Future Prophesies - During the Tribulation & Beyond
SECOND COMING of JESUS CHRIST
Revelation 19:11-16 - Christ on a White Horse
Rev 19:11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a [g]sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.
Titus 2:11-15 - Trained by Saving Grace
Tit 2:11 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, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. 15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
Matthew 24:29-31 - The Coming of the Son of Man
Mt 24:29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Revelation 1:7 - Greeting the Seven Churches
Rev 1:7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
Zechariah 14 - The Day of the Lord
14 Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst.
2 For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem;
The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished.
Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3 Then the Lord will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle.
4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.
5 Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal.
Yes, you shall flee As you fled from the earthquake In the days of Uzziah king of Judah.
Thus the Lord my God will come, And all the saints with You.
6 It shall come to pass in that day That there will be no light; The lights will diminish.
7 It shall be one day Which is known to the Lord—Neither day nor night.
But at evening time it shall happen That it will be light.
8 And in that day it shall be That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem,
Half of them toward the eastern sea And half of them toward the western sea;
In both summer and winter it shall occur.
9 And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—“The Lord is one,” And His name one.
10 All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be raised up and inhabited in her place from Benjamin’s Gate to the place of the First Gate and the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses.
11 The people shall dwell in it; And no longer shall there be utter destruction, But Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
12 And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem:
Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, Their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, And their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths.
13 It shall come to pass in that day That a great panic from the Lord will be among them.
Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbor, And raise his hand against his neighbor’s hand;
14 Judah also will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations
Shall be gathered together: Gold, silver, and apparel in great abundance.
15 Such also shall be the plague On the horse and the mule, On the camel and the donkey,
And on all the cattle that will be in those camps. So shall this plague be.
What is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?
The second coming of Jesus Christ is the hope of believers that God is in control of all things, and is faithful to the promises and prophecies in His Word. In His first coming, Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem, just as prophesied. Jesus fulfilled many of the prophecies of the Messiah during His birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection. However, there are some prophecies regarding the Messiah that Jesus has not yet fulfilled. The second coming of Christ will be the return of Christ to fulfill these remaining prophecies. In His first coming, Jesus was the suffering Servant. In His second coming, Jesus will be the conquering King. In His first coming, Jesus arrived in the most humble of circumstances. In His second coming, Jesus will arrive with the armies of heaven at His side.
The Old Testament prophets did not make clearly this distinction between the two comings. This can be seen in Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7 and Zechariah 14:4. As a result of the prophecies seeming to speak of two individuals, many Jewish scholars believed there would be both a suffering Messiah and a conquering Messiah. What they failed to understand is that there is only one Messiah and He would fulfill both roles. Jesus fulfilled the role of the suffering servant (Isaiah chapter 53) in His first coming. Jesus will fulfill the role of Israel’s deliverer and King in His second coming. Zechariah 12:10 and Revelation 1:7, describing the second coming, look back to Jesus being pierced. Israel, and the whole world, will mourn for not having accepted the Messiah the first time He came.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels declared to the apostles, “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:11). Zechariah 14:4 identifies the location of the second coming as the Mount of Olives. Matthew 24:30 declares, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” Titus 2:13 describes the second coming as a “glorious appearing.”
The second coming is spoken of in greatest detail in Revelation 19:11-16, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
What will happen when Jesus returns?
The second coming of Christ is referenced many times in Scripture, with over 1,500 passages in the Old Testament and one out of every 25 verses in the New Testament mentioning the Messiah’s return. The large amount of material devoted to this important event underscores what God says in Amos 3:7: “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”
In short, the return of Christ brings about what is referred to as the kingdom of God in Scripture—God’s absolute rule over His creation, including humankind. To accomplish that, Jesus ushers in two different judgments, two different resurrections, and two different eternities.
When Jesus returns, He will be ready for war (Revelation 19:11–16). The nations will be gathered to fight against Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2) in what we call the battle of Armageddon. But that will be the day Jesus returns: “His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south” (verse 4). It will be a unique day in the history of the world: “On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness . . . a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light” (verses 6–7). God’s enemies will be defeated, and the Antichrist and the false prophet will be “thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Revelation 19:20). Jesus will set up His kingdom, and “The Lord will be king over the whole earth” (Zechariah 14:9).
In establishing His kingdom on earth, Jesus will first set up a judgment for those who are still alive after the tribulation and who are on the earth at the time of the second coming. This is referred to as the “judgment of the sheep and the goats” or “judgment of the nations” (Matthew 25:31–46). Those who survive this judgment will remain on earth and enjoy a time of peace and prosperity with Christ for 1,000 years (referred to as the millennium; see Revelation 20:4–6). Those who are found guilty in this judgment are cursed and consigned to “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Satan is bound and forbidden to act during the millennium (Revelation 20:1–3).
During this time there will also be a resurrection of all believers in God (Revelation 20:4–6). These resurrected believers will join believers who are alive at the time of Christ’s coming and those Christ brings with Him from heaven, and all will live with Jesus during His 1,000-year earthly reign.
At the end of the millennium, Satan will be released, and one final battle will occur, which will rapidly be won by Christ (Revelation 20:7–9). Satan is then permanently consigned to the lake of fire. At this point the second resurrection will occur, and another judgment. Unbelievers will be resurrected and judged at what is referred to as the great white throne judgment; based on their works, they will be assigned to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15).
So, the return of Jesus will usher in two different eternities—one with God and one without Him. This truth is captured in two verses in the book of Malachi: “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire. . . . Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves” (Malachi 4:1–2).
What happens when Jesus returns? Evil is defeated, the earth is restored, and God wins. Your response to Jesus’ return depends on your relationship with Him. It will either be, as John MacArthur calls it, “the greatest calamity in all of human history” or the fulfillment of the Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13). Faith in Christ makes the difference. “But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:8, NLT).
The Nature of the Lord’s Return - Is the Lord returning in love or in wrath? By Dr. David R. Reagan
When you think of the coming of the Lord, what do you think of? What is your image? Is it positive or negative? Is it a return in love or in wrath? And what do you feel? Fear or joy? Comfort or anxiety?
How would you characterize your overall attitude about the Lord’s return? Desire or apathy? Do you pray for it? Or, do you try not to think about it? Are you enthusiastic or passive?
Finally, how would you describe the Lord’s coming? How would you explain it to someone who knows nothing about it?
The Scriptural Images
There are two detailed descriptions of the Lord’s return in the New Testament, one written by the Apostle Paul and the other by the Apostle John.
Now, let me ask you some more questions. How can these two descriptions be reconciled? I ask that because they are as different as night and day. Did you notice that?
Look again and make a careful comparison. Notice that they have absolutely nothing in common. In fact, they are totally incompatible.
Comparison and Contrast
The passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 presents a scene of love, mercy, and grace. The picture that is painted by Revelation 19 is one of vengeance and wrath. In the Thessalonians passage, the Lord appears in the sky, but does not descend to the earth. In the Revelation account, he come to the earth. Zechariah 14 says He will return to the Mount of Olives from which He ascended into Heaven.
One of the most significant differences between the two passages relates to the Church. In the Thessalonian account, the Lord comes for the purpose of taking His Church, both the dead and living members, out of this world. In Revelation, by stark contrast, He returns with His Church. This is indicated in Revelation 19:14 where it says that “the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean were following Him on white horses.” We know these people constitute the Church, because the same group is described a few verses before (verses 7 and 8) as being the “bride” of Christ.
Thus, in Paul’s description of the Lord’s return, He is portrayed as coming for His Church, to deliver believers from the “wrath that is to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). But in John’s description, Jesus is portrayed as returning with His Church in great wrath. In Thessalonians Jesus returns as a Deliverer. In Revelation He comes back as a Warrior. In one scene He is coming to claim the righteous; in the other, He returns to condemn the unrighteous.
A Problem in Reconciliation
What is going on here? How could these two passages be talking about the same event? How can they be reconciled?
I believe there is only one way to reconcile them and that is to conclude that they are describing two separate events. That, in turn, implies rather clearly that there are going to be two future comings of the Lord.
One of those — the one described in 1 Thessalonians 4 — will be more of an appearing than a coming, for the Lord will not actually return to the earth. He will, instead, appear in the heavens and supernaturally draw the Church, living and dead, to Him.
The second future appearance of the Lord — the one described in Revelation 19 — will be the true “Second Coming,” for the Lord will actually descend to the earth to pour out the wrath of God and establish His reign over all the world.
This means the “Second Coming” of the Lord is going to be in two stages. The first stage will be what has come to be known as the Rapture — the snatching of the Church out of the world. The second stage, which will occur later, will be the return of the Lord to the earth.
The Issue of Imminence
This method of reconciling these passages solves a serious problem that emerges when you think of only one future coming of the Lord. That problem relates to the emphasis that the Scriptures give to imminence.
What I am referring to, of course, is the constant warning of the Scriptures that the Lord may appear any moment and, therefore, we are to always be ready for the Lord’s return (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44, 50 and 25:13).
If there is only one future coming of the Lord, then these warnings are a waste of time and there is no imminence because there are many prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled before the Lord can return. For example:
A peace treaty must be signed that will guarantee Israel’s peace with all of its Arab neighbors (Daniel 9:27).
The Great Tribulation must begin and run its seven year course, resulting in the death of over half the world’s population (Revelation 6-18).
An unprecedented system of economic control must be established that will prevent persons from buying or selling anything unless they can display on their right hands or foreheads the mark or name of the Antichrist.
The worldwide kingdom of the Antichrist must be destroyed in “one hour of one day” (Revelation 17 & 18).
