I write on diverse religious issues, often analysing perspectives from the Abrahamic faiths (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Bahá’í).
The Deeper Causes of a Global Calamity
The world is hurtling towards a calamity of unimaginable proportions! This is deducible from forewarnings in the scriptures, while also being discernible from the fast-deteriorating fortunes of a world in crisis. The other thing that is deducible from scripture is that the occurrence of any such earth-shattering event will be intimately linked to the messianic appearance of the last day.
But which of the two events comes first? An unbiased study of the same scriptures will show that the calamity comes after the messianic advent and not before. Nor will it occur mainly because of the waywardness and transgressions of men.
The critical reason for the doomsday scenario is the widespread rejection or snubbing of the end-time Messianic Figure, the promised World Redeemer, when he stands revealed before the gaze of the world.
The Messianic Appearance of the Last Day
The advent of a Messianic Figure at the end of time is a belief that cuts across the religions. That said, each religion has a different expectation in respect of that holy Personage. So, for Hindus, the Holy One comes as Kalki Avatar with a mission to renew the spirit of righteousness in the world; for Jews, he appears in the biblical Land of Israel in the station of their long-awaited Messiah; and for Zoroastrians, he makes his advent in the land of Persia (Iran) as the embodiment of Shah Bahram. Buddhists, on the other hand, know him as Maitreya, the Buddha of universal fellowship; Christians as the return of Jesus; and Muslims as Nabi Isa, who is expected in the Middle East preceded by the Islamic Mahdi.
Rejection of the Holy One
But would the Christ really be snubbed and rejected at his appearance? How do we know that?
Yes, he would be. And we know that because the New Testament Bible (which provides greater details of the end-time eschatological events than other scriptures) tells us that the Promised One comes stealthily “as a thief in the night” (I Thessalonians 5:2; cf. Matthew 24:43); at a time of faithlessness in the world (Luke 18:8); when people are so preoccupied with their mundane affairs they would care less about the Christ (Luke 17:26-30); and that a good proportion of even the most ardent messianic watchers would fail to have an encounter with him (Matthew 25:1-13). (All biblical references in this article are from the King James Version.)
And the main reason for such an unwelcoming attitude towards the divine Mediator is his apparent inability to fulfil the most basic of expectations of the vast majority of devotees of the diverse faiths—when judged according to their erroneous, mostly-literal and rather simplistic understanding of prophecy.
(For a more detailed discussion of this subject, you might wish to look for my articles on the Second Coming at: https://hubpages.com/@kobby95.)
Calamities in Past Religious Dispensations
That the widespread rejection of the latter-day Christ would be the cause of a world-consuming calamity should not be a surprise—because it is nothing new. The appearance of a new Messenger, Prophet, Mediator, or Manifestation of God has invariably ended in anguish and affliction for the disbelieving masses of the recipient society.
Here are a few examples to illustrate the point:
When Pharaoh rejected the claims of Moses and refused the Prophet’s simple request to “let my people go,” the Egyptian nation was afflicted with diverse “plagues” which ultimately induced him to give up and let go. But in a last-ditch attempt to thwart their escape from his clutches, Pharaoh and his host chased after the children of Israel, hoping to block their way out of Egypt. They were to drown in the Red Sea.
In whichever way those disastrous visitations of plagues and drownings is interpreted, the takeaway message is that the Egyptians suffered some harsh consequences for their rejection of the claims of Moses.
The denunciation of Jesus by the Jews is a well-known story, and its consequences continue to reverberate around the world to the present day, some 2,000 years later. Not only was Jesus rejected and ridiculed by the Jews, he was also crucified by them. Within four decades of that dastardly act, however, the Jewish population suffered major setbacks in confrontation with their Roman colonisers and were vanquished and driven out of their ancestral homeland into the diaspora. This dispersal began around 70 CE and attained its culmination by 136 CE or so.
Nor was that all. Even after their wholesale eviction from their God-given land, Jews continued to suffer humiliations in their new places of refuge and were at the receiving end of maltreatment, persecutions, and further expulsions. They were never able to regain sovereignty over their Promised Land until 1948, almost nineteen centuries later.
Thus had they been forewarned by Jesus:
…there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations…. (Luke 21:23-24)
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. (Matthew 23:37-38)
In Islam, the deniers of Muhammad were routed in war and were never able to regain their past pagan glory. The Arab population suffered greatly from the war but were eventually able to recognise and accept Muhammad as their Prophet, thus averting wholesale punishment as was the lot of the Jews before them. Still, the idea of punishment of a people for the denial of their divine Messenger is well understood in Islam. This is because it is a recurring theme of the Qur’an, as can be gauged from the following Quranic passage:
And We did give to Moses the Book, and appointed his brother Aaron as minister. And We said, “Go ye to the people who treat Our signs as lies.” And We destroyed them with utter destruction.
