Monday, October 2, 2017

How We Know the Signs of the Times are Being Fulfilled

200 years ago, when war between England and France spread across half the globe, many believed they were seeing "the Sign of the Times." However, Bible scholars of that generation said, ‘This is not the end. The good news of the kingdom has not been preached worldwide.’ (Matthew 24:14)

150 years ago, Babylon the Great – all the world’s false religions taken as a conglomerate – was so strong she crowned and removed kings, made laws, punished wrongdoers, and collected taxes. (Revelation 18:1-4) Even in pre-Constitution America, churches were given parishes by the state. They too made laws, collected taxes and punished wrongdoers. Today, there are only ten countries remaining in Europe where the state gives money to the church, and every one of those countries gives taxpayers the right to opt out of supporting the churches. In most countries today churches have no power over politicians and little over the people. In the United States there is a law - rarely enforced - against churches influencing elections. There is more and more talk about removing the churches' tax-exempt status. If religions were outlawed tomorrow there would be very little protest from the general population.

120 years ago, no one would have found it noteworthy for someone or some group to say “Peace and Security!” Peace was the norm right up until World War broke out. When world events in the near future prompt a cry of ‘Peace and Security!’ it will be a significant departure from what we've become used to. (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

100 years ago, if anyone had said, “"Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation,” (2 Peter 3:3, 4) it would have been a reasonable question. Anyone who has said it since World War One, however, can be viewed as exactly what the prophecy calls them: ridiculous.

75 years ago, anyone who suggested that man had the potential to ruin the earth would have been locked up in an asylum. (Revelation 11:18) The planet was seen as a huge, self-regulating entity that puny man certainly couldn't harm. That view changed with the detonation of atomic bombs in the 1940s. 
When the world calmed down after WWII, people tried to go back to normal lives. But they were shocked out of their complacency in 1962 when Rachel Carson revealed in her book “Silent Spring” that, rather than “Better living through chemistry,” as the ads were saying, mankind’s chemicals were threatening to destroy the earth. 
Today no one questions the very real possibility of man ruining the earth.
65 years ago, The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom reached a milestone 100 languages, giving it the ability to serve 85% of the world’s population. The other 15% represent languages spoken by fewer than 10,000 people each, and in most cases those individuals are fluent in other, more common languages. In the years since, however, the number of languages of The Watchtower has continued to grow. 
Whether you agree or disagree with the teachings of The Watchtower, it cannot be denied that its message has consistently preached the "good news of the kingdom", as Jesus foretold would be declared. (Matthew 24:14) Today it is the most widely read magazine on Earth., is the most widely translated website on earth, currently in over 1000 languages, available to more than 98.8% of the earth’s population. There is virtually no person on earth whose only language is so obscure that he cannot hear the good news of the kingdom. To put that number in perspective, the official website of the Catholic Church is in 10 languages if you count Latin. The next largest 'Christian' religion's official website, for the world's Baptists, is in 7 languages. The Mormon website claims 100 languages, though many of them are machine-generated. Few other religions even have an official, worldwide website.
That may seem like religious propaganda, but think about this: In Napoleon's day, when some believed they were seeing the sign, Bible scholars pointed to Matthew 24:14 as a roadblock: The Good News of the Kingdom needed to be preached in ALL the earth before the end came, and that hadn't happened in Napoleon's day. Even after that, as Bible societies proliferated, their message was consistently, 'Join our church', not the Good News of the Kingdom.

50 years ago began what has been called ‘The Golden Age of Terrorism.’ Jesus foretold that the last days would be marked by “fearful sights and from heaven great signs.” (Luke 21:11) According to Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, the word fearful sights means: 
Terrors. This rare word phob├¬thra is used only here in the N.T. It is from phobe├┤, to frighten, and occurs only in the plural as here.” 
While it’s true that people could have understood “terrors” in many ways over the centuries, what we now think of as “terrorism” began with plane hijackings in the 1960s and an attack by Palestinians on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. Combined with the ‘terrors’ of nuclear weapons mounted on missiles, satellite surveillance, deranged shooters firing randomly into crowds, stealth drones firing rockets, air-borne radiation from broken reactors and other pollution coming down “from the heavens,” we have seen unprecedented ‘fearful sights and great signs’ in our lifetime.

This generation: Jesus said quite explicitly “when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors…Truly I say to you that this generation will BY NO MEANS pass away until all these things happen.”  (Matthew 24:33, 34) Since the things discussed here have stretched over the past 120 years or so, there could be no one person who saw them all. But the word "you" here is plural. Jesus was speaking to a group - those "brothers" of his who did see - and understood that they were seeing - the Sign of the Times beginning in World War One. As they aged they also actively shared their observations, and discussed the significance of them, with other younger "brothers" of their generation. The last possible associates of that generation are now in their fifties or older. BY NO MEANS will they all die before the end comes. 

If you struggle with that concept, here's a perhaps not-very-good illustration: The Star Trek show called "The Next Generation" was set about a century after the original series. The title and the story lines had little to do with the children or even the grandchildren of the original characters. Rather, the term 'Next Generation' described how this new crew was drastically different - in the thinking, the technology, and the problems they faced - from the original crew. In the same vein, the world we live in today is the same mess that began near the beginning of the 20th century. A new 'generation', with a completely different world experience from what we are living through now, will BY NO MEANS begin. We WILL see the end of the current drama.

Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at You can help support this site by purchasing a book.