Is the World Coming to an End? What about the Second Coming?

The End Has Come . . . And Gone

The world is coming to an end! Right . . . about . . . now! Or maybe next year? Anyway, it’s gonna happen soon, so you’d better be ready!

So say the Christian fundamentalists. And lately, a whole lot of people who don’t understand the Mayan calendar have joined them.

But every time they’ve predicted the end, the world has kept right on turning.

That’s because the “end times” described in the Bible are not about physical events at all. Even the book of Revelation itself describes them as taking place in the spiritual world.

According to Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), the events described in Revelation have already taken place—and we are now living in the days when the New Jerusalem is coming down from God out of heaven (Revelation 21:1–2).

How else can we account for the unprecedented changes that have taken place in human society in the last few hundred years?

The power of the church to control human minds and lives that lasted for thousands of years is now largely a thing of the past. And the amazing scientific, technological, and social advances of recent centuries are unique in the history of humankind.


I don’t think so!

The End of the World?

Where do some Christians get those crazy ideas about the end of the world?

The predictions of the end of the age, the second coming of Christ, and the New Jerusalem are found in the book of Revelation (also called the “Apocalypse” from the Greek word for “revelation”) and in the so-called “little Apocalypse” in Matthew 24. In these places, we read of various wars and cataclysms, culminating in the first heaven and earth passing away, and a new heaven and earth taking their place (Revelation 21:1). From this newly re-created heaven a vast city, the New Jerusalem, will descend (Revelation 21:2). According to its dimensions, it will fill the entire then-known world (Revelation 21:15–16).

The battles leading up to this new heaven and new earth will be fought by Christ and the angels against various demonic beasts. And at his second coming, Christ himself will appear (Matthew 24:30, 26:64; Mark 14:62).

For centuries, Christians have assumed that these things would take place literally. They have believed that the earth we are standing on and the heavens above us would be destroyed, and a new earth and a new heaven would be created at the time of Christ’s prophesied second coming. They have believed that the second coming itself would be a physical appearance of Christ just as the first one was. In recent decades various fundamentalist groups have built much of their appeal on the idea that all of these prophecies will be literally fulfilled . . . and soon!

The Apocalypse: Physical or Spiritual?

But does the Bible itself support the idea that these prophecies will be fulfilled literally here on earth?

In the book of Revelation the author, John, continually tells us that all of these things were seen “in the spirit” (Revelation 1:10, 4:2, 17:3, 21:10). In other words, he saw these things taking place, not in the physical world, but in the spiritual world.

Further, most of the action takes place not on earth, but in heaven.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

When we read “heaven” and “earth” in the Bible, we naturally assume that “heaven” means the spiritual world, while “earth” means the material world. So we would assume that if it says in Revelation that something happened “in heaven,” that means it happened in the spiritual world where angels and devils live, while if it says something happened “on earth,” that means it happened in the material world where we humans live. Many traditional interpretations of the events described in the Book of Revelation make exactly this assumption.

However, the original Greek language of the New Testament uses the same word for both “heaven” and “sky.” And in ancient times people did not have our modern conception of the earth as a planet traveling through space. “Earth” simply meant “land” or “ground.” In most places in the Bible it would be more accurate to translate these two words as “sky” and “land.”

For example, in a traditional translation we read in Revelation 12:7–9:

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

According to the usual Christian interpretations, this means that the dragon will be thrown out of heaven (meaning the spiritual world) and will come down to earth (meaning the material world) to make war against Christian believers on earth (see Revelation 12:17).

But that’s not what John saw at all.

What John saw was a battle in the sky. The dragon lost that battle, and was thrown out of the sky down to the land below. And as John has already told us, all of this was seen with his spiritual eyes—meaning it all took place in the spiritual world. The sky and the land he is describing are the spiritual sky and land.

In other words, none of the action in the book of Revelation takes place in the material world. All of it takes place in the spiritual world. The idea proclaimed by Christian fundamentalists that all of these things are going to take place here on earth is not even supported by the Book of Revelation itself.

Although the popular novels and movies about the end of the world put out by fundamentalist Christians may be highly entertaining, they are pure fiction. Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with creating literature and movies that dramatize the events narrated in the Book of Revelation. Visuals can be helpful in grasping the meaning of the text. But to jump to the conclusion that the events described in the Bible will actually happen physically here on earth is not pure Christianity, but pure Hollywood.

