How might God be speaking to us today? Peter Sammons considers
A clear roadmap?
We live in strange and troubling times. I know of no serious Christian who does not consider that today we stand at some sort of threshold in terms of God’s redemptive timetable. That may not mean that the Lord’s return is imminent, but we do seem to have reached a clear inflection point of some sort.
Were I to be pressed for an opinion I should say that much of what we live through today is similar to what the saints of bygone eras also had to live through. The two things that have changed in our present era are (1) Israel now exists as a sovereign nation (in fulfillment of prophecy) and (2) the institutional churches in major parts (and especially in their leadership stratas) no longer even pay lip-service to the basics of the Christian faith.
It would be wonderful, would it not, to have a clear ‘roadmap’ that sets out with precision how the world will end and how God will finally work out His Salvific purposes. Such a ‘roadmap’ is one thing that God has definitely declined to give us. Even had He done so, the World at large would have rejected it as being mere make-believe, in precisely the same way the World has, by and large, rejected every other element of God’s Self- revelation. The last days are, in any case, characterized by “scoffing” (2 Peter 3: 3).
Our Lord Jesus graciously provided for us clear clues as to what to expect in the end time. Forewarned is, to a large extent, fore-armed! Matthew Chapters 24 and 25 provide these clues and readers may wish to pause at this point to simply read what the Lord said. Strictly speaking, what Yeshua gave us is everything that we need – and on that basis we really ought to be familiar with it. There will be “signs”, and we are to be sufficiently awake to ‘read’ those signs correctly. That is what Yeshua said, so let’s make sure we do it!
As Mankind approaches the time of Christ’s return, so we are to be aware of preceding, and increasingly urgent, signs as already noted. The conclusion of this article sets out a dashboard of history, in graphical format, which can help us consider the signs of which Yeshua spoke so directly, and to which other parts of the Bible also bear testimony. Any ‘dashboard’ (or ‘control panel’) will incorporate instruments with ‘readable’ outputs that are very often colour-coded as red, amber or green.
The point about the approach of Messiah Jesus is that the warning signs will move progressively from their historical ‘normal’ (as green) through into amber and then finally to red. Whilst historically these warning signs can and have, ‘glowed’ amber – or even sometimes red – yet later returned to green, the End Times will be marked by a progressive transition of all signs from amber to red. There will come a time when so many are simultaneously ‘glowing’ red that the eyes of faith will know, with certainty, we are on the threshold of Messiah’s return.
Signs – to look out for
We must resist the temptation to “map out” future events with precision and create a ‘roadmap’, as so many others have sought to do. We want to remain 100% focused on what the Bible actually says and about which there can be no (serious) argument. Our schematics on the facing page afford a more granular insight. These are biblical signs of the end time, and today we expect more and more of the ‘warning lights’ to progress from green, to amber and then to red – and to stay at red! Ultimately, readers must make up their own minds as to whether, and to what extent, these signs are occurring today. This is not an exact science from our human perspective! It is not meant to be.
Readers are invited to ponder the red-amber-green status of these signs in our own day, and which (in their own view) remain stubbornly at ‘red’. This should be a helpful exercise, allowing us to engage with scripture seriously, but we repeat it is not ‘an exact science’. Different readers will have different perspectives and there will never be universal agreement on these matters.
Critics may take issue with some of the ‘signs’ that we suggest (for example, on-demand abortion). Once again readers must make up their own minds on our four ‘dashboards’ based upon the broad witness of Scripture, the specific words of Jesus and the nature (and attributes) of the God of Righteousness and Justice. Whilst universal agreement on the specifics of signs is unlikely, we anticipate some broad agreement amongst Bible-believing Christians.
Our schematic representation depicts a number of prophetic streams/themes related to the End Time, clustered them under four key headings: * World Events * Israel * Moral Decay * The Gospel. These prophetic streams overlap. This information is presented as a set of ‘warning lights’, as if on an instrument panel. Jesus Himself warned of, and Scripture generally indicates, clear observational signs to help us identify the nearness of the Lord’s return. Jesus described these as “birth pangs” (Matthew 24: 8).
We note that, throughout history, virtually all of these signs have periodically emerged (moved, as it were, from ‘green’ into ‘red’) only later to return to ‘amber’ and then to ‘green’. They have waxed and waned. It is not the individual signs but rather the coincidence of all these signs, and their eventual urgent persistence (remaining at ‘red’) that will give confidence that we are approaching the End Time.
Whilst the Bible does not include specific prophecies regarding abortion, euthanasia or child abuse as signs of the end time, it does refer repeatedly to a widespread, near universal, rejection of (and indeed rebellion against) God’s values as expressed in the Jewish Torah and in Jesus’ own teachings. Societal endorsement of the deliberate taking of human life, whether of the very young (abortion) or elderly (assisted suicide), is a defining characteristic of our present age and as such, suggests we are approaching the climax of history in its present era.
Readers must ultimately ponder, research and pray-into these questions to reach their own conclusions. Our schematics are offered as a framework within which to explore further. We have not provided associated Bible references. However this material was originally published in “Last Days and End Times – Making the Connection”, which is freely available here: http://www.christian-publications-int.com/images/PDF/LastDays.pdf . Readers should consult pp 182-85 for the suggested Bible references.