These are all events that are clearly prophesied in Scripture as occurring before Jesus returns to earth. None of them has yet been fulfilled in history. If there is only one future coming of the Lord, and it must take place after these events, then why should we be looking for Jesus Christ? We should be looking instead for the Antichrist!
Living with Expectancy
The only way that the imminence taught by the Scriptures can be maintained is to believe that Jesus can return any moment. The only way to maintain that belief is to conclude that the Lord’s appearing for His Church (the Rapture) is an event that is separate and apart from the Second Coming and is an event that can occur any moment.
That is what I have concluded from my study of prophecy, and I therefore live looking for the Rapture to occur any moment. This is exactly what Paul commands us to do when he writes that we are to live “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).
I therefore do not believe there is one prophecy in the Bible that must be fulfilled before the Lord appears for His Church. He can appear any moment. And the imminence of His appearing increases daily as the signs of the time point to the events that will culminate with His Second Coming. Those signs include, among others, the re-establishment of the state of Israel, the Jewish reoccupation of the city of Jerusalem, the reunification of Europe, and the rise of Arab militancy in the Middle East.
Keep in mind that the Rapture is not the event that will kick-off the Tribulation. That event is the signing of a peace treaty that will guarantee the peace of Israel with all its Arab neighbors and will also authorize the Jews to rebuild their Temple (Daniel 9:27). The Rapture could occur years before the Tribulation begins, although it is most likely to occur near the beginning because the Tribulation is the time for the pouring out of God’s wrath, and 1 Thessalonians 1:10 says that Jesus will “deliver” His Church “from the wrath to come.”
Hope or Terror?
To summarize, we should be looking for two future comings of the Lord — one at the beginning of the Tribulation, the other at the end. The first, the Rapture, will be the appearing of the Lord for His Church. The second, the Second Coming, will be the return of the Lord to the earth to “judge and wage war” against the enemies of God (Revelation 19:11).
The signs of the times point to the fact that Jesus is at the very gates of Heaven, waiting for His Father’s command to appear for His Church. The Rapture is imminent.
Are you ready? Will Jesus appear (the Rapture) as your Blessed Hope? Or, will He return (the Second Coming) as your Holy Terror? The choice is yours.
Concerning Jesus’ Second Coming, read more…
Concerning all the signs that we are at the end of this age, read more…
Does the Bible teach that there would be two comings of the Messiah?
The second coming of Christ is a major tenet of Christian theology, and we eagerly look forward to our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). But the knowledge that the Messiah would have two comings came to humanity gradually, as God’s revelation to mankind was progressive.
The Old Testament clearly teaches that the Messiah would come, but it does not explicitly say that He would come twice. The information God revealed about the Messiah started very basic, with more detail added bit by bit. People living in later times knew more than those who lived earlier. Abraham knew more about the purposes of God than did Noah. David knew more than Abraham. The prophets knew more than David. And finally, the apostles in the New Testament knew more than the prophets. The apostles after the resurrection knew more than they did before the resurrection.
The revelation concerning the Messiah progressed over time. Genesis 3:15 is a cryptic first promise of a Messiah. The seed of the woman will destroy the seed of the serpent. Who the seed of the woman is or how He will accomplish His mission is not revealed. Later, David is promised a lasting dynasty, which means that one of his descendants will reign continually. Again, we are not told exactly who this will be or how it will come about. Sometimes, the prophets speak of this reign as if God Himself will sit on the throne (Zechariah 14). At other times, the prophets expect a descendant of David (Psalm 2). Again, the prophets never explain how this will all come together. Jesus questioned the Jewish leaders regarding this tension in Matthew 22:41–45:
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they replied. He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
In Zechariah, we have a hint of the two comings of the Messiah. Zechariah 9 predicts a king coming in humility and peace, which seems to contradict Zechariah 14, which speaks of a conquering king. Micah 5 says that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, while Daniel 7 presents Him as a divine figure. Isaiah 9 teaches that He will reign forever, and Daniel 9 teaches that He will be cut off. Furthermore, Isaiah introduces another image, that of the Suffering Servant who will bear sins for people (Isaiah 53). Verse 9 speaks of the Servant’s death, and verse 12 says that, after that, the Servant will be victorious and receive the spoils due Him. In other words, He will be killed and yet will live. How could this be?
In short, there were many things in the Old Testament about the coming of the Messiah that were not fully explained, and sometimes seemingly contradictory things were presented in the same book or even the same chapter. Some of the Jewish rabbis even suggested that there would be two Messiahs, a humble, suffering one and a conquering, reigning one; but no one was suggesting that the same Messiah would come twice, once to suffer and once to reign.
By the time of Jesus, the dominant expectation was for a Messiah who would rescue Israel from foreign domination. He would conquer and rule. At every turn, Jesus defied these expectations. He claimed that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). He told His disciples that He was going to Jerusalem to die, and this caused Peter to rebuke Him (Matthew 16:21–23). He told them that He would be raised from the dead, but Mark 9:10 reports that “they kept the matter to themselves, discussing what ‘rising from the dead’ meant.” A little later, when He told them a second time of His death and resurrection, “they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it” (verse 32).
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on that final trip, He was welcomed with shouts of “Hosanna” and the waving of palm branches. Palm branches were a national symbol of Israel, and this was a very nationalistic display. However, instead of going into Jerusalem and conquering the Romans, Jesus entered the temple and cleared out the money changers (Matthew 21:12–17). He also indicated that Israel (at least the current generation) will not inherit the kingdom (Matthew 21:33–43). He went on to say that people should pay their taxes to Caesar if they owe them (Matthew 22:15–22). Finally, He foretold the total destruction of the temple (Matthew 24). These are not the words and deeds of a Messiah sent to free Israel from Roman domination. He was concerned about other things.
It was only after the resurrection that the disciples began to understand what Jesus had been telling them (John 2:22). Even after the resurrection they did not understand about the second coming because they asked Him if now was the time that He would restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). Jesus told them that they should not be concerned about the timing of the coming kingdom, but they should take the gospel to the whole world (Acts 1:8). Then He was taken up from them into heaven, and two angels came to them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Here we finally have a clear indication that there will be a second coming after an undisclosed time period.
The Old Testament had several mysteries regarding the Messiah: would He be a divine figure or a human descendant of David? The New Testament gives the answer—both, because of the Incarnation. Would the Messiah be cut off or reign forever? The New Testament gives the answer—both, because of the Resurrection. Would the Messiah come to suffer or to reign? The New Testament once again gives the answer—both, because He would come twice.
The idea that the Messiah would come once to suffer and again to reign is not clearly taught in the Old Testament, although the doctrine is completely consistent with Old Testament teaching. Further, the second coming resolves some of the apparently contradictory teachings about the Messiah in the Old Testament.
The Return of the Messiah - The certainty of the Lord’s Coming Reign By Dr. David R. Reagan
Is Jesus Christ returning to this earth to reign over all the nations of the world? Most professing Christians in the world today would answer, “No!” They argue that Jesus will never put His feet on this earth again. They scoff at the very idea that the Lord would even be interested in returning to reign.
Where, then, does the minority view come from? Why do some Christians believe there will be a future, literal, and personal reign of Jesus over all the earth? Are these people victims of wishful thinking? Are they simply harboring a fanciful hope? Or, does their opinion have some basis in Scripture?
Could it possibly be that the majority viewpoint is wrong? If so, then how did the view develop, and what are its scriptural weaknesses and contradictions?
Like Night and Day
The two viewpoints are radically different. For example, the majority view holds that history as we know it will very soon end with the destruction of the earth. In sharp contrast, the minority view looks forward to the continuation of history in a glorious thousand year reign of the Lord here on this earth.
There is no future role for Israel in the majority viewpoint; God has washed His hands of the Jews. The minority view sees the Jews as a nation under discipline, temporarily set aside, but they believe a time is coming very soon when the Church will be taken out of the world, and God will once again focus on the Jews, bringing a great remnant of them to salvation in Yeshua, their Messiah.
The majority view sees no purpose left for this planet. It is polluted and despoiled. When the Lord returns, He will take the redeemed to live with Him forever in Heaven, and the earth will cease to exist, as will all the material universe. Those who hold the minority view believe that God intends to redeem the earth and all of His creation — the plant and animal kingdoms. Further, they believe that the earth will one day be returned to its original perfection and will serve as the eternal abode of the redeemed.
As you can see, the differences are like night and day. An outsider would undoubtedly conclude that the two groups have been reading a different book, for how could people read the same book and come to such totally different conclusions?
The Challenge of Truth Seeking
As the title of this article indicates, I believe the minority viewpoint on this central issue of Scripture is correct, and it is my intention to show you why I believe the Bible teaches that Jesus will return to reign.
I have not come to this conclusion casually. I grew up in a church that taught the majority viewpoint. It was drilled into me at an early age. The road that led me to a different view was a tortuous and painful one. It cost me friends. It brought condemnation upon my head. It finally forced me to leave the church where I had spent 30 years of my life.
But the rewards that come from following the truth of Scripture wherever it might lead are always greater than the disadvantages that may be incurred. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). But He qualified that promise with one condition that is usually overlooked. It is stated in the previous verse: “If you abide in My word” (John 8:31). That’s a big “if.”
As you read this article, I want to challenge you to put aside all preconceptions and traditions of men. Have an open heart, and test what I have to say by the Scriptures and not by the creed of your particular denomination.
I challenge you to be like the Bereans whom Paul commended as “more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
The Biblical Statement
“Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)
One of the greatest misconceptions about Scripture that exists among Christians today is that Revelation 20 is the only place in the Bible that mentions a future earthly reign of Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth; for the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is full of references to a future reign of the Messiah on this earth.
