Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Steve Myers] For centuries people have read the Bible and concluded that the world will come to an end.
Fantastic prophetic images of earthquakes, horsemen, famine, and war may come to mind.
> Devastation. Hunger—and I mean worldwide huger, not just some people. I think everybody’s going to be struggling to find something to eat.
» This new world order thing that is starting to come into play…
> I think there are some pretty bad forces out there that are working against us.
» It’s a very dangerous time.
[Steve] But will Armageddon bring annihilation to the world? If it will end, how will it come about? What does Scripture teach about the end of the world?
In fact, what do you think lies ahead for our earth? Is it possible to discern if we are in the end time?
Today’s program focuses on a remarkable teaching of Jesus that surprisingly, most Christians don’t understand. Stayed tuned to Beyond Today as we discuss “Shocking Teachings of Jesus—The End of the World.”
Did Jesus predict the end of the world?
Nearly 2,000 years ago, in the final days before His crucifixion, Jesus sat with His disciples atop the Mount of Olives on the east side of Jerusalem. Gazing down on the magnificent temple complex, Jesus declared that it would be utterly demolished, with not one stone left on another.
Now His disciples were shocked! They asked Him a question that’s intrigued people ever since: “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3 KJV).
Every generation since has had people wonder about it. Will the world literally end?
> At some point, yes.
» No way. No way it’s not going to end—too much going for it.
> You got to think positively.
» There’s going to be like a lot of chaos going on because of all the problems in the world.
> I have no idea. It’ll be a long time from now.
» You see a lot of stuff that don’t even make sense.
» I don’t think that’s something we can predict.
> Fighting over resources like oil, stuff like that could be catastrophic.
» I think media really tries to embellish things to cause a panic.
> We’ll figure it out, and realistically things are not as bad as they have been in the past.
» Eventually, yes, I do, and we’re helping it along real quick!
[Steve] Will the world really end? If so, how? Why? And what does the Bible really say about this crucial and disturbing question?
Now religious people aren’t the only ones asking these questions. In recent decades people from many walks of life have expressed concern about the possibility of the end of the world as we know it. Politicians, educators and scientists foresee the potential destruction of our world from a number of causes.
Science agrees that we face awesome challenges including: nuclear warfare, environmental disaster, planetary pollution, overpopulation, killer diseases and possible collision with an asteroid or comet. Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the progression of human history. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live. Now some of these possibilities are unlikely, but others present a real threat.
Theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, ecologist Guy McPherson, and biologist Neil Dawe are just a few of the many scientists who see the possible near-term demise of humanity. They feel destruction is closer than you might think.
Based on the increasing number of gigantic impact craters discovered in recent years, some scientists believe that a devastating collision between Earth and an asteroid is inevitable. They feel that an asteroid strike on Earth is just a matter of time and it will destroy major cities—perhaps even more. According to Alan Fitzsimmons from Queen’s University in Belfast, it’s a case of when an asteroid collision will happen, rather than if it will happen.
Scientists from the U.S. and U.K. have devised a computer program called “Impact Earth.” It lets people simulate an asteroid collision with the Earth. On the Purdue university website, you can choose the size of the asteroid, the speed that it’s traveling, the angle at which it hits the earth and the density of the material it’s composed of, which lets people see the resulting damage more accurately.
So what would be the result of a violent encounter with a sizeable asteroid? “Ask an astronomer” website states that it would cause global disaster, a tremendous amount of damage wherever it impacted, throwing a great deal of dust into the atmosphere and blocking the light of the Sun. The lack of sunlight would kill most of the plant life on Earth. For humans, this would possibly mean extinction.
Biblically speaking, this connects with what Jesus said in Matthew 24. In response to His disciple’s question about when the end would come, Christ replied with a description of conditions and events that would lead up to the end of the age. Signs in the heavens is one visible way that He mentioned.
Jesus said that this will come right on the heels of another prophetic event: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29). He also said that “There will be earth-shattering events—the heavens themselves will seem to be shaken with signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars” (Luke 21:24, VOICE).
