signs of the times

Events of the twentieth century alerted Bible students to the tremendous potential for fulfilled prophecy, and many students of the Bible and eschatology recognize the events continuing to unfold in the world today as signs of the last days.

Today many secular as well as religious authorities recognize … “These are extraordinary times.”

An Associated Press writer asks, “Is everything spinning out of control?” A Wall Street Journal headline read, “Millennium Fever: Prophets Proliferate, The End is Near.” A New York Times book review began, “Some 50 million Americans share a belief that these are the last days.” Even the Chicago Tribune ran a front-page story about the end times in a recent Sunday edition.

Even the most seasoned newsmen who have “seen it all” are in awe of the world developments in recent years. All of them realize that something unique in the history of the world is happening today.

What’s most stunning about it all is the breath-taking rapidity of these recent developments. It seems we are now seeing change happen faster than ever before. What once took years, now happens in days. What once took days, now happens in minutes.

Is civilization coming to an end?

“Armageddon is now near not because of this event or that event which may, in isolation, look like a prophetic fulfillment. Rather, it is because of the very nature of what causes Armageddon, coupled with the fact that our world today is rapidly assuming, on a global scale, the characteristics of that which underlies Armageddon.” [William R. Goetz, Armageddon Next]

Malcolm Muggeridge suggested, “The basic condition for a civilization is that there should be law and order. Obviously this is coming to an end. The world is falling into chaos, even perhaps especially our western world… There are many other symptoms. The excessive interest in eroticism is characteristic of the end of a civilization because it really means a growing impotence, and fear of impotence. Then the excessive need for excitement, vicarious excitement, which of course the games provided for the Romans and which television provides for our population. Even the enormously complicated structure of taxation and administration is a symptom of the end of the civilization. Above all, there is this truly terrible thing which afflicts materialist societies – boredom, an excessive boredom which I note on every hand.”

End DaysThe signs of the times are visible all around us.

Where does it all lead?

Even though we see the end times signs so clearly, it’s still difficult to comprehend. What does it all mean? Where is it all leading? Why is there so little peace in the world when we have such unprecedented knowledge and unlimited potential?

Dr. Linus Pauling, winner of Nobel Prizes in 1954 and 1963, has said he believes the greatest catastrophe in the world is approaching. This looming catastrophe might well result in a world war which could destroy civilization and spell the end of the human race. Or, it might take the form of mass starvation among a world population that has been doubling every 35 years. Civilization might end because of the collapse of the systems on which it depends; or the end of civilization might result from weather changes induced by governments to improve the yield of crops.

The book of Revelation describes the end times.
It speaks of a one-world government, a godless dictator, financial terrorism and the total regulation of all business, plagues, crime and rebellion, and devastating disasters.

To many, it seems like a far-off time. But there are “signs of the times” in today’s headlines – signs Jesus said would herald His return.

Some people argue that the characteristic of ‘end time’ people have been our character throughout the ages and that people haven’t really changed. In its simplest form, that is true. It’s not that we don’t do the same things, what’s relevant is that we do it with increasing intensity and we are teaching new ways of doing it. Certainly, these things have been happening since the beginning of time. However, the intensity of these things today is such that we dare not blind our eyes to their meaning.

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes, you say, `It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, `Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. [Matthew 16:1-4]

Jesus said, “You can read the signs of the weather in the sky, but because of spiritual blindness you cannot read the signs of the times.” Our Lord was saying the Jews of that day were blind to the signs of their time. He indicated that only those who have spiritual illumination and discernment from the Holy Spirit can hope to understand the trends and meanings of history. This explains why so many people haven’t got a clue about what’s going on and why most of our political leaders are taking us down the path to destruction.

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” [1Tim. 4:1]

We are now living in the “last days!”

The only way to understand the big picture is to look at the Bible and the various categories of signs that the Bible predicted would come together just before the return of Christ. The key to understanding current events is in some familiar old scriptural passages. Jesus Himself gave us the best insight shortly before his execution on the cross.

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, ‘ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. [Matthew 24:4-14]

General ‘signs’ Jesus said would be visible prior to His return.

 

Our Lord told us not to be troubled, because these are only the beginning of “birth pains” [Matt. 24:8]. I believe that God is warning the world. The world has broken His covenant and has gone away from Him and these events are warnings designed to turn us to Him. And what we have seen thus far is just a prelude. The warnings are going to continue during the next few years, even building in intensity. After these warnings, the real judgment is going to come.

“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand– then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. – Matthew 24:15-28

A day of reckoning will come.
There will be an end.