The wildfires in Colorado are so dangerous that officials in Colorado Springs can’t get close enough to assess the damage. More than 32,000 residents were forced to evacuate the city, as were students of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Surveying the damage, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said, “It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine. It’s almost surreal.” Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard Brown called the blaze “a firestorm of epic proportions.”
Meanwhile, wildfires in Montana have caused hundreds of families to be evacuated, while a blaze in central Utah has destroyed 56 structures and burned 72 square miles. Federal support is being provided to officials battling fires in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
What’s going on with our weather? On Tuesday, Hill City, Kansas had the hottest temperature on earth, at 115 degrees (Mecca, Saudi Arabia was 109). Heat advisories have been posted in 19 states. At the same time, the remnants of Tropical Storm Debby continue to ravage Florida. Parts of the state were inundated with more than two feet of rain, killing at least two people and flooding homes, businesses, and roads.
In other news, the conflict between Turkey and Syria continues to make headlines. And Egypt’s election of a Muslim Brotherhood president led one Israeli commentator to state, “Israel woke up this week to a new outpost of radicalism along its southern border, the nascent Islamic Republic of Egypt.” He calls the election “the worst possible outcome for Israel and the West” and states that it “poses grave dangers to the national security interests of Israel and the United States.”
In light of these events, more people are asking, “Are these the end times?” The question is understandable. The book of Revelation predicts war (Revelation 6:4-8), fire (Revelation 8:6-9), floods (Revelation 12:15), and drought (Revelation 16:12). However, such catastrophes have not been confined to recent days. Israel was attacked by Egypt in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973. The Peshtigo Fire of 1871 killed as many as 2,500 people in Wisconsin. The Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood in 1889 killed 2,200. The 1936 North American heat wave killed more than 5,000, while the summer of 1980 was the hottest on record.
Here’s what I usually say when asked if the return of Christ is near: we’re one day closer than ever before. When asked what signs would indicate his return, Jesus replied: “Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). Early Christians therefore lived in absolute expectation of his imminent return (1 Thessalonians 4:15). Some of God’s greatest servants lived the same way. G. Campbell Morgan, one of the most effective preachers in history, testified: “Every morning when I awaken I remind myself that I must be ready to meet God today.” Are you?