For thousands of years, prophets have predicted the end of the world. Today, various religious groups, using the latest technology, are trying to hasten it.
Their endgame is to speed the promised arrival of a messiah. For some Christians this means laying the groundwork for Armageddon. With that goal in mind, mega-church pastors recently met in Inglewood to polish strategies for using global communications and aircraft to transport missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission: to make every person on Earth aware of Jesus’ message. Doing so, they believe, will bring about the end, perhaps within two decades.
In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a far different vision. As mayor of Tehran in 2004, he spent millions on improvements to make the city more welcoming for the return of a Muslim messiah known as the Mahdi, according to a recent report by the American Foreign Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank. To the majority of Shiites, the Mahdi was the last of the prophet Muhammad’s true heirs, his 12 righteous descendants chosen by God to lead the faithful. Ahmadinejad hopes to welcome the Mahdi to Tehran within two years.
Conversely, some Jewish groups in Jerusalem hope to clear the path for their own messiah by rebuilding a temple on a site now occupied by one of Islam’s holiest shrines. Artisans have re-created priestly robes of white linen, gem-studded breastplates, silver trumpets and solid-gold menorahs to be used in the Holy Temple â€” along with two 6Â½-ton marble cornerstones for the building’s foundation.
Then there is Clyde Lott, a Mississippi revivalist preacher and cattle rancher. He is trying to raise a unique herd of red heifers to satisfy an obscure injunction in the Book of Numbers: the sacrifice of a blemish-free red heifer for purification rituals needed to pave the way for the messiah…