ANY SIGNS?

 

 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 that we should be watching out for?  Whereas we do not have any specific information like when it will occur, the name of the Antichrist, or what country he come from; the Bible does give us several 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 given in the Bible, there are a growing amount of possible fulfillments of them that indicate 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.  There have been several people predict when the End Times will begin.  Recently, Harold Camping has made the news by giving a few dates of Christ’s return.  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 even tried using the numerology of 666 to try to figure out who the Antichrist is.  Well, they have all been incorrect.  No one knows these things ahead of time and you can’t manipulate 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, to judge for yourself if you believe it or not.  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 during the times of many of the Prophets of God.  So for this reason it is an exciting time.  But it could also be a time of great difficulties, because life will not be easy for those who have to live through the End Times.  If we are in the End Times or not, we need to be ready to go through difficult times; due to the fact that the Bible does not promise us an easy life without any persecution or problems.  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.  It 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; instead he wanted to 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.  The Temple contained a lot of gold, which melted and got in between the stones.  So to make sure they got all of the gold, the Romans dismantled the Temple stone by stone.  So this prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled less than 40 years after the death of Jesus.

 

 

 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 Jesus two questions, when will it occur, and what will be the signs of it.  Jesus 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 any 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 paying attention, they could see what was happening so 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 disciple those who would follow them so they would also be watching for the Lord Jesus to return.  Think about it, if you are looking for particular signs for the end times, and don’t see these particular events happening, then it could be easier to give in to temptation.  This is because you think 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 sin and clean up your life before God.  But if you don’t know the exact events of when the Lord will be coming back, only the general signs, you can have more strength to resist that temptation, because you realize that Jesus could come back while you are giving in to that temptation.  You don’t want the Lord to catch you in sin.  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 exactly 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 some 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; which is probably another reason why the leaders of Judea were so skeptical of Jesus.  They had seen other men who were trying to save Judea come and go with no lasting effects.  So when Jesus warned them to watch out for others who call themselves the Christ, He was giving them a warning to be on the lookout.  Satan is out to deceive people, wanting to pull them away from the true and living God.  Whereas many people, more so in our culture of today, do not believe in God, many others obey that natural belief in their hearts that there is a God, so they want to know their Creator.  Satan 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 already has them in his grip.  But Satan has to use a different tactic to get Christians to not follow Jesus.  Since several people believe in Jesus to some degree 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 many people will not 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 so 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:

 

Sun Myung Moon, the founder and leader of the worldwide Unification Church.  He considers himself the Messiah and the 2nd coming of Christ.  He thought that he was 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 just passed away in September of 2012.

 

 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, he created a lot of problems due to his racial integration of his church and for other reasons. He then moved several of his people down to Jonestown, Guyana.  In 1978 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 also 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 also need 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 go to the holy city, Jerusalem.  So there are definitive signs that we can verify if the person is the Christ or not.

                                   

Wars and Rumors of Wars

 

Next Jesus says that there will be wars and rumors of wars, that nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  This indicates two different kinds of wars.  It does talk about nations fighting, but kingdom against kingdom indicates fighting on a smaller scale.  Not small countries, but groups within those countries.  In parts of the Old Testament, there were kings of cities.  So this could be implying groups or cultures within a country could be fighting.  He could have been talking about things like the insurgency in Iraq; several groups fighting to have control of it.  Also like the gang problem or the war on drugs we currently have.  Now, there have always been wars and fighting.  There is always some leader who wants a bigger territory, be it a country or his turf, 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, He seems to imply that there will be more wars and fighting going on than normal.

 

 As time has gone on, we have seen two 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 like 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 in which two major world 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 have the technology to annihilate each other with atomic weapons, and neither side wanted to be annihilated.

 

 That is another thing.  Back in Jesus’ time technology was not what it is today.  Someone would go to fight against a walled city, and it could take them days, months, or even years to figure out the way to get into that city or starve the inhabitants out so they could finally take it, unless they finally conceded they couldn’t win so went elsewhere.  Men didn’t have the ability to do the destruction that is mentioned in Revelation where it mentions a quarter of the world’s population would be wiped out at a time.  There were no weapons of mass destruction like we have today.  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 that are known to have a nuclear weapon: The US, Russia, France, Great Britain, China, Pakistan, India and North Korea.  Israel is suspected of having nuclear weapons and Iran is believed to be close to building some.  Another nation, South Africa, has built some in the past, but it has disassembled them.  There are three former Soviet Union nations, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine that have had them, but 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: they are Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.  Also Greece and Canada have historically participated in this.  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, by treaty, satellites 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 taken from civilian satellites.  And if we can see that well on civilian sites, how much better would the military satellites be?  I have heard it said that they can read the license plate of your car.

 

 Nations of the world have come together to create the United Nations.  This was designed to help humans get along peacefully 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 having become a nation again was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.  For 1900 years the people of Israel who, even though they didn’t have a nation to call a home, were able to remain as a distinct race, formed a new nation of Israel in 1948.  Since that time they have always known wars and fighting.  Even to this day there are terrorists killing people there, and other groups who are launching rockets into the nation.  Their police officers carry uzi’s.  Israel has fought several wars, and are still fighting smaller battles to this day.  I remember in 2006, when Israel sent troops into South Lebanon to fight Hezbollah, I have a friend who thought that was a sign of the End Times. 

 

The US had to get involved along with several nations during the Persian Gulf War (8/90 – 2/91) after Iraqi invaded Kuwait.  Today the US is still involved in 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 called List of ongoing military conflicts  [i]  that cause at least 1,000 deaths per year.

1)      Burma internal conflict, 1948 – present:  2)  Nigerian Sharia conflict, 1953 – present:  3)  Afghanistan Conflict,  1978 – present:  4)   Somali Civil War, 1991-  present:  5)  Al-Queda insurgency in Yemen, 1992 – present   6)  War in North-West Pakistan,  2004 – present  7)  Mexican Drug War,  2006 – present  8)  Sudanese nomadic conflicts,  2009 – present  9)  Iraq Insurgency (post U.S. withdrawal),   2011 –  present  10)  Northern Mali conflict, 2012 – present

They list another 33 current conflicts that have fewer than 1,000 deaths per year.

 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.  Some terrorists will commit suicide to kill more people.  We know what happened on 9/11 to the World Trade Center.  A few years ago 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 were coordinated suicide bombings against the British 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, like the Tsarnaev brothers who set off the pressure cooker bombs at the end of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

 

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 well.  But our human nature makes us want 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 are malnourished, or 17% of the developing nations. On the average, a person dies every second as a direct or indirect result of malnutrition – 4,000 people every hour – 100,000 people each day – 36 million people each year, which is 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, which is 60% of all child deaths (2002-2008 estimates).  (Wikipedia)  Pretty staggering statistics considering how well off we here in the Western world are.

Even National Geographic sees a problem with food production.  Here is a quote from their July 2011 article, “Food Ark”; A crisis is looming: To feed our growing population, we’ll need to double food production. Yet crop yields aren’t increasing fast enough, and climate change and new diseases threaten the limited varieties we’ve come to depend on for food. [ii]  It says how food varieties all over the world are becoming extinct.  In the US alone, 90% of our historic fruit and vegetable varieties have disappeared.  For example, in the 1800’s there where 7,000 apple varieties.  Now fewer than 100 remain.  A big reason this has happened is because scientists have worked to create hybrid crops.  But the problem this causes is if disease or future climate change decimates the plants that we depend upon there will be great hunger.  There is a fungus called stem rust.  Its current virulent and fast-mutating strain, called Ug99 started in Uganda in 1999. But it has spread to other countries in Africa and even made its way into Iran.  It destroys wheat crops, and there is nothing that can be done about it.  They said that 90% of the world’s wheat is defenseless against it.  When I ready this article, I couldn’t help to think that this disease, or a similar disease, could easily cause the famine that is predicted for the End Times.

Scientists have developed hybrid strains of crops that can produce a higher yield.  But these high yield crops are genetically weaker and require expensive chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides.  “In short, in our focus on increasing the amount of food we produce today, we have accidentally put ourselves at risk for food shortages in the future.” ii

We are 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.  It used to be that scientists were primarily concerned about nuclear war.  But now it is ozone depletion, global warming, soil erosion, overpopulation as well as other environmental problems.  The ozone layer is a thin shield in our atmosphere to protect us against ultra-violet rays.  Scientists say it is depleted more than 3 percent and there is no way to rebuild it.  If 15% of it is destroyed, they say that millions could die of skin cancer as well as destruction of crops because of the added UV light.  Look at rain forests, which are the lungs of the planet, they 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 it was in years past.  We also have soil exhaustion.  That is where the soil loses its nutrients; so 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, like the Colorado River or Northern California.  A few years ago we were in a long drought, so they wanted us to cut back 10% of our normal amount of water 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.  The San Joaquin Valley, here in California, is a major food producer for much of the world.  Yet a few years ago, in some areas of the San Joaquin Valley they were denied water so the government could protect the smelt, which is a small fish.  Farmers can’t plant crops where they once did, so their land has gone dry and useless.  Just because some conservationists think it is more important to keep water just to protect a fish species than it is to let farmers use it to irrigate their fields and feed people.  What will happen in the world when we run out of enough good water to drink and irrigate our crops?

 

 Earthquakes.  Jesus also mentioned earthquakes, in context that they will 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 I got from the book Planet Earth – 2000 A.D. Will Mankind Survive by Hal Lindsay:

 

1890 – 1899                1

1900-1910                   3

1910 -1920                  2                                 

1920-1930                   2

1930-1940                   5                                                                                                                          1940-1950               4                                 

1950-1960                   9

1960-1970                   13                               

1970-1980                   51                               

1980-1990                   86                               

1990-1994                   More than 100

 

On 8/14/13, I went onto the official US Geological Survey website [iii].  They have a search engine to find these by using dates, magnitude and depth.  Using this, I searched by decade, minimum 6 magnitude, and down to a depth of 800 km, which is a little under 500 miles.

 

1960-1969                   653

1970-1979                   1014

1980-1989                   1108

1990-1999                   1163

2000-2009                   1591

2010-8/14/2013          602

2010-2019 (Est)          1,866

 

These include some earthquakes that were very devastating.  The day after Christmas in 2004, 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.  In January 2010, there was a 7.0 in Haiti that killed over 150,000.

 

 Jesus said that these are the beginnings of birth pains.  This doesn’t include the devastating storms like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that killed over 1,100 people in the US, or in 2009 Typhoon Ketsana that recorded the most rainfall recorded in Metro Manila, causing severe flooding and killing at least 464 people in the Philippines.  Jesus 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. 

 

 It look certainly looks like several prophesied End Time events are being fulfilled and are on the increase in the day in which we live.


[iii] http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqarchives/epic/

 

Planet Earth – 2000 A.D. Will Mankind Survive;  Hal Lindsay

National Geographic – July 2011 – Food Ark

 

Much of this was written before I kept track of the source.

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