Signs of the times

SIGNS OF THE COMING OF JESUS AND THE END OF THE AGE

 

Mark 13:32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

In the recent past, many have said that Jesus was coming back on a specific day, and proclaimed such. In each case their predictions were wrong. The Bible says clearly that “no man knows the hour or day” that Jesus would return. But we can know the season. In Matthew 24, Jesus gives us the distinctiveness of the age that will be a sign of His coming and the end of the age.

 

Let us examine some verses from Matthew Chapter 24 that are both general and specific.

Keep in mind that the context of Matthew 24 is the end times as related to the nation of Israel.

 

Departing from the temple in Jerusalem Jesus’ disciples were showing Him the building and how impressive it was. Jesus says to them, not one stone shall be left upon another. He foresaw the destruction of the temple in 70 A D by the Roman general Titus. When Titus enters Jerusalem and destroys the temple it is a fulfillment of what Jesus said to His disciples some years earlier.

 

The disciples of Jesus came to Him and asked Him,

Matt 24:3 “…what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

 

From verses 4 -12, there is a list of things that Jesus says will be harbingers to His coming.

 

  • deception, verse 4

 

The very word used gives us a basic understanding of what is meant. The deception from the context is the deception from false christs. The basic meaning of the word is to stray or to be lead astray from the truth. Borrowing a line from Pontius Pilate when Jesus stood before him, “what is truth?” Deception does not mean to stray from one’s own truth. Rather, from ultimate truth which is the truth set forth in God’s word – what He has revealed as constant truth. An example of constant truth is that a family consists of a man, woman, and children. That has been an established truth for thousands of years. Deception can take many forms, but in any form, it is set forth to dilute the ultimate truth of God’s word.

 

  • many will come in my name saying I am Christ, verse 5

 

Here is a shortlist of men from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries who claimed or claim to be Jesus Christ (Wikipedia).

19th century

John Nichols Thom (1799-1838), Arnold Potter (1804-1872), Jones Very (1813-1880), Bahaullah (1817-1892), Carl Browne (1849-1914), William Davies (1833-1906), Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) …

20th century

John Hugh Smyth-Pigott (1852-1927), Haile Selassie I (1892-1975), Lou de Palingboer (1898-1968, Krishna Venta (1911-1958), Ernest Norman (1904-1971), Ahn Sahng-hong (1918-1985), Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012), Jim Jones (1931-1997), Marshall Applewhite (1931-1997), Yahweb ben Yahweh (1935-2007), and another dozen names could be added.

21st century

Apollo Quiboloy (1950-   ), Hasan Mearci (1954-   ), Alan John Miller (1962-   ), David Shayler (1965-   ), Maurice Clemmons (1972-2009), Oscar Ramro Ortega-Hernandez (1990-   ), Ante Pavlovic (1957-2020).

 

Other people today believe that they are the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop (Russian), Wayne Bent (USA), José Lois de Jesús Miranda (USA), Ahn Sahng-Hong (South Korea), Allan John Miller (Australia), Moses Hlongwane (South Africa), David Shayler (England), and others.

 

It is quite clear that there are many people, from many different backgrounds, from various countries of the world that believe that they are Jesus and come in His name. Several things all of these men have in common is that they have fulfilled the words of Jesus Christ Himself when He said,

 

Mat 24:5 “many will come in my name saying I am Christ, and deceive many”

 

And that none of them really know that Bible,

 

Matt 24:26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.”

 

 

  • wars and rumors of wars, verse 6 – nations will rise against nations. verse 7

 

Here we have a general statement that can be applied throughout the ages. When Jesus said this, the predominant warring power was the Roman Empire, which always seemed to be at war. There have been wars throughout recorded human history. But can it be said that there have been more wars in recent history as compared to ancient history?

 

When looking at all of the wars in the 20th and 21st centuries, we find a huge list of wars, more than the common individual would expect. The website war-memorial.net, lists:

 

– from 1900 to the present – over 260 wars (120-year period).

– from 1500-1799 – over 157 wars (299-year period).

 

More frequent wars, and an increase in nations rising against nations seem to be what Jesus was alluding to.

 

  • famines, pestilences (Luke 21:11), earthquakes in various places, verse 7

 

Famines have been fairly consistent throughout human history. From 2200 BC to the present there have been recorded famines. In the 20th century, 75 million people died as a result of famine. U. N. news reports that humanitarian groups are warning that famine is knocking at the door of 41 million worldwide. One thing that stands out is that with all the modern technology, and the ease of transporting food from place to place, we still see famines in many areas of the world. Famine, whether natural or man-made, will continue to be seen on the world stage and will increase.

 

Pestilence is a deadly or virulent epidemic disease. The Louw and Nida Greek Lexicon defines the word “pestilences” as a widespread contagious disease; or a plague.

 

The Bible uses the word in the plural, which means that toward the end of the age the world would see more than one pestilence occur.

Covid19 may be the first sign that other pestilences are on the horizon. As Christians, we should not be surprised at the fulfillment of Jesus’ words, but what may be a surprise is that we are seeing this in our lifetime.

