St. John at Patmos: the receiving of an apocalyptic vision
; "lifting of the veil" or "revelation") is a
term applied to the disclosure to certain privileged persons of
something hidden from the majority of humankind. Today the term is
often used to refer to Armageddon
referred to as the end of the
, which may be a shortening of the phrase apokalupsis
which literally means "revelation at the end of the
æon, or age". In the Christian
tradition, 'The Apocalypse' refers in particular to the Book of Revelation
, the last book of the
Apocalyptic religious writings are regarded as a distinct branch of
literature. This genre has several characteristic features.
Dreams or Visions
The disclosure of future events is made through a dream
, as was the experience for the prophet Daniel,
which is recorded in the book with his name, or a vision
as was recorded by John in the Book
of Revelation. Moreover, the manner of the revelation and the
experience of the one who received it are generally prominent. The
account is usually given in the first person. There is something
portentous in the circumstances corresponding to the importance of
the secrets about to be disclosed. The element of the mysterious,
often prominent in the vision itself, is foreshadowed in the
preliminary events. Some of the persistent features of the
apocalyptic tradition are connected with the circumstances of the
vision and the personal experience of the seer.
The primary example of apocalyptic literature in the Hebrew Bible
is the book of Daniel
. After a long
period of fasting, Daniel is standing by a river when a heavenly
being appears to him, and the revelation follows (Daniel
, in the New Testament Revelation
(1:9ff), has a like
experience, told in very similar words. Compare also the first
chapter of the Greek
Apocalypse of Baruch
; and the Syriac Apocalypse of
, vi.1ff, xiii.1ff, lv.1-3. Or, as the prophet lies
upon his bed, distressed for the future of his people, he falls
into a sort of trance, and in "the visions of his head" is shown
the future. This is the case in Daniel 7:1ff; 2
3:1-3; and in the Book of Enoch, i.2 and following. As
to the description of the effect of the vision upon the seer, see
Daniel 8:27; Enoch, lx.3; 2 Esdras 5:14.
The introduction of Angels
as the bearers of
the revelation is a standing feature. At least four types or ranks
of angels are mentioned in biblical scripture: the Archangels
and the Seraphim
. God may give instructions through the
medium of these heavenly messengers, and who act as the seer's
guide. God may also personally give a revelation, as is shown in
the Book of Revelation through the person of Jesus Christ. The book
of Genesis speaks of the "Angel" bringing forth the apocalypse. The
lore of the apostle Matthew speaks of the day when the angel's
tears will rain like fire down upon the Earth and clear away all of
the evil, and is implied as humanity.
There is hardly an example of a true apocalypse in which the
instrumentality of angels in giving the message is not made
prominent. In the Assumption
, which consists mainly of a detailed prediction
of the course of Israelite and Jewish history, the announcement is
given to Joshua by Moses, just before the death of the latter. So,
too, in the Sibylline
, which are for the most part a foretelling of
future events, the Sibyl
is the only speaker.
Neither of these books are truly representative of apocalyptic
literature in the narrower sense (see below).
"Beast" - Endtime Ruler; also known as Antichrist
In the Old and New Testaments, a particular individual is singled
out as the particular focus of God's wrath. This individual is
known in biblical scripture by many titles such as the "beast", the
"little horn", the "prince that will come" and other titles. One
ancient prince was singled out in scripture, the Prince of Tyre,
who may be considered a 'type' of antichrist.
After the judgment of the Prince of Tyre, God directs the prophet
Ezekiel to write a judgment about the King of Tyre, and from the
scripture some say it is learned that this individual is not a
human being, but "the anointed cherub that covereth
further reading of the text it is learned that the cherub being
addressed here may be Satan, as this was his former position before
the throne of God before his fall. Satan is also viewed as a
'prince' that will eventually be judged. The straightforward view
of this passage, however, is that the individual is the human
Prince of Tyre. An alternate translation is that the cherub refers
to one who acts on the Prince, rather than the Prince
Apocalyptic visions through the writing of these scriptures is how
the prophets revealed God's justice as taking place in the future.
