STUDY 3 – WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF THE END TIMES AND
DO WE SEE ANY TODAY?
Now that we have an understanding of what the End Times are, it is time to get into another step. Does the Bible warn us of any signs? Whereas we do not have any specific information like the name of the Antichrist, the Bible does give us signs of the times. We are told to look for the signs so we can be ready for when it happens.
In looking at the signs, there are growing signs that we could be in the beginning of the End Time stage now. Mind you, people have been looking at the signs for hundreds of years to try to predict the End Time. Many people have tried to say a particular person is the Antichrist, like Adolf Hitler, because he was a strong leader and very evil. Some have used numerology of 666 to try to figure out who the Antichrist is. Well, they have all been incorrect. You can’t manipulate with math to figure out God’s plan. I am not going to say absolutely that we are in the first stages of the End Times. But I do want to present to you some of the signs of the End Times and offer to you how they could be being fulfilled in this age. I want you to be able to think about what I will present to you. You can accept it or reject it. But you need to know what is going on and how we could be seeing the End Time events unfolding in our lifetime. If we are in the End Times, we will be seeing more Bible Prophecy fulfilled in our lifetime than in the lives of many of the Prophets of God. So for that reason it is an exciting time. But it could also be a time of great difficulties, because life will not be easy for those in the End Times. So, if we are in the End Times or not, we need to be ready to go through difficult times. Our study of this will begin with words of our Lord Jesus Himself.
JESUS EXPLAINS SOME END TIME EVENTS MT 24:1-8
This section starts out with Jesus and his disciples in the Temple. Mt 24:1-2 “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.”Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” One of the disciples had commented on how nice the buildings were. Jesus didn’t agree or disagree, but He used this as an opportunity to teach His disciples a lesson and commented that all of these stones will be thrown down. This is a prediction that was fulfilled in 70 A.D. This was done by the Roman General Titus, who would later become a Caesar. Titus went into Jerusalem with his army to squash a rebellion. He did not intend to destroy the Temple but capture it and use it as a temple to Caesar and the Roman Pantheon. But during the battle one of his soldiers threw a burning stick into one of the Temple’s walls. This started a fire that raged out of control, destroying the Temple. So this prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled less than 40 years after His death.
After saying this, the disciples took the bait. This opened up to them the thought about what the end of the age would be like, so they took the opportunity to ask Jesus about it. They asked Him two questions, when will it occur, and what will be the signs of it. He did not answer the first question right away, but later on commented “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son but only the Father.” Mt 24:36. Jesus let them know that even He didn’t know when it would occur. The second question He answers fully. Whereas Jesus doesn’t give them exact events, He did give them a good understanding of that which was to come. His idea was to get them to think, He didn’t want them to have a check list that they could follow to see exactly when it was going to happen. But He did give them several events that by them watching what was happening they could have a better understanding of when that time would be. Remember, these men are called His disciples. That is, Jesus is teaching them. Jesus knew that His time on earth would be limited. But by teaching these men the right way, they in turn would know how to teach others about the things of God. Jesus was teaching them in a way that they could disciples those who would follow them so they would also be watching for the Lord Jesus. Think about it, if you are looking for particular signs for the end times, and don’t see them happening, then it could be easier to give in to temptation. This is because you see that the Lord can’t be coming back yet, so when temptation comes upon you, it will be easier to give in to it because you think you still have time to repent of that and clean up your life before God. But if you don’t know when the Lord will be coming back, realizing that He could come back while you are giving in to that temptation, then that will give you the strength to resist. God wants us to resist temptation and not to take the grace of His salvation for granted. He wants us to look to Him and be dependent upon Him for our strength. If we don’t know when He will return, we will be more dependent on Him to bring us through the tough times, because we don’t want to get caught with our hands in the proverbial cookie jar. But more on this in a bit.
Let’s take a look at some of these events that Jesus said will take place, and also look at current events to see if there might be a correlation.
