Times That Try Men’s Souls
Today is very different than yesterday. Tomorrow will be nothing like today. But one thing is sure, we don’t see one day passing without reading or hearing a reference being made to this world falling apart – eroding, ending. There are so many signs today which only add to man’s apprehension in regards to an approaching calamity. “Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Luke 21:26. Certainly the kinds of headlines we’re bombarded with today can and do try a man’s soul.
What mankind is witnessing today is only the “birth pangs” associated with the nearness of Christ’s return; certainly we’re not feeling the full on effects of what Jesus tells us is coming in the last days. Jesus’ return is close, and every Christian should reel with anticipation and excitement every time something out of the ordinary or unexplainable happens. But today’s Christians seem to be apathetic concerning the coming of their Lord; a lull between events allows apathy to creep into the Christian’s life lessening the anticipation of future events. Although many may read about the catastrophic occurrences around the world which have led to mass amounts of human death and suffering, there seems to be a sort of disconnect as people simply dismiss any possibility of such devastation occurring near them, or in their lifetime. Today most followers of Jesus Christ are unaware of the unimaginable magnitude of catastrophic events that are coming. Jesus warns the last remaining generation prior to His return that they will be overwhelmed by three specific ever recurring events, which are earthquakes, pestilence, and famines. Interestingly we’re all witnesses to the fact that all three are increasing in frequency and intensity just like birth pangs.
If we were to travel back just fifty years and revisit the “birth pangs” of that era they would seem miniscule in comparison to today. Fifty years ago when I was 10, there was little talk, if any, of the “end of the world” scenarios. Today it’s everywhere we turn. Why? I believe the simple fact is that people, being made in God’s image, are quite adept at recognizing the signs as they effect the earth and sky changes that only God could bring about. Although they know something’s afoot most have no clue as to what is going on, and little desire to pursue God’s word for the answers. Over time, this apathy creates an atmosphere of fear, as men can’t grasp what’s taking place. Thus, men’s hearts will fail them as the end grows ever closer.
There is no doubt in this expositors mind that evil has increased exponentially throughout the world. A moral and upright person can’t even watch the nightly news, or read online news content, without grimacing in disgust while being consumed with sorrow. The horror inflicted on mankind by our fellow man, especially that which is inflicted on the very young and the very old can only be seen a pure satanic. All of this evil is many times more prevalent today than just fifty years ago. Certainly each generation must go through trying times, and the generation of fifty years ago had many troubling tribulations. Our current generation seems to have reached its zenith in regards to this trend of pervasive evil; an evil which has led all civilizations into extreme immorality, and depravity. Another form of evil permeating this world is greed. Astonishing to me is that, while most of us are doing everything we can to tighten our belts to ward off what many see as another Great Depression headed our way, a bunch of the elite bankers are so full of greed that they are doing everything possible to negate our personal sacrifices. Certainly the greed of a few will lead many men to the apex of that which tries souls.
This is our time to be tried. The difference between all those other times and ours is that this is the “last generation” before Christ’s return. The truth is, for those of us who know what’s coming next, these are exciting days. Difficult to comprehend at times yes, but exciting nonetheless. If we give some thought to what’s coming next, and then pay close attention to observe the times and the signs, there will be nothing surprising or terrifying about what follows. “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5.
Apart from all that immorality, depravity, and greed which certainly reigns supreme on planet earth these days are the last day’s events of which Jesus tells His disciples will come. We are on a timeline in which those symbolic birth pangs are occurring more frequently and with much more intensity. But where on that timeline are we currently? Good question. It may help us to define our current position on that timeline by viewing the recurring signs of the past. When we do, we will be confronted with a huge difference in comparison as we look at frequency and intensity. I’ll give three short examples regarding these three observable phenomenon.
If we perform a simple web search on the United States Geological Service website (www.usgs.gov) we’ll find there a plethora of data concerning earthquakes past and present, even predictions of future events. Interestingly we find that both the quantity and severity of earthquakes have increased and are increasing daily. In my birth year, which was 1951, there were zero earthquakes recorded on the day I was born (August 24). I arbitrarily picked the year 2008 for a comparison and was floored by the number of earthquakes recorded that year on my birthday. There were over 293 earthquakes in “diverse” places. Remember were looking at just one single day’s earthquake occurrences. Now let’s take a look at the earthquakes for the entire year of 1951. The total was 592 that year. Now let’s look at that arbitrary year of 2008. Total earthquakes that year were 31,777 according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Are the birth pangs increasing just as Jesus explained? Some will simply say that technology has improved so that we are now able to detect more earthquakes than in previous years. Let’s see if that holds true. The 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco, for example, registered 7.8 magnitude. According to the USGS website the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 was recorded at a magnitude of 7.1 on the very same equipment as the quake of 1906. What this example demonstrates is the equipment in place during the 1906 earthquake was quite sufficient in registering any quake that might have come along. Simply put there just weren’t as many. Today’s earthquake frequency and intensity is increasing exponentially just as the Bible clearly states.
Here’s a little more information for the skeptic. So far this year (2011) 189 earthquakes have occurred within the range of magnitude measuring from 6.0 to 9.0. In 1951 there were only two earthquakes at a magnitude above 6.0, one recorded at 6.2 and the other at 6.3. Obviously something substantial is going on in regards to the frequency and intensity of earthquakes today, which point us back to the Bible and the fact that we should regard Jesus’ words as true and indisputable.
What must have been perceived as non-events by Bible teachers fifty years ago has certainly fallen into the category of “WOW the Bible is true” in the mind of any truth seeker today. “…and earthquakes, in divers places” Matthew 24:7b. The Greek word “kata” is translated divers in English meaning “throughout” but it can also mean “daily”. So we can conclude that in the days just prior to Jesus’ return there would be earthquakes occurring on a global scale increasing in their frequency and intensity on a daily basis. Even more interesting is the fact that earthquakes have increased so much in just the last fifty years that now hundreds of earthquakes shake this world every day.
Pestilences: Any deadly infectious malady – including plagues. In the last days they will come on mankind with increasing frequency and intensity. In a country that prides itself as being on the cutting edge of discoveries which result in medical cures and disease control, many ugly maladies remain unstoppable. There are actually so many plagues and diseases being combated today that they are too numerous to mention in this commentary. Let me just say that the mother of major infectious plagues these days, HIV/AIDS, is still on the top of the ladder when it comes to stubbornness. HIV/AIDS has been found to be increasingly difficult to eradicate. Certainly AIDS is the personification of the meaning behind Jesus’ word pestilence – meaning communicable, transferable, transmittable, contagious. Take your pick, isn’t this exactly what every society in every country on earth is experiencing? There is an inordinate amount of frustration with this burgeoning disease.
Famine is the one sign on our Lord’s list of signs that has the most potential for causing widespread calamity, which will certainly try man’s soul to the max. And just as earthquakes and pestilences are nothing new yet increasing in both intensity and frequency, so it is with famines. Today we witness an intensifying devastation occurring in drought stricken countries.
I recently read an article which indicated that extreme poverty in the U.S. is at record levels. The article stated that 1 in every 15 Americans are considered very poor, and that 20 million Americans are living in extreme poverty.
“About 20.5 million Americans, or 6.7 percent of the U.S. population, make up the poorest poor, defined as those at 50 per cent or less of the official poverty level. Those living in deep poverty represent nearly half of the 46.2 million people scraping by below the poverty line. In 2010, the poorest poor meant an income of $5,570 or less for an individual and $11,157 for a family of four. That 6.7 percent share is the highest in the 35 years that the Census Bureau has maintained such records, surpassing previous highs in 2009 and 1993 of just over 6 percent.” Source – Daily Mail
The obvious picture we see developing is that American’s overall are becoming poorer not wealthier. Not only is employment declining but so are wages. Once upon a time a famine was coming to America. It’s no fairytale folks that famine, by all intents and purposes, has arrived. Food is certainly high on the average persons mind every day. Poor people have a hard time buying food, some people resort to stealing to get their daily bread. Some 46 million Americans are currently receiving food stamps. When that well runs dry many will turn to stealing to get what they and their family need to survive. The birth pangs Jesus spoke about are unfolding before our eyes. Famines certainly can cause the hearts of men to fail.
Obviously the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ can’t be far off. These are the times Jesus referred to as the beginnings of sorrows. According to Jesus’ own words the last generation is the generation that will experience the brunt of birth pangs. We are that generation. But the most intense of those birth pangs are yet to come and the removal of His Church must surely be at hand. These times will become much worse as we move closer to Christ’s return. Many of my brethren, me included, are praying constantly that His return is only seven years away. That would mean that the Rapture of the Church could occur today.
Everywhere we look the sky seems to be falling, yet few are running for the One that protects and covers. Nothing can stop what’s coming, the prophecies of the Bible must be fulfilled, and they will be to the letter. Since there’s no place to run, no place to hide, that only leaves us one alternative. The peace and joy we have in Christ will endure right up to the day He takes us home. “Be careful for nothing… And the peace of God, which passed all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6a-7.
God bless you all,
All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed