In the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) opinions differ greatly about the ultimate fate of the world. The End of Days, End Times in Christianity is all the tribulations preceding the Second Coming of Christ while Yawm al-Qiyāmah “the Day of Resurrection” or Yawm ad-Din” is the Day of Judgment” in Islam.
In Judaism, the Messiah or Mashiach is no Son of God but a human priest or king from the Davidic Line, who oversees the Armageddon, revival of the dead and ushers in a messianic age when everything is just perfect.
Christianity (Catholic kind) and Judaism
Catholic Christianity is probably the only religion that has a branch of theology called eschatology, fully devoted to interpreting how God will act in the end of days scenario.
A majority of the known instances of contemporary end of days predictions lie within a Christian context. Typically the concept is that the people are sinners, they can only repent in order to be saved. The saving usually means being admitted to heaven or some similar nice place among fellow believers.
The Old Testament is full of graphic details of how Judaism sees God destroying the world.
They have the very Internet savvy acronym TEOTWAWKI The End of The World As We Know It. Since the church’s founding in the 1870s, they have predicted the imminent end of the world and missed more times than others. October 1914, 1915, 1918, 1925, 1932, 1966, 1975, 1994 came and the world didn’t end. So, nowadays the message is: “This means the end of the world is near. But, happily, there will be survivors.”
In this belief there is no place for everyone in heaven as only 144, 000 are chosen for the new earth while all others (no matter how moral or good they were) are annihilated. Here is a very neat Armageddon flowchart.
Non-Abrahamic Religions have many different positions on this topic
Baha’i faith takes a very mature approach to the whole issue. Followers of the Baha’i faith (7 million) believe that the end times is not the physical end of the planet, but rather the birth pangs of wonderful times, a Kingdom of God on earth.
This ancient religion (6th century BC, founder is the 24th Tirthankara or prophet) is very down to earth about all matters apocalyptic: Focus on what is at hand and stop bothering about such matters. The world is without a beginning. It has no end. Creation and destruction; production and disposal are always going on. The whole affair is a self-regulated one.
But, Karma plays an important role, so focus on your Karma is Jainism’s advice to the 4 million followers.
Sikhism (about 23 million followers globally) has a delightful pragmatic approach – focus on how to live a good life here and now and stop worrying about such matters.
Hinduism and Buddhism
The end of the world is a recurring affair in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology and the timescales are enormous, so no reason to panic. Satya (Golden), Treta, Dvapara and Kali are the Yugas or ages composing one big Maha Yuga. In human years one Maha Yuga cycle is 4.3 billion years. No hurry here as according to some sources 427 000 years are left for this age to end.
Hinduism can be a real nightmare for people who want very simple models and know exactly what kind of beard their (one and only) God has.
Hinduism has multi-dimensional universes: “Every universe is covered by seven layers — earth, water, fire, air, sky, the total energy and false ego — each ten times greater than the previous one. There are innumerable universes besides this one, and although they are unlimitedly large, they move about like atoms in You. Therefore You are called unlimited.”(Bhagavata Purana 6.16.37)
Even Shiva, considered a main figure of the Divine Trimurti or “Trinity” openly admits his ignorance: “Lord Śiva said: ‘My dear son, I, Lord Brahmā and the other devas, who move within this universe under the misconception of our greatness, cannot exhibit any power to compete with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for innumerable universes and their inhabitants come into existence and are annihilated by the simple direction of the Lord’.”(Bhagavata Purana 9.4.56)
Many of the concepts used by modern scientific cosmology can be found in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology. Shabda Brahma in Hindu creation myths says that primal energy is created by vibrations produced by the powers of the primal Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). String Theory calls this the multidimensional vibrations of the infinitesimal strings that are at the basis of all that is. The concept of vinaash at world age changeover periods orpralayas means abject chaos and the laws of nature as we know them do not apply. Modern science calls it the Big Crunch.
End of the world ideas are ubiquitous and eternal
Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU) is a newer religious movement whose teachings are based on both mediumship and channeling. It promotes a form of meditation referred to as Raja Yoga but which differs from classical Raja Yoga as described by Patanjali. As a neo-Hindu sect, the Brahma Kumaris or “Daughters of Brahma” pre-date the New Age movement but have developed characteristics that link them to its thinking. In this religious movement, the length of Kalpa is said to be 5,000 years.
