BY OKEY IKECHUKWU
When you have a fever, you take it as a sign that all is not well with your body. The fever usually appears before the full manifestation of the ailment. Itchy gums in babies is often a sign that a tooth is about to spring forth. The appearance of ﬂowers on a fruit-bearing tree is a sign that the tree is about to bear fruit. The appearance of the dragonﬂy at a particular time of the year is taken by some farmers as a sign that the dry season is near. So, a sign could be an object, a condition or even an event. If, for instance, you bring a shovel, which is “an object,” to a gutter, we would take it as a sign that you wish to scoop some dirt out of the gutter. If we see heavy clouds in the sky, which is “a condition,” we take it as a sign of approaching rain, or sandstorm; depending on whether we live in a desert or not. The sound of breaking glass, which is “a happening,” or an event, could be a sign that some glassware had fallen down, or that someone had smashed some glassware somewhere in the house.
So, considering that a sign could be an object, a condition or an event, is it possible that the health, economic, political and psychic shocks of the year 2020 are signs of something more serious? Is 2020, perhaps, even a mild foretaste of a cascade of the calamities that ancient prophesies and the scriptures say will progressively overwhelm us and the earth? Are the signs of the Last Judgment mentioned in the scriptures finally here with us? If yes, how do we know? Afterall, many people who saw the Star of Bethlehem merely regarded it as a very bright heavenly body. They did not know that it was heralding the birth of the Messiah. This means that one may see a sign and not know. One may even see a signal, which can be likened to a ‘ﬂag off’ of what is being expected, and still not know. If you take the appearance of a ﬂower as a sign that a fruit bearing tree is about to bear fruit, then the falling off of the ﬂower is the definitive signal that the fruit is about to come out.
Coming back to our main discussion about signs of the last judgment, is it possible that recent global events are clear signs that the earth is giving out serious distress signals? Why are we seeing more wars, natural disasters and deeds of madness everywhere? The ten major signs of the Last Judgment mentioned in the Bible, are (1) natural disasters; (2) strange diseases; (3) wars; (4) rumours of wars; (5) false prophets who will perform miracles; (6) false Christs who would deceive many; (7) distress of nations; (8) brother rising against brother; (9) famine and (10) kingdom rising against kingdom.
How much of these signs are here with us? Do we even know how to properly identify, or understand, them if they are here? When, in chapter 24 verse 2, of the Book of Matthew, the disciples of Jesus asked: “When will this happen and what will be the sign of … the end of the age?” Christ was reported to have replied that there would be wars and rumours of wars, etc., but that even with these “… the end is still not come”.
He spoke of nation rising against nation, Kingdom against Kingdom, famines, earthquakes and other natural disasters “in various places”. This long list of troubles is described as merely “the beginning of birth pains”, which means that more will still come.
So, is 2020 part of the “birth pains”, with more to come? What birth pains are we talking about here? Is it perhaps the new era, the Millennium of Peace when a new humanity, who would have been cleansed through tribulations and pain? If yes, then we can describe the current calamities, and the more to come, as part of a general cleansing and winnowing process, before the new era. Part of the expected extra troubles is in verse 11 of the same section of the Bible, which speaks of false prophets who would arise and deceive people. Do we not have them by the truckloads today? is every street corner not sprouting its own prophets, with some of them even claiming that they have a spare key to heaven? Are we not seeing an epidemic of young men and women who are presenting fashion, stimulation of the senses, effective public speaking and sundry entertainment gimmicks and psychological tricks in place of the Word of God?
If, as said in Verse 13, those who stand ﬁrm would be saved in the end we may wish to ask: What would they be standing on? Is the statement another way of saying that people of steadfast good volition and conviction, who also trust absolutely in God, would still be saved; despite the disasters, wars, famine and false prophets? How easy would it be for anyone to survive and stand ﬁrm when false prophets, a quaking earth, wars and famine are his constant companions? If, as said in Verse 21: “For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again”, and if verse 24 says: “… false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect,” is it not all generally confounding?
Who would be left standing in this sort of situation? Breathing may be difficult, if not precarious, for those still alive. Is it possible that the person who stands ﬁrm in his trust in God, and who holds unto the Truth, will be saved? And how easy would it be to find the Truth in the midst of false prophets? But when we consider that it is also written in the same Bible, in John, Chapter 13, verses 13 to 15, that the Spirit of Truth would come at the time of this confusion to “lead you into all truth”? then the matter seems somewhat ameliorated. Afterall, Christ was quoted to have said to His disciples, while speaking of The Spirit of truth: “He will speak of me, for He shall receive of mine?” Is it not written: “He shall remind you of the things I have taught you, …”? Is this another way of saying that the true Living Word, the Spirit of Truth, will also be on earth at the time of these great deceptions and tribulations to guide those who are alert, and who trust in God, unto the path of salvation? It is for each and everyone to then be alert and not face the fate of the ﬁve foolish virgins mentioned in the parable of Jesus in the Bible.
We may look at the increasing number of prayer houses and religious activities all over the world today and wish to take it as proof that human beings are waking up spiritually at last. Unfortunately, most people who throng miracle centres and prayer houses are not looking for God, or for salvation. They are only looking for new cars, babies, promotion in the office, a husband, a wife, or some other things on the earth. They are not looking for a way to heaven. They are not looking for the Creator of all life. Perhaps the question to ask here concerning ‘the faithful’ of today is: Do they pray to the Lord and say: “Thy Will be done”, and trust in his omniscience and omnipotence; or do they make demands and try to ‘claim’ it, whether the Lord likes it or not? Are we not all familiar with dramatic declines in the religiousity of individuals and whole communities following the resolution of the problems that made them so prayerful in the first place?
Concerning false Christs, there are many of them today, both locally and internationally. There was Jesus of Oyinbo, in Lagos, who claimed that he was Jesus of Nazareth come again. Many people believed him and worshipped him for decades, until he died somewhere in Maryland, leaving behind a disgraceful moral legacy.
There was Malaika in Mushin, Lagos, a woman, who reigned until a newspaper interview blew her out of the water. There are several others today, with millions of followers in other countries of the world, as can be easily conﬁrmed by surﬁng the Internet. One of the impostors, who makes big international television appearances and who has the number 666 tattooed on his followers, was even reported to have claimed to be both Christ and the Antichrist combined.
Is it not strange, no scary, that these things are coming at the same time with practically all the other predicted signs of the Last Judgment? There was only one Jesus Christ, but now there seems to be several people claiming to be Him. And they all even have large followings, just as it was prophesied. The appearance of many strange diseases, which is one of the things to come with the end-time has COVID-19, Hantavirus, Brain Eating Amoeba, Ciguatera and many other “Armageddon Diseases, in tow. Many known disease pathogen is developing more drug resistant strains. Even some previously cured diseases of the sixties, seventies and eighties are back in more virulent forms. Yes, we now have more than our fair share of new, strange and incurable diseases on earth today. Why? Why should there be so many health problems in a supposedly much more enlightened world?
Look around you. Distress of nations is here. The children of Abraham in the Middle East who are brothers are rising against brothers; with Kingdoms against Kingdoms. Look at the Sudan. Are the signs of the Last Judgment here? Is 2020 a major marker, indicating an irreversible turning point? Watch out, because politics and politicians won’t bail you out!
Unfortunately, most people who throng miracle centres and prayer houses are not looking for God, or for salvation. They are only looking for new cars, babies, promotion in the oﬃce, a husband, a wife, or some other things on the earth. They are not looking for a way to heaven. They are not looking for the Creator of all life.