“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1)
In the wake of last week’s devastating Oklahoma tornado, our thoughts and prayers are with the residents of Moore, Oklahoma, many of whom have lost everything.
A massive EF4 twister cut a 20-mile path of destruction across this US town of 55,000, packing wind speeds of up to 200 miles per hour (320 kph).
As children hid in closets and clung to walls, two schools were leveled. Many houses were also totally demolished. At least 24 people died and many more were injured.
Oklahoma was not the only state to be hit in an outbreak of tornados. Between May 15–21, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Kansas were struck as well.
The tornado season in that part of the United States actually began late this year due to cooler than usual weather.
In fact, in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, several all-time-low temperature records have been set this year.
Several of them occurred in January, including the following:
- On January 10, 2013, Bangladesh faced the lowest temperature since its independence in 1971.
- The month of January in Salt Lake City, Utah was the coldest experienced since 1949.
- This January was also the coldest in 28 years in China.
- India also experienced a January cold wave causing 233 weather-related deaths.
- A foot of snow (30 centimeters) fell in Safed, in northern Israel. Snow also fell in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, wreaking havoc with transportation. Israel was not alone in experiencing snow and/or heavy precipitation, and an estimated 17 people died in the Middle East due to extreme weather.
In March, severe cold fronts in the United Kingdom resulted in the death of sheep and newborn lambs, and delayed spring germination of plants.
France, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Finland, among other countries, also experienced extreme weather events in March.
Earthquakes and Other End-Time Signs
“There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:11)
Extreme weather is one sign of the last days, but there are many others, including earthquakes.
Iran is one country that seems to be experiencing more than its share of earthquakes.
Last week, in southern Iran, for instance, a moderate 5.1 earthquake struck. A week before that, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit in the southern Hormuzgan Province, killing at least one person and injuring many others.
Twenty-one earthquakes of 5.0 and higher magnitude struck Iran in April and May.
A 7.8 earthquake hit on April 16 in Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Iran, close to the border with Pakistan. On April 9, a 6.3 earthquake struck about 100 miles south of the Bushehr nuclear reactor, causing some concern about the stability of Iran’s nuclear reactors. (emsc-csem)
Two particularly devastating 6.3/6.4 magnitude earthquakes hit Iran on August 11, 2012 near the city of Tabriz in Iran’s northeast. More than 350 died and 16,000 were left homeless.
Because several major fault lines cross Iran, it is one of the most seismically active countries in the world; however, this country devotes only two percent of its expenditure to its own disaster relief—not enough to care for the injuries or damage done to homes and infrastructure that are not designed to be earthquake resistant. (CSMonitor)
From January to May of this year, eight other earthquakes over 7.0 magnitude occurred in Alaska, Russia, the Santa Cruz Islands (four earthquakes), the Kuril Islands and Indonesia.
Also, only a month ago in China, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake killed 193 people.
Of course, earthquakes are being experienced elsewhere in the world, as well. In fact, just over a week ago, a 5.2 earthquake rattled the ground beneath the Parliament buildings in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. The earthquake was felt as far away as Toronto.
End-Time Technology: Chemtrails
Another end-time sign involves knowledge and technology.
The prophet Daniel foresaw that in the last days, mankind would make great advances in technology that would enable increased communication and travel.
“But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” (Daniel 12:4)
Some 2,500 years later, mankind created submarines, trains, automobiles and planes.
One by-product of airplanes are the cloud-like vapor trails they leave behind known as condensation trails (contrails). They have recently caused much concern among conspiracy theorists who believe that some contrails are not what they seem to be.
They posit that various governments are actually spraying chemical or biological agents at high altitudes in clandestine programs.
These contrails are, therefore, called chemtrails. They are thought to be the result of attempts at weather modification or the dumping of aluminium oxide nanoparticles to help block the sun’s rays in order to cool the planet. (realnewsaustralia)
“People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world.” (Luke 21:26)
End-Time Rebellion Against God
“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
As far-fetched as chemtrails may sound to some, end-time Bible prophecy is being fulfilled daily.
