Are we near the end of the age and the second coming of Jesus Christ? If so, what ought you be doing spiritually?
[Darris McNeely] Atomic scientists have moved the Doomsday Clock closer to the dreaded midnight hour. We are now at two and a half minutes to the end of the world.
Scientists who have been keeping track of this clock since the 1940’s are concerned with the critical issues of global warming and the tensions among the nations and leaders of the world. Shifting patterns among the nations and rising fears from nuclear armament and world terrorism fuel the fears as well.
Are we closer to nuclear Armageddon? Will mankind erase all life on earth through war? And more importantly, what should you be doing? How do world conditions influence your relationship with God?
Join us on this edition of Beyond Today as we look at the Bible and ask, “Where Are We in Bible Prophecy?”
[Announcer] Join our host Darris McNeely on Beyond Today !
[Darris] Are you the type of person who studies Bible prophecy and looks at the headlines of the world and knows we must be close to the end of the age and the second coming of Jesus Christ? Perhaps you are.
But what are you doing with that knowledge? Has the Bible message moved you to change your life? To clean up personal habits and behavior? To conform with God’s commandments? Has all your study of Bible prophecy brought an uncertainty to your life that’s hard to bear, causing you to escape into a denial that all will be okay and life will go on as normal? Or, perhaps it has caused you to live your life not fully obeying God while thinking you can repent at the last minute, just before the clock strikes midnight.
You know, I used to be like that last person I just described. When I was a young man, I read the Bible and understood prophecy and the events foretold to happen before the coming of Christ and the end of this age. And believe this, in my youth the world was a very dangerous place and there was fear life would not go on.
The world was on the brink of nuclear war more than once. The old Soviet Union had placed nuclear weapons in Cuba, a short distance off the coast of the United States. The two great nuclear powers came face to face. Fortunately, the Soviet Union blinked, and withdrew their missiles, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Now today, nuclear war is an even larger danger. Nations that seek the destruction of America and western society are developing nuclear weapons with the avowed intent to use them to advance their goals.
And now, the world is concerned about the effects of global warming and whether human conduct will bring environmental disaster to where life cannot exist. Well, 50 years ago, scientists were also concerned about the environment. The problem at that time was called “the population bomb.” Could the world feed the expanding populations of the developing world? Would we see mass starvation and epidemics threaten all life? There was real fear of what uncontrolled population growth would do to life on Earth.
And let’s not forget the social unrest today over governments and leaders and the direction the world is taking. Social media fans flames of protest faster than any previous point in history. Millions can march in the streets expressing opinions about leaders and policies and this creates a climate of fear about the future.
But this is merely a continuation of a long history of social ferment. The 1960’s in Europe and America saw the streets aflame with social unrest. In the United States. leaders felt a real danger of anarchy toppling the federal government. During that time, a very popular song came out that was called The Eve of Destruction . Its lyrics said, “(the)…world it is exploding, violent flares and bullets loading. …take a look around at all the hate there is in China, take a look around…and tell me over and over again my friend…you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction”
This song describes problems that are still with us to this today: racial unrest, threat of nuclear war, social injustice and rejection of cultural norms. Today though, the problems are bigger and more dangerous to the stability of the world.
You see, this was my world when I was young, but I also knew what the Bible said about the future hope of the Kingdom of God. I knew mankind would not blow itself apart with nuclear war. I knew there were answers to the big questions of life. Questions like: Is there a God? What is the real purpose of human life? How then shall we live? I knew these answers from the Bible and my life was not without hope.
But, I had a choice to make. I was young and I wanted to experience life. I thought that living by biblical teachings might somehow prevent me from having a fulfilling life, so I put off making a commitment to God. I thought I could live life on my terms and then come to a last-minute repentance or change, and then slide easily into the Kingdom of God.
But I was wrong. God intervened in my life and made me face the reality of His Word and I had to do something about it. I could not ignore the critical choice of obedience to the God of the Bible or obedience to the god of this world. I chose to obey the God of the Bible. I saw that godly life was the best way to live my daily life. I made that decision in my youth and it has made all the difference for me.
Now what about you? Look at our world today.
The Middle East is in turmoil. Radical Islamic terrorism reaches all parts of the world. Iran continues its march toward a nuclear weapon.
Europe is on the verge of unraveling. Russia pushes from the east and Great Britain withdraws from the EU and looks west. So what’s happening here?
