As Jesus left the temple his disciples asked him about his second coming and the signs of the close of the age. His response is particularly of interest to us today for we are living in the age when these prophecies are beginning to be fulfilled. These and other prophecies in the Bible point to this age as being the beginning of the time of the end and the fulfilment of the signs of the close of the age.
In this section Jesus specifically mentioned a number of signs. He prefaced his remarks with a warning saying, “See to it that no one leads you astray.” This is a warning we must pay particular attention to. Although at any time the opposition to Christ and Christians has been strong, in these last days it will intensify.
Jesus says that many will come claiming to be the Christ and will lead many astray. We have seen numerous cults from the deadly ones like the Jonestown massacre and the Branch Davidians through to men setting themselves up as if they are Christ. The work of the antichrist structures in the Churches are also testimony to these times. The coming of antichrist movements were already being seen in John’s day as he indicated in his latter letters. They are even more evident today. An antichrist structure in a Church occurs when a man takes the place of Christ. Any Church that has a man set up as the head of the church is an antichrist structure. Jesus is the head of the Church and no man has the right to take his place. An antichrist structure will lead the people in the church away from the truth into all kinds of error, and you will know these false teachers by their fruit. They will bring the people into bondage and take away the freedom that is in Christ Jesus. They will deny Jesus by taking his place at the head of the church. Thus it is essential that we focus on seeking the truth and looking to the Lord so that we are not led astray. There is only one source of truth and that is from Christ.
Jesus then showed the disciples several of the signs of the end. Specifically he said there would be wars and rumours of wars. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There would also be famines and earthquakes in various places.
These signs have never been more apparent than they are today, and especially just at present. Recent deadly earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand are just the culmination of an extended period of increasing seismic activity in the past century. We saw a couple of years ago the earthquakes that led to tsunamis in Indonesia where several hundred thousand died. Current estimates of those dead or missing in Japan are in the order of tens of thousands. Never have we had the number or intensity of earthquakes as we are seeing at this time.
Consider also the wars and skirmishes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and uprisings of the people against their governments in the Middle East including Egypt, Libya and other places. Never have we had the number of wars and rumours of wars as are occurring at this time.
Finally we are seeing issues with food crops. The intense weather systems are destroying crops in some places. Outcomes from the Japan earthquake with radiation contamination of foods and the contamination of the seas from nuclear reactor problems are impacting the food chain. Locust plagues in some places are the worst they have ever been. Drought has killed off many stock animals and crops which have then been washed away in flooding rains in Australia. All of these are the pre-cursors to times of famine.
We are in interesting times for as Jesus said, these are just the birth pangs of the signs of the close of the age. What we are witnessing is the beginning of the end. The time is getting short and the day of the Lord’s return is coming soon. Our challenge is to be prepared for his return, and we shall see in the next few sections that this is a clear message the Lord is giving to us in this last generation. He is telling us that we must be prepared, for these are just the beginnings and it will get worse.
Now is the time when all God fearing people need to have their wits about them. Now is the time when we will be called upon to bear testimony to the truth. There will be tough times ahead and tremendous opposition as the time draws near. The activity of Satan will increase and his lies will permeate everything in this world. He will not be obvious but will be very deceptive and will lead many astray. Satan is the master of deceit and cunning and that is how many will be captured. We who follow the Lord need to learn what is pleasing to God so that we can stand in the face of his opposition. The Lord will be faithful and will stand with us. However he also warns that some will face death for their stand as Christians. This is not a time for the faint hearted but is a time to consolidate and be prepared to stand up for what is right. His aim in telling us these things in advance is to ensure that we understand and have the knowledge that these things will happen so that we should not fear, unlike the rest of mankind.
In spite of these bad times ahead Jesus said that we must not be alarmed. There will be many disasters ahead as we see the fulfilment of these prophecies. As these things unfold we can be assured that his return will be soon. If we stand with him to the end, standing up for the truth and righteousness we will be rewarded and reap eternal life. There is no middle ground and no fence sitting in these times. We must be prepared to make a stand for Christ regardless of the consequences and be prepared to forgo all the things of this life, including life itself if necessary, for the vastly greater reward of life eternal with him. Focus on the Lord so that you can become strong in his might, ready, able and willing to stand with him in these final days.