For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.(Matthew 24:7-8)
Jesus, in his last appeal to the leaders of Israel in the temple, recorded in Matthew 23, summed up his scathing denunciation of the leaders who had led Israel so far into apostasy that they couldn’t receive their Messiah, with two warnings. First He warned them that their “house had been left to them desolate”. In other words he warned them that God no longer inhabited the temple.
Secondly He warned them that they would never see him again until they were brought to the place where they would acknowledge him as the one who truly “came in the name of the LORD”.
Jesus then left the temple, with his disciples and resorted to the Mount of Olives,and warned his disciples (to their amazement) that the Temple which they were admiring would be utterly destroyed. Then the disciples asked Jesus three questions;
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (Matthew 24:1-3)
When shall these things be? This question is the focus of Jesus’ teaching in Luke 21, (The destruction of the temple) and was fulfilled in 70ad.
What shall be the sign of thy coming? This is a different question, it refers to the actual bodily return of the Messiah to the earth, and has yet to be fulfilled.
What shall be the sign of the end of the age?This is another subject, related to the earlier question. In the theology of Jesus and his contemporaries in first century Judaism and in Christianity, there are two ages of human existence, this age and the age to come.
This is the age of death and decay, and of human rule, particularly the rule of Israel by gentiles, thus called “the times of the gentiles” by Jesus himself (Luke 21:24). This age is also an age of grace, however, the ‘acceptable day of the Lord’, the time when men might be reconciled to God through the gospel.
The “age to come” is called ‘the regeneration of all things ‘(Matthew 19:28), the millennium, and it is also called the new Creation.
Presently Christians are part of the new Creation, but we still live in the old Creation. We are a foretaste of what is coming and have the “Powers of the age to come”. We live between the two ages. The “outer man is perishing and the inward man is being renewed day by day”. We look forward to apprehending the glorification of our (now) corruptible body.
The sign that this age is ending and that we are about to commence the age to come, is found in this answer to the disciple’s question, in Matthew 24.
The initial sign is twofold, Nation shall rise against nation…Kingdom against Kingdom.
Jesus is actually using a verse from Isaiah which predicts a civil war in Egypt, but Jesus modified the verse to apply to the whole world.
And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.(Isaiah 19:2)
Could we have seen the beginning of this prophecy in the recent events surrounding the “Arab Spring” and the civil war which broke out under the harsh rulership of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi?
What happened in Egypt will happen to the whole world.
I believe that the first interpretation of Jesus’ words would be that the present age has begun to wind down with the dan of W0rld War’s 1 and 2.Arnold Fruchtenbaum is a hebrew Christian scholar who has elaborated on the fact that the idiom “Nation against nation” refers to a World War,
It is crucial to understand the cultural and historical meaning of the idiom, nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Taken in the Jewish context of Jesus’ day, this expression points to a total conflict in the area in view. This idiom is found in two Old Testament passages: In Isaiah 19:1-4, the idiom points to a conflict all over the land of Egypt as the nation is engrossed in civil war; in II Chronicles 15:1-7, the Middle East is in view, and the idiom describes a conflict throughout the area. Back to Matthew 24 now, it is clear from verses 14, 21, 30 and 31 that the entire world is in view. Hence, the idiom refers to a worldwide conflict – the first birth pang signifying that the last days have begun.
It is interesting to note that the two World Wars shattered the old world, especially the Judeo/Christian West which was at the time leading up to it, at it’s pinnacle of power, wealth and civilizational confidence. It seemed that the light of progress, technology, and prosperity of the Western powers would penetrate every dark colony on the continent, and the Christian religion would prevail over superstitious darkness wherever it went.
But 1914-1919 shattered all of that, and the resumption of hostilities in 1939 swept aside whatever had remained of the old confident outlook.
Too eagerly had European priests, pastors and Metropolitans blessed outgoing troops in the name of the flag, be it Russian, German, English ,or whatever, to be slaughtered wholesale in trenches. This was massive carnage never even envisioned before, and enacted upon the “Christian world”, ” Christian against Christian” in a high tech industrial strength conflagration. Cities and towns were shattered and so was the overall Christian faith in Europe.
Other outcomes of World Wars 1&2 which is of prophetic import, is the emergence of Israel as a political entity , exiled since 70 AD, but in fulfillment of prophecy. World War 1 took the land of Israel from the hands of the Ottomans, and put it into the hands of a Christian power. World war 2 made the Jews want to leave, especially anti-semitic Europe and the USSR and form their own Jewish State.
The other interpretation of “Nation shall rise against nation”… is the emergence of ethnic conflict. Literally Jesus warned that the end would be marked by strife, “Ethnos against ethnos…”.
Shortly before Sept 11, 2001, Samuel Huntington wrote a book called “The Clash of Civilizations” in which he warned that wars would become increasingly intensified, not so much between Nation States, but between those of cultures and religions. Huntington warned that Islam would become the major driver of the new kind of warfare, for he noted “Islam has bloody borders”throughout the world.
The developed world has attempted a massively misguided multicultural experiment. Recently, people groups from the third world have literally been uprooted and seed ed throughout the “First world” in the hundreds of thousands and even millions. These people for the most part refuse to assimilate, they are Muslim and insist the host countries bend to their law,”Shariah”.
This is metastasizing war and violence throughout the world, as seen in Europe and The United States. American politicians on the left have carefully cultivated flaming hatred and feelings of resentment among black communities in America which is currently turning into a low grade “race war”.
Demographic collapse among developed nations also is contributing to ethnic strife as Muslims and other third worlders are imported to take the place of those workers which were either aborted or never allowed to be conceived. Russia is experiencing the same demographic winter, as China and India and the Muslim world explode with children.
I believe that the strife we are seeing between ethnic groups is the fulfillment of Jesus’ description of the sign of the end of the age.