The world has been reeling the past few months from disasters — both natural and man made. First came the outbreak of revolutions all across the Middle East. And then came the gigantic earthquake in Japan and the subsequent tsunami and nuclear melt-down crisis.
Our office has been inundated with requests that we produce articles concerning the prophetic implications of these events. My response has been that there is no need for new articles because we have been talking about these events for years, pointing out that the Bible clearly prophesies that in the end times there will be wars between nations and rebellions within them (Matthew 24:7) and that there will be an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural calamities (Matthew 24:7-8 and Luke 21:11).
In short, we are seeing Bible prophecy fulfilled before our very eyes.
The Bible makes it clear that God has spoken through signs of nature throughout history. He pounded ancient Egypt with plague after plague until Pharaoh was willing to release the children of Israel from captivity (Exodus 7-10). Before they occupied the Promised Land, God warned the children of Israel through Moses that if they were not faithful to Him, He would afflict them with natural disasters like drought and crop failures. In the book of Joel we are told about a locust invasion that God sent to call the Jewish people to repentance. In like manner we are told in the book of Haggai that when the children of Israel ignored rebuilding the Temple after their return from Babylonian captivity, God sent drought, hail, and mildew until they turned to Him in repentance.
On the day that Jesus was crucified, the significance of the event was underscored by a great earthquake and darkness (Matthew 27:45-54). And we are told that when Jesus returns, the earth will be afflicted with huge hail stones and will experience the greatest earthquakes in its history, causing every mountain and island to be moved (Revelation 16:20-21).
In like manner, the Bible teaches that wars and civil unrest are often punishments of God for rebellion against Him.
One of the greatest examples of this truth is to be found in the book of Habakkuk. The prophet had grown weary of calling the people of Judah to repentance, and so he began to cry out to God to vindicate his message by putting the nation under some sort of discipline. The Lord responded by telling him that He was sending the Babylonians to attack the nation. The prophet was astounded at this news. His response was to point out to God that although his nation was bad, it was not as bad as the Babylonians. He asked, "How can You punish those who are evil with those who are more evil?" The Lord's response was the same one He has given throughout all of history to anyone who questions Him: "The righteous shall live by faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). In other words, "Stop questioning and start trusting."
Jesus is about to return. God is proclaiming that fact through signs of the times that are prophesied in His Word. God does not want the return of Jesus to surprise anyone because He does not wish that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). The chaotic events that characterize the world today are designed to motivate people to repentance so that they will be ready for the return of God's Messiah (Isaiah 26:9b).