The Last Judgment and You

Yes, the Apocalypse and the Last Judgment are predicted to take place not in the material world but in the spiritual world. And according to the eighteenth century scientist, philosopher, and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), the Last Judgment has already happened. He even published an eyewitness account in his book The Last Judgment, originally published in 1758. If you want all the gory details, get the book!

I know what you’re thinking: “Do you seriously expect me to believe that the end of the world has already happened, and only one old European guy noticed it?”

First of all, the Bible does not say “the end of the world.” Some of the old translations do say that. However, the original Greek does not say “the end of the world,” but “the end of the age.” There’s a big difference! The Bible does not predict that the world is going to end, but that the era that started at the time of Jesus Christ would come to an end, and a new era would start for humanity.

And isn’t this exactly what has been happening for the last few hundred years?

Since the mid-1700s we have been living in a new age. It is an age in which the church no longer controls our thinking. We are free to investigate and explore both material and spiritual reality for ourselves.

The result has been a huge explosion of scientific, technological, social, and spiritual advances unlike anything that has ever occurred in all the previous ages of humankind.

And though the scientific and technological advances are the most obvious to our material eyes, it is the social and spiritual advances of this new era that will have the greatest long-term effects.

The main effects of the Apocalypse and the Last Judgment in the spiritual world were:

  • Bringing the spiritual atmosphere that surrounds humanity back into balance
  • Clearing away the spiritual blockages that had built up during many centuries of false and corrupted Christianity
  • Restoring the flow of genuine spiritual truth to humans on earth
  • Restoring our spiritual freedom

As a result of these changes, we can now freely choose what we will believe, and use our rational mind to make our own choices between good and evil, heaven and hell.

In other words, the main effect of the Last Judgment on us here on earth is that it created a new atmosphere of mental and spiritual freedom. This new freedom has resulted in all of the tremendous scientific, technological, social, and spiritual advances that have taken place in the last few centuries.

The Second Coming: Spiritual, not Physical

What about the second coming of Christ prophesied in the Bible?

You guessed it! If the Apocalypse and Last Judgment are spiritual events, so is the second coming.

Listen, God already did the incarnation thing. God already took on a physical body and lived out a lifetime. Did he make a mistake the first time, so that he has to do it all over again? Don’t believe the “Rambo Jesus” version in which a jacked Jesus comes back to “take names and kick butt,” in military parlance. This would be totally out of character for the Jesus described in the Gospels.

Once again, traditional and fundamentalist Christians have interpreted literally and physically statements that were meant to be taken spiritually.

The second coming of Christ does not involve any physical reappearance of Jesus on earth. Instead, it involves a new, spiritual appearance of the Lord as the light of new spiritual knowledge available to people on earth. The way for this was paved by the Last Judgment in heaven, which opened up the channels so that spiritual light could flow freely to people on earth.

All Things New!

Yes, the Last Judgment has already taken place, and the Lord’s promised second coming is now happening within and around us.

What will this new spiritual era look like?

Just wait and see!

But all joking aside, here are a few things we can already see happening:

  • The old religious institutions and dogmas are losing their hold on society.
  • There is a new focus on spirituality and on gaining a deeper understanding of the human condition.
  • People are acting more and more from their own loves and their own choices rather than externally imposed ones.
  • The social masks are gradually coming off, and people are saying and doing more of what they really think and feel.
  • Marriage is seen more and more as a spiritual and eternal relationship.
  • Long-hidden evils are coming out into the open where we can finally see them and deal with them.
  • There is a new sense of all people on earth being part of a single human community.
  • There is a growing appreciation of the variety of human beings, and the unique contribution that each individual and each culture can make to a greater whole.
  • The light of spiritual truth is spreading around the world through new, broader, and faster channels.
  • There is a growing sense that humanity has entered a new and better phase of its spiritual evolution.

As stated in Revelation 21:5, God is making all things new! And we are privileged to be living in this new spiritual era.

This article is © 2012 by Lee Woofenden

For further reading:


Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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32 comments on “Is the World Coming to an End? What about the Second Coming?
  1. jahnosecret says:

    Thanks for a great post which is both well considered and expressed.
    It seems that the shining light of truth is dismantling the old ways of control and exclusion and it is up to all of us to embrace a better way of being.

