Introduction

Jesus said no one knows the day or the hour of his return, so, we should be very cautious of anyone who claims to know the date of His return. However, Jesus commanded us to be ready for His coming and look for the signs that will mark his imminent return.  Jesus stated in Matthew 24:32-33, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” What are the signs that we should pay attention to regarding the return of Christ?

There are some preachers who are quick to proclaim the return of Christ is at hand whenever any man-made crisis, natural disaster, or cosmic anomaly arises. Not every major news headline signals the end of age, and we should be careful not to cry “wolf” too many times. However, there are significant signs that we should be aware of. Dr. Mark Hitchcock in his book, Seven Signs of the End Times, reveals some key signposts that indicate we are nearing the return of Christ. In this article, I have added one to his list of significant signs.

Sign 1: The Nation of Israel

The rebirth of the nation of Israel is one of the most significant events in modern times. No nation in history has ever been able to maintain its national identity after being removed from her homeland and scattered for centuries. Jesus prophesied the exile of the Jews from their homeland in Luke 21:24. Jesus said, “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” This was part of the judgment against Israel because they rejected their Messiah.

Jesus’ words were fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple scattering the Jews from Israel. In 118 A.D. the Roman Emperor Hadrian allowed Jews to return and gave permission for them to rebuild the Temple. However, he retracted on his word and turned on the Jews. The Jews under the leadership of Shimon Bar Kokhba revolted against Rome in the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 132-136 A.D. Hadrian crushed the rebellion and the Jews were scattered from Israel and were in exile for nearly two millennia.

The Bible prophesied three exiles and return of the Jews to their land. The first departure was prophesied in Genesis 15:13-14;

Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”

This was fulfilled with Israel’s sojourn in Egypt and their return in the Exodus and conquest under Joshua.

The second departure was predicted in Jeremiah 29:10, “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” A seventy-year exile in Babylon was predicted for the nation. This was fulfilled with the Babylonian exile in 586 B.C. and the return of the Jews beginning in 516 B.C.

A third departure and return was predicted in Ezekiel 36 & 37. In this prophecy, the Jews will be scattered to the nations of the earth. Then God will gather them from the nations of the world and bring them back to the land promised to Abraham. Ezekiel 37:21 states, “Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land.”

In this prophecy, Ezekiel sees a valley of dry bones. God commands him to prophesy and the bones come back together with flesh but the bodies are lifeless. God commands Ezekiel to prophesy again and the Spirit brings the bodies to life. This reveals that there will be two phases on this third return.  First, the Jews will return to the land but in a state of unbelief. At a later time, a spiritual revival will come to the nation of Israel.

The Jews were scattered to the nations of the earth in 70 AD and one final time in 136 A.D. where they remained in exile for nearly two millennia. Their return to the land in 1948 was miraculous and appears to fulfill this prophecy.

The formation of Israel and the return of the Jews is one of the most significant signs that sets the stage for Christ’s return. Fulfillment of end times prophecy is predicated, on Israel’s rebirth as a nation and the Jews return to the land.

Sign 2: Jerusalem

Throughout the Bible, Jerusalem is the city of God. The importance of the city is seen in that it is mentioned 802 times in the Bible. There is not a city that has experienced more conflict than Jerusalem. The reason is that this will be the city from which Christ will rule the nations in His glorious kingdom. Satan has sought to usurp the throne and prevent the establishment of Christ’s future rule. For this reason, Satan has sought to take the city from Christ.

Jerusalem plays a key role in end time prophecies and the Temple will be rebuilt before or during the future seven-year tribulation. The Antichrist will attempt to rule from Jerusalem and will once again desecrate the Temple with his image (Dan. 9:27, Mt. 24:15, Rev. 13:11-18).

When the Jews returned to the land in 1948, they declared Jerusalem their historical capital but were not allowed into the city. The Jews placed their capital at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem remained under Palestinian control. During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel recaptured Jerusalem. For the first time in nearly two millennia, Israel controlled Jerusalem. In 2017, President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the historic capital of Israel and moved the American embassy to Jerusalem.  Israel has not moved their capital to Jerusalem, but it seems inevitable that this will happen. The Arab world has threatened to retaliate if Israel relocates her capital.

