In Matthew 24, Jesus and His disciples leave the Temple area when he begins to teach them about the end times. This is known as the Olivet Discourse. Discourse means teaching and the site of that teaching was the Mount of Olives.
In this teaching, Jesus speaks about birth pains. As He lists the events that will take place in the last days — deception, war, famines, earthquakes, i.e., the “birth pains,” — His listeners would understand the comparison of these events to a woman giving birth. One knows that these events, or birth pains, will become more intense and rapid as we get closer to the “birth.” The birth is the return of Jesus Christ!
I pastor in Phoenix, Arizona. As a pastor, I have the privilege of preaching every week. As an expository preacher, I preach book-by-book and chapter-by-chapter. Recently, I just started a new series on the book of Ruth. I knew it had been a while since I had preached a series from Ruth, but I did not realize how long it had been until I went into my files and pulled out my last sermon from that series. Way back in 2009 was the last time I had preached a series in Ruth — 14 years! I was surprised and shocked, but then I got to thinking, and I began to wonder how much life has changed since 2009.
I expected to see a change in our world financially, socially, and spiritually. I expected to see technological growth. But, I was surprised to find how fast these changes have taken place. How fast has life changed in the last 14 years?
The cost of living has increased dramatically. The U.S. dollar has lost 40% of its value since 2009. A $100 in 2009 is equivalent in purchasing power of $142.22 today. It will cost you forty percent more to buy the same amount of groceries, fill your tank with gas, or pay your utilities bill.
The Federal Debt
In 2000, the federal debt was $5.6 trillion. In 9 years, it more than doubled, for the national debt in 2009 was $11.9 trillion. Since then, in just 14 years, it has almost tripled. The national debt today is $32,681,560,575,804. That’s 32 TRILLION dollars!
In 1982, our national debt hit the one trillion dollar mark for the first time, which means from 1790 to 1982, it took 192 years for our country to reach the one trillion dollar debt milestone. In 2000, we were 5.6 trillion dollars in debt, a 5-fold increase in 18 years. Since then, we have seen another increase. This time a six-fold increase from 5.6 trillion dollars to a staggering 32.6 trillion dollars. It is not just the intense amount but the speed at which it has happened.
The world population first hit one billion in 1804. It did not hit the two billion mark until 1927, which means it took over 100 years to double. Today the world population in 2023 is eight billion. In just over 200 years, the population has increased eightfold. Again, it is not just the intense number but the speed at which it has happened.
What About Socially?
How much has changed socially in our culture over the last 14 years? On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously rejected a state law banning same-sex marriage. On April 27, 2009, same-sex couples were granted marriage licenses for the first time in Iowa. After Massachusetts and Connecticut, Iowa was the third state to allow same-sex marriages.
On May 26, 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld the ban on same-sex marriage. Fourteen years ago, California banned same-sex marriage!
On November 3, 2009, Maine voters overturned a law allowing same-sex marriage, which the state governor had instated in May of 2009. Maine was the 31st state to block same-sex marriage.
It seems almost naïve to try to write about the advancements made in technology because it seems as if any article written on this subject is outdated by the time it is published. That’s how fast technology is moving and changing.
To put this in a better perspective, let’s go back to December 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. That was the day the Wright brothers experienced their first successful flight. On that December morning, man took wings for the very first time. The flight only lasted twelve seconds and covered a distance of just over 800 feet, but we were airborne!
Fast-forward fifty-four years to October 1957, and the world had Sputnik. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik, which became the first-ever satellite in space. In 1993, the United States and Russia merged their space technology, and by 1998 the International Space Station was launched.
On July 11, 2021, Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic, flew his privately owned rocket into space. Then on December 11, a civilian crew of six flew for eleven minutes into space. It took thousands of years for man to be able to fly for 12 seconds and travel eight hundred feet. Then within 118 years, man was taking trips into space and returning the same day. That’s an example of how fast technology is advancing.
Debt has been increasing at a detrimental pace, and the world population has risen rapidly. Society and technology are changing almost daily. But what about our spiritual lives?
Jesus warned about deception and false messiahs. Jesus spoke about end times apostasy, and the apostle Paul echoed this warning in 1 Timothy 4:1 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3. According to those who track church attendance and the decline in spiritual growth, those prophetic words of Jesus and Paul are proving to be true.
Again, the amazing aspect of this is the speed at which things have changed. Since the pandemic, a 2002 American Religious Benchmark survey revealed, “Young people, those who are single, and those who self-identified liberals, ceased attending religious service.” The most significant departure from church services is among those under the age of thirty.
Our world is changing fast. Interestingly, conferences highlighting Bible prophecy in January of 2022 spoke on topics such as the Abraham Accords and Israel’s role in world affairs. Now, just eighteen months later, those conference speakers speak on AI and quantum computing issues.
Because Scripture is so clear on financial insecurity, society degrading, technical advancement, and spiritual decline in the end times, I am not surprised to see these as issues we face today. It does surprise me how fast all of these changes are happening.
In Matthew 24, when Jesus spoke about the end times, the last birth pain He speaks of is found in verse 14. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”…Source – Read More!