The end of the world fascinates millions. Many blockbuster movies, like last year’s Avengers: Endgame, feature the world on the brink of destruction, while others, like Captain Marvel, portray it in the midst of conflict between forces of good and evil. Other popular films, such as the 2017 thriller Geostorm, depict widespread natural disasters with the potential to destroy our entire planet.
Do any of these disaster movies portray a real future?
Sadly, the reality of devastating disasters lies all around us, whether we are aware of it or not. How many of us in North America even heard about last autumn’s terrible flooding across central Africa, which killed scores of people and forced thousands from their homes, many of which were destroyed? Earlier, Hurricane Dorian, which caused damage along the United States’ eastern seaboard, was the worst natural disaster in the Bahamas’ recorded history, leaving roughly 70,000 people homeless and hundreds presumed dead. Estimates suggest that Dorian caused $7 billion in property damage in the Bahamas alone.
Elsewhere, fires caused terrible destruction. In the first nine months of 2019, more than 40,000 wildfires across the U.S. burned about 4.4 million acres. California was one of the hardest-hit states. One report observed:
If it seems that wildfires are burning nearly all the time these days, that there’s no longer a definable fire season in California, you’re right. Fourteen of the 20 most destructive fires in state history have occurred since 2007, and California has 78 more annual “fire days” now than it had 50 years ago. When 2018 became the worst fire year on record, we recognized a new reality. Now each year could surpass the last, setting records for the size, destruction, cost and loss of life (“California Fires Are Getting Worse. What’s Going On?,” LAist.com, October 28, 2019).
In many ways, it seems that things are getting worse, in California and elsewhere. Some say that we have always had disasters and that natural catastrophes simply affect us more now because of our growing population. Others recognize the growing dangers but explain them away as the results of random chance or a phenomenon such as global climate change.
But what if there is an entirely different dimension to the apparent increase in natural disasters and world turmoil? What if things don’t get better? Many are shocked to learn that the Bible predicts a dramatic increase in specific phenomena and previously unimaginable disaster and suffering. The good news, however, is that the Son of God will return and put an end to all the turmoil and suffering—and that you can find encouragement in watching for the signs of His Second Coming.
Will Humanity Survive?
We are living in humanity’s grand experiment in governing itself without God. Can the 193 United Nations member states ever find the way to world peace? History should make the answer plain! The twentieth century brought two world wars responsible for the deaths of tens of millions and violent tyrannies that killed further millions of innocent civilians. It brought humanity to the brink of nuclear self-annihilation. Even today, biological, chemical, nuclear, and other threats keep our planet on the brink of disaster and destruction.
So, will planet Earth survive at all? Is there any hope for world peace? Many do not know that the Bible predicts specific events leading up to the end of this age. We read, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21–22).
But who will shorten those days to save us? Your Bible reveals that Christ will return to this earth to prevent total cosmocide. Danger is ahead, but Scripture also shares the awesome good news of a coming world government under the King of kings. Until He comes, what should we do? Many try to “live for today” and enjoy all they can, avoiding the sobering reality of what is to come.
But Christ wants us to be different. He admonishes us to “take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34–36).
This article will examine seven trends or signs for which we should be watching. As we watch, we will know that we are approaching that wonderful day when Jesus Christ will return and the seventh trumpet will sound. “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:15). Will you be ready to meet Him when He comes? You will, if you follow His commands as you prepare. So, look for these seven signs!
1. Growing Danger of Nuclear War
Despite many treaties meant to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons, experts are worried. One agency reports that, since 2016, “there has been significant backsliding on the standards related to arms control and risk reduction” (“Assessing Progress on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament,” Arms Control Association, July 2019, p. v). In addition to the known nuclear nations—Russia, the United States, France, China, the United Kingdom, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea—the report looked at Iran and Syria, where biological and other forms of deadly weaponry are also being researched, and found “evidence that Iran, North Korea, and Syria all engaged in illicit trafficking of dual-use [weapon and non-weapon] materials and technologies” (p. vi).
