The rise of modernism and evolutionary theory 150 or so years ago, with its confidence in progress, brought a cultural sense of optimism about the future. It reshaped the West’s worldview about what our origins were and what our future might be. The digital technology revolution has taken this even further, with its predictions of automation and robotics in our future. How we respond to this shapes our choices on a daily basis.
For millennia, our worldview in the West has been shaped by Christian religious thought, such as that God created the world a few thousand years ago. However, today, belief in Creation has been replaced by belief in evolution. God has been discarded in favour of a naturalistic world. God’s Word has been replaced by the voice of science. Today, in many people’s minds, God is irrelevant.
But the voice of science that just a few decades ago was predicting the arrival of utopia has today become the voice of gloom and doom: global warming, terrorism and crime, a chemical-polluted atmosphere, cancer and other deadly diseases. Whereas once it was the Bible-bashing preacher who was the doomsday prophet, today it’s the scientist. Stephen Hawking says, “We don’t know where global warming will stop, but the worst case scenario is that the earth will become like its sister planet Venus, with a temperature of 250º C and raining sulphuric acid. The human race could not survive in those conditions.”
Removing God and basic moral-ethical absolutes from life and taking evolutionary thought to its logical end leads to devastating conclusions when it comes to evil, morality, meaning, purpose, even intelligence, and certainly how we live.
The epic story
The big picture unfolding on planet Earth may seem perplexing—that is, until we realise that all history, past and future, is following a predicted course with a predictable outcome. Said the Old Testament prophet Isaiah: “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’ ” (Isaiah 46:9, 10).*
This is what Bible prophecy is all about. It’s the unveiling of the events of God’s epic story before they happen. The Bible outlines the conflict between good and evil and identifies the final outcome. So rather than ending with an overheated, overpopulated globe, it reveals that “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” . . . . “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:4, 5).
Where in the world are we?
So where are we in this epic journey? Where on the Bible’s timeline do we sit?
We know in general terms that we’re near the end: “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12, italics added). But events happening in the world over the past few centuries—what Christians call “signs of the times”—help us to plot more accurately. The fulfilment of other of the Bible’s predictions become history’s mileposts, and indicate that we are near our journey’s end.
And Lucifer’s forces, his angels, who have an amazing influence over human beings and even the environment, also know it. For as God withdraws His protective spirit of good and allows evil to fully reveal itself, inevitably the earth and its inhabitants suffer. We see this in the slums of India, in the slaughter of innocents by ISIL and in the droughts of Africa, to name a few.
"The question that puzzles most people about God is this: If He’s as loving and all-powerful as He claims . . . then why doesn’t He just put an end to pain, suffering, and death?"
But God doesn’t forget His own, for, while He allows Satan to use his power, He also places limits on that power. As the apostle John, viewing the future, put it: “I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel. . . . He cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God’ ” (Revelation 7:1–3).
The optimist sees the good in what lies beyond: the end of Satan’s reign of terror, which occurs when Christ returns, quite literally, the second time to Earth. For the optimist’s gaze is fixed on the promise of Jesus that “I will come again” (John 14:3).
But how can we know for sure that what the Bible predicts is near?
History testifies that we have already passed certain biblical mileposts that inform us. For example, the apostle Luke quoted Jesus, who said that “there will be signs in the sun, in the moon and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25). We have experienced some of these in our own lifetime, while others are recorded in history books. Then, Luke went on to say, “When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (verse 28).
Probably the question that puzzles most people about God is this: If He’s as loving and all-powerful as He claims to be, then why doesn’t He just put an end to pain, suffering and death?
That’s a valid question. And the answer is, He will.
The stated time will soon take place when “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.” When God steps in and the complete truth about evil is fully revealed to the universe, evil will be done away with, and goodness, peace and happiness will reign. This “great controversy” with its collateral damage to humanity will end. Through His prophet John, Jesus says, “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” (Revelation 21:3, 4). And again through the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, God said that He will “swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth” (Isaiah 25:8).
But because He wants Lucifer’s claims against Him to be tested and proved false, and truth to be revealed, God won’t force anyone to accept Him. While Satan blames God for each catastrophe, casualty and hurt, He responds only with love, righteousness and truth. And while they might appear benign and feeble forces, when deployed in the Person of Jesus, dying on the cross for our sins, they are potent and powerful weapons.
Love is the irresistible force binding the universe together. The apostle John describes it this way: “We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16; see also 1 Corinthians 13).
Nevertheless, He makes the issues and events leading up to the end of time abundantly clear, spelling out His warnings on history’s signposts.
And that is what the signs of the times—and this magazine—are about: pointing to a loving God who’s warning our doomed world that the evil afflicting it is about to end; that beyond lies an eternity free of pain, guilt, death and separation; and that Jesus’ second coming is imminent.
So as you look at the events that shape the TV news of today, as you ponder the things that perplex you and cause you anxiety, and as you observe the evil and sadness about you, put them in the context of what the Bible has to say about the very near future. It’s a future that’s yours for the taking!
* All Bible verses in this article are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.