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Lesson 3 - A World in Turmoil

World conditions are alarming. World leaders are seeking answers to some of the greatest problems society has ever faced. An uncertain future looms on the horizon.

The countries of the former Soviet Union face an uncertain future. The interdependent world economy is on shaky ground. Moral conditions are rapidly deteriorating. School violence is rampant. Weather patterns seem out of control. World hunger is increasing. Tens of thousands of refugees cross international borders seeking a safe sanctuary. People everywhere are asking, "What do these things mean?" The Bible presents an answer.

The second coming of Christ is one of the Bible’s most important truths. It is mentioned 250 times in the New Testament alone—once in every 25 verses. The second coming of Christ has encouraged Christians through the centuries.

In Matthew’s gospel, Christ clearly indicated the signs that would precede His return. Looking at the Temple in Jerusalem, He declared, “See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38, NKJV*). Jesus then predicted in Matthew 24:2, “Not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (NKJV). The disciples thought that an event as cataclysmic as the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem must be the end of the world. In a magnificent prophecy Jesus answered their questions about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world.

1. What question did the disciples ask Jesus regarding His coming? Matthew 24:3

The Bible Answer:
When will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world?

The disciples actually asked two questions. When will these things be (or when will Jerusalem be destroyed) and what will be the sign of Your coming and the end of the world? Jesus blended these two events. Events that led up to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70 were miniature events that would occur on a larger, grander scale just before the return of our Lord.


2. Does the Bible reveal the exact date and time for Christ's coming? Matthew 24:36

The Bible Answer:
But of that day and hour no one knows...but my Father only

In His mercy God has not revealed the exact time of His second coming. Think of the despair of early Christians if they had thought Christ's coming was hundreds of years in the future. Anyone who claims to know just when Christ will return is teaching falsehood.

3. How can we be ready for an event if we don't know when it will happen? Luke 21:36

The Bible Answer:
Watch and pray

Our Lord advises us to "watch" and "pray," or be ready at all times. The great evangelist Dwight L. Moody, in his book The Second Coming of Christ, page 9, stated, "The proper attitude of a Christian is to be always looking for his Lord's return." Christ's counsel is to live in a state of expectation. Live your life with a sense of the nearness of the Second Coming.

4. Since we don't know the exact time of Christ's coming, is it possible to know when the end is near? Matthew 24:32, 33

The Bible Answer:
The fig tree...when you see all these things, know that it is near

Jesus' signs do not reveal He is here. They tell us He is near. A good farmer knows that summer will produce a harvest. He watches the crop carefully. Growing plants, opening buds, ripening fruit all indicate harvest time is near. Jesus' end-time signs in Matthew 24 clearly reveal a ripening harvest.


SIGNS IN THE RELIGIOUS WORLD


5. What signs in the religious world indicate Jesus' coming is near? Matthew 24:5, 11, 24

The Bible Answer:
False christs and false prophets...deceive many

As the end approaches, the devil will double his efforts to deceive. Millions will turn to counterfeit sources of truth. Falsehood will abound. Lies will be accepted as truth. False religious leaders will deceive. The occult and astrology will capture the imagination of gullible people who are looking for answers to life's deepest questions.

6. What prediction did Jesus make regarding the international conflict? Matthew 24:6, 7

The Bible Answer:
There will be wars and rumors of wars, nation will arise against nation

Wars have occurred throughout history. There is nothing special about a single war. Jesus does not envision a war, He envisions wars-nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom. The twentieth century has witnessed the horrors of World War I and World War II. The Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Indochina War, the Iran-Iraq War, Kuwait, the Balkans and tribal conflicts and civil wars too numerous to mention speak eloquently of the fulfillment of Christ's words.

7. How does the book of Revelation describe the dangerous situation among the nations of the world prior to the advent of Christ? Revelation 11:18

The Bible Answer:
The nations were angry, and your wrath has come...destroy those who destroy the earth

Jesus will come at a time when the human race has the ability to destroy all life on Planet Earth. With nuclear weapons we now have the capacity for self-destruction. This is certainly one of the greatest signs of the return of Jesus. Broadcasting from Hiroshima in 1945 after the atomic bomb was dropped, William Ripley stated, "I am standing on the place where the end of the world began."


8. In spite of the buildup of thermonuclear weaponry, what will the nations be saying in the last days? 1 Thessalonians 5:3

The Bible Answer:
For what they say, ‘Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them...

SIGNS IN THE NATURAL WORLD

9. What signs will occur in the natural world before the coming of Christ? Matthew 24:7

The Bible Answer:
Famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places

Due to crop failure the politics of greed, growing population, and food distribution problems, world famine is still a major problem. Ten thousand people a day, or more than 3.5 million per year, die of starvation. In the past 100 years we have had 1.5 million fatalities from earthquakes alone. There are thousands of earthquakes each year. Jesus' words are certainly being fulfilled.

10. What does the Bible predict regarding the world economy at the time of the end? James 5:1-7


SIGNS IN THE SOCIAL WORLD

11. What does the Bible say the social conditions of the world will be like in the last days? 2 Timothy 3:1-4

The Bible Answer:
Man will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money...unloving...lovers of pleasure

Read the morning newspaper of any major city, and you will note the sordid catalog of sins mentioned in this Bible passage. The Bible predicts waning moral values just before the coming of Christ. Perilous or dangerous times, the disintegration of the family unit, "lovers of money," "lovers of pleasure," "without self-control" (NKJV) are word pictures describing life in the twenty-first century.

12. How does the Bible liken the society of Noah's day to our day? Luke 17:26, 27

The Bible Answer:
They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage

There is certainly nothing wrong with eating and drinking. Jesus is speaking of overindulgence, an obsession with eating and drinking. Eating, drinking, and marrying are all part of life's routine. Here Jesus describes people swallowed up in life's routin,e oblivious to the fact His return is near.

13. What is one of the clearest indications that Christ is coming soon? Matthew 24:14 (see also Revelation 14:6, 7)

The Bible Answer:
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world

One of the greatest signs of the nearness of Christ's return is the rapid spread of the gospel throughout the world. In the twenty-first century our world has become a "global village." The gospel is now going to all the world with a speed that would have left the apostle Paul amazed. Sophisticated satellite communication systems such as the Internet, satellite technology, interlinking computers, the World Wide Web, and mass media television and radio communications are, in reality, a gift that God is using to communicate the gospel with incredible speed to the world. The twentieth-century technological revolution has provided a setting to rapidly spread the gospel.

14. How did Jesus tell us we should react to all the signs of His return? Luke 21:28

The Bible Answer:
Look up and lift your heads, because your redemption draws near

For those who are unprepared, the second coming of Christ may be very frightening. The experience of those who love Him and long for His return is dramatically different. Their hearts are filled with eager anticipation. They joyfully await His coming. Their Savior, Lord, and King already rules in their hearts. Now they eagerly welcome Him as King and Ruler of this world.

* Texts credited to NK

JV are from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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