Why Watch the News?
This planet hums with commotion, and cnn is there to make sure we hear it all. So is the Associated Press, and scads of other media entities nestled in every nook of all seven continents. Over 90,000 people from America alone gather the news to fill the 600 hours of network news each year, the 24-hour content of three cable news channels, the non-stop news radio and talk radio, the 1,500 daily newspapers and 7,500 weekly papers, the thousands of news websites, newsmagazines and analytical journals.
Certainly there is a bustling demand for news. But what’s it all for? How important is it to keep up with all that information? Why watch world events?
For that matter, what is the Trumpet’s purpose in reporting the news? Does the world need another newsmagazine? How is the Trumpet different?
The reason we vigilantly watch and report on world events is that Jesus Christtells us to. The Trumpet has a sense of responsibility.
Fact is, world events are hurtling toward the greatest news story ever to occur: the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We know this because, in His Word, Jesus provided a detailed description of what would transpire globally just before it. When one evaluates His prophecies with the key that unlocks them, it becomes clear that His return is imminent! The Trumpet therefore endeavors to take on a corresponding urgency in the way we look at the world.
The Bible contains dozens of major prophetic events to be on the watch for, and hundreds of additional events. But why? Stop and think about it: Why would God prophesy in detail what would occur during this time leading up to Christ’s return?
The Olivet Prophecy
Toward the end of His ministry, Christ delivered the tremendous Olivet prophecy, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. What was it about? It was His response to the disciples’ earthshaking question, “[W]hat shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). In other words, the Olivet prophecy is Christ’s explanation of the world conditions that would precede His return.
Let’s take an overview of this momentous prophecy. I would suggest you turn to the 24th chapter of the book of Matthew and follow along throughout this article.
Christ began by describing the four horsemen of the apocalypse, which bring false religion and its attendant problems and conflicts, as well as wars, famines and disease epidemics (verses 4-8—compare with Revelation 6:1-8) and other horrific events (verses 9-11). He then spoke about a falling away within His own Church in this end time (verse 12)—which puts the time frame right into our day today (read “Breaking Ground,” and request from us a free copy of Gerald Flurry’s book Malachi’s Message to God’s Church Today for a thorough biblical explanation).
Now notice how closely tied in with these events are Christ’s admonitions for how to survive them: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (verse 13). Yes, there will be people spared from these nightmares.
And then, verse 14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Right in the middle of this description is a prophecy about a work of God. Herbert W. Armstrong fulfilled this prophecy. Largely through the World Tomorrow television program and the Plain Truth magazine, he warned this world for over 50 years with an intense prophetic message. Now the Philadelphia Church of God, through the Key of David telecast and the pages of this magazine, is prophesying again (Revelation 10:11)—even more intensely, since fulfilled prophecy reveals we are that much closer to Christ’s return.
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (verses 15-16). Here are the specific events that will precede those who are under God’s protection being taken to a place of safety.
The link between these cataclysms and God’s people is reinforced in verses 21-22: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” In the middle of these world-encompassing calamities, God’s people, or “the elect,” are right there in the prophecy.
Then, in verse 30, we see what all these signs lead to: Christ’s return. This is key! The Trumpet aims to focus on the connection between all the gloom and this most spectacular and hope-filled of all events!
Now, notice the admonition Christ gives: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (verses 32-33). Christ tells us that we have to be on the lookout: You will know that the end of this age is near, and that Christ’s return is near, by watching as the specific signs He has given us are fulfilled, step by step.
Reasons for Prophecy
Why would God give us these signs? Why would God give us all these prophecies and then tell us to be vigilant about watching for them?
The primary reason is to serve as a warning of what is coming. This is why the Trumpet each month shows how world events are fulfilling Bible prophecy. Some of our readers protest that the Trumpet seems too negative. We always try to show how all the bad news leads to the good news of Christ’s return. But we cannot shy away from the commission to do God’s merciful warning work (Ezekiel 33). God isn’t just going to spring these calamities on us—He is giving plenty of warning.
Part of that warning message is God’s admonition to repent—to turn away from the sin that is causing all these disasters: “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11).
In effect, the Trumpet is completing the same job Noah had before the ancient Flood: forewarning the world of imminent global ruin. Continuing with Christ’s Olivet prophecy: “But as the days of [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that [Noah] entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).
