10 Biblical Indicators Of The End Times:
Religion and culture expert Alex McFarland has authored a number of books on apologetics and worldview, including The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity and The God You Thought Your Knew (Bethany House Publishing). He is a pastor, educator and broadcaster. His website is alexmcfarland.com.
Many are asking: Is this world reaching its expiration date? Eschatology is the study of "future things." The term comes from the Greek word eskatos, referring to "last things" or "ending things." The Bible has a lot to say regarding the culmination of history and the final judgement of all people—and much about the end times we learn from the words of Jesus Christ.
As the COVID-19 situation has enveloped the globe, and as the impact on all of our lives has ranged from hours not worked and wages lost, to increasing shortages at the grocery, anxiety is only growing. People are scared, economies are crumbling and many rightly wonder, "Just how permanent will be the loss of civil liberties COVID-19 is creating?" Online and on-air, our organization is daily getting numerous inquiries about how close humanity might be to the end times, and specifically, to the return of Christ.
Why might people believe that Scriptural promises/warnings about the "end of days" be close at hand? What will be some of the precursors to Jesus' return? Consider the following:
1. The growth of the Christian church. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14).
2. Increase in evil. "Iniquity will abound" (Matt. 24:12). The Bible predicts that in the last days there will be much hedonism (pursuit of pleasure as the highest good) and relativism (everyone makes their own "truth" for themselves).
3. Increase in false prophets (see Matt. 24:4, 24). The apostle Peter warned against false teachers in the end times (1 Pet. 2:1; see also Jude 17-18). The Bible warns that in the end times people would forsake salvation in Christ for various types of occultism. Demonically inspired false religions would proliferate (see also Matt. 24:5; Mark 13:6).
4. The land of Israel. "And I will bring you out from the peoples and will gather you out of the countries in which you are scattered" (Ezek. 20:34a; see also 37:1-14). Though the Jewish people were without a homeland for 1,878 years, Isaiah 43:5-6 says that in the last days, "I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west."
5. Conflict in the Middle East. In the end times there will be, "Wars and rumors of wars" (Matt. 24:6-7). Ezekiel 38:1-6 predicts an invasion of Israel in the last days. Though written around 597 B.C., the prophet Ezekiel assumes that Israel is in their land when armies attack in the "latter days."
6. The increasingly godless world system. The Revelation (the final book in the Bible, penned by the apostle John, 95-96 A.D.) depicts a coming era in which many facets of society will be organized around a centralized, unified entity. There will be a one-world economy (Rev. 13:16-17), a one-world government (see Rev. 13:8, 17:1-18), and a one-world religion (Rev. 13:8-12).
7. Increase of apostasy within the church. We preachers often point out problems in the world; let me also admit that there are pockets of sin embedded within the ranks of the church. One of the signs of the end times relates to a Greek word that means, "rebellion" and "revolt." It is the word apostasy, and its meaning is somewhat akin to the word "riot"—a free-for-all.
The Bible says that near the end of history many preachers will not preach the Scriptures, but will preach lies. Appealing lies and flattering lies, mind you, but words that people want to hear and not truth that will convert their soul. Having spent over 30 years of all types of church work, let me say this: We are in an era of serious theological apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; 2 Thess. 2:3).
8. The "wiring of the planet." The book of Revelation describes several scenarios that people of previous generations found hard to believe. In fact, skeptics used to scoff at the idea that there could be a one-world money system, apart from which no one could buy or sell (Rev. 13:17). Skeptics mocked the idea that events happening in Israel could somehow be watched by the whole world at once (Rev. 11:3-12, 18:9-20). We live in a world of real-time video streaming, cyber currency, digital footprints we're all constantly creating, low-level surveillance drones ubiquitously watching, instabilities among all sectors of the world, and the rise of influential leaders calling for socialism and global unification. The events in Revelation—fantastic as they may sound—are not only possible, but likely.
9. The rise of Islam. The Bible predicted that the "children of Ishmael" would struggle against "the children of Isaac" throughout history (Gen. 16:12, 25:18). Aggression toward the Jews by Ishmael's descendants existed for centuries. But in 622 A.D., the founding of Islam would escalate this hostility immeasurably. Past political leaders (such as Churchill) and religious leaders (such as the Reformers) believed that near the end of history there would be an uprising of "Mohammedism." Much speculation has been raised about the 200 million soldiers predicted to assemble for the battle of Armageddon (Zech. 14:1-4, Rev. 9:16-17). What worldview could summon many followers of a warrior spirit who desire the extermination of both Jews and followers of Jesus? Read The Clash of Civilizations by eminent scholar Samuel Huntington for a likely answer.
10. A major outpouring of God's Holy Spirit, just prior to the rapture of the church. The Scriptures speak of a great move of God before the final judgment of history (Joel 2:28-32, Zech. 12:10-13:1). COVID-19 is prominent in the news but spreading even faster than that life-threatening virus is the life-giving message of Christ. And the ranks of believers seem to grow fastest in the regions of intense persecution. We may not see this so much in America and Europe, but in much of the rest of the world Christianity is growing exponentially. As the world battles COVID-19, it may ignite one more great revival of Christianity—and this may comprise the West's final visitation of the Holy Spirit, before Christ's return.
A word of reassurance: God makes it possible for all people to be prepared. .
"Is Jesus really coming back to earth? Literally? And soon?" Let me say what I tell the people repeatedly asking this in recent weeks: I absolutely believe that the answer is, "Yes." Three decades of research, writing and following world events convince me that this is so. But no one needs to be obsessively afraid regarding the end of time—if they've accepted Christ's gracious offer of forgiveness and amnesty before God.
If you've spurned God, or if you think sin and eternity are some kind of joke, then I humbly suggest that you've got more to fear than you could possibly realize. But to "whosoever will come," Jesus promised a peace beyond anything this world can offer (John 14:27). This is why this One who is coming back to earth could assure us, "Let not your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid."