Read an Excerpt
I will never forget where I was when I first heard the news of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. I was just getting out of my car at church when the radio announcer said that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.
At first I thought that a small plane had probably gone off course or that bad weather in New York had caused the plane to accidentally hit the World Trade Center. I said a brief prayer and headed to my office.
About thirty minutes later, women started arriving for our Tuesday morning Bible study. One by one they made their way to my office, asking me if I had heard about the plane crash in New York. Then those arriving later began to say that another plane had hit the World Trade Center. A few minutes later another lady told me that a plane had hit the Pentagon. Others told me that another plane had crashed somewhere in Pennsylvania. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It felt like I was living a nightmare.
I made my way to the nearest TV to see what was going on. When I saw the video footage of the planes hitting the World Trade Center, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was like something from a movie. It was like a scene from Revelation. It was nothing short of apocalyptic. I was stunned and speechless.
Just as I will never forget where I was when I first heard the news of the attack and how I felt, I will also never forget the first thing that came into my mind. I immediately thought of the words of Jesus:
“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25–28)
Jesus said that when the events of the end of the age begin to unfold, people will be overcome with fear and panic. The response of all men will be fainting and a deep, somber sense of imminent foreboding.
We all witnessed this response firsthand. People everywhere were gripped with intense, paralyzing fear and panic. You could see it deeply etched on every face. You could hear it in the voices. You could feel it in the pit of your stomach. We all kept wondering, What's next? Where will the terror strike next? A deep sense of fear and trepidation about the future overtook people.
All of this was by design. Fear, anxiety, disruption, and terror were the stated goals of the terrorists. That’s what they’re all about—terror. After the attacks, Osama bin Laden said, “America has been filled with horror from north to south and east to west, and thanks be to God.”
The cover of Time on October 22, 2001, revealed the fragile psyche of the wounded nation. "The Fear Factor: Anthrax letters. FBI warnings. Bin Laden's videotapes. Bombarded by threats real and imagined, a nation on edge asks, What's next?"
Just between September 7 and 28, 2001, prescriptions for antianxiety drugs nationwide increased 8.6 percent. People desperately want some kind of assurance that everything is going to be okay. We want some good news. We want to hear that this is all a bad dream.
Good News, Bad News
The Bible contains the ultimate Good News. In the midst of the pessimism, gloom, and frustration of this present hour, there is one great beacon of hope: the promise of Jesus Christ. “‘If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also’” (John 14:3).
This promise assures us that all who have received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior from sin will spend eternity with the Lord in heaven. And not only that, but all believers in Christ will be rescued by the Lord (raptured) from the coming Tribulation. So we can say emphatically that for those who know the Lord the best is yet to come.
But the Bible also contains some very bad news. Before Jesus returns to earth at His second coming, things are going to get bad—really bad. I wish I could say that everything is going to be okay, that everything will get better and better until Jesus comes. But the Bible says that the worst is yet to come for planet earth.
Before we get into the specifics of how current events in our world today fit into God’s plan for the ages, let’s look at Jesus’ general forecast for the future.