Are we approaching the "end of the age" spoken of in the Bible? Is Jesus Christ about to return?
Are we approaching the "end of the age" spoken of in the Bible? Is Jesus Christ about to return? Christ's first disciples thought He would return in their lifetimes. Later, some looked to 1000ad and then 2000ad in expectation of His return. Many modern theologians say that Jesus Christ could return tonight—or perhaps in 100 or 1,000 years, if He comes at all. Most scholars have no idea regarding the end-times and Jesus Christ's return. Is the "end of the age" just religious fiction? Bible prophecies coming alive today offer a sobering perspective on modern world conditions.
The Bible plainly states that Jesus Christ will come again (Matthew 24:3, 30, 37, 44). When asked by His disciples: "What will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3), Jesus mentioned four major signs: widespread religious deception, wars and rumors of wars, famines and pestilences (disease epidemics) and earthquakes (Matthew 24:4-7). These events correspond directly to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (see Revelation 6). But Jesus said that these escalating events are merely "the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8), and that His disciples should remain "watchful" so they can recognize and announce that His return is imminent!
Critics dismiss Jesus' predictions by insisting these events have always been with us. Yet we can recognize that Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Hindus disagree on many major issues—so all religions cannot be right. Many people are obviously deceived. But while religious confusion and deception are not new, the Bible explains that in the last days a prominent religious figure will deceive millions by doing miracles and promoting lies in place of biblical truth (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Revelation 13:11-14). Modern mass media will surely aid the activities of this False Prophet. The stage is set. The fulfillment of these prophecies could be just ahead!
Jesus predicted that the end of the age would be marked by "wars and rumors of wars" (Matthew 24:6). Wars have been with us for millennia, yet the 20th century was the first time in history when the entire world went to war—in two world wars! Jesus also foretold that "nation would rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" picturing global unrest (Matthew 24:7). "Kingdom" here refers to an empire, or political entity. "Nation" (ethnos) can mean nation, tribe, race or social group. In recent decades, ethnic strife—over religion, race, gender and moral choice—has spread around the world! A Harvard University international relations expert has observed that "in the emerging era, clashes of civilizations are the greatest threat to world peace" (The Clash of Civilizations, Huntington, 1996, p. 321). What Jesus said would happen at the end of the age is happening today!
Unprecedented environmental conditions are also raising serious concerns. Global warming trends are disrupting weather patterns around the world, producing record-breaking droughts, fires, storms and floods. Famines exist on several continents. The hottest years ever recorded have occurred in this past decade (for more on this phenomenon, please request our free booklet Who Controls the Weather?). Earthquake activity is growing more dangerous as people crowd into built-up urban areas. Incurable diseases such as AIDS are causing worldwide devastation. Old diseases (such as tuberculosis, cholera and malaria) are returning with a vengeance, as bacteria become resistant to antibiotics! Medical experts warn that rapid international travel and deteriorating social, political and sanitary conditions in many parts of the world have created the potential for widespread disease epidemics. Jesus' predictions about the last days accurately describe world conditions today!
The Apostle Paul recorded additional details about the end of the age. He wrote, "in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents… brutal… lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God… having a form of godliness [a superficial religion]" (2 Timothy 3:1-5). This accurately describes the affluent, amoral, increasingly violent culture that has spread around the world since the end of World War II and the social upheaval of the 1960s.
The Apostle Peter added yet another dimension. He wrote that "scoffers will come in the last days… saying, 'where is the promise of His coming?'" (2 Peter 3:3-5). Peter revealed that skepticism and willful ignorance about important biblical teachings will characterize the end of the age. This is the situation today in the so-called Christian nations. In addition to admitting homosexuals and women to the ministry, the Archbishop of Canterbury recently told 70 million Anglicans that we cannot be sure Jesus was resurrected—casting doubt on the central tenet of Christianity (Reuters, August 2, 1999). Again, Bible prophecy is shockingly relevant to our modern era!
Bible prophecies indicate that just before Christ's return, Jerusalem will become the focus of international attention. Jesus spoke of a coming desecration of the holy place [the Temple Mount—see Matthew 24:15] and that Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies and taken over by Gentiles (Luke 21:20-24). After languishing in relative insignificance during centuries of Arab and Turkish control, Jerusalem—and the Temple Mount—have become major flashpoints in the tension-filled Middle East. As the 21st century dawns, prominent voices want to turn control of Jerusalem over to the United Nations or the Vatican, hoping to bring peace to this strife-torn region. Jesus said this would occur just before His return—and it is happening today!
But is this convergence of prophesied events just a coincidence? Can we really know if we are nearing the end of the age? Again, the Bible explains. Referring to escalating troubles in the last days, Jesus said that "unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved" (Matthew 24:22; Mark 13:20). Jesus stated that, just before His second coming, it would be possible to destroy all life on this earth. This was not possible before the development of nuclear weapons in the 1940s and 1950s. Scientists speculate that if these terrible weapons were used in an all-out war, a "nuclear winter" would blanket the earth and erase all life. With stockpiles of nuclear weapons and terrorist activity around the globe, Jesus' prophecy of cosmocide is no exaggeration. It became a reality for the first time in human history in the middle of the 20th century! This was a critical prophetic benchmark.
When we compare Bible prophecies about the end of the age with world conditions during the last half of the 20th century, the evidence strongly suggests that we are living in the last days! While Scripture states that we cannot know the "day and hour" of Christ's return (Matthew 24:36), the details of Bible prophecy indicate that God wanted us to recognize the approximate time of the second coming (Matthew 24:32-35). This is why Jesus told His disciples to "watch" world events so we would not be taken by surprise. The world, however, will not end when Christ returns! At His second coming, Jesus Christ and the saints will establish the kingdom of God on this earth (Revelation 11:15-18; Daniel 7:27). This major turning point in history—a focal point of the gospel (Mark 1:14-15) long ago foretold by biblical prophets—will mark the beginning of a new age of peace and prosperity. To learn more about specific end-time Bible prophecies, please request our free booklet Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ's Return, and continue reading Tomorrow's World, where prophecy comes alive!