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Is the End of Days Near? Believers See Signs that it is

11:40 PM, Nov 9, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  Close your eyes and imagine life on Earth as we know it - over.
"The Bible said we will see these signs," said Beverly Hooper.
"You don't want to be in the world during that time," said Pastor Jared Williams, Life Church International.
The time that Williams references is the end of time.  It's something Hollywood has attempted to capture with movie magic on the big screen.

There was "End of Days" with Arnold Schwarzenneger in 1999 and more recently, "The Book of Eli" with Denzel Washington.
But in recent months, some real-life disasters have unfolded across the United States and around the world.
"It's just happening more and more and more," said Marquita Williams.
"The earthquakes, the tsunamis, the wars," said Hooper.

PICTURES: Japan Tsunami
It's enough to bring about some questions from church members like Williams and Hooper.
"It makes me think, are we close to the end times?," said Hooper.
Williams often hears that question from members of his congregation when disaster strikes but lately, it's more often.

"Disasters that wouldn't happen normally in different places, all of a sudden start happening ....It's a sign that we are nearing the end times," said Williams.
Fears were awakened after thousands died during a tsunami in Japan.  Deadly hurricanes and tornados also have been plentiful.

PICTURES: Hurricane Irene hits the Northeast

Then there were back-to-back freak accidents including plane crashes and a deadly stage collapse.  In August, an earthquake rocked the Northeast which is a rare occurrence.

More recently, hundreds died after a 7.2 magnitude quake toppled 2,000 buildings in Turkey.

PICTURES: Earthquake in Turkey
"I think we are such a spoiled people, that when we have hardships in our life, we just assume it must be about to end because surely this shouldn't be happening to me or happening to us," said Williams.
He said there are scriptures in the Holy Bible that spell out in age-old letters what's known as end times. 

PICTURES: Tornado in Oklahoma
"The Bible is real because it's all there and laid out that so much will happen and so much has happened," said Williams.
The belief has even spread to social media sites like Facebook.  One page called "End Times and the End Days Signs Revealing the Future" has more than 1,600 followers.

So when will it happen? 

"Reading the Bible is always a process of interpretation," said Julie Ingersoll.

University of North Florida professor Julie Ingersoll has been studying religion for more than 30 years.  She's even written a couple of books on it.  She said there are a few variations on what the faithful believe the end of the world will be like.

"The view that you commonly hear predicting the end of times is a theology called pre-millenialism and generally that theology teaches that things will get worse and worse on planet Earth until Jesus returns and establishes the kingdom of God," said Ingersoll.

But Ingersoll said there have been numerous disasters, decade after decade in our history, and recent events don't signal the end of the world.

"I'd be more inclined to say that the beliefs are based on human need to have meaning in life and what's better than to have a perspective that your period in history, your particular actions at this given moment, have kind of cosmic significance," said Ingersoll.

Just for some perspective, when you look at earthquakes for example, they were actually more plentiful in years past.
So far in 2011, there have been a little more than 18,000 quakes worldwide compared to nearly 32,000 in 2008. In Ingersoll's own words - things just happen.

"I suppose at some point our world will end.  I don't think that we have any prophecies that foretell how or when that will occur," she said.

Williams disagreed based on his beliefs and the Bible.
"There are a number of things that the Bible says will happen," said Williams.
It may be a ways off but in the meantime, he's urging any parishioners concerned about the future to adhere to an old church saying.
"Now is the time to say, it's really time to get right with God," said Williams.

So are you prepared?
"I'm not afraid to go," said Hooper.
Some would argue that there's nothing to prepare for. Those on the other side of the "End of Days" discussion said disasters may come, but life will just keep going and going. 

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