As the end of days approaches, you can findhope as you see Christ’s soon return through signs of the end of the world like widespread tribulation, tsunamis, and global travel advances!
SUNDAY: The Greatest Tribulation
John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne.
—Revelation 1:4, emphasis added
This week we are examining the Revelation 1:4 promise that Jesus is the One “who is to come.” What will His coming be like? Every so often, we witness an event so momentous that it touches the whole planet with a glimpse of the ominous things to come when Christ returns. On December 26, 2004, the eyes of the entire world were drawn to just such an event.
That Sunday after Christmas, life ended abruptly for 150,000-plus souls as a result of the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, which produced what is now called the Boxing Day Tsunami. So many bodies were swept out to sea in that catastrophic event that an exact number of casualties can never be verified.
It is especially notable that secular writers and news reporters used words like “apocalyptic” and “of biblical proportions” as they struggled to describe the horrific scenes of desolation and death they witnessed in Southeast Asia. Some even began to contemplate: What if there is a catastrophe so big, so deadly, that it could wipe out life on our planet—an asteroid, a comet, or a complete climactic shift away from a life-sustaining world? In other words, countless people, all around the globe, were anxiously thinking and talking about the end of the world!
As apocalyptic as the 2004 Tsunami might have seemed to some, during the seven-year period known in the Bible as the Great Tribulation there will be at least 20,000 times more deaths. Suffering will be so extensive, and desolation so great, that God says it will be “… such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21).
Most Bible prophecy scholars believe that the greatest number of deaths will occur in the second half of the Tribulation, which lasts forty-two months, or three and one-half years. By the end of the Tribulation, over half the population on earth will have perished. With over six billion people alive today, this means more than three billion will die!
Let’s put those astronomical figures into perspective. If an event like the 2004 Tsunami occurred daily for three and one-half years, at the rate of 150,000 deaths per day, it would still only total 189 million casualties. For half the world’s population to die by quake and tsunami in forty-two months, there would have to be one quake and tsunami each hour, sixteen hours per day, for three and one-half years. That would be more bodies to bury than we can possibly imagine!
Those figures are staggering to our human minds! That is why Jesus has said so much about the need to get ready for the end of the world. Is it possible to know an exact date as to when the world will end? No, for Jesus tells us, “But of that day and hour no one knows … but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36). However, Jesus promised to give us signs that would indicate the end is near.
The Bible is so unique because God has already mapped out specific future events. Only the living, faithful, and true God could ever, with 100 percent accuracy, declare: “Let Me tell you the future!” God has said that is the way we can know that He is real. Because He is real, you and I can confidently make a choice to live in hope because we place our faith and trust in Christ “… who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (see Ephesians 1:11-13).
My Prayer for You This Week: Father in heaven, we bow before You who are God because You have written the future in advance. You can be trusted because everything You’ve said has come true, as it shall into the future. You offer us Your peace like a river. Lord, I pray for those without such peace, perhaps because they’ve never met You, or they’ve gotten out of the river and are standing on the shore—separated from You because of sin and iniquity. I pray that they would flee to You, the river of mercy and peace, and be cleansed. May they let those waves of Your righteousness sweep over their lives so they can experience the newness of You, the God of new beginnings—the One who promised us an endless life of new fresh pages because the blood of Jesus Christ Your Son cleanses us from all iniquity. I pray that we would know Your peace and Your righteousness. May we take heed to watch and pray so we can get ready to stand before You. We pray this in Your precious name and for Your glory. Amen.
MONDAY: Prophecy—Proof That God Is Real
“Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you [idols] are gods; yes, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and see it together.”
—Isaiah 41:23, emphasis added
Why do Bible-believing saints love prophecy? The precise timing and exact fulfillment of prophecy proves that God is the living Faithful and True God. Consider these wonderful proofs from the book of Isaiah alone: (Emphasis added in the verses below.)
- Only God accurately knows the future. In Isaiah 41:23 (see above) God is challenging man-made idols to perform as He has done.
- Prophecy proves that God is real. In the following verses, God the Father is prophetically speaking to His Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah: “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison …. I am the Lord, … and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isaiah 42:6-9).
- Prophecy proves that God is reliable. We see this in His fulfilled prophecies as well as His other mighty works: “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure …’ ” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
- Prophecy reveals the God we can trust. Everything that our all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present God predicted for past history came to pass exactly as He said it would: “Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you, lest you should say, “My idol has done them, and my carved image and my molded image have commanded them’ ” (Isaiah 48:5; see also Isaiah 48:12-13).
- Trusting God determines our eternal destiny: Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer …: “I am the Lord your God … Who leads you by the way you should go. Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea. … There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked” (Isaiah 48:17-18, 22).
