An Overview of the Signs of the Times|
The great variety of signs that point to the Lord's soon return.
Dr. David R. Reagan
Many people believe there is nothing that can be known about the timing of the Lord's return because
Jesus said He would return like a thief in the night
But Paul makes it clear in 1
Thessalonians 5:1-6 that Jesus' statement does not apply
to believers: "But you, brethren, are not in darkness,
that the day should overtake you like a thief. . ." He
then proceeds to explain why: "for you are all sons of
light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of
darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let
us be alert and sober." Paul is referring, of course, to
the light of the Holy Spirit who indwells all true
believers and who can enlighten us through our study of
Scripture to know the season of the Lord's return (1
As a matter of fact, God is obligated by His
character to warn the world of the imminent return of
His Son. The reason is that Jesus is returning in great
wrath to "judge and wage war" (Revelation 19:11), and
God never pours out His wrath without
God does not wish that any should
perish, but that all should be brought to repentance (2
Peter 3:9). Therefore, God always warns before He
executes His wrath. He warned the world through Noah for
120 years. He warned Sodom and Gomorrah through Abraham.
He sent Jonah to warn the pagan city of Ninevah, and
He sent Nahum to the same city 150 years
Likewise, God is warning the world today
that His Son is about to return. He is calling the world
to repentance. The message of the hour to unbelievers
can be summed up in these words: "Flee from the wrath
that is to come by fleeing into the loving arms of Jesus
now." Jesus came the first time as an expression of
God's love; He came to die for the sins of Mankind. But
when He returns, He will come in vengeance to pour out
the wrath of God on those who have rejected God's love
The soon return of Jesus also carries
with it a message for believers. Lukewarm Christians and
carnal Christians are being called to commit their lives
The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand.
Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and
put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as
in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in
sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and
jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make
no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. -
God's Method of Warning
God is alerting believers of
the soon return of His Son through what are called
"signs of the times." These are prophecies concerning
world events that we are told to watch for, prophecies
that will identify the season of the Lord's
The Bible is full of these signs. There
are about 500 prophecies in the Old Testament that
relate to the Second Coming of the Messiah. In the New
Testament, one out of every 25 verses is concerned with
the return of Jesus.
In fact, there are so many
signs that it is difficult to grasp all of them. The
best way I have found to do this is to put them in
1) The Signs of Nature - We
are told to watch for earthquakes, famine, pestilence,
and signs in the heavens (see Matthew 24:7 and Luke
This is the least respected category of
signs for several reasons. For one thing, many people
simply shrug their shoulders and say, "There have always
been natural calamities, so what else is new?" Note that
Jesus says these signs will be like "birth pangs"
(Matthew 24:8) that is, they will increase in frequency
and intensity as the time draws near for His return. In
other words, there will be more intense earthquakes and
more frequent ones. That is exactly what is happening
Another reason these signs are given
little respect is because most Christians are so
rationalistic that they do not really believe in the
supernatural, and they therefore find it difficult to
believe that God speaks to the world through signs of
nature. Yet, the Bible teaches this principle from start
God dealt with the world's sin through
a great flood in the days of Noah (Genesis 6). He called
the nation of Judah to repentance through a terrible
locust invasion (Joel 1). In like manner, He called for
the nation of Israel to repent by sending drought, wind
storms, mildew, locusts, famine and pestilence (Amos
4:6-10). The prophet Haggai pointed to a drought as
evidence that God was calling the people to get their
priorities in order (Haggai 1:10-11).
Testament begins with a special light in the heavens
marking the birth of the Messiah (Matthew 2:2). On the
day that Jesus was crucified, there was three hours of
darkness and an earthquake (Matthew 27:45-51). And when
Jesus returns, the earth will experience the greatest
earthquake in its history as every mountain is lowered,
every valley is raised, and every island is moved
God has always spoken
through signs of nature, and He continues to do so
today. We had better pay close attention to
2) The Signs of Society - Jesus said
that society will become increasingly lawless and
immoral as the time approaches for His return. In fact,
He said it would become as evil as it was in the days of
Noah (Matthew 24:12,37-39).
Paul paints a
chilling picture of end time society in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
He says it will be characterized by three loves the love
of self (humanism), the love of money (Materialism), and
the love of pleasure (hedonism). He then points out that
the payoff of this carnal lifestyle will be what the
philosophers call nihilism that is, a society wallowing
in despair. Men's minds will become depraved (Romans
1:28), and people will call evil good and good evil
We are seeing these prophecies
fulfilled before our eyes today as we watch our society
reject its Christian heritage and descend into a hellish
pit of lawlessness, immorality, and despair. Even worse,
we are exporting our nihilism around the world through
our immoral and violent movies and television
3) The Spiritual Signs - There
are both positive and negative spiritual signs that we
are to watch for. The negative ones include the
appearance of false christs and their cults (Matthew
24:5,11,24), the apostasy of the professing church (2
Thessalonians 2:3), an outbreak of Satanism (1 Timothy
4:1), and the persecution of faithful Christians
These negative spiritual signs
began to appear in the mid-19th Century when Christian
cults started forming. First came the Mormons, then the
Jehovah's Witnesses, and then a great variety of
spiritualist groups like the Church of Christ Scientists
and the Unity Church.
