“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.”
– 2 Timothy 3:1
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
– Matthew 24:7-8
Matthew 24 contains some of the most profound Bible verses Jesus delivered to the disciples about the end times. The disciples had asked Jesus what the signs of the end times would be.
Jesus used labor pains as a metaphor to describe slowly building tribulations that would signify the beginning of the end times.
Referring to what all this was leading to, Jesus said:
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.”
In short, societies around the world will start to break down. There will be an increase in lawlessness, natural disasters, and famines. One may even be able to read climate change into this scenario.
But as mentioned in today’s verse, Timothy also tells us times of great difficulty will occur in the last days.
“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
– 2 Timothy 3:2-5
Jesus said these birth pains and tribulations will come to pass, but at the same time – we should not be alarmed as we see them coming – the end is not yet.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.”
According to Verisk Maplecroft, a UK-based socioeconomic and political analysis firm, in 2019 nearly a quarter of the world’s countries witnessed a surge in unrest and protest.
That means that out of that 195 countries in the world, 2019 saw civil unrest and 47 of them.
And if the firm’s prediction is correct for 2020, the number will increase by 15% to reach 75 countries experiencing civil turmoil this year.
Of note, many of the countries identified as hotbeds of unrest are also countries in which there is increasing religious persecution.
It is also worth noting that this study was completed before the current unrest in Iran and tensions between Tehran and Washington, D.C. had escalated.
Verisk Maplecroft identified Chile and Hong Kong as the two biggest flashpoints on the planet, and says these regions will not find peace for at least two years.
It predicts the biggest rises of unrest to occur in Ukraine Guinea Bissau and Tajikistan.
The firm identified Sudan as the highest risk country globally, followed by Yemen.
Other hotbeds of civil unrest the company identified includes Lebanon, Bolivia, and Nigeria. Additionally, the firm identified a category they label as “extreme risk” nations which include India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe.
The research by Verisk Maplecroft also predicted that out of the 125 countries it examined, 75 of those nations will see a deterioration of their stability.
The firm also forecasts nations where it expects to see abuses of human rights and/or extreme responses from security forces against its citizens.
Those countries include China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Thailand, and Brazil.
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
Jesus tells us that only God the Father knows when the last times will come. Therefore, Jesus advises us to be ready.
Our preparation is to prepare for judgment. We need to honor God, live righteously, and refrain from sin.
“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”