Is coronavirus a fulfillment of prophecy? Are recent earthquakes a sign of the end? Is (this or that public figure) the Antichrist? People often ask these questions, and especially in times of stress, such as we are experiencing at the moment. Those are reasonable questions to ask. But rather than simply giving you my answers for those questions, I propose to give you the tools to find the answers for yourself.

  • The Synoptic Apocalypse
  • The Things Which “Must Happen”
  • A Distinctive Sign of The End
  • Where to Keep Our Focus

There is a long answer and a short answer to this question. The long answer would take four or more of these blogs, at a minimum. But I suspect no one wants to wait that long. So we’ll go with the short answer.

The Synoptic Apocalypse

Each of the first three Gospels has a short section that discusses what will happen at the end of all things. They are all very similar, and collectively are called “the Synoptic Apocalypse.”For simplicity’s sake, we will examine Matthew’s apocalypse, found in chapter 24.

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus warns them of the coming destruction of the Temple. The disciples can only imagine the temple being destroyed must be the end of the world itself. And that’s the question they ask: When will this (the destruction of the temple) happen and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?

God meets people where they are, so rather than correct them he then describes the indicators leading up to both events, even though, as we now know, they were separated by nearly 2000 years at least. Along with “wars, and rumors of wars,” he mentions “famines and earthquakes in various places.” These verses, plus a few others, have led people to look at each natural disaster as a possible “sign of the end.”

But note what Jesus says here: “such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” Also, “All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

The Things Which “Must Happen”

All the things Jesus has described up to this point in chapter 24, are things that have been happening since his day. Wars and rumors of war are essentially constant in this earth. Periods of peace are short-lived and few in number. History tells us that storms, plagues, earthquakes, and other natural disasters occur with frightening frequency. When the forces of nature overwhelm us, when riots and war ravage us, when plague and famine strike, it may well seem that the world is coming to an end. And our world, our lives may indeed come to an end. But that is been going on at least since Noah’s Flood.

Such things, Jesus said, must happen. But they are not The End.

Now, there will be natural disasters, human conflict, and terrible plagues as a part of The End. But they will come after other, distinctive signs of the end.

A Distinctive Sign of The End

In Matthew, Jesus describes one of the signs like this: “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” And then the end will come! And with it the last plagues, including natural disasters of all types, but with an intensity never seen before.

So there are two problems with looking at plagues and natural disasters as signs of the end. First, a matter of perspective. Nature is huge and we are small, and even small natural disasters are, small in proportion to the size of the earth, can be overwhelming to us. And only experiencing one or few of these, we have no way of comparing them with others distant from us in time or space.

Where to Keep Our Focus

But the second reason is even more important. Satan wants to distract us, to frighten us. He is happy when we focus on the negative events, for they are, in one form or another, of his doing. But Satan does not bring the end. He is not in control, God is. So, we want to keep our eyes on what God is doing. That’s why Jesus directed our attention to the gospel being preached in all the world. God is in charge, keep your eyes fixed on Him, and you have nothing to fear, either from nature or from The End..