This genre has a distinctly religious aim, intended to show God's
way of dealing with humankind, and God's ultimate purposes. The
writers present, sometimes very vividly, a picture of coming
events, especially those connected with the end of the present age.
In certain of these writings the subject-matter is vaguely
described as "that which shall come to pass in the latter days"
(Daniel 2:28; compare verse 29); similarly Daniel 10:14, "to make
thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days";
compare Enoch, i.1, 2; x.2ff. So, too, in Revelation 1:1 (compare
translation of Daniel
2:28ff), "Revelation ... that which must shortly come to
Past history is often included in the vision, traditionally said to
give the proper historical setting to the prediction, as the
panorama of successive events passes over imperceptibly from the
known to the unknown. Thus, in the eleventh chapter of Daniel, the
detailed history of the Greek empire in the East, from the conquest
of Alexander down to the latter part of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes
(verses 3-39, all
presented in the form of a prediction), is continued, without any
break, in a scarcely less vivid description (verses 40-45) of
events which had not yet taken place, but were expected by the
writer: the wars which should result in the death of Antiochus and
the fall of his kingdom. Modern scholars therefore date the
composition of the book to about 167 BCE, when Antiochus Epiphanes
sacked Jerusalem and desecrated the Holy Places. This serves as the
introduction to the eschatological predictions in the twelfth
Similarly, in the dream recounted in 2 Esdras 11 and 12, the eagle,
representing the Roman Empire
followed by the lion, which is the promised Messiah
, who is to deliver the chosen people and
establish an everlasting kingdom. The transition from history to
prediction is seen in xii.28, where the expected end of Domitian
's reign – and with it the end of the world
– is foretold. Still another example of the same kind is
Sibyllines, iii.608-623. Compare also Assumptio Mosis
vii-ix. In nearly all the writings which are properly classed as
apocalyptic the eschatological element is prominent. The growth of
speculation regarding the age to come and the hope for the chosen
people more than anything else occasioned the rise and influenced
the development of apocalyptic literature.
The element of the mysterious, apparent in both the subject and the
manner of the writing, is a marked feature in every typical
Apocalypse. The literature of visions and dreams has its own
traditions which are well illustrated in Jewish (or
Jewish-Christian) apocalyptic writing.
This apocalyptic quality appears most clearly in the use of
fantastic imagery. The best illustration is furnished by the
strange, living creatures which figure in so many of the visions –
"beasts" or "living creatures", as is written in Revelation 4 in
which the properties of men, mammals, birds, reptiles, or purely
imaginary beings are combined in a way that is strikingly vivid and
often bizarre. This characteristic feature is illustrated in the
following list of the most noteworthy passages in which such
creatures are introduced: Daniel 7:1-8, 8:3-12 (both passages of
the greatest importance for the history of apocalyptic literature);
Enoch, lxxxv.-xc.; 2 Esdras 11:1-12:3, 11-32; Greek Apoc. of
ii, iii; Hebrew Testament, Naphtali's, iii.; Revelation
6:6ff (compare Apocalypse of Baruch
ix.7-10, 17-19, xiii.1-18, xvii.3, 12; the Shepherd of Hermas
iv.1. Certain mythical or semi-mythical beings which appear in the
Hebrew Bible also play an important role in these books. Thus
", mentioned in the Old
Testament and "Behemoth
", mentioned also in
the Old Testament, as well as (Enoch, lx.7, 8; 2 Esdras 6:49-52;
Apocalypse of Baruch
xxix.4); "Gog and Magog" (Sibyllines,
iii.319ff, 512ff; compare Enoch, lvi.5ff; Revelation 20:8). Foreign
mythologies are also occasionally laid under contribution (see
Mystical symbolism is another frequent characteristic of
apocalyptic writing. This feature is illustrated in the instances
is employed either for the
sake of obscuring the writer's meaning, or enhancing its meaning
further as a number of ancient cultures used letters also as
, the Romans with their use of 'roman numerals
'). Thus, the mysterious name
," "Assumptio Mosis
", ix. 1; the "number
of the beast
Revelation 13:18; the number 888 ('Iησōῦς), Sibyllines
Similar to this discussion is the frequent prophecy of the length
of time through which the events predicted must be fulfilled. Thus,
the "time, times, and a half," Daniel 12:7 which has generally been
agreed to be 3½ years in length by dispensationalists; the
" of Enoch, xc.5, "Assumptio
", x.11; the announcement of a certain number of "weeks"
or days, which starting point in Daniel 9:24, 25 is the "the
going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem
unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks
", ff, a
mention of 1290 days after the covenant/sacrifice is broken (Daniel
12:11), 12; Enoch xciii.3-10; 2 Esdras 14:11, 12; Apocalypse of
xxvi-xxviii; Revelation 11:3, which mentions "two
" with supernatural power, 12:6; compare
, vii.1. Symbolic language is also used to
describe persons, things, or events; thus, the "horns" of Daniel 7
and 8; Revelation 17 and following; the "heads" and "wings" of 2
Esdras xi and following; the seven seals of Revelation 6; trumpets,
Revelation 8; "vials of the wrath of God" or "bowl..." judgments,
Revelation 16; the dragon, Revelation 12:3-17, Revelation 20:1-3;
the eagle, Assumptio Mosis
, x.8; and so on.