  2. Lee, I certainly like your interpretation of these Biblical texts much better than how they are usually discussed. It makes a whole lot more sense if they describe the “end of the age” rather than the end of the physical world. I also really like the list of things happening in the world that finish off your article with. They are so true.

  3. Richard says:


    A very good compositional piece! Your interpretation of the biblical texts, which at times, conflicts greatly with more conventional teachings, offers insight and introspective initiation for those willing to step back and take a broader observation of life, in general.

    In reading through this, I can easily accept many aspects of this point of view, even if I may be struggling with a fundamentally different point of origin in aspects of my own belief system.

    But, the idea of a ‘Rambo Jesus’? Now that is surely something to consider in the literal sense, and may actually be a good thing in some context!!. Simply accepting that everyone is entitled to their own ridiculous opinion does not preclude the fact that some take it too far and act out, harmfully, based upon their beliefs. For that, some ‘kick butt’ is certainly in order! Some just need an attitude adjustment, and a task is best performed when the right tool is used 😉

    • Lee says:

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your thoughts. Glad to be able to shake out some new thoughts in you about an old story.

      But remind me never to cross you when you’re wearing steel-toed boots! 😛

  4. SeunAlaba says:

    Thanks for the article Sir. Wondering though where Paul’s writings fall in with these.
    Like 1 Corinthians 15:24-26-‘Then cometh the end,when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God,even the father;when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign,till he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed his death’.
    Also, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52-‘Behold,I show you a mystery,we shall not all sleep,but we shall all be changed,in a moment,in the twinkling of an eye,at the last trump:for the trumpet shall sound,and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,and we shall be changed.’
    And Finally, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17-‘For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a sound,with the voice of the archangel,and with the trump of God:and the dead in Christ shall rise first:then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds,to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord’
    The similarities in the last two quoted texts are quite glaring,& seem to be very consistent,& well, I really do not know how to put the question I have,but I am sure you see the seemingly obvious contradictions between these and the second coming as well as even the resurrection from the dead teaching by E.S. Thanks

    • Lee says:

      Hi SeunAlaba,

      Much of it depends on whether you take Paul’s statements literally or understand them spiritually.

      Paul himself apparently thought that the Second Coming of the Lord would happen during his lifetime: “We which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds.” But that didn’t happen. So clearly the Lord’s words on that point were not meant to be taken literally–and we can’t take Paul literally either, unless we want to simply say and admit that he was wrong, which most Christians don’t want to do.

      In general, both Jesus Christ himself and Paul were talking about spiritual events, not material-world events. Those who are waiting for these things to happen literally in the material world will be waiting forever–just as they have been for almost 2,000 years now. It never is going to happen literally.

      However, all of these things have happened spiritually to the human race as a whole, and they happen spiritually to each individual person when he or she “faces the music” in the spiritual world after death.

      This is a big subject. I can’t do it justice in a brief comment. But I hope this gets some thoughts going for you.

  5. David says:

    How can anyone look at the alignment of Russia and Iran (sworn enemies for centuries) against Israel and not see fulfillment of prophecy.

    Also daily world news does not support your proposition that we are enjoying a new spiritual era where “There is a new sense of all people on earth being part of a single human community.”

    Will you post this and respond to these points?

    • Lee says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      I don’t think the prophecies in the Bible are really about the nations of the world, but rather about the spiritual states and changes of humanity. People have been seeing “the fulfillment of prophecy” in the affairs of nations for the last 2,000 years, but they’ve always turned out to be wrong. That’s because the Bible is concerned with spiritual events, not political events. The Bible uses the political events of its day as metaphors for deeper realities.

      As for all people on earth being part of a single human community, that’s just a technological and international fact. It used to be that people dealt mostly with those in their own neighborhood and area. Only a few intrepid traders and explorers saw or communicated other parts of the world. Now all of the world’s nations are interconnected by trade, economics, high-speed travel, and communications technology. I have regular conversations with people in Europe, Africa, and Asia, which could never have happened a few hundred years ago.

      It’s true that it is a world community that has many conflicts and rivalries. But for better or for worse, we live in a single, interconnected world, in which every part affects every other part. That was simply not the case prior to the modern era.

