Peg, great question. The Bible explains that in the end days we can expect that a lot of changes will take place within the world and the peoples of the world. You have touched on an undercurrent of fear which runs through every element of our society today. Currently we are seeing a lot of things that cause great fear and uncertainty in people’s lives. In these times of extreme weather changes, massive earthquakes, threats of pandemic outbreaks, and the expectation of terrorists attacks, how does a Christian overcome fear or for that matter one who has not yet accepted the Lord Jesus Christ?
Let me begin with a portion of Scripture that can help as we examine the end times and the uncertainty that the study can create if we are not careful. The believer is to remain strong in their faith, no matter what.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
Scripture reminds us that God is greater than any other being in the universe or any combination of forces. His children are always under His protection and care.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, ad though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” (Psalm 46:1-2)
“In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge to us.: (Psalm 62:7-8)
“I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” (Psalm 91:2)
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1; cf. Psalm 23)
Now I would like to turn to a couple of important passages which give us some insight into the end times.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him for to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, “See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world?” And Jesus answered and said unto them, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and the kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:1-14, KJV)
An outline can always help as we look at a text:
I. Events that led to the great prophesies.
a. Disciples admired the temple’s magnificence and showed it to Jesus.
b. Jesus used the occasion to arouse interest in prophecy; predicted the temple’s destruction.
c. The disciples were aroused and asked two questions.
1) When would the temple be destroyed.
2) What signs would precede Christ’s return and the world’s end.
Sign 1: False messiahs
Sign 2: World violence
Sign 3: Natural disasters (Note: These signs are the beginning of sorrows.)
Sign 4: Severe religious persecutions
Sign 5: Terrible apostasy – betrayal and division
Sign 6: The rising of many false leaders
Sign 7: A great falling away – sin increasing, and love growing cold
Sign 8: Some enduring and being saved
Sign 9: World evangelism
Now as you look at the various signs given by Jesus do you perceive those occurring at this time?
Notice Christ is asked two questions by the disciples: When shall the temple be destroyed, and what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world? Christ answers by giving nine signs (vv. 5-14). When He gives the ninth sign, world evangelism, He says, “and then shall the end come.” (v. 14)
The Lord’s words apply both to the disciples of His day and to all disciples who were to follow in succeeding generations. As long as the earth stands, the disciples of the “last days” or ages will face many of the same signs faced by those who experienced the destruction of Jerusalem.
But there is one difference. At the end of the world the signs will INCREASE AND INTENSIFY. So a terrible day is coming that it can be called, “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8) and “the great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21).
A quick overview of Matthew 24 and 25 may help.
- Christ is answering two or three very specific questions. When will the temple be destroyed? And what shall be the sign of Christ’s return and of the end of the world?
- The signs given by Christ are to some extent present in every age.
- There is to be an intensification of the signs right before the fall of Jerusalem and right before the end of the world.
II. THE CONDITION OF THE CURRENT WORLD
OK, now let’s look at another passage that may help and see if in fact these things have actually intensified as time has moved forward.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Now let’s consider what our response should be if we are actually living in the end of the age.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Yes, most would conclude that circumstances is the world have continued to grow worse and worse. It would also seem that the circumstances described by Christ and the Apostle Paul for the end times would indicate that we are indeed living in the end times and that the Rapture could take place at any moment.
However, the Christian must remember that God is in control and we need not fear because He will not allow His children to go through the Tribulation Period.
The Rapture (I Thessalonians 4:13-18) will happen before the Tribulation “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 5:9)
“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 3:10)
“Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.” (2 Peter 2:9)
Rev. Tom Shelton