e world The Apocalypse (end of times) speaks powerfully of trouble ahead with storm warnings that carry a booming jolt of truth. The warning is clear: prepare to meet thy God…” ~ Billy Graham ~
I had a dream recently. The world was at peace. No wars. No division. Everyone had learned to love and respect one another. It was euphoric. But when I awoke and switched on the morning news… So much for that delusion.
Have you ever heard of the Institute for Economics and Peace? The IEP describes itself as “an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.”
A “a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being?” Really? So how’s the world doing?
According to a recent annual study released by the IEP, out of roughly 162 countries that they track, less than a dozen were not involved in some form of open conflict. And, many of those “less conflicted” nations face problems that could lead to struggles at some future time according to the IEP report.
With increasing terrorist activity around the world, the perennial conflicts in the Gaza, Syria, Iran and Iraq, civil combativeness in the Ukraine, the continual violence in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sometimes it can appear like the whole world is one homogeneous combat zone.
In reality, if you dream of a land flowing with milk and honey, where peace, harmony and goodwill toward men can be found, your chances of finding such a Shangri-La here on spaceship earth are slim to none. Sorry John Lennon, people don’t seem to have a burning desire to give peace a chance.
Now add to all of this conflict the ever increasing threat of worsening global economic instabilities, toss in a few natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and…, well, is it any wonder that many believe things are only going to get worse from here? Like it or not, humanity will never achieve the utopian vision of a worldwide peace.
We are not at peace with others, because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves, because we are not at peace with God.” ~ Thomas Merton
It’s not like mankind has not been warned of this inexorable dilemma in advance. A man known simply as Jesus of Nazareth spoke to a large gathering of people assembled on a hillside in ancient Israel nearly 2000 years ago:
3-14 “And as he was sitting on the slope of the Mount of Olives his disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will this happen? What will be the signal for your coming and the end of this world?” Be careful that no one misleads you,” said Jesus, “for many men will come in my name saying ‘I am Christ’, and they will mislead many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars but don’t be alarmed. Such things must indeed happen, but that is not the end. For one nation will rise in arms against another, and one kingdom against another, and there will be famines and earthquakes in different parts of the world. But all that is only the beginning of the birth-pangs. For then comes the time when men will hand you over to persecution, and kill you. And all nations will hate you because you bear my name. Then comes the time when many will lose their faith, and will betray and hate each other. Oh yes, and many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many people. Because of the spread of wickedness the love of most men will grow cold, though the man who holds out to the end will be saved. This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed to men all over the world as a witness to all the nations, and then end will come.” (Matthew 24:3-14 – Phillips)
I have always been intrigued by the way that Jesus did not answer the questions of “when” specific events that he spoke of would occur. He seems to leave that purposely uncertain. Instead, He shifts the focus from the speculative to the practical, warning them to watch out for false teachers. Jesus said that they were to be continually on the lookout because many false liberators will come in my name claiming to be the savior of humanity; they will misinform a lot of people.
Next he spoke of persistent conflicts. Mankind has continued to engage in warfare since the day when Jesus first delivered this Olivet discourse. The regularity of global hostilities should not unduly alarm us because warfare alone is not indicative of the end of the world. Jesus wanted his followers to understand that a proliferation of false liberators, conflict in many forms, global famines and earthquakes, are simply the “beginning of the birth pangs” (also called the beginning of sorrows in Matthew 24:8).
Jesus used the term birth pangs to personify an unspecified period of time when global distresses and sufferings increase exponentially. Think of a woman who is in labor and about to give birth to her child. She will have a painful contraction which will then diminish. But soon another contraction begins, followed by many more which increase in both frequency and intensity. This can continue for a long time. The process doesn’t end until the baby is born. Jesus employed this analogy to describe end time events in the years, months and weeks leading up to His second visit to planet Earth.
Jesus went on to warn of the coming war on Christianity, culminating in a worldwide hatred of anyone who says “I am a Christian”. He said that this will cause numerous believers to misplace their faith and even betray and hate each other (the great apostasy). The vacuum created by the loss of the Judeo-Christian influence in society will accelerate the rise of false prophets who will continue to spread their strong delusional “new age” message. Thus, wickedness will proliferate and the love of countless men and women will grow emotionless and unsympathetic.
I know what you’re thinking, “Thanks for all the encouragement here, brother.” What can I say? It’s all the truth. But, Jesus did offer a word of comfort. He said that every believer who hold on to their faith until the very end will be saved! So, you hang in there baby!
In the end, everything will be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end.” ~ Fernando Sabino
There are many references in the Bible which point to the eventual demise of mankind to be followed by various judgements and finally a genuine “New World Order.” Here are just two which describe life on spaceship earth just before the end:
26-36“In the time of the coming of the Son of Man, life will be as it was in the days of Noah. People ate and drank, married and were given in marriage, right up to the day when Noah entered the ark and then came the flood and destroyed them all. It will be just the same as it was in the days of Lot. People ate and drank, bought and sold, planted and built, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. That is how it will be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” (Luke 17: 26-30 – NLT)
2” For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. 3 When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 – Phillips)
As sure as the sun rise appears in the eastern sky, the end of this age (the world as we now know it) will eventually come. If you happen to be one of my agnostic, apathetic, apostate or otherwise dazed and confused readers who are having a hard time grasping all of this; just keep observing the daily newscasts. Why? Because every headline is a warning from God – the end of time is drawing near. If, on the other hand, you are a genuine follower of the Liberator Jesus, then your mission remains the same;
15And then Jesus told them, “You are to go into the entire world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. 16 Those that believe you and are baptized will be saved. But those who refuse to believe what you tell them will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)
Why is this mandate to share the message of forgiveness and liberation even more critical today? Because it appears that we may indeed be witnessing the prelude to the end of the age of man.
The Liberator Jesus stepped out from eternity into what we call time to rescue a lost people stranded on a doomed planet. He told of how the creator of all things (God) offers to transform our renegade existence into one of freedom, peace and joy. Eventually he left the earth. But His spirit remains here with us to this day. And when all is said and done, he’ll be back to give us a free ride to a new home.
I am not a Christian because God changed my life; I am a Christian because of my convictions about who Jesus Christ really is.” ~ Josh McDowell
By the way, anticipating the end of the world is not all that dreadful if you are a follower of the Liberator Jesus. Humanity lacks the true knowledge of how to bring peace to the world. That is why the Creator Himself will return to this doomed planet. He will establish himself as the supreme leader of mankind, and act swiftly to put down all rebellion against His rule. The return of the Liberator is when this world will finally know genuine, everlasting PEACE! Until then, believers can enjoy the inner peace that God has put into our human spirit by our faith.
If you do not believe this, a final word of warning – not from me – from the Spirit of the Almighty who made us:
12 “What sorrow awaits you who build cities with money gained through murder and corruption! 13 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has promised that the wealth of the nations will turn to ashes. You work so hard, but it is all in vain! 14 For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord.” (Habakkuk 2:12-14)
On the other hand, if you are a disciple of the Liberator Jesus, never lose sight of what He said that day on the Mount of Olives,
14 “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nation will hear it; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14 – NLT)
Got it? Great! Now get busy… go holler the good news – from the mountains… to the prairies… to the oceans white with foam, and to the uttermost parts of spaceship earth!
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656