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Consider for a moment that we may have already entered what people often refer to as the “end times.”
That religious term, found in many holy books, refers not to the end of time, as some suggest, but to the end of an age.
The prophet Daniel, whom Jesus referenced in Matthew 24:15, had visions about these times when he was living as an exiled Jew in a Babylon recently conquered by Persians. In one of these visions an angel told Daniel that these end times would be a time of trouble and judgment, but also a time of deliverance for the faithful and wise of the Jewish people, who would “shine as the brightness of the firmament;” and be as “stars for ever and ever.”
But as to when these things would occur, when the end times would be, Daniel was not allowed to know. Rather, he was told, as recounted in Daniel 12:4: “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.”
Let’s focus on the second part of that message: “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”
Could a better, pithier description of our times exist, compared to every other time? Many of us now run from place to place with astonishing speed – in cars, airplanes and even spaceships, all unthinkable in Biblical times. Given that from the time of Daniel until the time of Baha’u’llah, the fastest mode of transportation humanity knew was the horse, and the furthest most people had ever been was 100 miles, is it not clear that these are the end times?
As to the other part, that “knowledge shall be increased” at the time of the end, hasn’t our modern age brought forth an almost incomprehensible increase in knowledge? In a matter of moments, most of us now reading these words can access anything that has ever been known and written about. Seems like a clear sign, right?
In other words: the end has come. The old age has passed, and we are well into the new one. Scientifically and technologically we recognize the exceptional nature of our age, but religiously we have failed to comprehend that the end has come, largely because scriptural interpreters have often presented the end as a sudden history-ending apocalyptic event. Instead, it was a sudden age-beginning event followed by the process we are now in, a long unfolding re-creation of our world, both technologically and socially.
Judgment day – the “Day of Resurrection” – has also begun. Our societies are being refashioned. Obsolete social elements not in tune with the divine plan are being cast aside, while those aligned with the divine plan, consciously or not, move forward – with even more astonishing speed. All of scripture and history is finally revealing its meaning. The Baha’i teachings say it clearly and often:
… the Day of Resurrection hath been ushered in, and the Trumpet hath been sounded, and all the denizens of earth and heaven have been gathered together, and the Balance hath been appointed, and the Bridge hath been laid, and the Verses have been sent down, and the Sun hath shone forth, and the stars have been blotted out, and the souls have been raised to life, and the breath of the Spirit hath blown, and the angels have been arrayed in ranks, and Paradise hath been brought nigh, and Hell made to blaze! These things have all come to pass … – Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries.
Now hath the Truth appeared, and falsehood fled away; now hath the day dawned and jubilation taken over, wherefore men’s souls are sanctified, their spirits purged, their hearts rejoiced, their minds purified, their secret thoughts made wholesome, their consciences washed clean, their inmost selves made holy: for the Day of Resurrection hath come to pass, and the bestowals of thy Lord, the Forgiving, have encompassed all things. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha.
The Baha’i teachings say that humanity has reached the beginning of a glorious process; the end is behind us, but there is much reordering ahead.
What caused all of this to happen?
Baha’u’llah’s new revelation, the fulfillment of the prophecies of the past religions, has dawned:
O peoples of the world! The Sun of Truth hath risen to illumine the whole earth, and to spiritualize the community of man. Laudable are the results and the fruits thereof, abundant the holy evidences deriving from this grace. This is mercy unalloyed and purest bounty; it is light for the world and all its peoples; it is harmony and fellowship, and love and solidarity; indeed it is compassion and unity, and the end of foreignness; it is the being at one, in complete dignity and freedom, with all on earth. – Ibid.
[Note: Because of a publishing error, this article was not included in its series in the correct order. We have now corrected the numbering so those who wish to read the entire series in sequence can do so. BahaiTeachings.org apologizes for the error.]