Armageddon Is Not Just War: It Is Mostly Global Warming – OpEd


The word Armageddon does not appear in the Hebrew Bible, and appears only once in the Greek New Testament, in Revelation 16:16 which makes no mention of armies being predicted to one day gather on or near Mount Megiddo; but instead seems to predict only that “they (will gather) the kings together to … Armageddon”. 

The text does however seem to imply, based on the text from the earlier passage of Revelation 16:14, that the purpose of this gathering of kings in the “place called Armageddon” is “for the war of the great day of God Almighty” which is the ongoing battle against Global Warming.

Both Judaism and Islam teach their followers to take care of the earth. Muslims and Jews also believe that humans should act as guardians and trustees (stewardship and khalifah) off our planet, and that they will be held accountable by God for their actions. So what will a half degree Celsius of warming do to our planet? 

Parts of Earth’s ice sheets that could lift global ocean levels by several meters will crumble with another half degree Celsius of warming, according to new research. New research suggests that the number of people threatened by sea level rise has been underestimated by tens of millions due to poorly-interpreted satellite data and a lack of scientific resources in developing countries. 

More than 90% of the world’s population is projected to face increased risks from the compound impacts of extreme heat and drought, potentially widening social inequalities as well as undermining the natural world’s ability to reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere—according to a study from Oxford’s School of Geography. And communities around the world emitted more carbon dioxide in 2022 than in any other year on records dating to 1900, a result of air travel rebounding from the pandemic and more cities turning to coal as a low-cost source of power.

Warming is projected to intensify these hazards ten-fold globally under the highest emission pathway, says the report, published in Nature Sustainability. In the wake of record temperatures in 2022, from London to Shanghai, continuing rising temperatures are projected around the world. And Antarctic sea ice shrunk to a record low at the end of February 2023 in the 45 years of satellite record-keeping. That exceeded the previous record low set in 2022

An international team of researchers has found that approximately 90% of all marine life on Earth will be at risk of extinction by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed.

High-severity wildfire is increasing in Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascade forests and has been burning at unprecedented rates compared to the years before Euro-American settlement, says a study from the Safford Lab at the University of California, Davis. High-severity burns are those where more than 95% of aboveground tree biomass is killed by fire.

If humans will not reduce man made carbon magnification, not even the coming of Mahdi and Messiah may be able to overcome human unwillingness to reverse human pollution. God demands that humans fulfill their God given responsibilities.

Meanwhile, in human societies corruption heats up and self-centeredness increases. In France an estimated 216,000 children were victims of sex abuse by some 3,000 people — two-thirds of them priests — within France’s Catholic Church over the past 70 years, according to a major reckoning of clerical sex abuse covered up by Catholic authorities.

The incidence of adult diabetes in the United States has doubled over the last 20 years, afflicting 37.3 million people, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The total economic losses caused by natural disasters hit an estimated $72 billion in the first half of 2022, fueled by storms and floods, Swiss reinsurance giant Swiss Re estimated. And according to a 2020 Oxfam report, the richest 10% of the global population produce half of the Earth’s fossil-fuel emissions, while the poorest half contribute a mere 10%.

And for the first time in two decades, there are now more closed autocracies than liberal democracies in the world according to the Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem Institute) at the University of Gothenburg. The democratic decline has taken place globally, and an increasing number of people are living in closed autocracies. The level of democracy enjoyed by the average world citizen in 2022 is back to 1986 levels. 

So 72 percent of the world’s population, 5.7 billion people, now live under authoritarian rule. Liberal democracies do not automatically overcome autocracies. Democracies must be supported and defended. 

Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam has a powerful eschatological strand. Islam anticipates the end to the world as we know it, a final historical confrontation between the forces of good and evil; after which human life will be transformed in a positive way.

Many Islamic traditions (Ahadith) say that Prophet Jesus, will return and will join forces with the Islamic messiah, the Mahdi, in a battle against a false messiah, the cruel one eyed Dajjal, called Armilos in Jewish tradition. Now would be a good time for one or more Messianic figures to get to work.

As a Reform Rabbi who believes that the world wide upheavals we see are part of the birth pains of the Messianic Age, I offer Christians and Muslims some positive insights from the Jewish Prophets and the Rabbinic Sages.

Many millions of Jews, Christians and Muslims believe the wars of Gog and Magog (Gog u-Magog in Hebrew and “Yajuj and Majuj” in Arabic) which started in the 18th to 20th centuries will come to an end in the 21st century. 

It is true that human society changed more rapidly, violently and fundamentally in the last 250 years than ever before in history. Doctors saved the lives of millions. Dictators sacrificed the lives of millions. Populations are exploding in Africa and populations are declining in Europe. Technology produces both worldwide prosperity and worldwide pollution at the same time.  

Should we look upon the future with optimistic hope or with fatalistic trepidation? Is the world and our society heading towards a wonder-filled new age, or toward a doomsday? Or are both occurring almost concurrently because breakdown is always a prelude to breakthrough?

Jews, whose Biblical prophets were the ones who first wrote about a future Messianic Age, recognize that the birth of a Messianic Age must be preceded by its birth-pangs. But the prophets of Israel also emphasize the glories of a future world living in peace and prosperity with justice for all. 

Ancient Jewish prophecies did proclaim that there would be an end to the world as we know it. But they did not prophesy that the world will come to an end, nor did the Prophets of Israel offer an exact date for the transition. 

The exact advent of the Messianic Age is not knowable because humans have free will and thus the exact time and manner of redemption cannot be determined in advance. Much depends on what we humans do. 

