Extreme Heat And Armageddon – OpEd


On August 10, 2023 the mercury soared to 46.8 degrees Celsius (116.2 Fahrenheit) at Spain’s Valencia airport, shattering by over 3 degrees the previous record of 43.4 Celsius set on July 6, 1986, the state weather agency Aemet said on social media.

The European climate monitoring organization said: July 2023 was Earth’s hottest month on record by a wide margin. And in the USA Phoenix and its suburbs endured 110 degrees Fahrenheit-plus (43.4 degrees Celsius) high temperatures every day between June 30 and July 30, 2023.

Climate change caused by natural disasters destroyed assets worth more than $140 billion in the United States in 2022, with close to $90 billion insured, according to data from Munich Re. Reinsurance costs have increased by between 30 and 40 percent from 2022; and waves of severe thunderstorms in the U.S. during the first half of 2023 led to $34 billion in insured losses, an unprecedented level of financial damage in such a short time, as climate change contributes to the frequency and severity of violent meteorological events.

On June 11, 2023 the main peak of Mt. Fluchthorn, on the border of Austria and Switzerland, collapsed without warning. Roughly 3.5 million cubic feet of earth tumbled down, filling a small valley below with rocks, mud, and dirt, LiveScience reported. Thank God no one was hurt. But why did the peak collapse? 

Like many mountains in the far north, Mt. Fluchthorn had a lot of permafrost, a permanent layer of ice and dirt under the mountain’s surface that is important because frozen water within the ground holds the steep ground surface together and prevents it from moving. But when permafrost ice melts on a mountain, the liquid water flows away and the ground surface becomes less stable very quickly. 

If we do not quickly reduce oil, gas and coal usage we will be rejecting the Bible’s promise that: “Though the mountains may shake and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)  

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  So we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake” (Psalm 46:1-3)

Human-caused global warming made July 2023 hotter for four out of five people on Earth, with more than 2 billion people feeling climate change-boosted warmth daily. For 2 billion people, in a mostly tropical belt across the globe, climate change made it three times more likely to be hotter every single day of July 2023. This includes the million-person city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

The Greek word Armageddon is a transliteration of the Hebrew har məgiddô which means a mountain near Megiddo, a hilltop fortification built by King Ahab, that dominated the Plain of Jezreel. Har Magedon is the symbol of a battle in which, when the need is greatest and believers are most oppressed, God suddenly reveals His power to His distressed people and the evil enemies are destroyed. 

Armageddon is a warning of humanity’s need to change to avoid Armageddon. Because more than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year – the vast majority were adults – but the fastest growing group to die of overdoses were teenagers whose overdose deaths have never been higher.

Because temperatures in the Middle East have risen far faster than the world’s average in the past three decades. Precipitation has been decreasing, and experts predict droughts will come with greater frequency and severity. And major wildfires in Europe are starting earlier in the year, becoming more frequent, doing more damage and getting harder to stop. 

Because the summer of 2022 was the hottest in Europe’s recorded history, with the continent suffering blistering heat waves and the worst drought in centuries.

Because the Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world, according to this year’s Arctic Report Card, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration because; when the sea ice, which is white, thins or disappears, allowing dark ocean or land surfaces to absorb more heat from the sun, it release that energy back into the atmosphere. 

Because climate change is a prime suspect in a mass die-off of Alaska’s snow crabs, experts say, after the state took the unprecedented step of canceling their harvest this season to save the species; which fell to about 1.9 billion in 2022, down from 11.7 billion in 2018, or a reduction of about 84% in less than 5 years..

And because of worldwide data from 32,000 populations of more than 5,000 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish, the WWF Living Planet Index (2022) shows accelerating declines of 69% since 1970. In biodiversity-rich regions such as Latin America and the Caribbean, the figure for animal population loss is as high as 94%. The index found that freshwater species had declined more than those found in any other habitat, with an 83% population decline since 1970. 

In Africa, where 70% of livelihoods rely on nature in some form, the report showed a two-thirds fall in wildlife populations.

Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam has a powerful eschatological strain. It anticipates the end to the world as we know it; a final historical confrontation between good and evil (Armageddon); after which, with God’s help, human life will be rewarded and transformed. 

As the Qur’an states: “Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews, Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, and do righteous good deeds, shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (2:62 and 5:69) Notice that the Qur’an specifically stresses religious pluralism applies on God’s judgment day.  

A Pew Research Center poll found that in South and Southeast Asia 55-60% of all Muslims believe in the Madhi’s imminent return; and in the Middle East and North Africa 51% do.

A hadith (tradition) says that Jesus will return to a place east of Damascus and will join forces with the Islamic messiah, the Mahdi, in a battle against the false messiah, the one eyed Dajjal, Armilos in Jewish tradition. 

After the death of both the Dajjal and the Mahdi, the Muslim Messiah Jesus will rule the Earth. Most important, the Hadith say that these events will come to pass when Islam itself is threatened by its own corrupt fanatics. 

As ibn Babuya writes in Thawab ul-A’mal, “The Apostle of God said: `There will come a time for my people when there will remain nothing of the Qur’an except its outward form, and nothing of Islam except its name, and they will call themselves by this name even though they are the people furthest from it. 

“The mosques will be full of people but they will be empty of right guidance. The religious leaders (Fuqaha) of that day will be the most evil religious leaders under the heavens; sedition and dissension will go out from them and to them will it return.” 

This sounds, and indeed is, terrible. But, those who trust in God know that the night is coldest in the last hours before sunrise.

Secularists believe that these apocalyptic visions of a future (Armageddon) are absurd, although many secularists themselves fervently believe that runaway genetic modification of food and/or extreme climate change is going to doom human civilization in future generations. 

The basic difference between the pessimistic, humanist secularists and the religious optimists is that those who believe in the God of Abraham also believe that God’s inspiration and guidance guarantees that the spiritual forces of good, will overcome all the world’s evils at the end of days; and  justice, peace and religious pluralism will prevail. Or as Prophet Micah envisions it: (4:1-5)

“In the end of days the mountain of the Lord’s Temple will be established  as the highest mountain; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many (not all) nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob. who will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.

“Torah will go out from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. God will judge between many (not all) peoples and will settle disputes among powerful nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into ploughs, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.

“Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig-tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken. All the nations will walk in the name of their gods, and we (Jews) will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.”

Thus, the Bible and the Qur’an’s final judgement is the self-destruction of violent, hate filled, religion twisted terrorism and narrow ‘my way or death’ philosophy  (Armageddon); and the victory of kindness, love, democracy and religious pluralism. 

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 can 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. In 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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