The End of the Age!
Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus promised His disciples, “I will come again” (John 14:3). Numerous prophecies in the Old Testament (Daniel 2:44–45; Zechariah 14:4, 9) and other statements by Jesus (Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27) clearly foretell His return. When asked by His disciples “what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3), Jesus listed a series of events that would mark the approaching end of the age and indicate that His return would be near.
The prophetic events that Jesus said would precede His return, and mark the approaching end of the age, as described in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, include widespread religious deception and the rise of militant forms of religion, wars and rumors of wars, characterized by ethnic strife and international conflicts, droughts, famines, fires, flooding, earthquakes and similar disasters, and widespread disease epidemics.
Scripture calls the time when these calamitous events will increase in frequency and severity “the beginning of sorrows”—a time that will be unlike any other recorded in human history (Matthew 24:8, 21). These disastrous events will cause widespread suffering and death—directly impacting a quarter of the world’s population (Revelation 6:8). The only reason human beings will not succeed in destroying themselves and all life on the planet will be the return of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:21–22).
Many secular critics scoff at prophecies, and call the Bible a book of fables. Even many theologians suggest that biblical prophecies are only spiritual concepts that do not refer to real events. But such thinking involves turning a blind eye to reality! Today, we live in a world characterized by widespread religious deception. Hundreds of sects and denominations claim to be “Christian,” despite teaching different and even conflicting ideas. Many professing “Christians” observe holidays like Christmas and Easter, clearly of pagan origin, which Jesus and the apostles never kept and the Bible condemns (Deuteronomy 12:29–31; Jeremiah 10:2). Many who call themselves “Christian” believe their souls go to heaven when they die, waiting to be reunited with their bodies. Yet the Bible says that, other than Jesus, “no one has ascended to heaven”—not even ancient King David (John 3:13; Acts 2:29–34).
Secularists have long predicted that as society becomes more modern and scientific, religion will lose its appeal. Indeed, membership in “mainline Christian” denominations has declined precipitously in recent years. Yet, the last several decades have seen a revival of some forms of religion on a global scale, perhaps most notably the rise of militant Islam, bringing with it new dangers of interreligious conflict.
Global organizations have been established to promote world peace. The League of Nations failed at this task, and the United Nations is doing no better. Mankind’s best efforts failed to prevent the 20th century from being the bloodiest in human history. Observers are now wondering what will provoke the next great world war. Will upheavals in the Arab world bring militant Islamic groups into power and spark another war in the Middle East, which could drag nations outside the region into the conflict? Will the financial problems of European nations generate an “economic tsunami” that could rearrange the political map of Europe and bring armed conflict to a devastated global financial system, mirroring events of the 1930s following the Great Depression? Will ethnic strife in Africa, the Balkans and the Asian subcontinent draw nations into dangerous aggression?
All of this is no surprise to those who see that today’s world conditions clearly echo end-time prophecies of Jesus. Modern “me generation” cultural shifts also feed into the attitudes that will fuel prophesied end-time conflict. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy… slanderers… brutal… despisers of good… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1–7)—which accurately describes our modern age!
As part of the end-time scenario, Jesus described droughts, famines, fires, floods, earthquakes and other disasters on a global scale—events we have seen regularly in recent years. These warnings are reflected in the tsunamis that destroyed coastal areas around the Indian Ocean and devastated a city and nuclear power plant in Japan, volcanic eruptions in Indonesia, record droughts and floods in Australia, South Africa and the American southwest, deadly earthquakes in Turkey and China, devastating hurricanes and tornadoes in Missouri and other parts of the world, rampaging fires in Australia and Texas—and the list goes on. Many of these disasters are reported to be the worst in a century or the worst on record! Nuclear scientists in the United States recently reset their symbolic Doomsday Clock closer to midnight, while others warn that “the world is doomed to a warmer climate, harsher weather, droughts, famine, water scarcity, rising sea levels, loss of island nations and increasing ocean acidification.” Their ominous forecast matches prophecies about the long-predicted “end of the age” recorded in the Bible.
Christ also warned of the increasing threat of deadly diseases. Indeed, HIV-AIDS has afflicted millions of men, women and children around the world, and we are seeing the rise of drug-resistant strains of infectious diseases such as malaria, cholera and tuberculosis. Add to this the growing plague of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other “diseases of civilization,” and the growing addictions to alcohol and drugs. In addition, crowded, unsanitary urban living conditions and international jet travel have created vectors for the spread of disease germs around the globe in a matter of hours—providing a mechanism for epidemics on a proportion described in Scripture’s end-time prophecies!
God, who inspired and preserved the Bible, tells us that He alone can predict the future and bring it to pass (Isaiah 46:8–10). That same God has commissioned His servants to explain Bible prophecies revealing the sobering significance of events that are making news headlines today (Amos 3:7; 2 Peter 1:19–20). Jesus warned that the world at large will be oblivious to the real meaning of end-time events, but He instructed His disciples, “when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near… take heed… Watch… and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:31–36). End-time events are coming to pass as never before. To learn more about this vital topic, request your free copy of our booklet, Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return. You may order it online at TomorrowsWorld.org, or request a copy from the Regional Office nearest you (listed on page 30 of this magazine).