And as to the people of Noah! when they treated the messengers as liars, We drowned them, and We made them a sign for mankind. A grievous chastisement have We prepared for evildoers.
And ‘Ad and Thamud and the people of the Rass, and many a generation between them: To each of them We warned by parables and examples; and each of them We brought to utter ruin. (Qur’an 25:35-39)
The Coming Global Calamity in Christian Scripture
All these go to illustrate the dire consequences awaiting societies that deny or rebuff their divine Messengers. Now, as regards the coming calamity, its most explicit and detailed predictions can be found in the authoritative texts of two religions—Christianity and the Bahá’í Faith.
Here are some prophecies of the New Testament Bible that foreshadow calamitous days ahead:
1. Noah and the Flood
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:37-39; cf. Luke 17:26-27)
Here, Jesus uses the example of the flood in the time of Noah (Noe in Greek) to highlight what is to befall the world at the time of the Return. From the analogy, it becomes evident that people will be too preoccupied with their worldly affairs to pay heed to any news of a messianic appearance.
Does the analogy give any indication as to the nature of the devastation to come? Could it be caused by a physical flood, for example? Probably not, it is difficult to see how vast swathes of the planet could be inundated and destroyed by water. But what about the synchronisation of a flood of harrowing events (hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, famines, earthquakes, pandemics, wars, etc.)? Probably.
Or perhaps the main point of this analogy is the distractedness of the people at the time, the fact that they “knew not” (i.e., had no knowledge) of a messianic appearance nor of what was soon to befall them. What the analogy seems to evoke most strongly, though, is the idea that with the devastation must come a period of worldwide regeneration and renewal in accordance with a divine plan and under the aegis of the Messianic Personage.
2. The Destruction of Sodom
While the reference to Noah brings floods, tsunamis, and climatic events to mind, with Lot the focus is distinctly different. Jesus forewarns:
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. (Luke 17:28-30)
While the distractedness of people remains as before, the predicted mode of destruction is described here as “fire and brimstone from heaven.”
But how can “fire and brimstone” rain down “from heaven”? In the modern era, they could in the form of bombs—conventional or even nuclear—that are dropped on population centres from above, through such delivery systems as ballistic missiles, fighter aircraft, etc.
3. Burning Up of the Earth
The Apostle Peter gave this stark confluence of events at the time of the Second Coming:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (II Peter 3:10).
Alarming words and phrases indeed: “heavens… pass away with a great noise,” “the elements… melt with fervent heat,” “the earth… and the works… therein… burned up.” Could Peter not have been alluding to a nuclear holocaust using the limited language of his times?
4. Babylon on Fire
The destruction of Babylon is described in some detail in the Book of Revelation. And lest we forget, the Book of Revelation is all about events leading to and the circumstances of the messianic appearance of the last day. We hereby highlight, in as brief a manner as possible, the relevant points regarding Babylon’s destruction:
First is mentioned an "angel" who has “the everlasting gospel,” and his mission is:
…to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying…, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. (Revelation 14:6-7)
The “everlasting gospel” for “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” is presumably the universal revelation of the last day as unveiled by the end-time Christ, while the “angel” with the mission to “preach” it could symbolise the devoted followers of the new Christ—who would be required to share the message of the new day with the masses of people worldwide (Cf. Mark 13:27).
Then follows the forewarning that:
Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. (Revelation 14:8)
We can reasonably assume, from the above and from other verses of the Book, that Babylon is a metaphor for the materialistic societies of our modern world, societies that are steeped in a doctrine of irreligion and “abominations” or oriented by the corrupted Word of God.
Because of its irredeemable level of godlessness, sincere believers are warned to get out of Babylon, just like Lot was warned to get out of Sodom:
Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4)
And like Sodom, fire will be the mode of destruction of Babylon:
Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. (Revelation 18:8)
The destruction will be apocalyptic and far-reaching but will be over very quickly, just as can be expected in a large-scale nuclear war:
Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come… in one hour so great riches is come to nought… in one hour is she made desolate. (Revelation 18:10, 17, 19)
The Coming Global Calamity in Bahá’í Scripture
As stated earlier, the diverse religions of the world await the advent of a messianic Figure at the end of time. The Bahá’í position, it must be pointed out, is radically different from that of other faiths in that it identifies Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, with that end-time Messianic Figure. For this reason, Bahá’ís refer to Bahá’u’lláh as the Manifestation of God for today and the Promised One of all religions.
