We are clearly instructed in Scripture not to set end times dates since we cannot know the day and hour of specific events. The Lord tells us,
Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels of heaven nor the Son —except the Father alone (Matthew 24:36).
It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority (Acts 1:7).
So, while we should not be setting dates, the Lord Jesus did point out that we can glean or discern that His coming is not far off,
Learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that he is near—at the door (Matthew 24:32-33).
When I speak of the “signs of the times,” I am speaking of signs that will be evident to those living during the tribulation regarding Christ’s second coming and not to the church regarding the rapture, since there are no signs that point to the rapture of the church. They are worth considering because I believe that we are already witnessing the shadows of many of these signs looming on the horizon, a clear indication that the tribulation may be nearer than we think. These signs of the times give us clear insight of what the world will look like as we enter the end times.
Again, it is important to keep in mind that some of the signs of the times or events will take place during the seven-year tribulation period. The disciples ask Jesus the following question in Matthew 24:3,
Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?
In Jesus’s response in the verses that follow, there are several signs that will be limited to the time of Jacob’s distress (Jeremiah 30:7 NASB) prior to the Lord’s second coming. That does not mean that since the church will be raptured prior to the tribulation period, that those signs are irrelevant for us today. We should be attentive because long before those specific tribulation period signs or events occur, the stage for their fulfillment is being set, which will serve as an indication that the Lord’s return for His church is quickly nearing.
A former student of Dr. John F. Walvoord, past president and professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, tells how Dr. Walvoord illustrated this principle by comparing the rapture to Thanksgiving and the second coming of Christ to Christmas. He explained that there are signs that would indicate the nearness of Christmas to us (e.g. Christmas lights, decorations, etc.), and that although we do not necessarily see such obvious signs for Thanksgiving, we know that Thanksgiving is very near if we were already seeing clear signs that Christmas was soon arriving.
People who live in California and have experienced earthquakes, particularly strong ones, will tell you that if you sense minor tremors, you can almost be certain that a quake will follow. Well, prophecies cast their shadows before them, and many prophecy experts agree that the shadows of prophesies about tribulation period events can already be seen. I agree. The stage is being set as I write these words. Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
It is important to note before I go any further, that: (1) Christ will return to earth at the end of the tribulation period in order to establish His earthly kingdom in which He will reign on earth for a thousand years, and (2) that the rapture of the church will take place before the tribulation period begins.
The end of all things is near; therefore, be alert and sober-minded for prayer (1 Peter 4:7).
In the Greek text, this reference is expressed by a perfect-tense verb. What does this mean? That the action spoken of here (the end of all things is near) is a present reality with future consequences. Peter’s statement could be rendered, “The end of all things has already begun.” If this rendering is correct, then when did the end of all things begin? Well, according to Scripture, they began with Christ’s first coming, His first coming initiated the end of the age.
Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them, “Fellow Jews and all you residents of Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and pay attention to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning. On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all people; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. I will even pour out my Spirit on my servants in those days, both men and women and they will prophesy. I will display wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below: blood and fire and a cloud of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes (Acts 2:14-20).
In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him (Hebrews 1:2).
In Matthew 24:30 Jesus said,
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
His return will mark the end of all things. The end of the age will terminate with His second coming. Now, based on when it began and when it ends, we can safely conclude that the “last days,” are the entire church age.
It is also important to remember two more things as we endeavor to learn what the Bible has to say about the future and as we use prophecy in evangelism, we are to avoid the two extremes: (1) We are to avoid developing an apathetic behavior which can be manifested by scoffing, minimizing the importance and value of, or by outright dismissing the doctrine of future things, which is the equivalent to underselling the prophetic teaching of the Bible, and (2) we are to avoid sensationalism, which is the equivalent to overselling the prophetic teaching of Scripture. Why some feel the need to sensationalize even more that which is already quite sensational is beyond me, unless, of course, the reasons for doing so are sinful, unscriptural, and for personal gain.
What Biblical prophecy does, is to reveal the important and significant currents and trends. The goal here is not to address all signs that could be listed, but to spend time highlighting those which I consider to be significant.
Properly Discerning the Signs of the Times
The Rebuke for Failing to Discern
In Matthew 16:1-3 we read,
The Pharisees and Sadducees approached, and tested him, asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be good weather because the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times.
