You know it’s bad when leading voices start using biblical language. msnbc referred to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit as having an “Armageddon-like atmosphere.” The governor of Arkansas said it was actually equivalent to Armageddon—that it was “apocalyptic in nature” (emphasis added throughout). Dozens of media outlets said it was a disaster of “biblical proportions.”
Not that you can fault them for making such comparisons. Hurricane Katrina was, after all, America’s worst weather-related disaster to that point. But such comparisons, while understandable in the midst of a human tragedy of such magnitude, nevertheless revealed a certain degree of biblical ignorance.
Armageddon is a Hebrew word mentioned just once in the Bible (Revelation 16:16). It means “fortified hill of Megiddo.” It is just a place on Earth, located about 70 miles northwest of Jerusalem. It will be the staging ground for multiple-million-man armies to gather together before triggering the war to end all wars—against Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. But the Bible refers to that as the “battle of that great day of God Almighty”—not Armageddon (see verse 14). If, by using the term Armageddon, commentators mean to equate some natural disaster to the final climactic battle of the ages—of mankind against Christ—then it is actually a huge exaggeration.
The flood following that end-of-the-world battle will overflow out from Jerusalem’s Kidron Valley, filling a ravine stretching across Israel for 180 miles (Revelation 14:20). Picture a 6-foot flood flowing through all of New Orleans, then east along Interstate 10 where the eyewall of Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, blanketing Gulfport, Biloxi and Mobile—even reaching the western edge of the Florida panhandle. And, like New Orleans after Katrina in 2005, this prophesied flood will also be a toxic dump of human waste, animal carcasses and man-made pollutants. There is, however, one key difference—this prophesied flood won’t be one of water breaking through crumbling levees—but of bloodflowing out of millions of slain soldiers.
Calling nature-caused destruction an “apocalypse” is another odd comparison, technically speaking. Apocalypse is a Greek word that means revelation or disclosure. According to Webster’s Dictionary,revelation means “something that is revealed by God to humans.” Surely that isn’t the idea news commentators mean to communicate when using the word. There is, however, a book in the Bible called the Apocalypse in Greek manuscripts—or, as it is translated in English, the book of Revelation. And because of certain dire prophecies recorded in that book, its Greek name has become a euphemism for tragic events.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with journalists and politicians using terms like “Armageddon” and “apocalypse” to describe such catastrophes. Surely the times warrant more such comparisons! But why not take it a step further and actually open the Bible to see what it has to say about our increasingly frequent and intensifying “natural” disasters?
We live in perilous times! It is not enough to merely refer to God’s Word—or to compare tragic events with those described in the Bible. We mustlook into the Bible and heed what God says!
What Jesus Prophesied
In Matthew 24, Jesus Christ’s disciples asked Him what signs would precede His Second Coming and the end of this present world. He responded with the pivotal prophecy of His earthly ministry: the Olivet prophecy. Every end-time Bible prophecy revolves around it. A red-letter Bible shows that these are all Christ’s own words.
Christ spoke about the end time—the time we live in right now. In verse 14, He gave us the major sign of His return: the gospel being preached around the world. If you know the history of God’s Church, you know this has been fulfilled. In verses 21-22, Christ said there is a time coming when no flesh would be saved alive if He didn’t return and prevent it! We must realize that in today’s age of weapons of mass destruction, this is a very realistic scenario. This is speaking of World War iii—a 3½-year bloodbath that will culminate in the “battle of that great day of God Almighty.” These are obviously end-time prophecies.
But before all this—before the battle of mankind against Christ—before the European beast power and the Asiatic kings of the east square off—before Europe destroys the nations of Israel—before Europe surrounds Jerusalem with armies—before the European Union comes against the Islamic king of the south like a whirlwind—before Arabs capture East Jerusalem—just before all of this happens, Jesus prophesied of specific signs we should watch for!
Notice verses 4-5: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I [Christ] am Christ; and shall deceive many.”
This is the first warning Christ gave—it is the major warning sign we need to watch for. He warned that people would come in Christ’s name, but they wouldn’t believe Christ’s message. And He said that these false ministers would deceive many!
