(Source: Institute Of Conflict Studies, University Of London)
3) The massive problems of famine and plague are well known to us all. A.I.D.S. is by far the largest world-wide epidemic that has been known. It threatens to dramatically reduce world population in the long term. Apart from Christ's words in Mt.24 and Lk.21, there are several other passages which associate earthquakes with the return of Christ: Is.2:19-22; Ez.38:20; Joel 3:16; Hagg.2:7; Zech.14:3,4. The relatively recent feature of earthquakes occurring in unexpected places with unprecedented loss of life as a result, may suggest that we are starting to see the fulfilment of the earthquake sign too. The following statistics concerning earthquakes, produced by the U.S. Government Department of the Interior, are also significant:
Year Number Of Earthquakes Recorded
4) The reducing emphasis on the importance of fundamentally following the Bible in order to obtain true doctrine has resulted in a massive apostasy from Bible truth. The philosophy of human unity at all costs which now pervades society has speeded up this process.
5) The mushrooming escapism seen in every modern society is proof enough of man's fear for the future. Scientists, economists and ecologists all agree that the world cannot continue as it now is. Exhaustion and corruption of natural resources, pollution of the air, sea and ozone layer, coupled with the threats of epidemics and nuclear destruction all point to the impending destruction of the present world. However, God has promised that this will never occur (see Digression 9) . To keep that promise, God must soon send Jesus to dramatically change this planet through the establishment of the Kingdom of God upon it.
Jesus rounded off his list of signs with the bold statement: "Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Lk.21:27). The next verse only affords encouragement to those who have been baptized and are living in good conscience before God: "When these things begin to come to pass (i.e. now!), then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Lk.21:28).
Jesus then added a postscript to these prophecies of his second coming, in the form of a parable about the fig tree: "Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the Kingdom of God (and therefore Christ's second coming) is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away till all be fulfilled" (Lk.21:29-32) . Through our observation of the budding plants, we have an intuitive sense in the spring that summer or a change of season is coming; and so when the "fig tree" starts to bud, we should have a similar awareness that our generation will see the second coming. The fig tree is a Biblical symbol for the nation of Israel (Joel 1:7; Hos.9:10; Jer.24:2 cp. Ez .36:8) . This special sign of Christ's return therefore refers to the revival ('budding forth') of Israel in some way. The dramatic events associated with the growth of Israel since her reestablishment as a nation in 1948 must surely be significant in this context. 362 APPENDIX 3
Many Bible prophecies describe a great invasion of Israel which will occur around the time of Christ's return. Psalm 83 describes the nations surrounding Israel becoming confederate against her, declaring "Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance...Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession" (Ps . 83:4,5,12) . Notice that this latter-day invasion of Israel is to come when Israel are a nation. Their present revival as a nation is therefore a necessary prelude to this great final invasion of the nation. Bible students had been predicting Israel's revival as a nation many years before it occurred (see, e.g., John Thomas, ' Elpis Israel', first published in 1848. A reprint of this work is available from the publishers). The attitude of Israel's invaders outlined in Psalm 83 is exactly matched by the attitude of Israel's Arab neighbours of today. They constantly declare their implacable hatred of Israel, demanding Jerusalem for themselves as a holy, Islamic city. The Psalm goes on to describe how their aggression will be ended by God's dramatic intervention, with the result that His Kingdom is established world-wide (Ps.83:13-18).
Many other prophecies describe this same sequence of events: Israel's invasion by her Arab, Northern and other enemies, resulting in God's intervention through Christ's return to establish the Kingdom (e.g. Ezekiel chapters 38-40; Dan.11:40-45). An in-depth study of prophecies like these forms an important part of our spiritual growth soon after baptism. Zech.14:2-4 is among the clearest of them: "I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken (cp. Lk.21:24), and the houses rifled, and the women ravished...then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle (i.e. He will miraculously intervene in world affairs as He has done previously). And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east".
This great invasion of Israel could occur at any moment now, given the increasing speed of warfare and political action. It is no good thinking that we will wait until the invasion to respond to the Gospel, bearing in mind Paul's words: "when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them ..." (1 Thess 5:1-3).. We will never be able
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