  6. Ehrlich Bright says:

    Hi lee, if the last judgement and second coming have taken place already and that must include revelation 20, does it mean we that are still living have been judged already in the spirit world and also if one (particulary someone still enslaved to sin) is to believe all u said about the last judgement, is there a need for repentance? Why still preach the gospel? Does the earth feel like a paradise which john saw after the last judgement to you? or are you expecting this physical world to transform to a paradise through our ‘better spiritual evolution’ which u say the world is currently going through, also implyn that technically we make d foretold paradise in revelation and not just GOD ALMIGHTY Who made EDEN Without ‘adam’s spiritual growth’ (the first human beginings)? or is that paradise going to b ‘materially’ experienced after 2peter chapter 3 which i believe is literal…especially what he saint peter says in verse 12?.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Erlich,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and questions.

      Of course, for those who read the Bible’s predictions of the Last Judgment and Second Coming literally, none of what I have written in this article will make any sense. However, my belief is that it’s a mistake to read them literally. They are, I believe, pointing to spiritual events, not physical ones. After all, the Bible is primarily about our spiritual and eternal life, and about our physical, temporary life only as it relates to eternal life.

      The same goes for Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:1–13 as for the other predictions of the end times. I believe they are speaking of spiritual events, not literal, physical events.

      Understood spiritually, the future judgment is especially about a universal judgment on humanity as a whole. This judgment I believe has already taken place, as explained in the article.

      However, each one of us must also face our own individual judgment when our time on this earth is over. Then there will be cataclysms for us, and all things will be revealed, if we have pretended to be someone we are not. So each one of us must still repent from our sins and live a good life if we wish not to be thrown into the (figurative) lake of fire when the time comes for us to undergo our own individual last judgment.

      About whether we’re living in Eden and Paradise now, no, we still haven’t attained to that. I do believe we are headed in that direction, though, through all the social and spiritual upheaval that is going on in our times. And notice that it describes the New Jerusalem as descending out of heaven from God. It doesn’t say that the New Jerusalem has actually touched down on the land. This means that attaining the state of spiritual Eden and Paradise is an ongoing process, not something that simply happens and suddenly we’re all living in paradise.

      And of course, though we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), we must also recognize that without God’s power working in us, we would not be able to do anything at all, as Jesus taught us:

      Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4–5)

  7. Ehrlich Bright says:

    Hi lee, thanks for your response. But just to be sure on what to believe, luke 24:39 indicates that jesus really was risen in the flesh and not in spirit, and then in acts of the apostles 1:6-11 tells of how when he was to depart from this physical world gave the apostles the promise of the holy spirit and the mandate to be witnesses of himself everywhere, and these apostles (i believe all accounts they gave are true and literally happened…it’s the bible!) witnessed jesus literally as he ascended till he was received out of their sight, and also of the two men (angels i presume) who said the same jesus they watched ascend physically will in ‘like manner’ return to earth, hence the second coming. I must say your insight on this issue is hard to grasp in the light of these passages but i want to understand, are they your personal thoughts or the holy spirit revealing this to you? Cause i want to believe GOD’S Holy truth and not mine or any other man form of truth. Thanks

    • Lee says:

      Hi Ehrlich,

      Thanks for your reply.

      It is true that Jesus rose with his entire body. There was no body left in the tomb; only the graveclothes that he had been wearing. However, the idea that he arose physically, or “in the flesh,” is highly questionable.

      The body in which he arose was quite different from the one in which he had walked with the disciples and interacted with the religious leaders and the people. Yes, his resurrection body was able to eat food. But it could also appear in a locked room, unlike any physical body. And on the road to Emmaus, two of his followers did not recognize him, even though he was walking right with him. And then, when they finally did recognize him, he vanished from their sight. Clearly this was not an ordinary physical body. And he specifically said that he was not a spirit. So this body was neither a physical body nor a spiritual body. It was a divine body. It was able to interact with physical matter (by eating food, for example), and interact with the minds and spirits of his followers (it is never recorded that anyone other than his followers saw him after his resurrection, and before his ascension), but it went beyond either of these things. He rose “far above the heavens.”

      So, yes, Jesus rose with his entire body. But it was a glorified, divine body, not a physical body such as he had during his lifetime on earth, nor even a spiritual body such as the ones we are resurrected in.

      And though his followers may have seen him with their physical eyes, since it is nowhere recorded that he appeared to anyone besides his disciples, this suggests that they saw him with their spiritual eyes rather than their physical eyes. That would explain why they saw him but nobody else did. And it would explain how he could suddenly vanish from their sight, in a way that no physical body, seen with physical eyes, can do.

