Headlines Written Nearly
2,000 Years Ago
Bible prophecies predicted the conditions and events of our
day as signs of the end of the world-today's headlines written
nearly 2,000 years ago. A consideration of these prophecies
establishes: (1) that the Bible is indeed the inspired Word
of God; (2) that we are living in unprecedented times prophesied
in Scripture as the "end of the world"; and (3)
that man stands at the threshold of lasting peace and economic
security in a pollution-free earth.
12:1 and 4 give four signs that mark the "time of the
end," or end of the world:
of trouble such as never was since there was a nation;
run to and fro;
shall be increased; and
people (Israel) delivered.
the first sign, unprecedented trouble, is the hallmark of
our time is confirmed by historians. True, the world has always
had trouble, but never before has it been in such staggering
In the 20th Century 100 million lives have been lost (TIME,
Mar. 9, 1970). Thirty-four wars were being waged in 1988.
The population explosion and industrialization of Third World
nations will accentuate the oil crunch. The Iraq War is a
harbinger of the future. As the oil crunch increases, nations
will go to war for oil.
Third World nations have the poorman's bomb- chemical warfare,
and are working on actual nuclear warheads. Such volatile
weaponry in the hands of these regimes spells trouble. The
economic and political instability of the Soviet Union could
result in a military coup.
Explosion: Before 1650 A.D. the population doubled every 1,000
years; it doubled in 1850 (200 years later); doubled again
in 1930 (only 80 years later); and doubled again in 1965 (only
35 years later). In 1990 the world population was 5.5 billion.
By 2,000 A.D. it will increase by one billion. Up to 15 million
people die of starvation annually. There are 30 million refugees
and 100 million homeless. Each day 40,000 babies die of starvation
in Third World countries while Americans spend over $900 million
yearly feeding dogs and cats.
The U.S. has 5 % of the world's population, but annually disposes
of 290 million tons of toxic waste, uses 26% of the world's
oil, releases 26% of the world's nitrogen oxides, produces
22 % of the world's carbon dioxide emissions .
wastes, radio active and toxic chemical wastes are contaminating
our rivers, lakes and oceans. Air pollutants from car exhaust
and industry spawn disease. Deaths from respiratory disease
doubles every five years. Skin cancer caused by the depleted
ozone layer is rapidly increasing. Acid rain is destroying
our forests, which in turn will produce ''global warming.''
This "greenhouse effect" could melt polar ice caps
causing oceans to rise and wipe out hundreds of thousands
of miles of densely populated coastal lands (affecting 2 billion
people). Also, it would dramatically increase temperature
variations. This would trigger life-threatening droughts and
heat waves turning "breadbasket farmland" (like
our Midwest) into barren desert. Severe food shortages would
result. Time is running out, according to Lester R. Brown,
president of the highly respected WORLDWATCH INSTITUTE. "Preceding
generations have always been concerned about the future, but
ours is the first to be faced with decisions that will determine
whether the earth our children inherit will be inhabitable."
Scientists are now concerned that the population explosion
could hasten and increase the effects of Global warming. (N.
TIMES, Jan. 18, 1990). Drastic climate changes resulting in
economic disaster in many nations could trigger wars for survival.
and Violence continue to spiral. Automatic weapons are readily
available to the "kid" on the street. In large cities,
students are scanned for weapons upon entering school and
the halls are patrolled by armed police. There is an upsurge
in the most violent types of crime by teens of all races,
classes and life-styles. Once muggers robbed a person and
ran off. Now they beat, violate or murder them. There were
over 2200 homicides in New York City during 1990. Also. every
2½ weeks a child was murdered in New York by a parent.
Over 3 million wives are battered each year in the U.S.
We are losing the drug war because the huge profits are too
corrupting. In 1989 the major U.S. chemical companies sold
18.5 million pounds of chemicals to "front companies"
in South America who in turn sold these chemicals to drug
cartels. There are 2.2 million hard-core drug users in the
United States. While I out of 40 persons in New York City
is hard-core, nationally I out of 100 are hard-core users.
The number of casual users is substantially higher. Is it
any wonder the crime rate is spiraling? Seventy percent of
New York City's drug users are affluent. One thousand drug
addicted babies are born every day.
chaos: The U.S. entered the 1990s with a staggering debt of
$663.7 billion and a perilous foreign trade imbalance; the
S & L Associations on the verge of complete collapse;
the commercial banks in serious trouble; insurance companies
failing; 1300 companies claiming bankruptcy per week; plus
a recession that accentuated of these problems. The nineties
is the ''decade of uncertainty.''
1983, the U.S. was the world's largest creditor nation. By
1990 it became the biggest debtor nation (C. Fred Bergsten,
head of the INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS 1990). The
Commerce Department reported (July 2, 1990) that the U.S.
debt swelled to $663.7 billion. Many economists predict it
will top $1 trillion within a few years. Already we have fallen
to number three in economic power, behind Germany and Japan.
of 2500 Savings and Loan Associations, over 1,000 need to
be bailed out. It is more than a fiasco of high risk loans
and mismanagement. S & L heads have swindled astronomical
sums. Government regulators are accused of hiding facts to
avert election issues.
our generation is experiencing a "Time of Trouble such
as never was since there was a nation."
second sign is increased travel. Transportation has increased
rapidly because of the automobile. Selden made the first automobile
in 1877. Today there are over 500,000,000 cars. Through increased
and numerous modes of transportation millions are crossing
and recrossing each other's paths around the world. In the
past 100 years, man has increased his travel from 30 mph to
25,000 mph off the planet to the moon. Sophistication in communications,
additionally, allows man to see and hear almost anywhere in
the world instantly.
third sign is increased knowledge. The statistics of our day
are impressive. If the increase of knowledge from the dawn
of history to the 1880's is given a value of one, then knowledge
has doubled 16 times within the last 10 years. One hundred
years ago, 90 of the world's population could neither read
nor write. Today, 40% of the world's population can read and
write and in the Western world literacy has reached nearly
90%. Ninety percent of all scientists who have ever lived
are alive today. Fifty percent of the world's inventions have
been created in the last decade.
noted historian, Barbara Tuchman has observed,
entered the Nineteenth Century using only his own and animal
power, supplemented by that of wind and water, much as he
had entered the Thirteenth, or for that matter, the First.