Our Lord sternly rebukes the Jewish religious leaders for acting as blind leaders and failing to discern the signs of the times. The principle of discernment is a principle that clearly applies to the church and we are to avoid becoming guilty of what the Pharisees were guilty.
A Lesson from the Fig Tree
Learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that he is near—at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away (Matthew 24:32-35).
The Lord uses the illustration of the fig tree to teach us the importance of being and how to be a discerning people. As we are able to discern the coming of summer because of the blossoming of the fig tree, so can we discern (with no date setting) the seven year tribulation period of Christ as we see certain events coming to pass (Matthew 24:4-31).
The Dark Shadow Illustration
Have you ever noticed that when you are either walking or jogging with the sun behind you, a shadow of yourself is cast on the ground in front of you? What is that shadow saying? The shadow is not you—it is not the substance—but it signals that you are not far behind. It is a sign that you are coming. In a similar way, coming events often cast their shadow upon this world before they arrive. The shadows function as the signs of the times.
Unique Contemporary Signs
Israel—God’s “Super sign”
Mark Hitchcock states that,
“The most prophesied event in end-time passages in the Bible is the return of the Jewish people to their promised land. The Bible predicts over and over again that the Jews must be back in their homeland before the events of the end times can unfold (see Jeremiah 30:1-3; Ezekiel 34:11-24; Ezekiel 37; Zechariah 10:6-10). Almost all the key events of the end times hinge in one way or another on the existence of the nation of Israel. Israel is the battleground for all the great end-time wars and conflicts described in the Bible, and the end times will officially begin when the Antichrist makes a seven-year treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27). Also, in Ezekiel 38 and Zechariah 12 we read about armed invasions of the nation of Israel. Obviously, for any of these things to happen, the Jewish people must be back in their land.”1
Both Isaiah and Ezekiel predicted that Israel would possess the land in fulfillment of God’s covenant promise, with the fulfillment coming in the Millennial.
On that day the Lord will extend his hand a second time to recover the remnant of his people who survive—from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the coasts and islands of the west (Isaiah 11:11).
For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land (Ezekiel 36:24).
Scripture clearly tells us that Israel must be back in the land before the end time events can take place. Prophecies such as Daniel 9:27, where the antichrist makes a covenant with Israel for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple, which must be in existence during the seven-year tribulation period spoken of in Matthew 24:15-21, could take place now that Israel is back in Palestine.
After centuries of wandering, the Jewish people are now returning to Palestine. The duly recognized State of Israel came once again into existence in May of 1948, something the Scriptures prophetically said would happen (Isaiah 66:8; 11:11-12; 43:5-6; 16:21; Jeremiah 16:15: 30:3; Ezekiel 34:11-13; 36::24 37:1-14). The re-gathering of the Jews continues to this day and it is estimated that almost 35 to 40 percent of the Jews from all over the world are already back in the land of Israel. Here is an interesting fact, since Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 A.D., the land of Israel never became an independent state neither did it become the permanent home of any other people. The land was conquered fourteen times in thirteen centuries, and all who conquered it, ruled it from outside.
Why such a big deal about Israel? Because when it comes to end time prophecies and the events that will take place in the end times, Israel is the very center, at the very heart of those prophesies. Israel is the center stage where the end times drama will unfold.
David Jeremiah recounts how,
“On the evening of that announcement, popular radio commentator Lowell Thomas said in his evening broadcast that Americans in every part of the country would be turning to their Bibles for historical background, enabling them to understand “this day in history.” And indeed, as the prophecies found in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Matthew, and Revelation show, both the Old Testament and the New Testament pointed to this day when the Jews would return to the land promised them and initiate fulfillment of the ancient prophecies.”2
Their re-gathering is a miracle. Jeremiah puts it well when he says,
“While the complete fulfillment is yet to come, the return of the Jews to Israel in 1948 was an astounding event unprecedented in world history. Never had a decimated ancient people managed to retain their individual identity through almost twenty centuries and reestablish their nation in their original homeland. The event was specifically prophesied, and it happened exactly as foretold. It was clearly a miraculous act of God.”3
Ron Rhodes says that,
“Israel’s rebirth sets the stage for a number of other biblical prophecies—including the return of Jews to the Holy Land from all over the world (Ezekiel 36:24), the rebuilding of the Jewish temple (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15-16), the signing of a covenant with Israel by a world leader who is yet to emerge, the antichrist (Daniel 9:27), and more. Without the rebirth of Israel, these and many other biblical prophecies would make no sense. We might also say that without the rebirth of Israel we shouldn’t be wasting our time watching for end-times trends. But because Israel has indeed become a state again, end-time trends take on powerful relevance. Because the super sign has now been fulfilled, the individual signs of the times serve to inform the kinds of trends we should be watching for as we move deeper into the end times.”4
Today, you can hardly read or listen to the news without there being something mentioned about Israel in it. Just like the Bible predicts, Israel is not just somewhere on the stage, it is on center stage. With the rebirth of Israel and with millions of Jews making their way back to the Holy Land, major end time events make sense and makes way for their fulfillment.