 

Earthquakes have been another constant in human history. From the 11th – 18th centuries, there were some 69 recorded earthquakes. The 19th century saw 55+ earthquakes, with only one reaching 9.0. In the 20th century, three have reached or exceeded 9.0. In the 20th century, there have been more than 370 earthquakes recorded. In the 21st century from 2001-2020 there have been over 675 earthquakes.

It appears that in 20 years there have been more earthquakes than all recorded history combined. Some will dismiss this as better record-keeping rather than another example that we are living in the latter times.

 

Matt 24:8 “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”

 

Jesus was comparing these signs to the recurrent pains that are characteristic of childbirth. Birth pangs start very mild and continue to get more frequent and violent.

The implication is that famines, pestilences, and earthquakes would occur more often than in the past.

 

 

  • Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, verse 9

 

This can be a difficult saying of Jesus to believe. Jesus enlightens His disciples so that when tribulation comes, they would be prepared. Many teach that this verse is referring to after the rapture. This may or may not be true.

Tribulation means pressure. The Christian will experience pressure to conform to this ungodly world and to believe that which is contrary to what the Bible says. This is nothing new. We just need to look back to the Christians who lived in the Roman Empire before Constantine. They were pressured to accept the Roman Emperors as gods, to accept polytheism, integrate into the beliefs of Roman society, and in many cases recant. That is why many of them went to their deaths in the coliseum.

Across the world, there are Christians who are being persecuted and killed for their faith.

The Greek word ‘martus’ in the New Testament means witness. This is one who witnesses to the beliefs they have in Jesus Christ. These beliefs can result in giving up one’s life for Jesus. It may never come to that for the majority of believers, but there is to be resolve in the spirit of the individual, that if pressured to that point, they would become a martyr. None of us knows how we would react unless we are faced with that choice. We should not be so naive that we dismiss that possibility exists, even in the United States.

 

“and you will be hated by all nations”

 

The phrase “all nations” in greek carries the thought of every. This seems to indicate that at the end of the age, hatred for Christians would exist in every nation. To what degree would depend on the individual country.

Paul the Apostle wrote in Galatians, “I do not set aside the grace of God”. If that can be said of Christians, then they would have been crucified with Christ, as Paul says, and well prepared by the grace of God to confront whatever comes.

In the beginning of creation, (Gen 1:4) “and God divided the light from the darkness.” This is going to occur again on a national level – God separating the light and darkness in the hearts of men. John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

 

 

  • And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another, verse 10

 

Why would Christians be offended? There are preachers who for years have been preaching what they think from the pulpit, rather than what the Bible context teaches. And there are preachers who have been telling believers that God’s message is only to encourage and to bless them materially. It is true that God does bless, but there is more to the Gospel. That shallow message contradicts what Paul wrote to Timothy.

 

1 Tim 6:5-6

“…men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain”

 

This type of false teaching, which has become common in the church today, maybe setting up the church for what Paul refers to as the great falling away.

 

2 Thess 2:3 “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition”

 

The context of 2 Thess 2:3 is the second coming of Jesus, known by Christians as the rapture. There will be a great apostasy, the cause of which the apostle does not identify. If Christians are expecting material prosperity and to be blessed by God in the ways they expect, there may be a great shaking when those expectations are dashed. If persecution comes and preparation has not taken place within, many may become offended and fall away. There are enough examples in the Bible to teach the inquiring heart that Christians are not always coddled by God. He expects Christians to grow and walk with Him, and not fall apart at the first sign of trouble.

 

  • at that time many will fall away (NAS)

 

Whatever the catalyst maybe that causes a great apostasy, the church (individuals) were not prepared for it. If the church (individuals) receives the grace that God is giving today, they will be prepared for whatever may come tomorrow.

 

 

The nation Israel plays a pivotal role in end-time prophesy

 

In Leviticus Chapter 26 the Lord states to Israel, if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, that there would be consequences. One of which would be that Israel would be scattered among the nations – they would lose their national identity.

 

                                Lev 26:32-33

“I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. 33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste”

 

The fulfillment of this occurred in 70 AD when Titus, the military general who later became emperor, defeated the Jewish uprising and destroyed the Temple (Mic 3:12). From that point forward the Jews no longer had a nation, this also would affect their religious system of sacrifice even to today.

 

There was also prophesy that foretold the Jews would be gathered back to their land of Israel. At the time of this prophesy the northern ten tribes were already carried away by the Assyrians and the Southern kingdom of Judah was in captivity in Babylon. There was only a partial gathering to the land of Israel under Ezra, for many of the Jews did not want to leave the comforts of Babylon.

 

                                Isa 43:5-6

“Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west; 6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth”

 

Starting in the year 1881-1939 Jewish people from all over the world began to migrate to pre-state Israel. In 1947 the British Government handed over the responsibility for Palestine to the United Nations and withdrew in 1948. This coincided with the end of WWII, and the many displaced persons all over Europe. The Jewish nation was formed and many Jews from the concentration camps were welcomed into the Jewish homeland.

 

                                Ezek 37:10-14

10 “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. 11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.'”

