Fentanyl-laced drugs, along with other opioids, are taking the lives of thousands of people annually.
The average nationwide price of gasoline in America is around $5.00 per gallon.
Power blackouts are expected to occur later this summer due to shortages of electricity.
I could go on—and so could you. Every American is aware of the upsetting status of life in our nation and around the world. No nation has ever been free of problems. But it seems the world is teetering on the brink of collapse more than ever before.
What in the world is going on? I asked that question back in 2008 when we were at the beginning of the economic collapse that threw America and the world into a multi-year recession. I didn’t think things could get much worse then—but I was wrong.
It may seem like all of these signs are leading to the end of the world, but let’s shift our focus. What will the World of the End look like? In Matthew 24:1-14, Jesus laid out for His disciples the signs that will characterize the World of the End. He concluded these verses this way: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (verse 14, emphasis added).
Deciphering the Madness
“Are we there yet?” “How much longer?” Every parent has been peppered with those questions by their small children when on a road trip. As humans, we are consumed with a desire to know when things will happen, starting at an early age.
But it’s not just children who reveal their impatience about life’s timetables. Jesus began His discourse on the end of this age as a result of His disciples asking, “When?” The disciples took one last opportunity to ask the “when” question on the day Jesus ascended into heaven. The nature of the world at the end of the age was like a puzzle to them, one they were determined to solve.
But, in neither instance did Jesus answer their questions—at least not in the way they wanted.
Instead of a date, Jesus gave His disciples (and us) a description of things to come.
The world may seem mad to us, but it doesn’t to Jesus. He told His disciples what the World of the End would be like so we would not be shocked or surprised when it happens. When we read through Matthew 24, we see descriptions of things that are happening around us today. I believe Jesus’ words serve as a comforting warning: These things must come to pass before the end comes.
Discovering the Meaning
Back to the kids on the road trip. Sometimes parents will paint a picture of things that will happen before they reach grandmother’s house: “First, we have to get on the big interstate highway, then after a while we’ll cross a river on the huge bridge. Then, we’ll get off the big highway and onto a smaller road and go through the countryside and see lots of cows in the fields. Then we’ll turn onto a gravel road, go through some woods, and then . . . we’re there!”
That’s a game parents create for children to help pass the time, but it works! Jesus did something similar for us—but it’s not a game. Like signposts, the descriptions of world events given by Jesus tell us the end is drawing near. The things Jesus described must happen before the Lord’s return.
There is a sense in which Christ’s return is a rescue for a world in which all chaos has broken loose. The events Jesus described are not pleasant, but they represent the natural devolution of a world that has rejected God’s right to rule over His creation. Instead of being anxious about the events we see happening in our world, we should take them as necessary preludes to the return of Christ.
Our world doesn’t operate randomly like a steel ball careening through a pinball machine. In such a game, we might say, “Oops!” if the ball takes a surprising turn. But God never says, “Oops!” as though the world has taken a turn for the worse without His foreknowledge. And we shouldn’t either.
When we understand the why of the world (why things must happen) the what of the world (the events themselves) makes far more sense.
Depending on the Master’s Plan
To conclude the road trip analogy: There are two ways children might look at markers along the way. They might see them as indicators of how far they still have to go and how they’re going to be stuck in the car for a while longer. Or they might see them as indicators that they are making progress, that they are getting closer and closer to their destination. It’s a glass half empty, glass half full choice. And we have the same choice as we look at the indicators of the state of our world. We can choose to be troubled or to be assured.
Jesus wanted His disciples to make the “assured” choice: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6, emphasis added). Those are His words to us as well: “See that you are not troubled.”
God has a plan—and we are part of it! Our part is to trust Him and be about the business of watching for His glorious appearing while actively living as the salt and light of this world. There are many people who are “troubled” at what they see happening in the world, but we can bring them the Source of our assurance through the Gospel.
Dr. David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point, an international ministry committed to providing Christians with sound Bible teaching through radio and television, the Internet, live events, and resource materials and books. He is the author of more than fifty books, including The World of the End: How Jesus' Prophecy Shapes Our Priorities.
Dr. Jeremiah serves as the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California. He and his wife, Donna, have four children and twelve grandchildren.