But let me make something clear. If this passage in Revelation 20 were the only one in the Bible to speak of a future earthly reign of Jesus, I would still believe in such a reign. God doesn’t have to say something more than once for me to believe it. And God clearly says in Revelation 20 that Jesus will reign on this earth for 1,000 years.
The Flow of Events
In chapter 19 of Revelation Jesus returns to the earth and defeats the Antichrist and his false prophet. His next order of business is to bind Satan (Revelation 20:1-3). He then begins His reign with His saints.
Six times in Revelation 20:1-7 we are told that the reign of the Lord will last 1,000 years. Consider Revelation 20:4 for example. The verse says that the saints “came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” What could be clearer? What would God have to do to convince us that He means what He says? Does He have to put the message in the sky with blinking neon lights?
At the end of the thousand years, we are told that Satan will be released “to deceive the nations” (Revelation 20:8). He will rally the majority of Mankind in rebellion against the Lord, and they will march upon Jerusalem to overthrow the Lord’s kingdom. Notice that Revelation 20:9 says that all this action takes place “on the broad plain of the earth.” This is no ethereal battle between spirit beings in the heavens.
As the millennial rebels approach Jerusalem, they are destroyed by fire from heaven (Revelation 20:9), and Satan is thrown into the lake of fire (Hell) where he “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
Imagination vs. Plain Sense
The message of Revelation 19 and 20 is very clear. A little child could understand it without interpretation. It takes a fanciful flight of imagination to explain away its obvious meaning.
But that is exactly what St. Augustine very successfully accomplished around 400 A.D. when he developed the Amillennial interpretation of Revelation 20. He did it by applying his imagination to the passage and spiritualizing it beyond recognition.
When he got through interpreting the events described in these two chapters, Revelation 19 had been transformed into a description of Christ’s battle on the Cross, and Revelation 20 had been turned into a description of the Lord’s spiritual reign over the world from Heaven through His Church. Satan’s binding was attributed to the Cross and not to the Second Coming.
In other words, Augustine argued that the Millennial reign of the Lord began at the Cross and will continue until He returns for His Church. That means that according to the Amillennial viewpoint we are in the Millennium now! It also means that the 1,000 years mentioned six times in chapter 20 really doesn’t mean 1,000 years. Rather, it is a symbolic number that stands for an indefinite period of time.
This incredibly imaginative interpretation that conflicts with the plain sense meaning of the passage was immediately adopted by the Roman Catholic Church in 431 A.D. It is still Catholic dogma to this day. It has also been adopted by all the liberal, mainline Protestant denominations. In short, this view of end time events is the one that is held by the vast majority of all professing Christians today.
The Imagination Trap
The basic flaw in the whole Amillennial interpretation of Revelation 19 and 20 is rooted in its denial of the plain sense meaning of the passages.
God knows how to communicate, and He desires to communicate. You do not have to have a Ph.D. in hermeneutics or an active imagination to understand His Word.
The book of Revelation begins with the words, “The revelation of Jesus Christ…” (Revelation 1:1). The word, revelation, in the Greek is “apocalypse,” which means “an unveiling.” The purpose of the book of Revelation is to reveal or unveil the ultimate triumph of Jesus over Satan. If God’s purpose is to reveal something so significant, why would He write it in a code language that a person cannot understand unless he has graduated from a seminary? It makes no sense.
Advocates of the Amillennial view usually respond by saying that Revelation is full of symbols. Yes, there is a lot of symbolic language in the book, but symbols have a plain sense meaning. They are not used pell-mell, and the reader does not have the freedom to assign any meaning to them that he pleases.
Furthermore, the fulfillment of First Coming prophecies provides the best rule of thumb for the interpretation of Second Coming prophecies. And any cursory examination of First Coming prophecies will quickly reveal that they were fulfilled in their plain sense meaning.
Take for example the prophecy in the book of Zechariah that says the Messiah will come on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). If today’s Amillennial spiritualizers had lived in Old Testament times, I feel certain they would have denied the plain sense meaning of this verse. “Zechariah is apocalyptic literature,” they would have said, “and such literature never means what it says. Therefore, this verse must simply mean that the Messiah will be a humble person.” No, the verse meant what it said, and in fulfillment of it, Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.
The bottom line is that when you interpret Scripture imaginatively rather than for its plain sense meaning, you can make it mean whatever you want it to mean, and God’s message gets lost in flights of fancy.
Another flaw in the Amillennial approach is its contention that the binding of Satan that is mentioned in Revelation 20:1-3 occurred at the Cross.
The first thing that must be kept in mind regarding this point is that Satan has always been bound in the sense that he has never had the freedom to do whatever he pleases. Many scholars consider Job to be the oldest book in the Bible. That book begins with Satan standing before the throne of God requesting permission to touch Job, his family, and his possessions. Satan is not omnipotent. He has always worked within parameters laid down by the Lord.
It is true that Satan was further bound by the Cross. As a result of our Lord’s work on the Cross, believers since that time have received the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), and the Scriptures assure us that “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Thus, we now have greater power in resisting the temptations and attacks of Satan than did believers in Old Testament times.
But the binding of Satan that Revelation 20:1-3 says will mark the beginning of the Millennium is a special type of binding that did not occur at the Cross. Revelation says that Satan will be bound in such a way that he will no longer “deceive the nations” (Revelation 20:3).
As you look around the world today and observe the behavior of the nations, can you truly believe that they are no longer deceived? The fact of the matter is that they are terribly deceived. As in the time of David, the nations are “in an uproar,” and their rulers continue to “take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed” (Psalm 2:1-2).
Satan’s Continuing Rule
The third critical flaw in the Amillennial view is the idea that Jesus is reigning today over the nations of the world. This contention is really an insult to the Lord, for if He is ruling, He is doing a very poor job! We live in a world characterized by injustice, poverty, pestilence, and terrorism — to name only a few of our planet’s maladies.
The Word says that when the Lord reigns, “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Is this true today? Has it ever been? Of course not!
We are told in 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan still prowls about “like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” And in 1 John 5:19, written long after the Cross, we are told that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” The Scriptures make it clear that Satan continues as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31).
The Cross sealed the fate of Satan. He is a mortally wounded monarch who is desperately clinging to his kingdom. One day soon when the Lord returns, Satan will be crushed under the feet of the redeemed (Romans 16: 20). But the total defeat of Satan is yet future. It is one of the benefits of the Cross that has not yet become a reality in history.
Jesus’ Ultimate Triumph
As a result of the Cross, Jesus has won back the dominion over this earth that was lost by Adam and Eve when they sinned against God (Daniel 7:13-14 and Revelation 5:9-10). But, He is not yet exercising that dominion. The writer of Hebrews makes this point. He says that Jesus has been crowned with glory and honor and that God “has put all things in subjection under His feet” (Hebrews 2:7-8), but then he proceeds to observe: “But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him” (Hebrews 2:8).
Some of the benefits of the Cross are delayed and will not be realized until Jesus returns. For example, the Cross guarantees the salvation of believer’s bodies, but that blessing of glorification will not be realized until “the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). This phrase is a reference to the resurrection of the saints, something that Paul makes clear a few verses later (Romans 8:23).
In like manner, the Cross guarantees the total defeat of Satan and the ultimate triumph of Jesus as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 17:14). But that triumph will not occur in history until the Lord returns. In this regard, Jesus is like David when he was anointed the King of Israel but then had to wait a long time before he took possession of his kingdom.
Accordingly, Jesus is not portrayed in Scripture as being a reigning king now. Rather, He is pictured as our High Priest before the throne of God (Hebrews 8:1). He is our mediator, our intercessor (Hebrews 9:11-16).
When He came the first time, He came as our Savior. He is now our Mediator. He will return as our Sovereign. Redeemer, Priest, and King — those are the three roles of Jesus — past, present, and future.
Revelation 19:11 says that when Jesus returns, His initial purpose will be to judge and make war against the enemies of God. But verse 16 reveals that His ultimate purpose will be to serve as “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Long before Revelation was written, the prophet Zechariah had revealed the same thing. In portraying the Lord’s return, He pictured the Lord destroying the nations rebelling against God, and when that work is completed, he states “the Lord will be king over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:9).
Revelation 19 and 20 clearly establish the fact that Jesus is going to return to reign — but there are other reasons I believe in such a future reign on this earth.
Concerning Jesus’ Second Coming, read more…
Concerning all the signs that we are at the end of this age, read more…
Is it possible to know when Jesus is coming back?
Matthew 24:36-44 declares, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father…Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” At first glance, these verses would seem to provide a clear and explicit answer to the question. No, no one can know when Jesus is coming back. However, those verses do not say that no one will ever be able to know when Jesus will return. Most Bible scholars would say that Jesus, now glorified in heaven, knows the timing of His return, indicating that the phrase “nor the Son” does not mean Jesus will never know when He will return. Similarly, it is possible that, while Matthew 24:36-44 indicates that no one at that time could know the timing of Jesus’ return, God could reveal the timing of Jesus’ return to someone in the future.
In addition, there is Acts 1:7, which states, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority." This was said by Jesus after the disciples asked Him if He was at that time going to restore the kingdom to Israel. This would seem to confirm the message of Matthew 24. It is not for us to know the timing of Jesus coming back. But there is also the question of which return these passages are referring to. Are they speaking of the Rapture or the Second Coming? Which return is unknowable—the Rapture, the Second Coming, or both? While the Rapture is presented as being imminent and mysterious, the timing of the Second Coming could potentially be known based on end-times prophecy.
