O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

Is the Oil Spill a Sign of the Apocalypse?

The End is nigh. Again. It took longer than I expected, but there are now a variety of apocalypse watchers who have connected the dots between the Gulf oil spill and the book of Revelation.

Lisa Miller at Newsweek has the details:

Now blogs on the Christian fringe are abuzz with
possibility that the oil spill is the realization of Revelation 8:8-11.
“The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain,
burning with fire, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea became
blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of
the ships were destroyed … A third of the waters became wormwood, and
many died from the water, because it was made bitter.” According to
Revelation, in other words, something terrible happens to the world’s
water, a punishment to those of insufficient faith. The foul water,
according to the New Oxford Annotated Bible, mirrors one of the plagues
God called upon Egypt on behalf of his people Israel.


Though maybe it’s
Revelation 16:3: “The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it
became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing in the sea

Some interpreters are very sure: The oil spill
matches biblical prophesy and is another predictor of the end…

She goes on to note the irony that end-times fanatics are usually pretty conservative (politically and religiously), and typically their predicted apocalyptic events are seen as punishment for liberal bugaboos and “ungodly behavior.” Only this time the culprits seem to be corporate greed, Big Oil, and what she calls a “disrespect for Creation” — most of which fit pretty neatly into the conservative political camp.


Either way, as someone with more than a passing interest in apocalyptic nuttiness (check out that lovely yellow book in the sidebar), here are two important reminders:

1. There have been prophets and religious leaders predicting the end of the world since the 1st century. They identify events that supposedly match up to the prophecies of the book of Revelation, under the impression that Revelation is a secret, coded timeline for future calamity. They finger-point the Antichrist and prophesy doom. Every single one of these dire end-of-the-world predictions, without fail, have been wrong. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. 


I’m no statistical genius, but 0-for-everything is a fairly poor record. I’m amazed that people still take these events and proclamations seriously — often from the same failed prophets who were wrong in the 1970s, and in the 80s, and in the 90s.

2. Attaching disasters and world problems to some sort of prophetic biblical timeline leads to complacency. If we think this is step one toward the end of the world, then why do anything about it? Let the oil flow! Let the Gulf be savaged! Let the New Testament prophecies run their course, because it won’t end until God intervenes. (I’ve known a Christian or two who thought caring for the environment was useless for a similar reason: that “it’s all gonna burn anyway.”) This viewpoint is dangerous, calloused toward suffering, and unChristian.



I understand that many Christians find hope in the expectation of The End, in the tradition of Christ’s return, in his victory over evil and suffering and sin. We all want to see the world “put to rights,” as N.T. Wright has stated it. Hope is a powerful thing, and I’d be the last one to tell you to give it up.

But can we at least stop giving the impression that natural or man-made disasters are good news because they propel us toward the Second Coming? And can we please stop acting like we’ve got the end of the world figured out, or that we can use our secret Bible decoders to deduce when it’ll happen?

Because at some point the 0-for-everything stops looking like hope and instead looks like insanity.

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Travis Mamone

posted June 10, 2010 at 8:10 am

And it’s this kind of mentality (by that I mean, the “OMG, THE END IS NEAR!!!” mentality) that’s screwing up the planet. I’m sure you’ve heard Christians say, “Why care about the planet? Jesus is gonna come back soon and destroy the world anyway.”
Why should we care? Because God told Adam to tend to the earth.

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Nicole Unice

posted June 10, 2010 at 8:17 am

I’ve always wondered why people get obsessed with the end times. I know this always gets said, so let me do the honors: the Bible says we won’t know the time or the day. Hello, thief in the night.
And I thought the motivation of living in the end times was a reminder that it’s worth it to live in radically servant love for our fellow man. That we would live a great sacrifice in order to live a life that points to eternity. Does an apocalyptic oil spill help Christians turn on the love, or is it some excuse to beat people over the head with terror-induced salvation?

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Matt @ The Church of No People

posted June 10, 2010 at 8:19 am

I just heard that interpretation being made yesterday. Of course, it probably helps if you start with the premise of Obama being the anti-Christ.
I just want to know this: where is Pat Robertson when we need to know what 200 year old sin caused this disaster?

