The end times

Some read the biblical texts looking for clues about the end times.  When will the world come to an end?  What is the meaning of the afterlife?  There is a search for indications of when the Second Coming of Jesus will take place.  The biblical apocalyptic literature is a favorite.  I want to understand the visions and sayings about the end of the world.  Will I be saved in the end times?  Will I be able to meet my maker?

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Assyria in the pit (Ezek 32:22-32:23)

“Assyria is there.

All its company is there.

Their graves are

All around it.

All of them killed,

Fallen by the sword.

Their graves are set

In the uttermost parts

Of the pit.

Its company

Is all around

Its grave.

All of them

Have been killed,

Fallen by the sword.

They had spread

Terror

In the land

Of the living.”

There apparently was a special place for the Assyrians in this pit or Sheol, the shadowy underworld of the afterlife. Somehow their graves were all around them, since they were all killed by the sword. Thus, their graves were set off in the uttermost parts of this pit. The Assyrian company armies were all around in graves also, since all of them had died by the sword. While they were living, they had spread terror. Now they were in the worst part of Sheol.

The death of the cedar tree (Ezek 31:13-31:14)

“All the birds

Of the air

Settle

On its fallen trunk.

All the wild animals

Lodge

Among its boughs.

All this is

In order

That no trees

By the waters

May grow

To a lofty height

Or set their tops

Among the clouds.

No trees

That drink water

May reach up

To them

In height.

All of them

Are handed over

To death,

To the world below.

They will be

With all mortals,

Who go down

To the pit.”

The birds of the air will settle on the fallen trunk of this great cedar tree. Wild animals will be among its loose branches. This would be a warning that no other trees that were near water should grow to lofty heights. No other trees should have their tree tops in the clouds or reach up to those heights. All of them would be handed over to death, to go to the world below, the great pit, where all the other mortals go. This personification of the cedar tree was complete, since it would share the afterlife with other mortals in the underworld pit.

Humans and animals (Eccl 3:18-3:21)

“I said in my heart

With regard to humans

That God is testing them

To show

That they are but animals.

‘The fate of humans,

The fate of animals

Is the same.

As one dies,

So does the other.

They all have the same breath.

Humans have no advantage

Over the animals.

All is vanity.

All go to one place.

All are from dust.

All turn to dust again.

Who knows

Whether the human spirit

Goes upward?

Who knows

Whether the spirit of animals

Goes downward to the earth?’”

Qoheleth makes a comparison of humans to animals. He does not see much difference. They both share the same fate. They both die. The humans try in vain to show that they more than animals. However, they have no advantage, since all is vanity. They both come from and go to dust. Do they go to the same place? Do humans really go up and animals go down? Qoheleth sees a spirit in both humans and animals. So we are left with this dilemma of the afterlife of humans and animals.