As examples of more elaborate prophecies and allegories, aside from
those in Daniel Chapters 7 and 8; and 2 Esdras Chapters 11 and 12,
already referred to, may be mentioned: the vision of the bulls and
the sheep, Enoch, lxxxv and following; the forest, the vine, the
fountain, and the cedar, Apocalypse of Baruch
following; the bright and the black waters, ibid. liii and
following; the willow and its branches, Hermas, "Similitudines,"
End of the age
In John's apocalypse, the Book of
, he refers to the "unveiling" or "revelation" of
. This term has come to mean, in common
usage, the end of the world
. But it is
more accurate to interpret the term "end of the world", (as seen in
the King James Version
) as "end of the age". The word
translated as "world" is actually the Greek word "eon" or
The simple pictures of the end of the age as books of the Old
Testament were images of the judgment of the wicked, as well as the
resurrection and glorification of those who were given righteousness
before God. The dead are
seen in the book of Job and in some of the Psalms as being in
, awaiting the final judgment. The wicked
will then be consigned to eternal torment in the fires of Gehinnom
, or the Lake of Fire mentioned in
The New Testament
letters written by
the Apostle Paul
expand on this theme
of the judgment of the wicked, and the glorification of those who
belong to Christ
. In his letters to the Corinthians
and the Thessalonians
Paul expounds further on the
destiny of the righteous. He speaks of the simultaneous resurrection
of those who are in Christ, (or Messiah). This is a combined
apocalyptic event that comes at the end of this age and before the
had a Millennial
expectation for glorification of the
righteous from the time it emerged from Judaism
and spread out into the world in the first
century. The poetic and prophetic literature of the Hebrew Bible,
particularly in Isaiah
, were rich in
imagery. The New Testament
Congregation after Pentecost
carried on with this theme. During his
imprisonment by the Romans on the Island of Patmos, John
described the visions he experienced,
writing the Book of Revelation. Revelation chapter 20 contains
several reference to a thousand year reign of Christ/Messiah upon
Throughout Church history
the kings and princes of Europe
traditionally viewed with extreme disfavor the idea of a judgment
at the end of this age and a Millennium to follow. King Henry VIII
was very angry when he heard that his subjects were reading
smuggled copies of William Tyndale
New Testament. Upon hearing that they were discussing the judgment
at the end of the age, he flew into a rage. Archbishop Wolsey was
summoned and questioned about this matter. A series of events then
led to William Tyndale
down, captured, condemned, and burned at the stake.
Preaching or teaching on end time apocalytic themes in the "Three
Self" government church in China is strictly forbidden.
Modern Christian movements in the 18th and 19th Centuries were
characterized by a rise of Millennialism
. Christian Apocalyptic
eschatology was a continuation of the same two themes referred to
throughout all of scripture as "this age
" and "the age
". Evangelicals have been in the forefront in
rediscovering and popularizing the biblical prophecy of a major
confrontation between good and evil at the end of this age, a
coming Millennium to follow, and a final confrontation whereby the
wicked are judged, the righteous are rewarded and the beginning of
Eternity is viewed.
Most evangelicals have been taught a form of Millennialism
known as Dispensationalism
, which arose in the 19th
century. Dispensationalism sees separate destinies
for the Church and Israel.
concept of a special Pre Tribulation Rapture of the Church has
become extremely popular. This is the central thesis of the
books and films.
Dispensationalist interpretations may find in biblical prophecy
clear predictions of future events: the various periods of the
church, for example, shown through the letters to the seven
churches; the throne of God in Heaven and his Glory; specific
judgments that will occur on the earth; the final form of gentile
power; God' re-dealing with the nation
Israel based upon covenants
mentioned in the Old Testament
proper; a one-thousand
year reign of Messiah; a last test of Mankind's sinful nature under
ideal conditions by the loosing of Satan
a judgment of fire coming down from Heaven that follows; the
Great White Throne Judgment
the destruction of the current heavens and the earth, to be
recreated as a "New Heaven and New Earth
", ushering in the
beginning of Eternity.
Recently, however, Dispensationalism
has been undergoing some
opposition from those who teach and embrace what is termed
. Prominent among them
are those who hold to a Post
One of the most complete exegetical works on the meaning of the
Book of Revelation was written by Emanuel Swedenborg
called the Apocalypse
Revealed, first published in two volumes in Amsterdam in 1766. A
more current book, utilizing the literal method of interpretation,
is "The Revelation Record" by Henry
Film / Television
- Apocalypse Now, a film
directed by Francis Ford
- Children of Men,
directed by Alfonso Cuarón
- Revelations, an NBC
miniseries chronicling the end of days.
- Metalocalypse, an
animation based around a metal band that within the show many
government officials and leaders of the Catholic Church believe
will trigger the 'Metalocalypse'.
- In The Simpsons episode
"Simpsons Bible Stories", the
Simpsons fall asleep in church and wake up to find Springfield
awash in the flames and destruction of the Apocalypse. When God
raises Lisa up to Heaven, Homer pulls her back down so she can go
to Hell with the rest of the family.
- "Apocalypse" is the title of Smallville's 150th episode, directed by
- The Lone Biker of the Apocalypse in Raising Arizona
- Resident Evil:
Apocalypse, The second movie in the Resident Evil film
- Supernatural A
TV Series is focusing on the apocalypse in season 5.
- Buffy the
Vampire Slayer, a television series in which there is
usually at least one apocalypse or apocalypse threat during every
season of the television series. This also occurs, though not as
frequently, on the series spin-off, Angel.
Tales, involving the end of the world and the unveiling of
the Messiah in a contemporary Los Angeles setting.
- Revolutionary Girl
- Charmed,Apocalypse Not from season 2 is based on the
Four Horsemen Of The
Apocalypse who work under The
Source to bring about the end of the world
- Neon Genesis
Evangelion , an apocalyptic mecha anime revolving around
attempts at world destruction by Angels with many references to
- Revelation: St. John the Divine Prophecies for the
Apocalypse and Beyond, by Peter Lorie (c)1995; published by
Boxtree; ISBN 1852839821.
- Lectures on the Apocalypse: Or, Book of Revelation
of St. John the Divine by Frederick Denison Maurice M.A..
- The Meaning of Millennium - Apocalyptic Visions and
Revisions: Texts and Contexts; by Damian Thompson, from The End of
Time; published by the Norton Anthology of English Literature -
Norton Topics Online.
- Apocalypse Nerd, a comic book
exploring human relationships in the Apocalypse.
- The End Is Nigh, a magazine
looking at the end of the world
- English Apocalypse
- Just a Couple of Days, an
apocalyptic novel with a happy ending.
- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett - a fantasy/comedy novel detailing
the Apocalypse and Armageddon
- Albert and the American Revelation, by Daniel
Oldis (c)1986; published by Libra Publishers; ISBN 9780872121966;
- The Road, Cormac McCarthy
- Paul Fiddes, 'Facing the end: the
apocalyptic experience in some modern novels', in John Colwell,
ed., Called to one hope: perspectives on the life to come
(Carlisle: Paternoster, 2000), pp. 191-209
- Absolution, an album by Muse regarding
- A song, on the above album, is titled 'Apocalypse Please'.
