As events unfold in the third millennium ad, many of us can't help but wonder what the future holds for us and our planet. Are we on the threshold of a brave New World Order, with peace and plenty for all? Or are we tottering on the brink of unprecedented chaos and disaster?-Or both?
This series of articles provides answers that will prepare you for what's ahead.
Biblical prophets foretold many things that concern today's world. We will examine specific predictions and prophecies that are two to three thousand years old, which accurately depict conditions and events that have taken place-or are soon to take place-during our lifetime.
Among the prophecies we will be looking at are predictions describing our modern rapid transportation systems, today's unprecedented increase in world travel, as well as the contemporary explosion in knowledge of all kinds. Other technological advances, such as electronic banking, as well as a soon-to-be-implemented global financial system, are likewise predicted with uncanny accuracy.
The effects of global warming, as well as the outbreak of modern killer diseases such as AIDS, Ebola, and SARS were also foretold.
Awareness of these predictions will give you a new perspective on the radical transformation the world is currently undergoing, as well as prepare you for the cataclysmic changes to come.
The Big Question
Throughout the ages a number of great religious teachers and seers have received special insight into the future. A discourse that is regarded by many as the most profound and detailed of its kind was given 2,000 years ago on a hillside just outside the ancient city of Jerusalem. There, a small band of truth-seekers gathered around their teacher, a carpenter-turned-preacher, known as Jesus of Nazareth. The question they asked Him prompted a response that spans the centuries and zeroes in on the days in which we are now living:
"Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'" (Matthew 24:3).
What His followers were asking Him about is often referred to as the "Second Coming," the dramatic personal return of Christ prior to His takeover of the world and the establishing of the kingdom of God on earth. The term "the end of the age" is used here not to signify the end of the planet, but the end of the current unjust and inhumane reign of man.
Jesus answered their question with not only one sign that would indicate when "the end" would be near, but He gave many specific indicators to be on the lookout for. Outstanding predictions by a number of other biblical writers help fill in the picture. It is these prophesied "signs" that we will now focus on.
The Even Bigger Answers
"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. … For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:6-8).
Everyone knows that the world has experienced wars, famines, plagues, and earthquakes for millennia. However, you may be surprised to learn just how bad things have become in recent years. Take the first part of this passage, for example...
A World at War
"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars....For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom."
War has been a scourge of the world and mankind for millennia, but no period in history has witnessed the escalation of wars as has the last hundred years.
Prior to 1914, war had never been universal, but in both World War I and II, global war was waged. In the latter, only 12 small nations of the earth were not militarily or technically involved, and 93 million people served in the armed forces of both sides. Of these, 25 million died. Civilian casualties were unprecedented: In the Soviet Union alone, over 20 million civilians died as a result of the war. The Washington Post has noted:
[The] 20th-century wars have been "total wars" against combatants and civilians alike. … The barbarian wars of centuries past were alley fights in comparison.
Ethnic Cleansing and Tribal Terror
The Greek word for "nation" originally used in this prophecy, "nation shall rise against nation," is ethnos, which is more accurately translated "a race" or "a tribe." In other words, Jesus was saying that ethnic groups would rise against each other. This has been tragically fulfilled in recent times. Pulitzer prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger warns, "If the 20th century has been the century of the warfare of ideologies, the 21st century begins as the century of the warfare of ethnicities."
Citing Stalin's purges, China's Cultural Revolution, Cambodia's killing fields, the so-called ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the horrors of Rwanda, etc., the Associated Press (AP) reports that during the 20th century the murders perpetrated by nations against their own people exceed the deaths caused by wars with rivals outside their borders-170 million lives, by one estimate. Ours is the century that coined the term "genocide."
Although the outlook may appear bleak, the day is soon coming when God Himself will intervene in this violent world, and war shall be forever abolished (Isaiah 2:4).
(Don't miss more on the future in upcoming Activated issues, featuring amazing predictions from the Bible about the events of our times, including the AIDS virus, a dramatic increase in travel and scientific knowledge, and a one-world cashless society!)
1. "Is a World Without War Possible?" Awake, 22 Apr 1996.
2. Levinson, Arlene. "20th Century Awash in Blood," AP, 16 Sep 95.
Excerpted from The Future Foretold, by Michael Roy