THOSE WHO THINK seriously about the state of the world tend to be worried. Just a few of the threats which currently face us are climate change and all its possible outcomes such as weather disasters; biodiversity loss and the collapse of the worldwide food industry; over-population and the catastrophic depletion of natural resources; global financial disintegration; the unknowable threats that are posed by fast-developing artificial intelligence on the one hand and cyber-crime on the other; and the increasingly urgent risk of nuclear war.
It’s not surprising that many people choose not to think about the state of the world. They retreat into their own lives, enjoying themselves while they can: ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’ (Isaiah 22:13).
How about you—do you worry about what the world is coming to, and whether there will be anything left for our children?
This magazine is called ‘Glad Tidings of the Kingdom of God’. The title is a quote from Luke 8:1 (from the King James version of the Bible). ‘Glad tidings’ means good news. It’s what Jesus Christ preached to the people of his day, and his followers have preached to the world ever since. It’s the good news that God will not let us destroy the world—even though we seem to be trying very hard to do it.
God has a purpose: ‘The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’ (Habakkuk 2:14). The Bible abounds with prophecies and descriptions of the time when Jesus Christ will return and establish God’s Kingdom.
These are not nebulous prophecies. Some of them are detailed—and they don’t always make comfortable reading. Some people suggest that God’s Kingdom will be established by the spread of God’s message of love and good will through the world’s population by the work of the church. Neither the Bible nor the experience of the last 2000 years support this view. The Bible clearly shows that the Kingdom of God will be imposed on the world, and the world will not accept it willingly.
The process will involve a catastrophic war centred on the nation of Israel, in which God Himself will intervene on the part of Israel. (Not because of any merit of theirs, but because of His ancient promises to their ancestors—refer to page 6 of this issue.)
Here is a taste of some of the prophecies:
Ezekiel 38–39 details an invasion of Israel by a confederacy of nations led by a northern super-power, which will be met by God Himself and will result in the destruction of the invaders. ‘On that day, the day that Gog shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord God, my wrath will be roused in my anger. For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, on that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel’ (Ezekiel 38:18–19).
Zechariah 12–14 gives a similar account: ‘I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken… Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east’ (Zechariah 14:2-4). (Whose feet shall stand upon the mount of Olives? It’s evident from Acts 1:11 that this is the return of Christ.)
Revelation is a book of symbols, and chapter 16 is characteristically symbolic. It describes the events leading up to and around this time, and it refers to a battle in a place called Armageddon (v. 16.) Armageddon is a Hebrew word which can be translated as ‘a heap of wheatsheaves in a valley of judgement’. There may or may not be significance in the fact that a wheatsheaf has a shape which resembles the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion.
A Prophecy of Christ
Luke 21 contains a dramatic prophecy given by Jesus Christ himself. It is primarily a warning for his disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, which was fulfilled in 70 AD (for example vs. 20–24). But the prophecy ranges forward in time to that other cataclysmic judgement, and we see that the Lord Jesus is talking to us in our day:
There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory (vs. 25–27).
We do well to take notice of all that’s going on in our world. We should not ignore it, but neither should we be dismayed. We have the opportunity now to look into the Bible—what it says about us, and what it says about the future of the world, and how we can be part of it. Because the future is bright. Jesus Christ referred to the coming Kingdom of God as ‘paradise’ (Luke 23:43). It will be a time of universal peace, prosperity and wellbeing, when the earth is filled with God’s glory.
To those who listen, watch and prepare, Jesus says, ‘Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near’ (v. 28).