THE 11TH HOUR
Who Would not Like to Know What the Future Holds?
- If someone had a vision of our future society what would they be able to see?
- Are we heading towards a world where men will live in peace with each other and in unity with nature?
- Will it be a highly technological society as portrayed in science fiction literature, or will mankind destroy itself?
Several developments in our present society should give us deep cause for concern about our expectations for the future: the hole in the ozone layer; the greenhouse effect; the loss of species; deforestation/ desertification on the one hand and over-population and competition for natural resources on the other. All this shows us more and more clearly that we are approaching the limits of what the Earth can cope with.
People of all ages and nationalities are asking themselves what is going on? Many wonder whether it is possible to believe in God in this day and age? Why does God allow mankind to destroy itself? Is the Bible not an old-fashioned book that can no longer answer questions relevant to this age?
Anyone who takes a look at the Bible in these present times will realise it is not old-fashioned at all, but describes today's developments in great detail. The daily headlines in the world media which describe wars, catastrophes, and the breakdown in society, can also be found in the Bible where they are given as signs of the fast approaching end of this age! Let’s have a look at what the Word of God has to say about our generation and forthcoming events.
SIGNS OF THE END TIMES
The Bible does not talk about the complete destruction of the Earth, but predicts the destruction of our society, in relation to the return of Jesus Christ as judge of the world. Jesus Himself was asked by His disciples:
"Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (MATTHEW 24:3)
Here are some of the answers Jesus provided:
1. False Cults and Religions
"...For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many... And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many."MATTHEW 24:5,11
In the past few decades especially, numerous sects have sprung up, using the name of Jesus and the Bible to recruit members. We read in horror of sect members who in a frenzy have committed mass suicide. Our society has also been subjected to many gurus over the past few decades, some of whom even claim to be reincarnations of Christ. Often their followers are simply used to worship them and to finance their luxurious lifestyles.
It is also not surprising that esoterism, New Age and satanism are on the increase, whereas fewer and fewer people intensively study the Word of God:
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears…"2 TIMOTHY 4:3
2. Wars and Terrorism
"And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars... For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom..."MATTHEW 24:6-7
Clearly, this refers to the World Wars, as never before in history have so many countries been affected by war at the same time. The end of WWI was an obvious sign of God (PSALM 46:10): it ended in 1918 at exactly 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month. Many recognised the significance of this timing, representing the eleventh hour of man’s history, only shortly before "the midnight hour" when Jesus Christ will return (see MATTHEW 25:6). WWI was supposed to be the "war to end all wars", but even today we read about conflicts and warfare all over the world. Statistics show a considerable rise in the number of wars in the 20th century and since WWII, there have only been a few dozen days of world peace.
The whole world was shaken by the events of September 11th, 2001 when the Twin Towers in New York City were destroyed by terrorists. This event was another "sign of our times" which the Bible says will be worse than the world has ever seen before:
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be..."MATTHEW 24:21
3. Natural Disasters
"...and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken"MATTHEW 24:29
Unusually warm summers and mild winters, as well as an increasing number of storms over the past few years demonstrate a global change of climate. Statistics compiled over many years show a definite rise in the average yearly temperature over the past 100 years. The hole in the ozone layer also threatens people's lives as it allows dangerous UV rays (which can cause skin cancer and an increasing number of mutations) to reach the surface of the earth.
Some might say that natural catastrophes have always happened. However, they are occurring more and more frequently (see the graph below). The Bible talks about the coming return of Christ as being like
"travail upon a woman with child" (1 THESSALONIANS 5:3). Contractions only occur occasionally at the beginning, but increase rapidly just before birth. The shortening intervals between earthquakes, violent storms and wars clearly show that the time of the return of Jesus has to be close at hand.
4. Earthquakes, Famines and Pestilences
"And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights..."LUKE 21:11
Not only has the number of earthquakes worldwide quadrupled since the 1950's, but the earth also trembles
"in divers places" which have previously been unmoved by earthquakes.
Poor harvests currently jeopardise the lives of more people than ever before. Due to the increase in population, millions of people in the Third World countries live with the risk of famine developing in their country. We hear of such catastrophes virtually every year and millions die as a result. It is estimated that approximately 800 million people in Third World countries suffer from malnutrition.
