In Matthew 24, the Lord’s disciples asked Him for signs of the end of the age. He began His answer with these words: “‘Take heed that no one deceives you.'” (Matthew 24:3 NKJV)
There is no denying that we live in an age of deception: fake news, false advertising, viral lies, clickbait, and mainstream media propaganda, to name just a few examples. And it gets worse every day.
But Jesus also mentioned other “signs” of the end of the age. He included “rumors of war.” The world’s stand-off with North Korea may qualify as a “rumor of war” on steroids!
Jesus noted “earthquakes.” In the last 30 days, two massive earthquakes have hit Mexico alone! So far, the death toll from last week’s is over 300. And they’ve not even begun to tally the monetary damage! Many places in Mexico City still don’t have electricity or constant running water.
In 2 Timothy 3:1, the Apostle Paul says that, “In the last days perilous times will come….” Then he enumerates a list of perils.
But notice that the list does not mention a single natural disaster. No floods, famines, pestilences, or earthquakes. That’s because the greatest perils of the last days are the dangers of moral decline.
Look at this list. It is stunning how it mirrors — with amazing precision — today’s America (even down to the NFL stadiums!): “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, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5a NKJV)
Is that not a rundown of a single day’s headlines on America’s news channels?
Jesus also warned of the moral decay near the end of this age. He said it would manifest itself in several ways. He warned of a rise in lawlessness. That doesn’t necessarily mean train and bank robberies and raping and pillaging! It also means a general rise in disregard for the laws and order of the nation. Even by its government and business and political leaders!
Speaking specifically of the end times, Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you (His followers) to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name.” (Matthew 24:9 NASB)
In its annual report, The First Liberty Institute found a dramatic rise in hostility toward people of faith. The Institute’s Jeremy Dys said, “This year’s survey represents a 15 percent increase in just the last year. And an alarming 133 percent increase in just the last five years.”
But, thank God, not all signs of the times are negative. In Matthew 24:4, still speaking of these days, Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations.” Jesus is adamant that this will include every part of the earth. He emphasized “the whole world” and “all the nations.”
Author Joel Rosenberg notes that, “Amidst the worst persecution in the modern history of the Church, we are seeing the greatest advance of the Gospel and the greatest harvest of souls in the Middle East in the history of the Church.”
When both China and the Soviet Union finally opened up to the West, we found far more Christians than anyone thought possible. And there are many reports by other Christian ministries that the Gospel is sweeping the Middle East — thanks in large part to the internet!
The worldwide preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of the major signs that Jesus will return soon.
Most people, Christians included, think of October 31 as Halloween. That’s understandable since business and the media begin pounding it home as soon as we say goodbye to Labor Day.
But October 31 is also the day we annually celebrate something far more important and uplifting than Halloween. It’s “Reformation Day!” It is the day we celebrate Martin Luther nailing his “95 Theses” to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
October 31, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of that monumental event.
In 1997, LIFE magazine called Martin Luther the third most important figure of the last millennium, behind only Christopher Columbus and Thomas Edison.
Though Luther undeniably had many flaws, at his best, he returned the Word of God to the center of Christian thought. He renewed the Church’s understanding of Christ as the author and perfecter of salvation. He brought salvation by grace through faith back into focus. In a very real sense, he reintroduced Christianity to Christ.
Retailers say that Batman will be the most popular costume this Halloween. I’m guessing there won’t be very many Martin Luther trick-or-treaters. Maybe it’s time to teach our kids about real people who truly changed the world!
Finally, have you ever wondered why conflict always seems to surround the city of Jerusalem?
Napoleon called Jerusalem, “…the hinge of history.”
Mohammed said that those who dwell in Jerusalem will be in a constant “state of jihad until Resurrection Day.”
Even the Berlitz Pocket Guide to Jerusalem notes that, “This is sacred ground and has had more blood spilled on it for its own sake than any other place in the world.”
Jerusalem does not possess the traditional assets of a great city. It is great because it is a spiritual city.
In Isaiah 45:13, God calls it, “My city.” In 2 Chronicles 33:4, He said, “My name shall be in Jerusalem forever.” (NASB)
To this day, the nations of the world are in turmoil over Jerusalem. Just as the prophets predicted.
As Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s Middle East envoy prepares to return to the region in an attempt to restart the peace process, let’s remember to do what the Psalmist admonishes: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” (Psalms 122:6 NASB)
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