Are Wars and Rumors of Wars a Sign of the End Times?
Christian media and pop culture are filled with a wide assortment of books and videos warning that we are in the End Times, or at least quickly approaching it. Some offer rather ridiculous ideas, while others work from current events and develop a case for the current era being very near the End Times. This expectation of the Apocalypse is nothing new. The early Christians expected Jesus Christ to return at any moment and considered the events of their day as evidence of the impending Apocalypse. We obviously know that the expectations of the early Christians turned out to be incorrect, but we rarely look at our own expectations with the same critical eye. The once-popular Christian author Constance Cumbey, for example, wrote a treatise exposing the New Age Movement, proclaiming that movement to be the false religion that would usher in the rise of the Anti-Christ. When her book was written in the 1980s, the New Age Movement was in its heyday. New Age bookstores were popping up all over the world selling everything from crystals and incense to holistic health products and “compassionate” clothing. New Age-oriented festivals, such as the Rainbow Gathering, attracted scores of young people eager to drop out of the boring, sterile work-a-day world of America and discover something beyond the mundane affairs of this world, seeking transcendence amid a production-consumption culture. To be sure, New Age organizations were quick to cash in on the search for meaning and even went so far as to take out a full-page ad in a major newspaper declaring that Christ had returned. Cumbey, and many who jumped on the anti-New Age bandwagon with her, were insistent that this was the prophesied one-world religion of the End Times, and we should be prepared for Armageddon. What they completely ignored was the capitalistic endeavor that was the New Age Movement. These organizations were all competing for not just the attention of spiritual seekers, but their dollars. And what better way to get both than to make wildly outlandish claims, such as Christ has returned and is hanging out with your organization, eating the latest in vegan foods, and meditating with his secret adepts. This isn't to suggest that there wasn't something far more serious going on behind the scenes of some New Age organizations (see the works of Carl Teichrib), but that the average New Age adherent was/is simply spiritually misguided and not a conscious part of a conspiracy.
My point here is, there are many things in our culture throughout the years that could be construed as signs of the End Time, but in most cases, they have simply been the usual activities of fallen, sinful people either sincerely looking for truth and stumbling into error, or of those who simply see an opportunity to make a fast buck. Unfortunately, it is not all that different in Christian pop-media circles. Books about blood moons, current political leaders, non-Christian religions and spiritual movements, and the like are written to make money more than inform. The most popular and wealthy Christian publishers did not get that way because they published sober biblical exegesis, but rather due to the many sensational titles they have published, and that sell very well to a market desperate for something to validate their faith. Speculation may be interesting and entertaining, but it can also lead to some very bad thinking patterns. People who buy every new book on the End Times also tend to find themselves believing in very unfounded conspiracy theories, which they cling to and spread with more fervor than they ever did the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sadly, when non-Christians see this sort of oddball thinking in forums or on social media, it only pushes them away from the gospel, since they now associate Christianity with people who claim Obama is the Anti-Christ, Trump is a prophetic figure, lizard people run the world government, and other equally absurd pablum. In short, they bring the gospel and Christ into disrepute. It is vastly more important that you study the Word of God for what it tells you about yourself, your spiritual life, and how to live than looking for signs of the End Times.
Rumors of War?
As I have noted, wars and rumors of wars have always been a part of the fabric of human history. There has not been a time when some nation or nations have not been at war with each other over whatever petty squabble they deemed important at the time.
One estimate is that out of the past 3.400 years of human history, only 268 years have been relatively peaceful, and even that number may be too high. In our modern world of mass communications, where we can get the news of the world in just seconds online, it may seem like wars and rumors of wars are more frequent, when in fact that is not the case.
Humans have always been at war with each other for resources and land, and sometimes ideology. What does this mean then in light of our question? It means that while wars and rumors of wars are indeed a sign of the End Times, we have always had those, and it would be impossible to know which wars and which rumors would point to that time. Our desperate search for clues and answers, and the subsequent pointing of fingers at this or that movement, this religion or that religion, or your most repugnant politicians is all empty guesswork and, in some cases, spiritually dangerous. There have been far too many preachers in the history of the church that have claimed to know the hour and day of the arrival of the Anti-Christ, Armageddon, Christ’s return, and on and on. In every single case, they were proven wrong; false prophets, every one of them. Jesus Christ, Himself, states that even He does not know when He is returning, only the Father knows (Matthew 24:36). The point is humans cannot know. It is not for us to know the hour and day. If it had been, Christ would have revealed it to us. Now, some will say we have the Book of Revelation, so it has been revealed. Has it though? All we possess is a book filled with deep symbolism, which, if it is like all other prophetic symbols in Scripture, we are unlikely to be able to decipher it until the events have already been fulfilled.
If you spend your time doing what you are supposed to do as a disciple of Jesus Christ, you have no reason to worry about the End Times, nor the wars and rumors of wars as signs of the end. You have the blessed assurance of being caught up with him and reigning with him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 5:10). Be aware of your world and what is going on in it? Certainly. Study prophecy to understand your Lord better? Absolutely. But worrying about signs and symbols in an inordinate manner, falling prey to chasing them, and believing in ideas and theories that bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ into disrepute? Absolutely not.