Are these the end times? (part two)
Japanese authorities are evacuating personnel after another nuclear power plant explosion. Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that some rods may have melted as the situation grows more critical. The disaster could disrupt the world’s supply of cars, electronics and machine tools. What does Scripture say about earthquakes and other natural disasters?
We’re discussing six “signs” which Jesus predicted would precede his Second Coming. As we saw yesterday, he warned us that false religions would arise and that we would “hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:5-6). The 20th century saw a greater rise in the popularity of alternative religions than ever before, and the largest number of wartime casualties in history.
His third prediction: “There will be famines” (v. 7a). The 20th century was the worst for famine on record, witnessing the death of more than 70 million victims. Jesus’ fourth prediction: “There will be . . . earthquakes” (v. 7b). Here we confront the crisis in Japan.
The National Earthquake Information Center tells us that the number of earthquakes has remained constant in recent history. However, we are much better at detecting them today. The NEIC now documents between 12,000 and 15,000 quakes a year, 35 per day. But the severity of these quakes has escalated greatly as populations have grown in susceptible regions. The ten worst earthquakes in the 20th century together killed more than 1.1 million people.
Jesus’ fifth prediction: “You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (v. 9). More than 25 million Christians died for their faith in the 19 centuries following Jesus’ prophecy. But 45 million believers died for Christ in the 20th century, nearly twice as many as in all of Christian history combined.
Tomorrow we’ll consider Jesus’ last “sign” and its significance for us today. For this morning, let’s claim Jesus’ promise that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Your Lord assures you that “whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:26). As Justin the Martyr told the Roman emperor, “You can kill us but you cannot harm us.”
The worst thing that can happen to you today is but a prelude to the best thing that can happen to you today. You have God’s word on it.