The faithless approach that most religious leaders take in responding to natural disasters is certainly a fulfillment of that prophecy!
Christ then gave another important sign of the end time: weather patterns and other natural phenomena taking a violent turn for the worse! “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars … For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers [different] places” (verses 6-7). Notice, in addition to the “wars and rumours of wars”—surely an apt description of the current state of international relations—Jesus told His disciples that His return would be preceded by an uptick in natural disasters. Luke’s account of the same prophecy reads, “And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven” (Luke 21:11).
In fact, Christ stated specifically that before His return there would be earthquakes in different places. It is true that there have always been earthquakes. But for Christ to give this as a sign of the imminence of His return tells you that we should watch for and expect a change from the norm—a notable, measurable increase in the frequency and ferocity of quakes, and perhaps their occurrence in unexpected places. What a mistake it would be, then, to dismiss the fact that this is exactly what we are seeing today!
Notice also, Jesus told His disciples that famine—a shortage of food and water—and then pestilences, or disease epidemics, would accompany these natural disasters.
The word famines needs to be examined in the context of not only the “wars” mentioned here—which do tend to produce famines—but also the natural disasters that are mentioned! Droughts and floods on the scale we see today have a tremendous impact on food production! The Greek word for famines can mean “a scarcity of harvest.” And we are seeing that in the news all the time!
Christ’s words recall these chilling words from the Prophet Isaiah: “For behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, Takes away from Jerusalem and from Judah The stock and the store,The whole supply of bread and the whole supply of water” (Isaiah 3:1; New King James Version). Jerusalem anciently was the capital of Israel, and is often used in end-time prophecy as a type of all the end-time nations of Israel. God says that because of our sins, He is going to take away our food and water!
In Hosea, another end-time book, God indicts the nations of Israel with this charge: “For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal” (Hosea 2:8). We have forgotten that we owe God thanks for our abundance! He has given us the greatest blessings any nation in human history has ever received—and we have turned our backs on Him. He continues, “Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness” (verse 9).
We need to expect weather disasters to cause famines! God warned us through His prophets—and even Christ Himself!
Christ’s reference to pestilences refers to the diseases that often follow in the wake of such disasters. But in Acts 24:5, that same word is translated “a pestilent fellow”; that adds another dimension to this prophecy! What happens when scarce harvests threaten food supplies and create famines? That causes a societal breakdown! Americans are the most heavily armed people in the world. They are also probably the most heavily doped, drugged and indebted. With the economy breaking down, an explosive cocktail could be brewing. We have already seen looting and riots on a small scale within the nations of Israel—and here is a prophecy from Jesus Christ Himself that indicates it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
These are the days we are living in right now! We are experiencing the outer edges of a storm that is about to inflict the worst suffering mankind has ever known. Jesus said so. Weather disasters, as they increase in frequency and intensity, are actually fulfilling biblical prophecy. They are among the signs Christ gave of the end of the present world—and the beginning of a beautiful new world we can hardly even imagine.
Can we ignore Christ’s words? Why won’t religious leaders believe these crucial signs of the end? Why won’t so-called Christians simply believe Christ?
But the prophecy gets even more shocking.
The Beginning of Sorrows
In the very next verse of Matthew 24, Christ tells us, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (verse 8).
The point at which we find ourselves today, Christ told us, is only thebeginningof sorrows!
Where are we in Bible prophecy? We are at the beginning of sorrows! The disasters occurring before our eyes are just the beginning. They are going to get much worse.
In times of extreme calamity, people sometimes talk about “the end of the world.” In a way that is right. It is the beginning of the end of the world!
Regarding the phrase “the beginning of sorrows,” the Anchor Bible says, “Literally,” it means “‘the beginnings of birth-pains,’ an almost technical term for the sufferings which would immediately precede a new age … [t]he age of the Messiah’s reign.” Think about that! Christ was giving us a picture of a woman about to give birth to a child. This world is going to go through birth pains—some very difficult lessons—but in the end, a new age will be born! Jesus Christ is about to usher in a new world—a world without natural disasters or any such troubles unless nations refuse to obey God (Zechariah 14:17-19). When Christ governs Earth, it will become an absolute paradise. The Bible is full of prophecies about that.
The problem now is, most men are not ruled by Christ. They may say He rules them, but for most of them, that statement simply will not stand the test of the Scriptures.
The evils of our present generation are not unlike those of Noah’s day. Genesis 6:5 says that every imagination of the thoughts of man “was only evil continually.”
The Bible prophesies that those same immoral conditions would be widespread in this end time: “But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37). In Noah’s day, the masses mocked God’s warnings “until the flood came, and took them all away” (verse 39).
In this end time, the majority of mankind will again ridicule God’s warning message—just as they did in the days before Noah’s Flood, and as they did before God rained fire from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus said there would be those who scoff.
There will always be deceivers who insist that we are in no special danger today. We’ve always had storms and disasters. We’ve always bounced back. We’ve always rebuilt. People say that everything is moving in accordance with Mother Nature’s plan. It’s a natural, normal cycle, they say.
Others—including prominent religious leaders—are saying, in effect, God created us—He sends blessings—He continues blessing the United States of America—but He can’t stop a storm. Poor God—He’s just not strong enough to stop “Mother Nature.”
That is not the truth of the Bible!
Here is how God responds to the scoffers: “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). As evil worsens, so does God’s punishment. Paul is addressing those of us living in the last days. “This know also, that in the last daysperilous [or dangerous] times shall come” (verse 1). People deceive themselves by thinking there is no special danger right now—that the world has always been like this. While it is true that human nature has always been hostile to God’s law (Romans 8:7), the Bible says that Satan-influenced nature would wax worse and worse as the day of Christ’s return approaches. Satan has been cast down to this Earth (Revelation 12:9). Add to that this stark reality: Not until these latter days has man’s rebellious nature gained possession of weaponry powerful enough to annihilate himself. And add to that this frightening fact: God is against us! (Ezekiel 5:8).
These are not normal times. The Bible says earthquakes, droughts, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis are anything but normal. They are curses man has brought upon himself as a result of disobedience to God’s laws. And the Bible says that, in the modern nations of Israel, these curses are about to explode—they are about to get so bad that they can legitimately be compared to the events described in the pages of the Holy Bible!
We must tell you this—not because we derive some kind of sick pleasure from seeing people suffer—but because God says we must warn!
God, in His mercy, is trying to shake our peoples out of their drunken stupor before the real Armageddon-like events hit home! “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 [the Moffatt translation says ‘saved alive’]: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).
This will be the end result of man’s rebellion against God, which began in the Garden of Eden nearly 6,000 years ago. All flesh would be destroyed if Jesus Christ didn’t come back to Earth and stop the annihilation!
Now, Christ didn’t bring nuclear bombs into this world. He didn’t invent the terrible weapons of mass destruction we possess today. Man did that, in violation of God’s law. Will we blame God for all of this—like we do so often for natural disasters?
God is going to put the people of this world through great tribulation until they know that, without Him, there is no hope at all—there’s nothing man can do. People will be brought to the point where they have to rely on God! So often, an alcoholic has to hit rock bottom before he’ll say, I’m wrong and I want to change. That is the way mankind tends to be.
The two hardest things in the world for people to do are, first, to admit they’re wrong, and second, to believe God.
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (verse 24). False prophets are going to appear who will actually be able to show signs and wonders. Do you know the difference between a false prophet and a true one? You must, or you will be deceived.
But God’s very elect cannot be deceived. Do you know why? It’s because they simply believe Christ. They hold on to what He said and will not let go.
Jesus Christ was the greatest newscaster ever. If you doubt that, just watch what happens. Compare what He said with what so many ministers in this world are saying. Learn Christ’s prophecies, and then watch. Every single one of them will be fulfilled. And then, right on the heels of all these catastrophes, He will return.
Heed the Warning!
We have already seen some almost unimaginably devastating catastrophes. But think about this: At times there have been indications that God has held off the worst of the destructive potential of some violent natural phenomena!