America is in deep turmoil with division over social and moral matters. America’s political leadership tears at each other across party lines. Some even refer to the nation going through a second “civil war.” A world that depends on American leadership wonders about its ability to lead and defend against tyranny and terrorism. What does this mean for the world?
The world today is closer to the end of the age than in my youth. It is a far more dangerous world and the same decision is in front of us, in front of you—the same decision that I had to make in my youth. What will you do?
Let’s look at a key Bible passage to get our bearings on both what Jesus said and what it tells us about today’s world scene. Matthew 24 is called the Olivet prophecy of Jesus Christ. With His disciples, Jesus had gone onto the Mount of Olives. The disciples came privately to Him saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Jesus Christ spoke as the Bible’s most significant prophet. He gave direct answers. His answers help us understand where today’s world is in the path of Bible prophecy. He began by listing four key signs. “Take heed” He said, “that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:4-8 Matthew 24:4-8 4 And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
American King James Version×NKJV).
Four crisis points are listed here: religion, war, famine and disease. They are perhaps the four biggest scourges of human existence. False religion among the family of nations has caused a constant source of discontent. Where true religion should bring peace, mankind has been torn with multiple forms of false religion that has kept him from stable peaceful societies. Today, we still see religion disrupting the world. Islamic terror is ripping the Middle East and threatening the stability of Europe and America.
Wars large and small reshape world order in Europe, in the Middle East and Asia. The threat of larger escalation is thought to be as great as the periods before the two great world wars of the twentieth century.
Famine and disease epidemics always hover in the background, threatening to erupt in regional areas or on a mass scale. For all our scientific and medical advances, we have not eliminated the threat to human life from these two historic scourges.
Jesus went further in His prophetic remarks. When properly understood, we can see that He foretold events we see today. If we listen carefully to this teaching, we will be able to properly discern our times.
Let’s look closer at a statement we have already read.
In verse 7 Jesus said, “nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” The word for nation here is ethnos from which we get the word ethnic. An ethnic group can be based on religion, language or other cultural connection. These are the smaller groups which form larger national groupings. Large nations today such as France, Belgium, and Russia contains multiple ethnic groups within national boundaries. Different ethnic groups can live at peace when certain conditions are in place. However, history shows such a peace can break down and different ethnic groups will war against each other over their differences.
The current global order has sought to minimize war by creating larger multi-national groupings that bind different nations together by treaty agreements. The European Union is an example. This large union of nations with different languages and cultures is credited with helping keep the European continent at peace since 1945 and the end of the last world war. Recent events have threatened this union. Great Britain decided recently to pull out largely due to its own national interests.
Christ was pointing to an important fact of international relations. Nations are families and tribes that have grown large and every nation looks first to its own interests. Mankind will always put its interests ahead of the larger world picture. Individual national interests may be harnessed together for short times, and other Bible prophecies show there will be a final global world order to form before Christ’s return, but it will not prevent war from threatening all life. Until that time, we will continue to see “nation against nation.”
In another part of this prophecy, Christ broke into a prophetic story that stretched back nearly 200 years in history and throws it into today’s world. The story is about Jerusalem and religious faith impacting the entire world. It’s about an international incident that triggers the final period of trial brought upon the world. Here’s what Jesus said:
“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place…then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15 Matthew 24:15When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:)
American King James Version×).
What is Jesus talking about here? We have to go back into the story a bit to understand.
Nearly 200 years before Christ spoke these words, a powerful Greek king called Antiochus Epiphanes stormed into Jerusalem with a rage and a vehement hatred for the Jewish people and their faith. He slaughtered thousands of men, women and children. He forbade Jews to keep the holy Sabbath and to practice their faith. He entered the temple and he offered pig’s flesh on the altar, thus desolating and creating an abomination in the eyes of the Jewish faithful. It was a moment of severe testing and trial.
Christ’s reference to this well-known historic event places it before us today as a key event to watch for in our future. It takes discernment and wisdom to understand how something like this could occur in today’s geopolitical climate.
But consider a few facts.
Jerusalem is the center of Bible prophecy and many world faiths. Christian, Muslim and Jew look upon Jerusalem and its holy sites as important to their faith. The city’s history is not one of only multiple faiths but countless wars and strife surrounding faith and spiritual matters. Jerusalem is today the capital of the State of Israel. It’s still the center of controversy. Jews control the city but the Muslim presence is also important. Muslims control the most important site called the Temple Mount. Two Muslim mosques dominate the scene, and the Temple Mount is held to be the site where the two past temples of the Jews stood. Jesus taught among the buildings of that temple and the early Christian church had its beginnings on the site as well.
