As I read and listen to news reports, I wonder how much longer God is going to tolerate the unholy occurrences in our world.
I am reminded of what Jesus taught in Luke 21:5-19. Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives looking at the temple. His disciples also were admiring the temple’s beauty. In this moment, Jesus chose to talk to them about the end time. In fact, Jesus was giving the disciples his last lesson prior to the betrayal by Judas Iscariot that led to his crucifixion.
The disciples, as usual, were full of questions. They wanted to be ready for the temple’s destruction. But Jesus was teaching the disciples so that they could tell the nations about what will take place. These apostles continue to share their testimonies with us through the New Testament. In this manner, Jesus is talking to us in our present time.
His lesson prods us to gain a sense of urgency to ensure our lives are right with God because the end time signs are becoming more common every day. In this last lesson, Jesus spoke of several signs. In this article, I want us to focus on three of them.
Verse 8 warns us that we need to guard against deception. We see deception occurring daily. We encounter it during each election. People say what they think we want to hear but are not following through with their promises.
Jesus is more specific here. He says not to be deceived by those coming in his name. This tells us that we must be able to discern who and what is holy. This deception is embodied by men like Jim Jones and David Koresh and in movements such as Heaven’s Gate. Numerous cults sprang up using Jesus’ name to lure people into embracing false teachings. Deception always has been around but not to the magnitude of today.
Verse 10 warns us about nation rising up against nation. In Matthew 24, Jesus tells us about wars and rumors of wars. Around the world, war is the norm. Peace only is something that people talk or pray about. However, Jesus warns of a more personal kind of war in which people rise up against other people with individuals fighting each other. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, there were more than 468,000 murders worldwide in 2010. This doesn’t include deaths from war or civil unrest. The violent-crime rate seems to climb each year across the U.S. Wars and crime always have been around but not at the rates of today.
Verse 11 warns of earthquakes and other natural disasters. The number of earthquakes has increased dramatically. Author and Pastor John Hagee said that in the 15th century, there were 115 earthquakes recorded. In the 17th century, 378 earthquakes were recorded. The 18th century saw 640. The 1800s recorded 2,119 earthquakes. The number of earthquakes continued to rise. It is true that we can detect earthquakes better today due to technology. So look at these statistics on earthquakes.
Natural disasters like tornadoes, floods, snow storms and heat seem to be increasing like earthquakes. Earthquakes and natural disasters have been around a long time but not at today’s level.
Jesus’ lesson almost 2,000 years ago may sound ancient to many of us. However, it is more relevant today than in the day of the apostles. From this perspective, I am convinced that all people ought to gain a sense of urgency to ensure they are in a right relationship with God.
The shadows of the end-time signs are becoming more common each day. Can you see what is going on in our world? It seems that God is pointing us in the direction that the end of time will be soon. I am not predicting when it will be since no one knows the day or hour in which it will come. Suffice it to say that each minute that goes by brings us closer to it.
The signs that Jesus told his disciples about always have been around but not to the scale they are today. Just as God did with Sodom and Gomorrah, there will come a time when God says, “That is enough.” At that time, it will be too late to come to God through Jesus.
Will you gain a sense of urgency now to ensure your life is right with God? The signs are urging you to do so!
Wright is the pastor at First United Methodist Church in Hinesville.