WE ARE TO BE WATCHING FOR THE LORD'S RETURN
Jesus’ Second Coming is going to be like a thief in the night. The key element of Jesus’ comparison is that no one will know when He will return. Just as a thief catches a household by surprise, Jesus will catch the unbelieving world by surprise when He returns in judgment. People will be “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage”, just as if they have all the time in the world. But then, before they know it, Judgment Day will be upon them. Paul puts it this way: “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape”.
The unsaved should heed Jesus’ warning: “Be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him”. How can you be ready? God has provided the way for you to escape the judgment. That way is Jesus Christ. By accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are granted forgiveness of sins, mercy, and salvation with the promise of everlasting life. The “thief” is coming, but you can be a child of the day. Don’t put it off; this is “the year of the Lord’s favor”.
Matthew 24:38-39 – No One Knows the Day or Hour
Mt 24:38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Saved Unsaved Watch/Be Ready
Lord's wrath as a thief to the unsaved
Lord's deliverance of the saved
John 10:10 – Jesus the Good Shepherd
Jn 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.
2 Peter 3:10-13 – The Day of the Lord
2Pe 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 – The Day of the Lord
Th 5:1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
Luke 21:25-28 – The Coming of the Son of Man
Lk 21:25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Luke 21:34-36 – The Importance of Watching
Lk 21:34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and
that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 12:35-40 – The Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant
Lk 12:35 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Matthew 25:1-13 – The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins
Mt 25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. … 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ … 10 And while they [bridesmaids without oil] went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
Matthew 24:42-44 – No One Knows the Day or Hour
Mt 24:42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Revelation 3:1-3 – The Dead Church
Rev 3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
Mark 13:35-37 – No One Knows the Day or Hour
Mk 13:35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
1 Peter 4:7 – Serving for God’s Glory
1Pe 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.
1 Corinthians 16:13 – Final Exhortations
1Co 16:13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
Proverbs 22:3 – The Value of a Good Name
Pro 22:3 A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished.
Revelation 16:15 – Sixth Bowl: Euphrates Dried Up
Rev 16:15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
Titus 2:11-13 – 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,
Acts 20:28-32 – Paul’s Farewell to the Ephesian Elders
Act 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Ezekiel 33:1-6 – The Watchman and His Message
Ez 33:1 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’
What does it mean to watch and pray?
Jesus used the phrase watch and pray on a couple of different occasions. Once was the night before the crucifixion. Jesus took His disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He prayed that “this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 26:39). After the prayer, He found His disciples sleeping. He was grieved that they could not even pray with Him for an hour and warned them to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
Another occurrence of the phrase watch and pray is found earlier in Jesus’ ministry when He prophesied about the end times. Luke chapter 21 details many of those events, and Jesus warns that they would happen suddenly: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap” (Luke 21:34). He then says, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (verse 36).
“Watch and pray.” The word translated “watch” means “to have the alertness of a guard at night.” A night watchman must be even more vigilant than a daytime guard. In the daytime, danger can often be spotted from a distance. But in the night everything is different. A night watchman must use senses other than sight to detect danger. He is often alone in the darkness and without the defenses he would otherwise employ. There may be no indications of enemy attack until it happens, so he must be hyper-vigilant, suspecting it at any moment. That is the type of watching Jesus spoke about.
Jesus warned us that we are too easily distracted by the physical and will be caught unaware if we do not continually discipline ourselves. In the Garden of Gethsemane, sleepiness overcame the disciples. Their physical need overpowered their desire to obey Him. He was grieved when He saw this, knowing what was ahead for them. If they did not remain spiritually vigilant, in tune with Him (John 15:5) and ready to deny the flesh, they would be overcome by the evil one (1 Peter 5:8).
Jesus’ disciples today must also watch and pray. We are easily distracted by this world, our fleshly needs and desires, and the schemes of the enemy (2 Corinthians 2:11). When we take our eyes from Jesus and His soon return, our values begin to shift, our attention wanders, and soon we are living like the world and bearing little fruit for God’s kingdom (1 Timothy 6:18–19). He warned us that we must be ready at any moment to stand before Him and give an account of our lives (Romans 14:12; 1 Peter 4:5; Matthew 12:36).
“Watch and pray.” We can only remain faithful when we are devoted to prayer. In prayer, we continually allow God to forgive us, cleanse us, teach us, and strengthen us to obey Him (John 14:14). In order to keep watch, we must pray for endurance and freedom from distractions (Hebrews 12:2; Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18). We must pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When we live with the eager expectation of the Lord’s return and expect persecution until then (2 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 24:9; 1 Peter 4:12), we are more likely to keep our lives pure and our hearts ready to meet Him.
What does it mean that Jesus will return like a thief in the night?
The return of Jesus Christ is likened to the coming of a thief in the night. Two passages use the wording “a thief in the night”: Matthew 24:43, “Understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into,” and 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”
In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks of His second coming at the end of the tribulation. Paul calls it “the day of the Lord” in 1 Thessalonians 5. This is a day of divine retribution featuring astronomical upheaval and the visible “sign of the Son of Man” in the heavens (Matthew 24:29–30). Jesus says it will happen “after the tribulation of those days” (verse 29, ESV), a description that distinguishes this event from the rapture, which happens before the tribulation.
How is the second coming going to be like a thief in the night? The key element of Jesus’ comparison is that no one will know when He will return. Just as a thief catches a household by surprise, Jesus will catch the unbelieving world by surprise when He returns in judgment. People will be “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (verse 38), just as if they have all the time in the world. But then, before they know it, Judgment Day will be upon them (verses 40–41). Paul puts it this way: “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
The believer does not fear this swift and sudden judgment; the “thief in the night” will not catch us by surprise. Christians are in a separate category: “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:4). It is only those in darkness who will be taken unawares, and we “are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (verse 5). Praise the Lord, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 9).
The unsaved should heed Jesus’ warning: “Be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44). How can you be ready? God has provided the way for you to escape the judgment. That way is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). By accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are granted forgiveness of sins, mercy, and salvation with the promise of everlasting life (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9). The “thief” is coming, but you can be a child of the day. Don’t put it off; this is “the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:19).
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…