Today the people of the world are finding themselves in a time of tremendous frustration and confusion. Everywhere people are beginning to show the effects of strain, worry and fear. Many are now wondering how much more they can endure or how much longer they can carry on before reaching the breaking point. Some people have become cynics and skeptics; others have become mentally unbalanced. Some are trying to escape the realities of our world through alcohol or drugs.
Jesus had a great deal to say about the end of the age. The Scripture says: “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows’” (Matthew 24:3-8).
Certainly we’re seeing false messiahs arise in many parts of the world. The news is filled with the stories of wars and rumors of wars. Anyone who follows the news knows that society is in serious trouble. Everyone is hoping for a better tomorrow. We grasp at any thread of hope. We grasp at straws, hoping that our worst fears will not be realized. Yet Jesus predicted that what we are seeing is only a foretaste of that future day which is called, in Scripture, the Great Tribulation.
The daily happenings of our world and the prophecies of the Bible are beginning to coincide. We’ve been told in Scripture to study and learn the signs of the times. If only the world had studied the signs of the Old Testament, it would have known that Jesus was coming the first time. But ignorance and blindness concerning the teaching of the Scriptures led them to fail to recognize that hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the Old Testament revealed these things.
The Scripture said that He would be born of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). He would be called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1). He would be a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18). His own people would reject Him (Isaiah 53:3). He would be betrayed and sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12). He would be put to death by crucifixion (Psalm 22). The soldiers would cast lots for His clothing (Psalm 22:18). He would be raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10). He would ascend into Heaven (Psalm 68:18). And on and on. Almost every detail that happened to the Lord Jesus Christ was predicted hundreds of years earlier by prophets inspired by the Spirit of God.
Jesus told His disciples that there would be signs for when He would come again. When He warned them on two occasions to beware of setting dates. He said, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36). He also said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7). To speculate about a date would be absolutely foolish, unbiblical and against the teachings of our Lord. But we were told to watch for the signs (Matthew 25:13).
Jesus assured the disciples that there were signs throughout the Scriptures, as well as in His own words, that would make it clear to those who have eyes to see that the time is near. He said “When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28). That is the hope that is in the heart of every believer—that our redemption is drawing nigh. Certainly we are 2,000 years nearer the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ than we were when He made those predictions.
Jesus said there would be a future generation with certain characteristics to indicate that the end is relatively near. In other words, there is an “X” generation at some point in the history of the human race where all the signs will occur at the same time. Many evangelical Bible scholars feel that these signs are converging for the first time since Christ ascended into Heaven.
Jesus said two things would characterize the mental state of the world before He returns.
First, He said that upon the earth will be distress of nations, with perplexity (see Luke 21:25). To be distressed is to be oppressed or under pressure. Perplexity means bewilderment. In other words, He said the generation before His return would be under severe pressure from every point of view and there would be no apparent way out.
I have a number of friends who are doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Most of them tell me that they’ve never seen people so depressed, confused and mixed up as they are today.
Second, He said, “And then many will be offended [and] will betray one another” (Matthew 24:10). There has never been a time when people were so on edge, so easily hurt and offended. Homes by the thousands are crumbling every month under the devastating pressures of modern life. In some parts of the world, as the pressures build up, families are actually being betrayed by their own members. A psychologist who was quoted in a news magazine said, “We’re in danger of a psychological breakdown.”
It is written that in the time of Noah, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). And thousands of years later, Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man. They will eat, they will drink, they will marry wives and they will be given in marriage” (Cf. Luke 17:26-27). Despite God’s warnings through Noah, the people of that day were so occupied with themselves and their own sins that they didn’t know the danger until the flood came and destroyed them.
Never has there been a time when men and women tried so desperately to have “fun” as they do today. It seems that everyone is in the pursuit of happiness, peace and joy. But they’re not finding it. The Bible says, “Even in laughter the heart may sorrow” (Proverbs 14:13).
The world is on an immoral binge such as has not been known even in the days of Rome. We have at our fingertips every pleasure that man is capable of enjoying. And man has abused every gift God has ever given him, including sex, until he is no longer finding joy and satisfaction in them. This is the human race doing what it wants to do. This is human nature without God expressing itself. Jesus indicated it would be a sign that we’re approaching the end of the age.
Today the world’s ears have become too dull to hear the truth. Most people’s eyes are spiritually blind. They do not want to see. They do not want to hear. They seem to be hurrying to judgment. The Scripture says, “When they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Yet, God longs for the human race to be saved. The Bible says the Lord is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). That includes you. God loves you. He doesn’t want you to perish. He doesn’t want you to have to face the judgment. God is at work right now to get people to stop their downward plunge into sin. He has sent His Holy Spirit to convict, His preachers and His prophets to warn. We are without excuse.
What about you? Do you know Christ as your Lord and Savior?
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The last invitation of the Bible says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
This is still an age of grace. God’s offer of forgiveness and a new life still stands. However, the door will one day be closed. Someday it will be too late. That is why the Bible continually warns and challenges, “Now is the accepted time” (2 Corinthians 6:2). We’re proclaiming the Gospel, asking people to come to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, because the door of salvation is still open. When the flood came, Noah was safe and secure in the ark. He trusted God and took Him at His Word. You too can be safe and secure by believing and accepting the fact that Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose for our justification.
Do you know the peace that only Christ can give? You can know it today by repenting of your sins and receiving Christ as your Lord, Master and Savior. And you can do it right now, wherever you are. ©1979 BGEA
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Above: Billy Graham preaches in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1980.
Photo: Russ Busby/©1980 BGEA