      Now about coming again, I should first point out that the Bible doesn’t actually speak of a “second” coming. It simply says in various ways that he will come again. There is no particular number attached to it (“second” coming, “third” coming, and so on).

      And if we look at the unfolding story in the first two chapters of Acts, we see that there was an immediate fulfillment of the prophecy that he would come again from heaven just as he had gone up to heaven.

      In Acts 1:11, the men (angels) who appeared to Jesus’ disciples after his ascension said:

      Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

      First, it’s necessary to understand that for people in Bible times, there was no distinction between “the sky” and “heaven.” Both Hebrew and Greek use the same word for both, because in Bible times, God and the angels were believed to live in the sky, above the clouds. So when they thought of “coming in the clouds” or “coming with the clouds,” they simply thought of God, or Christ, or the angels, coming from their abode above the clouds down to the land where they lived. They literally thought of them as coming out of the sky, because for them, the sky was heaven.

      We now know that there is no abode of God, or Christ, or the angels, in the sky above the clouds. There is only outer space. And we now have a concept of heaven as distinct from the sky. Heaven, most people believe, is a spiritual realm, not a physical realm. So heaven and the sky are not the same thing.

      But the people of Bible times didn’t know that. They had no telescopes and no spaceships to see what was in outer space. And God, Christ, and the angels had to speak to them, and appear to them, in a way that they could understand. So Christ ascended to the sky, and was enveloped in a cloud and vanished from their sight. But in their mind, that simply meant that he went to heaven—which we now know is a spiritual place, not a physical realm above the clouds. So the whole representation was meant to show them that Christ was now in heaven, and that he would in the future descend from heaven, and that they would join him in heaven as well.

      So when the angels told his followers who had just witnessed him to ascend to heaven that they would see him return in the same way, the message they were conveying was not that he would literally come in the physical clouds, but that he would return from heaven to be with them.

      And notice that in several places he, and the angels, say that this will happen very soon. Notice that in this very chapter:

      While staying with them, he [Jesus] ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4–5, italics added)

      And then we read in the next chapter:

      When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (Acts 2:1–4, italics added)

      Pentecost is called Pentecost because it happened on the 50th day after Jesus’ resurrection. This means it was only ten days after Jesus’ ascension, which happened forty days after his resurrection. So “not many days from now,” as Jesus said—which turned out to be ten days from now as he spoke to them just before his ascension—he came as the Holy Spirit from heaven, filled the entire house where they were sitting, and rested on them as tongues of fire.

      This is the first fulfillment of the angels’ words that he would come down to them just as he had been taken up from them into heaven.

      I could go on, but I hope you can see that reading this passage in an overly literal way misses the point. The point isn’t that Jesus is going to literally, physically come in the literal, physical clouds of the literal, physical sky in a literal, physical body. Rather, he is going to come to us from heaven, which is his abode. And he did so for his disciples just ten days after he was taken up into heaven.

      Similarly, any future coming of the Lord will be from heaven, not from literal clouds in the literal sky.

      • Ehrlich Bright says:

        Thanks lee, please how do i see the spiritual meanings of the scriptual (i feel like i’m blind to these things, being raised in a church and family where the bible is taken to be literal and its spiritual meanings deciphered as it suits our daily life…the books of prophecies are a case in point) and please explain the outpouring of the holy spirit, the disciples speaking other languages instaneously…how can you know you are filled with the holy ghost? Is speaking in another language a first sign? Can the holy spirit be resisted unintentionally while ‘waiting and praying’ or rather can self-consciousness hinder the holy spirit from filling up an individual?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Ehrlich,

          These days, since most people aren’t taught about the spiritual meanings in the Bible, it’s necessary to read and learn about them for yourself. Here are a few articles on this site that explain some of the spiritual meanings in several Bible stories to get you started:

          About being filled with the Holy Spirit, though speaking in tongues and that sort of thing is certainly possible, I would suggest that being filled with the Holy Spirit has more to do with heeding Jesus’ call to love your neighbor as yourself. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we feel a desire to actively love and serve our fellow human beings and contribute to the wellbeing of our community and the world. That is what the Holy Spirit prompts us to do.

  8. AJ749 says:

    Hi lee was just wondering what your thoughts are about future predictions for the spirtual state of mankind?, as some NDEs talk about a golden age or that most of the world will be destroyed before we reach this golden age .

