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How Has the End Times Become a Moral Panic?

It seems as if the End Times has grown more heads than the red, seven-headed dragon found in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation. It has become so intense and more overblown than what I’m sure the Apostle John intended.

It is not only a subject of debate amongst Christians, which can cover several anthologies, but it is also a debate amongst non-Christians as the end of the world has been anticipated in our real lives, carrying over into many works of fiction.

As humans, we are obsessed with numbers, codes, and patterns. We strive to find meaning in a predetermined set of numbers to give us a sense of control — to quell the fears that accompany the details found in the Book of Revelation.

The purpose of Revelation is to provide Christians with the assurance that God has a plan for the broken world we live in. The entire Bible reveals His love for us through His plan from the very beginning.

The very last book lets us know that the devil will be defeated, along with death, and that a New Heaven and New Earth will be created for us to exist in perfect peace with our Savior for eternity.

Of course, there are other images, prophecies, and unidentified timelines that happen before then. This is where Christians can get into sticky territory by trying to guess, “decode,” warn or even fear the blessing of their lives by living in constant terror of a day that may or may not come in their lifetime.

What Is a Moral Panic?
This is what brings us to the topic of the End Times becoming a moral panic rather than its intended purpose of God’s love for us and the importance of revealing that to others during our lives.

According to Simple Psychology, a “moral panic is defined as a public mass movement, based on false or exaggerated perceptions or information that exceeds the actual threat society is facing. Moral panic is a widespread fear and often an irrational threat to society’s values, interests, and safety.”

What has made the End Times become a moral panic, according to this definition, is that many unfounded predictions have been made throughout history based entirely on misinformation about an event we have yet to face, inciting unnecessary fear and panic.

From the first millennium CE until now, there have been 164 recorded predictions of the end of the world — with the greatest number of predictions made during the 20th century.

There are several reasons why this is. The further time marched on, the more people began to wonder how long Jesus would allow the earth to spin on. People began to search for the images and symbolism found in Revelation in real-world events to predict that day.

One of the first people to establish the pattern we have come to recognize today as a doomsday predictor was William Miller. Miller was an American Baptist minister who first predicted the Second Coming of Christ would happen on April 23, 1843.

Those who followed Miller, infamously known as the Millerites, believed in this one man and his message so much that they refused to plant crops to produce for the next season for their survival.

When his prediction came and went, he made another end of the world prediction for another date, March 21, 1844, and then a third on October 22, 1844. This came to be known as “The Great Disappointment.”

So, as time inevitably moved on, new outside forces came into play to further perpetuate the notion of the end of the World.

From the Industrial Revolution to the threat of nuclear war to climate change, people experienced very real and warranted fears.

As these fears of war and the natural world progressed, predators saw their opportunity and took advantage of this phenomenon.

Cults such as the Davidian Cult resulting in the Waco tragedy, and Jonestown, which saw more than 900 people coerced into mass suicide, operated on similar currents: they preyed on real fears of the time, they promised a way out and exclusivity in bringing about the end of the world for all humanity.

It usually begins with one man thinking he will be the one to predict and lead the fray into the next existence. In 2011, we had a nearly 150-year identical repeat of William Miller.

American Christian Radio Broadcaster Harold Camping predicted that Judgment Day would come on May 21. When that day inevitably came and passed, he predicted that five months later, hurricanes and natural disasters would inflict the earth, announcing the coming Rapture.

Dedicated followers of Camping sold their homes and quit their jobs, even giving up their life savings and their children’s college funds to publicize his campaign. The world hadn’t ended in five months, and those people, victims of Camping’s End Times propaganda, lost everything.

Another American evangelist writer, Hal Lindsey, tried, with a bit of a reach, to tie current events to the symbolism found in Revelation, with the emergence of new technologies.

Not only is symbolism used to decode the End Times, but prophecy as well. In 1967, with the capture of Jerusalem by the Israeli Army, Jews returned to their homeland, which to many fulfilled End Times’ prophecy. Today, news of red heifers in Israel has reignited this same line of thinking.

So, “party like it’s 1999!” as many did with the Y2K panic or find cabins to hide in and store up canned food as some did with rise and fall of the Mayan Apocalypse in 2012.

Just know that the list goes on and on, with each having the same trend — with each prediction…nothing happened.

I’m not denying the End Times and God’s plan, but what this does tell us is that it is not up to us, it never was. There is absolutely no reason to fear the end of the world and ruin the wonderful blessing of life we have all been given in the process.

Why Christians Should Not Predict the End Times
While it is human nature to worry about what tomorrow might bring, finding comfort in taking control of a situation, and letting our imaginations run wild through creative spaces, it is unbiblical for us to engage, predict, or elicit fear into the hearts and minds of those around us because of what we think we know.

And the hard truth is, we really have no idea. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus says, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

If only God knows when the events of the End Times will begin, with Jesus (being the One who comes twice!) and even the angels not knowing (who will be the greatest players during the End Times), what makes us think we will be the ones to figure it out?

It is pure pride that allows us to think we will be the one through all of time and space to figure out this cosmic mystery. What is ironic is that the Bible tells us that it will come so fast, this time of so-called calculation and preparation will not even be possible.

for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

The End of the World?
Many of the End Times predictions and warnings of the apocalypse come from a patchwork of spirituality. Rarely are they from biblical Christians, yet it still falls on our shoulders. It still elicits fear as we do have some idea what the end result will be.

However, we are told many times throughout Scripture that we are not to fear. This is exactly what End Times predators want. They want to use biblical apocalyptic fear for their own notoriety and money to derive mass panic from thousands of people.

Unfortunately, it has worked. It has caused undue phycological harm to many generations and the generations to come. Sociologists call it “futureless,” people believing that they do not and will not have a future — that there will be no “prospect of future betterment or prosperity.”

I’ll admit that whenever there is talk of the End Times or mass hysteria, just as the ones that came before, I can fall into this mindset of futureless. Depression and anxiety can seize my whole body, and it tells me, “Why bother if I don’t have a future and that the end is nigh anyhow?”

If it were not for the Holy Spirit reminding me of Scripture that whispers a hopeful future and the glory that will come from Jesus’ return, I might easily fall prey to these moral panics disguised as biblical End Times.

I pray that all who call themselves Christians realize the magnitude of what they say or preach about the End Times, and instead of predicting or inciting fear through doom and destruction, may the promise of no more death and crying in eternal peace with our Savior be the echoing message around the end of the world.

Courtesy; Molly Law.

Matthias David
Matthias David
Working in His vine, as He does even more at mine.
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