All around the globe, it seems so many natural disasters have been occurring one after another. Whether earthquakes, hurricanes, and even volcano eruptions, it just seems to make people wonder,
“What’s going on?”
After Hurricane Irma hit Florida (where I live), someone made an interesting observation reflecting on how people prepared themselves for the storm. Our local news did a great job at putting some holy fear in us and made us earnest enough to be prepared ahead of time. Gas and water were gone within days, along with plywood, batteries, and food!
I think South Florida did well in their preparation for Hurricane Irma. What’s interesting is, would people have responded with the same earnestness if we announced that Jesus was coming soon? I am by no means implying for people to buy anything to prepare for Jesus’ return. Buying or bordering up won’t save you on the Day of the Lord. What I am talking about is the “earnestness” people showed in response to a Hurricane coming. We have seen what happens to people when they don’t heed the warnings and are not properly prepared (Houston, New Orleans).
Signs of the Times
It reminds me of something Jesus said to the Pharisees. He said “When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:2-3). Notice Jesus uses the phrase "Signs of the times."
Isn’t that funny?
We know how to interpret our need to prepare for a hurricane, but we don’t know how to interpret hearing and seeing all these natural disasters and know what’s coming? Can I just ask a question?
What are the "times" that we live in?
What are these "signs" indicating?
I am not saying the world will end tomorrow, and I am not saying Jesus will come back today. However we have to learn how to interpret the “signs of the times.” Jesus talked about natural disasters happening towards the nearing of His second coming. He refers to them as “birth pains,” or in our modern medical terms, "contractions." That’s right, Jesus referred to the culmination of disasters happening as like a woman having contractions as she is giving birth. Have you ever seen a woman give birth to a child?
My wife spent 30 hours in labor giving birth to our first-born son. I can tell you from firsthand experience; contractions (birth pangs) are unexpected, hard to endure, and rapidly progress until the beauty of life comes forth. It's after the child comes that there is sweet calm of happiness and peace. The Apostle Paul even refers to the same idea in his letter to the Church in Rome, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22). It’s unfortunate, but disasters will happen, and it seems that Jesus thought they are leading to the birth of His New Creation. There will be Happiness and Peace in the earth, and this will happen when Jesus returns.
What’s important for us to know is to be ready for His return. When I say “ready” I do not mean live like a "Doom’s Day prepper" hunkering down in some bunker. Nor are we to be like the Apostle who were gazing at the sky all day long looking for Jesus to return (Acts 1:11). Being “ready” means to be doing what Jesus told us we need to be doing until the end comes. Jesus tells us “the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world so that all nations will hear it, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Jesus also told his disciples to be ready by being watchful in prayer (Mark 13:32-36), and for His disciples to be taking care of each other until His return (Matthew 24:45-50). To put it plainly, being ready for Jesus return is demonstrate by sharing the Gospel with others, being watchful in prayer, and loving God’s people until the New Creation begins.