To say the world is the same today as in years past – that we don’t live in unique times – is just not true. More than any other generation, ours has reason to expect the Second Coming. Jesus and the prophets said to look for specific signs heralding the end times. For over 1,800 years, you couldn’t find one of the signs they said to look for. Today, in one form or another, you can find all of them. Here are just a few examples:
Though only a small child at the time, I remember the sight of a large old farmhouse with a peculiar small room on top of it with windows on all sides. The farmer told my dad that the previous owner of the homestead had the lookout post built on the pinnacle of the roof so he could watch for the return of the Lord.
While we admire this man’s confidence in Jesus’ promise to return for us, is this really what Jesus meant by watching for His appearing? Although our English word for “watch” fits such passive behavior as looking out a window, the word in the original implies much more than that.
What does Jesus tell us to do in light of His imminent return? What do His instructions tell us about our expectation of His appearing?
We live in the last days of human history as we know it before the start of the tribulation.
We do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will come for His church or when day God’s fierce wrath will begin. The prophetic signs we see all around us, however, tell us these things are getting ever so close.
I shared this list a couple months ago through my newsletter. As events continue to point toward the soon return of Jesus, I decided to update the list and make it available to more who may be interested. I have also changed the order a bit.
Most of us have seen it at some point in our lives. The daytime sky becomes dark ahead of an approaching strong storm; the blackness of the clouds makes it seem like night outside our window as our smartphones buzz with weather warnings. This happened outside my window as I was writing this post.
In Jesus’ day, people did not have our technology to warn of approaching storms. Instead, they learned to recognize signs in the sky that told them what to expect.
During the past year, I have written many articles defending my belief in premillennialism, which is the belief that Jesus will return to earth after a literal seven year tribulation, destroy the armies arrayed against Jerusalem, and rule the world for a thousand years seated on the throne of David.
At this point you may be asking, “What difference does it make?” After all, many pastors who deny these things preach the Gospel and expound the Word with great conviction. Does it really matter if they deny Israel’s place in future biblical prophecy or regard the book of Revelation as having little relevance for us today apart from the final two chapters? Yes, it absolutely matters.
For a moment, I actually thought the rapture was occurring. I heard a trumpet blaring and for a brief moment I felt as though something was pulling me upward.
This happened when I was in college, over 40 year ago, during a time when I had been reading extensively about the rapture. Late one warm afternoon, I fell asleep at my desk in my dorm room. Suddenly, the sound of a loud trumpet fanfare awoke me from a deep sleep and I thought “this is it; the Lord is returning!” After a few seconds, I realized it was the sound of a trumpet warming up for a nearby band rehearsal.
Did you know that hatred is a sign of the last days?
In Matthew 24:9-10 Jesus said this, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.” Amidst all the other signs of which we are so familiar, Jesus lists hatred, particularly against His followers, as an indication of the end times.
Today, see hatred everywhere in our world. Opponents of Christianity killed an estimated 90,000 believers in 2016 and opposition to our faith has not diminished since then. Anti-Semitism is epidemic across Europe that has led to many Jews fearing for their lives, especially in France.
The apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, describes the godlessness of the last days. Although he does not use the word hatred, he aptly describes the divisive, angry, and intolerable culture of our day.
Based on the feedback I receive from my writing, especially from one of my recent posts, I know some believers question the relevance of what we are seeing today in regard to the return of the Lord. The world has seen natural disasters, earthquakes, and wars since the beginning of recorded history. What’s so significant about the things we are seeing today? Are they really any different than what has happened in earlier times?
I know many sincere Christians who do not recognize the signs of the times because people have talked about Jesus’ soon return for so long and nothing has happened. They point to World War II and how bad things looked then, but we recovered from that. “Things may look bad now,” they say, “but history has a way of correcting the extremes in society.”
Do current world events really signify that we are living in the last days? Yes, I believe they do for the following reasons.
If I could sum up the significance of what we are seeing today in one word it would be “Israel.” Its mere existence as a nation adds considerable weight to everything we see happening throughout the world.
Many people, including me, believe Jesus’ reference to the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-33 depicts the reemergence of Israel as a nation. Scripture often portrays Israel as a fig tree and if that is also the case here, Jesus’ words indicate that the flourishing of Israel as a nation today is definitely a sign we are living in the last days.
The Old Testament prophets often spoke of God gathering the people of Israel back into a nation in the last days. Jeremiah stated that as long as the “fixed order” of the sun, moon, and stars remains, Israel would be a nation in God’s eyes (Jer. 31:35-37). He also spoke of a time when God would bring His people back from nations and securely plant them in the land (32:36-41). The promises go far beyond what happened when the people of Judah returned from their Babylonian captivity; they speak to a future restoration that leads to a descendant of King David, the Messiah, ruling over the nation.