    • Lee says:

      Hi AJ749,

      Good to hear from you again. As I say in the article, I don’t believe there will be any physical destruction of the world. That idea is based on a literal reading of Bible passages that are meant to be read metaphorically, not literally. In our times, the “old world” is already passing away, and a “new world” is already beginning. In other words, human society is going through a great transformation—as it has been ever since the Age of Enlightenment dawned in the 18th century. We will never go back to the way the world used to be. Though there are many wars and societal upheavals still, the world is developing socially and economically, and spiritually as well. The change is not easy, but it is happening.

      • AJ749 says:

        Hi Lee thanks for the speedy response i remember one of things that caused my anxiety was these visions of future destruction of the earth and even though it they said a golden age would come from it i still made me anxious, however since i found sweedenborg its helped and i have Come to realise that those who have visions of future events are seeing with their spiritual eyes and not physical eyes so what they see happens in the spirit world not here on earth however what they see corresponds to changes in humanity not the physical earth. So when people see that a country is no more in the spirit world that could correlate in the physical world as the previous mindset and hearts of an entire country has changed and is rebuilding in to something new and better.

        Am i roughly right with that ?

      • AJ749 says:

        Hi lee i recently read a report from a NDE reasearcher in the 1980s that found that future visions from NDEs are almost identical to prophecies from the Bible which is what made me think that they arent going to happen due to them being seen with spiritual eyes not physical. Im not sure how much you have read in to NDE and future predicitons lee but do you think sweedenborg would have the same though process that they arent actual events that will happen in the future but correspondants of changes of heart that is trying to happen ?

        Sorry if this dosent make sense

        • Lee says:

          Hi AJ749,

          Yes, just as I believe that the prophecies of the Bible are mostly about spiritual events (even if a few of them actually do take place physically as well), I also believe that what people see in the spiritual world during near-death experiences is mostly about spiritual events, not physical events.

          We earthly-minded people here on earth get all excited about physical events, and NDEers who make these prophecies get a lot of press. But physical events affect us only for the short time we are living here on earth. Spiritual events can effect us for eternity. In reality, then, they are much more important than the wars and rumors of wars here on earth that people get all excited about.

      • AJ749 says:

        Hi lee sorry if im being a annoying but im slightly not understanding your view , so you agree that any prophecy given in an NDE is about spiritual matter not actual physical events like what sweedenborg found out the Apocalypse in the bible is about

        • Lee says:

          Hi AJ749,

          In general, yes. But it is slightly more complicated than that.

          Some of the prophecies in the Bible did literally come true. For example, at the beginning of the “Little Apocalypse” in Matthew 24, we read:

          As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:1–2)

          We know from history that in 70 AD, this did literally happen: After a long siege, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, and completely destroyed the Temple along with it. So it’s not that prophecies in the Bible and in NDEs never literally, physically take place.

          However, even if a prophecy does take place literally, that is relatively trivial, and is not the main message of the prophecy. Further, many prophecies simply haven’t taken place literally and won’t ever take place literally. For example, the earth and the sky will not be literally destroyed and re-created, nor will the sun, moon, and stars literally fall from the sky to the earth (this would not even be possible, since the sun and stars are vastly larger than the earth, and would also vaporize it before they even reached it), to be replaced by a new earth and sky, as prophesied in Matthew 24 and Revelation 21–22. Nor will most of the prophecies that NDEers and various spiritual visionaries have seen take place literally and physically.

          The real, and deeper, message of these prophecies is of spiritual cataclysms of the human mind and heart, and in human society, completely changing the way we have thought, felt, and lived. And those prophecies are indeed coming true. The physical earth and sky have not been destroyed. But human society has been going through a complete transformation in the past few centuries, and the human mind and heart along with it. The way that the bulk of the planet’s population lives today is completely different from the way we lived 500 or 1,000 years ago. Today the average European or American lives better than any of the kings and queens of medieval Europe, and the rest of the world is rapidly catching up. And today old religious dogmas and taboos are rapidly being rejected in favor of more broad-minded, compassionate, and rational beliefs.

          So I’m not saying that none of the prophecies of NDErs will ever take place literally. But I am saying that those NDErs that prophecy massive destruction and world war are not only probably wrong, but are completely missing the point of their own spiritual experiences. Though it’s possible we could be stupid enough to destroy ourselves in a worldwide nuclear war, the real meaning of those prophecies is that humanity itself is going through massive changes on every level, that all of human society is being renewed both socially and spiritually, and that the world will never be the same again. The “old world” is rapidly vanishing, and a “new world” is already taking its place.