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posted June 10, 2010 at 10:40 am

Having been raised in an over-the-top “end times” church, these things drive me crazy! When i first moved to California, we lived on the flight path to a smaller, local airport. EVERY TIME a plane went over i cringed, sure that the end had come & the Russians were going to drop a bomb.
Boy, am i glad that’s over. I ultimately decided that God wouldn’t want me to live every day in fear & if i trust him at all, i’ve got to trust that he will provide courage if/when these things happen. I’ve pretty much ignored Revelation since then. But i hate it when “end times” folk stir the pot to utilize more fear against others.
The craziest i’ve heard is folks who pay agnostics & atheists in advance to care for their animals after the rapture.
I think it is pretty funny when movies or sci-fi tv shows see the end coming & the fulfillment of some scripture & do something to “fix it” so that God doesn’t end the world. Say what???

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posted June 10, 2010 at 11:56 am

“The craziest i’ve heard is folks who pay agnostics & atheists in advance to care for their animals after the rapture.”
Really? Cool, where do I sign up? Incidentally, I’ll also cancel the papers and ensure the gas is turned off. I would offer to make sure the pipes don’t freeze, but I’m not sure there’s much point in that one…

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posted June 10, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Being a cultural Evangelic Lutheran, Apocalypse was never a Big Thing in my religious upbringing. I don’t think such things got even mentioned, or if they did, they were demoted to a side note somewhere. First time I heard of it was when I mingled with Pentecostals, who, in the end, didn’t seem to take Second Coming seriously either.
I’ve always found people’s attempts at connecting current/past events to ancient prophecies somewhat silly. Over the last 2000 years, enough all kinds of crap has happened to fit into whatever prophecy someone managed to scribble down while eating too many mushrooms. It’s a probability thing, not a supernatural thing.

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posted June 10, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Hi All,
I was also raised Lutheran, Catholic, and Baptist (cofused). When I found the penticostal church I heard alot of the end-times stuff (fear-driven). Then someone introduced me to the Adventists, who made some sense. They said you cannot study prophecy without reading both Daniel and Revelation, because 1 clarifies the other. That being said: Has anyone checked out the OTHER books of prophecy? I agree what happened to Christ coming back as a thief in the night? I also would like to know who made these so-called prophets god-like? I believe it’s all BUNK!!

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posted June 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm

I’m with you that this gets pretty crazy pretty quickly, BUT…
“[C]an we at least stop giving the impression that natural or man-made disasters are good news because they propel us toward the Second Coming?”
…I’m not sure I’m ready to give that up. When one of these disasters comes along, it’s probably not the best move to point out which Scripture specifically predicted it (if it were that specific, we would have known ahead of time). But as you know, we are called to be watchful when more and more of these disasters occur (Matt 24).
-Marshall Jones Jr.

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Benjamin Potter

posted June 10, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Why can’t every person be a sane/logical/sensible as you?
You’re writing is fantastic.

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posted June 10, 2010 at 2:06 pm

The only good I can see is if it acts as a catalyst to make people look at Christianity. I tend to look at the signs in the last days as a more over the top way for people with little to no faith to see the workings of God in a more obvious way.
As for it being good, why trash the earth waiting for Jesus to show back up. If our timing is wrong, we end up living in a sewer waiting for the end. It really isn’t that hard to live more earth friendly.

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Jason Boyett

posted June 10, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Point your browser toward
Tell Bart “hi” for me when you visit.
There’s a difference between being watchful and being glib about disaster. Nothing looks worse on a Christian than gleeful chortling when there’s some earthquake or oil spill or hurricane somewhere. I’ve seen this attitude. Just because Jesus said earthquakes would precede the End of Days does NOT mean it’s OK to be all “Yay! End of days!” at the expense of the thousands who’ve died.
Thank you, but if every person were just like me this world would be a dreary place indeed, though people would have better grammar and write with fewer typos.
You’re correct that Daniel and Revelation need to be read together, if only because they both fit into the same genre of ancient apocalyptic literature. I’m not sure reading them together, however, clarifies much for me. Both are pretty incomprehensible…yet open to just about any interpretation (ancient or modern) you want to throw at them.

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posted June 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm

You are right, both are pretty hard to understand, as they both use alot of metaphoric language, and if you can get past the word pictures, then maybe understanding, using appropriate time line refernces might be revealed.