If you are a believer, are you letting your Redeemer lead you in the way you should go? Are you heeding His commandments? Do you have peace like a river and Christ’s abundant righteousness in your life? If you do not yet know Christ as Lord and Savior, I pray that you will make a choice to live in hope. Transfer your trust to Christ alone for your eternal salvation!
TUESDAY: Prophecy—The Key to Understanding the Future
“… I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, … things that are not yet done ….”
—Isaiah 46:9-10, emphasis added
Almost one-third of the Bible is prophetic. Of the 8,352 verses that J. Barton Payne has identified as being prophetic, is there one that particularly explains the end of the world? Here is a real eye-opener: “… Daniel, … seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4, emphasis added). Although “The Sign of Global Travel” and “The Sign of a Global Explosion of Knowledge” were both discussed last week, I will be expanding those points a bit further today and tomorrow.
“Many shall run to and fro”: Running “to and fro” speaks of traveling. Much of the world remained the same from Daniel’s day until our great-grandparents’ time, but the pace of change in just the last hundred years is incredible. Consider this timeline:
3,000 Years Ago—David hired wooden boats, powered by wind, to help bring special wood for the temple. His son, Solomon, actually built and operated a fleet of wooden ships that sailed by wind power to carry on extensive trade with Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia. And 2,800 years ago, Jonah walked by foot to a port in Israel to purchase a ticket to sail to what is today’s Spain.
2,000 Years Ago—The apostle Paul traveled around the Roman world on mapped-out highways by foot, by horse and chariot, or aboard a wooden ship moved along by wind power caught in the sails.
500 Years Ago—Christopher Columbus embarked on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a sea route to China. He also probably went to the dock on foot, and boarded a wooden ship, not unlike that of David, Solomon, Jonah, and Paul’s.
200 Years Ago—Benjamin Franklin walked to a dock in America to board a wooden sailing vessel for his trip to France.
100 Years Ago—President Theodore Roosevelt traveled by steamship from place to place, often taking a week to get there. With the advent of steam, man was no longer tied to animal power and wind power. The steamship, locomotive, automobile, and airplane changed the entire world in just one generation!
Today—Scheduled flights of airliners routinely make the trip from any of the six inhabited continents to another continent in only a few hours. No one in the history of this planet ever traveled like we can today. This is a sign of end times—that the end of the world is getting close!
With all the advances in travel, it does not take long to reach any place in the world. Even so, as much as one might want to flee to safety, there is nowhere on earth where a person can hide to escape God’s wrath during the Tribulation: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me (Psalm 139:7-10).
For the Christian, that Psalm 139 passage is a comfort because God has promised to both lead and uphold us by His power!
WEDNESDAY: Knowledge Shall Increase
“… Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
—Daniel 12:4, emphasis added
Now let us look at the last half of that phrase in Daniel 12:4, which is almost an
understatement when you think about life in the twenty-first century!
Today, we sit atop a database containing what is arguably the sum total of the world’s accumulated knowledge every time we sit down to browse the Internet.
From wooden boats with sails to space shuttles and hypersonic orbiters; from clay tablets and a stylus to MP3’s and DVD’s that I can watch or create on the personal computer that can also be my phone, television, radio, stereo, workstation, word processor, electronic document file, movie studio, sound studio, telephone answering service, fax machine, copy machine and printer. And a million other things.
[Our] generation is unique in all human history. Never has humanity been forced to come to terms with so many issues simultaneously—issues for which we have no historical precedent to use as a guide. The explosive growth of knowledge has us reeling from what humanist writer Alvin Toffler terms “future shock.” It is only in this generation that last year’s encyclopedia is about as useful as last month’s newspaper. It has been said that the sum of human knowledge from the Flood to 1850 doubled once. It doubled again following World War II. The doubling of human knowledge increases exponentially.1
In light of the exponential growth of knowledge since World War II especially, let me ask you this question: In comparison, how is your growth in the grace and knowledge of your Lord and Savior? Do you see an ever-increasing difference in your understanding of God and His Word from one year to the next?
One way to evaluate your life to answer that question is to think of Scripture you’ve learned which has revealed a deeper understanding of God. Or perhaps you can recall a difficult circumstance you’ve endured, and how such suffering drew you closer to the Lord so that you are now more able … to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which [you yourself were] comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:4). Praise the Lord for the spiritual growth He’s granted so far, and then ask Him to strengthen weak areas so that you can better “pass on the faith” to others.
All believers are to become teachers of others, whether it is in a church setting, in the home, spreading the gospel, or exhorting a friend or neighbor in the Word. The writer of Hebrews tells us that we … ought to be teachers … of full age, … who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (5:12a, 14). But anyone who … partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe (5:13).
If you have not yet done so, I urge you to get into the Word of God regularly so that you can gain the knowledge and wisdom that are necessary to teach others! For God says that we are to be redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16)!