With that said, let us be abundantly clear: we do not believe that God has revealed to anyone when Jesus is coming back, and we see nothing in Scripture which indicates that God will ever reveal to anyone when Jesus is coming back. Matthew 24:36-44, while spoken directly to the people in Jesus’ time, also contains a general principle. The timing of Jesus’ return and the end of the age is not for us to know. Scripture nowhere encourages us to try to determine the date. Rather, we are to “keep watch, because we do not know on which day our Lord will come” (v. 42). We are to “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when we do not expect Him” (v. 44). The force of Jesus’ words diminishes if at some point in the future someone will be able to determine when He is coming back. If the date is discovered, we no longer need to “keep watch” or “be ready.” So, with the principle of Matthew 24:36-44 in mind, no, it is not possible for anyone to know the date that Jesus is coming back.
Despite this clear biblical principle, many throughout Christian history have attempted to prophesy the date that Jesus is coming back. Many such dates have been proposed, and all of them have been wrong. Most, if not all, of those who have predicted specific dates for Jesus’ return have had questionable, if not heretical, doctrinal positions on other issues. As it was said above, based on Matthew 24:36 and Acts 1:7, it is not God’s desire for us to calculate the day that Jesus is coming back. Anyone who undertakes such a task is, if nothing else, misguided.
The key points are (1) the Bible nowhere encourages us to attempt to discover the timing of Jesus’ return and (2) the Bible gives no explicit data by which the timing of Jesus’ return can be determined. Rather than developing wild and speculative calculations to determine when Jesus is coming back, the Bible encourages us to “keep watch” and “be ready” (Matthew 24:42-44). The fact that the day of Jesus’ return is unknown should motivate us to live every day in light of the imminence of Christ’s return.
Is Jesus coming soon?
Soon is a relative term. If you are microwaving popcorn, soon means within the next three minutes. If you are awaiting the birth of a child, soon can mean anything up to nine months. So when we ask, “Is Jesus coming soon?” we have to qualify the meaning of soon.
Jesus Himself said that He is coming soon: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon’” (Revelation 22:20). And then John adds these words: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” John’s book was penned nearly two thousand years ago, which leads many people to wonder what Jesus meant by “soon.”
The Greek word tachu, which is translated “soon” or “quickly,” means “without unnecessary delay.” It does not mean “immediately.” The same word is used in other places in the New Testament, but, interestingly, it is used most often by Jesus in the book of Revelation (Revelation 2:16; 3:11; 11:14; 22:7, 12, and 20). The meaning seems to be that events have been set in motion that will usher in His arrival without any unnecessary delay. Everything is moving along according to God’s timetable.
Peter reassures us that God is not dragging His feet concerning prophetic events. God’s timing is perfect: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). In this light we may understand that Jesus is coming “soon” in that God’s plan is advancing and is only delayed to allow for all the elect to be saved (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:5)—a necessary postponement.
The Bible teaches that Jesus’ return for His church is imminent, which means the rapture could happen at any moment. The apostles seem to have believed that Jesus would come back in their lifetimes. They referred often to the “last days” (1 Peter 1:20; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 1:2) and urged believers to be ready. It appears that Jesus also intended for us to believe in His imminent return, because He often urged His followers to “be ready” (Luke 12:40; 21:34–36; Mark 13:33). Because no one has known or can predict exactly when He is coming again (see Matthew 24:36), we should live in the expectancy that He may come any moment. That seems to be Jesus’ point in not being more specific. He wants every generation to live with the conscious awareness that the Lord may suddenly appear and we will have to give an accounting of the way He finds us (Luke 12:38). To answer the question, “Is Jesus coming soon?” we say, “Yes, He will come without unnecessary delay.”
Jesus is Coming Soon! By Dr. David R. Reagan
In Titus chapter 2, verses 11-13, we find these words: “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”
Are you living looking for the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus? That’s what this verse tell us we’re to do. We’re to live with an expectation, live with a yearning, live with a hope that Jesus may appear any moment. I know from experience that most Christians do not have that hope in their hearts. I know that most Christians are rather apathetic about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
I suppose one of the major reasons for that apathy is the fact that people have heard about it for so long that they have come to take it for granted. Oh yes, they believe Jesus is coming back, but they think of it as an event that will occur at some point in the distant future. The Lord’s return is not an imminent reality to them. Rather, it’s a sort of pie in the sky dream and hope. Maybe He will return a thousand years from now, or maybe two thousand years from now, but certainly not now. Others are just absolutely convinced that there is not anything that we can know about the coming of the Lord, and therefore there is no reason to even think about it — no reason to worry about it — even no reason to talk about it.
My personal church experience is a good example of what I’m talking about. I grew up going to church. I went to church as far back as I can remember every time the door was opened. But we were not a church that studied Bible prophecy. And therefore, about the only prophetic scripture we knew was the one that said, “Jesus is coming like a thief in the night.” And so every time somebody would go off to some Bible conference and hear some thrilling message about the Second Coming of Jesus, and they would come back all excited and start talking about how the Lord may return at any time, and how we need to get ready, they would immediately be put down with the statement, “Jesus is coming like a thief in the night.” We used that verse like the stab of a sword to a person’s heart to put them down, to cut them off, to in effect say, “Shut up, there is not anything we can know about the Lord’s return. He’s going to sneak up on us. So, you might as well shut up about it and not talk about it and just go on about your life and not even think about it, because He’s going to come when you least expect it.”
Can We Know the Timing?
Well, I want to talk about this for a moment. Is there anything we can know about the return of the Lord Jesus Christ? Can we know, for example, when Jesus is going to return? If you had asked me that question 30 years ago, I would have said, “No, absolutely not! There is not one thing you can ever know about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.” But after over 25 years of intensive study of Bible prophecy, I’ve come to a different conclusion. When people ask me now, “Can we know when Jesus will return?” my answer is, “Yes and No.” No, we cannot know the date. Yes, we can know the season.
Now, when I say, we cannot know the date that Jesus will return, I mean that with all my heart. I believe that the Bible makes it crystal clear we cannot know the date. In Matthew 24:36 Jesus Himself said, “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” We cannot know the date. Now, there are a lot of sincere people who are setting dates, and I do not doubt their sincerity, but they are sincerely deceived. And the closer we get to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ the more of these people there are going to be, because Satan is going to motivate people to set dates.
You see, Satan loves date setters because they bring discredit to Bible prophecy. You know how it works. Somebody sets a date. People get their hopes focused on that date rather than on their Savior, Jesus Christ. They become obsessed with the date, and they run around all over the place talking incessantly about the date. The press picks up on the story and focuses in on the date. Then, the date comes and passes, and the press heaps ridicule on those who believed in the date. The individuals who put their faith in that date are embarrassed, and they become embittered. They say to themselves, “I’ll tell you one thing, I’ll never do that again!” And then, when a responsible prophecy teacher comes along and says, “I don’t know the date, but I do know Jesus is coming soon,” they say, “Oh sure, I’ve heard that nonsense before,” and they refuse to listen. They turn off their ears to God’s prophetic word. And Satan loves it.
The closer we get to the coming of Jesus, the more of these date setters Satan is going to raise up. The effect will be like the person who constantly yells, “The wolf is coming, the wolf is coming, the wolf is coming!” — and he continues to yell it until — guess what? — everyone decides to ignore him. And then the wolf comes.
Well, my friends, Jesus is coming soon. We need to be aware of that. And we need to keep in mind that no one can know the date that Jesus will return. Yet, when people ask me if we can know that date, I always respond, “Yes and No.” Again, what I mean by that answer is that No, we cannot know the date; but Yes, we can know the season of the Lord’s return.
Knowing the Season
I want to prove this to you with Scripture. I hope you have your Bible handy and that you will look with me as I turn to these various scriptures — or maybe you can make a note of them and look them up later.
Turn with me for a moment to the letters that Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, and look at 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5. I want to show you proof positive that you can know the season of the Lord’s return.
Let’s begin reading with verse 1: “Now as to the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” There it is! He’s coming like a thief in the night! Verse 3 says it will occur while people are saying, “Peace and safety!” At that time, says Paul, “destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape.”
Now, the fundamental point I’m leading up to is found in verse 4. Underline it. Don’t ever forget it. This is the crucial verse. This is the verse that proves you and I can know the season of the Lord’s return. The verse, I Thessalonians 5:4, says “but you brethren are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are 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.”
Now, what is that saying? Paul is saying Jesus is coming like a thief in the night. But not for the brethren, not for Christians. He’s coming like a thief in the night for the world. He’s coming like a thief in the night for pagans. He’s coming like a thief in the night for those professing Christians who do not have any personal relationship with Him and who have never really been born again and who refuse to believe the Word of God and study the Word of God. But He’s saying, “Let me tell you, if you’ve been born again, if you’re truly a child of God, if you read the Word and believe the Word, there is no reason in the world why Jesus should come as a thief in the night for you.” Look again at verse 4: “But you brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do.”
What does he mean when he says, “We are sons of light and not of darkness”? I think what He’s referring to is the fact that if you are truly a born again child of God, you have the Holy Spirit residing inside of you. The Holy Spirit is the one who wrote the Bible. And if you will lean on the Holy Spirit, the Spirit will illuminate your mind and illuminate your heart and open your eyes to understand the mysteries of God’s Word, including the season of the Lord’s return. And so it is that the Bible says point blank, Jesus is not coming as a “thief in the night” for those who know Him and love Him.
