Dear friends, right from the year 2019, the world has started experiencing troubled times beginning with the pandemic. And as we come to the end of the year 2022, the situation is no different. Natural disasters caused by climate change are becoming more deadly and frequent now. COVID cases are on the rise again in China and it has been projected that millions of people are going to die in the country by next year, not to speak of the virus spreading across the globe.
All these events are happening while the world is edging towards a global recession. And to make matters worse, there is the threat of a worldwide nuclear war looming on the horizon.
For an ordinary person, all these chaotic scenes in today's world are bound to cause fear and restlessness. But not so in the case of a person who believes in Christ. Jesus has warned us, "…When you see all these things, you will know that the time is near, ready to begin.” (Matthew 24: 33). What Jesus meant was that there is a time that will come when the trouble experienced on earth will start worsening. And so, we who are men and women of the Bible must not be taken by surprise when we hear about such things.
Again, Jesus said, “For the trouble at that time will be far more terrible than any there has ever been, from the beginning of the world to this very day. Nor will there ever be anything like it again.” (Matthew 24:21). The words “far more terrible” indicate that the trouble will be beyond human endurance. In Luke’s Gospel, we find Jesus saying, “People will faint from fear as they wait for what is coming over the whole earth...” (Luke 21: 26). It is because they will be witnessing something far terrible that the world has never experienced from the time it came into existence.
The words “far more terrible” used by Jesus to describe the coming troubles seem to bear an uncanny resemblance to the effects of a nuclear war. Nuclear weapons as we know are the most destructive; and one single nuclear bomb can wipe out millions of people living in a large city. Even those who survive the initial explosion are not spared because the radioactive fallout that follows the explosion kills or sickens those exposed; it contaminates the environment and has long-term health consequences, including cancer and genetic damage. New findings indicate that the long-term consequences of a nuclear war could constitute a global climatic catastrophe, causing widespread famine. Definitely, all such conditions hardly leave any scope for survival. Therefore, in all probability, Jesus was referring to a nuclear war-like situation. In fact, much before Jesus came into the world, the prophet Daniel had spoken along the same lines, “There will be a time of troubles, the worst since nations first came into existence.” (Daniel 12:1b). Interestingly, many Catholic Seers of our times have conveyed prophetic messages that a third World War will break out very soon and it will be nuclear. Mind you, various other prophecies made by these Seers in the past have been proven to be accurate.
But God has already reduced the number of days; had he not done so, nobody would survive. For the sake of His chosen people, however, God will reduce the days. (Matthew 24: 22). This single sentence made by Jesus speaks volumes. First of all, it tells us that if not for the intervention of God, mankind would cease to exist. In fact, that is what also happened when man fell into sin. Sin and its effects were so terrible that there was no chance for man to survive. Death was the only choice. (James 1:14-15). And then, God intervened, about 2000 years ago, by sending His only Son to die for us. (John 3:16).
2000 years have gone by and could it be that history is going to repeat itself again? The stage seems to be set for a situation where there will be no chance for mankind to exist unless God intervenes. In continuation with the above-mentioned prophecy made by Daniel, we read as follows… When that time comes, all the people of your nation whose names are written in God's book will be saved. (Daniel 12:1b).
The pattern in Matthew 24:21-22 and Daniel 12:1 appears to be the same. Both, Our Lord and the prophet Daniel, speak about the trouble that is going to be ‘far more terrible’; and then they speak about ‘God’s chosen people being saved’. It is clear, therefore, that even when the trouble becomes far more terrible and humanly speaking there are no chances of survival, yet God will save those who are His. St. Paul writes… God did not choose us to suffer His anger, but to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us in order that we might live together with Him, whether we are alive or dead when He comes. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).
Therefore, as we enter into the New Year, let us in the first place believe that no matter how terrible the trouble is going to get, we are chosen by God to be saved through His Son Jesus. And so, let us make it our aim in life to live for Jesus alone. (2 Corinthians 5:15). Then we will have the strength to face all conditions by the power that He gives us. (Philippians 4:13). At the same time, we ought to keep watch so that we know that the time is near, ready to begin. As Jesus said, “Be on watch and pray always that you will have the strength to go safely through all those things that will happen and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:36). Finally, in the words of St. Paul, “God is to be trusted, the God who called you to have fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.”