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Jason Hess

posted June 10, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I recently wrote a blog post concerning the environment, the oil spill, and whether Christians should care. Truth is I think that we should care about these unfortunate events but I think we need to be very cautious about claiming prophecy-being-fulfilled when something horrible happens.
Concerning end times all I can say is the Bible tells us we don’t know when the Messiah will return; I just hope when he comes backs that there is oceans of water not oil, forests of trees not stumps, hills of dirt not trash, and polar caps not desert caps.

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posted June 10, 2010 at 11:29 pm

If this is an apocalyptic event, I am sure one of the things humans will and SHOULD be punished for is thier disrespect for the EARTH and letting greed and waste destroy this beautiful jewel of a planet, this is the worst sin, hopefully “GOD” will not take any humans to a new EARTH, just so they can trash someplace else!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am hoping the 144000 beings are dolphins turtles and birds, maybe horses and dogs and salamanders….

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posted June 11, 2010 at 5:50 am

As Christians we are to continue to witness to those who need God and be watchful…only God knows the hour for Jesus return for His church…we (man) have made a mess of what God has turned over to us for safe keeping but God will make it right….we should make the most of each day, be the best person that we can be, and stand strong in our faith in God (as He ultimately is in control of it all). Through the Holy Spirit we can still find beauty in God’s creation and in man…His majesty is all around us…and trusting in Him it will continue….

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posted June 11, 2010 at 11:27 am

Great essay, Jason! This is my first visit to this B-net site, and it was a pleasure to read your insightful and incisive commentary.

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Georgia Dude

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:01 pm

It doesn’t surprise me that liberals in particular don’t believe in the Apocalypse. Like it or not. The world as we know it, will come to an end. No questions about it. How it come to an end is anyone’s guess,but I tend to believe the predictions made by the Mayans in 3313 B.C, The Hopei Indians out in the Southwest, the Coptic christians in Egypt as well as a tribe in the Chinese mainland. Plus. I do believe in Revelations and other parts of the bible. I also believe that the Sun will blacken, the Moon will turn to blood and the Stars will fall from the sky. December 21st, 2012 ois the projected date by some who has made prediction for the end times.
People who make predictions can be wrong all the time as the above writer says, but be aware that a prediction could come true, and that spells doom for all of us Earthlings. Better to be safe than sorry.
If we live beyond the predictions it is because God has given us more
time to get ourselves together, so forth as to turning our lives over to him. Have a great day!

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posted June 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I am christian.. one who battles with faith a lot..anywhow.. I believe God gave us free will.. even the “free will” to destroy our own home Earth.. I believe that it’s not God’s doing it is our own..Jesus just said what the signs would be, not that it was going to be because we were responsible for making our own free decisions..

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Brad Watson, Miami, FL

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm

The BP oil spill is but one of the fulfilled prophesies of the Bible/Revelation: 1. Nation of Israel returned, 2. The Christ returned*, 3. Ronald(6 letters) Wilson(6) Reagan(6): “1st Beast”, 4. George(6) Walker(6) Bush Jr(6): “2nd Beast”, 5. United(6) States(6) Dollar(6): “mark of Beast to buy or sell”, 6. “Book/scroll” w/ “7 seals”: ‘beyond Einstein theories’ produced**, 7. Literal “destruction of Babylon” (Iraq War), 8. Symbolic ‘destruction of Babylon’ world economic crisis, 9. Earthquake in Haiti when “7 seals” were posted on net, 10. Oil spill – *Brad Watson, Miami, FL – author of **’There Are No Coincidences': the “book/scroll of Rev. 5:1-10:10

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posted June 11, 2010 at 1:31 pm

The world as we know it will come to an end eventually. Probability for asteroid collisions over time, sun running out of juice, that sort of stuff. That’ll hopefully happen millions of years from now.
We might make Earth a crappy place to live in in our selfish worship of capitalistic ideals, and we might even kill our own species in the process. As far as the earth is concerned, we’re not significant species – even if we die out, other species will take our place and dominate the planet. We’re unlikely to kill all other life on earth while we destroy ourselves, even if we tried. Most other life forms here are far more resilient than lowly, imperfect Homo sapiens.