The European Union and the Fall of Communism
And that the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly fired clay—part of the kingdom will be strong, and part will be brittle… After this, while I was watching in the night visions, suddenly a fourth beast appeared, frightening and dreadful, and incredibly strong, with large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and it trampled with its feet whatever was left. It was different from all the beasts before it, and it had ten horns (Daniel 2:42; 7:7).
In the last few decades, we have been witnesses to the setting of the stage for the fulfillment of prophesy. The modern European Union began in 1957 with six nations signing a document called The Treaty of Rome. The six nations were Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, France, Italy, and the Netherlands (220 million people). In 1973, Denmark, Ireland, and Great Britain joined what was then called the European Economic Community (EEC), now with a population of 286 million people. In 1981, Greece joined the EEC. In 1986, Portugal and Spain were added. In just 29 years, the New Europe was 336 million strong. At this stage, the EEC officially adopted the goal of a politically unified Europe. Leaders issued a statement:
“We realize that it will not be possible for us to move again to world supremacy without unity. Therefore, we must lay aside our differences and come together as a new United States of Europe. By doing this, we will constitute a power bloc that can move to the ascendancy of world power.”
In 1992, the economic borders between the EEC nations were removed, and a common passport was issued to travelers. Study in universities within the nations was also permitted without any restrictions.
In 1993, upon the official formation of the European Union (EU), the EEC was incorporated and renamed the European Community (EC). Paul Henry Spaak, the premier of Belgium, made the following statement during a session of the United Nations General Council in New York:
“The systems of man have failed. What we need is a leader. What we need is a man. Give us a man to solve our problems, and be he a god or a devil, we will follow him.”
In 1995, Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined the EU bringing the total population to 362 million in 15 member nations.
The EU has drafted an EU Constitution which left out all mention of the God of the Bible and of its own religious roots and heritage. The fall of communism has resulted in some of the former communist eastern European nations now making application to join the EU.
In 2002, the twelve participating Eurozone countries introduced the new monetary unit, the euro. Over the years, the U.S. dollar has declined against the euro, and many economists are predicting that it will not be long before the euro possibly replaces the U.S. dollar as the standard world currency.
In 2004, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined the EU. In 2007, Romania and Bulgaria joined, and in 2013 Croatia joined. The United Kingdom left the union in 2020. Today, the EU has 27 member nations with a total population of approximately 445 million people. Some of these nations were, geographically, part of former Roman Empire.
Israel was part of the original Roman Empire, but obviously not currently a part of the European Union. Israel is not considered eligible to join the EU because of their occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem, making them guilty of human rights violations. Some believe that if Israel were to sign a peace treaty with its neighbors, that they would likely be offered membership in the EU.
Many consider the European Union as the second most powerful political force in the world today in addition to their significant financial and economic clout.
Stirrings in the Far East
The sixth angel blew his trumpet. From the four horns of the golden altar that is before God, I heard a voice say to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels who were prepared for the hour, day, month, and year were released to kill a third of the human race. The number of mounted troops was two hundred million; I heard their number. This is how I saw the horses and their riders in the vision: They had breastplates that were fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow. The heads of the horses were like the heads of lions, and from their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur. A third of the human race was killed by these three plagues—by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur that came from their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, because their tails, which resemble snakes, have heads that inflict injury (Revelation 9:13-19).
The sixth poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the east (Revelation 16:12).
