My heart breaks for the folks in Japan suffering the effects of a massive, devastating earthquake and tsunami. The pictures and video footage coming out of Japan are unbelievable. Truly. I'm rendered completely speechless by the devastation. How do you recover from something like that? How do you face tomorrow and the next day and the next?
Some folks wonder, "Is this a sign of the end times?"
The truth is no one knows for certain. There have always been earthquakes. A year or so ago I was poking around a web site that keeps track of earthquakes around the world and was amazed by how many the earth experiences each year. Thousands! Most are deep enough beneath the earth's surface that they are not felt. But plenty are felt and plenty cause significant damage, like the ones we've seen recently in New Zealand, Haiti and Chile. Japan is now the latest victim.
But do earthquakes like the one today mean we're in the end times?
You've got to go to the scriptures for the answer.
In Luke 21:5-11 Jesus talked about the signs we need to look for. And YES, we ARE supposed to LOOK for them! God would not have put them in His word, nor Jesus have talked about them if we were not supposed to be on alert.
Verse 10 reads, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven."
I think the fact that Jesus said "great" earthquakes is significant. All of the biblical translations seen here use the word "great." That tells me that Jesus was not referring to the normal shifting of the earth's layers, but was talking about serious, massive earthquakes.
Like the one in Japan (today). Like the one in New Zealand (2/22/11). Like the one in Chile (2/27/10). Like the one in Haiti (1/12/10). All of which have happened in the past 15 months. All in different parts of the world. All in various places.
But an earthquake was not the only sign Jesus said to look for. In fact, if you study biblical end-times prophecy you know there are quite a few signs and checklists, if you will, that have to be fulfilled. Some of them are:
An increase in earthquakes.
An increase in unpredictable weather patterns.
Wars and rumors of wars.
Territorial boundary disputes in the Middle East.
The formation of the nation of Israel (which happened in 1948).
The gospel of Jesus Christ will be preached around the world (and thanks to TV and the Internet that has happened).
An increase of knowledge.
Move toward a one-world government and economy.
People claiming to be the Messiah.
An increase of the wickedness of the human race.
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure ALL of those signs are happening right now! You just have to turn on your TV to CNN to hear, in one way or another, all of the above.
One of the biggest signs to look for is the Jews rebuilding of the temple. Now, if you know anything about Jerusalem, you know the Dome of the Rock--the Muslim holy place--sits on Temple Mount. Temple Mount, or Mount Moriah, is where King David called out to the Lord in repentance for disobeying God and God spared him. David then offered sacrifices on the mount and declared in 1 Chronicles 22:1: "The house of the Lord God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel." Until AD 70, Mount Moriah was the place where Jews brought their sacrifices to the Lord (to Solomon's temple, then to the rebuilt temple). And that's where they will bring their sacrifices again one day. To a brand new temple.
What will happen to the Dome of the Rock?
Your guess is as good as mine--earthquake, bomb, terrorism--but what I do know is that it cannot and will not remain there. Several prophetic scripture in Daniel, Matthew and 2 Thessalonians tell us Jewish sacrifices will be made during the end times and that can only take place in the temple.
So, are we seeing signs of the end of the age?
I truly hope so! I'm ready to shake off the dust from this ol' world and go Home!!