Since 1967 and the unification of the city, Jews have wanted to establish a religious presence on this site. Conservative Jews regularly attempt to pray on the Temple Mount. There is strong desire among the conservative Jews to establish offerings according to the biblical teaching and reintroduce worship with sacrifices and a functioning priesthood. The current political climate forbids this from happening. Israeli soldiers today prevent zealous Jews from doing any form of religious activity on the site. It would invoke such a strong Muslim backlash that an international incident would be created.
The State of Israel today faces great pressure to return conquered lands to the Palestinians. This includes part of the old city of Jerusalem captured during the 1967 war. The United Nations recently passed a strong resolution calling for a return to the pre-1967 borders of both the state and the city. There is great international interest in Jerusalem. Religious faith is at the core of the differences that divide the city and the nations.
Now let’s go back to Christ’s words. He spoke of an ancient historical intervention upon the city by a power defined in Scripture as fierce, sinister and cunning. This great political power appears to bring peace and prosperity. It appears benign and offers solutions that appear good for all. But there is more at work than human eye and understanding can discern. At the heart of this powerful international system is the evil power of Satan the devil. Satan gives his authority to wage spiritual war on God and His elect, His Church. Satan will use this end-time power to seek to erase all remnant of God’s Church from the earth.
Today’s pressure on Israel and its right to exist is part of a long and old effort to end its presence in the Holy Land. As we watch United Nations resolutions chip away at the legitimacy of the Jewish presence, we are seeing elements of Bible prophecy at work. Behind Christ’s statements on the abomination of desolation are the very headlines that today shape the world’s actions in the Middle East and specifically Israel and the city of Jerusalem.
The State of Israel’s presence is a key to future prophetic fulfillments. Efforts by international bodies like the UN, or attacks by Arab states or Iran feed into the biblical scenario. It is not just a human antagonism, otherwise known as anti-Semitism, to the Jews. It is a virulent spiritual assault and hatred toward the God of Israel, the God who placed His name on that ancient land.
Watch who defends the State of Israel. It will be America and Great Britain. An ancient bond draws these three nations together into God’s larger eternal plan for all mankind. Watch also the world begin to turn against the powerful role they have played in recent history. God is shaking the nations at this time. Prophecy is lining up on God’s schedule for final fulfilment.
So what are you to do?
We can take you through a survey of many world events today that point to fulfilled prophecy. We can show through many other signs and events that we are living in the time of the end of this age. Without doubt, this is a fascinating and important part of understanding the Bible and God’s purpose in this world.
But what does it do for you? Will more knowledge and better understanding of prophecy and these times today motivate you to obey God and His commandments? To change your life and decide to live a godly righteous life knowing there is a God who will judge the world in righteousness? Do you see that the knowledge of the truth of God requires you to do something?
Jesus gave a very dramatic picture of the very end time for us to consider. He gets very specific about events to watch for. He also warned His disciples about keeping alert, discerning the times and knowing where we are in the march of prophecy. Further on in this Olivet Prophecy He gives us signs to watch for in our day. Notice beginning in verse 32 again, of Matthew 24.
He said, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! (Matthew 24:33 Matthew 24:33So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
American King James Version×).
The sign of a fig branch getting tender signals a change of season. Christ is pointing to watching the world to see the signal for a change toward the coming end of the age—the fulfillment of the signs He spoke about. Remember, this is the original question put to Him by His disciples: What will be the signs of your coming and of the end of the age? Every generation must be watching to understand whether theirs is the last. Are we that “last generation”? Well many signs point to that conclusion. But as Christ will say, we do not know the exact timing.
Notice further. He said, “but of that day and hour no one knows… as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:33-39 Matthew 24:33-39 33 So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34 Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
36 But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
American King James Version×).
The reference to the age of Noah has always been an interesting one for me. Noah preached to his generation many years warning of the coming judgement of the flood. No one beyond his family though heeded his warning message. Life for them would go on as it always had they thought. The idea of a day of judgment for sin and unrighteousness was inconceivable. And so it went, until there came a day when Noah was proved right, and the world perished in a deluge.
Today is no different. People scoff today at the idea of judgement for personal behavior. Our world is moving further away from a God-based Bible morality. That God would intervene today in world affairs and judge mankind for unrighteous conduct is scoffed at and ridiculed. It’s called hate speech or religious foolishness. We are living in times like those of Noah. Will you be like those who would not take to heart Noah’s preaching and who had to perish in a flood?
