In the last 15 months it seems like planet earth has been throwing a fit. ‘Mother Nature’ must be experiencing the flu and, when ill, is not a happy camper. If we forget about all the natural disasters that have taken place around the globe prior to Dec. 31, 2009, we would still fill volumes with disasters that have happened since.
From January 1, 2010 to today there have been literally dozens of natural disasters around the world; one website listed 31 pages of disasters in 2010 alone. We saw volcanoes erupting in Indonesia and Iceland; 28 major earthquakes in the last 15 months, most notably in Chile, Haiti, and now Japan; major mudslides in China and Uganda killing over a thousand people as they slept; avalanches in Pakistan and Afghanistan; not to mention droughts, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and typhoons. Our planet is in an upheaval. All of these events have occurred in the last 455 days! Unprecedented events.
During this same period of time we have also witnessed major unrest among people groups. Starting with Egypt and now spreading to several Arab countries we see civilians say, ‘enough is enough’. Public demonstrations have become a daily occurrence. These protests are not focused on one particular governmental action but on simply being fed-up with being controlled and dominated by corrupt régimes hiding behind the safety of religious pretense and bully tactics. Whole populations are scanning the internet and learning about freedom and personal liberty, and are now demanding these freedoms for themselves. More unprecedented events.
What does all this mean? Is there any collective rhyme or reason to it all? Are these unprecedented events arbitrary actions or are they somehow all related? Today I was reading in Matthew 24 and was struck by the words of Jesus Himself:
6 “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.
7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.
8 “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
The events Jesus mentions sounds so familiar to what is being broadcast today. Let’s summarize His main point… when all these natural disasters take place, and when we see people groups rising up against other groups, it is NOT the end, but the beginning of the end. In other words, the return of our Lord is getting close at hand. It may not be today, but we won’t be attending too many more New Years Eve parties.
Jesus makes it clear that ‘these things need to take place’ before He returns. Why would these things need to take place? Does Jesus mean that He wants to find our planet in chaos when He arrives? That sounds a little twisted. Maybe He means something else. Perhaps Jesus wants to warn us of His imminent return. Perhaps He is kind enough to show signs that His arrival is just around the corner. He does not want us to be caught off guard when He descends on the clouds. This would be an act of kindness, an act of love. I’m not saying all the tragedies are an act of love; but telling us that they will become more frequent just before His return should wake us from our slumber. They should prepare us for the trumpet call, announcing the arrival of our Messiah King. ‘Birth Pangs’ let us know something new is about to be born; a new arrival is quickly coming.
The Bible teaches us that many unprecedented events will take place right before His return; unprecedented natural disasters and unprecedented human uprisings. I believe the facts of recent world events, just the ones over the last 15 months, are strong indicators that we are living in the time of Matthew 24:6-8. If this is true then we have been given a loving warning, just like John the Baptist did, that our Messiah is on His way. It is time to “make His paths straight”, as stated in Matt. 3:3, and prepare our hearts for His arrival. We also need to be witnessing like never before. Jesus’ return will be a glorious day for His elect, but a horrible day for those that do not know Him. Let’s stay focused on the task at hand of living a Godly life, not being caught up in the traps of this world, and let’s be a courageous mouth piece of God’s gift of grace and redemption.
I love being your Pastor. See you on Sunday.