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The world changed forever in 1945. That year, with the detonations of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, man for the first time demonstrated the frightening potential to destroy all human life. Since then our weapons have grown far more powerful and threatening. As we will see in this lesson, many of these threats to human survival play prominent roles in prophecies in the Bible.

"Today's prophets...are often not religious leaders but a small group of academics who, breaking free of disciplinary specialization, have surveyed our age from the broadest of perspectives and brought back a report of imminent danger."—Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi, Britain

Weather has long fascinated people. By observing the sky—the shifting shades, colors and shapes of the clouds—we can often predict changes in the weather.

Nearly 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ commented on this same fascination: "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?" (Matthew 16:2-3, New American Standard Bible, emphasis added throughout).

Jesus' point was that our innate fascination with observing and analyzing weather conditions should tell us something: that we should also observe and analyze the signs of our times.

But anyone who watches the weather knows that conditions can rapidly change. Destructive storms can suddenly materialize, wreak havoc, then dissipate as quickly as they started. Often the weather can seem menacing, and skies will turn dark and threatening, but no storm develops. The potential danger passes.

So it is when we consider Bible prophecy. Well-intentioned people have correlated prophecies with geopolitical events and trends and concluded that prophecy is being fulfilled before their eyes. But then unseen factors come into play, events alter course, and trends change. The predicted storm dissipates.

Such false alarms have happened before. They will occur again. But one day the storm will hit with full fury. Startling and frightening biblical prophecies will be fulfilled. Will you be ready?