By Nathan Jones
As we get closer to the Rapture of the Church, how has war increased in our century?
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.
The End Times Sign of Wars
Vic: Nathan, would you take us a little bit further there to Matthew 24:6-8 and speak to us regarding this incredible sign we're going to read about concerning wars. We have wars everywhere these days. There are rumors of wars, future biblical wars, Tribulation wars and Millennial wars. There's just so many. Maybe you can quickly go through give us some insight into them?
Nathan: Sure. The first sign like we said was false teachers and false messiahs, and that's what we're seeing so much of today. But, another sign of the end times that we're seeing that's just as frightening is found in verses 6-8.
"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. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, there will be famines, pestilence and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginnings of sorrows."
The famines, the pestilence, and the earthquakes are other signs in the list of ten that Jesus gave, but for this discussion let's focus on the wars. Jesus says these signs are the beginnings of sorrows, not the end of sorrows, unfortunately. In other words, as we get to the end times Jesus says we will hear more and more about wars and rumors of wars.
Vic: Looking at the opening verses it says, "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars," that's happening right now. We keep hearing, "It's the end of the world!" And, "Who's going to press the red button?"
Nathan: That's right. Now I know we've always had war. Human history is soaked in blood. But, when it comes to these end times signs, when you look at prophecy there's often a near view and a far view.
Jesus compared the coming of these signs as to labor pains. I didn't go through labor, but I watched my wife do it three different times, and when she started there was some uncomfortableness, there were some contractions and all that, and it wasn't too bad. We could get to the hospital with time to spare. But, as the baby came closer, her contractions got more frequent and more intense and more painful the closer and closer the baby came. Bible prophecy is just like that. Jesus said that closer we get to His return, the more frequent and the more intense and the more painful the signs of the end times will be. So, even though we've had wars throughout history, as we get closer to Jesus' return they will come more frequent and more intense and more painful.
Vic: That's exactly why we are seeing this increase in wars lately, right? Just look at the Middle East and all those different groups that are rising up to start wars. A lot of that has to do with the fulfillment of this end times sign of wars. Not only that, but these wars seem to be getting more intense as time goes on, right?
Wars of the First Century
Nathan: Right. The time period of the Jews before the Temple was destroyed was when they were under the yolk of the Romans. The Romans Empire had conquered the known world at the time and the Jews were just a regent area. As a matter a fact, King Herod and his sons were kings, but they were just regent kings. They weren’t the ultimate authority in the land; that was Caesar. The Jews hated living under the Romans and they were constantly starting revolts and trying to overthrow the Romans. That's why the Romans finally destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. They were tired of the Jews constantly revolting against them, so they thought what better way to get rid of them than to destroy their capital and to disperse the people. That way the Jews couldn't organize themselves once they we're dispersed. The Jewish people remained countryless for almost 1900 years until 1948.
The Jews in Jesus' time knew about wars and rumors of wars because the Romans war machine never stopped moving. It was constantly at war with one group or another. So, there were wars before the fall of the Temple.
Wars of the Twentieth Century
Nathan: To answer the second question, "What would be the signs of the ends of this age?" that concerns the signs of Jesus coming to rapture His church out of this earth and for the Tribulation to begin. We'd have wars and rumors of wars this time too and, man, have they gotten more frequent and more intense just in the last century alone!
Vic: Excellent point. A lot of people don't understand that when we talk about wars we're not just talking about all these major wars such as World War I and World War II that we experienced. You mentioned a number to us in a previous interview that there are something like 35 wars happening right now?
Nathan: Actually, there are 38, but some come and some go. Operation Protective Edge this year with Israel against Hamas has wound down to a temporary cease fire. ISIS is now marching through Iraq and slaughtering everybody in their path. Also, we're not sure yet if we can officially call Russia invading the Ukraine a war yet. But, if you want to talk about wars and skirmishes, there are 38 going on across the world today.
Back in the 20th Century, Margaret Drabble who was a British novelist, labeled the 20th Century as a "beastly century," and the reason for her doing so was the amount of wars and genocide that occurred. Pastor Vic, can you guess how many millions of people died from wars in the 20th Century?
Vic: Oh, Nathan, I want to say that's a big number. I know I'm probably going to get it wrong, but I want to say something like 5 million?
Nathan: Wow! My guess was a lot higher. Would you believe 160-187 million people were killed?
Vic: Are you serious? Wow!
Nathan: Seriously. In the book Wars and Genocides of the Twentieth Century by Piero Scaruffi, he writes that when you collect all the numbers of the wars during the 20th Century, the total is about 160-187 million people killed in its war. That's a bigger number than the amount of people that lived during Jesus' time!
About 20 million people were killed during World War I. In the Soviet Revolution of 1917-1921, five million people were killed. When Stalin purged his own people in 1936-1937, 13 million people were killed. In World War II, 55 million people were killed. When Moa took over China in 1958-1961, 38 million people were killed. We lost three million people in the Vietnam war and in the Second Iraq-USA War , 160,000 people died.
When you add up all the wars that happened around the world in the 20th Century, a sobering 160-187 million people died. Remember the United States population is about 350 million people. The death toll during the last century is equivalent to killing half of the American population today, and that's just in the 20th Century alone.
Vic: These are staggering numbers. We hope that people will recognize what an incredible end times sign wars is when we talk about wars and rumors of wars. This sign cannot easily be set aside. This is really happening today.
Nathan: It's sobering to realize that humanity left without God's restraining hand will result in us killing ourselves. And, humanity does indeed almost kill itself off. We can read in Revelation 6 that when the time of the Tribulation comes, the Bible says that the Restrainer — the Holy Spirit's work through the Church — will be removed off this planet when the church is raptured up to Heaven. So, if God has been holding back all these wars to the point where only 187 million people died, what's it going to be like during the Tribulation when God's restraining hand is totally taken off of humanity?
Vic: That's a scary thing to think about.
In the third part of this discussion with Pastor Vic on the end times sign of wars, we'll see how the war on Christians today is leading up to the worst persecution of Christians ever.