What are signs of the end times?

Every time there is an explosion of conflict in the Middle East, many people begin to wonder if the end times are approaching. Some Bible prophecy aficionados claim to find specific passages of Scripture to match virtually every news headline that comes out of the Middle East. The civil war in Syria, rocket attacks from Gaza, ISIS, threats from Iran, McDonalds offering a bacon cheeseburger in Israel (okay, I made the last one up), all resulted in claims that the rapture, tribulation, second coming, etc., are fast approaching. If I could summarize this blog post with one word, it would be: relax!

Don't get me wrong, I do not deny that a conflict in the Middle East could possibly be a precursor to biblical end times events. At the same time, there has been near ceaseless conflict in the Middle East for the past 3,000 years. Ever since the United Nations reestablished the nation of Israel in 1948, there likely hasn't been even a single year without some sort of conflict or terrorist activity in or near Israel. That is why I tend not to place too much weight on any specific event in the Middle East as a definite sign of the end times.

Jesus declared, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Matthew 24:6-8).

Rather than worry about whether this or that is a sign of the end times; instead of interpreting the Bible based on world news; instead of writing books, articles (and blog posts) about how current events fit with biblical end times prophecy—we should be living every day of our lives as if Jesus could return at any moment. We should have urgency in our evangelism. We should be passionate in our walk with Christ. The reality of the coming of Christ is something we are to use to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18).

The one thing it is not to be is something we obsess over, worry about, or use to stir up an apocalyptic freak out.

S. Michael Houdmann

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What are signs of the end times?