He entered the Twentieth with his capacities in transportation,
communication, production, manufacture and weaponry multiplied
a thousandfold by the energy of machines." (The Proud
Tower, Foreword, xvi)
travel and increase of knowledge marks us at the "time
of the end."
Becomes a Nation-Daniel 12:1
fourth sign which marks us at the "time of the end"
is that the Lord will stand up for Daniel's "people,"
the Jewish nation. If we are living in this "time of
the end," we should expect a dramatic evidence of God's
favor on behalf of the Jewish people.
this background, Matthew 24 becomes meaningful . "What
shall be the sign of your coming [Greek, parousia], and of
the end of the world [age]?" Matthew 24:3
24:32-34 gives the deliverance of Israel as one of these signs.
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch
is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer
is nigh: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things,
know that it is even at the doors. Verily I say unto you,
This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."
is generally recognized by students of prophecy from many
denominations that the fig tree is pictorial of the nation
of Israel. (See Jeremiah, Chapter 24). In Matthew 21:19, Jesus
cursed a fig tree because he found no fruit on it and as a
result of his cursing it withered away. Several days later
Jesus applied the lesson of the withered fig tree. He proclaimed
judgment on the nation of Israel, "Behold, your house
is left unto you desolate" (Matthew 23:38) because it
had not borne fruitage to God. Israel was subsequently scattered
and persecuted. Israel's restoration is an outstanding sign
of the end of the age. The fig tree coming back to life and
putting forth leaves represents Israel coming to life as a
nation, and receiving God's increasing favor. Historians agree
that Israel's rebirth is a miracle of history. Never before
has a nation been destroyed, its people dispersed to the ends
of the earth and then-nearly 2,000 years later-its descendants
regathered to their homeland and re-established as a nation.
Luke 21:29-32 with Matthew 24:32-34. The restoration of Israel
means the kingdom is at hand.
he spoke to them a parable: Behold the fig tree, and all the
trees; when they now shoot forth, you see and know of your
own selves that summer is nigh at hand. So likewise you, when
you see these things come to pass, know you that the kingdom
of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation
shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled." Luke 21:29-32.
generation that witnesses Israel restored as a nation will
also witness the complete end of the world or age, and the
full establishment of the Kingdom of God.
Scriptures are charged with signs that have become the headlines
of our day: Jerusalem is no longer trodden down of the Gentiles
(Luke 21:24); many new nations have gained independence (Luke
21:29,30); evil is exposed as never before (I Cor. 4:5); most
people, even the professedly religious, have little faith
(Luke 18:8); men love themselves, have no respect for parents,
and have no natural affection (2 Tim. 3:1-5); turmoil grows
between labor and capital (James 5:1-4); wars and war preparations
intensify (Joel 3:9-11); all the while men proclaim "peace"
(I Thess. 5:2,3); men's hearts fail for fear (Luke 21:36).
more sign bears consideration.
Nations-No Way Out
there shall be signs…upon the earth distress of nations,
with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring…"
Greek word sunoche, translated "distress," means
"a holding fast together, union or crowding." What
better description could we have of the United Nations organization
and all the other alliances and pacts such as NATO, SEATO,
and the European Common Market? Today the nations are uniting
a further thought is contained in this sign that marks it
peculiar to our time. The Greek word aporia translated "perplexity"
means "no way out, be at a loss." Our day is characterized
by uniting all the nations of earth into the United Nations
and other alliances in a desperate attempt for survival, but
there is literally no way out. This hopeless situation is
graphically reflected in a statement by former U.N. Secretary
General U Thant, on May 15,1969:
do not wish to seem over-dramatic, but I can only conclude
from the information that is available to me … that
the members of the United Nations have perhaps ten years left
in which to subordinate their ancient quarrels and launch
a global partnership to end the arms race, to improve the
human environment, to defuse the population explosion and
supply the required momentum to world development efforts.
If such a global partnership is not forged within the next
decade, then I very much fear that the problems I have mentioned
will have reached such staggering proportions that they will
be beyond our capacity to control."
21:25 tells us that this desperate uniting of nations for
survival in a no-way-out situation is one of the "signs"
of the end of the world (age).
of these prophecies mark us in the time when the present evil
world is being destroyed.-God is now revealing Himself as
never before in history, a revelation which will climax with
the establishment of the Kingdom of Christ on earth. Take
heart-even though things must get worse before they get better.
It is the unprecedented severity of world problems (Matthew
24:21) and the paralysis of hopelessness (Luke 21:25) that
mark us at the threshold of the great Kingdom blessings which
God has in store for man.
as urban renewal requires the demolition of the old, so the
full establishment of Christ's Kingdom requires the removal
of our corrupt civilization (Hebrews 12:28). This present
generation will see the Kingdom in all its glory (Luke 21:21-32).