These men walked with Jesus, they knew who the Christ is. But Jesus warned them to be aware that people are going to be coming declaring themselves to be the Christ. Mind you, this is something that was even happening during the time of Jesus, there were men who were calling themselves the Messiah, the savior of Israel. This probably another reason why the leaders of Judea were so skeptical of Jesus. They had seen other men trying to save Judea come and go with no lasting effects. So this was nothing new, but a warning to look out. Satan is out to deceive people to pull them away from the true and living God. He knows that he can’t always be outright in saying that there is no God. Some people will believe that, but several will not. There is a natural belief in God in the hearts of men to know their Creator, so he has to be deceptive to these people. Satan is not too worried about people who believe in other religions, because they are false and not leading people to eternal life. He has to use a different tactic to get Christians to not follow Jesus. So since several people believe in Jesus and want to follow Him, Satan has to be deceptive. Satan will rise up people to believe that they are the Christ and use this to lure people away from the true Jesus. He knows that several people are not going to stop to examine to see if this is the true Christ, but they can be taken in by some false signs or by the charismatic leadership of this false Christ. Satan knows that if people are following a false Christ, they will not bother to look for the true Christ. Then Satan will secure them for his hellish kingdom and these people will not get to know the true Jesus and have eternal life in Heaven. Here are some men who more recently have claimed to be the Christ and had a large following:
Today we have Sun Myung Moon, the founder and leader of the worldwide Unification Church. He considers himself the Messiah and the 2nd coming of Christ. He thinks that he is fulfilling Jesus’ unfinished mission. He has done several ‘blessing ceremonies’ or mass weddings. The Unification Church has members all over the world, mostly in South Korea and Japan. They estimate membership from several hundred thousand a few million. Reverend Moon is still around and going strong today. It was only on 10/14/09 that he held another mass wedding when tens of thousands of couples either got married, or renewed their vows.
In the recent past we had the Rev. Jim Jones, the pastor of the People’s Temple, which he originally started in Indiana before moving it to San Francisco. He not only proclaimed that he was the reincarnate Jesus of Nazareth, but also of Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha, Vladimir Lenin, and Father Divine. In 1972 he created Jonestown, Guyana, as both a “socialist paradise” and a “sanctuary” from the media scrutiny, because he was also very politically involved and created a lot of problems because of his racial integration of his church and other reasons. He then moved several of his people down to Jonestown, Guyana. Then in 1978 was when the great tragedy happened there, when he talked people into committing suicide by drinking cyanide poison. The number of people was staggering, 909. Of this amount, 276 were children. This was the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01.
One of these people led several people to not only their spiritual death, but their physical death. Both of these men were charismatic personalities which drew large followings. There are other people also who have claimed to be the Christ, some more known like these, some hardly known, because they did not draw a large following. We need to test the spirits. Is this person’s teaching completely following what the Bible teaches? We are to test the spirits, because Jesus said that He came to fulfill every jot and every tittle of the law (Mt 5:18), which means every stroke of the Bible. Jesus will not do anything that is contradictory to the Bible. Another thing we know for sure, if anyone calls himself the Christ, he is wrong, no matter how believable he may be. We see in the Bible that when Jesus returns every eye will see Him return in the clouds from the east. When He returns everyone will know it, and He will to the holy city, Jerusalem. So there are definitive signs that we can verify if the person is the Christ or not.
Next Jesus says that there will be wars and rumors of wars, that nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. So there will be big wars and smaller wars. Now, there have always been wars. There is always some leader who wants a bigger territory and will bully his way to get it. So Jesus isn’t just talking about some fighting, but something more. As He puts this in the plural, it seems to imply that there will be more wars and fighting going on.
As time has gone on, we have seen 2 major wars in the 20th century that we called World Wars. Whereas nations have allied themselves to fight an aggressive nation before, it hadn’t happened on the massive scale it did during WW I or WWII. And then, WWII involved many more nations and deaths than the First World War. That was within a 30 year time span that two major wars were fought. We haven’t seen any more world wars like that since then, but the potential is still there. One reason we probably haven’t seen another world war is because the main forces in the latter half of the century had the technology to annihilate each other, and neither side wanted to be annihilated.