With each passing day, it seems that it is being fulfilled at an ever-faster rate and end-time signs seem to reveal that the earth has reached the last days.
One end-time sign that sets the stage for the anti-Messiah is rebellion against God, which today is all around us.
Even many so-called Christians today believe that the earth “evolved” from nothing. Therefore, they are discarding God’s eternal law and His standards of love and holiness.
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)
The Word also says people in the end times will despise what is good (2 Timothy 3:3). Marriage, which God created to be good, is one area in which profound change is being experienced.
A downward trend away from marriage in the US from 2008 to 2011 means that in 2011 barely half of adults (51%) were married. Instead of marriage, couples are increasingly choosing to co-habitate or are trying other adult-living arrangements. (Pew Research)
Choosing to live with a partner instead of marrying them is often the result of fear that love will not last and a divorce will result. Sometimes it is a political statement against the institution of marriage, among other reasons or excuses.
“They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:3)
Despite this downward trend in marriage, there is a global debate on gay rights and same-sex marriage.
The Bible hints that at the end of the age, homosexuality will become increasingly evident (2 Timothy 3:3; Luke 17:26); indeed, “Gay Rights” has become a worldwide trend.
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” (Luke 17:26)
You may wonder what the days of Noah have to do with same-sex marriage.
According to the Midrash Rabbah (Jewish commentary on Scripture), same-sex marriage was a characteristic of the immoral society of Noah’s generation:
“Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rabbi Joseph, ‘The generation of the Flood was not wiped out until they wrote marriage documents for the union of a man to a male or to an animal.’” (Genesis Rabbah 26:5; Leviticus Rabbah 23:9)
The rise of homosexuality is one symptom of a society that has departed from the teaching of God’s Word, which clearly denounces homosexuality.
“Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” (Leviticus 18:22)
That said, while being honest about what the Bible says regarding the end-times, we also want to be empowered by God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to show love and compassion, combined with the fear of God.
In Two of Me: The Struggle with Sin, American evangelist David Wilkerson wrote:
The homosexual dilemma is one of the most complex of all inner struggles between the dual natures, even though most gays do not think of their sexual preference as a life-controlling problem. To them, homosexuality is normal and they resent any suggestion that they are agonizing over their lifestyle….
Nevertheless, the homosexual community cannot explain why a growing number of gays are now admitting to mind blowing struggles with their gayness. The heavy drinking, the high rate of suicide, the constant psychoanalysis are clues that suggest the struggle between the two natures is still raging in the hearts and minds of gays.
While this dilemma has been true for thousands of years, the Bible tells us what our responsibility is toward those caught in the fire of the enemy:
In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear. (Jude 1:18–23)
End-Time Signs: Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption
We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine. (1 Timothy 1:9–10)
There seems to be a worldwide rush to legally legitimize same-sex unions.
Apparently many are no longer concerned by what the Bible says, or at least not the majority of those who serve in the parliaments of what are considered to be democratic nations.
This year Uruguay, Brazil and France legalized gay marriage, with Columbia and New Zealand set to follow in July and August.
The recent approval by the French parliament of same-sex marriages has not only made the marriage of same-sex couples legal and legitimate for an entire nation, it has given them the right to adopt.
French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira expressed her approval, telling parliament, “Many French people will be proud this job is done. Those protesting today will find themselves moved by the joy of the newly-weds.” (HaAretz)
Such social changes do not come easily, however, and the move to legalize same-sex marriage has not been without opposition.
France and the South American countries where same-sex marriage is now legal are predominantly Catholic. And the Church, along with other conservative and religious groups, is steadfast in its stand against such unions.
Just last January in France, hundreds of thousands took to the streets of Paris to protest the same-sex marriage bill.
As Paris-based CNN reporter Oluwasegun Olowu-Davies, who videoed portions of the protest explained, “I do not personally agree with gay marriage, as I am a Christian and believe what the Bible says about marriage being between one woman and one man for a lifetime.” (CNN)
Of the 14 countries where same-sex marriage is legal, nine are in Europe.
