Apocalypse—What Is It?
“THE Apocalypse!” What comes to your mind when you hear that expression? Is it doomsday? Holocaust? World War III? The end of the world? If these mental pictures appear, you are not alone in that respect. Science and the news media paint man’s future as gloomy. So is it any wonder that many link the apocalypse with human extinction by some catastrophic event?
“Apocalypse is today not merely a biblical depiction but it has become a very real possibility,” warned UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar in his inaugural speech. “Never before in human experience have we been placed on the narrow edge between catastrophe and survival.” What was he referring to? It was to nuclear confrontation arising from an intensification of the present arms race. Reinforcing his warning to the United Nations, he stated that “some 500,000 scientists all over the world are devoting their knowledge to the search for weaponry more sophisticated and more deadly.”
Others, too, are aware of today’s situation. Hans Jonas, emeritus professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research, says that his main fear is an “apocalypse threatening from the nature of the unintended dynamics of technical civilization.” He links the apocalypse with ‘exhaustion, pollution, desolation of the planet, as well as the threat of sudden destruction by the atom bomb.’
Similarly, historian Golo Mann stated: “We cannot have another world war. War is the wrong word. We should ban the term ‘World War III’ and say instead apocalypse or holocaust.”—Hamburg’s Die Zeit, August 30, 1985.
Yes, man recognizes that he is on the brink of self-destruction. But will he trigger the apocalypse? Not according to the Bible, which states that “Jehovah God, the Almighty”—not man—will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:17, 18) Therefore, understanding what the apocalypse is from the Bible’s viewpoint may give you a different outlook, an entirely new and brighter one.
What It Really Is
The apocalypse is described in a letter to the Thessalonians. There the apostle Paul states: “It is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation . . . but, to you who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation [or, apocalypse] of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction.”—2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.
The apocalypse, therefore, is the revelation of Jesus during a period of “great tribulation.” (Matthew 24:21) According to W. E. Vine’s An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the Greek word a·po·kaʹly·psis refers to “the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes to dispense the judgments of God.” Elsewhere, the Bible refers to this revelation, or apocalypse, as “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Armageddon.—Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:11-21.*
True, regarding the apocalypse, we have seen that the Bible speaks of “tribulation,” “vengeance,” and “punishment.” Nevertheless, it also speaks of “relief” for those innocent ones who have suffered tribulation. God’s Word promises us that “just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more.” (Psalm 37:10) So the apocalypse will relieve mankind of all wicked influences. It will be a turning point to better conditions for the honest-hearted—not an event for them to fear.
Thus, rather than complete annihilation of all, or extinction, the apocalypse will be the righteous solution to mankind’s problems. Does not the idea of living in a new era—an era of righteousness, peace, and comfort—appeal to you and your family?
But are we approaching the Biblical apocalypse? If so, do we have a way of knowing its exact time?
See also the article on Megiddo, on pages 21-4 of this magazine.