TEXT: 2 TIM. 3: 1
Signs are very important indicators of what is about happening or what may happen in the future. When the weather is dull in the rainy season, it is a sign that rain is falling somewhere or may fall in a future time. The doctors use signs/symptoms to know the nature of the sickness. God knowing the importance of signs has not left His children in the dark at any point in time. This is the reason Jesus Christ discussed some signs with His disciples when he prepared them for His departure (Matthew 24: 1-; Mark 13: 1- ). Jesus Christ warned His disciples to beware of the signs as they will be pointers to His second coming.
In today’s world, the news is filled with so many changes in the environmental conditions, economic conditions, health conditions, human relationship, international relationship, religious war and factions, political unrest, civil unrest, etc. All these changes are manifested in the forms of climatic disasters, economic recession, epidemic, gay marriage, sexual immoralities, moral decadent, worldly pleasures, wars, security threats, political assassinations, etc.
In all these events, many people have not pondered on why they are happening and perhaps think of what all these signs could be for and look at what the Bible has talked about them. Instead of looking at the Bible, philosophers have developed some thoughts to link the events and signs to science, technological advancement, economic mismanagement and whatever thoughts. They make mockery of the word of God that Christians have talked about these over millennia yet it has not come to fulfilment. With these misleading philosophical thoughts, some men have believed that Jesus Christ will not come back and that all the solutions to the earth’s problems are with men, so with more advancement in research, all will be solved. Going by this thoughts, little or no attention is paid to the Biblical account of the signs of the end-time, even when the signs are manifesting more by the day.
As the situation is degenerating, some people have taken advantage of the ignorance of others to hide under the guise of having solution to the situation to deceive them. We are warned in II Tim. 3: 1, that perilous time shall come which we need to watch out for and be careful.
Having looked at the events in the world today, the church considered it necessary to reawaken the consciousness of Christians so that we will not be deceived by the misleading thoughts of men.
There are three key words in this topic.
- Beware: This an act of warning someone that something or someone is dangerous and that someone should be careful of danger. For instance once you see ‘Beware of Dogs’, you will be conscious and at alert that there is danger around
- Signs: These are indications, events, symbols, actions, facts that show that something exists or may happen in the future. We are familiar with road signs
- End-time: This refers to the final part of a period or event. In football, we are familiar with injury time. In the Biblical context, it refers to the period when the world is close to an end and Jesus Christ is expected to return to the world.
AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of this lesson is to reawaken the consciousness of Christians to be aware that the second coming of Jesus Christ is real and with the manifestations of some signs, the time is near.
In order to achieve this aim, we set these objectives:
- to remind Christians of the signs of the end-time as recorded in the Bible
- to remind Christians of the consequences of not being watchful of the signs
- to remind Christians of the benefits of being watchful of the signs and staying awake till Jesus Christ comes
- to remind Christians on how to watch the signs and stay awake till Jesus Christ comes.
SIGNS OF THE END-TIME
The accounts of the signs of the end-time are recorded in Matt. 24: 1-; Mark 13: 1-; II Tim. 3: 1-. Jesus Christ in His discussion with the disciples mentioned many of the signs that will point to the end of time. We will take ten (10) of the signs and discuss in this lesion. These are:
- false teachings: Many false teachings have been generated and taught in the world. These are done by the ambassadors of Satan to deceive Christians in fulfilment of 24: 5, Mark 13: 6. We are warned in Matt. 7: 15 & 2 Pet. 2: 1, to beware of the false teachers. These false teachers come in different strategies of being charlatans, prophets, abusers, dividers, ticklers and heretic. All of them come in the name of Christ pretending to do the works of Christ but inwardly they know their intent of deceiving people to enrich themselves or out rightly mislead people
- wars and rumours of wars: War is a situation in which two or more countries or groups of people fight against each other over a period of time. In the world, we have heard of this frequently as different countries or groups are waring with each other. The commonest of recent is terrorism which Nigeria is also a victim over the past years. In the 20th century, history recorded the large scale wars which affected the whole world in the name of the First and Second World Wars which claimed about 15 million and 60 million human lives respectively. We do no pray for it again. We have heard of wars in different parts of the world at different times as detailed below:
- 1967 – Nigerian Civil War
- 1991 – Somalian war
- 1998 – major communal conflicts in Nigeria
- 2001 – Afghanistan war
- 2003 – Iraq war
- 2009 – Boko Haram in Nigeria
- 2011 – Syrian war
- 2013 – South Sudan violence
- 2014 – Ukraine unrest
- 2015 – Yemen unrest
- 2016 – India/ Pakistan
- 2018 – U.S.A and Russia daring each other
All these are signs written in Matt. 24: 6 -7; Mark 13: 7-8
- earthquakes in divers places: Earthquake is the shaking of the surface of the earth resulting from sudden release of energy in the earth. This may be caused by geological fault. This has occurred in many parts of the world over the years as detailed below:
- Turkey in 1999
- India in 2001 & 2004
- El-Salvador in Jan. & 2001
- Pakistan in 2005 & 2013
- Japan in 2011
- Mexico in 2014
- Philippines in 2013
- Ecuador in 2014
- Nepal in 2015
- Indonesia in 2004, 2005 & 2007
Matt. 24: 7 and Mark 13: 8 pointed this as a sign.