Holland was the first, in 2001, followed by Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Portugal and Denmark and now France.
In 2005, Canada was the first country outside of Europe to recognize same-sex marriage.
Although same-sex marriage is not recognized federally in the United States, it has been legalized inside the Washington D.C. district and 12 states, including New York, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
There has been a steady rise in the acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships in the US (and elsewhere in the world).
Whereas, only 40 percent of Americans thought that same-sex relationship were “morally acceptable” in 2001, a 2011 Gallup poll survey indicates that the majority (54 percent) now believe they are morally acceptable. (Religion Today)
The United Kingdom itself may soon pass legislation in favor. A second reading of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales passed the House of Commons in February.
Scotland is also working on a bill while Northern Ireland rejected such a measure last October.
Although the UK bill still has to pass through more debate and votes, the wide margin of the earlier vote (400 for with 175 against) indicates that it has the necessary support to receive passage.
Also, British Prime Minister David Cameron favors its passage despite opposition from within his own party.
“I am a great supporter of marriage. I want to promote marriage, defend marriage, encourage marriage,” Cameron told the House of Commons. (CNN)
One might wonder what God thinks of same-sex marriage legislation.
“Men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:27)
Same-Sex Marriage in Judaism
Although the Orthodox Jewish community is known for its stand against homosexuality, the same cannot be said of the remainder of such groups as Reconstructionist or Reform Judaism.
Conservative groups have more recently (since 2006) taken “a pluralistic view” toward same-sex unions with some following the Orthodox position and others a more liberal approach.
This more liberal endorsement can be seen in the position taken by the Community Relations Council of Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island in support of a bill to allow gay marriage in the state.
Marty Cooper, the director of the Alliance, said that the group bases its support for same-sex marriage on the Biblical idea that all humans were created in the image of God and are worthy of respect. (YNet)
This justification is rather twisted since the Bible condemns such relations. (Leviticus 20:13)
Since the US Jewish community is second in size only to that of Israel, the positions taken by members of that community are far-reaching.
Interestingly enough, this group that represents the lay Jewish community of Rhode Island joins with the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island, the Episcopal bishop and the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, which have already voiced their support for the bill.
Same-Sex Marriage in Israel
The position of Orthodox Judaism, and its political strength in Israel’s government, has up until now, acted to bar similar legislation from being passed in Israel.
In Israel, matrimonial law is still based on the Millet or confessional community system employed in the Ottoman Empire (1299–1922), in which marriages are determined and approved by the authorities of one’s religious affiliation.
In the Jewish population, only those performed by recognized rabbis are recorded.
Many Israelis have civil marriages performed abroad and then register them with the Interior Ministry, same-sex couples included. (HaAretz)
Israel is the only country in the Middle East to recognize such unions, but only when performed outside of Israel.
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), the chairman of the Knesset (parliament) lobby promoting civil equality and pluralism, has three times presented bills to allow same-sex civil marriage but each has been blocked.
The result of all this places Israel far behind the rest of the Western world when it comes to same-sex unions, says Horowitz.
“Israel must choose which group it’s in: that of Iran, Saudi Arabia and China or the group with France, Spain and New York. Are we in the camp of darkness or the progressive camp?” he said. (HaAretz)
However, when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights, Israel is considered to be the most progressive nation in the Middle East and Asia, with over two-thirds of Israelis favoring same-sex marriage.
It is one of only five countries in the Mid-East (including Turkey, Cyprus, Iraq and Jordan) where homosexuality is not illegal and so those who practice it are not persecuted under the law.
In fact, Tel Aviv has been named as “the gay capital of the Middle East” by Out Magazine, a popular gay publication.
End-Time Persecution of Believers
“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)
Another end-time sign currently being fulfilled, but rarely reported in the press, is the persecution of Believers.
CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck calls such persecution “the biggest untold story in the world today.” (Stakelbeck on Terror)
“It’s estimated that every five minutes, somewhere in the world, a Christian is killed for his faith,” he said.
Indeed, the US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2012 states that persecution against Christians and Jews is on the rise today, especially in Muslim countries.