“Some mornings I wake up, read the news, and experience an intense urge to bolt the doors, board up the windows, go back to bed and pull the covers up over my head.
At this stage, who knows what comes next?
If the world were a car, I’d wonder whether the driver was asleep at the wheel, foot jammed firmly on the accelerator, with a gleeful toddler sitting on their lap careering the thing wildly down a potholed road crying, “broom, broom!”
We are living in a dystopian sci-fi soap opera with a cast of characters as preposterous as if they’d been conjured up during an acid trip.
You can just imagine the descriptions on the casting call:
“Donald Trump, a creepy American real estate tycoon with bad hair and a penchant for pomposity who has inexplicably risen to the rank of President of the United States.”
“Kim Jong-Un, the ‘supreme leader’ of North Korea. A paranoid autocrat with chronic little man syndrome, an obsession with nukes and fratricidal tendencies.”
“Vladimir Putin, a KGB agent who has succeeded in his mission to secretly infiltrate and overthrow the Russian Government. Likes riding horses and perfecting his scary face in the mirror.”
The most recent character to join our absurdist production?
“Marine Le Pen, an Islamophobic political heiress who expelled her own father to consolidate her power. Stands a frighteningly good chance of becoming the President of France.”
Outside of the main cast, there’s a roster of interesting recurring guests, like Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bashar al-Assad, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; all contributing to a shitshow of epic proportions.
Yes, this is the depth I have sunk to. Joking about our fractured geopolitical landscape in an attempt to ward off the gnawing rush of fear that threatens to consume me.
I’ve only had 27 years on this planet, but I’ve never been so concerned for the precarious state of peace in my life.
I’d quite like a few more years here yet, please, if our world leaders could possibly hold off on blowing us all to smithereens.”
Well who can blame this writer for feeling this way as we read our world news.
YET FOR BIBLE STUDENTS all we see in our world news today is exactly what we are told about in the Bible. So for believers there is NO FEAR of what we see, RATHER WE REJOICE knowing that God is in control and that HIS PLAN AND PURPOSE is being worked out with HIS WORLD.
Even with strong authoritarian leaders increasing their sphere of influence in the world we have no fear as GOD HAS PROMISED THAT NO ONE SHALL DESTROY HIS EARTH.
What is more one authoritarian leader in particular Vladimir Putin of Russia has all the signs of being the great ‘Autocratic’ leader of the Northern Confederacy that Bible Prophecy says will invade the Middle East and trigger the world wide war known in Bible Prophecy as Armageddon.
SO YES Events in our world today are following Bible Prophecy concerning our times, so to Bible Students this is nothing but exciting as we see world events unfold exactly as the Bible foretold over 2500 years ago. There can be no doubt that we are living at the time of the end, but not the end of the world, just the end of man’s dominion of the world, as Christ will soon return and take control of this world.
Far from being an era of peace, this so called “civilised” world has become an age of strife and violence. No wonder the attitude of so many people is one of pessimistic resignation.
Furthermore there seems little any one can do.
Now what has Bible prophecy to say about all this?
We see strife today on an unprecedented scale — strife between political parties; strife between ethnic factions; strife between nations.
We are beset by problems – climate change bringing extreme weather, hunger, pollution of land and water, and ever present violence; problems of society, revealed by increasing crime rates and over-crowded prisons; by hospitals filled with patients, many of whom are there because of mental stress; and by an alarming number of victims of drug abuse and alcoholism. Looming over all is the frequent threat of economic crisis, with widespread unemployment and material hardship among the “under-developed nations”. There is debt to the world banks (that is, chiefly those of America and Western Europe) to staggering sums running into billions of dollars, with no prospect of ever being able to repay the loans.
The ONLY Source of Hope
But there is one source of HOPE. It is the Bible. Throughout the Bible human history is seen as ending in a great climax, frequently called “the time of the end” or “the last days”, and certain passages tell us quite clearly what those “last days” will be like. One of the clearest and most striking is in Luke 21. The disciples asked Jesus what would be the sign of his coming (they meant his return to the earth) and of “the end of the world” (Matt. 24:3). Jesus replies with a description of conditions which his followers would experience after his ascension to heaven. Then he speaks particularly of the Jewish people:
“They (the Jews) shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all the nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles (nations), until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).
This is a most remarkable prophecy, all in one verse. Look what it says:
(1) The Jews were to suffer severely as a result of war. Forty years after Jesus’ ascension to heaven, in A.D. 70, the Roman armies invaded Judea, destroyed the city of Jerusalem, burnt the temple, and expelled the Jews.
(2) Jews were driven into all the nations of the earth where for centuries they were persecuted; whole communities were sometimes exterminated.
(3) For centuries the city of Jerusalem fell under various national powers. The Romans, the Arabs, the Turks, and latterly the British!
(4) But the words of Jesus foretell an end to this domination by the nations. We have been privileged to see it in our own days. In 1948 the nation of Israel was re-established as a State in the land of Palestine; in 1967 Israel recovered control of the city of Jerusalem, which has become their national capital again.
In other words this remarkable prophecy of Jesus has actually been fulfilled in our days. How important then must be what he says next:
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth, distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after (expectation of, R.V.) those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (vv. 25-26).