There’s a similar passage in Hebrews chapter 10 verse 25. It says, “Do not forsake our assembling together as is the habit of some, but encourage one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” What day? Well, the day of judgement mentioned in verse 27 — the day when the Lord will return. It is the day referred to in verse 31 where we are warned that it is a “terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Note again verse 25 where it says that we are to encourage one another “as we see the day drawing near.” That means we can tell something about the season in which we’re living. It means we don’t have to be totally ignorant about the time when the Lord is going to return. The point again is that No, we cannot know the date; but Yes, we can know the season.
Identifying the Season
Now, there are two reasons why we can know the season of the Lord’s return. Two reasons. The first is God wants us to know the season of His Son’s return. Let me say it again, God want us to know the season of His Son’s return. Now, you are probably thinking, “Dave how do you know that?” Well, let me put it to you another way. Listen to this carefully. Did you know that God would violate His character if He sent Jesus Christ back by surprise? And since God cannot violate His character, because He is a God of perfect integrity, then God must warn us about the return of Jesus.
Now, stop and think for a moment. Why would it violate God’s character to send Jesus back by surprise? The reason is that the Bible reveals that never once in all the history of mankind has God ever poured out His wrath without warning. That is the nature of the lovingkindness, grace and mercy of God. Yes, God is a God of justice and righteousness and holiness. But He is also a God of tender, loving, mercy and kindness, and because He is, He always warns before He pours out His wrath.
Why does He do that? Because in 2 Peter 3 verse 9 it says, “God does not wish that any should perish but that all should be brought to repentance.” The God who is the creator of this universe is not some Cosmic Sadist who is hiding in the clouds, peeking down at us, waiting for an opportunity to zap the greatest number of sinful people on planet earth with the Second Coming of Jesus. He is wanting us to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He is wanting us to accept His gift of love to the world. He is longsuffering and patient. Again, He does not wish that any should perish but that all should be brought to repentance.
God has never poured out His wrath — never — without warning in advance. Take Noah for example. God told Noah to go forth and preach to the people that they were living in the season of the pouring out of the Lord’s wrath. Noah preached that message for 120 years. He told people repeatedly, “You are living in the season of the pouring out of God’s wrath.” The people responded by laughing at him, scoffing at him, and ridiculing him. Some laughed until they could not tread water anymore! Likewise, the Lord told Abraham to go into the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and warn them of impending destruction. Abraham warned, but the people of Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t believe, and they perished in the destruction of the cities.
God does not destroy any nation without warning. He is warning the United States of America today. He is raising up prophetic voices all over the world, calling the nations to repentance. God never pours out His wrath without warning, and the point is, my friends, Jesus Christ is returning in incredible wrath. He is coming to pour out the wrath of God upon those who have rejected the grace, mercy and love of God.
This is one of the best kept secrets in the universe. Satan doesn’t want any one to know about it. The average Christian does not know that Jesus is coming in wrath. But the Bible makes it plain. Take Revelation chapter 19 for example. That chapter tells about the Second Coming of Jesus. In Revelation 19, beginning with verse 11, the Apostle John says, “I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it was called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.” Folks, Jesus is coming to judge and wage war! He’s coming to pour out the wrath of God. It says in Revelation Chapter 6 that on the day Jesus returns, the presidents and prime ministers and kings of this world will fall down on their hands and knees and crawl into holes in the ground and pray for the rocks and mountains to fall upon them, so great will be the wrath of the Lamb of God.
God is going to deal with sin. He deals with sin in one of two ways — grace or wrath. You are under either the grace of God or the wrath of God. To be under the grace of God is a glorious thing. It means you have the promise that one day soon Jesus will appear and take you out of this world. But if your under the wrath you’re going to stay behind and you’re going to experience a wrath unlike anything you can even imagine. This will happen during what the Bible calls the Tribulation — that 7 years when the wrath of man, the wrath of Satan, and the wrath God will be let loose upon this earth.
My friends, God is no Cosmic Teddy Bear. Most people tend to think of Him in that way, and they therefore believe that when they stand before God, He will reach out and put His big warm furry arm around them and say, “Well, I know you never did live a very good life; I know you boozed it up all the time and chased women; I know you never accepted my Son as your Lord and Savior; but you lived so much better than that old reprobate down the street from you — and since I grade on the curve, you just come on into my Kingdom.”
Folks, no such God exists. The God of grace, mercy and love is also the God of justice, righteousness and holiness, and He must deal with sin. The Bible says that God deals with sin in one of two ways. One of two ways. Either grace or wrath.
Everybody knows John 3:16 — “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish.” But it’s amazing that very few people seem to be familiar with John 3:36 which contains some ominous words spoken by John the Baptist. Here’s what John 3:36 says: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Watching for the Signs
Let me summarize what I’ve said thus far. You are either under grace or your are under wrath. Jesus is coming in wrath. God never pours out His wrath without warning. God is obligated by His character to warn. Therefore, God is obligated to let us know the season of the Lord’s return.
Now, how can we know it? God wants us to know it, but how does He reveal it? He reveals it through signs — through signs that we are to watch for. The same principle applied to the First Coming of Jesus.
If you’ll turn over the Matthew chapter 16 you will see this principle. In Matthew 16 verse 1, we find Jesus teaching when He is suddenly confronted by the Sadducees and Pharisees. They demanded that He show them a sign from heaven. What they wanted was a miracle. But Jesus played with the word, “sign.” Listen to what He says. He gets very sarcastic. He says, “Ah, I tell you, you guys, you beat all I ever saw. When it’s evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather for the sky is red.’ Then, in the morning you look up and notice the sky is red and threatening, and you say, ‘It will storm today.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?”
Do you get the point Jesus was making? Here are the religious leaders of Israel demanding a “sign” to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. They want Him to perform a miracle. He says, “I don’t understand you guys. You can look at the sky and tell what the weather is going to be, and you can’t look at me and discern the signs of the times? What miracle do you need? What sign do you need besides what I’m doing?”
What’s Jesus referring to? He’s referring to the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures, which these men had been studying all their lives, contain over 300 hundred prophecies about the First Coming of the Messiah. Many of those prophecies are repetitious. If you boil them all down you’ll come out with about 109 separate and distinct prophecies about the First Coming of Jesus. These prophecies foretold everything about His life — where He would be born, how He would be born, that He would go into Egypt, that He would live in Galilee, that He would heal people and love people. All aspects of His ministry were prophesied. Take His lineage for example. It was prophesied that He would be descended from Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and David. The last days and hours of His life were prophesied in incredible detail. The prophets said He would be betrayed, by a friend, for 30 pieces of silver, that He would be lifted up, and that He would be pierced in the side and in His hands and feet. Every aspect of His life and death was prophesied.
Now, Jesus is fulfilling all those prophecies before the very eyes of the Scribes and Pharisees. Yet, they are demanding a “sign”! So Jesus replies, “How blind can you be? I’m fulfilling the signs of the times.”
Now folks, here’s the point: There are 300 hundred prophecies about the First Coming of Jesus in the Old Testament, but there are 500 — five hundred! — in the Old Testament about His Second Coming! And in the New Testament, one out of every 25 verses has to do with the Second Coming of Jesus. In other words, there are many, many, many more prophecies about the Second Coming of Jesus than His First Coming. Probably twice as many. Why so many? Because Jesus is returning in wrath. The first time He came, He came as a compassionate Savior with tears in His eyes. But when He returns, He is returning as a conquering warrior with eyes like white hot flames because He is returning to judge and make war against the enemies of God. And so, since God does not wish that any should perish, He has given us sign after sign after sign to watch for.
I’ve spent over 25 years studying those signs. And I tell you, folks, there are so many they overwhelm you — literally overwhelm you. What I’ve done is try to put them together into categories — into groupings. That’s the best way I know of to get a handle on them. And as you begin to study these categories — these groupings of signs — I want to tell you something my friends, you just get overwhelmed by the fact that Jesus is coming soon. You begin to have spiritual eyes, and you start seeing the signs of the times that point to the soon return of Jesus. Everywhere you look it’s as if God has neon lights in the sky flashing on and off saying, “Jesus is coming soon! Jesus is coming soon! Jesus is coming soon!”
The Signs of Nature
What are the signs? Let me give you the categories. First are the signs of nature. And let me just tell you right now — right up front — that the signs of nature are the least respected signs in all the various categories of signs. When you mention signs of nature, people say, “What do you mean by that?” You say, “What I’m talking about is earthquakes, and volcanos, and famines, and pestilence, and mysterious things in the heavens,” and they start laughing. They start laughing! Usually for one or two reasons. They either first of all say, “Well those things have always been with us. There have always been famines, always earthquakes, always tornadoes — so what else is new? Come on, David, get serious.” Or, they just laugh at you because they think you’re a stupid idiot to believe that God would speak through a sign of nature. They put you on the level of some ignorant and superstitious native who thinks that because his volcano goes off his god is mad at him.
Well, folks, I’ve got news for you. The signs of nature are for real — they are for real! The Bible teaches from beginning to end that God always speaks through nature. God put a special star in the heavens when Jesus was born. On the day that He was crucified, there was a special three hours of darkness and an earthquake. And the Word says that when Jesus returns, there’s going to be the greatest earthquake in all of history — that every valley will be lifted up, every mountain will be lowered, the whole earth will be flattened like plain, every island will be moved, and the city of Jerusalem will be lifted up to be the highest point on the face of the earth.
