Are the end times upon us? This has been a central question among Christians for the past two millennia, though recent events have once again catapulted eschatology to the theological forefront.
Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, is among the most well-known preachers in America. He’s also more than willing to discuss what Scripture says about the end of days — an oft-times avoided or played down topic in some houses of worship.
“I don’t know why more people don’t want to talk about eschatology or end-times events because Bible prophecy is not given to scare us but to prepare us,” he said. “And not only that, but I think it motivates us.”
Laurie continued, “Talking about these things can be very motivating for Christians to keep us on our toes spiritually.”
Listen to Laurie break down what the Bible says about the end of days:
Knowing Jesus could come back at any moment, he said, can “be a motivator to live a godly life.” But Laurie addressed the extremes he believes can unfold on both sides of the end times discussion.
“On one side is ‘everything is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy,'” he said. “They find stuff in the want ads that are fulfillments of Bible prophecy … the same kind of person would tend to set dates.”
The other extreme, of course, is silence on all things prophetic. Laurie said his stance is a middle-ground approach that discusses what’s in Scripture without too many definitives.
As for what’s going on with Russia and Ukraine right now, Laurie mirrored numerous preachers and Bible experts by expressing his belief that it’s all worth watching. He said many believe the “Gog and Magog” prophecy in Ezekiel 38 references Russia and, thus, the invasion of Ukraine is a noteworthy event.
Laurie was careful, though, not to definitively say Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is tied to eschatology.
While the preacher said the events are “perhaps” connected, he offered a more general assessment of what he believes the Bible proclaims in Ezekiel 36-38.
“Looking at the big picture, here’s what we know in the last days: God says Israel would be scattered and regathered in her land again that has happened on May 14, 1948,” Laurie said. “Israel officially became a nation, and we might say the prophetic time clock started ticking.”
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He then recapped the prophecies that follow in Ezekiel 38, explaining how a nation to the north of Israel (Magog) will try to march into Israel. This is where the theology surrounding Russia as a potential candidate for Gog comes into play.
Laurie also pointed to Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 that warn of wars, “rumors of wars,” plagues, and other such elements in the lead-up to the end of days.
“Jesus in Matthew 24 gave us signs of the times — one of them was there’ll be wars and rumors of wars,” he said. “It certainly fits that. No. 2, there would be pestilence and plague, and if COVID is not a modern-day plague, I don’t know it is, and it’s affected the whole planet [and it] still affects us to this day.”
Laurie noted Jesus told His followers to “look up for your redemption is drawing near” when such signs unfold. Matthew 24:4-14 (NIV) reads:
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
The pastor believes we’re seeing more and more of these sorts of events unfold and that they seem to be closer together — something he said is “alarming.” And while he’s not sure where — or if — the Ukraine invasion fits into the eschatological mix, he’s intently watching along with the rest of the world.
“I think there are things happening right now in our world and the last six months that are alarming, that are reminiscent of what Scripture tells us to be looking for,” he said. “So, could this lead to the ultimate invasion of Magog? I don’t know that but what I’m saying is, this is a very fascinating, alarming, and concerning development.”
With all this in mind, Laurie said his biggest concern right now is the state of our culture. But while secularization is taking hold, the preacher believes it’s still possible for revival to break out.
“The reality is: revivals often happen during times of crisis,” he said. “We need one, and I think the very backdrop of our culture reminds us of that, and it might be the perfect moment for it to happen again.”
Watch Laurie’s video for more on this important topic.
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