- Save The World Burn It Down (song) by the band
Babalon about personal apocalypse.
- "Supper's Ready", a 23-minute
epic by progressive rock band Genesis, found on their 1972 album "Foxtrot", deals with a couple who falls in
love and experience the Apocalypse.
- F♯A♯∞, an album by
Canadian post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, which deals with
thoughts of a coming apocalypse.
- The World's Famous Ending a song by Graffitee, anthe extremely personal song
regarding the personal apocolpyse to himself and also based on his
movie currently in production.
- The British neofolk band Current 93
has released concept albums about the apocalypse, defining the term
- Shadowboxing the Apocalypse is a prominent line in the Grateful
Dead song "My Brother Esau" from the 1987 album, In The Dark.
- Apocalypse: A Song By Emarosa
- Apocalypse: A Song By AGraceful
- Apocalypse: A song by Gewalt Kubikzahl
- This Or The Apocalypse: A technical metalcore band from
- Day of the Apocalypse; A song by Arkangel
- Apocalypse: Indie /pop/mod/etc band from South London
originally on Jamming Records then EMI. Album Release on
Cherry Red Records still available. Paul Weller produced 'Teddy'
and Release'. The band toured with The Jam and supported them at
the Jam's last ever gig at Brighton. Band members were Kevin
Bagnell, Chris Boyle, Jeff Carrigan, Tony Fletcher and Tony
- My Apocalypse: A song by Metallica
- My Apocalypse: A song by Escape the Fate
- Pale Horse Apocalypse: A song by DevilDriver
- Apocalypso: A song by the Danish rock trio Mew
- Apocalypse, a radio drama
adaptation of the short story "Finis" by Frank L. Pollack, which describes a near-future
end-of-the-world scenario involving a new star.
Book References (arranged alphabetically by author)
- "Angels: God's Secret Agents" by Billy Graham (Revised &
Expanded) ©1975, 1986; Word Books Publisher, Waco, Texas.
Antichrist - Speculations and Theories
- "How to Recognize the Antichrist" by Arthur E. Bloomfield
©"1975; Bethany Fellowship
- "Gorbachev: Has the Real Antichrist Come?" by Robert W. Faid
©1988: Victory House Publishers.
- "The Man The False Prophet and The Harlot", subtitled "The Name
of the Antichrist Finally Revealed" by Dr. Anthony M. Giliberti
©1991; Published by "This Is The Generation" Library of Congress
Catalog Number 90-93451 ISBN 0-9628419-0-0.
- "Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist" by Dave Hunt ©1990;
Harvest House Publishers Library of Congress Cataloguing in
Publishing Data; ISBN 0-89081-831-2.
- "Till Armageddon", subtitled "A
Perspective on Suffering" by Billy Graham ©1981; Word Books
- "Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis" Revised, by John
F. Walvoord ©1974, 1976, 1990; Zondervan Publishing House, 1415
Lake Drive, S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506; ISBN
Biblical Numbers, Code Theories and Computer Associations
- "Number in Scripture" by E.
W. Bullinger, D.D.; ©1967; Kregel Publications,
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49501 Library of Congress Catalog Card No.
67-26498; ISBN 0-8254-2204-3
- "The Bible Code" by Michael
Drosnin; ©1997; Published by Simon & Schuster, 1230 Ave. of
the Americas, New York, NY 10020. ISBN 0-684-81079-4.
- "Bible Code II: The Countdown" by Michael Drosnin; ©2002 One Honest Man, Inc.
Published by Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices, 80 Strand,
London WC2R 0R1, England.
- "City of Revelation" subtitled "A Book of Forgotten Wisdom" by
John Michell ©1972; Ballantine Books (first printing: 11/73 Library
of Congress Cat. No. 72-88116 SBN 345-23607-6-150. (NOTE: there may
be only one copy of this book. Review copy sticker is inside.
Contains information on Gematria, a mathematical
science. This is NOT the John Michell you will find on
- "Computers and The Beast of Revelation" by David Webber &
Noah Hutchings ©1986; Huntington House Publishers.
