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    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


Wars and Earthquakes

June 9, 2013

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. (Mark 13:7,8, NIV)

It’s Tuesday afternoon, just three days prior to Jesus’ crucifixion. He is sitting on the slope of the Mount of Olives, facing west toward the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. The disciples had asked Him about the end of the age.

Jesus sees the course of human history in very stark terms. He lays down four markers.

He first predicts there will be growing plurality of religions and deceptive leaders coming in His name (vv. 5,6).

The second and third markers are in verses 7 and 8: not only will there be “trouble” in religion, but also “trouble” in society (wars and rumors of wars) and in nature (earthquakes).

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Jesus says there will be no peace among peoples, just as there will be no unity in forming a one-world religion around Him. Jesus knows that His life and ministry will not unite the human family. The promise of the angels at His birth was only that there would be “peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14) — in other words, the peace was not to all humans.

Jesus sees the conflict as between ethnic groups and kingdoms. The underlying word for “nation” is ethnos, thus we should hear Him saying, “ethnic group against ethnic group.” But the conflict is also between kingdoms or political alliances. For example, in World War II, Japan and Germany were enemies of the U.S., now they are allies. Political alliances shift over time — but always there will be power blocks vying for supremacy and territory.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a liberal Protestant journal was launched, titled The Christian Century. The idea behind it was that the 1900s would witness a world at peace through humanitarian and social effort. War would be a thing of the past; disease and poverty would greatly diminish.

The title of the journal demonstrates how far off the mark you can be in forecasting the future. The 20th century was ridden with the most violent wars and bloodshed ever seen on earth, and the 21st century may ultimately be even worse with the sword of nuclear war hanging over our heads.

Jesus also says there will be trouble in nature — earthquakes. Added to earthquakes are famines, pestilences and fearful events, and great signs from heaven (Luke 21:11).

Jesus compares these violent events in nature to pregnancy. They are the beginning of birth pangs. Jesus cautions the disciples to not think that His return is immediately at hand just because some wars break out or earthquakes and natural disasters begin to happen.

In the words of Jesus, this age is pregnant with the age to come. In order for His eternal kingdom to come, first there will be trauma on earth. Things will not get better, only worse. As the birth pangs in pregnancy progress, the contractions become more frequent and painful.

The one certainty is that Jesus is who He says He is, and that the present age will be followed by the age in which He rules and reigns.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, my end is also coming. I don't know when. You do. Help me to ever trust You in whatever adversity I face between now and the time I see You face to face.

DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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