How would you react if God suddenly spoke to you, and warned you to take drastic action to save your life? Would you listen? Would you heed?
So very few realize that God has already spoken to us today: Heb. 1:1-2 “God, who spake in times past by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” When you read the Bible, God is speaking directly to you! In fact, for nearly 6,000 years God has been expressing his love toward mankind.
In love God revealed his way of life that leads to everything good and desirable, including eternal life to our first parents, Adam and Eve. But they rejected that way. God later sent his prophets with his law, his message of love, revealing to mankind the way to peace, happiness, joy and eternal rewards.
Through them God has pleaded with this stiff-necked and self-willed world for nearly 6,000 years! But men have rejected the words of that message of love and killed the prophets. And so, as any wise and loving father punishes (or corrects) his children for their own good when they refuse to respond to kind and loving verbal admonition, an all-loving, all-wise God will finally plead with rebellious humanity in the only language humans will understand!
The Book of Revelation is full of warnings of awesome, catastrophic events soon to occur. In the last chapter of this most misunderstood book of the Bible, the Revelator – Jesus Christ concludes: “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keeps (acts on) the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Rev. 22:7).
Bible prophecies are not to be taken lightly. The events they foretell will have a tremendous effect on your future and the future of the entire world. As the old saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed.” To those who will heed the warnings of God recorded in his Word, he promises a way of escape (Luke 21:36) from the coming time of worldwide trouble!
We are now fast approaching the crisis at the close of this chaotic, unhappy world that Jesus foretold. Let’s notice what he said would be happening.
In his “Olivet prophecy” recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, Jesus explained to his disciples that certain events would have to occur before his return to earth. Notice Matt. 24:4-5, 11; “Take heed that no one deceives you, for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (v. 11) “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”
Here we are told of those who would proclaim Jesus as the Christ, but who would deceive the world about Christ’s message! Notice II Cor. 11:13-15 “False apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.”
Who do these false ministers represent? “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness whose end will be according to their works.”
These are Satan’s ministers, who have been deceived. In Rev. 12:9 John tells us that Satan has deceived the whole world.
What else did Jesus predict would be taking place at the close of this age? “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Nations will rise against nations and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (Matt. 24:6-7).
Two world wars have already occurred. In this interim, brushfire wars have raged and “rumors of wars” continue. Famines, disease epidemics and earthquakes will grow in severity. Then World War III will erupt. Hundreds of millions of earth’s inhabitants will be affected by these conditions!
But these are only the “beginning of sorrows” – or more properly translated of travail or tribulation (v. 8).
This four-part “beginning of sorrows” is elsewhere pictured by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They are described in Rev. 6:1-8 under the symbols of the first four seals that cover the scroll of the Apocalypse or book of Revelation.
How did Jesus Christ describe the 5th seal? “When He opened the 5th seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? Then a white robe was given to each of them: and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed” (Rev. 6:9-11).
Notice what Jesus Christ said about this time of religious persecution in Matthew 24:9 and Luke 21:12-17. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9).
At this point we need to understand that the principle of duality applies to many prophecies. There is a former, typical fulfillment and then a final, antitypical fulfillment.
The national persecution spoken of in Matthew and Luke did actually occur in the typical or preliminary sense, in the nation of Judah when the Roman armies crucified tens of thousands of Jews about 70 A.D. Millions more from various nationalities were also tortured and killed in religious persecution during the Middle Ages. Yet another time of great religious persecution is prophesied to occur at the close of this age.
Read Luke 21:2-24 this account describes what will happen to Judah and Jerusalem. Verse 23 is made plainer in the modern English of the Moffatt translation: “”Woe to women with child and to women who give suck in those days, for sore anguish will come upon the land and wrath on this people.”
Notice the parallel account in Matthew 24:15-20. Do these verses foretell a time of great oppression and persecution affecting the entire world? “For then there will be great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (v. 21). Notice what would happen if God did not send Jesus Christ back to this earth: “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” (v. 22). All of humanity would perish in an all-out nuclear war if Christ did not put a stop to it!
Who is responsible for inspiring persecution, warfare and man’s inhumanity to man during this soon-coming time of world trouble? “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” Rev. 12:12).
This period of great tribulation is Satan’s wrath. It will be unleashed not only upon the one true Church of God, but upon the descendants of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob (the modern descendants of ancient Israel – Britain and America for the most part).
In Rev. 3:7-8, 10 God promises to protect from the wrath of Satan those who faithfully keep his Word and do his Work.
These promises of protection are for the Church of God, which is carrying on the Work of God today. Rev. 12 speaks of God’s end-time Church, personifying it as a woman. God specifically states that he will provide his Church with protection away from the wrath of Satan, (Rev. 12:13-16). However some in God’s Church will not receive this protection and will have to go through Satan’s wrath. “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist” (Luke 21:12-15).
Notice how the 6th seal in Rev. 6:12-13 is described: “behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair and the moon became like blood.” Matthew 24:29 describes this same event. Notice that this event occurs immediately after the great tribulation.
The 6th seal consists of awesome heavenly signs, the sun and moon becoming dark and the “stars” falling. Spectacular meteor showers will make the starry heaven appear to be crashing earthward!
Now what happens next? “The sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matt. 24:30). Read also Rev. 6:14. These events are intended to warn the world that God’s direct intervention to halt the destructive ways of man is about to begin, that the Day of the Lord with its punishments for sin is about to commence. Read Rev. 6:15-17; Joel 2:30-31; Zeph. 1:14-18 and Isa. 2:19-21.
Why is God going to punish this world so severely? “The earth mourns and fades away. The world languishes and fades away: The haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants. Because they have transgressed the laws. Changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men are left” (Isa. 24:4-6).
This punishment is in reality a manifestation of God’s great love for mankind. Read Hebrews 12:5-8. To what purpose will God’s punishment be directed? “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:3-4) also II Peter 3:9).
This period of divine chastisement, described in more than 30 different prophecies scattered throughout both Old and New Testaments as the “Day of the Lord,” shall lead directly to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and world peace at last! Yes, there will be a crisis at the end of this age! And, shockingly, it is not too far ahead of us!