Are These The End Times?

The undersea earthquake and resulting tsunami on 12-26-04 were bad enough. Now experts are saying the current death toll of 150,000 could easily double due to famine, disease, and lack of medical assistance. People are asking if the End of the Age is at hand, like right now.

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

The undersea earthquake and resulting tsunami on 12-26-04 were bad enough. Now experts are saying the current death toll of 150,000 could easily double due to famine, disease, and lack of medical assistance. Then there’s the fact that on 12-26-03 an earthquake struck in Iran killing over 40,000. The two events were within 55 minutes of striking at exactly the same time, one year apart. Scary. Maybe the Lord’s trying to tell us something.

The whole year seemed fraught with disaster. In the US, major hurricanes struck with frightening regularity causing over $42 billion in damage. It’s a wonder Florida still exists.

Around the world nation rose up against nation with as many as 50 currently at war while the threats of attacks and counter attacks from those not at war crowded the headlines. Even those who claim to be allies are mad at each other.

Then there’s the electoral process. Have you ever seen anything so mean spirited? Candidates slandered by the national press, poisoned and even murdered, terrorists using bullets and bombs to intimidate the electorate into staying home. In Iraq, as many as 5 million Iranians have snuck across the border to illegally register for the January 30 vote, an unheard of attempt to manipulate the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. In Israel, Palestinians are demanding that Arabs from East Jerusalem be allowed to vote in the Palestinian election. It took 3 trips to the polls by voters and an international outcry before the Prime Minister of the Ukraine would accept defeat and turn over the office, having failed to kill his opponent.

Times like these prompt the question with which I’ve titled this article. Are these the End Times? In the Bible we can see the phrase “end times” used of periods that include the entire Church age on one hand (Acts 2:17) to just a little while before the 2nd coming on the other. (2 Tim. 3:1) So in the broadest sense the answer is yes.

What Do You Think, Lord?

But that’s not the question people are asking. They want to know if the End of the Age is at hand, like right now. For that we’ll turn to the Lord Who answered the question in Matt. 24.

“What will be the sign of your coming?” they asked Him, “And of the end of the age?”

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars,” He replied, “But see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” Wars and threats of war would be common to the era.

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” As with birth pains these wars and “natural disasters” would be mild and infrequent at the beginning of the age, but grow more frequent and intense as the end time draws near.

So, as the end gets closer we should expect war (and its handmaiden famine) storms and pestilence to occur more frequently and be more destructive to life and property.

How Much Is Enough?

But how severe do these disasters have to get? Take the recent tsunami as an example. Let’s say the experts are right and 300,000 will have died before we’re through. With a global population approaching 6 billion that’s 5/1000ths of 1 percent. Compare that number to this one. By the time the four horsemen of Revelation are finished, 25% of the world’s population will have been killed (Rev. 6:8). That’s over a billion people, and it happens before the Great Tribulation even begins. Another third of those remaining will die during the 42 months of the Great Tribulation. That means that during the last 7 years of Human history an average of 1.2 million people will be killed … every day. Based on that comparison, we can’t really say that we’ve just been through an event of “Biblical proportions” like some reporters are doing. No wonder the Lord said that if He didn’t return and put a stop to it, no one would survive. (Matt 24:22)

And although large disasters tend to get our attention, you can’t predict the end times based on the severity of a single event, as bad as this one was. Remember, more children die needlessly every week than all those killed in the tsunami. Add pre-born deaths and the number is even more disproportionate. And then there are the 3000 or so martyred for their faith every day. Every Day.

So What’s Next?

Accurately predicting the nearness of the End Times requires that a specific series of prophecies given in Scripture begin to take place. As you read this, two of them already have. Israel is back in the Promised Land (Isa. 11:11), and Jerusalem is a Jewish city again (Luke 21:24). These two combine to tell us that some who are alive today will still be alive at the 2nd coming, since the Lord said that all the end times prophecies would be fulfilled within the lifetimes of those being born at their beginning. (Matt. 24:34)

The next big one (for those who aren’t going) will be the instantaneous disappearance of every Christian on Earth, and every child under the age of accountability. It’s called the Rapture of the Church. (1 Thes. 4:15-18) If you’re still here after that one, you may experience a few years of relative peace, but soon you’ll be in for a time well beyond your worst nightmare, making recent events seem small by comparison.

Sometime after the disappearance of the Church, you’ll hear that the Jewish people have begun to build a new Temple in Israel. (Daniel 9: 27) This will probably happen after a large nuclear exchange in the Middle East. (Ezekiel 38-39) When they get the go-ahead to start building you’ll know the end is a mere 7 years away. Then, when a world leader stands in the Temple and tells everyone he’s God, (2 Thes. 2:4) you’ll only have to make it through 1260 more days, (Matt 24:21) but they will literally be hell on earth. Fully one third of the earth’s remaining population will die during that time.

Let’s Get This Over With

But finally the Lord will return and if you’ve chosen Him as your Lord and Savior between the time following the Church’s disappearance and His return you’ll be OK. If you haven’t your troubles will be just beginning, and it’ll be too late for you to do anything about it.

But let’s say you belong to the Lord now. How bad will things get before the Rapture? Well nobody knows for sure. And I can make a good case for the view that the timing of the Rapture is more up to us than to God. You see, the timing of the Rapture isn’t tied to events on Earth (except that it has to happen before the Great Tribulation begins.) It’s tied to the number of believers in the Church.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. (Rom. 11:25)

Apparently God has a fixed number in mind for the Church and as soon as it’s met, we’re outa here. No one knows what the number is but we’re likely very close to reaching it. If that’s the case, then the more enthusiastically we evangelize, the sooner we’re gone. The recent disaster has opened people’s hearts to the Gospel and there are probably more who are ready to hear than there are those who are willing to tell.

But you don’t have to uproot yourself and travel half way around the world. If you’re reading this and haven’t really given your heart to the Lord, maybe you’re the one holding us up. If you already are a believer, then maybe it’s your neighbor or a member of your family. Why don’t you invite him or her to attend church with you this week? Who knows, you may not make it through the whole service. Maranatha 01-09-05