      • AJ749 says:

        Hi lee many thanks for the quick response i suppose when people see these visions they dont understand they are spiritual and take them as literal however as sweedenborg has said visions like that are showed to us in ways we would understand them so when people saw there would be massive Geophysical changes and that most of the world would die it simply they dont mean physically they means spiritually the hearts and thoughts of the old world have died and the golden age they talk about is where humanitys spiritual state is getting better and better

        Am i on the right track ?

        • Lee says:

          Hi AJ749,

          Yes, that is how I understand it, and that is what Swedenborg taught.

          But also, yes, the prophecies are put in physical imagery of massive destruction because that gives our rather materialistic minds something to visualize and remember. And for many people who are at a rather low, materialistic level in their spiritual development, the fear of literal, physical cataclysms may jolt them into straightening out their lives. But in reality, those things are not going to happen physically, whereas they are already happening spiritually all around us.

      • AJ749 says:

        Hi lee Massive thank you for all what you do with this blog i dont think you understand how much this blog and sweedenborg has helped my anxiety and fear about death, God and the afterlife . Sweedenborg just makes sense, everything that i was conflicted about is settled thanks to sweedenborg and this blog Thank you Lee

        • Lee says:

          Hi AJ749,

          You are most welcome. That is all very good to hear—and it is the very reason that Annette and I run this blog in the first place.

  9. Samson says:

    Hello Lee.

    Great article! I read it all, as well as the comments. In one of your responses to a comment on here ( I am not too sure who it was) you explained that Jesus appeared to his disciples only and they saw him with their spiritual eyes rather than with their physical eyes.

    Growing up as a child I was told repeatedly that Jesus appeared to over 500 people after his resurrection. So I had to dig up for that scripture. Here it is: “After that he was seen by over five hundred people at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6).

    Conversely, I agree 100% that we won’t see a physical Jesus returning to this world literally but instead after taking our last breath we will.

    But some stuff make me wonder or make me uncertain at times, especially when Jesus said He would return like a thief in the night.

    A lot of us know when we will die, and if after we die we meet Jesus, then I wouldn’t look at that as him coming like a thief in the night aka surprise.

    You opened my eyes as well by stating that we won’t be given a body like Jesus’s. I always thought after we die we would get a body just like Jesus’s.

    I enjoy your website and I read one or two articles per night.


    • Lee says:

      Hi Samson,

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the article, and that you’re finding the rest of the articles here helpful.

      About the disciples, and the 500 people mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:6, seeing Jesus with their spiritual eyes rather than their physical eyes, this is not something I’m certain of. It is possible that they did see him with their physical eyes. It’s just that it does not seem from the descriptions in the Bible that everyone saw him, but only certain people. However, it is not all that important whether he was seen with their physical or spiritual eyes. The main thing is that they saw him after his resurrection, showing that he had indeed risen from death as he said he would.

      About Jesus coming like a thief in the night, the intended message is that he will come when we aren’t expecting it and aren’t paying attention. The message is for us to “stay awake,” meaning spiritually awake. Another way of saying this is that we should continually move forward on our spiritual path, not straying or backsliding into our old ways. We could die at any time, and if we have decided it’s not important to keep moving on our spiritual path, we could be caught flat-footed, to our surprise and disappointment as we enter into the spiritual world.

      This does not, however, mean that we should be continually stressed out about our spiritual life and salvation. Only that we should keep walking the path that’s in front of us, keep doing good for the people around us, and keep praying to Jesus to lift us up and give us the strength to face the struggles of this life, both natural and spiritual. We are also commanded to observe the Sabbath, which means we must allow ourselves periodic times of rest from our work, both inner and outer.

  10. Aruthra says:

    Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

    Is the rapture literal? Or will it take place only after our death?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Aruthra,

      There will be no literal rapture. This is talking about what will happen after death. “One will be taken” means that one will enter heaven. “The other left” means that the other will not go to heaven, but will go to hell instead. The message here is that whatever the outward appearance may be, even if two people appear to have lived similar lives, they will, in the afterlife, go either to heaven or to hell based on what is in their heart: whether love for the Lord and the neighbor on the one hand, or love only for themselves and worldly possessions and pleasures on the other.

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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