As shocking as that may be, He gave something even more specific, explicit information that we must take special note. Jesus said that when these signs become evident, His return would occur within one generation. “Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you… Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out (Matthew 24:34, MSG). Another translation puts it this way: “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, this generation [the people living when these signs and events begin] will not pass away until all these things take place (Matthew 24:34, AMP).
Could we be the generation that sees the end time? Some whom we interviewed think so…
> Yes. We’ve got a nutty president. He’s ready to push the button.
» You see a lot of greed in the world nowadays.
> I think the world will be around long past our generations, but we’ll always have societies struggles and what not. We will always work through them.
» We have the capability. We could do it. We make bad decisions. We could make that happen.
> We definitely are seeing some of the signs I believe, but I believe that also some generations ago they probably would say the same thing.
[Steve] Throughout the nearly 2,000 years since Christ gave His prophecy, many have thought that their time was the time of the end. This of course turned out to be wrong. But interestingly, there are a number of prophecies in the Bible that could not be fulfilled until our modern era—until the 21st century.
Most experts generally agree that of all the possible means of destroying humanity, nuclear weapons pose the greatest threat.
North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un continue to threaten America and the world with nuclear weapons. A report from the rogue state has said it is on high alert and ready to lash out at the slightest provocation. They say they are fully ready to contain the enemies and will take resolute steps the moment even a slight sign of preventive warfare is spotted; vowing to launch “merciless retaliation and unsparing punishment.”
North Korea has accentuated the rising tension between global powers. There seems to be a nervousness among the nations. The nuclear club—that’s nations that have the capability of producing and using nuclear weapons—that number of nations now totals 10. More than 50,000 nuclear weapons exist in the world, many in dangerously unstable places. No one can dismiss the idea that if a terrorist group can get their hands on a nuclear device, they will it in pursuit of their deadly aims.
The genie cannot be put back in the bottle. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, recently reset the Doomsday Clock even closer to midnight. Midnight represents the devastation and destruction of our planet. Now this is the closest it’s been to midnight in more than 60 years!
What are the threats that have moved the Doomsday Clock closer to the disaster?
> People are thinking more of nuclear war, which is devastating and then also global warming.
» Definitely, when you look at all the sickness in the world, things with children, children losing their lives and stuff like that. You look at all the wars taking place. It is definitely a sign of the times.
> Hate is a very powerful emotion and can get out of control. And I think there is a lot of hate and intolerance right now that’s being exploited.
» A lot of people get in wars for sure.
> We’re killing ourselves and we’re not even realizing it. With the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe.
» There’s a lot of war and there’s a lot of famine and there’s flood.
[Steve] Lawrence Krauss, co-chair of the International Crisis Group, states that “Many observers have wondered whether the events of the past weeks mean that we are even closer to Armageddon…”
Now some go even further, saying that nuclear annihilation is inevitable. The website of former White House Press Secretary, journalist and political commentator Bill Moyers states this:
“Nuclear war is coming. Our officials are currently increasing the chances of that…I’m unable to avoid the difficult conclusion that nuclear war, absent an immediate, fundamental, worldwide change in attitude, is an inevitable part of our future. It could be weeks, months or years away. But it is coming. It could break out at any moment between India and Pakistan…” “War could almost as likely start between NATO and Russia. It might begin with an accident, a misinterpretation of computer blips, a terrorist act, a careless or calculated overreach by a dictator or a troubled officer with access to sequestered codes. There are too many weapons of too many sizes connected by too many complex but imperfect electronic systems to too many fallible human beings…” “…all our incremental steps toward a semblance of world order will disappear in a few minutes of unimaginable destruction…”
Do you think the time is running out? The challenges to our future seem insurmountable.
> There are grand challenges in the world, around water, around food, around healthcare, and around space, around air, and all those kinds of things.
» Climate change—we are releasing too many pollutants into the atmosphere.
> Robots, bombs, nukes, missiles, you name it. Armies, stuff like that.
» Lack of love, lack of understanding…
[Steve] These issues and many more cause experts from many fields to share the concern that we could see the end of civilization. No wonder we live in an age of anxiety, especially in a world where so little seems certain anymore.
In Matthew 24:22, Jesus described what these people recognize. Challenging world conditions prior to His second coming. Christ emphasized that “if that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive; but for the sake of God’s chosen it will be cut short” (Revised English Bible). If Jesus Christ doesn’t step in and intervene in world affairs, the human race will be faced with extinction. That’s what your Bible says. It is clear.
Yet, humanity has been living with the threat of “mutually assured destruction” for more than a half century. What a reminder that this prophecy could not have been fulfilled until mankind had the potential for mass destruction. Now only in the last 50 years or so, has this become possible. We have issues today that the world has never faced before:
> I mean that is definitely the biggest problem right now—is who is going to push the button first.
» I think those are one of the many signs that let you know that Armageddon is on its way.
> No Armageddon coming…
» There’s a lot of things that I have heard, religious things but they’re just a bunch of theories and ideas. I don’t think we’re nearing an Armageddon, I do not.
> There’s a lot of problems in the Middle East.
» I think the sky’s blackening and a big tidal wave coming over Cincinnati would be Armageddon, but I think, I think we’re good.
[Steve] There are conflicting opinions. It’s true, many think there’s no need to be worried about the world ending. They point to epidemics of end-time panic that have raged in the past. They list many failed past predictions regarding the end of the world.
Now such criticism is justified to a point. Doomsday predictions have abounded for centuries. Date-setters have been wrong. Now the main problem with most of these predictions was that they were the ideas of people who badly misinterpreted information in Scripture. They didn’t understand that biblical Armageddon is not the end of this world.
Now it’s true that Jesus certainly spoke of the devastation of war. He said: “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). Christ makes it clear here that many wars would come and go yet it would not mark the end.
So why did He even mention them then? Now this is a critical piece of the prophecy puzzle: Jesus is telling us that wars would increase, they would occur more often and on a more intensive scale as we approach the time of the time of the end. Wars and all those other events that Jesus mentioned at the beginning of the prophecy in Matthew 24 are going to increase, more and more and more.
That’s what He’s telling His followers. That’s what He’s telling us to look for. Although we don’t know the exact time, one thing we know for sure is the Bible prophesies the end of the world as we know it.
But what exactly does that mean? Now here’s the key: When Jesus’ disciples asked Him about “the end of the world,” they weren’t talking about the “world” in the sense of our physical planet, the Earth. The Greek word that is translated “world” is aion , which literally means —an age, an epoch. It’s talking about an era.
So, Jesus’ true teaching may shock you—this world won’t be totally destroyed by an asteroid or completely annihilated by nuclear warfare, or climate change or any other method. The truth is: man’s rule, his way, the cultures and societies of this world will end. That means, man’s governments and his dominions, man’s geopolitical rule will be completely abolished. That’s what will end. Not the planet itself.
Instead of the end of the world, it will be the end of this age. Man’s corrupt civilization will be swept away and a new era will dawn at the return of Christ.
Now right now, this time of human rule on earth is described as “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).
What lies Beyond Today ? It’s described as wonderful “times of refreshing” that will come from God the Father through Jesus, who will return from heaven when “the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets” (Acts 3:19-21, NIV).
At the end of this age there will be a great transition. A change from man’s mis rule—to God’s great rule. The Kingdom of God will be established on this earth with Jesus Christ reigning and ruling right here.
Jesus taught that our present age—the civilization and societies that we know today—they’re going to be terminated. But before they are, Christ said there would seven signs. Prophetic warning signs ahead. Do you know what they are? They include massive religious deception and counterfeit Christianity. He also predicted famines, massive disease epidemics, earthquakes and much more.