- Famine: This is a lack of food over a long period of time in a region. This may be caused by several factors including war, inflation, crop failure, population imbalance or government policies. There is famine in many countries like Yemen, Madagascar, Zambia, Serria Leone, Haiti, Sudan, and Afghanistan. In 2015-2017, Nigeria experienced economic recession and many people talked much about it as been caused by government policies. Matt. 24:8; Deut. 8:11-18. Wealth and food are from God.
- Pestilences/Diseases/Epidemic: This is a widespread occurrence of fatal epidemic disease in a community or country. There are many epidemic which are common in the world and some of such are cholera, polio, yellow fever, smallpox. As the years pass by the list of epidemic is increasing.
- in 1997 bird flu emerged
- in 2007 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)
- in 2009 Ebola.
In 2014-2015, a total of 119 countries were threatened by 272 epidemic events (WHO). Influenza, Zika virus, lasa fever, HIV have all threatened the world. Matt. 24:7; Mark 13:8.
- increase in sin and coldness of love: A sin in an immoral act considered to be transgression against divine law. In the world today, sexual immorality is almost seen as a norm to some persons. It is not almost seen as a sin again. Social media and advancement in technology have simplified the process. People learn indecent dressing and other immoral acts so easily. The children are exposed and they grow in it. Gay marriage is legalized. The value for human life is no longer important as murder is committed without a second thought. Corruption, embezzlement of public funds is celebrated. People no longer have love for a fellow human being let alone for God. Matt. 24:12.
- lovers of pleasure more than God – II Tim. 3:4
- disobedience to parents – II Tim. 3:2
- despisers of those that are good – II Tim. 3:3
- boasters – II Tim. 3:2.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT BEING WATCHFUL OF THE SIGNS
Once people are not watchful of the signs which Jesus Christ took His time to discuss with the disciples, these consequences may follow:
- people will be in bondage. Not being watchful will give opportunity to false teachings and this will instill fear into people and make the subscribers to such ideas very timid. They will read meaning to everything. By this, they will be in great bondage. 2:4 – But it was because of false brethren who had sneaked into spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus in order to bring us into bondage
- people will be led astray. If we are not watchful of the signs people will be led astray into false teachings and false teachings do not allow people to see the truth and because of this, they go astray. 23:32
- people will be easily deceived and defrauded. The words of false teachers are seemingly sweet to the ears and by this, people fall prey to their deceits. 24:11
- it will prevent the gospel from spreading. People’s interest in God’s word will wax cold as they will get carried away by the pleasures of the world. False teachings will twist and change the gospel from its original content to suit the evil motive. 1:6-9
- it will destroy faith and lead to destruction- 2 Pet. 3:15-16 .If we are not watchful of the signs, our thoughts may be set on fear and negative things. As a result of it, our internal perception of things may always be on the negative. Once there is any external situation, we express negative emotions which are sadness, hatred, anger, vain words, etc
Emotion = internal perception + external situation. Internal negative perceptions (thoughts) leads to destruction
- it will cause indiscipline and disunity in the church
- it will lead to lack of love among Christians
- it will bring discrimination and creation of social class among members in the church
- it bring about distrust among members
- it will bring about eternal death.
HOW TO BE WATCHFUL OF THE SIGNS AND STAY AWAKE UNTIL JESUS CHRIST COMES
For us to be able to watch and stay awake, we must first accept that the signs are manifesting. By doing this, we will be at alert and be able to stay awake till Christ comes.
These are the suggestions.
- we need to diligently search the scripture. I Tim. 2:15; Acts 17:10-12; I John 4:1
- we must contend earnestly for the faith. Jude 1:3
- we must be patient and gentle. II Tim. 2:24-26
- we must be ready to teach and correct at all times. Acts 20:28-32
- we must continuously teach and warn people of the dangers of not being watchful. 1 Thess. 5 : 14
- we must be steadfast in the service of God.
- we must be prayerful at all time. I Pet. 4:7.
THE BENEFITS OF BEING WATCHFUL OF THE SIGNS OF THE END-TIME
There is always benefit for every person who is diligent in any assigned task. If we are watchful till Jesus Christ comes, these shall be our benefits:
- we shall have peace
- we shall have divine protection from God
- we will not be deceived by the false teachers
- we shall receive God’s blessings abundantly
- we shall spend eternity with God in Heaven.
We must not be the Thomas by doubting if the signs of the end-time are manifesting. We must not wait to see the second coming of Christ before we believe that it is real as time may not permit. We must not wait for Christ to take us like a thief in the night. We must watch and pray. I Pet. 4:7-11; I Thess. 5:4 and be ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ so that we can spend eternity with Him.
UYO TOWN CHURCH OF CHRIST, 20 PAUL BASSEY STREET, UYO
INDOOR LECTURE FOR JUNE 2019 PRESENTED BY BRO. KUFRE AKPAN