In Luke 21:24 Jesus said this, “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” The implication is clear. Israel’s capture of old Jerusalem in 1967 was highly significant and is a strong indicator that Jesus remembers His promise to return to earth someday.
Many who have studied prophecy throughout the ages have not only looked for God to establish Israel as a nation again, but also for the rebuilding of the temple. Isaac Newton, the famous physicist, believed this and looked for both. Irenaeus, a famous church father of the second century AD, also wrote about a future temple existing in the last days, one that the antichrist would defile.
Jesus said that Daniel’s “abomination of desolation,” the antichrist’s defiling of the temple, would take place during the tribulation before His glorious return to earth (Matt. 24:15; Dan. 9:27). In order for this to happen, Israel will need to build another temple and this is exactly what we see happening today.
The Temple Institute in Israel has drafted the plans for the temple, built many of its furnishings, and is training Levites to serve as priests.
The Temple Institute in Israel has drafted the plans for the temple, built many of its furnishings, and is training Levites to serve as priests. The Sanhedrin recently selected a high priest for the temple. And the nation is already planning the infrastructure necessary for the large crowds that will come to visit the temple from all over the world.
The signs receiving so much attention today come from the lips of Jesus Himself. In Matthew 24:3-8, He described these indicators of the last days as “the beginning of birth pains.” Yes there have always been wars and threats of wars, but never with the frequency as well as the potential for such severe consequences. If North Korea were to follow through on their threats, the resulting war could kill tens of millions almost instantly.
As of writing this paragraph, there have been 249 earthquakes in the world with an intensity of 4.0 or greater in the last seven days. It’s rarely been over 100 earthquakes in the time that I have followed this. Famines and pestilences are also increasing worldwide, just as Jesus said.
After Jesus gave us these signs and talked further of His coming He said this, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:44). Jesus’ command for believers of all ages was to be ready and watchful for His return. How much more so should we doing this with all we are seeing today?
Something else that ignites the interest of prophecy nerds such as me is the aligning of nations in the Middle East exactly according to what Ezekiel prophesied for the last days (see chapters 38-39). Let me give you some of the highlights of what he predicted without going into the details of how we arrive at these conclusions.
Ezekiel said that in the last days a coalition of nations, led by Russia, Turkey, and Iran would come against Israel. Many refer to this as the battle of Gog and Magog. Today we see these nations closely aligned as never before in history and all three have a significant military presence in Syria, close to the border of Israel. Earlier this month, Israel attacked a chemical and biological weapons factory in Syria run mainly by the Iranians. Could something like this be the spark that ignites this prophesied conflict?
Why would these nations attack Israel? Ezekiel says the motive will be the wealth of Israel, which until recently no one would have thought possible. Now, however, we know that Israel possesses a gigantic reservoir of natural gas as well as a rich supply of oil discovered in the Golan Heights. Putin, the president of Russian, already feels threatened by Israel’s natural gas deals with Europe and the closeness of the oil reserves to Syria could easily lead to an attack.
In addition, Iran issues frequent threats to annihilate the nation of Israel and Turkey, which once was an ally of Israel, has now closely aligned itself with those seeking her destruction.
Of equal significance are the nations that do not come against Israel. Egypt is missing from the list and text says that Saudi Arabia will merely protest the attack. Events in the past few years have brought these nations into a much closer alliance with Israel than ever before.
A One-World Government
While the Bible does not use the term “one-world government,” it’s clear from passages both in Daniel and Revelation that the coming antichrist will gain control of much of the world if not all of it. Scripture says a time is coming when the world will be under a ruling body led by the antichrist, which I believe will form quickly at the start of the coming tribulation.
We see calls for such a world-wide government in many places today. Pope Francis repeatedly calls for this as a way to combat global warming. George Soros is putting much of financial resources into making this happen as he repeatedly calls for a one-world monetary system. The UN has an agenda in place to help facilitate the transition to such a universal government. All these indicators and much more show the readiness of the world for this.
The signs we see today point to the nearness of the tribulation where the natural disasters and wars we see today will intensify to a degree never seen before in the history of the world. Since Jesus is coming before this time, the signs also signify the nearness of His return to take His church back to His Father’s house as He promised in John 14:2-3. Although some disagree with me on this, I firmly believe He will take His church out of the world before the coming great tribulation.
While I believe He will come for us quite soon, I am not putting any limitations on that. He may come today, later this month, next year, or sometime after that.
Let me be very clear that I am not setting any dates or deadlines for Jesus to come for us. He is exceedingly patient and waiting for as many as possible to repent and turn to Him. While I believe He will come for us quite soon, I am not putting any limitations on that. He may come today, later this month, next year, or sometime after that.
