Most of the great Faiths promise us a day of judgment and resurrection—variously called Judgment Day, the Day of Resurrection, Doomsday, the Day of the Lord, etc. Should we be afraid?
In Judaism, the Day of the Lord (in Hebrew: Yom Ha Din) sounds a lot like the Day of the Lord in Islam (in Arabic: Yawn ad-Din). In Christianity, many Biblical terms exist for the Day of the Lord: the Last Judgment, Judgment Day, the Apocalypse, etc. In the Qur’an, Surih 82—“The Cleaving”—refers to the Day of Judgment as that time:
When the heaven becomes cleft asunder,
And when the stars become dispersed,
And when the seas are made to flow forth,
And when the graves are laid open,
Every soul shall know what it has sent before and held back. – Qur’an 82:1-5.
The Bible contains similar passages about Judgment Day:
Because he has set a day on which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has provided a guarantee to all men by resurrecting him from the dead. – Acts 17:31.
Many of the priests, preachers, rabbis and mullas of those major Faiths have interpreted passages like these about Judgment Day in a pretty frightening way: as an apocalyptic future time when God will strike down the sinners and raise only the faithful to heaven.
Some clerics even call it “the Rapture”—when bodies of the “elect” will supposedly rise out of their graves and ascend, and sinners will burn in hell. Others preach the destruction of the entire Earth. Still others, mostly fundamentalist Christian preachers, have even set specific times predicting when the so-called Rapture would occur—but this dogmatic practice, called “date setting,” has always resulted in failure. The predicted date invariably comes and goes just like any other day.
The Baha’i teachings view Judgment Day in a completely different and much less calamitous way—as a symbolic passage to a new spiritual reality:
The meaning of ‘the Day of Resurrection’ in the sight of God and in the terminology of the people of truth is that, from the moment of the appearance of the Tree of Reality in every age and in every name, until the time of its disappearance, constitutes the Day of Resurrection. – The Bab, The Persian Bayan, 2:7 (provisional translation).
Here, the Bab’s phrase “the Tree of Reality” refers to the coming of a new prophet of God and a new spiritual dispensation:
This is the Day whereon the All-Merciful hath come down in the clouds of knowledge, clothed with manifest sovereignty. He well knoweth the actions of men. He it is Whose glory none can mistake, could ye but comprehend it. The heaven of every religion hath been rent, and the earth of human understanding been cleft asunder, and the angels of God are seen descending. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 45.
This fresh explanation and interpretation of the scriptures of old means we no longer need to be apprehensive about the prospect of Judgment Day—because it simply means the beginning of a new religious dispensation and the fulfillment of the previous ones:
Whether ye rejoice or whether ye burst for fury, the heavens are cleft asunder, and God hath come down, invested with radiant sovereignty. All created things are heard exclaiming: “The Kingdom is God’s, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 42.
Baha’is believe that the mysteries embedded in every new religious dispensation have great significance—not only for the entire world, but for every individual soul. In fact, Baha’u’llah applies the terms “life,” “resurrection,” and “judgment” not only to his revelation, but to every person and their own spiritual journey:
In every age and century, the purpose of the Prophets of God and their chosen ones hath been no other but to affirm the spiritual significance of the terms “life,” “resurrection,” and “judgment.” … But oh! how strange and pitiful! Behold, all the people are imprisoned within the tomb of self, and lie buried beneath the nethermost depths of worldly desire! Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude. This life knoweth no death, and this existence is crowned by immortality. Even as it hath been said: “He who is a true believer liveth both in this world and in the world to come.” If by “life” be meant this earthly life, it is evident that death must needs overtake it.
So no need to be frightened—Judgment Day and the Day of Resurrection have come, and we can all celebrate. Here’s the question, though: what do we do about it?