Revelation 9:13-19 is most often interpreted as the army of China as it makes its way to Armageddon towards the end of the seven-year tribulation. The army of 200 million spoken of in Revelation 9:16 is understood to be the same as the kings from the east from Revelation 6:12, which tells us that this great army will cross the dried-up Euphrates River.
Hitchcock explains that,
“China can amass an army of this magnitude. One of the colossal developments of the twenty-first century is the political and military awakening of Asia—especially China. The great nations of Asia, which are east of the Euphrates River, slumbered for centuries, and are now beginning to stir and become a major factor in international, socioeconomic, and political dynamics. The immensity of China’s geography and population make its development especially significant. The People’s Republic of China, with a population of 1.3 billion, is flexing its muscles around the globe.
China’s economic growth and power are rapidly accelerating, with its development being compared to the explosive growth of late nineteenth-century America, except that China’s growth is happening on a faster and broader scale. The growth in China is such that many have already dubbed the twenty-first century as “the Chinese Century.”
What we see happening in China today is staggering; one could easily see how this great rising power could challenge the power of the Antichrist.
Never in the history of the human race until now has there been an army even remotely approaching 200 million in size. The total number of men under arms in World War II—on both sides of the conflict—was never more than 50 million. So the apostle John’s prediction of 200 million horsemen must have been astounding to the people of his day, especially considering that the total world population at that time did not exceed that number.”5
The kings from the east will likely include nations to the east and northeast of Iran which include former Soviet Republics and perhaps even Japan, North Korea, and other Asian nations. The former Soviet republics would include the nations north of Afghanistan and perhaps even northern Afghanistan. We have been witnesses to the rise of militant Islam and a strong anti-Semitic and anti-Western sentiment. We have also seen Japan rise from the ashes of World War 2. These nations in the east have a lot more in common with each other and greater reasons to become and remain allies particularly against Israel and the West.
Fusion of Peoples in the North
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, face Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of[ Meshech and Tubal. Prophesy against him and say, ‘This is what the Lord God says: Look, I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws, and bring you out with all your army, including horses and riders, who are all splendidly dressed, a huge assembly armed with large and small shields, all of them brandishing swords. Persia, Cush, and Put are with them, all of them with shields and helmets; Gomer with all its troops; and Beth-togarmah from the remotest parts of the north along with all its troops—many peoples are with you. Be prepared and get yourself ready, you and your whole assembly that has been mobilized around you; you will be their guard… “Therefore prophesy, son of man, and say to Gog, ‘This is what the Lord God says: On that day when my people Israel are dwelling securely, will you not know this and come from your place in the remotest parts of the north—you and many peoples with you, who are all riding horses—a huge assembly, a powerful army? You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud covering the land. It will happen in the last days, Gog, that I will bring you against my land so that the nations may know me, when I demonstrate my holiness through you in their sight’” (Ezekiel 38:1-6, 14-16).
The coming Islamic (in alliance with Russia) invasion of Israel is not so far-fetched anymore, particularly since the U.S., as we know it today, will not be there to protect them.
Rhodes states that,
“The goal of the northern assault force will be to utterly obliterate the Jews. These are the nations that will be included in the invasion:
- Rosh, which likely refers to modern Russia, to the uttermost north of Israel.
- Magog, which probably includes the former southern Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and possibly even northern parts of modern Afghanistan.
- Meshech and Tubal, which refer to the area south of the Black and Caspian Seas—modern Turkey.
- Persia, which became Iran in 1935 and the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.
- Ethiopia, or modern-day Sudan.
- Put, or modern-day Libya. The term may also include Algeria and Tunisia.
- Gomer, which apparently refers to part of modern-day Turkey.
- Beth-togarmah, which also apparently refers to modern-day Turkey, though it may also include Azerbaijan and Armenia.”6
We have seen in recent decades the alignment of these countries developing. With the establishment of Islam, this alignment makes a great deal of sense since most of those countries are predominantly Muslim, a religion that hates Israel and the Jewish people.
|Present Day Name
|Central Asia (Islamic southern republics of the former Soviet Union)
Preparation of the Coming World Church
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. The name written on her forehead was a mystery: Babylon the great the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 17:1-7).