That is another thing. Back in Jesus’ time technology isn’t what it is today. Someone would go to fight against a walled in city, and it could take them days, months, or even years to figure out the way to get into that city and take it, unless they finally give up. So men didn’t have the ability to do the destruction that is mentioned in Revelation that mentions ¼ of the world’s population would be wiped out at a time. Technology has increased quite a bit since Jesus gave His prophecy. Now we have the ability to wipe out much of humanity in one blow. And more nations now have that ability. There are 8 nations known to have a nuclear weapon: The US, Russia, France, Great Britain, China, Pakistan, India and North Korea. Also, Israel is suspected of having nuclear weapons. Another nation, South Africa, has built some, but has disassembled them. There are three former Soviet Union nations, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine that have had them, and say they have given them back to Russia. There are several nations who participate in NATO Nuclear weapons sharing. That is, the US has given them nuclear weapons to deploy and store to Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Also Greece and Canada have historically participated. So we see several nations that have access to ‘The Bomb’ to be able to create massive destruction of humanity and planet Earth.
Think about our war technology in more ways. We have several satellites in space now. Whereas they are not to have any weapons, they do have powerful eyes. They can see small things from the borders of space, several miles above us. Have you ever seen Google or Yahoo maps? You can see vehicles from those, pictures from space. And if we can see that well on civilian sites, how much better would the military satellites be?
Nations of the world have come together to create the United Nations. This is to help humans to peacefully get along with one another. But it has not worked. We do not have major wars going on, but we do have several smaller wars going on. Look at the small nation of Israel, itself a fulfillment of Bible prophecy that for 1900 years the people of Israel, who even though they didn’t have a nation to call a home, stayed a distinct race, and formed a new nation in 1948. Since that time they have always known war and fighting. Even to this day there are terrorists killing people there, and other groups who are launching rockets into the nation. They have fought several wars, and are still fighting smaller battles to this day. In Sri Lanka they have recently stopped the fighting against the group the Tamil Tigers, who were fighting for independence. But even in January there was a bombing before an election. The US had to get involved along with several nations during the Persian Gulf War (8/90 – 2/91) after the Iraqi’s invaded Kuwait. Today the US is still involved in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting insurgents, people who want to kill us. There are many other wars going on in this world which we just don’t hear because our media doesn’t want to tell us about them.
The following is a list from Wikipedia of Civil Wars which are ongoing or ended in the past decade, as of 2006.
1. Afghan Civil War, 1992-2001 – present
2. Algerian Civil War, 1991-2002 – present
3. Casamance Conflict, Senegal, 1990- present
4. Colombian armed conflict, 1964- present
5. Côte d’Ivoire Civil War, 1999-2000, 2002- present
6. Darfur Conflict, Sudan, 2003- present
7. Georgian Civil War, 1988- present
8. Iraq Civil War, 2003 – present
9. Kashmir Conflict, 1989- present
10. Northern Irish civil war, 1969- present
11. Somali Civil War, 1991- present
12. Sri Lankan Civil War, 1983- present
13. Ugandan Civil War, 1987- present
14. Yemen Civil War, 2000- present
The war on terrorism. Here is a war which much of the world is fighting against now. It is not against an aggressive army, but against aggressive people who will do anything to kill other people. We know what happened on 9/11. Think about just recently when someone tried to blow up an airliner with a bomb in his underwear. In 2004 in Madrid, Spain there were a series of bombs against a commuter train system that killed 191 people and injured another 1,800. In 2005 in London, England, there was a coordinated suicide bombings against their public transportation systems that killed 52 people, and injured about 700 others. In 2006 there was a series of 7 bombs on trains in Mumbai, India that killed 20 people and injured over 700 more. This is a war that is going on in which it is difficult to always tell who the combatants are. There are several groups that commit these atrocities. Some of the people are known by intelligence agencies, many others are unknown.
Famines. In Mt. 24:7 Jesus said that there will be famines. Again, this is something that mankind has long battled with. But we see the signs being set for what could be worse famines than there has ever been. Hal Lindsey, in his book, “Planet Earth – 2000 A.D. Will Mankind Survive”, says “As I have mentioned earlier, overpopulation is completely out of control…It’s clear that the Earth cannot continue to sustain the growing population without redistributing the wealth and resources of the planet”. He is not calling for socialism, but he is bringing out the point that with the growing population in this world we need to grow more and more food to feed everyone, and that we are going to have to make sure we distribute it out. But human nature wants to hold on to that which is ours, so it will be difficult for people who have more to give what they have to those whom they do not know.