There will be unimaginable destruction and violence between nations and ethnic groups that will climax at the return of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ shocking teaching focused on the fact that the world will not be destroyed—but man’s government will. As everything falls to pieces around us with many catastrophes on a scale that has never been seen before in history, what will you do?
As strange as it may sound, the end of the world as we know it, is not all bad news for mankind. It includes good news too. God will intervene before it’s too late, so there is hope.
> There’s hope knowing that one day, only God knows, but one day God’s going to do away with all the sickness. He’s going to do away with all the crime, the evil. And that is enough to keep you going, because you know one day things will be right.
» I have faith—So and that’s what you have to believe. You have to have faith—faith and wine.
> Well if the whole world comes together we could fix problems such as pollution, crime, and violence. And if we just pay attention to these things, we can come together and solve our problems.
[Steve] The only way we ultimately will come together and solve our problems is when Jesus Christ appears. We need God’s intervention. Christ will step in and set the world right. So under His rule, man’s problems can be fixed.
As we consider the end of the age, it’s critical that we realize it’s getting closer day, by day, by day.
Don’t overlook the apostle Paul’s warning. Take it seriously—here’s what he said: “…Now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
It is nearer. If you realize what’s coming—now’s the time to fully turn to God in obedience. He, “now commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man [Jesus Christ]” (Acts 17:30-31, NIV).
So now is the time to repent—change the way you think and act. Turn from your own sinful, selfish ways and seek God’s way—and we’re told to be baptized. At His second coming, Christ will reward those who do.
Now it’s not a question of whether the world—whether man’s corrupt civilization—will end. God’s Word says it will. Our main concern then should not be when it will end; or to be overly fearful of what lies ahead. Instead, our main focus should be to seek God first so we can be spiritually prepared for the times that are coming.
“But keep on the alert at all times,” Jesus said, “praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36, NASB).
Right now, we live in this present evil world, which we know will end. Keep living a godly life while looking beyond today—to the wonderful world that will come at the return of Christ. “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44, NIV). So don’t be taken by surprise. Jesus meant that we must be spiritually ready for Him at His return.
Don’t give up, don’t get distracted—remain faithfully obedient as you wait for Jesus’ return. For “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Seek God no matter what, and be spiritually prepared now for the difficult times that lie ahead.
Now there are many grave dangers facing humanity. Although the Bible predicts wars and other disasters will bring civilization right to the brink of destruction—our physical planet, the Earth, will not end. To be spiritually ready, you need to know more about what lies ahead.
To help you learn much more about this fascinating topic of the “end times” and what’s coming, we’ve prepared a valuable, free study aid titled: Seven Prophetic Signs Before Jesus Returns .
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> Hi, I’m Steve Myers. I’m the pastor here at the United Church of God Cincinnati-East congregation. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. I’d like to welcome you to come and join us on this great spiritual journey. We’re committed to growing in our relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ as well as fellowshipping with each other.
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[Steve] The time is coming when the age of man’s rule on the earth will come to an end. God will finally intervene and at last establish an everlasting Kingdom of peace and security. It will be a bright new age of harmony and prosperity for all people—under the best government, the divine government of God—beginning at Jesus Christ’s second coming.
Between now and then, our job is to stay close to God through prayer, studying His Word and obeying His commands. Do you know and keep His commands? God tells us what we need to do in the Psalms saying, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psalms 34:17)
You see, you don’t have to wait for overwhelming disaster. Are you willing to learn that lesson now? If you are shocked by the teachings of Jesus, take that opportunity to act. Call out to your Creator and He will begin to reveal more of His divine knowledge to you. Because knowing and understanding and yet most importantly, obeying the true God gives great hope for the future.
So, as we approach this difficult time that lies ahead, be aware of world events and trends—but, be sure you’re serious about your relationship with God and that you are spiritually ready.
That’s the program for today. Don’t forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again for another edition of Beyond Today and join me in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.”
For Beyond Today I’m Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
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