Will Russia detonate one of its estimated 6,850 nuclear weapons in a coming war? Will the United States detonate one of its 6,550? We should remember that mankind’s pattern is not to let technology sit unused. Last January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reminded us of this danger: “The current situation—in which intersecting nuclear, climate, and information warfare threats all go insufficiently recognized and addressed, when they are not simply ignored or denied—is unsustainable. The longer world leaders and citizens carelessly inhabit this new and abnormal reality, the more likely the world is to experience catastrophe of historic proportions.” The Bulletin called our present situation “a new abnormal” (“A new abnormal: It is still 2 minutes to midnight,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2019).
Sadly, your Bible confirms that humanity is not finished with war. Scripture foretells World War III, when a huge army will move west across the Euphrates River.
Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths (Revelation 9:16–18).
As shocking as it may seem, one-third of all human beings will die in a future world war! Watch for the development of nuclear capabilities on the world scene.
2. Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters
As we saw above, floods and fires continue to ravage our planet and seem to be increasing. Consider the following comments by this magazine’s Editor in Chief, Evangelist Gerald E. Weston, in his eye-opening booklet Acts of God: Why Natural Disasters?:
Hawaii is a very popular tourist destination, as are the islands of the South Pacific. These beautiful volcanic islands are the stuff of songs and musicals. But as we know, volcanoes can be very dangerous to anyone living too close to them. Thousands of people perished in Pompeii and the surrounding area when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. Fifty-seven people died when Mount St. Helens erupted May 18, 1980…. There were warning signs of a catastrophe in the making, just as there had been before Mt. Vesuvius erupted. The north side of St. Helens bulged some 300 feet and was growing five to six feet a day. Warnings to evacuate the area were given, but as is often the case, people do not heed such warnings: “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished” (Proverbs 27:12).
As we saw earlier, natural disasters cause both human and financial devastation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported in late 2019 that since 1980, the U.S. had suffered over $1.7 trillion in financial losses as a result of 254 major weather events that each cost the nation more than $1 billion. Last year was the fifth consecutive year in which the U.S. suffered ten or more separate billion-dollar disaster events (“Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Overview,” NCDC.NOAA.gov, October 8, 2019). Altogether, natural disasters conservatively cost the United States $91 billion in 2018, according to the NOAA, while several insurance companies such as Munich Re present even higher estimates.
And these figures are just for U.S. losses. One single event in 2011—the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that damaged Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant—has been tied to more than 20,000 deaths and $360 billion in economic damage. This compares to “just” $250 billion in damage and additional economic impact in the U.S. from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
We could go on listing these events and lamenting the suffering they cause, yet your Bible reveals that today’s worst disasters pale in comparison to what will happen before Christ returns at the end of this age. The book of Revelation explains: “And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth” (16:18).
Scripture reveals that terrible times are ahead, before Christ’s return. “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 24:7–8).
Of course, preparing for the occasional emergency or natural disaster is prudent. But while “doomsday preppers” stockpile vast amounts of food, water, and resources, the only preparation that will ultimately protect you from what is coming on the whole world is to stay close to your Savior and do what He tells you to do!
3. A United Europe Seeks Global Primacy
The European Union has experienced the challenge of “Brexit”—the controversy surrounding British voters’ choice to leave the European Union and the consequences of that vote. The EU is also struggling with problems caused by massive flows of refugees and other immigrants, some of whom bring to their new countries the very different values of the countries they left behind. Smaller and weaker EU nations chafe as Germany strives to exert a leadership role proportionate to its economic strength, while all are left unnerved by the uncertain nature of the United States’ commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Many perceive that only a strong and charismatic power can bring unity to the struggling EU. In fact, your Bible prophesies that such a leader is coming, symbolized as a beast with seven heads and ten horns. God reveals the meaning of this symbol: “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast” (Revelation 17:12–13).
Ten kings or kingdoms will support this charismatic leader, producing a powerful, unified force. Currently, the European Union is not so unified, but watch for international events that will spur a future combination of nations in Europe to fulfill a final revival of the historic Roman Empire, which will dominate the world politically and militarily. Notice the description of its power: “And all the world marveled and followed the beast… and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” (Revelation 13:3–4). The world power structure will change dramatically over the coming years. Watch developments in Europe as an ascendant European Union seeks and ultimately achieves global primacy.
4. A Powerful Leader Unites Billions in a Religious Revival
We’ve seen the prophecy that a great superpower will ascend on the world scene, but notice that there’s another world figure also described as a beast. This symbolic beast has two horns like a lamb.
Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived (Revelation 13:11–14).
