Talk of the end times can be confusing, of that there’s no doubt. So, as believers, what should we believe concerning the end times? There are many voices saying different things, but as always, we should turn to the Word of God and search the Scriptures to see what God says about it. Jesus said of the end times that we should keep a constant watch and be praying (Luke 21:36, NLT). This reminds me of the sons of Issachar, in 1Chronicles 12:32, who “understood the times” they were living in and knew what they had to do. So, too, we need to be alert to the times in which we live and be praying into the various situations.
There’s no doubt we are living in the end times. This is the period of time at the end of this present age, it’s not talking about the end of the world, as some people seem to think. God devotes much of the Bible, His inspired Word, to the period of time just before the physical return of the Lord Jesus to this world and to the events subsequent to His return.
In my opinion, the stage has been set for the end times since Israel became a nation again, after almost 2000 years, in 1948. The events of the end times centre on the nation of Israel, therefore until Israel was reformed those events could not take place. That was 64 years ago! Today, we are a very long way down the road to seeing prophecies fulfilled.
Jesus said when you see the fig tree budding, you know summer is near, (Mat.24). The fig tree is commonly used as a symbol of the nation of Israel in Scripture. Today, Israel is not only back in the land, but it is flourishing and strong. It’s the very picture of the fig tree budding. So because of this, we can say that the events of the end times that Jesus described in Matthew 24 are very close to being fulfilled.
Imagine you’re in a car on the way to some unknown location. You’ve got a map in your hand. If you know how to read the map, you’re able to recognise the signs you pass on the way and you know where you are.
It’s the same for us today. God has given us His map, the prophecies in the Bible. And if we know how to read and understand them, then we’ll be able to recognise where we are in God’s time-table of end-times events. Make no mistake, Jesus warns us it’s possible to be deceived in these days, and that we must be alert to what’s going on.
The situation in the Middle East today (July 2012) is very tense, and we are at a significant point in time there. Israel continues to be threatened by Iran, with threats made by top politicians and religious leaders in Iran to destroy the nation of Israel backed up by intensive efforts to aquire a nuclear weapons capability. Meanwhile, the rest of the world pretends Iran does not really mean what she says, and hopes the problem will go away.
This reminds me of 1938 and Neville Chamberlains’ “Peace in our time” claim. If Israel becomes more and more isolated by so-called allies, will she decide she has to take matters into her own hands in order to survive? If so then again there are shades of the 1930′s and 40′s, when all the major nations abandoned the Jews to their fate at the hands of the Nazis.
In Egypt, the recently elected Muslim Brotherhood represents an additional threat to Israel from the south, and has ominously warned it will not necessarily maintain the peace treaty with Israel originally signed by Anwar Sadat. The new Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi is a radical and has declared as recently as April this year that “Jihad is our way”.
And in Syria, turmoil and civil unrest continue, with the very real possibility of control of Syria’s extensive chemical and biological weapons falling into the hands of desperate extremists. The situation in Syria is extremely volatile and dangerous.
But, as well as events concerning Israel, the “fig tree” of Matthew 24, we need to keep an eye on many other areas of activity and development. For instance, the forming of certain groupings of nations; the rise of a world leader, a so-called man of peace, and the political and technological developments that would enable and empower such a person to become a global “Big Brother” dictator; the coming together of the worlds’ religions into a multi-faith one world religion; and various other things too.
Mainly though, the end times is about what God is going to do, how He will fulfil all the prophecies in His Word through to completion, the Kingdom of God physically established on earth, with the Lord Jesus reigning as King from Jerusalem.