After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting it sure feels like the end is right around the corner. We are no strangers to school shootings. These tragic events have plagued us for the past twenty years, but this is something else entirely. The targeting of such young children reaches a satanic level not seen before in American society.
Was this school shooting simply another example of our depravity? We live in a fallen world that won’t be restored until Christ returns. If you’re wondering why so many tragedies seem to occur on a regular basis, join the club. School shootings, killer natural disasters, warfare, and economic strife give the appearance of a world hurling towards imminent collapse.
We ask ourselves, when will Christ come back and put an end to senseless violence?
We aren’t the first society to ask this age-old question. The apostles of the early church looked daily for His return. As Rome collapsed in the 5th century AD, Christians thought it was the end of the world. The Black Plague, Hundred Years War, and Church upheaval of the late middle ages gave many cause to ask the same question – “ Lord, are you coming back before it’s too late or what?”
It’s true, Jesus Himself said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Matthew 24:36). If someone tells you they know the exact date of Christ’s return politely extricate yourself from the conversation before they hand you some Kool-aid.
God knew we would be challenged with increasing hardships during the last days. Before Christ’s return and Millennial Kingdom rule, the world will experience the worst seven years of history, known as the Tribulation.
The good news -- these seven years have not yet occurred. Christ will rapture His church before those days come.
The bad news -- it will get worse before it gets better.
What did Jesus Say about the end-times?
We cannot know the day, month, or year of His return, but Jesus gave us instructions to watch for the season in Matthew 24.
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs (Matthew 24:3-8).
These verses describe pre-tribulation events that will come to pass, for immediately after verse 8 Jesus begins describing Tribulation events. Looking at Jesus’ predictions, have they come to pass yet? Let’s examine his prophecies.
There have always been false messiahs, cult leaders, and spiritual folk who claim to be Jesus Christ. We can safely check this off the list.
“wars and rumors of wars”
No explanation needed here. There is no shortage of war and intrigue today.
“Nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom”
This is perhaps the most telling prediction from the passage. According to Dr. Fruchtenbaum, a renowned eschatology expert, the term “nation against nation” is a common Jewish idiom for the nations of the entire earth.
He bases this off similar passages in scripture. Isaiah 19 describes an Egyptian civil war in much the same way. “Egyptians against Egyptians,” “city against city,” and “kingdom against kingdom” are all passages used to describe conflict in Egypt.
In much the same way, Matthew uses the same wording in Jesus’ prediction of future conflict. The setting is not Egypt, but rather, the entire earth.1
Jesus’ predictions describe clashes between large-scale nations and civilizations, according to Dr. Fruchtenbaum even global conflict. Only the 20th century has seen war on a global scale – twice. Nation-states aligned against nation-states pinned most of the world on one side or the other in both World Wars. This prediction has indeed occurred.
“famines and earthquakes”
The national geological survey has reported a definite rise in earthquakes over the past century. This is partially due to increased technology but also due to an increase in earthquakes themselves.
Unfortunately, African and Asian droughts and famines will only continue to plague the poorest among us. Thankfully the United States still manages to feed a large portion of the world. Should something happen to our ability to grow food we may see a global famine of biblical proportions.
For the skeptics, Jesus’ predictions alone may not be enough to convince them that we may be moving closer to the last days. Earthquakes, famine, charlatans, and warfare are a part of life on earth. Jesus’ predicted a rise in all of these events, and no one can deny that we have seen an increase in all of these activities over the past century.
Paul’s predictions of moral collapse
Paul also included signs of the end regarding the moral collapse of society in II Timothy. Look at Paul’s words and ask yourself, is this our society today?
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these (II Timothy 3:3-5).
Selfishness, Ungrateful, Lovers of money
It’s as if Paul gazed into 21st century America and saw its soul. Selfishness abounds, as most American’s solely desire the acquisition of wealth and “stuff” at the expense of others. We have become an entitlement society where those who do not work are bent on receiving what they’re “entitled” at the expense of those who do work. How long can that last?
Boastful, Arrogant, Conceited, and Unholy
Yes, there have been arrogant boasters throughout time, but our society today is unique in that we boast upon our immoralities. Never before have so many Americans proudly denied the existence of their Creator. The individual’s freedom to choose a destructive lifestyle is heavily favored over any moral compass. Sin has become a symbol of freedom, an identity marker not to be eradicated, but embraced as a personality trait. Rather than hide in shame, society tells us to proudly wear our iniquities on our sleeves.
Brutal, without Self-Control, and Treacherous
As evidenced from Sandy Hook, we need not look deep into our culture to see violence. From Hollywood’s bloody carnage to the Music industry’s embrace of the thug culture, violence is prevalent in America. Youtube is full of wanton brutality as innocent passersby are beaten (sometimes to death) by groups of young men and women while bystanders look on and do nothing.
Lovers of Pleasure rather than lovers of God
Our hedonist society is not alone in history, but it is certainly a prominent characteristic of America today. Do what feels good. Live for the moment regardless of the consequences.
Want to leave your spouse for another woman? It’s ok, you can’t stop love.
Want to be a bum and live on the backs of others? The government will take care of you.
Want to eat, eat, and then eat some more? We’ve got healthcare for that.
Why save for tomorrow when you can borrow and spend today? Who cares what will happen to your children as long as you live the good life today.
Holding to a form of Godliness, but denying its power
This present church age struggles deeply with this principle. How many churches have abandoned the teachings of scripture in order to appease the secular progressive culture? Many pastors have chosen not to take a stand on hot-button issues in order to avoid the inevitable attacks that would ensue.
Entire denominations of churches today deny the authenticity of scripture, ignore large sections of the Bible, and deny the resurrection of Christ yet still claim to be Christians.
Additionally, many Americans claim to be very spiritual. Many profess some belief in Jesus and the Bible, but in the same breath will tell you that Christianity is no different than other religions.
Is Christ coming back soon?
Honestly, no one knows for sure. He could’ve returned during the time of the apostles but He did not. He could return tomorrow, or He could wait another thousand years.
But ask yourself these questions: have the global predictions of Jesus occurred in the past century? Are we living in the moral catastrophe predicted by Paul? Are the geopolitical prophecies of the Old Testament in position to be fulfilled today? Yes!
Well this was a gloomy post, but it has been a gloomy week for our nation. Thankfully we have the hope that Christ will return soon.
Revelation 22:20, “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
1 Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps of the Messiah, (Ariel Ministries, San Antonio, TX, 2011): 94.