The Identifying “Sign” of Our Times
WE DO not need to be in doubt as to where we are on the stream of time or where this world is heading. There is a sign telling us this. It is, in effect, a huge signpost, big enough to be read the earth around.
This global sign is in fulfillment of a prophecy given by Christ Jesus and found in the Bible at Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Examine, now, what that sign is composed of and then compare its features with what your own eyes, ears and other senses tell you is taking place today.
This many-faceted prophetic sign embraces these features:
A period marked by “wars and reports of wars,” by “great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences [disease plagues] and food shortages.” Among the people, a significant “increasing of lawlessness,” and “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out,” yet with materialistic concerns so occupying people’s attention that they show little if any heed to the warning signs around them.
Do we see this composite sign? Has it been visible since 1914? What are the facts?
Wars have erupted one after the other since 1914. The years from then till now are rightly called “The Age of Violence.” In his book The First World War, French General Richard Thoumin shows how this war differed from all previous. He states:
“Never before had so many countries and such large armies faced each other in such gigantic battles; never had such high proportions of combatants been killed or maimed; never had man gone to war with such powerful weapons. . . .
“The First World War was the first ‘total’ war, and as such made a profound impact upon the minds of all participants . . .”
World War I brought some ten million fatalities; World War II produced another fifty-five million. And just since the end of World War II there have been one hundred or more wars fought in different parts of the earth. The bombing done by the United States alone in the Vietnam conflict exceeded that done in the second world war by all the combatant nations combined.
Disease epidemics mock mankind’s twentieth-century medical advances. Just one plague, the Spanish influenza, killed 21,000,000 persons around the world in a matter of months during 1918-1919. The book 1918 Year of Crisis, Year of Change describes its disastrous effect:
“The influenza epidemic near the end of the war was so appalling that the medical world was ‘in an uproar’ . . .
“The fatally insidious part of the epidemic was that not only did the medical profession lack a cure, but there was no way to halt its spread—and no other disease had ever spread so far so fast, according to the authorities of the day. . . . the world was suffering the most calamitous epidemic in its history. . . . The epidemic far outstripped the war itself as a mass killer.”
“In India alone, 12.5 million, or 4 percent of the total population, died in the epidemic. In the United States the disease took more than 500,000 lives.”
Now, cancer, heart disease, mental ailments, venereal disease, drug addiction—all qualify as modern plagues of enormous proportions. Pollution poisoning is viewed by some authorities as a greater threat than even nuclear war.
Food shortages have made the specter of starvation or malnutrition a continuing part of the earthly scene since 1914. The war years of 1914-1918 saw famine in many parts of Europe; millions died of starvation in Russia. And The World Book Encyclopedia (1970) says that “after World War II, there occurred the greatest world-wide shortage of food in history.” The shortage worsens as one out of every three persons on earth today suffers malnutrition or is slowly starving. Food prices skyrocket in many lands.
Earthquakes have been shaking this planet since 1914 with notable frequency and violence. They have cost over 700,000 lives and incalculable property damage, devastating entire cities, such as Managua, Nicaragua, and ripping huge mountains apart, burying whole towns under tons of earth.
Lawlessness spreads growing fear in city, town and countryside. The cost of crime in the United States alone has risen to fifty-one thousand million dollars a year! Especially notable is the growth of crime among so-called “respectable” people. Executives and “trusted” employees in the United States are stealing from their companies at the rate of eight thousand million dollars a year.
But lawlessness is not limited to thievery, murder and similar crimes. The period from 1914 onward has seen a surge of lawlessness due to the overthrow of more and more of mankind’s moral standards. Religious organizations in growing numbers either ignore or set aside God’s laws as found in the Bible, classifying them as “outdated” and “impractical.”
The foretold “anguish of nations” is here. World leaders obviously do not ‘know the way out’ of the pressing problems and manifest growing confusion. More and more persons immerse themselves in materialistic pursuits, seeking to close their eyes to the evidence of the world’s drift toward disaster.
Yes, perhaps the strongest evidence of all that we are now in the foretold crucial time is that seen in people themselves. Compare these words of the inspired apostle Paul with what you yourself observe today:
“You must face the fact: the final age of this world is to be a time of troubles. Men will love nothing but money and self; they will be arrogant, boastful, and abusive; with no respect for parents, no gratitude, no piety, no natural affection; they will be implacable in their hatreds, scandalmongers, intemperate and fierce, strangers to all goodness, traitors, adventurers, swollen with self-importance. They will be men who put pleasure in the place of God, men who preserve the outward form of religion, but are a standing denial of its reality.”—2 Tim. 3:1-5, “The New English Bible.”
Surely those words fit the generation living on earth since 1914 as they fit no other generation in history. Nor should we expect a reversal of that trend. Rather, we can be certain that, as this same prophecy warns, such persons “will make progress from bad to worse, deceiving and deceived.”—2 Tim. 3:13, NE.
What our own eyes see and our own ears hear bear testimony to us that we are living in the “final age,” the “last days.” The last days of what? Not the last days for this earth nor for all humankind, but the last days for the present world order and all who prefer it and who continue with it in its downward course.
The prophetic sign identifying our times, therefore, is visible in all the earth. The facts clearly fulfilling these are staring us all in the face. They have come exactly at the foretold time and in the foretold way. World leaders cannot explain why the world is on its present troubled course or just where it is all leading. Why not, then, give serious consideration to the enlightening vision the Bible gives showing what is just ahead of us?
[Picture on page 21]
The sign foretold for our time is now visible earth wide, telling us exactly where this world is headed