Despite its great achievements, modern medicine still has no cure for many diseases, such as cancer. In addition, illnesses that were thought to have been eradicated a long time ago are again spreading throughout the world (e.g. the plague and cholera). New phenomena, such as immune deficiency, “superbugs” and new viral diseases are spreading. Even cattle are afflicted with many diseases, such as foot-and-mouth and mad cow disease.
5. Destruction of Society
"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."MATTHEW 24:12
One sign of our generation is the break up of families: over 50% of marriages in the USA and 35% of marriages in Europe end in divorce. Our society has become very self-centred and everyone looks after themselves first. Premarital sex, pornography and sexually transmitted diseases have increased exponentially. The word 'love' is becoming a foreign word.
The Ten Commandments and prayer have been removed from schools and there is no longer any respect for authority. Every day we hear of more and more shocking acts of violence, crime, corruption and drug addiction.
The Bible clearly describes the behaviour of mankind in these last days. It prophesies that in the last days mankind will be just as it was in the times of Noah (MATTHEW 24:37-39; ROMANS 1:19-32):
- They walked after their own lusts.
- They did not listen to God's warnings and commandments.
- They did not believe in being judged and punished.
- They were blind to the signs given by God.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…"2 TIMOTHY 3:1-4
6. Spreading of the Bible Throughout the World
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."MATTHEW 24:14
The Bible is the biggest selling book in the world and has been translated into more languages than any other book. The entire Bible, or portions thereof, have been translated into 2,233 languages and dialects. Since the 19th century, many Christian missionaries have gone out to all the countries of the world to take the Gospel to even the remotest areas.
7. Increase in Scientific Knowledge
"But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end:many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."DANIEL 12:4
Scientific knowledge and technological achievements have increased dramatically over the past 100 years, and with the invention of the computer in particular, it has been calculated that knowledge more than doubles every year. With the development of the car and the jet plane many people are "running to and fro" all over the world.
8. The Atom Bomb
The Bible foretold the effects and features of an atomic explosion thousands of years before it was developed and also prophesies a third world war:
"And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come."JOEL 2:30-31
It is interesting to note that in the original Hebrew, the word ‘pillars’ literally means ‘palm trees’ = "palm trees of smoke" - a perfect description of the mushroom cloud caused by a nuclear explosion.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."2 PETER 3:9-10
9. The Fulfilment of Prophecy
"So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away,but my words shall not pass away."MATTHEW 24:33-35
History proves that up till now approximately 95% of all Bible prophecies have been fulfilled. For example, prophecies about the rise and fall of the empires of Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome came to pass exactly as they were predicted centuries before. One of the last prophecies was fulfilled in 1917 when Jerusalem was liberated over 2,500 years after it was taken captive.
"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."REVELATION 1:3
THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST
Are there references to the time when the world will end and God’s judgment will take place?
"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."MATTHEW 25:13
The Bible says very clearly that we do not know the day or the hour. Nevertheless, Jesus has given us many clues as to when it will be.
"When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?"MATTHEW 16:2-3
Jesus foretold the disciples what would come to pass so that we can "discern the times". All of the world events in our times should cause us to realise that His return is imminent and may well be in our lifetime.
"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."1 THESSALONIANS 5:3
The Bible tells us that just as there was a beginning of time (GENESIS 1:1), there will also be an end. Currently, we still live in a period of grace, but when Jesus returns it will be too late for us to turn to Him and repent.
Are You Prepared for the Return of Jesus Christ?
God knows that many will consciously decide not to believe in Him - not for the lack of evidence, but because they do not want to obey Him and want to continue living in sin. They will have a rude awakening:
"...when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power…"2 THESSALONIANS 1:7-9
Now that you have read this leaflet, you should be aware that God forewarns us with numerous signs that His judgment is heading towards us. Because He loves us, He has planned it in such a way that we still have a chance to escape from it.
"Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?"EZEKIEL 18:23
God has prepared a simple path for everyone in order to be saved from eternal damnation:
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."ACTS 2:38
Repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are the biblical conditions set by God for every person to obtain eternal life. Repentance stands for the inner return unto God, and turning away from your old life; baptism, by full immersion, symbolises the burial of your old sinful life.
When a person receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, they receive Christ and eternal salvation, evidenced by the sign of speaking in other tongues. See also ACTS 2:4.
These steps of obedience towards God's Word seal the act of being born again as described in the Bible. Never forget that one day you will stand before the throne of God to give an account of your life. Every moment of your life will be brought to your remembrance, and will be taken into account. God wants to redeem you and calls on you to repent and to obey His Word.