…And ye shall hear of wars and rumours 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 kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Matthew 24: 6-8.
But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. Luke 21: 9-11
Before I begin the meat of this article, please just take a look at some recent headlines from around the world.
Wars and rumors of war
The following video was created before Barack Obama became President, but is even more relevant today.
Did you notice that in Luke 21:9 that is says the end will not come immediately? So much for the world ending on October 21. However, all of these events are strong warning signs that we are entering into a time like no other on the face of the earth. Jesus gave these signs as indicators to help us know when his return is near and what must take place beforehand. Unless you are weighed down by the cares of this life, too busy pursuing worldly interests, or have been deceived, it is really difficult to miss these signs in our media-driven world. Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 12:4) of knowledge increasing in the end times has been fulfilled. We live in an age of instant communication tools like Twitter and knowledge can be found with the push of a button at our fingertips.
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana
Sadly, the world and many who claim to belong to Jesus are missing the signs of his coming just like many of his people missed his first appearance.
One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority. He replied, “You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow; red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times! Matthew 16:1-3
Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Luke 21: 29-31
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36
Are you paying close attention to the signs or have you buried your head in the sand? The typical American life is one of extreme vanity. People are lovers of pleasure and of themselves. The love of many has completely gone cold. People are more concerned about who the next American Idol is or getting their fix of Starbuck’s coffee than pursuing truth, mercy and justice. People are consumed with drunkenness and partying to dull the pain of their boring, oppressed lives when God calls us to be sober-minded and watchful. Immorality has gained mainstream societal acceptance like never before. However, God is merciful and does not take any pleasure in the death of the wicked. But there comes a time when men’s sins will be judged in this life.
Jesus compared the time leading up to his return to the times of Noah and Lot. Let’s examine the condition of the world in those times and see how they compare with the days we live in.
And [just] as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the time of the Son of Man. [People] ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, right up to the day when Noah went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. So also [it was the same] as it was in the days of Lot. [People] ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; But on the [very] day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed [them] all. That is the way it will be on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day let him who is on the housetop, with his belongings in the house, not come down [and go inside] to carry them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve and quicken it. Luke 17:36-33 (Amplified)
The earth was depraved and putrid in God’s sight, and the land was filled with violence (desecration, infringement, outrage, assault, and lust for power). And God looked upon the world and saw how degenerate, debased, and vicious it was, for all humanity had corrupted their way upon the earth and lost their true direction. Genesis 6:11-12 (Amplified)
Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit. Ezekiel 16:49-50 (NKJV)
And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment. And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment. Jude 1:6-7 (NLT)
Are you getting the picture? When God destroyed the earth with a flood in Noah’s day he described the world as degenerate, debased, vicious and corrupt. He peered into the depths of man’s heart and saw that it contained depravity, violence, lust for power, desecration and that men had completely lost their true direction! At the same time there was a sense of normalcy among the people as they went about their daily routines in buying and selling, marrying, and eating and drinking. God used Noah to testify against the world and warn them of the impending judgment. His message fell on deaf ears as only he and his family were rescued among the people of the earth.
Sodom and Gomorrah were only two of the four towns destroyed by fire. The other places were Admah and Zeboim. There was one city that was spared called Zoar, the place where Lot escaped to from his residence in Sodom. The books of Ezekiel and Jude describes the sins of these cities as follows: immorality and sexual perversion of all kinds, pride, idleness (vain, lacking worth or basis, not occupied or employed), abominations and abuse of the poor and needy. Does this sound familiar at all?
Notice that before God sent judgment in Noah and Lot’s days, he sent warning first! Noah began building the ark to prepare for the coming judgment. God first warned Abraham he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy the righteous people living there with the wicked, but God could not even find ten people who worshiped him in all the land. However, Lot, his wife and two daughters found favor with God and were warned by angels (messengers) to flee the city. Even with being warned by angels, Lot was still hesitant. Sadly, many today are just as resistant as Lot to believe the warnings sent to save their lives.
With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” Genesis 19:15-17
Despite Lot’s reluctance, God’s messengers personally took Lot and his family out of the city to safety. The depths of God’s mercy is truly unsearchable. But, if you think that God is going to supernaturally move you to safety when you have ignored all previous warnings you are sadly mistaken. The time to act is now! If you do not act on God’s warnings you will be swept away in the current of judgment just as the angels warned Lot and his family!
…All these are the beginning of sorrows (birth pains) Matthew 24:8
Are we not hearing about wars and new rumors of war every day? Are we not hearing about the horrible state of the economy with poverty, joblessness and homelessness increasing daily? Are we not hearing about the multitude of violent acts of crime taking place in our cities and towns? Are we not paying attention to the tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and other weather related incidents leaving thousands of people homeless and destitute? And I’m just talking about America.
The skeptic will say, “But we’ve been hearing about these things for a long time and things will eventually get better.” Because the natural human mind cannot conceive of things actually getting worse and remaining that way, we tend to ignore what is staring us right in the face. People mock and scorn those who do not predict good news for the future.
Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” II Peter 3:3-4 (NLT)
Those who fall into this trap will be caught in the snare and not be able to escape.
Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. Isaiah 13: 7-9
“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape … Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6
The difference between any previous era and the one we are living in today is the increased frequency and knowledge of the signs Jesus warned of. He compared these times to a woman in labor. When her contractions begin, they are infrequent and cause minor pain and discomfort. As the time for the baby’s birth draws nearer, the contractions occur more frequently and become more painful. Finally, there comes the time for delivery.
According to the British charity Oxfam, the number of natural disasters around the world has increased by more than four times in the past 20 years. Doesn’t this indicate the birth pains have accelerated?
Please ask God to open your eyes that you may see that the signs Jesus gave to us are increasing and the hour is truly late. The world is about to birth the baby of God’s judgment and your life is hanging in the balance.