This morning we resume our series on the “Signs of the Ends Times” with a message called “Worldwide Conflict”. Jesus told the disciples that prior to His return there would be “wars and rumors of wars”. These conflicts would be another of the “birth pangs” leading up to the last days. Warfare between rivaling kingdoms and nations is nothing new, yet it will become increasingly severe and more common as the end times draw near.
Before we explore today’s topic, let’s take a moment to briefly review the 2 end times signs that we’ve already discussed.
Most reputable Bible scholars agree that all of the prophecies related to events preceding the return of Christ have already been fulfilled. In other words, there is nothing else that must take place prior to His coming. All of the prerequisites have been met and the proper pieces are in place, notably the rebirth of the nation Israel. Historical evidence bears this out, and suggests that the Kingdom of God is at hand.
Spiritual delusion is pervasive in the world today. People readily exchange the truth for lies. They do not want to hear about or be challenged by God’s absolute moral standards, but rather delight in their own self-righteousness and smugness. False messiahs, false prophets, and false teachers abound promoting Satan’s deceit and heresy. Multitudes of naive, gullible, and easily persuaded people are being led astray. Again, this is a fitting description of the last days.
With these in mind, we now turn our attention to a 3rd end time sign - warfare.
The dictionary defines war as “a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state.” Groups of people have fought against each other since ancient times, “kingdom against kingdom and nation against nation”. Armies of warriors have been trained and equipped to overcome their adversaries in battle, to kill and destroy, and to protect and defend their homeland. Since the fall of man, war has played a prominent role in human history.
The Bible doesn’t shy away from the topic of war. It focuses primarily on those wars that involved Israel, though history records many other conflicts elsewhere. The first appearance of the word “war” is found in Genesis 14 when opposing alliances came together to battle during the days of Abraham. War continued regularly throughout the Old Testament, involving nations and kingdoms such as Moab, Ammon, Edom, Midian, Phillistia, Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, and Persia - among others. Hostilities were commonplace during the period of the patriarchs, the judges, and the kings. Many of the stories found in the Bible are either about war or set in the backdrop of war. Men like Gideon, Sampson, Saul, and David were all known for their military prowess and skill.
Perhaps the most notable war detailed in the Old Testament is the conquest of Canaan. God instructed the Hebrew children to invade the Holy Land and to kill all of its inhabitants (Deut. 20:16-28). This was to be God’s judgment upon the Canaanite people for centuries of sin and wickedness. Several of the battles that took place during this war are recorded in the book of Joshua, including the miraculous taking of Jericho. God Himself commanded, sanctioned, and participated in this conflict which reveals that He uses war as a means to bring about His will.
Wars between individual nations and empires have raged throughout history, but in modern times they have involved greater numbers of participants. Though it was fought primarily in western Europe, there were over 100 nations involved to varying degrees in World War I. Some actually sent troops into battle while others provided support and/or armaments. Nearly every nation on earth was entangled in World War II. Fighting to place on multiple continents around the globe and an estimated 300 million soldiers saw combat. Millions of people were killed as a result of these world-wide conflicts.
War isn’t new, but the ability to wage war on such a global scale is. Soldiers can be deployed from almost any nation in the world to engage in battle thousands of miles away. The weapons used have become more lethal and effective, dramatically increasing the number of casualties that occur such conflicts. Weapons of mass destruction are now capable of destroying millions of lives in an instant. The capabilities of modern warfare seem eerily similar to those described by the Bible during the end times.
II. RUMORS OF WARS
Jesus stated that in addition to actual wars there would be “rumors of war”. This phrase can be understood, at least in part, to mean war propaganda. This occurs when information is used in manipulative ways to sway people’s opinions toward a particular conflict or the idea of war in general. Some people are very hawkish and pro-war, especially those who profit financially as a by-product of it. Others are very dovish and anti-war, seemingly willing to sacrifice anything in order to keep the peace. Fierce debate between these 2 opposing camps leads to biased discussions, agendas, misinformation, and elevated hype about possible wars and conflict.
Just as literal warfare is nothing new, so also rumors of wars have been spread throughout history. These have been used for centuries to stoke the fires of aggression and distrust. Much of it is merely gossip or innuendo, yet it often leads to physical violence. The fear and hysteria caused by reports of warfare, whether true or false, have been used to advance particular ideas and worldviews while achieving certain nefarious causes.
Whereas in the past information moved slowly, present-day media sources can reach almost anyone in seconds. War propaganda is spread continuously on the internet, television, and radio. People are whipped into a frenzy based on live images and reports of conflict and strife all around the globe. Just a few weeks ago reporters spoke as though America was on the brink of World War III after an Iranian missile strike on 2 military bases in Iraq. While these grandiose statements of impending doom were over-the-top and misleading, they and others like them are indicative of the “rumors of wars” that will be told in the last days.
Perpetual warfare and conflict between peoples and nations is one of the leading justifications for globalism. Proponents of a one world government argue that the elimination of independent nation-states would foster an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. As a precursor to this Utopian ideal, multilateral treaties and alliances such as NATO and the UN have been created. Though these types of agreements have not yet led to the dissolving of member nations, they have eroded and cast dispersion on the concept of nationalism.
The EU provides a modern example of what a globalized society might look like - open borders, a shared currency, common economic and environmental standards, and a single governing body to administer it all. This many sound ideal in theory, and there are certainly aspects of the EU that have been beneficial to Europe. However, this is exactly the type of environment in which the Antichrist can quickly ascend to power. The impact of a vast, corrupt, far-reaching global government is daunting to think about. Christians should be leery of such an idea.
The last days will be characterized by catastrophic warfare. The Antichrist will ascend to prominence and then wage war against all who refuse to acknowledge him. The scourge of war will be loosed over the entire earth. This conventional warfare will inevitably morph into a nuclear holocaust. According to Revelation 6:8 and 9:15 over half of the population living on earth at that time will be killed, many as a direct or indirect result of war.
Finally, the nations of the world will gather under the banner of the Antichrist to wage a final war against Jesus and his saints. The conquering Christ will return again, engage in the battle, and come out as the overwhelming victor. The enemies of God will be defeated and forever vanquished and Christ will set up His kingdom on earth. The Prince of Peace will reign eternally and war among men will finally cease to exist (Isaiah 2:4).
The frequency and intensity of contemporary wars and rumors of wars provides further evidence that we may well be living in the end times. Collectively, these warning signs are beginning to add up. What do you think? Do you agree that Jesus’ return is near?