The popular teaching is that wars and rumours of wars are proof that we are living in the last days.
Jesus’ Last Days Prophecy taught us that everything that happened in Matthew 24:4-34 would happen in one generation. It also taught us that we do not live in the last days because the last days were when the apostles lived. That is why the apostles said they were living in the last days, not because they were somehow ignorant. (If so, we cannot really trust the word of God because God is lying!) Rather the Bible teaches us we live at the end of the age.
2. Jesus’ Prophecy Concerning False Wars and Rumours of War
Jesus prophesied this during the historical period called Pax Romana (peace in the Roman Empire):
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.Matthew 24:6
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom….
He prophesied that all this would happen within one generation. We are not at liberty to use this scripture today as a reference to the timing of Jesus’ final return.
He is not referring to the end of the age (in the future), rather He is referring to the last days, which finished in 70CE or 100CE depending on whether you use the 40 year generation or 100-year generation, both being equally biblical.
The timing of these wars and rumour of wars was placed between the two references to one generation:
Firstly in Matthew 23:
Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.Matthew 23:36
This is then repeated in Matthew 24:
Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.Matthew 24:34
3. Non-Biblical Evidence of Wars and Rumours of Wars
Jesus prophesied correctly, but again this is still within one generation, and we are not at liberty to use this for today if we are going to be true to the Word of God. So let’s see what the leading historian of the time had to say – was Jesus correct?
Josephus has 150 pages of the wars over this time. Here are a few:
A. Rumours of War.
Whenever war is imminent, there are always rumours of wars. However, here is an example of a rumour that did not end in war:
The idea of Emperor Caligula attacking Jerusalem was sufficient for inhabitants of Jerusalem to not till their lands. But it never happened.
B. Kingdom Against kingdom.
King Herod II of the Jews versus King of Arabia.
C. Nation Against Nation.
We will list here different wars that are nation versus nation. Besides these, if we look at the Roman army attacks on the Jews by themselves, we see nations versus nation. The Roman Empire conquered many nations. Whenever they did this, they would conscript the men of fighting age into their army. Therefore many nations made up the Roman army.
Remember that a Jewish generation is 40 years and 100 years, so 70CE is 40 years after Jesus’ prophecy, and 130CE is 100 years after Jesus prophecy.
So by itself, the Roman army attacking Jerusalem in 70CE and 130CE was not a nation against a nation, but many nations against the nation of Israel. Here are some records from the historian Josephus:
D. Jewish-Roman Wars
After fleeing Babylon because of pestilence to the city of Seleucia in modern-day Iraq, the citizens rose up against the Jews, killing 5,000 of them.
Jews of Perez versus Philadelphia. Many Jews were killed.
Under Cumanus a soldier offered an indignity within the temple precincts. The Jews violently objected and the Romans started to attack, whereupon 30,000 Jews were killed and in the resulting stampede.
Jews argued with the Syrians over who would govern Caesaria. Approximately 20,000 Jews were killed in the city as a result.
Following that the Jews were upset with the Syrians, and as a result, started a war, Whereupon the Jews were defeated by the Syrians.
In the cities of Damascus, Tyre, Ascalon 10,000 Jews were killed in the first hour alone. In Sythopolis 13,000 Jews were massacred in one night.
At Alexandria the Jews rose up against the Romans. Tiberius sent in the two legions of the Roman army plus a further 5000 soldiers. They killed infants, children and adults, leaving 50,000 Jews dead in the streets with others burnt alive in their houses.
During the 47 day siege of the Jewish town of Jotapata by Vespasian, 40,000 Jews were killed and 1000 taken into captivity.
Vespasian attacks the Jews in Jerusalem but is defeated by them. He then spends two years going throughout all the cities of Judea and Samaria killing all those who resisted. It is said that the cities knew when the Romans were coming, by the number of bodies floating down the river from the neighbouring city.
E. Destruction of Jerusalem
Vespasian returns to Rome to become Emperor and leaves Titus to finish off the remaining cities including Jerusalem, home to the rebel leaders and the stronghold of the Jewish resistance to the Romans.
70CE April 23rd
Titus starts his siege on Jerusalem with 20,000 legionnaires and 40,000 further auxiliaries and troops from various nations. Because they arrived during Passover there were huge numbers of Jewish populace trapped in the city.
70CE August 9th
The last sacrificial lamb is killed due to running out of sheep
70CE August 10th
Titus offers a sacrificial ox, sheep and pig to show the ascendancy of the Roman gods.
Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is complete. 1.1 million were killed and 97,000 captured.
4. Jewish First Century Holocaust
As Jesus predicted in His prophecy, the following 40 years were the pinnacle of suffering to the Jews. It truely was the great tribulation that Jesus said would NEVER be repeated.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.Matthew 24:21
|Per cent |
|Destruction of Jerusalem||70CE||1,197,000||4,200,000||28.5%|
|Total 40 year generation||30-70CE||1,345,000||4,200,000||32.0%|
|Masada and Ein Gedi||73CE||1,660||4,200,000||0.04%|
|Total 100 year generation||30-130CE||1,926,660||4,200,000||45.9%|
Jesus’ prophecy was indeed true- that there was coming the Great Tribulation within one generation.
Many will say that there are more wars now than at any time in history. We need to look at this objectively to see if this is true. I have not included the loss of the total population as a result of the destruction of Jerusalem in my percentage. If we dropped the worldwide population as a result, then the percentage would be even higher by the time of the Hadrian revolt.
5. Has it Become Worse Since Jesus’ Prophecy of Wars and Rumours of Wars?
|Per cent |
|World War 2||1939-1945CE||6,000,000||16,600,000||36.1%|
|Total 100-year generation||30-130CE||1,926,660||4,200,000||45.9%|
Remembering that Jesus was talking to the Jews, the ‘Last Days’ prophecy is correct when it says nothing surpasses it. Even the Nazi holocaust did not surpass what happened in the Roman – Jewish wars.
A. Wars and Rumours of Wars Have Decreased Since 70CE:
The following table of wars since the 70 CE shows the opposite is true, that major conflicts have decreased in the last 500 years:
Now let’s look at the percentage of the population killed in major conflicts since Christ preached. However, it is important to realise that the figures for the last century include death from famines. So if you calculated them out, the percentages would be a lot less for those of the 20th Century.
|War||Date (CE)||Mean of|
at the time
|An Lushan Rebellion||755-763||21,000,000||235,000,000||8.9%|
|Ming to Qing Dynasty|
|Conquests of Timur||1370-1405||12,600,000||390,000,000||3.2%|
|World War Two||1939-1945||75,000,000||2,800,000,000||2.6%|
|Tai Ping Rebellion||1850-1864||31,000,000||1,260,000,000||2.5%|
|Yellow Turban Rebellion||184-205||4,500,000||202,000,000||2.3%|
|World War One||1914-1918||23,500,000||1,800,000,000||1.3%|
|Russia Civil War||1917-1924||6,700,000||1,880,000,000||0.4%|
|China Civil War||1927-1949||9,600,000||2,800,000,000||0.3%|
B. As Christianity has spread over 2000 years, Wars and Rumours of Wars have Decreased
Do you notice that relatively speaking the 2nd World War killed a quarter of what Genghis Khan did, and just under half of the next 3 contenders? So to say that wars are getting worse (and therefore Matthew 24 proves that Jesus must be returning) is incorrect.
This does not mean that Jesus will not return, it means we cannot quote Matthew 24 and say “there are more wars now, therefore Jesus is returning.”
Let’s now look at since World War 2:
C. Christianity is Spreading Rapidly in the last 75 years and Conflict has Reduced even Further.
Now lets zoom in on the last 30 years and see what the trend is:
6. Speculation About The Times We Live In
There is no reason to quote Matthew 24:4-34 as a means to fulfil some rhetoric about today.
Now of course there will be false Christs, false prophets and wars, but that does not signify the end of the world.
You will often hear people talk about the number of wars, and earthquakes and disasters occurring now as if this was proof that we live in the time of Jesus return. Yet statistically this is not the most dangerous time to live in.
It may APPEAR to be the most dangerous time, but this is not so.
7. Media – Wars and Rumours of Wars.
A. We are now more Aware of Wars.
With the rise of media and satellites, we are very aware of all the conflicts that are occurring, but that does not mean there are more of them, it just means we are more aware of them.
B. Do the Amount of Wars and Rumours of Wars Signify the Return of Christ?
So what has been the situation since the 2nd World War? We can see from the first chart that there has been a decrease, but let’s look into it in more detail.
I have already postulated that we cannot quote Matthew 24 for today as it was a specific prophecy for the next 40 years. So we need to seriously ask ourselves the question: Do the number of wars signify that Jesus is returning?
If we use this thinking then Jesus is definitely not returning now.
C. We Do not Know the Time of Christ’s Return.
He may return today, or in 10,000 years. The strongest indication of the return of Christ coming soon is the return of the Jews to Israel.
But we cannot quote Matthew 24 for the purpose of a timeline for Jesus return. I do not know when Jesus will return – nor do you:
8. Summary of: Wars and Rumours of Wars
- Jesus prophesied wars and a great tribulation within one generation.
- In False Christs and Prophets we found the same, Jesus prophecy of the last days was correct and does not say we live in the last days now.
- This happened with 46% of the Jewish population being killed, as opposed to 36% in the Nazi holocaust.
- Wars and rumours of wars have been decreasing over time as Christianity has spread throughout the world.
- Just because we can see wars due to the advancement of technology, does not mean that they are increasing.
- You are ten times more likely to die in a car accident than in a conflict or terror attack.
- We cannot quote Matthew 24 as proof of living in the last days, as there was a one generation time limit to that prophecy.
- Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24 was completely fulfilled within one generation.
© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries/ Dr Neville van Eerten 2021