Signs of the End Times|
It's freaky, man. But, it seems like all the signs Jesus warned us about are coming true before our eyes. There is a major famine spreading around the earth. I saw on a news show that wheat crops in Australia have failed because of drought. More news reports show that a horrid cyclone recently in Burma has killed as many as 100,000 people and ruined their rice crops. Bees are disappearing which scientists warn will ruin many of our fruit and vegetable crops. There are even earthquakes in Nevada and around the New Madrid fault in the Midwest - unusual places. There was a major 6.7 earthquake in Japan just this week. There is terrible inflation going on which looks like it could turn into hyperinflation. Some economists say that as many as 1 out of 100 people could lose their homes in America. I could go on and on and just read these stories to you. What's going on? Can we prepare? (J.M., Mt. Vernon, WA)
Amen to that, brother!
What you are talking about are the signs - or really the "birth pangs" or beginning of signs - that Jesus prophesied in Matthew chapter 24, Luke chapter 21, and Revelation 6 (among other verses in books like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel).
Let's look at some of these:
Temple Completely Disassembled
In Luke 21 Jesus warns that the temple which existed during his lifetime would be completely torn down. "There will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down" (v. 21:6). The Temple would be disassembled. This literally came true in 70 A.D. when the Romans took apart the Temple stones to get at the gold in between the stones of the Temple.
Earthquakes, Pandemics, Famines, Cosmic Disturbances
After that Jesus warned there would be wars and rumors of wars, many earthquakes, plagues (pandemics) and famines. There would be "terrors" and signs from heaven (v. 11) - these could be meteorites or disturbances from outer space.
(Image by artist Duncan Long)
He further warned that earth's peoples would be "in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves" (v. 24). Certainly the 2004 Tsunami and the Cyclone which devastated Burma fit into that category. The category 4 and 5 storms we are seeing fit this scenario.
Jesus warns that men will be "fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (v. 26).
We can imagine that disasters of this magnitude will be shocking, horrifying and frightening to everyone. People will scream, "Why…why is this happening?" "Why is this going on?" "Is God trying to tell us something?" "What am I supposed to do to protect my family?"
But, are we - the church - supposed to be frightened and perplexed at these things?
Jesus says "when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (v. 28).
In fact, these are not really "signs" for the believer at all. They are merely "birth pangs," the beginning of the true signs described in Revelation chapters 6 through 18.
Back in verse 9 Jesus cautions us, "When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified, for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately" (NASB).
End of the World?
This is not the end of the world. Not yet. These are merely pre-signs before the major earth extinction-events described in the book of Revelation. In fact, we are to expect major wars, earthquakes, category 5 hurricanes and tornados, tsunamis, killer pandemics, crop failures and worldwide famines - and even things like the disappearance of bees (and lately, bats).
Luke's Early Warning Report
Luke chapter 21 was written partially as a warning to early church Christians to get out of Jerusalem once they saw armies surrounding Jerusalem.
In fact, 38 years after Yeshua aired this report, newly converted Jews saw Roman soldiers surround Jerusalem. They got out of the area fast. According to the historians Josephus and Eusebius, millions were saved because they heeded the warning. Luke 21:20-21 says:
"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city…"
Matthew's Survival Guide
Matthew 24, however, is primarily a survival guide for those living in the end times (now through the Tribulation period).
In the Olivet Discourse Jesus states that there will be wars and rumors of wars. Again he assures us, "See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end." (Matt. 24:6).
He warns there will be terrible "famines and earthquakes." "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs" (v. 8). In other words, these are non-signs building up prior to the Great Tribulation described in Revelation 6-18.
When Jews and Christians see the Antichrist setting himself up as the ultimate authority - a god - on planet earth (as Daniel described in Daniel chapter 7, as John described in Revelation 13:7,&as Paul mentions in 2 Thessalonians 2:4), then the existing remnant of believers must flee Jerusalem into the hills (probably to the Petra ruins in the canyons of Jordan).
It is at this point all hell breaks loose and the cataclysmic destructions will devastate the earth. There may be a worldwide nuclear holocaust, asteroid hits, meteorite showers, and life-threatening extinction events.
The Tribulation Period
Yeshua warns that the sun will be darkened at this time. The moon won't be a light at night. Stars will fall from the sky (probably meteorites&asteroids). The very powers of the heavens will be shaken (Matt. 24:29).
Here the devastations and cataclysms of the Tribulation described in Isaiah 24-27 and Revelation chapters 6-18, are unleashed.
First Signs - the Horses
Note that there is an overlap between the "non-signs" (or birth pangs) mentioned in Luke and Matthew with the signs in Revelation chapter six. Revelation 6 mentions war, hyperinflation and famines, killer pandemics, and great earthquakes as do Matthew and Luke.
A war mentality is symbolized by the White Horse in Revelation 6. Terrible, destructive wars are symbolized by the Red Horse. Famine and horrid hyperinflation is symbolized by the Black Horse. The pale Green Horse symbolizes killer pandemics.
It is possible that we are living somewhere between the birth pangs mentioned by Jesus in the books of Matthew and Luke, and the four horses and Seven Seals judgments of war, hyperinflation, famines, killer pandemics, and great earthquakes of Revelation 6 through 8:6. In fact, some prophecy buffs feel we are actually living in chapter six of Revelation right now.
Cloning Seeds - Resurrection
If your salvation is secure you have nothing to fear - not even death. Just as surely as scientists are learning to clone animals from cell tissue, God will raise you from your own cell "seeds!"
"When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn't grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a dry little seed of wheat or whatever it is you are planting. …And just as there are different kinds of seeds and plants, so also there are different kinds of flesh - whether of humans, animals, birds, or fish."
"It is the same way for the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies, which die and decay, will be different when they are resurrected, for they will never die" (1 Corinthians 15: 36-42, NLT).
Are you ready?
Don't fret and worry yourselves into a stroke or heart attack over approaching earthly extinction-events. "So when all these things begin to happen, stand straight and look up, for your salvation is near!" (Luke 21:28, NLT).
Dillow, Joseph C. 2006 ed. The reign of the servant kings. Hayesville, NC: Schoettle Publishing.
Missler, Chuck. 2005. This Generation? (tape cassettes). Coeur d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House. Available from: www.khouse.org.
—- Luke 21. 2008. (Tape). Coeur d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House.
The author of this question, Jeff Mays, passed away in 2010. He was Valorie's brother and we miss him!