prince of Peace,” it is instructive to note that Jesus flatly repudiated any claim to that title when he warned:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34; cf. Luke 12:51)

What the Bible assures us is that the world will be at peace only “in the last days” when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:2, 4; cf. Micah 4:1, 3).

Of course, the last day belongs exclusively to the end-time Christ and not to Jesus of Nazareth.

The Son of Man

The second argument in support of the premise that the end-time Christ will be born relates to the pronouncements of Jesus himself. He did refer repeatedly to that holy personage as “the Son of man,” for example:

…the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matthew 16:27)

By opting to call him “the Son of man” rather than say, “the Son of God”, Jesus leaves no room for ambiguity that the end-time Christ will be born. For, “Son of man” connotes birth, the birth of a male child. One can only become the son of a man by being born of a man. It is that simple. This in fact is the reason Jesus could refer to himself as “the Son of man,” because he was born (of Mary).

Remember the earlier verse: “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”? That is how the two arguments intersect and reinforce each other.

Nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus son of Mary

Nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus son of Mary

The Resurrection and the Judgment

Some believers subscribe to a doctrine of bodily resurrection on the occasion of the Parousia (Second Coming). They anticipate that the dead will rise from their graves on the appointed day to stand before the judgment seat of God to be judged. Yet we read in the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31) that judgment—as to the worth of a person’s earthly deeds—is for the afterlife and not this life. So, what is the point of resurrecting to life on earth to be judged when the divine order has decreed for judgment to take place naturally and as a matter of course on transitioning to the afterlife?

Further insights can be gained into this subject by reflecting on these words of Jesus:

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. (John 11:25-26)

The above verses imply that resurrection is nothing other than a spiritual reawakening, at the level of the heart, at the call of God and His Mediator, and is not a physical rising of dead bodies from the grave. The implication, therefore, is that it is believing in the end-time Christ (recognising and accepting his call) that will constitute the Resurrection of the last day, just as believing in Jesus of Nazareth constituted (according to the above verses) the resurrection of souls during the Christian dispensation.

As to the Judgment of the last day, this can only refer to the separation of humanity into the camp of those who recognise and accept the end-time Christ (resulting in heavenly blessings) and those who deny the divine call (which results in deprivation of those heavenly blessings).

(For more on the Judgment, check out “How the End Times Are Releasing Their Closely Guarded Secret in Three Distinct Phases” through the link at: [https://hubpages.com/@kobby95])

Miracles, Signs, and Wonders

The ministry of Jesus was notable for the prolific display of amazing miracles, signs, and wonders. Peter said as much while preaching in Jerusalem at the inception of the ministry of the Apostles:

Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know…. (Acts 2:22)

Yet despite performing miracles to the astonishment and wonder of many, Jesus warned the faithful in no uncertain terms not to allow themselves to be seduced by the performance of miracles by anyone with a messianic or prophetic claim.

And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. (Mark 13:21-23; cf. Matthew 24:23-25)

The bottom line, therefore, is that worshippers should not look to miracles, signs, and wonders as a means of identifying the end-time Christ. Nor can they also be justified in interpreting the biblical prophecies in such a way as to associate the advent of the end-time Christ with miraculous episodes.

Examples of miraculous episodes that must therefore be excluded from the end-time expectations of believers will include the supposed Rapture, the physical resurrection of the dead, an earsplitting trumpet blast on the appointed day, the vision of angels floating in midair, and the physical descent of the Christ from the clouds.

End of the World

Some believers expect the world to end with the coming of the latter-day Christ. That expectation is derived from certain phrases to be found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Daniel, for instance, refers to “the time of the end” and “the end of the days” in his prophecies (e.g., Daniel 12:8, 13). The Gospel also alludes to “the end of the world,” or simply “the end,” in the context of the Parousia (e.g., Matthew 24:3, 14).

So, does that mean the world will be ending in a very literal sense? The answer is clearly no. If the world was going to end, why did the Book of Revelation promise “a new earth”?

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away…. (Revelation 21:1)

In interpretation, you might get the intended meaning by replacing “new” with “renewed,” as is explicitly stated: “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Hence the newness is not in relation to the physical earth but to the system by which the world is ordered—such as its governance, political life, economic principles, social dynamics, spiritual focus, intellectual pursuits, etc.

We can learn more about the coming new world from this Old Testament prophecy:

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create…. (Isaiah 65:17-18)

Spirituality and righteousness will be at the heart of this new world, as anticipated by the Apostle Peter:

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (II Peter 3:13)

“Behold, I make all things new.”

“Behold, I make all things new.”

The Free Will of Man

In the divine arrangement, man’s free will is high up the scale. It is a special gift from his Lord, a gift that no other beings in creation can boast of. Having liberally endowed man with this wonderful gift, God protects it to the extent necessary and seldom interferes with it.

It is for this reason that many of the popular expectations of the end times cannot be described as realistic—because their fulfilment would have brutally interfered with the free will of man. What choice would man have had but to fall in line and cower in humble submission should the Holy One descend in majestic style from above—flanked by angels, heralded by trumpet blasts, etc.

Such a scenario would have upset the divine arrangement in a very profound way and left man no better than an automaton. This is not what Creation has intended.

Those who subscribe to the literal interpretation of biblical prophecy must probably be unaware that many of them have deeper meanings and can only be understood in a nonliteral way. The literal interpretation will not work for them because they would have either gone against the established laws of creation and of science or gravely interfered with the free will of man or both.

Hopefully, believers will learn to search for deeper meanings when studying the end-time prophecies and other scriptural texts. The "letter killeth," indeed, "but the spirit giveth life.” (II Corinthians 3:6)

Recommended for further reading through the links at https://hubpages.com/@kobby95 are:

  • “How the End Times Are Releasing Their Closely Guarded Secret in Three Distinct Phases”
  • “The Second Coming and Seven Likely Misconceptions”
  • Other articles on the same theme of the Second Coming and the End Times

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Kobina Amissah-Fynn

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