According to a recent survey performed in the US, the number of Americans who identify with “no religion” is now for the first time just as large as Catholics and evangelicals. The findings reflect an anti-religious undertone and trend among Americans driven mainly by millennials.
Since 1991, the number of Americans who claim no religion has risen by 266%. In just six years, this group will comprise the largest in the country. What is also interesting is that this portion of “non-religious” Americans are not in unison with their beliefs, but split along a spectrum of notions ranging from atheism to the new age. The common denominator being a complete denunciation of anything Christian, Holy Bible or Catholic in orientation. So essentially, in just six year’s time the United States could quite possibly no longer be a majority Christian nation.
For this group of people and those like-minded across the world, the concept of the ‘end time’ most likely doesn’t even exist in their vocabulary. But for many, many of those faithful in their Christian beliefs, values and practices, it is something profoundly major lying in wait, right around the corner, about to rock the foundations of civilization as we know it and plunge the entire world into an age of darkness, destruction and incomprehensible suffering.
What is the end time?
The end time (also referred to as the end times, end of time, end of days, last days, final days, doomsday, or eschaton) is a future time-period described varyingly in the eschatology of several world religions (both Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic), that depicts a time when world events will reach a final climax. As expected, the non-Abrahamic faiths like Hinduism and Buddhism possess cyclical versions of this end time concept characterized by times of decay, redemption and rebirth. Rooted in the concepts of reincarnation and karma/dharma, there will always be another life to live and learn until we all finally reunite with the ineffable creator and become as one. For the purpose of this article, however, our focus will remain on the Christian understanding of the end time, which is wholly definitive in its portrayal of how the complete and utter end of the world as we know it shall be.
According to the Bible, the end time, or times, encompasses a very specific period of time, characterized by signs prophesied in the Book of Matthew, that lead to a series of events that will ultimately usher in the second coming of Christ. These events include the rise of the antichrist, the rapture, the seven year tribulation and the battle of armageddon.
Jesus also maintained two very significant details regarding the timeline of events. Firstly that no one will be able to predict or prophesy the exact date of the end of the world, i.e. His return to the earth, and secondly that it will come totally unexpectedly, “as a thief in the night.”
As mentioned and continuing with the Book of Matthew, the disciples of Jesus were instructed that the populace would know the end was near, i.e. they were living in the end times, based on the signs of the times. These signs would involve the following:
- wars and rumors of wars
- nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom
- famines and earthquakes
- false prophets coming in Jesus' name
- many people being deceived by false prophets
- false prophets performing signs and wonders
- persecution of true believers
- people's love of God decreasing
- the gospel preached in the whole world
- the "abomination of desolation" (a world leader who makes himself out to be God)
- great tribulation
- alterations in the sun, moon, stars
Jesus also stated that in the last days, “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." (2 Timothy 3:1-4)
A time essentially where evil reigns as a dominating force in both society at large and within the people themselves.
Beyond the Book of Matthew, end of days prophecies exist elsewhere in other books from both the Old and New Testaments like Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Ezekiel’s vision of the Dead Sea coming to life, the warning in 1 Thessalonians 4, stating that when the world announces “peace and safety” sudden destruction will come, the apostasy, or falling away of the church, and quite comprehensively the entire Book of Revelation.
This final book foretells earthquakes, pestilence, wars, unimaginable destruction, a blackened sun, 3 days of darkness, a blood red moon, the sky receding like a scroll, fire raining down from the sky, stars falling from heaven, the gates of hell swinging wide open, torture by locusts, the mark of the beast, the fall of Babylon in one hour, the battle of all battles, the binding of Satan for a thousand years, a thousand year reign of Christ on earth, a second death and the formation of a new heaven and new earth…
Now, obviously to the unbeliever this is all nonsense, a complete waste of time and work of fiction. But the fact of the matter is that the Bible is the most read book of all time. The Bible has outsold any other book by far, an astounding 3.9 billion copies in the last 50 years. And undeniably, while it’s contents may seem antiquated and even irrelevant or offensive to the non-believer, to the faithful in Christ it is the pronounced and inerrant Word of God.
So…are we in the end times?
Wars and rumors of wars? Check. War is defined as an active conflict that has claimed more than 1,000 lives. Over the past 3,400 years, humans have only been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history. Current armed conflicts are marked on the map in the image below. Click on the image for additional detail of current and brewing conflicts directly from the Council on Foreign Relations.
Nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom? When is that ever not happening? From world wars to cold wars to regime changes and occupations, war, and the profit from war, continues as business as usual. Whether a confrontation between the US and N. Korea or Russia or China is in the tea leaves, most people nowadays just tolerate a general undertone of unease as the whole world braces for the next shoe to drop.
