In various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
–Matthew 24:7-8

Jesus said that natural disasters will precede His second coming. He said, “In various places there will be famines and earthquakes” (Matthew 24:7). Think of the devastating famine in South Sudan and the horrifying earthquake in Nepal that killed over 2,000 people. Interestingly, in a similar discourse in Luke 21:11, Jesus added “plagues” to this list. A plague is an outbreak of a disease on an epidemic level, such as anthrax, smallpox, botulism, or Ebola. The recent scare with Ebola taught us about our weaknesses as a country and as a world, and it taught us about our enemy’s intentions. Matt A. Mayer offers this sobering assessment: “Knowing what the Ebola virus is exposing about our known deficiencies, imagine what will happen should a superbug appear or our enemies successfully weaponize a far deadlier virus. The mass casualties from the pandemic influenza bug a hundred years ago would pale in comparison, given modern air travel and far higher population densities.” Jesus said it is coming. Natural disasters and plagues are one of the signs that will precede His return.

Jesus also said intense persecution will mark His return. In Matthew 24:9 He said, “They will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” If you believe the words of Jesus, then you must take this seriously. Jesus said before He returns there will be a mass persecution of believers. And we are seeing that happen right now. In Pakistan, a Christian couple was tortured and burned alive by a mob of 1,500 Muslims for allegedly burning a copy of the Quran. In Nigeria, the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 teenage girls, most of them from Christian families. After ceasefire talks had broken down, the leader of that group released a video with this chilling message: “Allah has proved too difficult for the infidel. Allah has proved too difficult for the tyrant. Allah has proved too difficult for the United States. … Allah is mightier than anyone.” These radicals butcher people and burn churches in the name of Islam. They do it all to worship their false god, Allah. It is time for us to stand up and say, “Enough is enough.”

It is time for us to quit being silent about the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. All of this is a sign of the soon return of Christ. By the way, the persecution we are seeing around the world is getting ready to land on the shores of America as well. Get ready for it. Know what you are going to do. Know how you are going to stand.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Jesus on the End Times” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Matt A. Mayer, “Prepare for Biological Weapons,” National Review, October 23, 2014;
Paul Alexander, “Boko Haram: Full transcript of Shekau’s latest video on ceasefire deal, Chibok girls,” November 2, 2014; https://cpnagasaki.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/boko-haram-full-transcript-of-shekaus-latest-video-on-ceasefire-deal-chibok-girls/.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.