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The Beginning of the End

Rev. Joseph Liddick

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Sometimes you can see it coming. Maybe it is the weather as you watch the dark clouds gathering and feel an ache in your joints. Maybe it is a firing as a coach is let go after several losing seasons and receiving no support from management, fans, or players. Maybe it is a store going out of business after competition moves in and erodes its customer base. Maybe it is a church split after months of taking sides on non-negotiable issues. In any case, the signs were all there. Anyone who looked hard enough could see it coming.

Jesus said that His return to this earth would be a lot like that. People would be able to watch the signs and know that it is near, just as they could observe a fig tree and know by its tender twigs and leaves that summer was just around the corner. The day and hour cannot be known, but the season should be evident for all who are looking at the signs. They should be able to see it coming. What are some of those signs we should be watching for?

The Bible indicates that there are at least eight things we should be watching for:

1. Political unrest--Jesus said that the beginning birth pangs of the last days would include wars and rumors of wars (Mark 13:8). In the twentieth century alone we had two world wars, the second of which was called "the war to end all wars." And in spite of the establishment of a United Nations to work for world peace, there have been more than 100 regional wars since World War II. Although Russia no longer is a threat as a superpower, many other nations have access to nuclear weapons and instantly could plunge the world into chaos with the push of a button. Labor has begun.

2. Natural disasters--Another birth pang mentioned by Jesus was "earthquakes in various places,... and famines" (Mark 13:8). There have always been earthquakes, famines and other natural disasters in the world, but this century has witnessed more of them--disasters with greater intensity. By themselves these may not be cause for apocalyptic concern, but viewed alongside the other signs, they indicate that God is trying to get the world's attention.

3. Social unrest--Paul wrote to Timothy that the last days would be marked by terrible times when people would be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Jesus also said there would be an increase of wickedness and the love of many would grow cold (Matthew 24:12). Read the papers, we're already there.

4. Religious apostasy--Jesus indicated that in the last days many will turn away from the faith (Matthew 24:10). The "faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3) slowly has been eroded throughout this century to the point where the Word of God no longer has any authority in the minds of people.

5. Economic instability--James warned those with riches that their wealth would be of no help to them in the last days (James 5:1-3). Revelation 18 pictures the fall of Babylon, an allegory for the collapse of the world's economy. Many areas of the globe are experiencing this, and in spite of new highs in the U.S. stock market, it too is vulnerable because of high deficits and global dependence. It would not take a big push to plunge the world's economy into a tailspin.

6. The rebirth of Israel--A number of Old Testament texts point to the rebirth of the nation of Israel in the last days, most notably Ezekiel 37. Isaiah 66:8 even says that it will be born "in a day," which came to pass on May 14, 1948. Since then God has assimilated into one nation Jews of many cultures and languages and preserved them through five wars with their Arab neighbors. The people have reclaimed and rebuilt the old wastes of ancient cities, towns, and villages. All of this is a major miracle that points unmistakably to Israel's strategic role in the Lord's scenario for the last days.

7. Evangelistic permeation--Jesus said that "the Gospel must first be preached to all the nations" (Mark 13:10). Never in history has there been such a concentrated effort to fulfill the Great Commission as in the days leading up to the start of the new millennium.

8. The rise of the Antichrist--This is the one sign that is repeated in the Old Testament (Daniel 7), the teachings of Jesus (Mark 13:14f.), the writings of Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12), and the book of Revelation (13:1-18). Antichrist is an apocalyptic figure that will rise to world power in the last days. He will control the world's economy and religion and will wage war against the church and Israel. Many have sought to identify him through the years with some contemporary figure, as some undoubtedly have resembled his qualities to some degree. Nevertheless, he may be alive right now and just waiting for the right moment to seize power.

What can I do?

Can you read the signs? Are you ready for Jesus' imminent return? You can prepare your heart for Jesus' return right now if in faith you will:

Recognize that your sin separates you from a holy God; repent from your sin; realize that God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you and raised Him from the dead in victory; and finally receive Jesus into your life by faith. The Bible tells us that if you "confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). You can do this right now by praying the following prayer:

Thank you, God, for sending your only Son to die for me. I know that without Him I would be separated from You forever by my sins. I repent from my sins and invite You into my life to be my Lord and Savior. Amen.

Don't be caught unaware, like the people in Noah's and Lot's day (Matthew 24:37-39). The Lord has given us ample warning so we can look for Him and anticipate His return.

2003 Good News Publishers. Used by permission.
Translated by permission of Good News Publishers
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