Signs of the End
THROUGH THE AGES a number of spiritual teachers and seers have received special insight into the future. One of the most profound visions of what is to come was given 2,000 years ago on a hillside outside of Jerusalem. A small band of truth-seekers gathered around their Teacher, Jesus of Nazareth. The question they asked Him prompted a response that spans the centuries and zeroes in on the days in which you and I are now living:
"And as He [Jesus] sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him, saying, Tell us, what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3).
Jesus answered them with dozens of specific indicators to be on the lookout for. (The term "the end of the world" as used here does not refer to the end of the planet, but the end of the current inhumane reign of man on earth.) Although many of the signs He gave are things that have plagued the world for ages, its remarkable how the severity and frequency of these have now increased.
"You shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, for nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (Matthew 24:6).
NO PERIOD IN all of history has witnessed the escalation of wars as has the 20th century. The International Red Cross estimates that over 100 million people have been killed in wars since this century began.
Since World War II, there have been over 150 major wars, as well as hundreds more armed rebellions and revolutions. The death toll in armed conflicts since the end of World War II is more than 23 million.1 The Washington Post declared, "Our 20th-century wars have been total wars against combatants and civilians alike. The barbarian wars of centuries past were alley fights in comparison." 2
"And there shall be famines" (Matthew 24:7).
THE WORLD BANK reported in late 1996 that more than 800 million people are going hungry every day, and more than 500 million children do not get enough food to fully develop mentally and physically. "Some 40,000 hunger-related deaths occur every day, mostly in rural regions," says bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin.3
"And there shall be pestilences" (Matthew 24:7).
LESS THAN 20 years ago the medical profession claimed victory over many bacterial and viral killers. But the cases of infectious diseases have now skyrocketed. The Associated Press reports, "The emergence of bacteria strains that cannot be killed by current antibiotics could become a public health threat worse than AIDS. Diseases recently considered conquered are becoming unstoppable. Scientists expect nothing short of a medical disaster." 4
UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, in its year-end report released in December 1996, stated that 3.1 million new HIV infections occurred worldwide that year. One-and-a-half million people died of AIDS in 1996, bringing the total of AIDS-related deaths to 6.4 million. As of this writing, over 24 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, which means that well over 30 million have been infected since the disease was first recognized in 1981. The World Health Organization (WHO) says "around the world more than 6,000 people every day are infected with HIV and the epidemic is getting worse."5
"And there shall be earthquakes, in various places" (Matthew 24:7).
THE Universal Almanac tells us that there were only 21 earthquakes of major strength between the years 1000 and 1800. But between 1800 and 1900 there were 18 major earthquakes. Between 1900 and 1950, there were 33 major quakesalmost as many as the number in the preceding 1,850 years! 6
Between 1950 and 1991 there were 93 major earthquakesalmost triple the number of the previous half centurywhich claimed the lives of 1.3 million people around the world. Numerous scientists warn that we are currently entering a period of great seismic disturbances.
A world "filled with violence" (Genesis 6:11).
ANOTHER CONDITION that Jesus said would be prevalent just prior to His return would be unrestrained violence: "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:37).
In Noahs days, "the earth was corrupt before God, and filled with violence" (Genesis 6:5,11). Todays headlines are full of tragic stories of senseless violence. The annual homicide and suicide rate in America is now nearly as high as the total loss of American life during the entire Vietnam War. In the past 30 years alone, suicide and murder have claimed the lives of over 1,200,000 Americans, more than all the men killed in all the wars in the history of the U.S.
"This Gospel shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the End come" (Matthew 24:14).
UNLIKE THE DRAMATIC RISE in wars, famine, plagues and earthquakes, which Jesus called "the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8), He said the preaching of His Gospel to all nations would be a specific sign that would indicate when the actual End would come upon the world.
Never in the course of history has the Gospel been preached in all the world to all nations as it is right now.If not directly by missionaries, by the modern mediums of radio, television, and telecommunications. According to The Almanac of the Christian World,7 the Gospel message has now been preached to over 4 billion people, in virtually every country. "Then shall the End come!"
"Many shall run to and fro" (Daniel 12:4).
AROUND 534 B.C., God told His prophet Daniel that in "the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Daniel 12:4). This phrase, "many running to and fro" literally means "speeding about, here and there," or as The Living Bible renders it, "travel shall be greatly increased."
