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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 41 : Await My Return | Day 285

Discern the Signs of the Times!

As a boy growing up during World War II, I heard about World War I and how it was supposed to have been the "war to end all wars." This hope had been held out to Allied nations throughout the bloody ordeal. I remember thinking, "How could this have been thought possible in view of Christ's teaching that there shall be 'wars and rumors of wars' until He returns?” (See Matthew 24:3-8.) Over the past centuries, it has been estimated that there have been more than 14,000 wars with approximately 3.6 billion people killed.

We are not to predict the date of Christ's return or the end of the world, but we are to recognize the "signs of the times."

Jesus reproved the Pharisees and the Sadducees for being able to predict the weather but not being able to discern the signs of the times or recognize that the Messiah had come. “When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:2-3).

The massive departure from the faith and moral collapse of society detailed by the Apostle Paul is a disconcerting sign of the end times. “In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof ...” (II Timothy 3:1-4).

Peter adds another dimension to the condition of the last days by explaining how those who are steeped in sin will be oblivious to what is taking place around them and will attempt to influence others to doubt the Lord's return. (See II Peter 3:3-4.)

Jesus gave further signs of the times by stating that there will be natural disasters, including plagues, famines, and earthquakes. (See Mark 13:8.) Throughout history we see the unfolding of the fulfillment of His words. The bubonic plague killed an estimated 25 million people between 1347 and 1351. The two worst famines ever recorded took place in China and India from 1876 to 1879, claiming the lives of 12 to 17 million people. History's worst earthquake killed more than 830,000 people in China in 1556, and the recent Indian Ocean earthquake of 2004 claimed an estimated 228,000 to 310,000 lives.

Recognizing the evidences of Christ's imminent return should motivate us to share the Gospel and disciple others through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture promises that in the last days the Holy Spirit will be poured out on His people. This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. (See Acts 2:4, 16-17.) When the disciples asked, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6), Jesus told them not to be concerned with that and that they would be endowed with power for a powerful and effective ministry “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8).

As we see the signs of the times around us, let's not become fearful or apathetic. Rather, let's make sure we are in constant fellowship with the Holy Spirit and are walking in His truth so that He can accomplish great and mighty things through us before Christ returns!

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:42-44).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard