The end times have always been a source of fascination for human beings. The most detailed myths and legends from ancient times focused on the creation and eventual destruction of the universe. Even many of the myths that supposedly took place in ordinary times, between Earth’s creation and later destruction, centered around why certain natural phenomenon occurred or how cultural practices began. For some reason, beginnings and endings, especially chaotic and violent endings, are of particular interest for humans. Christians are no exception to this rule. Since Revelation was written, Christians have loved debating the meaning of the various signs in the book. There have been thousands of sermons on the topic, and attempting to uncover the identity of the Antichrist is a popular past time on many Christian blogs. Elderly ladies at Bible studies and pimple-faced teenagers on smartphones alike have argued over what the cryptic warning signs in Revelation really mean and how to recognize them when they appear. Tose signs are the only warning people will get before the end of the world comes crashing down on their heads, so it is particularly important to be able to interpret the signs and identify when the end is on its way. Those same signs are suggesting the end might be on its way. Here are seven signs Revelation will happen sooner than you think.
Increased Tensions Between Groups
As civilization evolved, humanity managed to largely leave tribalism behind. Rather than automatically hating those who were not part of their racial, economic, political or religious “tribe,” people began to coexist peacefully with those who were different from them. That societal peace, however, has begun to disintegrate. People are obsessed with giving each other labels and excluding those who have a different label. Today people sort themselves largely into tribes based on how they think not, as it was in the past, by appearance. Talk to liberal tribes, and they will tell you that conservatives are evil. Ask conservatives about liberals, and you are likely to hear some variant of “they are idiots.” These fault lines are the foreshadowing of war. When people begin to dehumanize, hate and even openly call for the death of those they disagree with in public, war is usually quick to follow.
Growing Global PopulationOne of the first things to occur in Revelation is the introduction of what have popularly been termed the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The four horsemen are traditionally identified as war, famine, pestilence and death though conquest is sometimes substituted for pestilence. The four horsemen are never explicitly named in Revelation, but one thing is clear. After war comes famine. Human beings are able to grow more food than ever in a single plot of land, and the number of people that face food shortages and starvation continues to shrink. As the population continues to grow, however, the food supply may not be able to keep up with the sheer number of people on the planet especially as cities and suburbs continue to chew up arable land and useful farmland. Once that fertile land runs out, there is no getting more. The Earth will be further and further strained by both sheer numbers and years of irresponsible use until something has to give, and it will almost certainly be the human population that will be forced to yield to famine.
Jews Returning to Israel
Before the end of the world arrives and the full disaster of Revelation is unleashed upon the Earth, the Jews will return to Israel. For decades, this seemed to be a pipe dream. The Jews were reviled and welcome nowhere. When the State of Israel was created in 1948 as an explicitly Jewish state, Jews suddenly had a place where they were not just welcome but wanted. The Law of Return granted Jews the right to settle in Israel and granted those Jews who returned to their ancestral homeland automatic citizenship. As such, the number of Jews in the Promised Land has grown exponentially. With the return of Jews to Jerusalem and Israel, however, it is harder and harder to ignore the possibility that the end is approaching. Before Revelation is complete, the Jews will return to Israel, and it is clear that they are in the process of doing so right now.
Israel Surrounded by Enemies
Israel is, unsurprisingly, at the center of Revelation. Almost the entire Bible, after all, takes place within the Promised Land. It was there that Abraham was promised descendants beyond counting, there that the Israelites returned from Egypt and there that Jesus was born, crucified and resurrected. It is no surprise that Israel would also have an essential role to play in the end times. Modern politics have begun to mirror this focus. In recent years, the State of Israel has been increasingly at the center of international attention. As is warned in Revelation, most of that attention has been openly hostile. Since its creation in 1948, the State of Israel has fought and won no less than three wars, five international conflicts, launched at least a dozen smaller operations and dealt with near constant terrorist attacks. Most of the surrounding Arab states have openly called for Israel’s annihilation, and attacks on Israeli civilians by terrorists are common. The international community also tends to deal more harshly with Israel than almost any other nation on Earth. Revelation makes it clear that in the end, Israel will stand alone. Sadly, that day is clearly almost here.
Proliferation of Technology
One of the most famous events in Revelation is the warning, death and resurrection of the final two witnesses. These two prophets will perform multiple miracles before they are murdered. After their deaths, their bodies will be seen by the entire world.
The idea that everyone all over the world would be able to see two people lying dead in a city halfway across the globe was laughable when Revelation was written. Travel to a city 50 miles away took days, and that was the only way to see what was happening there. Modern mass media, however, means that people on the other side of the Earth can watch events unfolding with less than a second’s delay. Personal cell phones have also made it so that a massive percentage of the human population is able to tune in to any crisis more or less instantly. Add to that how quickly news spreads via social media, and the bodies of the two witnesses would be seen by tens of millions within hours of their deaths.
Rise of the Narrative
Once, the media was seen as being filled with objective observers. Journalists, naturally, had their own opinions on the events they were reporting, but they kept those opinions from weaving their way into their jobs. They reported facts, whether they liked those facts or not. Opinions were relegated to the opinion section, and news outlets avoided taking sides on contentious issues. Today, the idea of the media being objective is laughable. Outlets cherry pick stories in order to give a certain impression of events, put the infamous spin on reports, do not bother with fact checking and sometimes allow people on air to say things that are flagrantly false. Both sides of every debate know which news outlets they should follow in order to get their side of the story. This has led to the media being openly distrusted.
A large reason for the rise in journalists putting a spin on stories is the desire to follow what many have taken to calling “the narrative.” This is the story that the reports are supposed to uphold, regardless of whether the facts support the overarching story or not. As such, objectivity is bent until it breaks, and people get, at best, one side of the story. This complete disregard for truth would make the mission of the Antichrist frighteningly easy. The world is already primed, after all, to believe only what people want to believe, and villainizing the other side of the debate has been normalized. As for any reports that recognize the Antichrist for what he will be, well, people are already used to distrusting and dismissing those who disagree with them.
Splintering of Christianity
The Bible warns repeatedly of the dangers and disasters that come when people begin to follow false doctrine or put their own will above that of God’s. The Old Testament is dedicated almost entirely to such cautionary tales, and the New Testament mentions it in every book. Revelation is not exempted from this warning. In the end, it claims, people will follow all sorts of false doctrines, and their foolishness will lead them to ruin. There are innumerable blogs explaining why one Christian denomination or another is filled with false doctrines. People can argue that point until they are blue in the face, but the fact remains that religions, Christianity included, have begun splintering. Entire chunks of a faith’s population break away from the rest over doctrinal disagreements. In ancient times, these schisms tended to be based on differing interpretations of obscure but essential doctrines. Today, they are largely based on a denomination’s opinion of political matters.
The book of Revelation has always fascinated Christians. Its cryptic messages and vague warnings have had people debating over its meaning since it was first written. That has not changed in the modern era. Blogs, books and truly uncountable sermons have been written on the topic. No one, however, has yet managed to put a hard and fast date on the end of the world. The signs may give hints when it is coming, but the Bible itself says that no one will really know the end is nigh until everything comes crashing down.