Christ is telling us today to not let the rich, abundant life we have distract us from the joy of salvation. God’s purpose is not to destroy the world and all life. His great purpose in prophetic judgment is to call sinners to repentance and to faith. He wants you to turn from sin, acknowledge His rule in life and begin to live for the age to come.
Christ came to announce the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God on this earth. He is returning in glory to bring the destructive ways of human society to an end. You have the chance to prepare to not only be with Him in this Kingdom, but to take part in building a just and good world based on God’s law and truth.
Prophecy is not just something for us to speculate with. Prophecy is what God issues to proclaim He owns the world and all in it. God created history. God guides history. He will bring human history to a point where He will step into this time and prevent man from destroying life on the planet. We do not need to worry about a doomsday clock or ultimate nuclear annihilation. But we do need to hear the call of God when it comes to our lives. You can change your life today and begin living the good life of the age to come.
How long do you want to wait before you do something with what you are hearing on this program and reading in the magazines and booklets we send you? Are you like I was at a younger age—hearing the message and the call of God, thinking it was something that I could put off until I was ready to do something on my schedule? Fortunately for me, I made the decision to choose God’s path early and it has made all the difference in my life. It can make all the difference for you as well. Listen to what Christ has to say again.
“ Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming…be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:42 Matthew 24:42Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come.
American King James Version×).
While we cannot, and will not know the day nor the hour of Christ’s coming, we can watch and we can be ready when it does come. But if Christ does not come before we die, we will have then answered God’s call and prepared our lives ourselves for the moment when He does appear.
Christ is coming to the earth with the fullness of His Father’s Kingdom. The Kingdom of God will replace all other kingdoms and nations. Christ will use those called in this life and who have prepared for rulership with Him. This life, your life is a time for preparation for that coming Kingdom. Listen to what Christ said to His disciples and His words speak to us now.
He said: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant. Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing…he will make him ruler over all his goods” (Matthew 24:45 Matthew 24:45Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
American King James Version×).
You were born with the potential to share the glory of Jesus Christ in His coming Kingdom. You were born with the potential to receive the Holy Spirit of God and take part in the nature and character of the Holy God. You were born with the potential to have your life transformed by the eternal spirit of God. Jesus Christ can live in you. Taking steps in this direction is the road to salvation. Why not begin now?
So where are we today in Bible prophecy? We are closer to the end of the age than you might think. Nations are being shaken. God is standing among the nations of this world as they turn into new alignments. Don’t think that all will remain as it has been. When God sets His hand to judge the world, events will move quickly.
Where are you today in Bible prophecy? Are you merely a curious dabbler in prophecy and Bible teaching, but making no commitment to God or to His Church? Could it be time for you to do something with your life and to get serious about God, the Bible and a life worth living for Him?
Beyond Today is not just another program about religion among all the other programs that you can watch. Beyond Today is about living for God today in preparation for the coming Kingdom of God. Beyond Today is about making the right choices in your life that can produce meaning, peace and contentment for you and your family today. Beyond Today is about helping you get your life right with God now, today and tomorrow. It’s time you stop putting off fully proving God and all that He holds out for you.
Throughout today’s program I’ve given you a lot to think about as to where we are today in Bible prophecy. Jesus Christ—as the Bible’s most significant prophet—explained to His disciples about the signs of His return and the end of this age. His vital words can help you better grasp where we are right now in Bible prophecy!
To help you more fully examine what you’ve heard today, I urge you to order a copy of our free Bible study aid: Seven Prophetic Signs Before Jesus Returns . You really need this important, eye-opening booklet. Why? Because it will not only give you essential information about this critical subject, but will, most of all, help you prepare spiritually for Christ’s second coming.
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It’s time to stop putting off the changes you need to make. Bible prophecy shows you a wonderful future beyond today’s world. Make the commitment to begin preparing for that world to come, today.
Our world is going through great upheavals and it can be unsettling and frightening. But, you don’t have to be confused, frightened or angry. God guides history. Mankind will not blow itself up in a nuclear nightmare. Keep studying your Bible and stay close to your God in prayer. God will bring His glorious Kingdom to this earth and begin the reign of His Son in righteousness.
Where are we in Bible prophecy? We’re at the point where we all need to change our lives and seek God. Thanks for watching. Tune in again next week and join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today , I’m Darris McNeely.
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