For example, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina steamrolled across the Gulf of Mexico as a monstrous Category 5, with New Orleans directly in its path. Yet the next morning, just before it hit landfall, a “puff” of Midwestern dry air weakened it to a Category 4 and nudged its eyewall ever so slightly to the east. Thus, the coast of Mississippi and Alabama withstood the storm’s fiercest wrath, whereas the much larger, below-sea-level, critical U.S. port of New Orleans barely escaped a direct hit. Residents of the city and commentators alike collectively breathed a sigh of relief as New Orleans had been “spared.” Of course, the nightmare that followed was brought about by two breaches the storm surge had punched in the city’s levees.
But think about how much worse it could have been if a Category 5 had hit New Orleans dead on—especially considering the number of city residents who did not evacuate. We saw what a Category 4 did to the Mississippi coast. What if the homes, hotels, businesses and office buildings in New Orleans had been leveled like the structures in Biloxi?
Of course, it’s normal for a “puff” of dry air to come billowing out of the Midwest right at the point of contact between Katrina and the coast.
Or maybe—just maybe—God mercifully spared America from something much more deadly and destructive. There are, after all, end-time prophecies in the Bible that speak of entire cities being left without inhabitant (Isaiah 6:11; Jeremiah 2:15). Most of New Orleans’s residents were spared—either by fleeing before the storm or by being rescued out of it.
God is giving advance news of the storm that will soon strike all of America, Britain and the Jewish nation—just like those meteorologists warned about Katrina before it struck, enabling residents to take preparatory action.
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees in His day because they had become quite good at making weather predictions. You can discern the face of the sky, He told them, but you can’t discern the signs of the times! (Matthew 16:3). Besides weather predictions, these religious zealots were also quite good at reciting Scripture, pointing to significant biblical events, even comparing the events of their day with those of old, as referred to in God’s Word. But they didn’t obey Christ. And they disregarded His repeated warnings. They could not discern the many signs—advance warnings—of the times in which they lived.
What about you? Will you discern the signs of the times? Will you heed Jesus Christ’s warning? Or ignore it?
How Bad Will It Get?
What is the Bible’s weather forecast for the near future? The answer to that question is directly related to the moral and spiritual state of the world. Because that is prophesied to decay—a reality we vividly see around us—so too is the state of our weather.
The disasters we have experienced in recent decades will soon seem tame by comparison. The Bible prophesies of a time—and it is sooner than you may think—when catastrophes will escalate dramatically. The weather will go completely haywire.
Notice what Jesus prophesied would happen after the nightmares of the Great Tribulation. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matthew 24:29). Now compare how the Prophet Joel describes these same heavenly signs: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2:31).
After that, yet more powerfully destructive natural forces will be unleashed upon a disobedient world to bring it to its knees in repentance (see Revelation 6:5-8; 8:4-12).
We should consider the worsening disasters a warning from Almighty God—a warning to the nations today to turn from materialism, false religions and all the sins that are leading us away from the true path of peace and abundant living. We can expect our weather to get worse until we acknowledge our Creator, get down on our knees and pray that God would grant us repentance and give us the power necessary to keep His law. He is going to increase the pressure to such an overwhelming degree that all peoples will reach the point where they are willing to repent! (e.g. Isaiah 45:22-25).
The Almighty God is determined to capture man’s attention!
In order to attract the nations to His final end-time warning message, God will raise up two prophets and charge them with the responsibility to deliver it. To them He will give the power to control weather patterns! (Revelation 11:3-6). They will literally be able to cause disasters in order to fix the nations’ concentration onto God’s final message to mankind before His great punishment descends upon them for their sins!
That final punishment is spelled out in Revelation 16. Read the prophecies of the plagues God will rain down upon this world!
However, that is not the end of the story—not even close.
What It All Points To!
Remember the context of Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24. As a part of His warning, God also wants us to realize that we are on a countdown. When you see these savagely destructive disasters—when you recognize that we are in what Christ called the beginning of the birth pains—then remember that this is a sign that we are on a countdown to the second coming of jesus christ!
That is the best possible news this world could ever hear!
“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27). Wow! Christ is going to return, and this is what it will look like. Change is on the way like this world has never known!
“So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (verses 33-34). Christ’s return is right at the doors—it is almost upon us! True, we don’t know the day or the hour (verse 36)—but Christ said we should know when it is at the doors. And we can be certain that everything He prophesied will be fulfilled—both the bad news, and the best possible news!
