“Armageddon is upon us!”
That’s what preachers and pastors used to shout from the pulpits of my youth at the least provocation.
“The end is near! Repent and be saved! The offering will now be collected.”
When we were in school, there was a geography book which purported to tell us about the various nations of the world. The “Dark Continent” was given some attention, but not a lot. My chief memory of that book is a little black guy running like mad through the jungle with a letter held in a forked stick.
Other Half remembers him, too, and says his name was Bunga. Whatever, this kid was the equivalent of the Wild West Pony Express without the pony. What’s his connection with Armageddon?
If Bunga were to trip up in a root and go headlong, the cry would ring out through the churches on the other side of the world, “The end of the world is upon us! Be sure to put your pennies in the missionary box.”
Perhaps it wasn’t that bad, but we were reminded almost continually that Armageddon was a certainty, nay, an imminent certainty, and we had better get our house in order. We young fellows weren’t sure what was meant by “getting our house in order,” but we knew we had lots to repent for and dug deep for any stray coppers (remember coppers?) that hadn’t been used in a poker game behind the school the day before.
For those among you who know nothing about Armageddon, and for those among you who think you do but don’t, allow me to elucidate. My source is the impeccable Book of Revelation which is the world’s leading authority on the end of everything, especially us.
The end of time will be marked by one great final battle among all the nations of the Earth. This will be primarily between the forces of Jesus Christ and the Antichrist. The battle will take place in the Valley of Megiddo, in northwestern Palestine, where it is estimated that more battles have been fought in history than any other spot on Earth.
The forces of the Antichrist will be attempting to wipe out the nation of Israel, but we know this ain’t going to happen because the Israelis are God’s “chosen” people.
The Arabs seem to have missed that little point and keep hammering away. Got to give them an “A” for effort. Many nations have learned over the years that you just don’t fool around with those Israelites.
My feeling, or perhaps my hope, is that by the time you read this, the escalating conflict between Hamas (the terrorist ruling faction in Gaza) and Israel will have been resolved to the point where they are no longer killing each other with great abandon.
It’s a truly complicated mess, but the crux of it seems to be that Gaza (read Hamas) keeps firing rockets into Israel until the Israelis get totally pee’d off and start returning the favour. The Palestinians in Gaza have been agitating for nation status for years, and Hamas, whose avowed intent is to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth, keeps stirring the pot.
In the latest round of hostilities, Israel seems intent on making real war.
The tiny little country where Jesus walked is surrounded by giant enemies: Iran, Egypt, Syria and so on. But even more interesting, this little Israel has the 10th most powerful military machine on the planet. On the face of it, poor Gaza wouldn’t stand a chance. But what Hamas is hoping is that those giant Arab countries, themselves interested in the annihilation of Israel, will come to their aid.
The Western powers, led by the United States, won’t stand by and let that happen. The Arab/Muslim nations will line up behind Gaza. So the stage is for Armageddon.
It isn’t that simple and the implications of such confrontations are horrendous, not just for the Middle East but for the world at large. Again, I hope it’s basically over by the time you read this.
But now the Chicken Littles of the world are rushing around crying, “The sky is falling in!” Translated: “Armageddon is upon us — the end is near. Silent collection only.” Indeed, the Book of Revelation prophesies that this will all happen in the end days. If you are among those who think that John of Patmos was talking about the demise of the Roman Empire, you don’t need to worry about it.
But whatever spin you choose to put on Revelation, that is one very scary book, and John must have been a very scary man. You think Stephen King’s mind is a study in nightmares? Can you imagine what might have been the result had King and John gotten together to write a novel?
But how about those Mayans!
They seem to have been much better grounded in their grasp of the future than Brother John, who may have been depending upon magic mushrooms for inspiration. The Mayans used complex mathematics to accurately determine the paths and orbits of planets and stars, and built a calendar which, interestingly, comes to an end on Dec. 21, 2012.
This may mean the Mayans are suggesting we not plan for any New Year’s Eve parties this year. I’m suggesting this may very well be a good time to go buy the most expensive car you can find, one for which the payments don’t start until January. Dec. 20 may be a great time to start an affair.
Actually, I’m afraid the Palestinians and the Israelis, and all their hangers-on, will have far more to do with whether or not the world comes to an end than John of Patmos, the Mayans and all the ranting, raving preachers in the Deep South put together.
If you’re going to worry about this, I suggest that’s where you start.
Perhaps I should just wish you Merry Christmas a bit early.
Ed Smith is an author who lives in
Springdale. His email address is email@example.com