The End Times Series #2: Signs of the Season
By Rod Nichols (Rod@RodNichols.com)
I invested the entire first installment of this series proving the accuracy of Bible prophecy so that you would be prepared for what the Bible says about the future. Many clergy and theologians believe that we are nearing the end of the Church Age and quickly approaching the Rapture of the church and the Great Tribulation. I will address these areas in upcoming installments, but first it is important for you to understand why so many people believe we are nearing the end.
In Matthew 24 we see Jesus sitting on the Mount of Olives, speaking with his disciples. They began to ask him about his return and the end of the age. Jesus answered in verses 4-14: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Jesus continued his explanation in verses 30-36: “30At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. 32Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 36No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Jesus was telling them (and all believers) that we cannot know the day or hour of his return, but we can recognize the season by its signs. In the balance of this installment, you will learn more about the signs of which Jesus spoke. My intention is to help you see that we are truly in that season and need to be ready for the Lord’s return.
Here are the signs of the season:
1. Nation will rise against nation. (Matt. 24:6-7
The American Red Cross estimates that more than 100 million people have been killed in wars since the beginning of the 20th Century.
The National Defense Council Foundation listed 65 major conflicts in 1999, up from 60 in 1998 and 47 in 1989. This means that the 20th Century ended with a third of the world’s 193 nations involved in conflicts with each other.
Most recently we have seen the U.S. become involved in conflicts in several countries. Nations are truly rising up against nations.
2. Famines (verse 7)
The World Health Organization estimates that one third of the world is well fed, one third is underfed, and the remaining third is starving.
While natural disasters and weather cause some famines, most have and will continue to be caused by man’s inhumanity to man – wars, embargos, government corruption, and economic oppression.
Here is a list of recent famines:
November, 2002 – 30 million Africans face famine.
October, 2002 – 6.7 million in Zimbabwe face major famine.
March, 2001 – 3 million in the Sudan face famine.
November, 1999 – Millions of children in India dead and dying due to famine.
November, 1998 – Religion Today reports that 1 in 8 U.S. families face famine.
India faces huge famine due to religious error. The streets of many cities in India are filled with cattle, but they will not kill and eat, because they believe that these cattle could be reincarnated friends or family members.
3. Pestilence (verse 7)
50 years ago, after the advent of antibiotics, scientists predicted the end of death and suffering from infectious diseases. However, during the past 25 years we have witnessed the re-emergence and geographic spread of well known diseases, such as Tuberculosis, Malaria, Cholera, polio, and small pox – diseases thought to have been conquered many years ago.
Scientists have also identified more than thirty previously unknown diseases such as HIV and Ebola, for which there are no known cures.
Diseases such as Avian Bird Flu and Mad Cow Disease are beginning to infect humans.
Reports say Aids will kill 20% to 30% of the entire population of Africa, leaving 8.2 million orphaned children.
Physicians report that there are now more than 100 kinds of cancer, which kill more than 5 million people every year. Depletion of the earth’s ozone layer has been attributed to a dramatic increase in melanoma, a deadly skin cancer.
Reports say that even common bacteria, such as pneumonia, ear infections, and the flu are evolving into forms untreatable by all known medicine.
Finally, military intelligence indicates that many countries are prepared for biowarfare. There have already been several Anthrax scares her in the U.S. and many believe that Saddam Hussein used germ warfare in the first gulf war – resulting in agent orange cases.
4. Earthquakes (verse 7)
According to the World Almanac, from the years 1000 to 1800 there were 21 major earthquakes (average of .026 quakes per year); from 1800 to 1900 there were 18 quakes (average of .18 quakes per year); from 1900 to 1950 there were 33 major quakes (average of .66 quakes per year); from 1950 to 1999 there were 93 major quakes (average of 1.9 quakes per year). This only accounts for major earthquakes measuring 6.5 or better.
5. Persecution (verse 9)
Persecution may include massacre, rape, torture, mutilation, family division, harassment, imprisonment, slavery, employment and education discrimination.
In the last 100 years there has been a dramatic increase in persecution of Christians throughout the world. In his book “Their Blood Cries Out,” author Peter Marshall indicates that 200 million Christians are under heavy persecution, with another 400 million suffering discrimination and legal impediments.
Australia and Canada have passed laws that prohibit one religion from speaking out against another. Several pastors in Australia have been jailed for teaching the truths about the Islamic religion.
Even here in the United States, known throughout the world as a Christian nation, we see constant persecution of Christians. Our country was founded by God fearing Christians who believed in prayer and the Bible. Yet, today our government is doing everything it can to separate God from government. They have used the First Amendment, which was meant to protect churches from being controlled by the government, to take God out of our schools and government buildings. Sadly, Christians have become second class citizens in the U.S.
6. Offense and Betrayal (verse 11)
In a nation that once believed in marriage, today more people live together than are marriage and divorce is rising dramatically. Even among church-goers the divorce rate is over 50%.
Television and movies portray sex outside of marriage and affairs as part of every day life.
Schools pass out condoms so that children can have “protected sex” instead of teaching the reasons for abstinence.
Teen pregnancy has risen dramatically, as has abortions. Since the Roe vs. Wade ruling in 1973, an estimated 40 million babies have been killed.
Teen anger-related crime has also risen dramatically in the last decade. Teens shooting other teens or their parents has sadly become normal news.
Stories of spouses killing spouses and parents killing their children fill our newspapers.
Even churches are affected by offense and betrayal. Many a church split has been caused by something as stupid as the color of the carpet.