In his writings, Bahá’u’lláh does also warn of a world-shaping, catastrophic event to come, and he does so in the context of the widespread rejection of his messianic claims and the waywardness and decadent lifestyle of the world’s people.
These are some predictions from his prophetic pen:
1. The Time of the Destruction Is Now
“The time for the destruction of the world and its people… hath arrived.” “The hour is approaching… when the most great convulsion will have appeared.” “The promised day is come, the day when tormenting trials will have surged above your heads, and beneath your feet, saying: ‘Taste ye what your hands have wrought!’” “Soon shall the blasts of His chastisement beat upon you, and the dust of hell enshroud you.” (The Promised Day is Come, p. 3)
2. The Calamity Will Be Unforeseen
O ye peoples of the world! Know, verily, that an unforeseen calamity followeth you, and grievous retribution awaiteth you. (The Persian Hidden Words, #63)
3. The Destruction Will Be Sudden:
The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, #LXI)
4. Fire Is the Mode of Destruction:
The day is approaching when its [civilisation's] flame will devour the cities, when the Tongue of Grandeur will proclaim: “The Kingdom is God’s, the Almighty, the All-Praised!” (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, #CLXIV)
It would appear that Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892) alluded to the nuclear bomb and missile delivery system long before they were manufactured and before there was even the vocabulary to describe them:
Strange and astonishing things exist in the earth but they are hidden from the minds and the understanding of men. These things are capable of changing the whole atmosphere of the earth and their contamination would prove lethal. Great God! We have observed an amazing thing. Lightning or a force similar to it is controlled by an operator and moveth at his command. Immeasurably exalted is the Lord of Power Who hath laid bare that which He purposed through the potency of His weighty and invincible command. (Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 69)
The Beginning in the End
The forecasts about cataclysmic days ahead should not be construed as signalling a literal end to our physical world. Far from it. They should be seen instead as presaging the end of the current world system, a development that should pave the way for the building of a new world based on the divine blueprint of the promised Christ.
It is an unfortunate reality, but a new world order can scarcely take shape without an event so destructive and world-shaking as to reawaken the consciousness of mankind, engender radical shifts in humanity’s paradigm, mindset, and culture, and bring into being a new kind of people—empathic, altruistic, peace-loving, and spiritually-minded. As Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, had foreseen decades before:
Adversity, prolonged, worldwide, afflictive, allied to chaos and universal destruction, must needs convulse the nations, stir the conscience of the world, disillusion the masses, precipitate a radical change in the very conception of society, and coalesce ultimately the disjointed, the bleeding limbs of mankind into one body, single, organically united, and indivisible. (The Promised Day is Come, p. 122)
Let’s see how the holy scriptures herald a wonderful new day that is soon to dawn in the world:
The Old Testament Bible anticipates the dawning of a day of peace “in the last days,” whereby “nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:1-3; cf. Isaiah 2:2-4). Indeed, so peaceful will the world become that even “the wolf” and “the lamb,” “the leopard” and “the kid,” “the calf” and “the young lion” will, metaphorically speaking, be able to interact peaceably and be led by “a little child.” This is destined to happen at a moment in time when “the earth” becomes “full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9)
The New Testament Bible promises a new beginning:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away…. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. (Revelation 21:1, 5)
Bahá’u’lláh, for his part, makes clear that the period of renewal is at hand:
Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth, and is the Knower of things unseen. (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, #IV)
The whole earth is now in a state of pregnancy. The day is approaching when it will have yielded its noblest fruits, when from it will have sprung forth the loftiest trees, the most enchanting blossoms, the most heavenly blessings. (The Promised Day is Come, p. 46)
Survivors of the World Calamity
As might have become apparent from the discussions above, the destruction that comes is like nothing the world has ever witnessed. Practically everyone on the planet will feel its disastrous consequences and experience its world-shattering effect. Yet in whatever form the calamity unfolds, never should its true and inner significance be lost on survivors.
For every survivor—whether a truth-seeker or a heedless cynic—the unprecedented nature of the devastation should be the one unmistakable sign that the eschatological predictions of the last day have, indeed, been fulfilled and the appearance of the promised Christ accomplished.
Hopefully, those tumultuous days would endow hearts with the spiritual capacity and receptivity to “see” (i.e., recognise) “the Son of man” through the “cloud” of "distress," "perplexity," "fear," and apprehension (Cf. Luke 21:25-27). But before recognition, the one practical step for a survivor to take in respect of the Holy One can only be to:
Seek Him over the entire surface of the earth, haply ye may find Him. (The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 104)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Kobina Amissah-Fynn