The beginning of the Messianic Age is a time of transition from one World Age into another. How we move through this transition, either with resistance or acceptance, will determine whether the transformation will happen through cataclysmic changes or by a gradual reform of human society; which will lead to a world filled with peace, prosperity and spiritual tranquility.  

The Prophets of Israel conceived redemption as a transformation of human society that would occur through the catalyst of the Jewish community. This transformation, which will take place in this world at some future time, is called the Messianic Age. 

The transition to the Messianic Age is called the birth pangs of the Messiah. The birth of a redeemed Messianic world may be the result of an easy or difficult labor.  If everyone would simply live according to the moral teachings of his or her religious tradition, we would ourselves have helped bring about the Messianic Age.  

But, if we do not do it voluntarily, it will come about through social and political upheavals, worldwide conflicts and generation gaps and most obvious of all climate change which will affect both nature and the economy-society. The Messiah (Mahdi) refers to one or more human agents of God who help bring about a non-destruction positive transformation.  

The Jewish tradition teaches that this agent of God (together with several forerunners and many disciples) will be a human being, a descendant of Prophets Abraham and David, with great qualities of national leadership similar to Prophet Moses and Prophet Mohammed. 

The arrival of the Messianic Age is what’s really important, not the personality of the agents who bring it about, since they are simply the instruments of God, who ultimately is the real Redeemer. 

The Islamic 1400s we are now living in, is the age of the coming of Hazrat Mahdi. Prophet Jesus  will also return to Earth in this century. As Prophet Micah states: “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; and exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.

“The Torah will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD GOD has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we (Jews, Christians and Muslims) will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” (Prophet Micah 4:1-5) 

One of the signs of the End of Days is the arrival and defeat of Gog and Magog (Ya’juj and Ma’juj or Ajuj and Majuj). Gog and Magog appear in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible, and the Islamic Quran as individuals, tribes, countries and catastrophic acts of nature.

The Quran mentions Gog and Magog twice: “He said: “This (barrier) is a mercy from my Lord: but when the warning of my Lord comes to pass, He will reduce it to dust (and Gog and Magog—the Colonialist Empires, the Nazis, and the Communists would be released into the world); and the promise of my Lord is true.” (18:98)  So Gog and Magog are destructive groups like the Colonialist Empires, the Nazis, and the Communists, who near the end of days will penetrate into every part of the world.

Many of the disasters of Yajuj and Majuj have been occurring over the last few centuries. Their appearance is one of the signs of the end times. Gog and Magog  are sometimes personified as individuals, sometimes identified as nations, or as terrible nature catastrophes. All references in the Bible, Qur’an and Hadith clearly indicate that human caused Gog and Magog are very numerous in number, and nature caused catastrophes will come from the northern hemisphere, at the end of times, before the Days of Judgement: 

The very worst period of human caused spread of Gog and Magog was the 30 years between the autumn of 1914 and the summer of 1945, when 150 million people were killed in World War I and World War II.

The classical rabbinic exegetical text Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer, attributed to the late first century Jewish sage, Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha, contains references that prophesied the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple not just by Jews; but also by bnei Yishmael, (the sons of Ishmael). The Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer final chapter 30, lists 15 things that the sons of Prophet Ishmael will do in the holy land at the End of Days. 

One is particularly interesting: “Rabbi Ishmael said: The sons of Ishmael will do fifteen things at the end of days…. They will rebuild the breaches in the wall of the beyt hamikdash (bayt al maqdis); and build a broadcast structure near the heiykal (the central sanctuary of the Holy Temple)” This broadcast structure could be in the near future, a virtual reality broadcast station from a small physical building on some open space near the Dome of the Rock. 

Just as millions of Muslims can join every day with tens of thousands of Muslims pilgrims praying and circling around the cube-shaped Kaaba at Islam’s most sacred site; Jews would be able to strap on a headset and enter the holy city of Jerusalem, and see and hear Jewish prayers at the Western Wall, and someday God willing, as broadcast from the virtual reality Jerusalem Temple, without ever leaving their own homes.

The end generation of Yajuj and Majuj may be coming soon, so it would be best if all monotheistic religions stopped being rivals, and became allies who know and respect each other: “O mankind, We created you from male and female, and made you peoples and tribes, that you may know (respect) one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (Quran 49:13)

The Qur’an refers to Prophet Abraham as a community or a nation: “Abraham was a nation/community [Ummah]; dutiful to God, a monotheist [hanif], not one of the polytheists.” (16:120) If Prophet Abraham is an Ummah then fighting between the descendants of Prophets Ishmael and Isaac is a civil war and should always be avoided.

If all Arabs and Jews can live up to the ideal that ‘the descendants of Abraham’s sons should never make war against each other’ is the will of God; we will help fulfill the 2700 year old vision of Prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together.  On that day Israel  will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”…(Isaiah 19:23-5)

The other mention of Gog and Magog in the Quran is: “But there is a ban on a town which We have destroyed: that they (the people of the town) shall not return (to reclaim that town as their own); until Gog and Magog are let through (the barrier), and swiftly spread out in every direction.” (21:95-96) 

This verse refers to Jerusalem, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, and only reclaimed 18 centuries later as Israel’s capital, following the era of the defeat of the Nazis, the Communists, and the Colonialist Empires, who had been Gog and Magog for generations.

Thus, humanity has so far passed through the most devastating era of human history. However,  we have not yet reached the goal of the Messianic Age when “They (all nations) will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD GOD has spoken.” (Prophet Micah 4:2-4)

This era will begin when Israelis and Palestinians make a long lasting two state partnership of peace; thus fulfilling the 2700 year old vision of Prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. On that day Israel  will join a three-party  alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”… (Isaiah 19:23-5)

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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