(Second of a two-part series on the Apocalypse from Ahmadinejad to former Washington Post reporter Michael Drosnin).
The "prophets" of doom and gloom are flooding the market place -- or, at least, the Internet and bookstores around the globe. In fact, it's become a multi-million, perhaps, even a billion-dollar business.
In generations past, those so-called seers of "end times" wore long robes and had scruffy beards and stood on street corners while shouting of mankind's imminent demise. "The End Is Here," they would bellow.
Now, they turn up on major television shows, with a few exceptions, issuing their pronouncements. They're mostly clean cut and some even wear designer suits.
And where did this trend begin?
Before Y2K, Frontline, the celebrated U.S.-based television program, gave the chronological order of "the apocalyptic world view through the ages."
The following are brief excerpts which stretches back to 1,500 B.C.E., when the Persian prophet Zoroaster spoke of "a cosmic battle between good and evil ending in a new, perfect world for humanity. The Zoroastrian tradition survives today in Iran and as the basis of Parsiism in India."
If, indeed, the genesis occurred in Iran, then the world shouldn't be shocked by the recent pronouncements from its despotic leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who believes a Shi'ite messianic figure, Imam Mahdi, will arrive with "Jesus, the son of Mary," by the spring equinox.
Then as I wrote in Thursday's paper, this Mahdi, supposedly, would take over an army and eventually end up in Jerusalem and wage a number of apocalyptic battles against the enemies of Islam (namely Israel and the U.S.).
However, in tracing the Frontline scenario, the Book of Ezekiel (written in 592 BCE to 586 BCE), apparently was penned in response to the invasion and capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzer and the exile of the Jews to Babylon. And this book as well as the Book of Isaiah, First Enoch and, particularly, the Book of Daniel is the basis of much of today's proliferation of prophecy believers and so-called scholars.
In the New Testament, the Gospel of Mark, according to Frontline "interpreters" included the "Little Apocalypse" in which Jesus -- The Messiah -- fuelled expectations of His imminent return.
However, perhaps, the Book of Revelation, written in 90 CE, emphasized apocalyptic events, which would occur in the future.
Throughout the ages the world has gravitated towards a belief it would come to a dramatic end -- and suddenly. And beyond that, there was either damnation for some, known as hell, or an ideal paradise, known as heaven.
According to Frontline, the American Revolution had a significant role in fuelling apocalyptic thinking, for "colonial pamphleteers equated the hated Stamp Act with the "mark of the beast" from Revelation, and cast King George in the role of the Antichrist.
In 1859, according to Frontline, a British minister, John Nelson Darby, introduced a theological viewpoint known as premillennial dispensationalism, which divided history in sections or epochs. According to Darby, the period we are living in now would be considered the Church Age, which would be followed by the Rapture, in which the true believers in Christ would be swept away and those left on the planet would have to endure the terrible dilemma known as the Tribulation.
While there have been a bevy of "doom-sayers," probably the most listened to have been TV evangelist John Hagee and prolific writers such as professing born-again Christians, Hal Lindsey and Grant Jeffrey.
One who doesn't fall into that category is former Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal reporter, Michael Drosnin, who has had two New York Times bestsellers, Citizen Hughes, and The Bible Code.
Drosnin, in the Bible Code II -- The Countdown, written in 2002, believes the world is on the very edge of the Apocalypse and as he wrote for the book jacket, "The warning in the Bible Code (the ancient code encrypted in the Bible) is clear: A nuclear World War will start with an act of terrorism in the Middle East. It is the Apocalypse foretold by all the West's three major religions."
Drosnin went on to claim September 11 was predicted in the 3,000-year code and "was the beginning, not the end, of the danger."
One of the most scary scenarios was forecast by a former Californian named Frank Ernest Mauck, who has taken on the mantle of "Elijah the Tishbite" and now resides in Cyprus.
On a daily basis he utilizes the Internet to get his messages that Planet X is on a collision course with Earth. Then he proceeds to condemn everyone from U.S. President George Bush to Prince Charles for the world's ills.
While this planet hasn't been rocked yet by apocalyptic storms or it hasn't turned on its axis, it appears time is quickly running out, according to these "prophets of doom and gloom."