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]
Our Lord was saying to the Jews of that day they were blind to the signs of their time because of spiritual blindness. 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.
Was Jesus speaking here directly to the Jews of that day about their blindness and rejection of Jesus being the Messiah or was He speaking of future signs of His second coming? How you answer that question will influence how you view history overall and how you view the culmination of humankind.
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.
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.
Events of the twentieth century awakened many Bible students to the potential of unfulfilled end-time prophesies being fulfilled, and many students of the Bible and eschatology recognize the events continuing to unfold in the world today as signs of the last days.
Eve Of Destruction Video
Today many secular as well as religious authorities recognize … “These are extraordinary times.”
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.
Is Civilization Coming to an End?
An Associated Press writer asks, “Is everything spinning out of control?”
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.”
For some, the book of Revelation describes the end times as a future event. 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.
Dr. Linus Pauling, winner of Nobel Prizes in 1954 and 1963, has said he believes the greatest catastrophe in the world is yet 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.
Some are pointing to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic as that catastrophe Dr. Pauling was referring to. Considering all the events occurring in our world today, coronavirus is not really all that big a deal. Not that it’s not a dangerous pandemic, it is and there are an increasing number of deaths associated with it. But there have been pandemics in the past that have been worse and there are tragedies happening every day in our world that take more lives that coronavirus.
I believe the real danger of this manufactured Covid-19 pandemic is the global reaction to it. What are governments doing in response? It seems to me they are overly overreacting by closing their borders, shutting down their economies, and forcing people into unemployment. They have never reacted like this before even when faced with far worse situations. I suspect the longer term effects of coronavirus will be an economic catastrophe that may indeed lead to Dr. Pauling’s warning.
Where does it all lead?
Even though we see the signs so clearly, it’s still difficult to interpret them. What does it all mean? Where is it all leading?
Is all this talk of death and destruction fear mongering?
The Bible tells us, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” [Eph. 11:7] It does no good to be paralyzed by fear. Like Noah, perhaps the signs of the time we see around us should motivate us to do something to prepare and take care of our families. These events might be designed to wake up the unsaved from their slumber to see their need for a Savior and to turn their lives over to Jesus.
To many, these “signs” were fulfilled in the First Century church with the destruction of the Temple in 70AD while others see these “signs” pointing to a time in the future that Jesus said would herald His return. Regardless of your viewpoint it seems clear there are “signs of the times” in today’s headlines.
Why is there so little peace in the world when we have such unprecedented knowledge and unlimited potential?
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 to pass. 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 Spoke of in the Olivet Discourse.
(See Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21)
- Deliberate deception by men of God’s Word
- Rise of false Christs
- Increase in wars and rumors of wars
- Famines, Pestilence & Earthquakes
- Discrimination and hatred against Christians
- Backsliding, turning from the faith, betrayal
- Hatred of Christian against Christian
- False Prophets and “New Age” leaders
- Lawlessness abounding
- Love and concern for others grows cold
- Gospel preached worldwide
Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. – Matthew 24:33-34
That verse 24:34 is the stumbling point for many people. What generation? While it was clearly directed at the people living at that time, I believe that God is still warning the world. Like ancient Israel, the world today has broken His covenant and has gone away from Him. Then, as now, these events are warnings designed to turn us to Him. And what we have seen thus far is just a prelude. The prophetic warnings are going to continue, even building in intensity, then the final judgment is going to come.