We are certainly living in a time unlike any other. The America of today is not the America of my youth. It can be scary to see what is going on in our world…
Change is inevitable, that’s a given – sometimes for the good – and sometimes, not so good. Some might say this is just a hiccup and things will soon return to normal, but I’m afraid I disagree. What we are witnessing today is the fulfillment of Scriptures written hundreds of years ago. Hopefully, in reading this article, you will better understand the things that will likely occur in the coming days. I say that not based on what I think will happen – but on what God has told us in His Word. I’m pretty sure the Holy Spirit is trying to wake up the Church through the signs of the times. I hope we are paying attention.
It’s important that we understand what the Bible has to say about our world today. In Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, Jesus spoke about the things that would take place at the end of the age. He described it as if the world would be collapsing all around us. Chaos would ensue at every turn of the road. I think we are there right now!
The Corona viruses impacted the entire world beyond anyone’s imagination. Most thought it would die out in a couple months, but that was not the case. It’s been over three years since the initial outbreak and it’s still around…even making a resurgence. Another outbreak is predicted for this fall. Our president is calling for a new vaccine that he wants to require everyone to take. I don’t think that will happen.
Covid revealed the natural response of people in times of fear. Suddenly, the possibility of death became real…and rightly so. Many died from it, even though many looked to the government to save them. As horrible as Covid was, I believe many lying in hospital beds on the verge of death turned to the Lord to save them. At least, that was my vision and prayer.
Jesus foretold that the last days would come suddenly, like a thief in the night – and He warned us not to be caught off guard. He compared it to the days of Noah when people were eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage – right up to the day God shut the door of the Ark!
Today, many Christians are ignorant of what the Bible has predicted what would happen in the Last Days. Why is that? One reason could be the lack of preaching on “End Time Events.” Most churches seem to be unaware of the signs of the times. And so, people are not being warned from the pulpits of America.
Secondly, there is the hardness of the heart in those who grew up hearing about the end of the age. They will say things like, “I’ve heard that all before.” I have too, but now we are seeing the convergence of all the things Jesus warned us about.
And thirdly, many believers are unwilling to search the Scriptures for themselves. They will instead either ignore messages about the end times as the latest fad or relegate them to a conspiracy theory.
The growing violence in our society, social upheaval, religious persecution, and corruption in our own government should give us pause. The outlook for the future of our nation is not very promising, naturally speaking. If our eyes are on this life only, we should have reason to fear. But if our eyes are on Jesus and His Word, we should be encouraged. This may be the most exciting time to be alive in all of history. As Jesus said, when we see these things happen, we should look up because our redemption draws near!
The next event on the timeline of Church history is the Rapture of the Church. There doesn’t seem to be any further prophecy to be fulfilled before the Rapture takes place. Jesus is coming soon to gather those who long for His appearing. Hopefully, that is all of us!
In 1 Chronicles 12:32, we are told about the sons of Issachar. “From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.”(NLT) These 200 leaders were from one of the twelve tribes in Israel, which comprised a very small percentage of the leaders of the nation. What set these men apart was their ability to discern the signs of the times. They read the Scriptures and connected the dots to the world around them. That may seem like a simple thing, yet often, that is not the case. It is easy to be blinded by the world, the devil, and our flesh – and not see what the Spirit is saying to the Church. It is for this reason that I fear many Christians could be left behind at the time of the Rapture…
What is happening today is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. The stage is being set for the next event on God’s calendar. What God has declared will happen – whether we are ready or not. I truly hope we are ready! Let’s look at what Jesus had to say concerning the end of the age in Matthew 24.
When asked about the signs leading up to His return, He gave a discourse of the events that would take place. If you are not familiar with it, I would recommend you read Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13.
One of the first things Jesus addressed had to do with the temple in Jerusalem. “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:1-2 NKJV)
The temple was the cornerstone of the nation of Israel – one of the wonders of the world, back then. This was the second temple in Israel, built after the Jews returned from seventy years of captivity in Babylon. Those who saw the original temple wept when this temple was built. It was nowhere near the beauty and grandeur of the original. During the time of Jesus, this temple was renovated by king Herod. It was like the Notre Dame of its day, or St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Great Mosque of Mecca, or our Washington monuments. For the Jew, it was the most sacred place in all of Israel. Yet, Jesus prophesied that not one stone will be left upon another. That happened in 70 A.D., when the Roman General Titus ravaged Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, and scattered the Jews.
After this, Jesus spoke about fifteen other events that would take place before His return. Those major events can be put into three categories. Phase one would have to do with deception, wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilence, and earthquakes. During phase two, we would see an increase in persecution, apostasy, betrayal and hatred, deception, wickedness, and the love of many growing cold. Phase three would begin with the rise of the Anti-Christ, false signs and wonders, and the Great seven-year Tribulation.
In phase one Jesus said, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilence, and earthquakes in various places.” (Mattew 24:4-7) Three times in Matthew 24, Jesus warns about deception. False Christs will come to deceive many. False prophets will arise and also deceive many. Deception will be so great that even the elect of God may be deceived, if possible. Deception is now widespread in our country. It is becoming more and more difficult to believe what is reported in the news. And yet, this is just the beginning of what will happen. Deception will be the greatest weapon of the devil in the last days of history – and it is happening all around us today!
