As Eyjafjallajokull, the Icelandic volcano, continues to erupt through the overlaying glacier(spewing 2200 tons of molten ash into the stratosphere each hour - grounding most air traffic in northern and western Europe) the doom mongers and "End of times" nutcases are out in force. The usual clarion calls go out that we are now "in the end times" for sure, and you better shape up, prepare for redemption, oh yes,....and crack open those bibles (preferably the King James version, the most corrupted of all).
Never mind these knuckleheads were saying the exact same thing when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the Phillippines back in 1992 (still have the tapes of one or more warning people via CNN and Larry King Live) and also when Mt. St. Helens erupted in Washington state in 1980. It seems every time a succession of high profile natural disasters occurs, then we on Earth must be nearing the end times.
And, to bolster these speculations, 'Revelation" is always referenced. The problem is that Revelation can't be taken seriously other than by a druggie in a drug-induced bender. Former science writer Isaac Asimov, in his superb Asimov's Guide to the Bible, correctly notes that the idioms and ancillary language used in this book trace the author to be an inhabitant of Patmos. Other specific references are directed to people living in the western third of the peninsula of Asia Minor.
Asimov also correctly notes that just as the tales in Genesis were borrowed and adapted (some might less generously say, stolen) from ancient Babylonian creation fables, so also is most of Revelation taken or adapted from earlier eschatological material in the Jewish Old Testament, especially Daniel.
Worse, Asimov notes the copyist errors - for example in listing the 12 tribes (Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher etc.)in the wrong order and misspelling several (e.g. Man written for Dan). This section is also important because it's where fundies dredge up their horse pockey that only 144,000 Jews will be saved at the end (12,000 from each of the 12 tribes). But as Asimov notes, the number "144,000" was never meant to be taken literally, it simply represented an emphatic way of saying "All the righteous!"
Something along the lines of someone saying today, "It's raining cats and dogs", but no one familiar with the colloquial speech would take it literally!
Lastly, Asimov correctly observes (as my first Theology prof at Loyola did, in Theology 200) that the horrific events referred to could have transpired at any future age and would have been believed to fit by the people alive then. For example, as Asimov notes:
"Never did the four horsemen ride with such effect as in the days of World War I. Not only was there the bloodiest and most stupidly savage slaughter ever seen, on both western and eastern fronts, but there was a revolution in Russia that affects us even today, a famine in both Germany and Russia immediately after the war, and a world wide influenza pandemic in 1918 that killed many more than the war did".
What to make of Revelation then? As the same Theology Prof observed: "Take it as a rather florid and fulsome poem, perhaps written right after a dream...or more likely a nightmare after consuming too much liquor of the day"
Meanwhile, the earthquakes and volcanoes erupting and wreaking havoc are no more or less than statistically expected. The Earth averages two to three Richter scale 7.0 quakes each month, and that's what we've been seeing. The planet also averages 1-2 major volcanic eruptions a year, and that has also been on schedule. There is nothing amiss, or extraodinary going on in other words, and certainly nothing on which to base any 'end of the world scenario'.
The problem is that statistics and facts don't matter to religious zealots and wackos. In order to keep all their sheep in the fold, paying attention to them, they must use scare tactics and that means holding the scythe of "end times" over the heads of the gullible.
Sad, but short of brain transplants en masse, the fundies won't relent. They gain too much in both money and gravitas to keep the baloney farm working overtime.
Now, to answer the $64 question: Will Jesus be returning?
No, because Jesus was a MAN, M-A-N, not a divinity. He died, and was buried and while his disciples used some trickery to make people think he had risen again, it was all a ruse. (See Prof. Hugh Schonfeld's: 'The Passover Plot').
Whether or not one accepts Schonfeld's thesis of an actual Passover conspiracy, the myth of a God-Man returning for a "Second coming" is not new, but existed for thousands of years in earlier pagan sources, including for their god-men Horus, and Mithra (The ancient Persian version, not the Roman one). It therefore is quite reasonable to conjecture that later Christian authors, in their yen for "savior"-ship, copied-plagiarized the same legends and superposed them onto Yeshua.
Indeed, as Oxford scholar Geza Vermes notes ('The Authentic Gospel of Jesus', p. 402, Epilog) Jesus “never chose to call himself ‘Messiah’ or ‘son of God’ "and “even when others questioned him about his alleged Messiahship he usually declined to give a straight answer”. Vermes adds that as for the epithet ‘Son of God’- disallowing the combined expression “Messiah, the Son of God” in Matt. 26:63 (where the two are obviously used as synonyms) it is NEVER spoken by Jesus himself. Vermes adds: “One has to be foolish to believe the mockery of the chief priests and scribes, taunting Jesus to get down from the cross because he claimed to be the ‘Son of God’ (Matt.27:43) . Indeed, “only demons or people possessed by demons addressed Jesus with this title” (Matt. 4:3, Luke 4:3, Matt. 3:11, Luke 4:41 etc) .
Thus, even Yeshua himself refused to be recognized as a divinity.