God speaks through signs of nature. You go back to the Old Testament prophets and you will find prophet after prophet after prophet speaking of the signs of nature. Joel’s whole book is about a locust invasion. What’s the message? Joel is saying, “Hey, our land has just been stripped bare by locusts. We don’t have anything to eat. We don’t have anything to feed our cattle. We don’t have anything to offer to the Lord.” Then, he says, “I’ve got news for you. You’re sitting around wringing your hands, lamenting over your ‘bad luck,’ and asking, ‘Why did this have to happen to us?’ Well, your plight doesn’t have anything to do with luck. God sent the locusts. He sent them to call you to repentance, and if you don’t repent, God is going to send an army that will completely destroy you.” Do you think they believed him? No. They laughed and scoffed and ridiculed and threw stones at him. They didn’t believe Joel, and God sent the army.
The prophet Amos also emphasized the signs of nature in his preaching. He said to the people, “Hey, have you noticed every time you go out and plant your crops, that the root rot gets them? And when you go back and replant them, a flood destroys them? And when you replant again, a hail storm gets them? And when you go back and replant them, the blight comes? And when you replant again, the locusts arrive?” He said, “I’ve got news for you: God sent those calamaties, because God is calling you to repentance!”
We live in one of the most rationalistic societies on the face of this earth. We worship at the altar of rationalism. The average American no more believes in the supernatural than he believes in the man in the moon. This is true also of the average Christian. We are so rationalistic we believe if you can’t see it, if you can’t touch it, if you can’t smell it, if you can’t taste it, if you can’t weigh it — then it doesn’t exist. But the Bible teaches there is a whole realm of reality that is normally beyond the perception of the senses. I’m speaking of the realm of the angelic, the realm of the demonic, the realm of spiritual warfare. And an aspect of it is the way God speaks through signs of nature. He always has, and He always will.
When people sneer at these signs and say, “Well, you know, there have always been signs like these,” they ignore what Jesus said in Matthew 24. Listen to what He says as he describes these signs. In Matthew 24:8 Jesus said the signs of nature will be like “birth pangs.” Now, I’ve never had birth pangs, and so I went to my wife one time when I first started studying Bible prophecy and I said, “What in the world does the Lord mean by that?” She said, “Oh, you dummy, any mother knows what that means. She then explained that the closer a pregnant woman gets to the delivery of her baby, the birth pangs increase in two ways. They increase in frequency and intensity. And folks, that is exactly what Jesus meant here. The closer we get to His coming, the more earthquakes there will be and the more intense; the more volcanic eruptions, the more intense; the more plagues, the more intense; the more famine, the more intense.
Does that sound like the evening news? That’s exactly what’s been happening in this century. Get a World Almanac. Look up the statistics in it, and you’ll see that ever since this century began, we have been experiencing an increasing frequency and intensity in all our natural calamities. The statistics are overwhelming. It’s as if God is shaking all of nature and shaking it harder, and harder, and harder, the closer we get to the coming of Jesus. He is saying to the world, “Listen to me, listen to me! Jesus is coming soon!”
My friends, the signs of nature are for real, and we had better pay attention to them. They are proclaiming that Jesus is coming soon.
The Signs of Society
The second category of signs pertain to the nature of society. Again, in Matthew 24, Jesus said in verse 37 that “the coming of the Son of Man will be just like in the days of Noah.” He then begins to describe the days of Noah. What the Lord is saying here is, “I’m going to come back in a time when the earth is in as bad a shape as it was in the days of Noah.” What He means here is that world society will go full circle and return to being as evil as it was in the days of Noah.
Go back to Genesis 6 and read what it says. You will be astonished to learn it doesn’t give much detail about the days of Noah. But what it says is very bad. It says first of all that “men minds were focused upon evil,” and because of that, there were two major manifestations — immorality and violence.
If you want to know though what Noah’s society was like in detail you have to turn to the New Testament. Turn to Romans chapter 1, and start reading there with verse 18. The rest of the chapter tells in detail how horrible Noah’s society really was. What Paul does here, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is describe what kind of society God pours His wrath out against; and when he describes it, it has to be Noah’s society because Noah’s society is the classic example in all of history of the pouring out of God’s wrath. It was a society in which verse 18 says men “suppressed the truth in unrighteousness,” even as we’re doing so here in the United States by refusing to allow our children in the public schools to be taught the true origin of the universe and the true origin of the human species. It goes on the talk about how it was a society in which they worshiped the creature rather than the Creator. They worshiped nature. They were Humanists. They worshiped man rather than God. We’re the same way in this country today. We’re a humanist society. We are worshiping Mother Earth rather than Father God who created the earth.
The passage goes on to talk about how the people were futile in their speculations and imaginations — how they professed to be wise but were, in reality, fools. My friends, we are a nation just like that. We’re a nation that worships at the altar of education. Whatever the problem is, we think it can be solved by education. If it’s AIDS, just teach the kids how to have safe sex, when what they need is moral sex. In verse 24 it says that the society disintegrated to the point that God just stepped back and let evil multiply. The first evidence of that was a sexual revolution, which occurred in this country in the Sixties. And then, when they did not repent, God stepped back further, lowered the hedge around the nation, allowed sin to multiply, and the second manifestation — mentioned in verse 26 — was a plague of homosexuality. It was at that point that the society fell apart at the seams.
My friends, if you will turn over to 2 Timothy chapter 3, you will find a parallel passage. In Romans 1, Paul speaks as a historian. In 2 Timothy 3 he speaks as a prophet, and he uses almost exactly the same language to confirm what Jesus has already told us — namely, that the society of the end times is going to be like it was in the days of Noah. Look at 2 Timothy 3 verse 1: “Realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.” We’re in those days folks. Paul continues: “Men will be lovers of self.” That’s humanism. They will be “lovers of money.” That’s materialism. And they will be “lovers of pleasure” — verse 4. That’s hedonism.
Those three go hand in hand. If humanism is your religion, money will always be your god, and your life style will always be hedonism. When you have humanism, you will have materialism, and that will produce hedonism. There is a fourth element in this equation, and that is the payoff, because God cannot be mocked. The payoff is what philosophers called nihilism — which is just a sixty-four dollar fancy word for despair. Look at the despair that is mentioned in this passage in 2 Timothy 3: “men will be boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” That’s the society of the end times.
Do I need to say anything to convince you we’re there? Not only has our society reached this despicable condition, but the whole world has, and one of the reasons is because of the impact that we — the Untied States — have had upon the world. Have you ever stopped to think about that? Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that we have been the moral polluter of planet earth? The whole earth has been impacted by our movies and our television programs. Anywhere you go in the world, if you turn on the T.V., the first thing you’re going to see are the most immoral and the most violent American television programs and movies.
And so it is that society is back to the way it was in Noah’s time. The signs of society point to the soon return of Jesus. We live in an age were people have forgotten how to blush. We live in an age were people call evil good and good evil.
The Spiritual Signs
That brings us to the third category of signs. The third category of signs are the spiritual ones.
Regarding the spiritual signs, let me begin by emphasizing that there are a great variety of them. There are negative ones and positive ones, and let me warn you, the negative ones are extremely negative. For example, in Matthew 24 Jesus three times — three times — emphasizes that one of the signs of the end times will be false Christs, false prophets and their cultic groups. It’s the first sign He mentions in verse 5. He says, “Many will come in my name saying, ‘I am the Christ’ and will mislead many.” In verse 11 He mentions it again when He cautions that “many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” In verse 24 He warns again about “false Christs and false prophets” who will show “great signs and wonders.” Three times He warns us about cults. That’s the reason that all prophetic ministries are also cult watching ministries.
And so it is that we are living in the age of the epidemic of the cults. It began in the mid-19th century, with the formation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — the Mormon Church — which today is the largest cult in the world. It is a church that teaches a false Jesus. And folks, that’s the fundamental, bottom line, characteristic of all cults — they preach a false Jesus. The Mormons teach that Jesus is the brother of Lucifer, one of two thousand gods created by the “super god,” whom they identify as the exalted man Adam. Talk about something straight from the pit of hell! The Jehovah Witnesses then came along later in the 19th century teaching that Jesus was the archangel Michael. In this century we’ve had an explosion of cults. Consider all the spiritist cults that teach that Jesus is a “medium of the sixth sphere of the astroprojection,” whatever that goobly-gop means. On and on it goes, with some cult leaders, like Reverend Moon, claiming to be the Messiah. The cults are all around us, and they’re a sign that Jesus is coming soon.
The second negative spiritual sign is Satanism. The Bible tells us that in the end times there is going to be a tremendous outbreak of Satanism. In I Timothy chapter 4 verse 1 Paul writes, “the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”
Folks, Satan has gone public. He wants to take as many people to Hell with him as he possibly can. I first became aware of this trend back in the Sixties when the movie, “Rosemary’s Baby,” was released. It was about a woman abducted by a witch coven and impregnated by Satan. It was a horrible movie. But that was just the beginning. Its success fueled copycats like Exorcist I and II and Omen I and II. The trend has intensified in recent years to the point that our movies and television programs today are obsessed with Satanism.
The success of these films simply reflects the fact that the American people have become obsessed with the occult. Americans are caught up in astrology and numerology. Just look at the check out stands at your major super markets and you will see the horoscope books and the tabloids that traffic in the occult. The number one best selling publications in America are the filthy tabloids, like The Star and The National Enquirer, which are saturated from beginning to end with ESP, numerology, astrology, and other forms of New Age mumbo-jumbo — all of which is Satanism.
The third negative spiritual sign is apostasy. This is a sign that is mentioned repeatedly in the Scriptures. Paul refers to it in 2 Thessalonians 2 verse 3 where he says that the Antichrist will not be revealed until the “great apostasy” takes place. Jesus refers to it in Matthew 24 when He says that “men’s love will grow cold.” Paul refers to it again in 2 Timothy 3 verse 5 where he says that in the end times the reason society is going to be so terrible is because men will “hold to the form of religion” — the form — “but they will deny its power.”