The current 5th age (Confluence Age) will result in total annihilation of humanity by Nuclear weapons, civil war and natural disasters; and revelation of God. The BKWSU teaches that humanity entered the End Times around the year 1936 and the current age will end in approximately 2036.
About 30 cultures around the world share the concept of world ages and global cataclysms when the ages change. The typical pattern resembles a cyclical motion of extraordinary long time periods at the end of which a mass extinction of human and other life forms are followed by a renewal. Some cultures mention the visible signs of such events:
Around 2800 BC, an Assyrian clay tablet talks about the end of the world as it proclaims: “The Earth is degenerating today. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer obey their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching.”
Hesiod in the 8th century BC Greece writes in The Works and Days that till then at least three generations of humans had thus been obliterated. The ages of the earth are Golden, Silver, Bronze/Copper and Iron (In order of moral degeneration).
The Hopi mythology describes how the world was almost destroyed by fires at the end of the first cycle, by the coming of an ice age through a pole shift when the next cycle ended. The third cataclysmic change is by flooding.
Plato in the 4th century BC Greece in Timeaus further explains that “.. as you achieve literacy and what cities require, after the usual number of years, comes the heavenly flood. It sweeps everything and leaves only the illiterate and uncultured people behind. You become infants all over again; completely unfamiliar with anything there was in ancient times.
Mankind’s memory slate being wiped totally is echoed in the Bible, where God promises a new heaven and earth: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former will not be remembered nor come to mind.”[Isa 65:17] The Revelation has a similar vision: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”[Rev 21:1]
Gnostics in the first century AD were seriously waiting for the Last Judgment and God’s Kingdom, which followed it.
The Shakers expected the world to end in 1792
Sir Isaac Newton calculated that the world would end in 2060.
The Book of Revelation, (Revelation to John /Apocalypse of John / Revelation of Jesus Christ) is the last canonical book of the New Testament in the Christian Bible which mainly describes the apolcalyptic and end times scenario through the visions of the author(s).
The visions describe the “end of the world” scenario which is often thought of as “the end of the age”; Satan will rule through Man but will later be defeated by the Messiah or the “son of man”. The events to occur are referred to as: the Great Tribulation, the Campaign of Armageddon, the Second Coming of the Messiah who will bring in a new age of peace to the earth during his 1,000 year reign, the imprisonment against Satan (portrayed as a dragon) until the final rebellion, God’s final judgment over Satan, the Great White throne judgment, and the ushering in of the New Heavens and New Earth. According to the Preterist theory, the events of the latter part of the Apocalypse of John are interpreted as being fulfilled by events in the 1st century. – Book of Revelation
In Christianity, the Second Coming refers to the return of the Messiah Jesus from heaven to the earth, according to the prophecy, the dead will be resurrected and the Final Judgment will take place at this time; the kingdom of God will be established here on earth ( the Messianic age/era and the Reign of God). In Christian thought, there are several different veiws of the end of days scenarios.
The Christian Holy Bible makes several references to these end times; The second coming or return of Jesus Christ/The Saviour is referred to as: “the day of the Lord”, “the day of Christ”, “the day of the Son of Man”, “the last day”, “the Epiphany”, “the Appearance”…
There are many Christians who are unmoved by the warning signs. They often have scorn for anyone who actively promotes Bible prophecy. Here is what a man named James posted on his site:
“This fear has spawned, among other things, an entire industry of books similar to those of Mr. Lindsey. In general, these books, as well as the movies, magazines, radio and TV programs, and websites inspired by them, have the ability to whip believers into a frenzy about the coming of the Antichrist, leading to speculation about such things as his identity, the identity of the nations which will be under his control, and the identity of the False Prophet, the Mark of the Beast, the identity of Babylon, and of course, the Rapture.” He reinsured his readers by quoting Matthew 24:6 “. . but see to it that you are not alarmed.”
The Bible does says we are not to be alarmed, but it doesn’t say we should just roll over and ignore it. Because apathy is a major sign of the end times, Christians who say don’t worry about the end times are actually taking an active role in prophecy. Jesus did not say, “In case your interest about the end times..” He said, “Watch therefore..” (Mat 24:44)