By Nathan Jones
Can human government be counted on to bring the world peace?
I was recently interviewed by Vic Batista, senior pastor of the Miami-based Calvary Chapel Aventura on his radio program "The Truth Will Set You Free" via TWave Radio. "Pastor Vic" (as he likes to be called) was born in the Dominican Republic and is as active in planting churches and helping orphans there as he is in southern Florida, reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ to both the English and Spanish speaking audiences.
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" episode, we'll look at the second end times signs of wars found in Matthew 24:6-7.
Be Not Troubled
Vic: In Matthew 24:6-7, Jesus talks about the signs of the end times. He says, "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 and there will be famines and pestilence and earthquakes in various places."
Nathan: Concerning the signs of the end times that Jesus gave us, ten can be found in Matthew 24 and in the parallel passages Luke 21 and Mark 13. The first of those signs would be a proliferation of false prophets and false messiahs in the end times. There are about 500 cults in the United States today. We've got more false teaching and false doctrines circulating than ever before.
The second end times sign Jesus gave was that there would be a proliferation of wars. Those wars would come upon the world more frequently and more intensely and more painfully until Jesus' return. In the 20th Century, 160-187 million people died in those wars. More people died in wars during the 20th Century than all the wars combined in the millennia beforehand. So, the world is definitely experiencing wars more frequently and more intensely and more painfully, and will continue to do so before Jesus comes to rapture His Church up to Heaven. The prophetic wars that follow will all but devastate the planet.
Vic: Because of modern technology, our capabilities to inflict more damage during war are now even greater. As modern technology continues to develop, we see the possibility for even greater destructive wars and more of them.
In Matthew 24:6, it appears to me that there's a word of encouragement in the middle of all this horror, because it says, "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."
Nathan: I don't know if I'd call that encouraging or not. Maybe if you're a Christian living in Iraq or Nigeria or North Korea right now and you're fleeing for your life as the government tries to destroy you, that passage might be encouraging. It's kind of hard be not troubled about these wars when you're in the middle of one.
Obviously, though, the Lord isn't saying, "Oh, don't worry about it." Obviously we have to worry about war, especially if one is living in the middle of a conflict. What the Lord is saying is that we should not be troubled for eternity's sake because God is in control. That's what Jesus is saying here.
We're seeing the world shake and shimmy. When you've got an engine that's not firing on all cylinders, it shakes and smokes. That behavior can lead you to worry that the engine's going to explode. Likewise, the Lord's saying concerning the planet, "Just not yet." Sure, the world often looks like it's teetering on the brink of self-destruction, but Jesus wants us to know that self-destruction hasn't happened yet. It's going to get close, especially for those who lived through the World Wars or under the threat of nuclear annihilation. The world will certainly be thinking annihilation during the coming Tribulation as they hide in caves and cry out for the mountains to hide them. But, for us today, Jesus doesn't want us to be worried that we're looking at the end of the world right now. Because it's the end times it's just the beginning of the end of the world.
We have to trust that Jesus will take care of His children and protect us even unto death. Many Christians are dying out there right now at the hands of Muslims and hostile foreign conflicts. These believers in Christ are dying, and that's so sad, but they will be going to Heaven and we can glean so much hope and encouragement from that fact.
Vic: Excellent clarification, Nathan. I really believe that is so right on. Our eternal security is founded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That's an encouragement even for right now. Sure, all the terrible signs like war Jesus told us about have to come to pass, but they don't have to freak one out if you know Jesus personally.
The True Source of Hope
Nathan: I just wonder why when we see the world falling apart, and I guess for us Americans it's a little harder because we do live in a relative time of peace and prosperity at home, why it is that we turn to ourselves or the government or something else to give us hope and encouragement. When it's not God, all those agencies can only provide a false sense of security. It's a false hope.
What man by themselves or what government can stop the wars around them? It seems like governments are incapable of stopping wars. The United Nations has been around for decades and they can never stop any of the wars around the world. You can't depend on man, but you can depend on God.
How do I know this? Let's to skip to the end of the story. When Jesus returns at the Second Coming, He defeats evil by destroying the Antichrist's forces and casting Satan into a bottomless pit. Jesus ends corrupted human government and sets up His divine kingdom which will last for a thousand years. Peace, righteousness and justice will be the way of the world during that thousand year kingdom. After that is the eternal state, where there will no longer be any more tears, or mourning, or crying or pain. Life will be perfect, and war unheard of.
In these trying times, we need to turn our faith and our trust over to Jesus Christ. He's the only one who can bring peace to this world. Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
Vic: That's an amazing fact! It's sad that so many people today are looking for peace in all the wrong places. They're even looking in a bottle or in drugs, but the reality is that the only thing that's going to fill that void of internal peace is Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.
Nathan: Exactly, only Jesus Christ can bring a person internally and the world externally true peace. Jesus is not called the Prince of Peace for nothing.
When Lamb & Lion Ministries prays daily for the peace of Jerusalem, we're not praying for the Netanyahu government to get things in order. No, we're praying for Jesus to return to defeat evil and set up His kingdom.
Humanity ever since Adam and Eve have thought that we can rule the world better than God. We believe we don't need God involved. We can rule it all by ourselves. But, isn't that like letting a toddler drive a car? Toddlers just can't drive cars, and humanity just can't rule the world correctly.
Human government has failed us. Nations might last, and even empires might last a few hundred years at the most, but that's about it. All human government will eventually fall apart because they all become corrupt. Today we're seeing America fall apart at the seams both morally and politically, and we as humans cannot do anything about that. But, we can trust that God is in control. He's bringing all of human history to that point when the world is in such dire straits that they have to call out for Jesus Christ to save us.
While There's Still Time
Vic: I believe that when people hear about more developing wars and rumors of wars, whether it's North Korea threatening to attack South Korea or Iran building nuclear weapons in order to threaten the world or whatever, it's all part of the end times sign of wars that Jesus told us would happen. People need to recognize that this is an urgent call by God for individuals to turn to Christ now while there's still time.
Nathan: Yes, indeed! Jesus actually told us in Matthew 24 and in other biblical passages what would happen just before He returns. Jesus answered that second question the Apostles asked, "When is the end of the age?" The end of this age is an event called the Rapture of the Church. We can read about that in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. Jesus will come down from Heaven to the clouds. He'll call out to all those who've accepted Him as Savior. Believers in Christ will be raptured — taken up — to be with Him into Heaven. The world will then be left to face the 21 judgments that God's going to unleash upon the world.
Jesus says He's coming like a thief. Now, Vic, I don't know about your experiences, but a thief doesn't call your house and fill you in for 3 a.m. on Monday to rob your house, right? He just shows up at an unexpected time and you're like, "Ahhhhh!" You're surprised. In the same way the Bible says all the way up to Jesus' return, people will be given in marriage, they'll be trading and selling and living normal lives, not expecting life to change.
Because we cannot know the day or hour of Jesus' return, the Rapture is an imminent event, meaning nothing has to happen before He returns. Jesus could even come back right this second! All of the sudden a trumpet will sound, the Archangel will call up those who believe in Jesus as Savior, and those who are saved will be raptured off this planet. Since it could happen at any time, we need to make sure that our minds and our hearts are prepared for Jesus' return by surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ.
In the fifth part of this discussion with Pastor Vic on the end times sign of wars, we'll get into the first of the prophetic end times wars — the Psalm 83 War.