The numerous hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and other natural phenomena affecting the world today should serve as a reminder that people need to be prepared for the return of Jesus Christ, said evangelist Franklin Graham.
"Wildfires raging on the West Coast. Violent hurricanes, one after the other, ravaging everything in their paths, with one of the worst — Irma—bearing down on Florida. A magnitude 8.1 earthquake shook the southern parts of Mexico this week, and we even recently experienced a rare solar eclipse," Graham said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
"The Bible says in Luke 21:25, '...there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves.' In Matthew 24:7 it says, 'For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.' These are some of the Biblical signs before Christ's return."
Graham, who is the CEO and president of Samaritan's Purse, one of the Christian relief groups helping in the hurricane disasters afflicting America, said "nobody knows the day or hour, not even the Son of God."
Still, he said that it is a "reminder to all of us to be ready—to repent and confess our sins, and ask for God's forgiveness."
While the U.S. has recently been hit but Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Mexico is recovering from its own tragedy last week following a magnitude 8.1 earthquake that struck the southern regions of the country, killing 90 people.
Mexicans suffered through a series of aftershocks over the weekend, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without water, and forcing many to sleep outside, fearful of more collapses, officials said.
Meanwhile wildfires across the western U.S. forced thousands to flee their homes last week, with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, stating that 80 large fires were burning on 2,200 square miles in nine Western states at the time, according to the Associated Press.
Graham urged Christians to pray for all those affected by the disasters, and said that people can find comfort and hope in God.
"We should also remember God's promise to us in John 16:33, 'I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world,'" Graham wrote.
Other prominent Christian leaders, such as Max Lucado, senior pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, have also said that the recent tribulation could be taken as a reminder of Christ's coming return.
"It is not to me to declare the day the Lord will return," Lucado wrote on his website at the end of August, in the wake of Harvey.
"But we know this much: it's the beginning of the end and the beginning of new beginnings. Calamities and catastrophes must occur before the birth of the new world. In the meantime — practice what they teach in Lamaze classes — take some deep breaths and hold the hand of the one who loves you," he added.