The Apocalypse and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Eddie Ejjbair
4 min readFeb 17, 2024

Prophecies are central to most myths and religious narratives, but these days we don’t take them very seriously. This is probably because so many prophecies fail to materialise — but this then begs another question: why, when so many prophecies fail, do some people continue to believe in them?

An obvious example of this is the so-called ‘millenarians’ who believe in the second coming of Christ (as described in the Book of Revelation). Since the book was written (around 95 CE), countless interpreters have predicted a date for the events of Revelation. All, so far, have been wrong. But as Bart D. Ehrman writes in What the Bible Really Says about the End, these false prophecies rarely result in disbelief: ‘With this kind of disappointment, you might expect the group to admit its mistake and disband’, but instead, they ‘reset the date and became yet more fervent in their belief’. Similarly, as Ian Balfour writes in The Rhetoric of Romantic Prophecy:

prophecy tends not to be fulfilled in any definitive way, certainly not immediately, as the texts that appear to predict discrete historical events — although these do not constitute all of prophecy — can be quoted, reworked, and reconfigured in virtually endless ways. That very lack of fulfillment turns out to be a driving force behind the prophetic tradition.

This is precisely what we see with the adherents of Revelation. The signs are always there, the end always imminent.

But what, you may ask, does this have to do with the rest of us? Ehrman goes on to say that even if the bible does not predict what is going to happen, many Americans believe it does, ‘and this belief can affect policy’. One of Ehrman’s most convincing examples of this is the Evangelical support for the state of Israel.

In a recent poll by Lifeway Research, some 80 percent of evangelicals believe that the establishment of the state of Israel was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy that shows that we are now closer to the second coming of Christ.

This is because, according to Revelation, Jesus cannot return until Israel assumes full control of the Temple Mount. Therefore:

There can be no question, then, about whether or not to support Israel to expand its reach into the Palestinian…

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Eddie Ejjbair

‘Gradually it’s become clear to me what every great philosophy has been: a personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir’