Are Disasters a Sign that the End is Near?
We have been shocked latterly by the great number of wars, earthquakes, floods and natural disasters ravaging people all over the earth. Surely, this is a sign from God that the end of the world is near. Matthew’s gospel gives us warning that these things will happen, adding that “all this is only the beginning of the birthpangs” (Mt 24:8), meaning that the coming of the kingdom is at hand. Do you think the world right now is experiencing signs that its end is near and the Lord will be coming back soon? Russell
No, I don’t think so. Greater and lesser natural disasters have been afflicting the earth for centuries, yet it is still spinning.
Modern communication methods now thrust news of them into our faces even before we can digest them. It is a simple step to think they are happening more frequently than ever before, but it would be difficult to measure the difference.
We Must be Ready But We Don’t and Won’t Know the Hour
The connection between earthly calamities and God’s design for salvation comes from the Old Testament. The prophet Joel among others foretold that the “Day of the Lord” would bring earthquakes, and the sun, moon and stars would stop shining (Joel 2).
The Christian belief is that the Day of the Lord signifies the return of Christ in judgment and to reign over his everlasting kingdom. The text that you refer to does not indicate when this is to be. We must be ready for it, “for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Mt 24:44).
Our preparedness for Christ’s return to establish his kingdom is a lesson the Church teaches us insistently. We must understand wars, evil deeds, earthquakes, floods and natural disasters as a continual warning that the kingdom is not of this world and it is always near.
We Seek and Await The City of God
Hebrews 13:14 puts it bluntly: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.”
Until the kingdom of Christ is revealed, all the signs of the Day of the Lord point to the here and now. This means that on any day and at any time in history, Christ will return in glory as king and judge.
In the meantime he is among us through the presence of the Holy Spirit who urges us to heed what St Paul wrote: “From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free” (Rom 8:22-23).
Our planet is unstable in many human and natural ways. We need firm faith to acknowledge that these “birthpangs” will bring forth a triumphant Christ whose reign will establish peace and order for creation.