The number one rated Christian (quote, unquote) “Christian” television program in America today is a program that does not preach the Gospel. It preaches instead the power of positive thinking and tells you that you can pull yourself up by your own boot straps. And many of the other so-called Christian television programs are caught up in all kinds of prosperity teaching, saying if you will accept Jesus, He will make you a millionaire — all of which comes from the pit of Hell. Again, Paul refers to the apostasy of the professing church in 2 Timothy chapter 4, beginning with verse 1. He says that we are to preach the Word in the end times because he says “the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside into myths.” All kinds of myths. All kinds of heresies. All kinds of gross apostasy.
In the Church at large today, you can find Christian spokesmen denying all the fundamental truths of the Bible — denying the words of Jesus, denying the virgin birth, denying the Resurrection, denying the Second Coming. Most of our seminaries spend their time disparaging the Bible, arguing that it is Man’s search for God rather than God’s revelation to Man. Our mainline Protestant denominations seem intent on spiritualizing everything in the Bible. You can even find apostasy at the conservative end of the spectrum among fundamentalist groups that argue the Holy Spirit retired in the first century. At the opposite extreme are those who emphasize the Holy Spirit to the point of overshadowing the Savior, Jesus. And then there are the fads, the winds of doctrine — things like the discipling movement, the prosperity doctrine, and the laughing craze. There is no area of Christianity that is immune to the apostasy that is sweeping through the Church today — and it’s all a sign of the soon return of Jesus.
I told you the negative signs are very negative, but oh, thank God for the positive ones! The positive spiritual signs are magnificent. One of them is found in Matthew 24 where Jesus says, “the Gospel will be preached to the whole world and then the end will come.” Folks, that has happened in this century. In this century, through the use of modern technology, we have preached the Gospel to the whole world. Through the use of satellite television; through the use of computers translating the Bible into many, many different languages; through the use of radio and short wave radio; through the use of motion pictures and television — on and on it goes.
Another positive spiritual sign is the understanding of Bible prophecy. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but a lot of times when God would give prophecy to Old Testament prophets, particularly prophecies about the end times, they would react by saying, “Lord, I don’t understand this prophecy.” The Lord would usually respond by saying, “Cool it, it’s not for you to understand. It will be understood when the time comes for it to be fulfilled.” Take, for example, Daniel 12. In this chapter you’ll find Daniel complaining twice to the Lord that he does not understand the end time prophecies given to him. The Lord tells him to forget about it because, as the Lord puts it, “these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.” So, the fresh understanding of end time prophecy which has come in recent years through books like The Late Great Planet Earth is a sign of the times.
A lot of the understanding has come through the development of world events. For example, end time prophecy focuses on the nation of Israel. Well, before 1948 it was difficult to understand those prophecies since Israel did not exist and had little prospect of ever existing again. Or consider the prophecy in Revelation 9 that an army of 200 million will march across Asia to Israel in the end times. When that prophecy was written, there were not even 200 million people on planet earth. Today, one nation, China, could send such an army.
Developments in modern technology have also helped us to better understand Bible prophecy. You see, the Bible has many prophecies that depend for their fulfillment upon modern inventions such as computers, lasers, robotics and nuclear power. For example, the Bible says that in the end times during the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation, there will be two great witnesses of God in Jerusalem who will preach the Gospel and perform mighty miracles. In Revelation 11 it says the Antichrist will kill both of these men, and their bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three days. It further says that the whole world will look upon those bodies and will witness their sudden resurrection and rapture to Heaven.
Now, how can the whole world look upon two bodies lying on the streets of Jerusalem? Before 1957 nobody could figure that out. Now, it’s very simple. We don’t even stop to think about it. All you have to do is just point a T.V. camera at them, zap the signal up to a satellite, and the whole world is able to watch. It’s amazing how so much of end time prophecy is being understood for the first time.
In 1970 Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth, became the number one best selling book in the world and remained the best seller for ten consecutive years, as certified by The New York Times. Why? Because he was able to explain in simple terms Bible prophecies that have been a mystery to people for ages. Was that because he was given some sort of special illumination? Well, yes, I’m sure the Holy Spirit illuminated his heart, his mind, and his eyes and helped him to understand. But a lot of his insights were just based upon the development of technology and the development of world events. These enabled him to explain things that were never explainable before.
So, the positive spiritual signs are the preaching of the Gospel all over the world and the understanding of Bible prophecy. There’s a third one — and oh, what a glorious one it is! I wish I could spend the rest of our time just talking about this wonderful sign. It is the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit. You see, the Bible prophesies that in the end times there is going to be a second pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit. Read Joel chapter 2. It talks about the “early rain” and the “latter rain.” The early rain was at Pentecost. That’s why Peter quoted Joel 2 in his Pentecost sermon. But folks, if you go back to Joel chapter 2 and read the passage carefully, you will see that Pentecost was a partial fulfillment of the prophecy because it talks about a second rain — a second pouring out of the Holy Spirit.
The passage says this second outpouring of the Spirit will occur after the reestablishment of the nation of Israel in the end times. We have been witnessing and experiencing that end time pouring out of the Spirit ever since 1948 when the Jews were re-established in the land of Israel. The Holy Spirit is being poured out today in an unprecedented way since the First Century. Because Satan is attacking individual Christians and churches as never before, we need a special anointing of the power of the Holy Spirit to stand against Satan. So, God’s Holy Spirit is being poured out. And that is a sign of the soon coming of Jesus.
The Signs of Technology
Okay, so we have the signs of nature, the signs of society, and the spiritual signs. There’s also the signs of technology. I’ve already mentioned these, so I won’t spend a lot of time on them.
An example of what I’m talking about is to be found in Daniel chapter 12 where it says there’s going to be an explosion of knowledge and an increase in the rapidity of transportation in the end times. These two things have happened in this century. Both knowledge and transportation have increased exponentially in this century. By the time an encyclopedia is published today, it is already out of date. Three-fourths of all the scientists who have ever lived are alive right now. More than half of all medicines have been developed since the end of World War II. We entered this century still relying on the horse as our basic mode of transportation. Today, we have autos, bullet trains, planes, and rocket ships.
The Bible says that in the end times when the Antichrist sets up his world kingdom, he’s going to keep tabs on everybody. Everyone will have to have the mark of the beast in order to buy and sell. How can that be accomplished apart from lasers and computers? The Bible says the false prophet will make an image of the Antichrist, and people will worship the image because it will appear to be alive. How can that be apart from robotics? Modern technology and the inventions it has produced are a sign of the soon return of Jesus Christ.
The Signs of World Politics
The fifth category of signs are those that pertain to world politics. Let me just read you a statement that Jesus made in Luke 21. Beginning with verse 25, Jesus says, “there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among the nations… Men will faint from fear over the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” To me, that’s a description of the splitting of the atom — the development of nuclear power. Look at it again. It says “the powers of the heavens will be shaken,” and “men will faint from fear.” That’s what’s been going on ever since the first atomic bomb was detonated — people building bomb shelters; people storing up food; people concerned about the possibility of a nuclear exchange; books being published that show that if America or Russia were ever to push the nuclear button, hundreds of millions would die instantly and those left alive would envy the dead.
People think today, “Well, you know, it’s not dangerous any more. The Soviet Union has collapsed, and Communism is dead.” Let me tell you, the danger is even greater today. The danger is greater because the Russian people are in one of the most chaotic societies in the world. It’s a society that is totally unstable. It’s a society that can collapse any moment. It’s a society where democracy has no chance whatsoever because the traditions and values do not exist which are necessary for democracy. It’s a nation that is going to be taken over any moment by the military under the leadership of some right wing Fascist leader or some left wing Communist leader. The only kind of government the Russian people have ever known throughout their history is dictatorship. Before the Communists, it was the Czars. The Russian nation is so unstable they could break into civil war at any moment, and the nation still has 30,000 nuclear warheads aimed at us! The world is tottering on the brink of nuclear disaster.
Nuclear weapons are not the only sign on the world political scene. We also have the sign of the pattern of world politics. Yes, the Bible prophesies that in the end times there will be a certain pattern of world politics. In Matthew 24 it says there will be “wars and rumors of wars,” and we’ve had that constantly for 50 years, ever since the end of World War II. Did you know we’ve had an average of 40 wars going on all over the world at any given time since the end of World War II? Not only nation against nation, but also “kingdom against kingdom,” which is a reference to civil wars like the ones raging today in places like the Sudan, Kenya, and Cambodia.
Another part of the end time world political pattern is the uniting of Europe into a European confederation. This is prophesied in Daniel 2 and 7. And as I mentioned before, the Bible speaks of an Eastern power sending an army of 200 million to the Middle East. One nation today, China, could easily do that. The Bible also speaks of a nation to the “uttermost parts of the north” — namely, Russia — and it says that nation will come down against Israel. Russia today is one of the most anti-Semitic nations on earth, and it is closely allied with the Arab enemies of Israel. Finally, the Bible speaks of Israel existing in the end times.
Never before have all these parts of the end time world political puzzle come together. Never! Now, they’ve coalesced for the first time. This pattern of world politics is a sure sign that we are living in the season of the Lord’s return.
