LUKE 21: AND CHRIST SAID TO THEM: NATION WILL RISE AGAINST NATION, AND KINGDOM AGAINST KINGDOM. AND THERE WILL BE GREAT EARTHQUAKES IN VARIOUS PLACES, AND FAMINES AND PESTILENCES, AND THERE WILL BE FEARFUL SIGHTS AND GREAT SIGNS FROM HEAVEN. AND THERE WILL BE SIGNS IN THE SUN, IN THE MOON, AND IN THE STARS; AND ON THE EARTH DISTRESS OF NATIONS, WITH PERPLEXITY, THE SEA AND THE WAVES ROARING; MENS HEARTS FAILING THEM FROM FEAR AND THE EXPECTATION OF THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE COMING ON THE EARTH, FOR THE POWERS OF THE HEAVENS WILL BE SHAKEN. THEN THEY WILL SEE THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD WITH POWER AND GREAT GLORY.
With the chaos and uncertainty growing around the world almost daily, more people than ever should be preparing for the event that will bring about the climax to human history, and the restoration of all things, in other words, a NEW Heaven, and a NEW Earth: The Second Coming of Christ. The Bible describes how God's plan for a personal relationship with man had a definite beginning (with Adam almost 6000 years ago) and will have a definite end, climaxing in the return of Jesus Christ. God does indeed declare "the end from the beginning". The Bible contains many prophetic scriptures concerning world events, the nation of Israel, and Jesus Christ. Many have been already confirmed by history, while others relate to what the Bible terms "the last days".|
Prophecies of the Old Testament, the early apostles and Christ himself all speak openly of "signs" that will herald the close of this age. So clear are these descriptions that we, today, can have no doubt that we are living in those last days. Perhaps the best known passage of scripture is in Matthew 24:3-31. These "signs" will be manifest in all aspects of life: the nations, their alignment and conflicts; nature; religious confusion and hypocrisy; society and the family; technology and knowledge; and Christian revival.
SIGNS IN NATURE: The cataclysmic tsunami resulting from perhaps the largest earthquake in history, and killing over a hundred thousand at the end of 2004, " THE SEAS AND THE WAVES ROARING", we have never seen more signs than now that the last days are here. The 20th century witnessed a marked increase in earthquake activity with millions being killed. It has been estimated that the incidence of earthquakes has doubled every ten years since 1950. Witness the massive earthquake in Iran at the end of 2003 that killed tens of thousands, "AND THERE WILL BE GREAT EARTHQUAKES IN VARIOUS PLACES". Similarly we have seen hundreds of thousands die of disease and starvation, "AND FAMINES AND PESTILENCES".
Today, man lives in fear of catastrophic changes that are occurring in the world's weather patterns: more extreme temperatures, more severe cyclones, floods and droughts. In space, comets are coming out of nowhere and are making close calls to the earth, such as the 1996 Comet Hyakutake, or the 1997 Hale Bopp comet. A direct hit of even a small comet would be catastrophic. The sun has never been more unstable, with solar storms at an all time high. "AND THERE WILL BE SIGNS IN THE SUN, IN THE MOON, AND IN THE STARS". As well, there is concern over the harm that is being done to the earth through man's tampering and weather manipulation with mechanisms like HAARP, and through pollution and depletion of natural resources.
SOCIETY AND THE FAMILY: The Bible also foretells a breakdown in society and morals: '"this know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
What better words could describe our time and generation? Crime rates continue to soar around the world, as does the incidence of domestic violence and marital breakdown This generation's desire to please "self' first has severe repercussions on social behavior and people's expectation for the future. Drugs, alcohol and other pleasures so heavily pursued by many provide only temporary escape from man's deep unhappiness and discontent. Depression is driving many to suicide (particularly amongst our youth); while mental disorders and nervous breakdowns are more prevalent today than ever before.
In Daniel 12:4 we read: "But thou, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: but many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased". Our generation has seen a breathtaking increase in knowledge and technology, unimaginable to those of even a hundred years ago. Advances in communication, transport medicine, materials science, electronics, and nuclear physics, to name a few, are products of this age of increased knowledge and opportunity which the Bible refers to as the "times of the end".
