MORE SIGNS OF THE END
By Michael Roy and Scott MacGregor
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him what would be the sign of His return and the end of the world as we know it, He answered by revealing not one sign but many, including two of the five covered in this installment of The Future Foretold. The other three come from the Old Testament book of Daniel and the New Testament writings of Paul the apostle.
The “me generation”
“Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12 KJV)
This is how Jesus described the callous condition of people’s hearts in the days before His return. In a related passage, the apostle Paul writes, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1–4)
Selfishness and cold-heartedness seem to be prevalent almost everywhere we look.
The good news goes global
“And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
Unlike wars, famine, plagues, and earthquakes, which Jesus called “the beginning of sorrows,” He said that this particular sign—the Gospel being preached in all the world—was a specific sign that would indicate when the actual end of the age would be upon the world.
According to The Almanac of the Christian World, Christians and Christian churches now exist in every country of the world. (The Almanac of the Christian World (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1990)) Missiologists estimate that between 75 and 85 percent of the world’s population have heard the Gospel at least once. (http://www.jesus.org.uk/) Over 50 million Bibles are distributed every year, as well as nearly 80 million New Testaments. Four billion gospel tracts are also printed each year.
According to the United Bible Societies, the entire Bible or parts thereof are now available to about 98 percent of the world’s population, having been translated partially or entirely into some 2,303 languages and dialects.
Other Christian books are also proliferating. Books primarily about Jesus in today’s libraries number 175,000 titles in 500 languages, increasing by four newly published books every day. The Gospel is also preached in 38,000 Christian magazines and on 4,050 radio and television stations. Ninety-nine percent of the world’s population have the Gospel available to them via Christian radio stations. (http://www.jesus.org.uk/)
Meanwhile an innumerable number of Christian websites, cyber churches, gospel webcasts and podcasts, and other Christian ministries evangelize, inform, and pastor via the Internet.
The story of Christ’s sacrifice reached millions worldwide with Mel Gibson’s retelling of The Passion of Christ (2004), but its viewing audience is dwarfed by the Jesus (1979) film. Shot on location in the Middle East, Jesus is a retelling of Luke’s gospel. Starring a white British Jesus and with a mostly Jewish Yemenite cast, it is an unlikely candidate for the most watched or most translated film, but it is both. (Giles Wilson, “The most watched film in history,” BBC News Online, 21 Jul 2003) It has been translated into over 1,000 languages with over 200 more translations in progress (with over 58 million products, including film, video, and audio distributed), and it has had an estimated combined viewing and listening audience of over 6 billion. (The Jesus Film Project, http://www.jesusfilm.org/)
Never in the course of history has the Gospel been preached in all the world to all nations as it is right now by every means possible.
Globetrotters and jetsetters
“Many shall run to and fro…” (Daniel 12:4)
In 534 bc, the prophet Daniel received an outstanding revelation, after which God told him that even though the prophecy was given through him, he wouldn’t understand it because it didn’t pertain to him.
Amongst many other things, Daniel was told: “Seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)
Many running to and fro literally means “speeding about, here and there,” or as The Living Bible renders this verse, “travel shall be vastly increased.”
Until about 100 years ago, people’s means of transportation—horse and buggy, wagons, camels, boats, etc.—had not changed substantially for thousands of years.
“Knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)
It is with good cause that the term “information overload” was coined in recent years. If the amount of information that is available is any indication of the knowledge available, knowledge has increased within our generation almost beyond imagination!
Global information increases about 30% per year, according to figures developed by the University of California at Berkeley. (http://www.forbes.com/)
Each year around a million books are printed (that’s titles, not copies), 25,276 newspapers are published (that’s publications, not issues), 40,000 scholarly journals, 80,000 mass-market periodicals, and 40,000 newsletters. (UNESCO 1996, ISSN 2001, Ulrich’s 2000, Oxbridge Directory 1997)
“Now the [Holy] Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1)
Not only are many people unknowingly falling for Satan’s deceptions, increasing numbers are following rank Satanism. The Bible tells us that if people willfully reject God’s truth, they will be given “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10–11) When we refuse the truth, there is nothing left to believe but a lie. This is why much of the world today is wide open for deceivers and false prophets.
Two fields in which paganism and Satanism have made tremendous inroads are the popular music business and the computer gaming industry. (http://www.cnn.com/) The most shameless acts of blasphemy and desecration are now socially acceptable in the name of audiovisual and multimedia entertainment and “freedom of expression.”
(Continued in the next issue of Activated . Excerpted from the booklet The Future Foretold . 3rd ed. Aurora Production AG, 2008.)