This blasphemous, idolatrous, and apostate religion will be:
- Glorious in outward appearances but will on the inside be full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality (17:4 NLT). John Walvoord writes that,
“The description of the woman as arrayed in purple and scarlet and decked with gold, precious stones, and pearls is all too familiar to one acquainted with the trappings of ecclesiastical pomp today and especially of high officials in the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. Purple and scarlet, symbolically so rich in their meaning when connected with true spiritual values, are here prostituted to this false religious system and designed to glorify it with religious garb in contrast to the simplicity of pious adornment (cf. 1 Tim. 2:9–10).”7
- Severely persecuting God’s people (17:6).
- Characterized by her unfaithfulness (17:5, 15-16).
- A global religion (17:15).
- Extremely powerful globally (17:12-13).
The great ecumenical movement has been gaining great momentum and wide acceptance in many nations and among many people. The merging of church groups, the minimizing of theological distinctives, the greater “understanding” between religions, and the departure of main-line “Christendom” from the biblical, orthodox and historical doctrines of the Church, are all the setting of the stage for the one world religion that will show its ugly head after the rapture of the church.
The Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Age
With the end of the cold war, that balance of power has completely shifted. Before, there were only 2 nations in the arms race, today there seems to be dozens. Countries with nuclear capabilities and arsenals are many now—the U.S., China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, India, North Korea, Pakistan, Israel, and NATO member nuclear weapons sharing states (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey), with many other Arab nations (i.e. Iran) seeking to develop them and buy the technology which would cost billions of dollars.
Biological and chemical weapons are already possessed by many and have been used since they can be more easily developed and deployed.
The Rush towards Globalism (One World System)
Sometime in the future, the world will once again be ruled by one man just as it was in the days of Genesis 10–11 when Nimrod ruled. This is Satan’s goal. Ever since Genesis 10-11, power hungry men have been trying to conquer and rule. History is replete with individuals who have subjugated peoples and nations in their attempt to control and rule as much of the world as they could conquer.
We now live in a day and world in which we can see this as not only possible, but plausible, globalization is within man’s reach. The necessary ingredients for a world government are present for the first time in human history.
Think about it, we now live in a world that through its technological developments and the formation of so many global organizations, has gone from being extra-large to extra-small. The world has been reduced to a “village.”
Just consider the many organizations that have helped propel this globalism: The United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the European Union, NATO, the World Health Organization, etc. Think of the technological advancements: the internet, global news networks, banking, currency (or lack of), transportation, communication, advanced transcontinental weaponry, just to mention a few. This globalism will one day, led by the antichrist, lead to a global revolution (Revelation 13:3-18).
What was once inconceivable is now either conceivable or reality. The world’s evolution has brought us to a point where we can now conceive of a one-world government and economy, a world where the lines of demarcation are either blurred or completely erased. Today, we can picture a strong, charismatic, intelligent, powerful, savvy individual rising to a position of leadership and eventually governing this new global “village.”
According to Revelation 13, the world order during the end times will have three parts to it:
(1) It will have a global government – He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation.
And it was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. It was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation (Revelation 13:7).
(2) There will be a global religion – All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
All those who live on the earth will worship it, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered (Revelation 13:8).
(3) There will be a global economy – He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.
So that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of its name (Revelation 3:17).
Rhodes says that,
“Even in our day, we are witnessing major steps toward globalism. We see globalist policies emerging in economics, banking, commerce and trade, business, management, manufacturing, environmentalism, population control, education, religion, agriculture, information technologies, the entertainment industry, the publishing industry, science and medicine, and even government. The book of Revelation tells us that the antichrist will ultimately lead a global union—an anti-god union (see Revelation 13:3-18).
When one considers the multiple problems now facing humanity—including the Middle East conflict, terrorism, overpopulation, starvation, pollution, famine, national and international crime, cyberwarfare, and economic instability—it is entirely feasible that increasing numbers of people will come to believe that such problems can be solved only on a global level. They may think that the only hope for human survival is a strong and effective world government.
As the danger mounts, people worldwide are yearning for a leader who can take control and fix everything. The global economy is reeling, people are suffering, and there is a sense of urgency for a powerful leader who can chart a clear global course toward stability. Such a leader is coming, and he may already be alive in the world. Scripture identifies him as the antichrist.
Of great significance is the fact that the technology that makes possible a world government—including instant global media via television and radio, cyberspace, and super-computers—is now in place. In other words, technology has greased the skids for the emergence of globalism in our day.”8
Cash? What’s That!