The Church, Israel, Islam, and relation to Biblical
- "A History of Israel" (2nd Edition) by John Bright ©1972; The
Westminster Press. (NOTE: This is NOT the John Bright you will find
- "A New Testament History; the story of the Emerging Church" by
Floyd V. Filson. ©MCMLXIV; W. L. Jenkins Published by The
Westminster Press Library of Congress Catalog No. 64-15360.
- "The Fall Feasts of Israel" by Mitch and Zhava Glaser; ©1987;
The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; ISBN 0-8024-2539-9; Library
- "A Cup of Trembling" by Dave Hunt ©1995; Harvest House
Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402; ISBN 1-56507-334-7
'Daniel' and 'Revelation' Compared
- "Daniel and Revelation" subtitled "A Study of Two Extraordinary
Visions" by James M. Efird ©1978; Judson Press, Valley Forge, PA
19481 ISBN 0-8170-0797-0
- "Daniel's Prophecy of the 70 Weeks" by Alva J. McClain 1940,
©1969; Academie Books/Zondervan House.
NOTE: Also see 'Things to Come' listed below.
- "1994?" by Harold Camping; ©1992; Published by Vantage Press,
Inc., 516 West 34th Street, NY, NY 10001. ISBN 0-533-10368-1;
Library of Congress Cat. No. Unknown.
- "Shock Wave 2000!" subtitled "The Harold Camping 1994 Debacle";
by Robert Sungenis, Scott Temple, and David Allen Lewis; ©1994 New
Leaf Press, Inc., P.O. Box 311, Green Forest AR 72638; ISBN
0-89221-269-1; Library of Congress: 94-67493 NOTE: This book is a
refutation to Harold Camping's book listed above. This author
exposes most of Harold Camping's misconceptions, etc. Harold
Camping is currently the Station Manager on his radio station WFME
A.M. His 'school of thought' is Amillennial. But it is worth
viewing an article on the remarkable irony in Sungenis' criticism
of Camping, here.
Discussions of 'Genesis', the 'Days of Noah', and Relation to
- "The Genesis Record" by Henry M. Morris ©1976; Baker Book House
and Master Books (NOTE: This book is a companion book to "The
- "Many Infallible Proofs" by Henry M. Morris ©1974; Creation
- "Scientific Creationism" by Henry M. Morris (General Edition)
©1974; Creation-Life Publishers (Master Books)
- "The Genesis Flood" by John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris
©1961; The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. ISBN
0-087552-338-2 Library of Congress Cat. No. 60-13463.
- "Hidden Prophecies in the Psalms" by J.R. Church; ©1986;
Prophecy Publications, Oklahoma City, OK 73153; ISBN
- "Not Wrath but Rapture!" by Harry
A. Ironside; NO DATE;
published by Loizeaux Brothers, Inc.
- "The Truth About Armageddon" by William Sanford Lasor ©1982;
Harper & Row Publishers.
- "The Late Great Planet Earth" by Hal
Lindsey with C.C. Carlson ©1970; Zondervan House.
- "Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson ©1972; Zondervan
- "A Survey of Bible Prophecy" by R. Ludwigson ©1951; (1973,
1975; The Zondervan Corporation).
- "The Revelation Record" by Henry
M. Morris ©1985; Tyndale House
Inc. and Creation Life Publishers.
- "Things to Come" by J.
Dwight Pentecost ©1958;
Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506
- "The Secret Book of Revelation" (subtitled: "The Last Book of
the Bible") ©1979; by Gilles Quispel; Collins St. James Place,
- "The Rapture Question" by John F.
Walvoord (Revised & Enlarged) ©1974; The Zondervan
New Age Movement and relation to prophecy
- "The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow" by Constance Cumbey; ©1983; Huntington House
- "A Planned Deception: The Staging of A New Age 'Messiah'" by
Constance Cumbey; ©1985; Pointe
- "Deceived by the Light" by Doug R. Groothuis; ©1995 Harvest
House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402; ISBN 1-56507-301-0
- "Peace, Prosperity, and the Coming Holocaust" subtitled "The
New Age Movement in Prophecy", by Dave
Hunt; ©1983; Harvest House Publishers.