Are We Living in the End Times?
This is a fascinating question, one I get asked most often by people who know I follow Christ but aren’t so sure about Him themselves. Indeed, there are a lot of things happening in the world that make us all wonder. In his book, The End, author Mark Hitchcock is careful to point out that the signs referred to in biblical end times prophecies are about events that will happen after the Rapture, not before. This is clearly based on his belief that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation, a stand that I happen to take, too. The Bible tells us there aren’t signs that will signal the Rapture. That will happen suddenly, with one being taken and another left behind.
So how are we to look at what we see happening in the world today? The best approach is to look at the Bible and see what it says. Better to read from the Bible what will happen than to look at what is happening and apply it to the Bible! Hitchcock does a great job in The End of giving a fair evaluation of the different perspectives on the end times. He gives a concise rundown of five signs that the Bible refers to concerning the Tribulation. Here’s my very brief take on those five signs:
The Re-gathering of the Jewish People
The Jewish people and the land of Israel are the center stage of the Tribulation. The entire world will be focused on the unfolding of events there, as the Antichrist looks to make peace with Israel and inevitably betrays them. We are witnesses to the rebuilding of the Jewish nation after centuries of being scattered over the globe. What other people have returned to their homeland after thousands of years of persecution and Holocaust? Only the Jews. In just a short time, they have gathered together and rebuilt a strong, viable nation. They’re raising funds to rebuild their temple, ever mindful of their promised King. Yet, despite desperately wanting peace, Shalom, they have bitter enemies. Nations are bent on destroying them. Indeed, the world is divided among those who support Israel and those who do not.
Apostasy is a departure from truth. Truth? It’s all relative in today’s world. Society is redefining everything, and nothing is true and everything is true. Things that were considered sinful are no longer sinful. God is whomever you want your god to be. What is being taught as truth is often a twisted misrepresentation of God’s precious Word. It’s more and more difficult to find a church that teaches sound doctrine. It’s a sign of the times.
The Coming Middle East Peace
The animosity between the Jewish people and the Muslims is visible everywhere. The conflict flows into our own country, and who among us doesn’t wish for peace there? Peace will come, temporarily of course, when a peace treaty between Israel and the Antichrist is signed. This is the signal of the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation.
Reuniting the Roman Empire
Most biblical scholars say that, while the European Union doesn’t quite fit the description in the Bible of the new Roman Empire, it is close. At the very least, it’s a clear example of how easily it could be formed and become that empire.
Never before has globalism been so imminent. We buy and sell globally. World affairs are a part of our everyday conversations thanks to information pouring in from multiple sources throughout the day. International committees and summits exist for governing just about everything under the sun. With the bank collapses of recent years it’s clear to see how each nation depends on the economy of another. A one-world power overseeing all this is not a stretch of anyone’s imagination.
Mark Hitchcock says, “‘signs of the times’ are visible events, sometimes miraculous or otherwise unexplainable, that point to something beyond themselves.” Some people who don’t know Jesus are skeptical about these things. Or so I hear. The people that talk to me, they’re not skeptical; they’re frightened about what these signs point to. I know one young mom who is afraid she’ll have to choose to follow the Beast or she’ll lose her children. She’ll do anything to save her children. Still, she’s reached out to Jesus because she knows He died for her sins and that He alone can give her eternal life. She’s not sold on the Rapture coming before the Tribulation, so her tender mother’s heart and her fear for the future of her children keep her in prayer. We’ve prayed together for courage and wisdom and strength that only God can give her to face whatever comes her way. In the process, she’s grown to love Jesus. She’s growing more Christ-like every day.
I know others who read the Bible and pray a little more when they think about what the future holds. They’re afraid, too, but they’re reluctant to repent of their sins and turn from them completely. They get curious when they see things happening, so they’ll ask me about the end time but then they choose to look for distractions that make them forget their fear for a while. My heart breaks as I see the fear and the reluctance. Oh, to have the peace and reassurance that Jesus ultimately wins! Oh, to have the perspective that should we be martyred our death would glorify God! But no, that stubborn reluctance hangs on relentlessly.
This is why a friend of mine, Angela, is so passionate about evangelism. She knows that at any time in any conversation, someone could see the truth and give up on sin and turn to Jesus. She speaks boldly and with certainty. She’s passionate about the truth of the Bible and she is looking forward to the day when she sees Jesus, the One who loves her so. I love being around her because she’s a vivid reminder of what’s important. I love how she keeps life simple with her singular focus and how confidently she brings Jesus into every conversation with strangers.
If it’s been a while since you’ve talked with fellow Christians about the end times, I encourage you to dive in, not to become fearful (though a healthy, respectful fear is good!) but to get excited about it! Jesus is real, and he’s coming back to reign on earth and to spend eternity with us! This is our hope and our future! We don’t have to have all the answers, but we can do our best to let our light shine so that Jesus may be seen in us. As those around us question current events, be a safe place to come to where they can talk about their fears. Point to Jesus, tell them about his death on the cross and their need to believe in Him and repent and turn from their sins. I pray they will see the peace in you and be encouraged by your excitement. Indeed, these are exciting times! Let us not run from them, but embrace them! Revelation 22:20 says it best: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
by Jill Cristao, Director of Connections Ministries