The apostasy of the
mainline Christian denominations began in the 1920's
when the German school of higher criticism invaded
American seminaries and undermined the authority of the
Scriptures, teaching that the Bible is Man's search for
God rather than God's revelation to Man.
the 1960's Satanism exploded on the American scene and
has since been exported worldwide through American
movies, books, and television programs. Dabbling in the
occult has become commonplace in the form of astrology,
numerology, crystal gazing, transcendental meditation,
and channeling. The whole trend has consummated in the
appearance of the New Age Movement with its teaching
that Man is God.
As society has secularized, true
Christianity has come under increasing attack.
Judeo-Christian values, once the foundation of Western
Civilization, are now openly mocked, and those who still
adhere to them are castigated as "intolerant
fundamentalists" by the media.
spiritual signs include the proclamation of the Gospel
to the whole world (Matthew 24:14), a great outpouring
of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32), and spiritual
illumination to understand prophecies that have been
"sealed up" until the end times (Daniel
As with the negative signs, we are
seeing these positive signs fulfilled in our day and
time. Through the use of modern technology, the Gospel
has been proclaimed throughout the world in this
Century, and the Bible has been translated into all
The great end time pouring out
of the Holy Spirit that was prophesied by the prophet
Joel has also begun. Joel called it "the latter rain"
(Joel 2:23), and he said it would occur after the Jews
had returned to their land. The state of Israel was
re-established in 1948. In 1949 God anointed two
ministries that would have a worldwide impact the
ministries of Billy Graham and Oral Roberts. Then, in
the 60's, came the Charismatic Movement which prompted
renewal in worship and gave emphasis to the continuing
validity of the gifts of the Spirit.
acceleration in the understanding of Bible prophecy
began in 1970 with the publication of Hal Lindsey's
book, The Late Great Planet Earth. It seemed to open up
to popular understanding many prophecies that had been
"sealed up" until the end times (Daniel 12:4, 9).
Remarkably, it became the number one best seller in the
world with the sole exception of the Bible for the next
4) The Signs of Technology -
The book of Daniel says that there will be an explosion
of knowledge in the end times and that people will move
about quickly (Daniel 12:4).
There are many
Bible prophecies that cannot be understood apart from
modern technology. For example, how can the whole world
look upon two bodies lying in the streets of Jerusalem
(Revelation 11:8-9)? Modern television satellite
technology makes it easy. How can the False Prophet
build an image of the Anti-Christ that appears to be
alive (Revelation 13:15)? The answer, of course, is the
science of robotics. How can the False Prophet require
all people on earth to take the mark of the Anti-Christ
in order to buy and sell (Revelation 13:16-17)? It would
not be possible apart from computers and
Jesus said that the Tribulation will be
so terrible that all life on earth would cease to exist
if He did not cut the period short (Matthew 24:21-22).
How could all life be threatened prior to the advent of
nuclear weapons? Another reference to nuclear power is
likely contained in Luke's statement that men in the end
times will "faint from fear" because "the powers of the
heavens will be shaken" (Luke 21:26). That certainly
sounds like a reference to the splitting of the
5) The Signs of World Politics - The
Bible prophesies that there will be a certain pattern of
world politics that will characterize the end time
The focus will be the
re-established state of Israel (Zechariah 12:2-3). It
will be besieged by a menacing nation from the "remote
parts of the north," the nation of "Rosh" or modern day
Russia (Ezekiel 38:2,6). There will also be a
threatening nation to the East that will be capable of
sending an army of 200 million namely, China (Revelation
9:13-16 and Revelation 16:12-13). A third source of
danger to Israel will be the Arab nations that
immediately surround it. They will covet the land and
will try to take it from the Jews (Ezekiel 35:10 and
Another key player on the world political
scene in the end times will be a coalition of European
nations that will form a confederation centered in the
area of the old Roman empire (Daniel 2:41-44, Daniel
7:7,23-24, and Revelation 17:12-13). This confederation
will serve as the political base for the rise of the
Anti-Christ and the creation of his worldwide kingdom
Other international political signs
include wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6), civil
wars (Matthew 24:7), and general international terrorism
and lawlessness (Matthew 24:12).
