It’s not uncommon to believe that the times are bad. Every religion speaks of apocalyptic end times, and many older people think the younger generation is gleefully surfing right into the cliffs.
Consider, however, that our times really are fundamentally different than any other times.
Any classical Greek, Roman or Han era citizen suddenly transported 2,000 years into the future and landing in 1840 would have found the world perfectly comprehensible. People still got around on horses and donkeys. People still wrote on paper or parchment and mailed letters to communicate.
But someone born in 1840 and transported to today would be totally dumbstruck, bewildered, and probably terrified.
The dramatic changes we see are not accidental—they were foretold in all religions, are often known as “the end times,” and are part of an ancient unfolding divine plan. Consider the prophecies in the Old Testament Book of Daniel, for example. In Chapter 12 Daniel shared a vision he had while living as a confidant of Cyrus the Great—the Persian King who freed the Jews from Babylonian rule and sent them back to rebuild Jerusalem around 600 BC. Daniel saw a mighty angel, a Guardian of Jews, who talked about the end times, saying:
… there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation … at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book …
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. – Daniel 12:1-3.
This is clearly a time of judgment between the wise and the foolish. But Daniel doesn’t know when these things will happen, the prophecy is “sealed” so the angel tells Daniel:
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. – Ibid., 12:4.
Consider this phrase, which says this time of trouble and judgment, the end times, will occur when “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Sound familiar?
Hasn’t our mode of transportation radically changed from donkeys to space ships, and our knowledge increased from what we can with difficulty find in a library to instant access on our phones to all knowledge? Clearly, anyone with any sense, or anyone who is over 50 years old, knows that things are changing faster now than they have ever changed before, and that we are in a radically different age than any before. A revolutionizing force seems to have taken hold of our entire world.
We live in a new era, an era of judgment, of trial and error, as people try all sorts of remedies to reorder society. We’ve tried all sorts of “isms”—communism, capitalism, socialism, nationalism, materialism—and yet none of them seem to provide the remedy the world needs, especially since religion, which used to be the principle means of ordering a society, has faded and diminished so dramatically:
A world, dimmed by the steadily dying-out light of religion, heaving with the explosive forces of a blind and triumphant nationalism; scorched with the fires of pitiless persecution, whether racial or religious; deluded by the false theories and doctrines that threaten to supplant the worship of God and the sanctification of His laws; enervated by a rampant and brutal materialism; disintegrating through the corrosive influence of moral and spiritual decadence; and enmeshed in the coils of economic anarchy and strife—such is the spectacle presented to men’s eyes, as a result of the sweeping changes which this revolutionizing Force, as yet in the initial stage of its operation, is now producing in the life of the entire planet. – Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 47.
Baha’is believe that “revolutionizing Force” is the revelation of Baha’u’llah, whose new teachings have caused the decline of the old world order and the gradual upliftment of a new one destined to replace the outmoded theories and “isms” that have failed humanity.