When you consider that peoples means of transportation had not changed substantially for thousands of years, the significance of this prophecy is apparent. Today we not only drive at enormous speeds and cover great distances in automobiles, but a jet can fly around the world in 24 hours, and a spacecraft circles the planet in 80 minutes!
And the number of people traveling today is unprecedented. Economic experts tell us that travel and tourism is now "the biggest and the most energetic industry in the world."8
"Knowledge shall be increased" (Daniel 12:4).
KNOWLEDGE HAS INCREASED in recent years almost beyond imagination! The term "information overload" was coined for our generation.
The equivalent of over 300 million pages of text is now sent over the Internet every day. Eighty percent of all the scientists who have ever lived are alive today, and every minute they add 2,000 pages to mans scientific knowledge. About half of all medical knowledge is now outdated every ten years.
Computer technology illustrates the knowledge explosion we are undergoing. The computers basic building block, the transistor, was invented at Bell Labs in 1948. By the year 2000, one processor chip will contain more than a billion transistors.
"The Antichrist is coming" (1 John 2:18).
AN IMPORTANT AND FINAL sign of the end, which the Bible devotes numerous chapters to, is the rise of a one-world government headed by an evil tyrant known as the Antichrist or "the Beast." The Book of Revelation says that the whole world will worship Satan in the person of this bestial world leader.
The Bible tells of an ingenious seven-year peace agreement or "covenant" which will be pivotal to the Antichrists claim to world leadership. This pact will temporarily resolve the Middle East crisis by working out a compromise between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Jerusalems Mount Moriah, where the Jews ancient temple once stood and where the Muslim Dome of the Rock stands today, will be a focal point.
Three-and-a-half years after the enactment of the Antichrists covenant, he will revoke it. He will then make Jerusalem his international capital, and outlaw all religions except the worship of himself and his mystical image. This image will somehow be empowered to both speak and cause those who refuse to worship it to be killed. (See Revelation 13:14-15.) Jesus said this will be a time of "great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world" (Matthew 24:15,21).
The "Mark of the Beast"
"He causes all to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. His number is 666" (Revelation 13:15-18).
THIS PROPHECY describes something that has never before been possible. Two thousand years ago a simple fisherman, the Apostle John, predicted that a global economic system would one day arise in which everyone will be forced to receive a number, without which they wont be able to buy or sell. It is only since the advent of computers and electronic banking that this could happen.
The Second Coming
"Immediately after the tribulation they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall gather together His chosen" (Matthew 24:29-31).
THE WORLDS DARKEST HOUR will abruptly end with the dawning of the brightest day when Jesus Christ returns. All those who belong to Him will be miraculously transformed with new supernatural bodies, and will be rescued from their anti-Christ persecutors and transported to the most spectacular victory celebration ever held, the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" in Heaven! (Revelation 14:14-15; 19:6-9).
At that time the horrific wrath of God will fall upon the Antichrist and his evil followers, culminating with Jesus return to earth to utterly defeat and destroy their one-world empire in an awesome confrontation known as the battle of Armageddon.
This will end mans cruel rule on earth, as Jesus and His superhuman forces take over the world to lovingly rule and reign over it. Thus will begin a period known as the Millenniuma thousand years of peace and plenty and paradise for all. (See Revelation 19:11-21; 20:1-4.)
ARE YOU READY for these earth-shaking events? If not, you can get ready by simply receiving Jesus into your life. He loves you, and will be with you and guide you through whatever perilous times you may face. If you dont yet know Jesus, you can receive Him and His free gift of everlasting life by simply praying this prayer:
Dear Jesus, I ask You to come into my heart. Please forgive me for all the wrongs Ive done, and give me Your gift of everlasting life. Help me to love You, and help me to share Your love and truth with others. Amen.
1 AP (Associated Press), 10 Nov 1993
2 Washington Post excerpt quoted in "The Futility of War," Awake, 22 April 96
3 "800 Million People Go Hungry," UPI (United Press International), Washington, 23 Sep 1996
4 AP, 26 Mar 95
5 Figures from the UNAIDS and WHO Internet Web page, 11/97; "UN: 6,000 People Infected Daily by HIV," UPI, 30 Nov 95
6 The Universal Almanac, Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews and McMeel, 1993
7 The Almanac of the Christian World. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1990
8 "Tourism to Grow Steadily over the Next Decade," Reuters, 13 Mar 1995
Copyright © 1997 by The Family