This is a striking picture of a world in distress. “Ah”, say some, “but clearly it is figurative, not literal. Just look at those allusions to the sun, moon, stars, sea and waves, and powers of heaven”. Very well, let us remove from Jesus’ words everything that could possibly be figurative and read what is left:
“. . . upon the earth, distress of nations with perplexity . . . men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the earth.”
This is not a figurative description. It is fearfully literal: it has to do with nations, men’s hearts, fear, and perplexity, because of dreadful events. Remarkably the second word for “earth” literally means “the inhabited earth” –nothing figurative about that. And his term “perplexity” implies “at one’s wits’ end . . .”
Now there is no escaping the conclusion to be drawn from this part of Jesus’ discourse: at a time when the domination of Jerusalem by the nations comes to an end, mankind upon the earth is to experience world-wide distress, fear and perplexity. And this is exactly what has happened before our eyes.
The Bible’s Prophecy
How can this be? How can the desperate condition of modern mankind, the world-wide nature of its problems, and the need for an upright Leader equipped with life and power, have been foreseen in the writings of the Bible so long ago, when these things are not found in any other writing of any age and any nation or civilization? There is only one answer: somebody must have known long ago what conditions and needs would arise. But clearly no men could have known, for if they had, it would have appeared in their writings. But if it was God who knew, and if the Bible really is His Word for mankind, then all is explained.
The conclusion from this is that we ought to treat the Bible seriously. For if it has proved so right in what it has said about events centuries before they happened, is it not highly likely to be right in its prophecies of events that have not yet come to pass? Common sense would suggest that we should note carefully what more it has to say about the future of the earth and mankind.
The Early Believers
There can be no doubt at all that the early believers in Christ — the apostles and those who believed in their preaching — expected that Jesus would personally return to the earth to carry out God’s purpose with the nations. The New Testament has many passages which clearly express this idea. For instance, Jesus himself, after describing the conditions of distress, fear and perplexity which would come upon the inhabited earth, immediately adds this:
“Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory”(Luke 21:27).
The “Son of man” is a title Jesus frequently gave to himself. Notice that his coming to the world in distress is not to be so quiet that it will not be noticed; it will be spectacular, in “power and great glory”. Further, as the disciples stand on the Mount of Olives watching Jesus ascend to heaven, this is the message they receive:
“This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven”(Acts 1:11).
There is no escaping the literal character of this declaration. It is the same Jesus as they had got to know again after his resurrection. His coming again would be in the same way as his departing. As he literally and personally went, so he will come. Hence their preaching and writings in the New Testament clearly express this expectation. We have looked at one passage already in Acts chapter 17, where Paul declares that Christ will be the appointed ruler of the nations. The Epistles of the New Testament frequently allude to the return of Christ to the earth. The two Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians contain such an allusion in every single chapter. Here is the first of them:
Paul rejoices with the believers in Thessalonica, that they had “turned unto God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom (God) raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:9-10).
The Apostle Peter, addressing the inhabitants of Jerusalem shortly after Jesus ascended to heaven, had this to say to them:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ . . . whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, whereof God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began”(Acts 3:19-21).
This is a tremendous declaration of what God intends to do in the earth. Let us look carefully at what Peter says. Leaving for the moment the question of repentance and the forgiveness of sins, which deserves separate treatment, notice Peter’s insistence that there is hope for the future: “times of refreshing . . . times of restitution (restoration, R.V.) of all things” are to come. But where from? “From the presence of the Lord”, says Peter-in other words, not from the resources of mankind, but from God. And how will these “refreshing times” come? “He (God) shall send Jesus Christ”, who incidentally had only a little while before ascended to heaven. But he is not to stay there forever. “The heaven” receives him only until the times of restoration of all things”.
The general message is clear. The new age of “refreshing” and “restoration” for the earth will come about by God sending His Son back again when the right moment in His purpose has come. The personal return of Jesus thus became a vital point in the preaching of his apostles, as the writings of the New Testament clearly demonstrate.
The Kingdom of the Future
When Christ has returned and re-established his Father’s authority, what will the world be like? The prophets have much to tell us. We select one example.
The second chapter of Isaiah begins with a remarkable picture of nations living at peace under the rule of God. “In the last days” all nations will acknowledge the rule of the Lord:
“And many peoples shall say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob”(v.3).
Why should they do this? What is the reason for their unusual agreement?
“He (God) will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law (the word means instruction, teaching) and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (v.3).
So the new center of world government is to be Jerusalem, whence the rule for the nations will go forth. And what is to be the effect of the rule of God?
“And he (the Lord) shall judge between the nations, and shall reprove many peoples; and they (the nations) shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (v.4).
The authority of the Lord will control the nations, who will no longer waste their strength and resources in creating weapons of war, but will devote them instead to the profitable activities of cultivation of the earth for their benefit. Then Isaiah concludes this section of his prophecy with the sublime words often echoed since with vague longing in times of international despair:
“Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (v.4).
This was the motto of the ill-fated League of Nations in the 1920s. The sense of idealism did not last 20 years. After the Second World War the creators of the United Nations Organization did not dare to resurrect it, and subsequent events have shown them to be realistic in this.
But the Word of God says that this state of peace among the nations, with the abandonment of war, will actually come to pass.
It is the ONLY message of hope for the world.
Learn more here about: God’s Purpose with this Earth
Learn here about: THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARHT – WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE