So, What About the End of the World- Part Two
What are some of the signs that might indicate that the return of Christ is near? The first place that anyone should start is with the words of Jesus Himself. He had much to say about His return and the reader would do well to study these passages closely. The first set of signs that Jesus gives is in Matthew 24: 4-8: "Jesus told them, "Don't let anyone mislead you. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Messiah.' They will lead many astray. And wars will break out near and far, but don't panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won't follow immediately. The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come."
The first thing that this passage mentions is false messiahs. There have been false messiahs since the time of Christ but Jesus gives this as a sign or His return. Perhaps He is indicating that there will be an increase in this activity before His return. Jesus also mentions an outbreak of wars. There have definitely been wars on a stage that the ancients could not even imagine in the last hundred years. Today, the norm seems to be for more regional conflicts than world wars, but Jesus clearly indicates that wars will precede His return. The last things that He mentions in this passage are "famines and earthquakes." Famines have always been around but maybe not on the scale that we see today. Earthquakes have become more frequent, although the number of large earthquakes has remained fairly consistent.
The next sign that Jesus mentions is the persecution of His followers. "Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other." (Matthew 24:9-10) For those of us who live in America, Canada, Europe, or Australia, the idea of martyrdom seems very remote. One report, however, indicates that 105,000 Christians are killed every year simply because they are Christians. Most of these Christians lived in the Muslim world. That number for one year is about the same number that the Romans killed between 30 and 313 CE. The Voice of the Martyrs organization estimates that at the current rate, by 2025, there will be 210,000 Christians dying for their faith every year. This seems to be a very significant sign of Jesus' return. The number of Christian martyrs every year could very well be indicative that Christ's return is near.
One last sign that Jesus spoke of to indicate His return was near had to do with the proclamation of the Christian message to the world. "And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come." (Matthew 24:14) For the first time in history, this would appear to be actually possible now. With the ease of travel and the leaps in technology, it is now possible to beam the Gospel message into countries that are closed, such as North Korea, for example. Computer technology has made it possible to translate the Scriptures into even the most obscure languages. Wycliffe Bible Translators is one group working towards that goal. There are 6800 languages in the world today. There are still around 2000 that do not have any of the Bible in their language.
Of all the signs that Jesus gave about His return, this one seems to carry the most weight. The job that Jesus left for His followers was to take His message to the world. More than any other time in history, this seems to be within the Church's grasp. Yes, there are still many that have not heard, but a focused concentration of money, human resources, technology, and sweat could result in the final big missionary thrust that would fulfill the Great Commission. According to Jesus, it is that which will usher in His return.
Do you think we are living in the Last Days? Why or why not?
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