6) The Signs
of Israel - The signs related to the state of Israel
are prolific and very important.
frequently repeated prophecy in the Old Testament is the
prediction that the Jewish people will be regathered
from the "four corners of the earth" in the end times
(Isaiah 11:10-12). The Bible states that a consequence
of this regathering will be the re-establishment of the
state of Israel (Isaiah 66:7-8). The Scriptures say that
once the Jews are back in their land, the land itself
will experience a miracle of reclamation (Isaiah 35).
The desert will bloom and people will exclaim, "This
desolate land has become like the garden of Eden"
Another end time miracle will be
the revival of the Hebrew language (Zephaniah 3:9). Most
people are not aware of the fact that when the Jews were
dispersed from their land in 70 A.D., they ceased to
speak the Hebrew language. The Jews who settled in
Europe developed a new language called Yiddish a
combination of German and Hebrew. The Jews who migrated
to the Mediterranean basin created a language called
Ladino a combination of Hebrew and Spanish.
significant signs of Israel that we are told to watch
for in the end times include the re-occupation of
Jerusalem (Luke 21:24), the resurgence of Israeli
military strength (Zechariah 12:6), and the re-focusing
of world politics on Israel (Zechariah 12:3).
these signs have been fulfilled in this century. The
nation has been re-established, the land has been
reclaimed, the ancient language has been revived, the
Jews are back in Jerusalem, and Israel is the focal
point of world politics.
Jesus says in Luke 21:28
that when these signs begin to happen, we should
"straighten up and lift up our heads" because "our
redemption is drawing near."
The Key Signs
The most important signs are the ones that relate to
Israel because God uses the Jews throughout the
Scriptures as His prophetic time clock. By this I mean
that very often when the Lord is revealing an important
event that will take place in the future, He will point
to the Jewish people and state that when a certain thing
happens to them, the important event will also
A good example of this principle can be
found in Daniel 9 in the famous "Seventy Weeks of Years"
prophecy. The prophet tells us to watch for a decree to
be issued that will authorize the rebuilding of
Jerusalem. He then says that the Messiah will come
sixty-nine weeks of years (483 years) after that decree
is issued to the Jewish people.
There are two key
prophecies which relate the return of Jesus to events
that have occurred in Jewish history since 1948. These
two events clearly established the period in which we
are now living as the season of the Lords's return.
The State of Israel
The first is the re-establishment of the state of
Israel which occurred on May 14, 1948. Jesus singled out
this event as the one that would signal His soon
His prophecy is contained in the fig tree
parable (Matthew 24:32-35) which He presented in His
Olivet Discourse. The day before He delivered this
speech, He had put a curse on a barren fig tree, causing
it to wither (Matthew 21:28-29). This was a symbolic
prophecy that God would soon pour out His wrath upon the
Jewish people because of their spiritual barrenness in
rejecting His Son.
The next day Jesus reminded His
disciples of the fig tree. He said to watch for it to
bloom again. In other words, He said watch for the
rebirth of Israel. He indicated that when the fig tree
blooms again, He would be at the gates of Heaven, ready
to return (Matthew 24:33).
He added an interesting observation: "Truly I say to
you, this generation will not pass away until all these
things take place" (Matthew 24:34). What generation? The
generation that sees the fig tree blossom.
that generation. The fig tree has blossomed. Jesus is at
The City of Jerusalem
The second key event was prophesied by Jesus in the
same speech, as recorded by Luke: "[The Jews] will fall
by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into
all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under
foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be
fulfilled" (Luke 21:24).
The first half of this
prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D., forty years after
Jesus spoke the words. In that year the Romans under
Titus conquered Jerusalem and dispersed the Jews among
the nations. Jerusalem remained under Gentile occupation
for 1,897 years until June 7, 1967, when Israel won the
city back during the Six Day War.
re-occupation of the city of Jerusalem is proof positive
that we are living in the season of the Lord's return.
Jesus said it would mark the end of the Gentile Age.
A Call to Action
There is no way to escape the conclusion that we are
living on borrowed time. The signs of the times are upon
us, and they are shouting for our attention.
you ready? If Jesus were to return today, would He be
your "Blessed Hope" (Titus 2:11-14) or would He be your
"Holy Terror" (Revelation 6:12-17)? If you have never
received Him as your Lord and Savior, now is the time to
act. Repent of your sins, and call upon the name of the
Lord that you might be saved (Acts 2:14-39).
if you are a Christian, are you living as if Jesus might
return any minute? Have you committed your life to
holiness? Are you praying for the lost and witnessing
the Lord when you have an opportunity?
yearning for the Lord's return? Can you say with Paul
that you are a candidate for a "crown of righteousness"
because you have lived your life "in the love of His
appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8)?
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come
again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there
you may be also. - Jesus, in John 14:3.
Source: Lamb & Lion Ministries
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