What's Going to Happen?
The world can be a scary place. The streets of many of our cities and towns aren't safe, horrible diseases that have no cure are in the news, and terrorists have threatened the lives of anyone who disagrees with their beliefs. Mothers and fathers are getting divorced in record numbers, leaving millions of sad and confused children with hurts they'll carry for the rest of their lives. Things seem to be out of control. What's going to happen in the days and years ahead?
Sometimes it's hard to admit that we're scared and have questions about the future. Nobody wants to seem "stupid", so most of us keep our questions to ourselves. But people have wondered about the future for thousands of years. Even the followers of Jesus Christ wanted some "inside" information:
"Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?"
- Matthew 24:3b
Notice that Jesus didn't make fun of His followers when they asked questions about the future. Instead, He gave them straight answers. To find out what He said, get a Bible and turn to Matthew, chapter 24, verses 4 through 22. (It would be an excellent idea to keep a Bible nearby as you read this book. Look up the verses for yourself. Don't just take my word for everything!)
Here's a summary of what Jesus said in Matthew 24: 4-22:
In the "last days" liars will appear, teaching things that contradict God's teachings in the Bible. Some will even claim to be sent from God to save the world.
As time goes on, wars and the threat of wars will increase.
The lack of food in many countries will get worse and worse, with millions dying from hunger.
In the future, earthquakes will become a major problem all over the world. It's true that earthquakes have been with us from the beginning of time, but in the "last days", there will be a lot more of them!
In the future, widespread epidemics of deadly diseases will plague the world.
Many Christians will suffer greatly for following Jesus, some even being killed for their faith.
God won't let mankind completely destroy the earth or wipe out the human race.
God wants to teach us about the future, too. Instead of sitting down with us on a mountain (like He did in Matthew 24), these days He speaks to us through the words of the Bible. Go to the Bible with an open mind and heart, and the Lord will show you many things. Jesus promised:
Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find,
Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Matthew 24:7 KJV
The Heavenly Father delights in giving answers from His Word. But He's not going to drop this stuff down "special delivery" without any effort on our part. We need to "knock" and "seek", which simply means we need to "just do it" by opening up the Bible and reading it, and sincerely praying about what we read.
And as you read, pray and think, keep the following Bible verse in mind:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
2 Timothy 3:16
Don't forget this verse when you come across confusing parts of the Bible. God gave us the scripture; He knows what the "tricky" verses mean. If you give it a sincere and honest try, the Lord promises to help you understand (Proverbs 2:6).
The key to understanding what the Bible says about the future is to find out as much as you can about Jesus Christ. He is at the center of everything God plans to do. Some things in the Bible won't seem so incredible or confusing when you discover who He really is. The picture will get clearer if you focus on Jesus Christ.
The Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 17:5). This is very important to remember, as God told the Old Testament writers and readers that the Son is equal to the Heavenly Father in every way (Isaiah 9:6). When Jesus claimed to be God's Son in Matthew, Chapter 10, the religious leaders became very angry. As a matter of fact, they picked up stones to throw at Him. They wanted Him to die! Jesus said:
I have shown you many great miracles from the Father.
For which of these do you stone Me?
For just a regular person to claim to be God is a terrible sin. When Jesus claimed to be God's Son, they thought He was absolutely and completely out of line. They didn't accept Him, and accused Jesus of blasphemy, which is saying and/or doing something totally outrageous against God.
But Jesus Christ was not just "a regular person". The Bible teaches that Jesus was, indeed, the Son of God, and offers the following proofs:
Jesus CREATED everything (John1:3). Who else but God could have done that?
Jesus KNOWS everything (Colossians 2:3). There are some super smart people, but only God knows everything.
Jesus is SINLESS (2 Corinthians 5:21). This means that Jesus Christ never did anything wrong or broke any of God's laws, rules or commandments, and never will.
Jesus CONTROLS NATURE (Matthew 8:23-27). No one on Earth has this power.
Jesus FORGIVES our sins (Matthew 9:1-8). Only God can forgive sin.
Jesus let people WORSHIP Him (Revelation 5:11-14). To worship anyone or anything but God is blasphemy. A lot of people who aren't Christians like to say that, even though they're not believers, they think that Jesus was a very good man, perhaps the best who ever lived.
If Jesus wasn't really God, and allowed anyone, anywhere to worship Him, then He wasn't a very good man. He wasn't even a good man. Any mere man who accepts the worship that is due only to God, is a very wicked person and the worst kind of blasphemer.
So, if you're tempted to think that Jesus was a good man, but aren't willing to believe in Him, keep in mind that He accepted worship. In Exodus 20:3, God said He would never accept any other gods before Him!
Jesus has POWER OVER DEATH (John 11: 1-54). He raised people from the dead, and death itself couldn't keep Him in the grave after He was killed by His enemies (Matthew 28:6-7).
Finally, don't forget that Jesus Himself claimed to be God (John 10:30-33).
"Wait a minute!" someone might say. "I thought God was a spirit. Jesus was born a baby in Bethlehem. Doesn't that make Him just a human being?"
That's an excellent question. The answer is that Jesus Christ is very special, and unlike any person who ever lived. As God's Son, He has always existed in spirit. He had no spiritual beginning (Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2). Because He loved us, Jesus came to Earth and died for our sins (Hebrews 2: 9-10). It was a mission He wasn't forced to take:
The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life -
only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay
it down of My own accord...
John 10: 17, 18A
At no time when Jesus was on earth did He stop being God. He chose to appear in human form and live among mankind. It's hard to understand and a lot harder to explain, but it's a fact that Jesus Christ perfectly blended the Spirit of God and a sinless human body and life. Jesus performed many miracles during His years on earth; these incredible events were meant to show the world that He was God's Son (John 10:38). His enemies ignored the evidence, and pushed to have Him killed.
Talking about God's plans for the future is not supposed to be an exercise in cramming a bunch of Bible facts into our heads. It's supposed to bring us closer to a real Person who lives and loves us all very much. This person is Jesus Christ, and He has promised to return to Earth someday (Matthew 24:44).
This discussion is about many of the important things that will happen before, during and after that special day. That's why finding out as much as we can about Jesus Christ is the key; His return is at the center of God's plans for the future.