Despite man's preoccupation with knowledge and academic pursuits, Paul warns that many are "Ever learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7). Their desire for knowledge is misdirected. And: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). GREAT BUT USELESS RICHES: The most powerful economy in the world, America, is on the brink of economic collapse. It's currency is rapidly losing value, it's jobs are going to foreign dictatorships like China, from within it is being overun by illegal aliens, and all of this is being allowed to happen by leaders who have sold out, and betrayed America. The Bible says "Go now you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries which shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted . . . Your silver and gold are cankered; and the rust of them shall be as a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as if it were fire. You have heaped together treasure for the last days" (James 5:1-3) Pertaining to the temporary nature of wealth, and the effect of monetary inflation the Bible says: " ... and he that earns wages to put it into a bag with holes" (Haggai 1:6).
In his letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul describes the religious leaders of the last days as: "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from such turn away" (2 Timothy 3:5). The "Christianity" most think of today is a far cry from the excitement that existed in the early Christian church.
The Acts of the Apostles and the epistles (letters) of the New Testament clearly demonstrate that miracles, signs and wonders were commonplace (and to be expected) in the Church. Yet today, even those holding office in many of the mainline Christian churches deny that such things are for today. Some have even gone on record as denying that God exists!
"Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; (1 Timothy 4:1-3). The early Christian leaders, reiterating Jesus' warnings, knew that the truth of the gospel would be distorted by men and that superstitious (they called them "devilish") practices would be introduced in place of the simple message of salvation.
Jesus also warned of many that would try to deceive the innocent: " ... take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:4-5). We are assured that there will be no mistaking the return of Christ, for all will be witnesses: "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:27).
"WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS":
One of the most obvious, and indeed topical, Bible descriptions of the last days relates to international conflict. Matthew 24:6-7 reads: "And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom".
The 20th century experienced two world wars, and countless smaller ones, and the development of nuclear weapons. Since 1945 we have experienced well over 50 major wars or conflicts throughout the world, with a number bringing the major nations again to the brink of world war. Now the potential is there for the next major war to destroy the entire population of the earth. With the cataclysmic events of 9-11-2001, and the subsequent wars and chaos in the middle east, we can clearly see how the world is headed for the brink.
PERILOUS TIMES: The apostle Paul described these days as "Perilous" (2 Timothy 3:1). Professor Albert Einstein, one of the pioneers of modern physics and whose work contributed to the production of the atomic bomb, said after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: "Annihilation of all life on earth has been brought within the range of technical possibilities. The ghost-like character of this development lies in its apparently compulsory trend... in the end there beckons more and more clearly general annihilation". Now, some five decades later, the destructive power of the atomic bomb has been long superseded, and Einstein's concerns are all too real. The effect of nuclear weapons is clearly foretold in scripture: "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood and fire, and pillars [literally 'palm trees" in the original Hebrew] of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord comes (Joel 2:30-31). "For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven . .. " (Malachi 4:1). "... Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth" (Zechariah 14:12). "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken" (Luke 21:26).
ALIGNMENT OF THE NATIONS
A number of Old Testament scriptures collectively provide a comprehensive prophetic message concerning God's promises to the nation of Israel (not synonymous with modern Israel) and the alignment of the nations in the last days. In summary, they tell how the southern (Islamic) nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (previously the U.S.S.R.), in association with Libya and Ethiopia (Ezekiel 35-38), will be in direct conflict with the United States of America, nations of the British Commonwealth and their western European allies. At the center of the conflict will be modern Israel and Jerusalem, which the Bible describes as "a burdensome stone" (Zechariah 12:3).
WATCH: The many signs heralding Jesus' return were given for our benefit and encouragement, but we must recognize them. Speaking to the "religious" people of His day, Jesus said: "0h you hypocrites, you can discern the face of the sky; but you can not discern the signs of the times" (Matthew 16:3).
Jesus said: "Watch therefore: for you know not when the master of the house comes, at midnight, or at the cock-crowing in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch" (Mark 13:35-37).
We are living in the most remarkable time in history. But we must realize that this is the last generation, and that our future lies not in knowledge, scientific progress, or in material possessions, but in a personal relationship with God, through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible says: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you . . . and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost'' (Acts 2:38).