“ I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, New Living Translation)
THE CONFLICT IN SYRIA that saw hundreds of thousands of lives destroyed and displaced; the more than 8,000 dead in Nepal after a magnitude 7.8 quake; the collapsing economy of Greece, stock market crash in China, debt crisis in Puerto Rico, and the economic meltdown in South America; and 795 million people hungry throughout the world. These and similar tragic events that we have recently witnessed have caused anxiety and concern to many, these should not come as a surprise.
When the Lord Jesus was asked by His disciples on when His Second Coming would be, He already told them of such events, thus:
“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, ‘Tell us, when will this happen? What will be the sign that you are coming again, and when will the world come to an end?’ …’In the same way, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the door.’
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Don’t be alarmed! These things must happen, but they don’t mean that the end has come. Nation will fight against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All of these are only the beginning of pains of the end.” (Matt. 24:3, 6-7, God’s Word)
Man’s condition in these last days
The Bible is replete with pronouncements about what our situation in life would be in these days:
• Will be full of danger. “But your must realize that in the last days the times will be full of danger.” (II Tim. 3:1, Phillips Translation)
Apostle Paul made this pronouncement as he foresaw the kind of people who will be living in these last days, that is, prior to the end of the world. In face, he prophesied that people in the last days would be selfish, greedy, boastful, conceited, insulting, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, irreligious, unkind, merciless, slanderers, insolent, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with pride, and lovers of pleasure rather than of God (II Tim. 3:2-4).
• Many trials and sorrows. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, New Living Translation)
Although world leaders have persistently attempted to design solutions to the problems people face today, their well-meaning efforts, unfortunately, have been a dismal failure. But this is not something to wonder about since our Lord Jesus already foretold that people would experience tribulations in this world.
• The rise of false religions. “ Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won’t be real.” (II Tim. 3:5, Contemporary English Version)
Apostle Paul warned about the kind of religiosity that would prevail in these last days. This is the result of the proliferation of false preachers today who would lead people astray or away from the true religion: “And many false religious teachers will come. They will fool many people and will turn them to the wrong way” (Matt. 24:11, New Life Version).
• Unrest, sickness, and hunger. “There is fighting in the street, and sickness and hunger in the houses. Anyone who is out in the country will die in fighting, and anyone in the city will be a victim of sickness and hunger. … Everything is in confusion—the land is full of murders and the cities are full of violence. … Despair is coming. You follow another, and a steady stream of bad news will pour in.” (Ezek. 7:15, 23, 25-26, Today’s English Version)
The unrest being felt in different places is to be expected. Even the hunger and malnutrition that millions of people around the world suffer now are fulfilment of what the Bible foretold. The Bible forewarned that this world would suffer from despair even at a period when people seriously adopt ways to promote peace and prosperity on earth. As the end of the world draws near, the condition of man’s life will surely worsen despite man’s efforts to improve it (Isa. 24:18, 20, Ibid.).
Prepare while the signs are unfolding
As we see the signs of the times, we can never deny that Christ’s Second Coming is indeed very near and coming very soon. But while these unfortunate things are happening in this world, there will be an end of all of these on the great day of Judgment (Acts 17:31).
Hence, let us prepare for the Lord’s return as we see these signs unfold before our very eyes. Let us remain steadfast and endure as we look forward to the glorious day when our sacrifices will be rewarded:
“When these things begin to happen, stand up and raise your heads, because your salvation is near.” (Luke 21:28, TEV)
In order for us to be certain of salvation on Judgment Day, we are instructed to be ready always. The Lord Jesus tells us: “So then, you also must always be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him. … No one knows, however, when that day and hour will come—neither the angels in heaven nor the Son; the Father alone knows.” (Matt. 24:44, 36, Ibid.).
Though we do not know the exact day and hour when judgment will be meted out to this world, we are however certain that that day is very near. That is why we are told to be ready always. Apostle Peter gave the answer on how we can prepare ourselves for Judgment Day: “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” (II Pet. 3:14, New King James Version).
We are instructed to be found in peace as we look forward to Christ’s glorious return (II Pet. 3:14). That peace can be found in the body or the Church:
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Col. 3:15, Ibid.)
“And He is the head of the body, the church …” (Col. 1:18, Ibid.)
Hence, whatever one experiences or encounters in this life, he should strive to enter the Church headed by Christ or the Church of Christ (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation)
Remain until the end
While there are many things that bring us anxieties, because they are the fulfillment of the signs of the times, the Lord Jesus Christ gives us a very timely advice: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will drink; not about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?… “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:25, 31-33, Ibid.).
Even if living in this world today is a big challenge—as we see the sufferings of a great number of people from poverty, injustice, terrorism, violence, calamities, dreadful illnesses, and all kinds of difficulties—we should never conform to the standards of this world (Rom. 12:2, TEV). We should never be afraid or lose courage because time will come when God will rid us of all our sorrows and burdens (Zeph. 3:16-18,The Message) Instead of losing hope, let us remain members of the Church of Christ until the end so as to be saved.
“But the person who holds out [i.e., of this time of severe persecution will be saved from destruction]” (Matt. 24:13, An Understandable Version)
by Siegfred T. Gollayan
Source: God’s Message, June 2016