THURSDAY: Prophecy—Sorrowful Yet Joyful
I [John] took the little book out … and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter.
—Revelation 10:10, emphasis added
When Daniel saw what it would be like in the end times, it was so overwhelming—so absolutely incomprehensible—that, like John, it made him sick. Look at what this author has to say about Daniel 10:14:
While in exile in Babylon, the prophet Daniel was given a vision of the future of Israel, up to the coming of the Messiah. Up to this point in the vision, those things that Daniel saw were relatively familiar cities, events, and people in a context that were not too far removed from his concept of reality. But then he was shown the things to come in the last days. The angel told him in Daniel 10:14, “Now I am come to make them understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days; for yet the vision is for many days.”
Daniel was so staggered by what he saw it made him faint, and verse 18 records that “one like the appearance of a man” touched him, and strengthened him, so that he could go on. Daniel tried to describe those things he saw using terminology that made sense to him, but it comes to us as a series of baffling symbols, images and beasts. The things he saw terrified him. Because the visions were so completely removed from his understanding of reality, he was unable to describe them in terms that even he was able to comprehend. And so it remained, for thousands of years.
Great Bible commentators like Calvin and Luther did not even attempt to interpret the books of Daniel, or the Revelation, for that matter, saying they were allegorical or symbolic books. Matthew Henry, writing in the eighteenth century, did not fare much better. Even commentators on these books in the early twentieth century admitted they had trouble fitting the pieces together. After all, they dealt with a restored Israel, a revived Roman empire, and a one world government. Such things were deemed to be impossible, therefore to be interpreted as allegories. The revealing angel understood what Daniel did not.2
Even with our limited but more enlightened understanding, the holocaust of the Great Tribulation to come is indeed extremely sorrowful! We therefore need to get ready to meet Jesus, and warn others to do the same. So then, Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering …. And let us … stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, … but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25, emphasis added).
FRIDAY: The Shock Wave That Rocked the World
“… men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
—Luke 21:26, emphasis added
On December 26, 2004, while sitting at my computer waiting for a document to print, steady news bulletins began to hit the Google News screen—
A rare earthquake has just occurred in the Indian Ocean …
Some people may have died …
Reports of a gigantic tsunami are coming in from all over Southeast Asia …
The death toll is rising dramatically …
Damage is unbelievable! Catastrophic! …
On and on the news bulletins flashed. It quickly became evident that the greatest natural disaster of this generation had just occurred! The enormity of that event actually made our whole planet vibrate. Later, one commentator reported that the earth even wobbled on its axis and the regional map of south Asia was permanently altered. The island of Sumatra moved 100 feet. It was as if time stood still for three microseconds. The impact of the 500 mile-per-hour waves was equal to one million atom bombs.
As devastating as that earthquake was, it is as nothing compared to the power and judgment God will unleash on earth during the Great Tribulation. It is no wonder that men’s hearts will fail them from fear in anticipation of what is yet to come!
If you are a born-again Christian, you can rejoice because you no longer need to fear the future. The writer of Hebrews says that to those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation (Hebrews 9:28). When Christ returns again, it will be to take His children home with Him. At that point our salvation will be complete because we will be with Him at last!
By the way, did you happen to catch that those who were online that December 26th were able to view the quake and tsunami within minutes of it striking? Seismic stations picked up the magnitude of the event, and news stations spread the word electronically at the speed of light—which is more remarkable evidence that “knowledge shall increase” in the last days.
As fascinating as mankind’s rapid increase in knowledge can be, that is not God’s priority for His children in end times. Rather, we are to … increase and abound in love to one another … so that He may establish [our] hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13). We need to continually make sure that our priorities are the same as God’s!
Are you ready to meet Jesus Christ? Is He your safe haven from the ominous “things which are coming on the earth”?
SATURDAY: Death Is Inevitable
… It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”
—Hebrews 9:27 (emphasis added)
Even though “knowledge shall increase” as the Tribulation fast approaches, the knowledge of the exact moment of our “appointed” time to meet God face-to-face is His alone. And, unless the Rapture occurs first, we each must face the inevitability of our own death.
Jesus has warned us that life is fragile. Thus, He expects us to live every day as if it were our very last. Without even a moment’s notice we could be ushered into eternity—like all the souls who perished in the 2004 Tsunami.
The energy unleashed in that tsunami was staggering, but even more staggering is the fact that the 150,000-plus souls who unexpectedly entered eternity that day had no more chances to get right with a holy God! Thus, that event can serve as a gracious reminder from the Lord of what we are really here on earth to do—seek God while He may still be found!
Make a choice to live in hope: Do you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are ready to meet Jesus? If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to choose to find hope for the end of days in Christ. Only He is a secure and safe refuge!
For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit discoverthebook.org.