There are two entities talked about in these verses: 1) All the people who weren’t paying attention and just pretending things would continue forever, unchanged; and 2) Noah, with the support of his family, who labored for years and warned the people of what was coming.
Notice: Christ then immediately begins talking about people doing a work: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (verses 40-41). Christ said there would be people at the end doing the Noah work—and, like Noah, at the critical moment they will be taken out of the crisis and protected.
Each of us, individually, determines which side of this equation we will be on. Are we hearing the warning, but not taking it seriously? Will we be among those heedlessly carousing, or will we repent and join those who are warning the others—supporting a Noah work?
Back in Ezekiel, God told this prophet to say to the people, “Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?” (Ezekiel 33:10). God’s answer: “[I]f he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right … he shall surely live, he shall not die” (verses 14-15).
Watch and Pray
“Watch therefore,” Christ continued in Matthew 24, “for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (verse 42). We are told, individually, to watch. “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (verse 44). Being ready requires ongoing effort. It requires vigilance.
The parallel passage in Luke 21 concludes, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always”—and why?—“that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (verse 36).
Our watching and our praying have a bearing on whether God will count us worthy to escape! To escape these nightmares coming on the world, we must be watching and praying always.
What can happen to the one who is not vigilant? The one who is careless—or heedless—about the day of Christ’s return? “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:48-51).
You can see how our attitude about Christ’s return—our urgency, our excitement about those signs He has given us—does have a direct relationship to our personal conduct. Meditate on this connection.
Looking for the day of Christ’s return puts a perspective on our lives that should translate into a desire to seek God’s way of life. God gives a host of signs to be watching for, but not just so we will watch—He gives them as a means of stirring us up about the return of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ!
How it puts life in perspective when we attentively watch for Christ’s return! It should get our minds on what God is doing on Earth today. It should spur us to actively prepare for what is coming. “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (verse 46). God will bless and reward us for an attitude such as that.
The Hope of Salvation
At the end of 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul talks about Christ’s return. Right in that context comes the same message, urging vigilance: “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). A lot of people are about to be caught unaware—but only because they are asleep to what is going on.
Many people think this world will go on forever. But the prophesied Great Tribulation is coming in this generation! That is the astounding reality!
“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (verse 8). We need the hope of salvation like a helmet strapped to our heads—guarding our minds—protecting us from the distractions of this evil world that would pull us away. Our minds are the most important part of us—the part that most needs to be defended. Disruptions come at us, trying to steal our thoughts and capture our minds. But if we have this helmet on—if we have the hope of salvation, if our minds are on Christ’s return—those things won’t affect us.
Christ Is Returning
Editor in chief Gerald Flurry has often admonished our readers to watch Jerusalem. That is the focal point of prophecy—and, astoundingly, it is also the focal point of world news today! (See “The Precious Jewel of Iran’s Plan” and request our free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy.)
Look now at Luke’s version of the Olivet prophecy. “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh” (Luke 21:20). The idea of sending foreign “peacekeeping” armies into Jerusalem has already been talked about by world leaders for several years. If Christ’s words are true, we are about to see it happen!
As we watch the times getting worse, we must be careful to avoid the tendency to become depressed. Remember—always remember—where it is all leading: “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (verses 27-28). We need a posture of vigilant, hope-filled anticipation! Lift up your head—Christ is about to return! Don’t lose your hope!
In the world today, the worse things get, the worse will be most people’s despair. But we must not respond like that. The worse things get, the greater should be our hope!
The more vigilant we are—the more diligently we watch and pray—the more filled with hope we will become! It is all pointing toward the event this world so desperately cries out for: the Second Coming.
In the midst of calamity, we can be brimming with positivity. Not a positivity that comes from ignoring what is happening in the world—but that comes from truly understanding it.
We are living in the most momentous time in mankind’s history. God’s Kingdom is about to be established! Events being fulfilled are staggering! In this last hour of man’s civilization before the establishment of God’s government on Earth, there is a tremendous need to stay tuned to world events. We need more than ever to have our mind on the current fulfillment of prophecy. “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled” (verse 32). We are almost there!
“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (verses 34-35). Be careful—don’t get caught up in the evils of society. Have a posture of vigilance.
Recognize, and really feel to your bones, your personal responsibility to watch! As it says in verse 36, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”