This is one of those major steps towards globalism. Financial institutions both nationally and globally have been and continue to merge at incredible rates. Economies, currencies, and regulations continue to become more and more centralized.
Revelation chapter 13 tells us that when the antichrist—who will be embraced by the world— emerges on the scene in the seven-year tribulation period, he will display great power and wisdom and will offer “solutions” to many of the issues plaguing the world and thus offering what the world perceives as order and stability. The truth is he will rule with an iron fist making world dictators and ruthless rulers of the past look like novices. Revelation 13:16-18 tells us that during the last three years of the tribulation period people will not be able to buy or sell unless they have “the mark.”
And it makes everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, because it is the number of a person. Its number is 666.
The technology is already here and in many respects in place that will make it possible for the antichrist to bring about this cashless reality.
From Bad to Worse
Scoffing, Lust, and Unbelief
Above all, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days scoffing and following their own evil desires, saying, “Where is his ‘coming’ that he promised? Ever since our ancestors fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
Note that Peter is telling us that we should be aware of this now. No doubt there were already false teachers and individuals being led astray by greed, heresy, and lust, but the scoffers Peter has in mind here are in a class of their own—contemptuous nonbelievers who abandon and even scorn the faith and the church.
Some will flatly deny the doctrine of the second coming of Christ as absurd or unreasonable while others will openly ridicule it as antiquated or superstitious. This will demonstrate outright unbelief in the Bible by some and ill-preparedness to welcome the Savior by others. The incredible spread of this incredulity indicates that the Lord’s return draws near. Peter emphasized that scoffers would abound in the last days. Jude wrote,
But you, dear friends, remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They told you, “In the end time there will be scoffers living according to their own ungodly desires.” These people create divisions and are worldly, not having the Spirit (Jude 1:17-19).
As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. This is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be (Matthew 24:37-39).
Callousness and carelessness concerning Christ and His things have always been present, but they will increase in the last days. An instructive parallel can be found in this passage, in Noah’s day, people were concerned with only two things: eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Propagation and preservation of the race was the concern of the people while all along, the race was about to perish. Today, we see an increasing lack of concern for the repeated warnings; instead, there is a prevalent attitude of “business as usual.” Today, like in the days of Noah, the focus is on man (propagation, preservation, advancement, independence, etc.) and not on God or the things of God.
Apostasy within the Church
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer (1 Timothy 4:1-5).
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
The truth in God’s Word is accurate and reliable. Yet people have long questioned, doubted and impugned the authority of the Bible. We see this trend increasing at alarming rates particularly within “Christendom.” Entire communities and denominations have departed and now attack what for centuries have been the orthodox, historical doctrines of the church. Commitment to God and His truth has gone out the window while the spirit of compromise and the embracing of postmodern philosophies are in.
J. Dwight Pentecost states that,
“Abundant evidence on every hand shows that men are departing from the faith. Not only do they doubt the Word; they openly reject it. This phenomenon has never been as prevalent as today. In the period of church history known as the dark ages, men were ignorant of the truth; but never was there an age when men openly denied and repudiated the truth. This open, deliberate, willful repudiation of the truth of the Bible described in Scripture is one of the major characteristics of the last days of the church on earth.”9
Walvoord tells us that,
“The increment of evil, the growth of hypocrisy, selfishness, and unbelief, within the bounds of professing Christendom are according to Scripture signs of the approaching end of the age. Though there are thousands of faithful congregations and many pious souls still bearing a faithful testimony to Christ in our modern day, it is hardly true that the majority of Christendom is bearing a true testimony. It is the exception rather than the rule for the great fundamentals of the church to ring from the pulpit and for the pew to manifest the transforming grace of God in life and sacrificial devotion. In a word, the last days of the church on earth are days of apostasy, theologically and morally, days of unbelief, and days that will culminate in divine judgment.”10
Just consider the incredible explosion of false religions, pseudo-Christian cults, new age philosophies, atheism, liberal Christianity, and the secularization of society. The true saving Gospel is now widely spurned and considered by many as intolerant and politically incorrect to the extent that even among many so-called Christians, preaching it should be something we should stop doing all together.
The Rise of Wickedness
But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
The world will experience societal degeneration; this will be characterized by moral decay, in part as a result of the denial of objective, absolute truth, for where there is no objective, absolute truth, chaos reigns, sin is rampant, and the value of things such as life itself is reduced to something that is worthless and meaningless.
It is true that these characteristics have been present in virtually every generation from the fall on, what Paul is simply saying is that in the last days, these characteristics will intensify.
Holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people (2 Timothy 3:5).
We will see an increasing phenomenon in the latter days, unbelief cloaked in outward ritualism. Ceremonialism conceals faithlessness. Since faith is missing, they will concentrate on form. Faith in Christ begins from the inside and in time shows itself outwardly, but what will be characteristic in the last days is an outward religion that falls apart because the inward transformation is non-existent. People will be religious outwardly but lost inwardly.
Wars and Rumors of Wars, Rising of Nations against Nations, Natural Disturbances
Jesus replied to them, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these events are the beginning of labor pains” (Matthew 24:4-8).
We are told that we will see greater frequency and intensity of these things as we approach the last days. Though many believed that with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War we would experience greater peace, yet the opposite has occurred. Many others are racing to fill the vacuum it left in its wake, particularly the Islamic nations. With the threat of the Soviets to the north of the Arab world, we are seeing the rise of rouge militant Islamic nations take center stage in world events. In addition, we are finding that there is not a region in the world where there is not some conflict going on. Nations in every major region of the world are in conflict either with themselves or somebody else. Africans thought they would experience peace and freedom as they escaped their colonial oppressors. The opposite occurred; almost every African nation is engaged in civil war or in disputes with other African nations. Rwanda is a classic illustration; nearly a million people were killed in a 1994 fury of genocide that lasted 3 months. At the height of the slaughter, Hutus were killing Tutsis at a rate of 400 and hour.
There have always been natural disasters but let us look at the trend today: in 1940, there were 51 earthquakes measuring above 6.0 on the Richter scale. In the 1990’s, there was more than 1500 earthquakes measuring above 6.0 on the Richter scale. There have been more severe earthquakes in the last 200 years than in the preceding 1000 years.
For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places (Matthew 24:7).
There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven (Luke 21:11).
Despite our modern technology and the incredible wealth around the world, millions die every year in famine-stricken nations. In a recent article published online by CNBC, Chloe Taylor wrote,
“Famines of “biblical proportions” are becoming a serious risk as the coronavirus crisis threatens to double the number of people nearing starvation, a U.N. body has warned.
In projections released Tuesday, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) predicted that the number of people facing “acute food insecurity” stood to rise to 265 million by the end of this year, up from 135 million in 2019.”11
Pestilences (diseases) are on the rise as well despite miraculous breakthroughs in medical technology. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has claimed the lives of over 32 million people.12 As I pen these words, in a span of about 5 months, more than 362,000 people have died due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with almost 6 million confirmed cases.
1 Mark M. Hitchcock, Middle East Burning: Is the Spreading Unrest A Sign of The End Times? (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2012).
2 David Jeremiah, What in the World is Going On? 10 Prophetic Clues You Cannot Afford to Ignore (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010), p. 14.
3 Ibid., p. 15.
4 Ron Rhodes, End-Times Super Trends: A Political, Economic, And Cultural Forecast of The Near-Term Prophetic Future (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2017), p. 11.
5 Hitchcock, Middle East Burning: Is the Spreading Unrest A Sign of The End Times? Op. cit.
6 Ron Rhodes, The End Times in Chronological Order: A Complete Overview to Understanding Bible Prophecy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2012), p. 77.
7 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), p. 245.
8 Rhodes, End-Times Super Trends: A Political, Economic, And Cultural Forecast of The Near-Term Prophetic Future, Op. cit., pp. 219-220.
9 J. Dwight Pentecost, Will Man Survive? (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1971), p. 58.
10 John F. Walvoord, The Church in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1964), p. 66.
11 Chloe Taylor, “‘Biblical’ famines could double global hunger as a result of the coronavirus crisis, UN warns,” CNBC, April 22, 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/22/coronavirus-biblical-famines-could-double-global-hunger-un-warns.html.
12 Source: World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/gho/hiv/en/.
Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.
Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at KnowingChristianity.blogspot.com.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked as (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked as (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.