Jesus Christ is called the Lamb of God. By contrast, this religious imposter will appear Christian while speaking like a dragon. You need to watch for an internationally respected religious figure who will influence a European political and military superpower. You must not let him deceive you, though his miracle-working deceptions will cause billions to follow him and his false religion. Notice: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). One of the false prophet’s lying wonders will be to call down fire from heaven, as we saw in Revelation 13:13.
The Apostle Paul emphasizes that this false prophet will be a servant of Satan, not of God, and will be judged at the coming of the King of kings, Jesus Christ: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). Watch religious trends in Europe, where a great religious revival will draw billions to a false and lawless religion.
5. The Abomination of Desolation
Jesus gave us a vital warning sign: “‘Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place’ (whoever reads, let him understand), ‘then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains’” (Matthew 24:15–16). If you’ve read the books of Daniel and Matthew in your Bible, you may have been puzzled by the mysterious “abomination of desolation.” What is it, and what does it mean in end-time prophecy?
Clearly, this is an important sign to understand. It signals when God’s people are to flee and escape the final three-and-a-half-year sequence of end-time prophetic devastations.
Historically, the Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes issued a decree in 167 BC that prohibited the Jews from making temple sacrifices. We read, “And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:31). Antiochus not only stopped the daily sacrifices, but also erected in the temple a statue of Jupiter Olympus and directed everyone to worship it.
This event, also described in Daniel 8, prefigured a prophesied end-time milestone. “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days” (Daniel 12:11).
Yes, 1,290 days before Jesus Christ’s Second Coming, animal sacrifices will again be stopped! Jesus warns Christians to be alert to an end-time abomination of desolation! Just as Antiochus Epiphanes profaned the Temple and cut off the sacrifices in 167 BC, so will a profane authority cut off Jewish sacrifices in the future! You need to watch for developments in Israel that will lead to the restoration of animal sacrifices by religious Jews, and for developments leading to an international treaty allowing these sacrifices.
6. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God Preached to All Nations
Jesus gave this sign signifying the end of man’s failed attempts to produce world peace: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). You’ve been reading that Gospel in this magazine, which proclaims tomorrow’s world and the Kingdom of God on Earth. Yes, the world-ruling Kingdom of God will bring peace and prosperity to all nations of the earth. It will be ruled by the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus came preaching that Gospel or good news: “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14–15).
The prophet Isaiah reveals an inspiring promise of the Messiah’s world-ruling kingdom of peace: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6–7).
Today’s world of conflicts, oppression, and wars will be replaced by the Kingdom of God—the government of God. “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever’” (Revelation 11:15).
7. Heavenly Signs and the Day of the Lord
Many who watch world news and study Bible prophecy know that a cosmic disturbance in the heavens will shock everyone on earth. Some Bibles include a header above Revelation 6:12, calling attention to this disturbance: “Sixth Seal: Cosmic Disturbances”—but what does that refer to? Does it mean the recent “blood moon” lunar eclipses that captured so much attention? We read the following:
I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (vv. 12–17).
So-called “blood moon” eclipses certainly remind us of this prophesied event, but the real thing will be far, far more impressive—even terrifying—and will not be explainable by the positions of the Earth, Sun, and Moon. These prophesied cosmic disturbances will herald the Day of the Lord, the “great day of His [Christ’s] wrath.” Through Scripture, God warns us in advance of future judgments. The Moon will be turned to the color of blood and the Sun will become dark. Thousands of meteors will light up the sky.
Yes, judgment is coming on all nations of planet Earth. How can you escape the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Our Savior admonishes us to “take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34–36).
Watch and Prepare for Christ’s Return!
Some preachers misleadingly teach that we cannot understand prophecy and that Jesus Christ may return at any moment. On the contrary, as we have seen from the Bible, and as you can know from other Tomorrow’s World publications, there is a specific prophetic framework in which you can have confidence. But what about you, personally? You may die at any time and wake up to the resurrection of the saints, or to a resurrection of judgment. You cannot afford to delay in responding to your Savior!
We look forward to the return of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to rule all nations and establish the Kingdom of God on Earth for a thousand years. What is your greatest goal? Your Bible gives us the most important and vital goal we could ever set: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Watch for these seven signs of Christ’s return, prepare, and pray, “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10).
For more on this subject, order our free booklet, “Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return.”