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posted June 11, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Georgia, please don’t make blanket statements/sweeping generalizations. SOME liberals may not believe in the apocalypse; many others do. You said, “I tend to believe the predictions made by the Mayans in 3313 B.C.” I wouldn’t put too much faith into something based on false gods.

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Sebsatian Ludlow

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Make no mistake about it, this is not GOD’s work but it’s the work of ZEUS and APOLLO…and that’s because they are mad that you don’t believe in them anymore…so get with it or else!

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posted June 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Always fun to talk about this one…
I’ve been all over the world and seen a good deal more of human suffering than most people, and it’s tempting to let it all convince you that everything is coming to an end. Most of my religious leaders, people I respect and know personally, have started to speak of the end coming soon – a point of dissagreement for me. Don’t forget that Jesus did say “You will know neither the day, nor the hour.” Or for that matter the year or century. What we do have are signs, indications that things are not going well. But it my opinion, the end will only happen when we let these events run freely, when we give up and say let it all end. It is obvious that horrible things are happening in the world, but if we apply enough strength and faith to the people and the situations, we can effect change. The end will happen when we fail to prevent it, when we let apathy and complacency guide our lives.
Just my two cents.

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posted June 11, 2010 at 5:13 pm

“I wouldn’t put too much faith into something based on false gods.”
Does this include the Christian God? If not, what makes you think that Christian God is somehow more likely to be non-false than Mayan God?
I could make the same statement on biblical prophecies, but it would hardly make an argument at all. To me, Christian and Mayan prophecies have roughly the same probability to be divine, which is close to, but not exactly, zero.

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posted June 12, 2010 at 5:17 am

Am I the only one who sees a connection between the book of Revelation and the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD? Even as a hermit on an island, John would have eventually heard stories of lava boiling into the sea, darkness and fiery ash falls, etc. Also the skies over the Mediterranean would have looked very weird for months. Enough to give any self-respecting prophet ideas!

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Headless Unicorn Guy

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:46 am

Let the oil flow! Let the Gulf be savaged! Let the New Testament prophecies run their course, because it won’t end until God intervenes.
You forgot the next part: “And God will Rapture me up to Heaven before that happens; before anything bad can happen to ME personally…”

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Gideon's Trumpet

posted June 15, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Yes it’s all very fun to make sport of. But the situation in the Gulf of Mexico has the potential to wreck the entire southeast of the U.S. and beyond. There doesn’t appear to be a solution forthcoming to stop the surge of chemicals coming from the ocean floor. This will render the gulf a lifeless void. The economic consequences will likely be fatal to an already crippled Florida. And the damage won’t stop there, as even if there’s no tropical storms or hurricanes that will find their way to the gulf, the normal rainy season will distribute this poison all over the populous below. This leak will possibly come to be known as the worst catastrophe in world history. This event is willing itself to “run freely” as Owl stated, without regard for the efforts of man.

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posted June 22, 2010 at 1:27 pm

I am eighteen. do not let this void my comment in any waay shape or form. I truly believe that there is not SIMPLY some form of secrecy and trickery and deception beyond what is being made public, but rather.. A LOT of that. Go on youtube and watch some videos about the spill.. citizens, patriots, loyal people in Louisiana are not allowed the right to own cameras, give their opinions on the oil spill to independant film makers and interviewers, and are under close watch by the authority. i do not wish to entitle them as government or police, because who`s to really say who is behind the arresting.
i reccomend you all to watch this video, it is a phone interview with James Fox .. documentary and film-maker. he speaks of how the mainstream media is not reporting entirely what is happening, and how a community appears to be sworn to secrecy . He describes the amount of secrecy as worse than all UFO cases he has ever investigated. People look at their feet to avoid eye contact.
Now this is me speaking straight from my heart, and this is also the question that should be on everyone`s minds..
E-mail me at if you wish to speak further in depth with me about ANYTHING on your mind. i will not reveal my name, and my alias is Jotunn .

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posted June 25, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Chaos creates order, so in order to make light there first must be darkness, from fear hope is created. If this is truly the end than join and if not fight against it. There is no other choice. The world is as it has always been, point and blame. The fact is is that it is our fault. Is, is.

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