An American calling himself "Elijah" lived in Jerusalem in the 1990's, "predicting that 2000 would usher in the end of the world." He gathered a small following and awaited Christ's return.
Israeli authorities take those like Elijah and his followers seriously, however. Up to 3 million visitors are expected for the year 2000, and "officials fear that some may try to hasten the Second Coming by sparking a violent conflict." An Israeli police officer told Newsweek that "The majority will be innocent pilgrims. But we have to be prepared."
Many Christians see the book of Revelations as a literal prophecy of the future, perhaps to be fulfilled in 2000. A poll by Newsweek showed that 18 percent of Americans "expect the endtimes to come within their lifetime." Even high ranking officials such as House leader Tom DeLay apparently believe in the Rapture foretold in Revelations.
Rev. Jerry Falwell preaches of such prophecies, such as an Antichrist, one-world government, and a cashless society. Several recent novels and movies cover this ground as well, including the film "The Omega Code." The FBI is concerned enough to be "warning local police departments to be on the lookout for increased militia activities as the new year approaches." Many internet sites warn of a coming Doomsday.
Rev. Al Horta of End Time Ministries in Elizabeth, N.J. also warns of the end times. The warning signs are "wars, school shootings, AIDS, earthquakes, the Y2K bug." Proof of the coming end times is the creation of Israel in 1948, wherein the generation that sees that event will also see the coming of Christ. Carmen Lanier, of Columbus, Ga. also sees these as the end times. She says the power of Christ will come upon her and she will "be able to heal the sick, to speak to the dead." Those not saved will go through a horrible time.
J. Gordon Melton, a researcher at the University of California in Santa Barbara, is surprised that there are not many doomsday survivalist cults springing up. Melton's 2 decades of research led him to expect a large amount of cultic activity before the millennium but there has been little.
True believers, however, see Jerusalem as the place to be for the end. The Mount of Olives is a hot spot, where Brother David from Brooklyn, N.Y. led a group in prayers. David founded the House of Prayer 18 years ago in Jerusalem, expecting the Lord's soon return. David distances himself from violent groups because they "are not Christians, they are cults. Nobody I know would do any violence. But with these cults, well, you never can tell."
Heeding the lessons of history, many of these believers are not being specific on dates and times. If they're wrong about the exact time it would look bad. In fact, some are already looking ahead to around 2033, a millennial date from Christ's resurrection... "And why not? In this game, you only have to be right once."