Written in January 2019
בְּאַחֲרִ֥ית הַיָּמִ֖ים תִּתְבּ֥וֹנְנוּ בָֽהּ
In the latter days you will understand it.
‘And in those times there was no peace to the one who went out, nor to the one who came in, but great turmoil was on all the inhabitants of the lands. (I)So nation was [b]destroyed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every adversity.’ 2 Chronicles 15.5-6.
This passage from the Bible describing the situation about 2900 years ago sounds like situation we are seeing in the world today. We see a whole number of crises are hitting the world.
- Global debt has reached $250 trillion with economists warnings of a potential crisis greater than 2008, which could bring down the world economic system.
- Environmentalists are warning that we have only a short time to save the world, but we are not doing nearly enough to do so, as natural disasters increase, threatening the end of civilisation.
- War, bad government, poverty and drug fuelled crime gangs have brought some nations to the brink of total collapse, sending millions of refugees in search of a safer home in richer nations, but destabilising them in the process.
- Growing conflict between Russia and the West. Breakdown of arms limitation treaties and weapons of mass destruction created. Threats of new forms of warfare involving cyber attacks on a nation’s infrastructure, able to bring down its electric grid or water supplies.
- The Middle East is racked with conflicts, with a variety of causes – Islamist terrorism and fundamentalism, tribal conflicts, corrupt governments and the 1400 year old split between Sunni and Shiite Islam. Christians driven out of lands they have lived in for centuries. Israel threatened with destruction by Iran and its allies.
- In Europe and North America the widespread abandonment of Christianity is leading to a spiritual void and confusion. A breakdown of family life and moral values in society, leading to growing disfunction of society at all levels. Violence, drug and alcohol abuse, minority groups, especially the LGBT lobby imposing their views and lifestyle on society. More and more people are suffering from physical and mental health issues and social services are unable to cope.
You can hear about this all the time in the news, but there is one piece of information, which the media never reveals. All these things line up with the prophecies of the Bible for the last days of this age. Here are some examples:
- There will be an increase in wars, famines, plagues and earthquakes. Luke 21.10-11.
- The earth will be full of violence ‘as in the days of Noah’ and many people will be afraid of what is going to happen. Luke 17.26-27, Luke 21.25-6, Genesis 6.11. Lawlessness will abound. Matthew 24.12, 2 Thessalonians 2.1-12.
- There will be sexual immorality ‘as in the days of Lot’ (Sodom and Gomorrah). Genesis 19, Luke 17.28-9, Matthew 24.12, Romans 1.24-27, 2 Timothy 3.1-9.
- There will be widespread pollution of the earth and destruction of the environment. Isaiah 24, Revelation 8.6-11.
- There will be a restoration of the Jewish people to Israel. There will be a conflict over Jerusalem which will involve all nations of the world. Ezekiel 36-9, Zechariah 12-14, Luke 21.20-24, Revelation 16.16.
- There will be a globalisation process out of which an antichrist government will emerge. Revelation 13.
- There will be an increase in technology and travel. Daniel 12.4.
- There will be false prophets who will lead people astray and cause confusion about God and salvation. Matthew 24.5, 24.23-27, Revelation 17.1-6.
- There will be an attack on the basic truths of the Bible and persecution of Christians. Matthew 24.9-11, 2 Timothy 4.2-5, 2 Peter 3.1-9.
- The message of the Gospel will reach all nations despite opposition and persecution. Matthew 24.9-14, Matthew 28.18-20.
Where is leading?
Out of all this the Bible prophesies that there will be a time of the Great Tribulation, a unique period of trouble on earth, unlike any that has been before or ever shall be again. Jesus said, ‘For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.’ Matthew 24.21-22. If God did not cut short this time it would bring an end to life on earth.
In a parallel passage in Luke 21.25-28 Jesus said ‘There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.’
The word used in the Greek text for the ‘distress of nations with perplexity’ is ‘aporia’ which means ‘no way out’, in other words a crisis with no solution. So when you see such a crisis coming on the nations of the earth, be ready to meet Jesus because He is coming soon.
Scriptures in Daniel and Revelation indicate that the Great Tribulation period will be seven years long, with a dividing point at the middle of the tribulation period (3 ½ years). The book of Revelation chapters 6 to 19 gives details on this period. During this time the following will happen:
- The four horsemen of the Apocalypse will ride out bringing false peace, war, famine and death. Revelation 6.
- A great multitude of people, Jews and Gentiles, will turn to Jesus Christ as Saviour. Revelation 7.
- A series of disasters / judgements will fall on the earth bringing great destruction and large scale death. Revelation 6, 8-9, 15-16.
- One known as the Beast or the Antichrist will come to power. He will be given power by the devil and will bring in a dictatorial world government in which you cannot buy or sell without ‘the Mark of the Beast.’ Revelation 13
- There will be a final world war (Armageddon), centring on Israel. Revelation 16, 19 (see also many prophecies in the Old Testament, especially Zechariah 12-14).
- At this time Jesus will return. He will come this time with all divine power at His disposal as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will bring an end to war, overcome evil and judge the world in righteousness. Revelation 19.
- He will set up His Messianic Kingdom for 1000 years on earth reigning from Jerusalem bringing peace and justice to the world. During this time Satan will be bound and unable to deceive the nations. Revelation 20, also Isaiah 2, Ezekiel 40-48, Zechariah 14 and other passages in the Old Testament.
- After the 1000 years are over, Satan will be released for a brief while, set off his final rebellion against the Lord after which he will be thrown into hell, along with all who are on his side. The present earth and heavens (universe) will be burned up and God will create a new heaven and new earth in which the redeemed will live forever. Revelation 20-21.
The hope for the believer.
Before He touches down on the earth for the Second Coming the Lord Jesus will take all who believe in Him out of the world into His presence in the event known as the Rapture of the Church. Paul describes this event in 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18:
‘For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.’
Jesus said this event will happen at any time, unexpectedly: ‘But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only … Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’ Matthew 24.36-44.
The emphasis on the unexpectedness of this event and need to be ready for it to happen at any time leads many to believe that it will happen before the Great Tribulation begins. This means that those who have a saving faith in the Lord Jesus now will be snatched away by the Lord and taken to safety. Those taken will then return with the glorified Lord Jesus at His Second Coming to earth, in glorified bodies to reign with Him during His Millennial kingdom. If you want to know my reasons for coming to this conclusion, get my DVD set ‘The Rapture, the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Reign of the Messiah’, also the CD of my talk on Matthew 24 on the timing of Messiah’s coming.
Paul described this coming event as the ‘blessed hope’ of the church and tells us how we should live in the light of this coming event: ‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.’ Titus 2.11-14.