Its just some days ago since the world witnessed the nation of France experience possibly its deadliest terror attack in the country’s history. One hundred and thirty people (130), mostly civilians, lost their lives in coordinated gun attacks and bomb explosions that hit six sites across the French capital, that is Stade de France, Rue de Charonne, Rue Alibert, Boulevard Voltaire, Rue Fontaine le Roi, and the Bataclan concert hall. No doubt, most Paris residents were left at wits’ end as to the motivation for such an act.
Empathy is to be given to families affected by this incident. However, as atrocious as this incident was, what needs to raise even a greater concern is, besides Paris, on a global scale there clearly has been an observable increase in the number of similar horrendous acts in different parts the world. In past months, we have seen gun attacks on university campuses and churches, abductions of young children by militant groups and other similar atrocious acts in isolated parts of the globe. Others happen on a small scale to be covered by mainstream media, but nonetheless incur loss of life. It seems humanity has lost its natural feeling of tenderness, and sacred regard of human life. Societies are becoming largely heartless and inhumane.
Naturally, as we observe this trend, and realise that day by day the world is becoming an unsafe and unpredictable place, many questions arise in our hearts. What really has gone wrong with our world? Where are we headed to? Is there not going to be some even more terrible nuclear bomb explosion with great loss of life in the future? Is there hope for the future? Such questions perplex our minds and they demand answers.
You will be quite amazed that there is an ancient book that, twenty centuries ago and with a 100% accuracy record, has predicted the events that are transpiring in our time. Much more, this book presents hope for a better future to the human race. It tells us that despite the confusion and violence in our world, in the end, peace, harmony and uninterrupted gladness will reign. This book is called the Bible.
Turning to Matthew 24 in this book, we come a across a conversation between Jesus and his disciples. Apparently, the disciples are trying to impress Jesus as to the beauty and magnificence of the Jewish temple with its glistening marble stones and golden pinnacles. To the disciples’ endeavour Jesus gives a subdued yet stern response, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2 NKJV. Here Jesus was without mistake pointing to the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Roman armies that would occur in the year AD 70, as documented in history. To the disciples who at heart were devoted Jews, committed to their nation and religion, such an event was almost inconceivable and the prediction by Jesus came as a great surprise.
Now more curious and inquisitive, the disciples privately approach Jesus to ask him more on the subject. ”Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:2-3 NKJV, Notice that the disciples actually ask two questions here (i) when will these things be?, that is the destruction of the temple, (ii) what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? In response, Jesus gives a lengthy discourse that, with a twofold application, covers both the destruction of the Jewish temple and His coming, that is His second coming back to the earth (see John 14:1-3).
In His discourse Jesus highlights some specific signs that are to occur just prior to His return on earth. The signs encompass a broad spectrum of life aspects, ranging from religion, economics, morality, health, geology and even politics. Let’s just zoom in on one particular sign that Jesus gave. In verse 6 He had this to say “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. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Matthew 24: 6-7 NKJV.
In verse 12, He further adds, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:12 NKJV. What Jesus basically tells us here is that, just before His second coming to earth there will be an increase in violence, conflict and war within humanity. Perhaps you might be saying “hasn’t there always been violence and war in all human history?” It is true, there has always been war in the history of humankind. However, what Jesus highlights here is that, before His coming there will be such an increase in violence and conflict so noticeable as to make it a sign of the times. Its quite interesting that our present and the past centuries have witnessed a marked and unprecedented increase in human conflict and great loss of life. A little research will inform that the number of lives lost in wars fought in the past two centuries greatly surpasses those lost in all the preceding eighteen centuries combined. A contributing factor has of course been the use of technologically advanced warfare instruments. Therefore, this stark increase in the frequency and severity of human conflict makes it constitute a sign of the last days.
Apostle Paul, a follower of Jesus, catches up on this theme and adds. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good.” II Timothy 3:1-3 NKJV. So here we actually notice that the real root cause of violence in the world is that humanity, at heart, has grown more wicked and brutal, and the Bible tells us that this will be a special sign in the last days.
So is there any good news? Do we have any hope for a better future? In Luke’s version of the same story, Jesus, referring to the signs He had mentioned, said this to His disciples “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28 NKJV. In other words, to those who have accepted Jesus, the signs in the world only tell them that He is now about to come to take them to their home in Heaven. Even if they get killed in a bomb attack they know that they will be raised from the dead when Jesus comes back to earth to take them to their heavenly home ( see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). And this home will be very different from this earth, all there will be peace and love. There will not be the pain, suffering and death. Here’s what the Bible says:
“I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4 NKJV
So we have hope for a brighter future and a better home, in Jesus. This hope can be yours today, if you choose Jesus to be your friend and Saviour.