What I am saying is what we are seeing today points to the nearness of His return. So many things are already in place for the tribulation to begin, but are seemingly held in suspension waiting upon the Lord to remove His restraining force to bring about all that the Bible predicts for this time of trouble upon the earth.
It’s like watching a juggler with ten balls in the air. Eventually you know he will miss one of them and all the rest will soon be bouncing on the floor. He or she may keep all the balls up in the air much longer than we expect, but eventually they all will fall.
Last night while we were sleeping, Israeli jets attacked a chemical and biological weapons manufacturing plant in Syria that was operated by the Iranians. It was the largest such airstrike in Syria in the past ten years. The Iranians and Syrians are both furious and vowing revenge.
Israel is expecting an attack in response. During the past several days, the Israeli army has conducted its biggest military exercise in twenty years in the northern part of the country. The planning of the exercise was clearly staged to coincide with the airstrike so as to have the army already in place.
I just finished listening to a video by Amir Tsarfati where I got much of the above information. He is a former military officer in the Israeli army and maintains many key contacts. I will provide a link to his update at the end of this post.
What does it all mean?
The Signs of the End Are Increasing
It’s almost impossible to keep up with all that is happening right now. The news regarding Irma dominates the news as one might expect. The fires out west would perhaps be the lead story on the news if were it not for hurricanes Harvey and Irma. A place in Idaho, which is not far from Yellowstone Park, has experienced over a hundred small earthquakes in the past few days. In the past seven days, there have been 107 earthquakes in the world with an intensity of 4.0 or greater.
Threats and rumors of war are becoming common to the point where we scarcely notice them anymore.
Besides the raised probability of a war in the Middle East, we also hear the repeated North Korean threats of launching a nuclear attack against the United States. Threats and rumors of war are becoming common to the point where we scarcely notice them anymore.
In South Asia, the death toll from monsoons and resulting flooding has reached 1,400 with millions of acres of cropland destroyed. This will only increase the great famines in the world that go largely unreported.
These signs have been increasing in intensity for a long time, but Israel’s attack on Syria seems to up the stakes. We know from Ezekiel 38-39 that in the last days an alliance led by Russia, Iran, and Turkey will attack Israel. These nations are not only closely tied together at the present time, but all have a significant military presence in Syria, very close to the border of Israel.
Could an attack such as we saw last night be the spark that begins the war that the prophet Ezekiel describes? It’s altogether possible. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned both Russia and Iran in past couple weeks that he will not allow the continuing buildup of Iranian military forces in Syria. Last night's airstrike on the chemical weapons plant shows that he is not bluffing, but dead serious about his intentions.
It’s a Time for Greater Watchfulness and Readiness
I believe all these things signify that we are living in the last days before the tribulation starts and the judgments of Revelation 6-16 occur. Based on my study of Scripture, I believe that Jesus will come for His church before this awful day starts (although some disagree with me).
As such, I believe Jesus’ return for us is getting very close. However, we must not set dates as He is much more patient that we are; He is giving an opportunity for as many as possible to believe in Him before it is too late. He may come today, this month, next year, or sometime after that. All I know is that the signs are increasing in both frequency and intensity.
Does He not also expect us to recognize the signs today of His return?
Jesus and the prophets gave us all these signs and indicators so we would know that His appearing is getting close. If nothing else, it’s certainly a call to greater watchfulness for His appearing. Remember how the Lord chided the Pharisees and Sadducees for not recognizing the signs of His first coming (Matt. 16:1-4)? Does He not also expect us to recognize the signs today of His return?
Personally, I hesitate to regard the fires and hurricanes as God’s judgment. The destruction and potential for destruction is terrible, but it’s nothing compared to what the world will see during the Great Tribulation when the Lord will clearly be judging mankind for its rejection of Jesus, the Savior who died on cross for them.
Also, another reason for my hesitancy is that a great number of dear believers were severely affected by Harvey and are already being impacted by Irma.
Perhaps it’s best to regard all these things, including the Israeli airstrike on Syria, as warning signs that the tribulation could begin very soon. I think they are also reminders to look up as Jesus instructed. In Luke 21:28 Jesus said this, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” What we are seeing today certainly qualifies as signs beginning “to take place.”
I believe the signs tells us that it cannot be a whole lot longer until Jesus comes just as He promised in John 14:1-3 to take us to be with Him. It's time to watch and be ready.
Ann Graham Lotz, the daughter of Billy Graham, also wrote a very good article yesterday calling our nation to prayer. It can be found at: https://hellochristian.com/9240-anne-graham-lotz-its-time-to-get-serious
As I listened to Amir’s update this morning, I could not help but agree with him that what we seeing throughout the world today points to Jesus’ soon return for His church. It’s also why I wrote this post versus the one I was planning to write today.