The tsunami that hit Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and several Asian islands in December, 2004 was almost unbelievable in magnitude. The images of devastation were almost beyond imagination. Some sources are now saying that as many as 500,000+ lives may have been lost. The impact of that catastrophe will be felt for years to come.
After the tragedy, I received inquiries about its significance. Was it a judgment from God? Some who have contacted me have asked whether these events are signs of the end of the age. Hal Lindsey and other so-called prophecy experts proclaimed the tidal wave as proof that the end is near.
So, was the tidal wave in Indonesia a sign of the end? In a word, no.
Lindsey and others appeal to Matthew 24 for proof that these modern events are the signs that Jesus foretold. The disciples asked for a sign of the end of the age (Matthew 24.3). Jesus warned them against being deceived, stating that there would be wars, famines, earthquakes, and pestilence, but that "these are the beginnings of sorrows" (Matthew 24.6-7).
Jesus did not say these events were signs of the nearness of the end. As a matter of fact, in Luke’s account, he said that some would come proclaiming (prematurely), the nearness of the end. He told them not to believe these premature prognostications, because: "these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately." (Luke 21. 8-9f). In other words, the presence of earthquakes would not indicate the nearness of the end. Yet, modern prophecy "experts" like John Hagee, Jack Van Impe, and others tell us just the opposite. Who should we believe? I choose Jesus.
Something important is being ignored by modern "experts." Jesus was speaking to Peter, James and John when he warned of false prophets prematurely proclaiming the nearness of the end (Luke 21.8). Jesus told them not to believe those who said the end was near, before the end was actually near. However, he then gave them the signs to know when the end was truly near (Matthew 24. 14-15). Then he said, "When you see these things come to pass, know that it (the end of the age, DKP), is near, even at the door." (Matthew 24.32).
Anyone saying the end was near before the true signs appeared was a false prophet. However, when the true signs appeared — the fulfillment of the World Mission for one — they were to know the end was near, and to proclaim its nearness. The end would come in the same generation that the signs would appear (Matthew 24.34). Proclamations of the near end in later generations would also therefore, be false, being too late.
Peter, James and John, heard Jesus say not to say the end was near before the signs of the end appeared. Yet, all later said the end was near.
- Peter said: "The end of all things has drawn near" (1 Peter 4:7). These are almost the very words Jesus warned against making prematurely.
- James said, "The coming of the Lord has drawn near" (James 5:8).
- John said, "It is the last hour!" (1 John 2.18).
Jesus told these very men not to say the end was near before they saw the true signs of the end. He condemned anyone that would say the end was near before it was near. Yet, Peter, James and John said the end was near! This means that
- They were disobeying the Lord, if the end was not truly near, or,
- They were right, and the end was near in their lifetime.
Of course, if Peter, James and John were disobeying the Lord when they proclaimed the nearness of the end, then they became the false prophets that Jesus warned them about.
This is not the case however. They knew what the signs were. They saw the true signs of the end. They proclaimed the nearness of the end. The end came 2000 years ago, in the end of the Old Covenant Age of Israel, in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. And this means, thankfully, that the tsunami that hit Indonesia was not a sign of the end.