Do you believe that? Can you begin to see the hope in the tragic events we see in our world today? The earthquakes and other catastrophes point to this prophecy from nearly 2,000 years ago, and they are a sign that Jesus Christ is about to return!
That is what Jesus Himself prophesied. When we understand and believe the Bible, natural disasters take on added significance. While our hearts ache for the victims, such tragedy stirs a renewed hope and confidence in the Second Coming.
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (verse 35). You can always trust Christ’s words of life. They will never fail.
This is why your faith should actually be strengthened by natural disasters! Earthquakes, tsunamis and other catastrophes were prophesied by Jesus Christ, and everything is coming to pass precisely as He said!
Remember the instruction from Christ’s own mouth: Natural disasters are a sign that this present evil world is about to end. In the rubble of these catastrophes lies invigorating hope. Emotionally, they are gut wrenching. Prophetically, however, they are a sign that the most exciting event ever to occur in the age of man is imminent!
We must build our faith—and prepare for a rocky future until Christ gets here. Yes, God brings evil upon us. But He also shows us how to turn away from our sinful way of life so we will receive nothing but blessings on top of blessings!
Very soon now, Jesus Christ is going to return and bring this Earth physical abundance, peace and joy. Thank God for this gloriously good news.
A Promise to Heal the Land
Remember the wonderful promise from God: “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and willheal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).
When God makes a promise, we can stake our lives on it!
We will certainly witness the fulfillment of this promise once Christ returns and begins to rule the nations.
But realize that God has repeatedly proved throughout human history that He will fulfill that promise even today, if men will only do their part!
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 is more than a promise from God. It is a heartfelt expression of God’s earnest desire to see the suffering of this present evil world come to an end.
When that day finally comes, the 6,000-year-long aversion therapy will be over. Everyone on Earth will have seen the futility of partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Mankind will be completely fed up with this sin-sick world! People will never want to turn to that way of life again. More than simply being sick of doing the wrong, most will be ready to do what is right, and to live the way of peace, joy and happiness that God offered Adam and Eve 6,000 years ago.
That will mean the dawning of a new age. Satan the devil will be removed, and Jesus Christ—who qualified to replace Satan as ruler of all the Earth—will reign over the greatest period of prosperity that has ever been.
Upon the wonderful release from bondage that will occur at His return, Jesus Christ will set up God’s government of love, peace and joy. Israel will return, a repentant remnant, to rebuild the waste places. With all mankind walking in God’s statutes, keeping His commandments and doing them, the promises in Leviticus 26 of “rain in due season” and that “the land shall yield her increase” will be realized all over the planet! This world will be blessed with beautiful weather and stable climates. There will be no anxiety over crop failures and famine, no fear of being killed in a severe weather event.
Obedience to God will result in abundance from the land, and a way of living that produces the peace and happiness that mankind has ever desired, leading ultimately to abundant life, eternally! If you would like to know more about that soon-coming world, request a copy of our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.
Finally, with God’s benevolent government in place, the hope of the resurrection will become reality, and everyone who has ever lived—including all those who have perished in the disasters and cataclysms that have afflicted our world—will be raised into a world where the right choice has been made, where, as the Prophet Isaiah said, the knowledge of the Eternal covers the Earth as the waters cover the sea.
God’s plan offers tremendous hope to everyone! After all, who hasn’t wondered about the ultimate fate of a loved one who has died? These people, resurrected to physical life, will have a choice to make: to follow God’s way of life—or to continue to live a lifestyle that everyone on Earth has seen fail abysmally, a lifestyle that caused the suffering for which so many blame God. People of every religion, every type of sinner, every type of person who has ever lived—including friends and relatives of yours who have died not yet having received a chance at the abundant life only God can offer—will be given the opportunity to learn God’s way of life. They will gain the knowledge of their own potential.
God the Father wants to fulfill His purpose in us. And when He finally does come down to Earth—when the incredible potential He has given to every human is fulfilled—everyone will understand why the Apostle Paul was inspired to write in Romans 8:18: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”!