Waiting for the end of the world
The end has been coming since the beginning. From the moment in Genesis when God spoke creation into existence, we have been teleologically migrating through millennialism and millenarianism in eschatological hope and expectation. The Reign of God is immanent, and better times are ahead. Such beliefs invariably relate to times of crisis and tension, danger, distress and persecution. There is an apparent discrepancy betwen reality and expectation; moments when suffering, injustice, and the general ill-ordering of the world stridently yearns for catastrophic resolution.
The much-heralded Mayan apocalypse has failed to materialise: another day of doom passes with no perceptible challenge to the current order of greed and material deprivation; nationalism and social dislocation; religious and political persecution.
That the God of the churches has become more rational, more liberal and more indulgent is not a sign of the end. Change is not a sign of the end. Terror is not a sign of the end. But the preaching of revelation might inspire revolution. As Josephus reported: '..such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretence of divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty'.
The signs of salvation may induce madness, for the world is progressing to its appointed end. But the fascination with cultic zealotry and fringe crackpottiness draw a veil over the Judaeo-Christian revelation of the relationship between suffering and hope, sin and forgiveness, evil and love. Only when we look at our human suffering in cosmic terms, as part of a universal order of creation and destruction, is catastrophe dignified and our life endowed with meaning, and hence made bearable.
The end will come when it comes, and no man can know the day or the hour. We await a great bang, but it is more likely to be a whimper. For God did not come in a blaze of conquering glory: He was born as a baby and laid in a manger. God became man, and dwelt among us. And therein lies the revelation and eschatological hope of our salvation: therein is our revolution of love, joy, peace and patience.