 

                                Amos 9:14-15

“I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. 15 I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them,” Says the Lord your God.”

 

Ezek 34:13 “And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the  countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country”

 

Jer 31:10 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, And declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’”

 

 

Since 70 AD the Jews have not had control of the city of Jerusalem. They had been scattered to countries around the world. In 1948 Israel became a nation again and new hope was born that Israel may once again have dominion over Jerusalem.

 

                Zech 8:6-8

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, Will it also be marvelous in My eyes?’ Says the Lord of hosts. 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east And from the land of the west; 8 I will bring them back, And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem…”

 

This prophecy was fulfilled more than one time. After the Babylonian captivity, some of the Jews came back to their homeland (Israel) and some dwelt in Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and from that point on the Jews were not in possession of Jerusalem. But in 1967 during the six-day war (between Israel and the Arab alliance) the Jews recaptured Jerusalem again. This is a modern-day prophetic fulfillment by the hand of God. (For further study look into the six-day war to see how the Lord fought for Israel)

 

In Daniel chapter 12, Daniel is told to seal up the book until the end time. Daniel is told that at the end “knowledge will increase”. We have seen an increase in knowledge in the last 20 years like never before. In many areas, man’s knowledge has increased, but his quality of life has not.

 

Dan 12:4 “But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.” NLT

 

In 1980, a man named Richard Buckminster Fuller who was an inventor, designer, and futurist, created what he called the knowledge doubling curve. He estimated that the world’s knowledge doubled in every century until 1900. By the end of WWII knowledge was doubling every twenty-five years. It is now projected to double every year. He envisioned that the cycle will continue to become shorter and shorter. Surely those who have lived fifty or so years can see how knowledge has increased tremendously. Technology has brought forth many inventions that have increased knowledge but not necessarily quality of life.

 

 

Another prophecy in Isaiah Chapter 66 prophesies the sudden birth that would take place when Israel becomes a nation again, reclaiming her national identity once more.

 

Isa 66:7-8

7 “Before [Zion] travailed, she gave birth; before her pain came upon her, she was delivered of a male child. 8 Who has heard of such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Or shall a nation be brought forth in a moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she brought forth her children.” AMP

 

Without long labor pains, not the normal delay of childbirth, but a nation that would be brought forth in a brief time period, in rather swift order.

The Balfour Declaration, a British government statement, led to the mandate issued by the League of Nations, which gave Great Britain temporary control of Palestine.  That mandate terminated on May 14, 1948, the day that Israel was declared a nation.

 

Could these prophesies be seen as a mounting body of evidence that proclaims that we are living in a time near the end of the age as spoken by Jesus in Matthew 24:3? It would appear that there is ground for belief that supports the idea that the world is moving toward, or is at this end of the age time period.

 

There is enough Biblical evidence pointing to the return of Jesus Christ. No man knows the hour or the day, but we are living in a season that points to the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy related to the end times. Some Biblical passages are not clear-cut and lead to different interpretations, still, there is enough for us to see that the coming of the Lord and the end of the age may be near.

 

What should we do?

 

For the non-Christian Jesus has come to earth, died on the cross, shed His blood so that the non-Christian would find the love, and peace that can only be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is not religious talk that is another view of Christianity, it is a matter of life and death, and the way to experience the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, the assurance of salvation (Rom 8:16).

 

For Christians, we should not worry or be afraid. God has given us a life to live, and He has given us intrinsic life that is to bring us to fulfillment. Considering the closeness of the coming of Jesus Christ, Christians should take inventory of their heart and life.

 

1) How are we living? Are we living for ourselves or for the Lord? Is our focus always on our life? That is not to say that we cannot do anything we may want to do, but we should consider the Lord in our planning. Jesus is to be our inner focus no matter what we are doing (Prov 3:6a).

 

2) How much time do we spend with the Lord – reading and studying His word?

When was the last time we read the Bible? The answer can alert us to where we are, and give us direction as to what we should do.

 

3) Do I really love the Lord?

Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments”.

 

4) How committed to the Lord are we? Are we more committed to the Lord or to ourselves and our interests?

To the Jew, commitment is, “hear O Israel… You shall love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your strength.”

Paul writes to Timothy and says, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love (dedication) from a pure heart…”

Commitment (dedication) is both an attitude of heart and behavior toward God and others. Our commitment to the Lord must be greater than our commitment to anyone or anything. Our priorities in life will testify to our commitment.

 

5) Are we really ready to stand before Jesus at the judgment seat of Christ?

 

We could add more to this list, but there is enough to grab our attention.

In Galatians 2:24, the Apostle Paul said “I do not set aside the grace of God.” The implication is that the grace of God comes and it can be received or rejected. The peaceful heart will know and experience God’s grace. His divine influence on our hearts will be reflected in our lives, and God’s grace will prepare us for today and tomorrow.

 

Whether the coming of the Lord is near or some years away, we as Christians should live our lives as if we have little time left on this earth. Even if we live to 100 years, we would find that time has gone quickly, and then this life here is over. We should make every day count for the Lord.

We are all only one blood clot away from our eternal destiny!

 

Titus 2:11-13

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” NKJV