For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
— Matthew 24:7,8
For me, there is no doubt that we are living at the end of the Church Age. It is a fact that many world-shaking events will occur before the coming of the Lord, and we’ve already witnessed many of them. In recent years, the world has experienced many upheavals and disasters that have left many believers reeling and wondering if the coming of Christ is imminent. Fortunately, the Bible provides clear guidance on this topic in numerous passages throughout the Old and New Testament.
In fact, Jesus Himself prophesied about state of the world in the last days. In Matthew 24:7 and 8, He said, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
Notice the phrase “beginning of sorrows” in this verse. This word “sorrows” is the Greek word oodin, and it specifically describes the labor pains a pregnant woman experiences before she gives birth. However, Jesus called this period in time the “beginning of sorrows” — not the end of sorrows. The Greek word for “beginning” is arche, which in this particular case simply means a starting point. By using this word, Jesus was teaching that the events described in verse 7 would mark the beginning of an undefined period of time that would transpire before the coming of Christ. He does not give us a specific timeframe, but He does reveal signs and indicators that will let us know when we have entered into this turbulent period. It is important to understand that just because some of these events are occurring today, it doesn’t mean we have reached the end — it simply means the process has begun.
As we approach the end of the Church Age, Jesus said the world will begin to feel stress and pressure like a woman preparing to give birth to a baby. Let’s think for a moment about the process of giving birth. A woman’s pains start slowly then gradually grow stronger and stronger. Finally, her whole body is pushing downward to deliver that child. At the last moment, the pains come quickly, and they are intense. This is the indicator that she is right at the moment of delivery.
Likewise, as the world comes closer and closer to the end of the age, the pains in the world will become greater. These pains will become more intense and more frequent. As these grow in intensity and frequency, they are a signal that we are approaching the time when Jesus will return for the Church.
The Bible outlines many events that will occur in the last days (see Matthew 24, Luke 21, and 2 Timothy 3), but does Scripture give us a primary sign that will mark the uttermost conclusion of the age and imminent return of Jesus? And if so, what is it?
The only sure sign of Jesus’ imminent return is found in Matthew 24:14, where He proclaimed, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
The very last sign Jesus gave concerning right before His imminent return was the preaching of the Gospel all over the world. That’s how we can get a good idea of how close we are to the return of Jesus: the extent to which the Gospel is being preached all over the world! Jesus clearly said that when the Gospel is preached unto all the nations, “then shall the end come.” If we want to know how close we are to the coming of Jesus, we must look to the nations. How well we are penetrating and reaching them with the Gospel tells us how close we are to the end! When the whole world has had a witness of the Gospel, then the end shall come according to the Lord Jesus Christ.
We must be very careful as we approach the future. Jesus admonished us in Matthew 24:6, “See that ye are not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” We must not let the noises surrounding us throw us into a state of turmoil or panic. We are people of faith, and we know the end of the story before it even begins! We must keep our eyes on the Lord and our minds on the Word because we have a faith that overcomes the world (see 1 John 5:4)!
Jesus said the last, greatest sign of His return is when all the nations of the earth have had a witness of the Gospel. So don’t let negative news reports make you think it’s all over, because it’s not over until that last nation has had an opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!
Since this is true, it makes sense, then, that the devil would be actively trying to make believers fearful about the future so they will stop sowing seed. It’s to his advantage if he can get believers to succumb to a fear-riddled mindset of self-preservation and abort their harvests of financial well-being. Not only would that hinder the fulfilling of their own God-given callings and destinies, but it would also hinder the spread of the Gospel and thus delay the coming of Jesus.
Of course the devil doesn’t want the nations to hear the Good News! Do you realize how close we are to the whole world having heard the Gospel? He wants to stop it and sidetrack us so we’ll stop what we’re doing!
By luring us to stop sowing seed, the devil also ensures that we jeopardize any future financial harvest in our own lives. Therefore, when times get hard and supernatural provision is needed, it won’t be there because there is no seed in the ground to bless and multiply!
Don’t let the devil do this to you!
Sowing seed will keep you financially blessed through any storm that lies ahead. If you allow fear to dictate your giving and forget the masses of desperate, unsaved people for whom Jesus died, you will only end up hurting yourself. Your financial gifts have the power to save nations!
Neither the wind nor the clouds of this dark spiritual climate are to determine our obedience to God! As Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “He that observeth the wind shall not sow: and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.”
We cannot let the political or financial climate of the world dictate whether or not we keep sowing seed to allow the Word of God to reach the lost nations of the world. There has never been a greater opportunity for spreading the Gospel across the world than right now. All over the planet, people are crying for someone to bring them the truth of Jesus Christ. The whole world knows something is happening; they just don’t know what it is! They don’t understand that the earth is crying out for Jesus to return. So we must go tell them!
The problems of the world are real, and we would be foolish not to prepare. But we are also foolish if we trust in riches and move into a self-protective mode. We must keep our hearts and priorities right, regardless of what we hear around us. We must not let the devil push us back into retreat. And we must keep pushing forward — aggressively reaching toward the goal of preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth. When that goal is achieved, Jesus will come!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for the privilege of contributing toward the spread of the Gospel across the earth. I ask You to help me always put first things first. Help me focus on Heaven’s priorities — souls — so that I will not become distracted by the cares of this life or the pressures and anxieties of this age. Teach me how to prepare for the difficult times to come without slipping into self-preservation. I submit myself to You, Father, and I resist the spirit of fear. As I receive Your wisdom and grace, I follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance to do my part in building the Kingdom of God and hastening Christ’s return.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I consistently sow financial seed into the work of preaching Jesus Christ among the nations. I strengthen the work of missionary outreaches throughout the earth through my participation in prayer and offerings. As I do my part to spread the Gospel, I am helping to hasten His return. I remain focused without distraction — and bold without fear — to occupy until He comes.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you believe the coming of Jesus for His Church is near? What makes you believe this? What are the signs that really speak to your heart, that make you believe Jesus is coming soon?
- Do you regularly give to missions or to missionary organizations that are spreading the good news of the Gospel to the ends of the earth? Do you believe that you have a financial responsibility to give to missions?
- How do you perceive that your giving affects people in other parts of the world?