In many ways it seems that our world is on fire right now. I am not talking about global warming or climate change; I am talking about the massive eruption of Islamic terrorism around the globe and groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaida and Hezbollah. We have never seen anything like this in modern times. Christians are being beheaded and crucified. Children are being slaughtered.
ISIS continues to grow in power and influence. The flag of ISIS now flies over Fallujah, where 100 American soldiers died taking control of the city during the war in Iraq, and another 600 were wounded.
Then we have Iran, which funds terrorism around the world, yet we’ve negotiated with them as they continue their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. They have made it very clear what their intentions are. They want to use them on what they call the Great Satan and the Little Satan, which are their terms for the United States and Israel.
There is Russia, which is on the move again, showing aggression like we haven’t seen for years and taking territory with no opposition. And there is North Korea. They are engaged in some serious saber rattling, developing nukes and threatening to use them against the United States.
Add to this the fact that relations between the United States and Israel have never been more strained. This only leaves Israel more alone to face her enemies, whom she is surrounded by.
For many years, the United States was the world’s policeman of sorts. Whenever there was a wrong, the United States would step in to right it. But we are currently in a state of economic and military decline, not to mention moral and spiritual decline. We have stepped back from that global position. And if we don’t change our course quickly, this crisis only will accelerate as our absence brings massive global instability.
However, there is another way to look at it. These events show a biblical scenario unfolding, as Jesus said would happen in the last days: “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity” (Luke 21:25 NKJV).
In the past, it seemed that every few months or so, we would see some kind of new conflict erupt. Then it was every few weeks. Now it seems that every day we hear about something in the news taking place in other regions of the world and even in our nation.
As crazy as things are, everything is going according to plan – God’s plan. None of this escapes his attention. In fact, he has laid it out for us in the Scripture.
Recently, I was interviewed by a magazine that was doing a story on the topic of end times events, and the writer asked me, “Why should we even study this subject as Christians?”
Some people would discourage it, saying it’s too complex. Yet in the book of Revelation, a special blessing is promised to the person who studies, understands and takes to heart what the Bible says about our future: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (1:3 NIV).
I think what is true of the study of Revelation is true, in principle, of the study of Bible prophecy in general. There is a blessing attached to it. And if God promises a blessing, I want it.
If we study Bible prophecy and process it as we ought to, it will cause us to want to live more godly lives. Remember when you were a kid and acted up? Your mom may have said to you, “Just wait till your father gets home.”
That probably caused you to change your behavior. In the same way, if we know that Christ could come at any moment, it keeps us on our toes spiritually. It has a purifying effect.
Have you ever played hide-and-seek when you were a kid? I’ve played this with my grandchildren a lot, especially when they were very young. One of my granddaughters always peeked. As she counted, she watched to see where I went to hide. Then they would come and find me. My grandchildren would like the hiding place I chose, so they would choose that place next. The problem was that after I found them, they would go back to the same place again.
Another game they like to play is monster. I pretend to be a monster and will go around and roar, but I can’t get too close, or they’ll get really scared. I scare them enough so it’s fun, but not to the point where there is any real danger. It kind of gets them moving.
In many ways, Jesus is saying to us, “Ready or not, here I come.” But he is not playing monster; he is Messiah. He is coming to bring judgment to the Earth ultimately. Before that, however, he will come for his church, so we want to be sure we are ready.
Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ? Maybe you aren’t completely confident you would be ready if Christ were to come back. Here is the bottom line: You are not fooling God. You can fool all of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool God any of the time.
Jesus is coming back for those who are ready. And the way to be ready is to believe in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, and follow him.
If you are pretending to be a Christian when you aren’t, or if you haven’t asked Christ to come into your life yet, why don’t you take care of that now so you can know from this moment forward that you are ready for his return?