7. False Prophets (verse 11)
Jim Jones, an ordained minister in a mainline Christian denomination who held degrees from Indiana University and Butler University led 914 of his disciples (638 adults and 276 children) to commit mass suicide, so they could inhabit another planet and live eternity in bliss.
Heavens Gates, a religious cult formed by Marshall Herff Applewhite, resulted in 41 suicides so that they could go and meet the alien who had once walked the earth as Jesus in his space ship and live with he and the “heavenly father” for eternity.
The Branch Davidians, a splinter group of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, forced a gun battle with the FBI that lasted 51 days. Reports for previous members indicated that the group was involved in strange sexual activities, including child molestation. 75 of the members died in the siege.
Even mainline religions are open to false prophets, as a segment of the Catholic Church is lobbying Rome to elevate Mary (mother of Jesus) to “co-redeemer” with Jesus. Many Catholics already worship Mary by praying to her. Mormons (Church of Latter Day Saints) are taught that they will become gods on their own planet. Some mainline denominations are now allowing homosexual clergy and speaking for same sex marriage.
The New Age movement, Wicca, and satanic cults are on a dramatic rise, as people seek spirituality outside the church.
8. Sin abounds (verse 12)
As mentioned earlier, abortion has claimed at least 40 million lives since 1973.
Homosexuality and same sex marriage has become mainstream.
In the U.S. we have removed God from the schools, office and government buildings.
Crime is on a rapid upward trend. The United States Crime Index Rates show that per 100,000 people 1,887.2 committed a known crime in 1960. This rose to 5,897.8 in 1996, an over 300% increase!
Government reports indicate that crime in the United States accounts for more death, injuries and property loss than all natural disasters combined.
Since the introduction of the World Wide Web the area with the greatest increase in web sites has been pornography.
Movie ratings have become more permissive. A movie that would have been rated “R” back in the 70’s is now a PG13. Many of the movies that are rated “R” today would have been X-rated back then.
Television has become more permissive as well – graphic violence, partial nudity, sex, and foul language have become common in prime time television programs.
9. The gospel will be preached in all the nations (verse 14)
The word “nations” really should be translated as ethnos or language speaking people. So this verse is saying that the gospel will be preached to all language speaking people.
Reports indicate that at this time 98% of ethnos have a Bible in their language.
There are 102 different organizations working on reaching the other 2%. 50 million Bibles are distributed each year.
Most of this work has been done in the last 100 years due to improvements in technology – airplanes, satellite television and radio, video tapes and CD’s, and the Internet.
10. Transportation will increase (Daniel 12:4)
In 1789 it took George Washington 8 days to travel 200 miles to his inauguration in New York City. Today it would take a little over 3 hours by car.
Today a person can reach most any place in the world in under 20 hours by jet airplane.
Airplanes, helicopters, 4-wheel drive vehicles are enabling missionaries to reach into areas that were unreachable 100 years ago.
11. Knowledge will increase (Daniel 12:4)
It is estimated that the accumulated knowledge of mankind since his first appearance on earth up to 1750 doubled by the year 1900. It doubled again in 1950, again in 1960, and again in 1968. Currently knowledge doubles every 2-1/2 years.
There are an estimated 500,000 new books published each year in the U.S. alone.
The price of an office computer has dropped from $20,000 in 1977 to under $500 today. Today’s home computers are more powerful than the super mainframes of the 50’s. An entire encyclopedia series can be stored on a CD Rom.
In the year 2000 as study by Inktomi and NEC Research revealed that there were over two billion websites on the internet.
In the 70’s foreign language and higher mathematics were taught in 9th through 12th grade. Today students in Pre-school and Kindergarten are being taught foreign languages and 5th and 6th graders are learning algebra.
12. Violence will increase (Matthew 24:37)
According to FBI Uniform Crime Reports, there were 288,460 violent crimes in 1960 and in 2000 there were 1,424,289. That’s a nearly 500% increase in just 40 years!
Terrorist activity has increased dramatically as evidenced by the 9/11 attack.
The U.S. prison population has grown 3.5% per year since 1995, with the largest increase being women. The 2003 prison population totaled 2,085,620.
Behavioral scientists state that by the time the average American child is 15 years old, he/she will have witnessed the violent death of 35,000 humans on television, as well as another 200,000 other brutal acts of violence.
In an annual report on video games, the National Institute on Media and the Family finds children are exposed to ever more bizarre and violent game-playing. Many of these games move players to higher levels when they commit gruesome crimes. The study suggests a connection between game-playing, a mostly sedentary activity, and obesity, citing current statistics showing physical activity among children decreased 13 percent since 1990, while screen time has increased 33 percent. Other studies have also shown a correlation between violent video games and violent activity.
A depressing picture isn’t it? God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for less. Fortunately, Jesus died for all sin and it is covered by His blood. Unfortunately, those who haven’t accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior are just storing up wrath for the day of God’s wrath (Romans 2:5) and most of them don’t even know it. Why? Because no one has told them what is going to happen.
Jesus said that we could not know the day or hour of His return, but we could know the season. He said to look at the fig tree and it is clear from the evidence presented in this paper that there are a lot of figs and they are very ripe. The time of His return is near – get ready – be looking for Him – tell your friends and family to get ready – the end is near.
Rod Nichols is an Associate Pastor at Truth and Grace Foursquare Church in Tacoma, WA. He is also a published author and accomplished public speaker and teacher. Rod’s latest articles and books can be found at www.RodNichols.com. Rod is married with five children. He and his wife Karen live in beautiful Washington State. Rod is available as a freelance writer. If you'd like to hire him, e-mail Rod@RodNichols.com.
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