The Signs of Israel
The sixth and final category of signs is the most important one all, more important than all the rest put together. I’m speaking, of course, of the signs of Israel. These signs are more important than all the rest because Israel is God’s prophetic time clock. What are the signs of Israel? There are seven. Seven signs of Israel, seven prophecies being fulfilled before our very eyes that certify that you and I are living in the most exciting time in the history of mankind since the First Coming of Jesus.
The first of these signs is the regathering of the Jewish people from the four corners of the earth. This process began in 1900 and has continued to this day. There were only 40,000 Jews in Israel in 1900; there were 500,000 at the end of World War II; today there are over 5 million, and they are continuing to come in unprecedented numbers from all over the world, particularly Russia.
In Jeremiah 16 it says that when history is finished, the Jews will look back upon their history and they will consider what is going on right now — the regathering of the Jews from the four corners of the earth — to be a greater miracle than their deliverance from Egyptian captivity. That’s an amazing statement. As a result of this regathering, the state of Israel was reestablished on May 14, 1948, clearly fulfilling the prophesies in Isaiah 66, Ezekiel 37, and Zechariah 12 that the nation of Israel will be existing in the end times.
Jesus emphasized this point in his teachings about the end times. In Matthew 24 He said for us to “watch the fig tree.” The fig tree is a common biblical symbol of Israel. Jesus said “when the fig tree re-blossoms,” the generation that sees that happen will be the generation that will see all the end time events come to pass. The state of Israel came back into existence — it “re-blossomed” — on May 14, 1948, and I believe with all my heart that someone who was alive in 1948 is going to see the return of the Lord. It may be somebody who was two years old in 1948, and they may be 80 years old when the Lord returns — I don’t know — but I believe someone who was alive then will live to see the return of the Lord.
The first sign of Israel is the regathering of the Jewish people The second is the re-establishment of their state. The third is the reclamation of the land. Isaiah 35 and many other passages speak of the fact that when the Jews return to the land, it will be reclaimed — the land will come alive. Mark Twain visited Israel in the mid-1860’s and wrote in his book, Innocents Abroad, about what a barren wasteland it was. The trees had been cut down. The land had been raped for 2,000 years by foreign conquerors who had no respect for it, no concern for it, no love for it. When the Jews began to go back in the early 1900’s, the Arabs laughed at them for buying the land. Who, but a crazy Jew, would want malaria infested swampland? Today, the Arabs want the land back because God has touched it, and God has made it a beautiful land once again, just as He promised. Today, Israel is the bread basket of the Middle East. The Israelis have planted over 400 million trees all over the land, and rainfall has increased over 450 percent. It’s a land of milk and honey once again. God has kept His promise, and it’s a sign that Jesus is coming soon.
The regathering of the Jews; the re-establishment of the state; and the reclamation of the land. The fourth sign of Israel is the revival of the language. When the Jews were spread all over the world they stop speaking Hebrew and started speaking Yiddish (a mixture of Hebrew and German) and Ladino (a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish). But God said in Zephaniah 3:9 that in the end times He was going to re-establish their language of Hebrew, and He has done it in this century through a man named Eliezer Ben Yehuda. This man was a single-minded fanatic who spent his life trying to revive the Hebrew language, a language that hadn’t been spoken in almost 2,000 years. He had to invent thousands of new words based upon ancient Hebrew root words. It seemed an impossible task, but he accomplished it, and today, biblical Hebrew is the official language of Israel. That means the people don’t need a translation to read ancient biblical scrolls or the Dead Sea Scrolls. God said He would do it, and He did it. It’s one of the greatest miracles of modern history, and it’s proof positive Jesus is coming soon.
Let’s review — we have the regathering of the Jews, the re-establishment of the state, the reclamation of the land, and the revival of the language. The fifth Jewish sign is the resurgence of the military.
In Zechariah chapter 12 the Lord says that in the end times, when He puts the Jews back in the land, they will be militarily superior to all their neighboring nations. Zechariah says they will be like “a fire pot among pieces of wood,” consuming all the surrounding nations. Amazingly, Israel’s military is considered to be the third or fourth most powerful one in the world, even though Israel is one of the smallest countries on the face of the earth. And it’s probably number one in its effective use of military power. The Israelis have fought war after war — the wars of ’48, ’56, ’67, ’73, ’81, ’91 and ’06 — and they have devoured their foes each time. What a miracle for a nation smaller than New Jersey and with a population less than the city of Philadelphia!
The sixth Jewish sign is the refocusing of world politics on the nation of Israel. In Zechariah 12 it says in the end times all the nations of the world will come together against Jerusalem, and Jerusalem will be like a heavy stone hanging around their necks. The focus of world politics shifted to Israel in 1973 when the Arabs pulled the Arab Oil boycott on the West during the Yom Kippur War. That boycott brought us to our knees. We went to the Arabs with our hat in our hands asking what we would have to do to get oil. They said two things: “Number one, pay four times more for it than you’ve never paid before; and number two, line up with us in our obsession to annihilate the state of Israel.” Overnight all of western Europe flip-flopped and turned against Israel. We were the only nation that stood by them, and we continued to do so until October of 1990 when, in our desperate attempt to pull together an Arab coalition for the Persian Gulf War, we turned against Israel and began to sponsor resolutions of condemnation in the United Nations. Soon after, we started forcing them to trade land for peace.
The final of the seven signs of Israel is the reoccupation of the city of Jerusalem. I consider this to be the most important sign of all because it came from the lips of Jesus Himself. You will find it in Luke 21 verse 24. He said “the Jews will fall by the edge of the sword and will be led captive among all the nations.” That happened in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. He then added, “Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Well, my friends, that’s exactly what happened. Jerusalem fell to the Gentiles when the Romans destroyed it. The Romans were followed by the Byzantines, the Byzantines were followed by the Arabs, the Arabs were followed by the Crusaders, the Crusaders by the Mamlukes, the Mamlukes by the Turks for 400 years, the Turks were followed by the British, the British by the Jordanians, and then, on June 7, 1967 — praise God from all blessings flow — the Jews reoccupied the city of Jerusalem for the first time 1,897 years.
And when those Jewish soldiers went to the Wailing Wall and fell upon their faces and began to weep before that wall, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief Rabbi of the Israeli Army, came up to the wall and blew a shofar. Then, he lifted his hand and said, “I proclaim to you the beginning of the Messianic Age.” You see, the Orthodox Jews know that the Messiah is coming soon. That’s one of the paradoxes of our time.
Preparing for the Lord’s Return
Think about it. The first time Jesus came, the Gentiles recognized Him; the Jews did not. This time, the Jews are the ones who know the Messiah is about to come. That’s because they know the Old Testament Scriptures, and from them, they know that the Messiah will come when the Jews are back in the land and back in their city. The Orthodox Jews are waiting for the Messiah, expecting Him any moment. They’re yearning for Him.
And the Church? The Church is setting on the side lines yawning instead of yearning. That’s right, the Jews are yearning while the Church is yawning. The Church does not even seem to be aware of the significance of the miracle of the regathering of the Jews. Nor does it seem aware of the significance of the re-establishment of Israel or the incredible significance of the reoccupation of the city of Jerusalem.
My friends, Jesus is coming soon, and the bottom line question is this: are you ready? All the signs of the times point to it — the signs of nature, the signs of society, the signs of a spiritual nature, the technological signs, the world political signs, and the signs of Israel. God is in the heavens shouting, “My Son is coming soon, my Son is coming soon!” He does not wish that any should perish but all should be brought to repentance. Are you ready? Are you? Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? My friend, let me tell you something, the Bible says “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” That means everyone! The question is when. If you do it in this life, it means life eternal with God; if you do it after the resurrection, at the great white throne judgement portrayed in Revelation chapter 20, it means eternity in the lake of fire. It means Hell.
God is serious about sin. He’s going to deal with it, and — as I have said before — He deals with it in one of two ways, either grace or wrath. If you are under the blood of Jesus Christ, if you have received Him as your Lord and Savior, then when Jesus breaks from the heavens, He will come as your Blessed Hope, and you will go forth “leaping like a calf released from a stall.” But if He comes and you are under wrath, He will come as your Holy Terror, and you will crawl into a hole in the ground and cry for rocks to fall upon you, so great will be the wrath of the Lamb of God. I urge you to simply bow your head in prayer, confess to God that you are a sinner, and then receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
If you have already received Jesus as your Savior, I have a message for you too, because the Second Coming of Jesus is like a two-edge sword. It has a message that slices one way for the unbeliever and slices the other way for the believer. The message for the unbeliever is “flee from the wrath that is to come by fleeing into the loving arms of Jesus right now.” The message for the believer is “receive Jesus not only as your Savior, but receive Him as your Lord.”
You see, the church today is full of people who have received Jesus as Savior but have never made Him Lord of their lives. He’s not Lord of anything — not Lord of their music, not Lord of their food, not Lord of their drink, not Lord of their recreation, not Lord of their reading material, not Lord of their T.V. or movies or anything. They’re walking with one foot in the church and one foot in the world, living a schizophrenic spiritual life.
Are you one of those? Do you need to make Jesus Lord of your life? Do you need to commit your life to holiness? That is the call of the Holy Spirit upon believers in the end times — to commit their lives to holiness. And then to yearn, yearn, yearn for the soon return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Listen to these glorious words from 2 Timothy 4 which Paul wrote from prison right at the end of his life: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; and in the future there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” A special crown, a crown of righteousness will be given to every person who lives his life loving the appearing of the Lord. Will you receive that crown? Are you living your life yearning for the return of the Lord?
My friends, Jesus is coming soon, and I cry from the depths of my heart, “Maranatha!” Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Concerning Jesus’ Second Coming, read more…
Concerning all the signs that we are at the end of this age, read more…