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A Brief History of the Apocalypse


The number of the Beast, as mentioned in Revelation 13:18. The Beast is thought to represent the Antichrist. It is generally believed among Biblical scholars that this number represents Nero, but this doesn't stop people from applying it to everyone from Bill Clinton to Prince Charles to the Pope to Saddam Hussein. I like to joke that it refers to Ronald Reagan!

A false Christ who is supposed to rise to power during the Tribulation.

Actually meaning "unveiling" or "revelation," this word is frequently used to describe the end of the world as we know it. Though many apocalyptic scenarios depict a terrifying, destructive end, some are rather gentle, having to do with the enlightenment of the human race or the dawning of a New Age. This term is also used to refer to the Book of Revelation.

The final battle between the forces of good and evil, mentioned in Revelation 16:16. The word is a corruption of Har Megiddo, the Mount of Megiddo, near Tel Aviv, a place where many battles were fought ages ago. Many wars have been deemed Armageddon by contemporaneous doomsayers, including the English Civil War, Crimean War, World War I and the Gulf War.

The doctrine of a thousand-year Earthly reign of Christ.

Earth changes
Sudden, large-scale, catastrophic changes in the geography, geological activity, rotation or climate of the Earth. Pole shifts and the rising of Atlantis from the sea are two common Earth change scenarios. Such ideas have been popularized by people like Edgar Cayce, Gordon-Michael Scallion, Lori Adaile Toye and Richard Noone.

The theological study of the end of things, especially the end of the world.

Feast of Trumpets
Another name for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, so called because trumpets were traditionally sounded on this day. This is a favorite date for doomsayers, because of the Biblical reference to the "last trumpet" that is to signal the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Gog and Magog
A nation and its leader that are deceived by Satan into invading Israel during the End Times (Ezekiel 38:2, Revelation 20:8). Gog is generally considered the leader of the nation Magog, but this is not always the case. For many centuries Gog and Magog were considered to be the Huns, Goths or Turks, but in modern-day fundamentalist pop culture they usually represent Russia.

Great Week
The doctrine that the seven days of Creation correspond to seven 1000-year periods of human history, and that Christ's thousand-year reign is to take place during the millennial Sabbath -- the seventh millennium since the Creation. Also known as the millennial week, 6-day or 6000-year theory.

Kali Yuga
The "age of iron"; the dark age of materialism and ignorance, according to Hindu mythology. We are currently living in the Kali Yuga, which, depending on the source, has a duration of anywhere between 1200 and 432,000 years. At the end of the Kali Yuga, the present world will be destroyed and cleansed, and a new era of peace and enlightenment will dawn.

  1. Any period of a thousand years.
  2. An epoch of a thousand years in the modern Western calendar. The third millennium will begin on January 1, 2001.
  3. (usually capitalized) The supposed thousand year reign of Christ after his Second Coming.

New World Order
A phrase first used by Mikhail Gorbachev on December 7, 1988 in an address to the United Nations. It originally meant a world no longer dominated by two great superpowers, in which world peace would be enforced through international efforts, a very positive idea indeed. The phrase was relatively unknown in popular culture until George Bush used it during a speech to Congress on September 11, 1990. Almost immediately, fundamentalists and conspiracy buffs latched onto the phrase, twisting its meaning to represent an evil worldwide conspiracy to form a single body that will govern the world through deception, an iron fist and possible Satanic influence. The phrase quickly replaced the "One-World Government", "New Order" and "International Jewish Banking Conspiracy" favored by conspiracy paranoiacs. Writings prior to 1990 that refer to a "New World Order" are rare indeed. The Latin phrase Novus Ordo Seclorum as seen on the dollar bill actually means "a new order of the ages," not "New World Order" as some paranoiacs would have people think.

Technical term for the Second Coming of Christ

A pseudoscience that teaches that the Great Pyramid of Giza is a divine revelation. Many pyramidologists believe that the future can be foretold by measuring the Great Pyramid's inner passages.

The sudden transporation of all true Christians to heaven, which is supposed to take place around the time of the Second Coming of Christ.

Second Coming
The return of Jesus to Earth, a doctrine believed by many Christians.

signs of the times
Phenomena occurring that supposedly signal that the end is near. These include self-proclaimed Messiahs, wars and rumors of war, nation rising against nation, famines andearthquakes (Matthew 24). The problem, naturally, is that such things have been happening constantly throughout history, even before the time of Christ. And even Jesus was wrong about the Temple being destroyed such that "there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down." (Matthew 24:2) The Western Wall of the Temple is still intact to this day.

Commonly used shorthand for "the end of the world as we know it."

A period, generally thought to be seven years, in which the Antichrist comes to power, and the world is destroyed by war, disease, rampant crime, earthquakes, and other nastiness. The Tribulation is supposed to take place immediately before Christ's Millennium.

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