Famines and earthquakes? Yes, absolutely. The gap between the ultra rich and the unfathomably poor is widening by the day. Meanwhile famine has remained a constant issue in some parts of the world indefinitely. In terms of earthquakes, just recently, as in literally two days ago, the media released the findings of Caltech seismologists announcing that in the last ten years alone, California has experienced an astonishing number of undetected earthquakes in the negative magnitude 2.0 (-2.0) and 1.7 range. Detecting up to nearly 2 million of these micro quakes, they have estimated that California is actually experiencing about 495 earthquakes each day. Of course, we've been told "there's nothing to worry about"..."all good here..." but could this be leading up to the 'big one' everyone always talks about? Uh...most likely.
False prophets coming in the name of Jesus? In our estimation, this can be interpreted to mean a couple different manifestations. Of course you have the literal understanding of the statement as in cult leaders and the like that have come onto the scene claiming messiah-hood only to demand sexual favors and ultimately mass suicide. This was huge for a few decades in the recent past.
David Shayler, the former British MI5 agent and current conspiracy theorist, made headlines as well when he came out to the press claiming divinity and that he was in fact the son of God. He is now living as a woman in Abinger Hammer, Surrey, and had reportedly suffered a breakdown from his unfortunate dealings with intelligence agencies. David Icke himself, as a younger man, on the heels of his professional soccer career and the head of his burgeoning media career at the time, was ridiculed relentlessly for also claiming he was the son of God on a British talk show. Why he did that is an absolute mystery.
On the other side of the coin, we feel this idea of others coming in His name can also refer to teachers of false doctrine that attempt to explain creation and salvation in a construct void of Jesus. While this has been going on for ages, more recently the new age movement has given rise to "professional" channelers claiming to be channeling spirit guides or ascended masters from other dimensions or star systems. People like Darryl Anka who channels Bashar. Bashar relays messages to paying attendees about the "true" nature of life being oriented around going after what "excites" you and how the earth will eventually unite with some galactic federation once the overall vibration is up. So surely we can cross this one off the list. One hundred percent.
The persecution of true believers? Absolutely. Current trends show that countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East have greatly increased the persecution against Christians. Perhaps the most vulnerable in these scenarios are Christian women, who often face double persecution for faith and gender. There are new reports daily of Christians who face threats, unjust imprisonment, harassment, beatings and even loss of family because of their faith in Jesus.
Human rights organizations have found that every month, on average, 345 Christians are killed for faith-related reason, 105 Churches and Christian buildings are burned or attacked and 219 Christians are detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned. The reality is that in oppressive, typically Muslim dominated regions, Christian persecution is incredibly severe and a constant threat and state of affairs. More detail can be found: here.
The people's love of God decreasing? As discussed, millennials seem to be turning away in majority numbers. Organizations that have explored this situation in more detail have found that the default dominant religion among contemporary U.S. teenagers is what they call ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’. "This is an all loving God who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth. This version of God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and has decreed the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. This God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem, and good people go to heaven when they die."
A recent Pew Research Center study has determined people are in fact fleeing Christianity "in droves." They have stated that 106 million Christians are expected to switch affiliations by the year 2050, while only 40 million are expected to enter this religion. They added that the unaffiliated, i.e. atheists and agnostics, will likely see the largest gains totalling around 60 million over the next few decades. So yes, it does seem clear that the numbers of those identifying with Christian, bible-centric values are coasting along a downward trajectory.
Has the gospel been preached in the whole world? Astute scholars, historians, researchers and the like would most likely have to conclude that at this point, yes, the gospel has in fact entered all nations. By means of radio, television, satellites, the Internet, wireless devices... Not to mention the countless numbers of missionaries and Bible tracts that have been disbursed worldwide, it is almost a certainty that this prophecy has come to pass. These same folks would also differentiate between all nations and all people, clarifying that it would be physically and logistically impossible to reach every soul that has ever existed on earth.
Continuing down the list we find scenarios that are TBD. The abomination of desolation, the tribulation and the grand celestial deviations are still likely to come. And some would say sooner than later.
In terms of what Jesus said in 2 Timothy concerning the state of humankind, it's certainly not a stretch to confirm that people have indeed become lovers of money, themselves, boastful and proud, disobedient to parents and ungrateful and unholy in general. We do very much live in a results obsessed, materialistic world where success is the prime objective and the amount of wealth obtained is the determining factor in judging a person's worth, value and virtue. The first world in particular worships cash, and those who they perceive can help them acquire more cash are hailed as heroes, modern day gurus the masses will bow down to and revere. But this is all flavor for another post to come...
So in sum, do we feel that we are in the end times, the last days, the final hours preceding cataclysmic change that will lead to years of great suffering and Walking Dead type apocalyptic landscapes?
Yes we do. We are most likely in the throws of the end time.