The World Health Organization cites malnutrition as the gravest single threat to the world’s public health. They say there are 923 million people worldwide who are malnourished, or 17% of the developing nations. On the average, a person dies every second as a direct or indirect result of malnutrition – 4000 every hour – 100 000 each day – 36 million each year – 58 % of all deaths (2001-2004 estimates) On the average, a child dies every 5 seconds as a direct or indirect result of malnutrition – 700 every hour – 16 000 each day – 6 million each year – 60% of all child deaths (2002-2008 estimates). (Wikipedia) Pretty staggering statistics considering how well off we here in the Western world are. As for current nations in particular: Ethiopia, 2/27/07-current; Chad, 1/30/07-current; Somalia, 1/23/07-current: Kenya, 1/19/07-current: Zimbabwe, 8/15/07-current.
We are also destroying the resources that we have. This planet is like a spaceship, we are limited to the resources that are on it. When they run out, it is gone. Rain forests, which are the lungs of the planet, are vanishing at about 80,000 sq. miles each year. That is about the size of Austria. We have industrial pollution of the air, water, and soil which threatens the quantity and quality of our food. Meaning the food we eat isn’t as nutritious as in years past. We also have soil exhaustion. That is where the soil loses its nutrients to where in order to get crops the farmers need to use an increasing amount of chemical fertilizer. Also, water resources are being strained by modern agricultural techniques. Water tables are depleting at a disturbing rate in several places of the world, including the US. Water scarcity is getting to be a major problem throughout the world. Just look at us here in LA, we have to get most of our water from miles away. We have been in a drought for about 5 years now. The recent rains will help out, but this isn’t the first time in recent memory that we had to cut back on usage. About 90% of the rivers and lakes in China are polluted. Many people there have to drink unhealthy water. We also have some instances that we can’t use more water for conservation purposes. In areas of the San Joaquin Valley here in California, which is a major food producer for much of the world, they are denied water to protect the smelt, a small fish. Farmers can’t plant crops and their land is lying dry and useless. Just because some conservationists think it is more important to keep the water to protect a fish than it is to let farmers use it to irrigate their fields and feed people.
Earthquakes. Jesus also mentioned earthquakes, in context that they would be getting more frequent and severe. We see that happening today. Here is a list I have of frequency of “killer” quakes, 6.0 or greater, recorded anywhere in the world:
1890 – 1899 1
1910 -1920 2
1990-1994 More than 100
Yes, this list isn’t updated, it was gotten from a book written in 1994, but you see the pattern of frequency of earthquakes. How about recently, any big earthquakes in mind? Just in January 2010, there was a 7.0 in Haiti that killed over 150,000. How about the one off of Samoa? That was an 8.1 earthquake that didn’t kill people directly, but tsunami’s killed over 189 people. Indonesia has had two powerful ones in recent years. A 7.0 earthquake in September 2009, which killed at least 79 people. There was a series of powerful quakes on September 12-14, the first of which was 8.4. And who could forget the day after Christmas in 2004, when a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck in the Indian Ocean. This is the 2nd largest earthquake ever measured by a seismograph. It had the longest duration of any earthquake measured, from 8.3 to 10 minutes long. It caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 cm (0.4 inches) and triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska. It caused a tsunami that reached as high as 100 feet, and killed over 230,000 people in 14 countries. I don’t know about total number of recent earthquakes, but we can see there are still some mighty powerful earthquakes that are still happening that are killing a lot of people and causing hardships on countless more.
Jesus said that these are the beginnings of birth pains. This doesn’t include the devastating storms like Hurricane Katrina that killed over 1,100 people in the US, or Typhoon Ketsana that recorded the most rainfall recorded in Metro Manila, causing severe flooding and at least 464 people being killed in the Philippines. Jesus also said that the generation that sees these things shall not pass away until He returns. Birth identifies the arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth. The beginnings of birth pains are the early warning signs that the birth of the Kingdom is approaching. When the birth pains begin, the end of the age and the coming Kingdom of God will be near, right at the door. After the birth pains there is a birth, but some suffering has to happen before the joy is delivered. Jesus will return and set up His kingdom here on earth. That is a promise that we have and that is a promise we must hold on to as we see and go through more disasters.