Monday, June 3, 2019

Are There Signs Jesus is Coming Back?

Jesus riding home

When times get rough, religious folks look to the heavens for the return of Jesus.  Yes, that’s the answer to everything.  True believers rewarded; sinners punished forever.

Nothing like a pacifist god to rain down destruction.

How are we to know when Jesus will return?  You can’t trust prophets.  They have been wrong for almost 2,000 years.  You can almost pick a year and find someone has predicted that’s when Jesus will return to destroy the world.

Fortunately, if you go on line, you will find the “signs” to pinpoint Jesus’ ETA.  Let’s look at them so we can be sure to be ready.

Warts are constant.
War 
People have been at war since humans first clustered together for safety.  That’s our nature: hate strangers and try to kill them.  The U.S., for one, has had only a few years of peace in its entire history.

It’s a good bet wars will continue in the future. So, this is one prediction that can’t go wrong, although Jesus seems indifferent to who is killing who, when, where or how.


Drought and famine
We probably shouldn’t rely too much on this one.  Famine has been a world problem first because of logistics and now because of politics.  Drought is a way of life for many people, just as floods are for others.  Jesus has ignored all of them in the past anyway.

Earthquakes and other Catastrophes
Earthquake damage
Wow.  This is much more difficult than I thought.  After all, meteorites have hit the Earth and caused most life to go extinct, most notably dinosaurs.  Earthquakes continue because the tectonic plates keep colliding.  Just ask the folks in Haiti about the damage they can cause without a heavenly sighting. 

So far, none of that has roused Jesus to saddle up.

Diseases and Epidemics
Let’s see, we endured the Black Death and the loss of estimated 30 to 60 percent of Europeans without Jesus being motivated.  The HIV epidemic has been going on since at least the 1970s.  And SARS, Legionnaire’s Disease and many more. Still, those darn doctors who keep coming up with cures are probably the reason Jesus hasn’t punched his return ticket yet. They cured polio, smallpox and even swine flu.  It’s their fault Jesus hasn't used his return ticket.

Rise of an Islamic Power
Despite wild ranting, the Bible makes no claim that another religion will challenge Christianity.  In fact, when the New Testament was written, Christianity was a minor player in a sea of paganism.  Nevertheless, the anti-Islamic argument is made based on Daniel, where the “king of the South shall attack and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through …”
 
Good luck seeing Islam in that.  Is anyone fighting with chariots these days?
Not that it matters.  Somehow, though, Jesus was patient despite the reality of Islam creating a huge empire in the 7th and 8th centuries.  The terrorists of today represent only a minor percentage of the faith.  The real terrorists are the folks in this country with easy access to automatics weapons and who are killing children.

EU
European Union Seeking World Dominance
This is really dumb.  The claim is based on a comment in Revelation about 10 nations controlling things.  Just for starters, the EU has 28 members and has a terrible time having any control in those countries.  England is trying to leave the union; other members are basically bankrupt.

The EU isn’t hoping to monopolize anything, just trying to equalize trade and travel.

A False Prophet Leading a Religious Revival
Since all prophets are false, this one is easy.  However, religious revivals in this country took place in the mid-1700 and 1800s without Jesus showing even the slightest interest. 

There’s a debate whether the false prophet will be male or female.  Whoever better hurry. Statistically, a large chunk of people are moving away from religion, possibly because of nonsense claims like this.

The Gospel Will be Preached Worldwide
That’s happening now, which may explain why so many people are deserting the church.  However, inundating people with religion has never been shown to be much of a lure to Jesus.  Christianity was extraordinarily dominant in Europe from about the 5th century into modern times without Jesus stepping down from heaven.

Martyrdom
Jerusalem today
There are martyrs these days: to political ideals for one, such as in restrictive countries like China or North Korea.  However, even the blasphemy laws that once were used like weapons have been forgotten.  There are an estimated 4,600 religions.  You would be hard pressed to find anyone killed these days solely because of belief in any of them.

In the recent past, Jesus apparently stayed home despite the carnage in Cambodia, Rwanda and Germany, to name the most prominent, recent  atrocities.

A Crisis in Jerusalem
That poor city has been the target of so many predictions. Perhaps the only major city not founded near a river or other significant source of water, the Israeli capital has become a religious center after it was rediscovered in the 1800s.  Before that, it was largely ignored once the Crusades ended. 

The truth is, it’s just another city.  It also has its share of traumas.  However, when President Donald Trump allowed the American embassy to move there from Tel Aviv, supposedly an earth-shattering event, opponents merely yawned.  Jesus apparently wasn’t impressed either.

Will there be problems there?  Absolutely, as there will at many cities throughout the world.  That’s reality– lots of bad things can happen in cities.

The Abomination of Desolation
Historically, when the Roman Emperor Caligula ordered his statue placed in the Jewish Temple, the move was labeled the Abomination of Desolation by Jews upset by the profaning of their sacred building.  The statue never went there: the Roman governor delayed so long that Caligula was assassinated.

Nevertheless, fundamentalists have latched onto the phrase as if it refers to the desolation of Jerusalem.  Just a thought: if Jerusalem is ever desolated, we will have a lot more to concern ourselves than an imaginary deity coming down to Earth.

Goodbye St. Lucia
The Collapse of English-Speaking Nations
This is an odd sign since English was unknown in biblical times.  That requires interpreters to take some phrase in the Bible and assign it to countries, like the United States, which sits on a continent unknown for centuries after the Bible was written.

Besides, there are only 18 English-speaking nations among the 195 countries of the world.  Of those, only four – Australia, Canada, United States and United Kingdom – have any size.   

Others like Belize, Bermuda, Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago could vanish overnight without creating much of a ripple in the world fabric.

Jesus isn’t likely to care either, although the residents of those lands would naturally be upset.

Meteor
Heavenly Signs
What could that be? A meteor? They happen all the time.  Exploding stars? Novae.  Monstrous entities that’s wallow everything in their path? Black holes. 

Humans have watched the heavens for millennia in hopes of detecting God’s imprint.  It’s called astrology and has long been discredited.  

Astronomers have already been able to work out much of the reality of the universe, from its first moments and to its last when energy finally dissipates.  We will be long gone by then.

Jesus, too.

Seven Last Plagues
I recall one scholar looking over the 10 plagues that supposedly freed the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.  He said, “Anyone who knows Egypt realizes that 10 plagues is a very small number.  They have a lot more than that normally.”

This last plague claim arises from the outlandish statements in the Book of Revelation.  We don’t have to worry about it.  There’s no reason for extra plagues when the world is already best by Climate Change, super storms, increased flooding and irrational fundamentalists insisting Jesus will return.

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history with an occasional foray into American culture.  He holds an ABD in American Studies from Case Western Reserve University.   He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at wplazarus@aol.com. He is the author of the recently published novel The Great Seer Nostradamus Tells All as well as a variety of nonfiction books, including The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion.  His books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  His website is wlazarus.com, which is still under construction. He can also be followed on Twitter.