Jesus spoke about wars and rumors of wars. The world had never witnessed a world war until 1914 when WWI began. Over thirty nations and sixty-five million men fought in that war. Never had there been a war like that. However, that war was surpassed with WWII which began on September 3, 1939. It lasted six years with over fifty nations involved, and there were between seventy to eighty-five million casualties. WWII was the deadliest war in history. Today, we are witnessing another major war between Russia and the Ukraine. We are hearing about that every day on the news. What we don’t hear much about is that there are currently thirty or more wars taking place around the globe. Those are generally fought in obscure locations that never make it on the news.
Jesus spoke about famines, pestilence, and earthquakes. As of 2021, global hunger has affected 828 million people, an increase of 150 million since the outbreak of Covid-19. About 2.3 billion people in the world are considered “food insecure,” not knowing where their next meal will come from, according to the World Health Organization, (WHO).
Covid-19 was a worldwide pandemic that affected every nation…and it’s not over yet. However, there are also other pestilences and plagues happening in places today. According to the CDC, an average of seven new plagues are reported every year. And as for earthquakes, the United States Geological Survey estimates there are 50 earthquakes every day, 20,000 annually. Most are minor. However, since the 1900’s there has been an average of 16 major quakes each year that register 7.0 or higher – and in 2010 there were 24!
Phase two of what Jesus spoke about is recorded in Matthew 24:9-14. In these verses, Jesus spoke of persecution, betrayal and hatred, false prophets, lawlessness and apostasy. The only positive note was the gospel would be proclaimed worldwide. (Please read that passage.) Today, fifty countries persecute Christians. The top five are: North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and Pakistan. In 2022, Open Doors reported that 360 million Christians experienced a high level of persecution. Wow! We are so removed from that world. That is greater than one out of every nine believers. The number of Christians killed for their faith was 5,898, and an average of 1,300 church fires are reported each year.
Phase 3 has to do with what Jesus declared in Matthew 24:15-28: The appearance of the Anti-Christ, the Great Tribulation, and the rise of false Christs and false prophets. (Please read that, too.) False signs will occur during this time. This is the worse part of the labor pains leading up to the return of Christ. The Anti-Christ will be a charismatic global leader. He will appear as a man of peace and make a treaty with Israel. However, after the temple is rebuilt on Mount Zion, he will declare himself to be God, and sacrifice on the altar in the temple. This will fulfill what Daniel spoke about as the “Abomination of Desolation.” (Daniel 11:31) The Anti-Christ will be possessed by Satan and oppose everything having to do with God! After three and a half years into the Tribulation, the eyes of the Jews will open, and they will realize he is not the real Messiah. Then, there will be Tribulation on earth like never before seen as the wrath of God will be poured out on Satan and the nation’s that oppose God.
At the end of those seven years, Jesus will return in what is known as His second coming. “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:27)His Second coming will be witnessed by the entire world. Every eye will see, and every knee will bow and confess He is Lord. Jesus will then establish His kingdom on earth for a thousand years.
So, where are we now on the timeline of Matthew 24? Clearly, we are into phase one and two. More Christians are being persecuted in recent times than in all the previous centuries combined. There is also a great apostasy taking place right now in churches and seminaries. People are denying their faith, as they turn away in these last days. In general, there is a growing hatred in America, as wickedness is being celebrated as good. What was once done in secret is now broadcast in public, on TV, in movies, and promoted by the media. Sports figures, celebrities, politicians, and public figures claim to be Christian – while living like the world and opposing everything in the Bible. Social media has helped to spread the gospel, and yet, it has also produced great harm in destroying the moral fabric of society.
After Jesus spoke to His disciples in Matthew 24, He went on to share the parable of the ten virgins. Five, He said, were wise and five were foolish. All ten had oil in their lamps, often a symbol of the Holy Spirit – and yet, only five were prepared. Only five were ready to meet the bridegroom. That parable seems to indicate that many Christians will not be ready to meet the Lord at the time of the Rapture. Unless we experience another great revival in America, I’m afraid many will not be prepared when that day comes.
So, what does all of this mean for us today. First, we need to be awake and ready. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 we are told to, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.” That is a sobering and challenging verse, but also a very important one. Are we ready? In Luke 18:8b Jesus asked this question, “When the Son of man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” Are we walking by faith, or has the world captured our heart? In Psalm 139:23-24, David invited God to search his heart and to try his ways. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” If we do those two things, we can know for sure we will be ready.
Secondly, we need to share with others concerning the urgency of the hour. Many Christians today are preoccupied exclusively with life on planet earth – as if this is all there is! They may have decided to follow Christ, but are they walking with Him today? Are they seeking God, praying, and reading the Bible? Are they worshippers of God, or does the world have more of a grip on their heart than Jesus does? Finally – we need to pray. Pray for hearts to be softened, for the veil of deception to be lifted from our family and friends – and pray that people would turn to Jesus while they can!
The book of Revelation is a grave warning of what will take place in the coming days. I don’t want to see anyone go through the Great Tribulation. Yet many “Christians” seem to be ignorant of the “signs of the times.” Let’s pray for that long-awaited revival to once again come and wake up the church.