Through the ages prophets and seers have received special insight into the future. One of the most profound discourses on what is to come was given 2,000 years ago on a hillside outside of Jerusalem. A small band of truth-seekers gathered around their teacher, Jesus of Nazareth. The question they asked Him prompted a response that spans the centuries and zeroed in on the days in which we are now living:
What His followers were asking Him about is often referred to as the "Second Coming," the dramatic return of Christ prior to His takeover of the world and the establishing of the kingdom of God on Earth. Jesus answered them with many indicators to be on the lookout for. Many of the signs He gave are things that have plagued the world for ages but take on increased relevance when taken in context with current events.
No period in history has witnessed the escalation of wars as has the last hundred years. Three times as many people -- 110 million -- fell victim to war in the 20th century as in all the wars from the first century ad to 1899.
Since the end of World War II, there have been at least 130 wars, killing more than 23 million people directly, and another 20 million through famine and other war-related disruptions. The 20th-century wars were "total wars" against combatants and civilians alike. The barbarian wars of centuries past were alley fights in comparison. The innocent have paid the greatest price in wars, the data show. Between 1990 and 2000 alone, 2 million children were killed. Since 1945, wars have produced 35 million refugees.
There are 1 billion poor people in developing countries who live on US$1 a day or less. Eight hundred fifty million people across the world are hungry. Every day, more than 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes -- one child every five seconds.
The severity and frequency with which "pestilences" -- epidemics of highly infectious diseases -- continue to strike is alarming. Doctors now warn that the current resurgence of drug-resistant bacteria strains could prove to be more deadly than AIDS. The medical community is now warning that not only are bacterial plagues on the rise, but viral killers like AIDS are occurring more frequently than ever. "New diseases are emerging at the historically unprecedented rate of one per year," the WHO's director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, wrote in 2007.
UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, stated that an estimated 2.5 million new HIV infections occurred in 2007. In that year, 2.1 million people died of AIDS. As of the end of 2007, over 33.2 million people were living with HIV/AIDS. Other agencies report that more than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981 and 6,000 become infected with HIV every day.
The 2004 Asian Tsunami was caused by a massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake. The energy released was equivalent to the explosion of 475,000 kilotons of TNT, or 23,000 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. Waves up to 10 meters high crashed into the coastline of Sumatra near the epicenter. At least 226,000 were killed and over 500,000 injured. The National Earthquake Information Center of the USGS reports that there are over 3.3 million earthquakes occurring annually throughout the world. Around 140 of them are magnitude 6.0 or greater on the Richter scale. There is no reliable predictor of when quakes will occur, and they occur over widely scattered areas of the world. Geologists and seismologists warn that the rise of big cities along seismic fault lines will cause unprecedented catastrophes in the near future.
Another condition that Jesus indicated would be prevalent prior to His return would be pervasive violence: "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:37). At that time, "the Earth was corrupt before God, and filled with violence" (Genesis 6:5,11). In our modern era, more than 1.6 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence each year. For everyone who dies as a result of violence, many more are injured.
Jesus called wars, famine, plagues, and earthquakes "the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8). But He said the preaching of His Gospel in all the world would be a specific sign that would indicate when the actual end of the age would be upon the world. Never in the course of history has the Gospel been preached in all the world to all nations as it is right now, including mediums of radio, television, and the Internet. Experts estimate that between 75 and 85 percent of the world's population have heard the Gospel at least once. "Then shall the End come!"
Around 534 bc, the prophet Daniel wrote that in "the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase" (Daniel 12:4). This phrase, "many running to and fro," means "speeding about, here and there," or as The Living Bible renders it, "travel shall be greatly increased." When you consider that people's means of transportation had not changed substantially for thousands of years, the significance of this prophecy is apparent. Today we not only drive at enormous speeds and cover great distances in automobiles, but a new generation of private jets can fly at nearly 2000 km/h and the space shuttle orbits Earth in 90 minutes! And the number of people traveling today is unprecedented. Airports handled 4.4 billion passengers on all services in the 12-month period ending January 2007 -- equivalent to about two-thirds of the world's population.
The term "information overload" was coined for our generation. Seventy percent of all information in our global society has been created since the start of the Internet and is currently doubling every three years. This means we will have 16 times more information than we had in 2003 by 2015. If information is indicative of knowledge, then it has increased in recent years almost beyond imagination. Although we have made tremendous strides scientifically and technologically, are we more fulfilled or happier than our predecessors? Our knowledge has radically increased, but much of our scientific genius has been squandered in the development of armaments and weapons of mass destruction. Hi-tech gadgets and luxuries are also given priority, while many of our fellow humans are hungry and destitute.
The most outstanding and ominous sign of the end, which the Bible devotes some key chapters to, is the rise of a one-world government headed by a Devil-possessed tyrant known as the Antichrist or "the Beast" who is given authority "over every tribe, tongue, and nation" (Revelation 13:7). The prophet Daniel wrote that "he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue" (Daniel 11:21). He confirms with many an international protocol that Daniel called the "Holy Covenant" (Daniel 9:27; 11:22-32).
This pact will resolve the Middle East crisis (at least temporarily) by working out a compromise between Israel and her Arab neighbors. It seems the compromise between the Israelis and the Palestinians will include the central issue of Jerusalem's Mount Moriah, where the Jews' ancient temple once stood and where the Muslim Dome of the Rock stands today. Three and a half years after the enactment of the Antichrist's covenant, he will revoke it and manifest his satanic nature. At this time he apparently will invade Israel and establish himself in Jerusalem, making that city his world capital (Daniel 11:45).
His government will then outlaw all religions, except the worship of the Antichrist and an image of himself that will somehow be empowered to both speak and cause those who refuse to worship it to be killed (Revelation 13:14-15). Jesus said this will be a time of "great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world" (Matthew 24:15,21).
This prophecy is remarkable. Think about it: Nearly 2,000 years ago the apostle John, who prior to meeting Jesus had been a fisherman by trade and had been called an "uneducated and untrained" man (Acts 4:13), predicted that a global economic system would one day be instituted in which people will be compelled to receive a number, without which they will not be able to buy or sell. Only in this era of computers and electronic commerce could this prophecy be fulfilled.
The world's darkest hour will abruptly end with the dawning of the brightest day when Jesus Christ returns. All those who belong to Him will find their bodies miraculously transformed into new supernatural ones and will be rescued from their anti-Christ persecutors and transported to the most spectacular celebration ever held, the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" in Heaven! (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Revelation 19:6-9). At that time horrific plagues of the wrath of God will fall upon the Antichrist and his evil followers, culminating with Jesus' return to Earth to utterly defeat and destroy their empire in the climactic battle known as Armageddon. This will end the rule of the cruel on Earth, as Jesus and His superhuman forces take over the world to lovingly rule over it. Then will begin a period known as the Millennium -- a thousand years of peace and plenty and the building of paradise on Earth (Revelation 19:11-21; 20:1-4).
Are you ready for these earth-shaking events? If not, you can get ready by receiving Jesus into your life. He loves you and will be with you and guide you through whatever perilous times you may face. If you don't yet know Jesus, you can receive Him and His free gift of everlasting life by simply praying this prayer:
Dear Jesus, I ask You to come into my heart. Please forgive me for all the wrongs I've done, and give me Your gift of everlasting life. Help me to love You, and help me to share Your love and truth with others. Amen.The above information and data was taken from The Future Foretold a booklet available from Aurora Production, www.auroraproduction.com. For other information about future events, please contact us at [email protected] or visit our website at www.activated.org.