 

Sign 3: Crisis in the Middle East and the Rise of Islam

The tension and conflict in the Middle East continue to escalate. From the time of its founder Muhammad, the religion of Islam has sought the destruction of Israel. It is significant that Islam rejects the biblical teaching that Israel is God’s select nation and God will one day restore Israel and Jerusalem. Along with the rejection of Israel, Islam rejects key biblical doctrines including:

  • The Trinity
  • The Deity of Christ
  • The death and resurrection of Jesus
  • The authority of the Bible because it has been corrupted
  • Israel is God’s chosen nation and the Christian Church is the Bride of Christ.

Islam teaches that Christ will return as a radical Muslim and lead the armies of Islam in a worldwide slaughter of the infidel armies specifically highlighting Jews and Christians. Shi’ite Islam teaches the return of the Mahdi or 12thImam, the Messiah of Islam. What prevents the Mahdi’s return is the existence of Israel and the infidel armies of the West in the holy lands of Islam. Today, radical groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, and the PLO are bent on the destruction of Israel. Since the formation of Israel in 1948, nearly every war against Israel involved an alliance of Muslim nations funded and armed by Russia.

This alliance of nations is significant because Ezekiel 38 and 39 predicts that just before the seven-year tribulation, there will be an Islamic coalition of nations led by Russia that will attack Israel. This alliance among Russia and several Islamic nations is already established and waiting for another moment when they can launch a decisive campaign to wipe out Israel. What we see with Islam and the rising tension in the Middle East sets the stage for this prophesied battle.  

 

Sign 4: The Rise of Babylon

In the Bible Jerusalem is the city of God while Babylon is the city of man. Babylon is the second most mentioned city in the Bible. This city has been the center of Man’s rebellion against God beginning with the Tower of Babel in Gen 10 and 11 and. In 586 B.C. the Babylonian Empire destroyed Jerusalem and deported the Jews. The Jews remained in exile for seventy years. Babylon was conquered by the Persians in 539 BC, but it was not destroyed. This city remained and the Bible prophesies that it will rise again.

Zechariah 5:5-11, predicts that Babylon will be the epicenter of rebellion in the last days. According to Revelation 17-18, she will be the financial and religious capital of the final empire. In the end she is judged by God and destroyed.

In the last 20 years Iraq has arisen to prominence on the world stage. Iraq sits on the second largest known crude oil reserves. Next door is oil rich Kuwait which Saddam tried to annex in 1991. Next to Iraq are the wealthy countries of Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. A unification of these nations under Iraqi leadership would make this the wealthiest alliance.[1] Saddam Hussein poured millions into rebuilding the ancient city of Babylon as a symbol of greatness once attained by Nebuchadnezzar. The city which lay for centuries in ruins, has arisen to prominence once again.

 

Sign 5: The Unification of Europe

Daniel 2 & 7 predict the rise of four great Empires that would rule over Israel before Christ returns. In Daniel 2, the prophet sees a large statue of a human figure made of four different metals: gold, silver, bronze, and Iron. Babylon is the head of gold, Persia is the chest of silver, Greece is the waist of bronze, and Rome is the legs of iron, which is then followed by a new form of the empire represented by the feet of iron mixed with clay. In Daniel 7, these four empires are pictured as beasts. Babylon is the lion, Persia is the Bear, Greece is the leopard, and Rome is the terrible beast pictured with 10 horns.

Both chapters reveal two phases of the Roman Empire. The first would follow the Greek Empire which ruled from 100 BC to 476 A.D. The second phase will begin prior to the coming of Christ. The feet made of iron mixed with clay in Daniel 2, reveal that the Roman Empire will arise again but this future empire will not be as unified as the old Roman Empire. The alliance of nations will be volatile just as iron does not mix well with clay. The ten horns of the beast in Daniel 7 predicts that this final empire will be composed of ten key nations.

Rome fell in 476 A.D., but it was not destroyed in the same way the previous empires were destroyed. The empire was not abolished but divided up into the various nations of Europe. There have been attempts to reunite the old empire as Napoleon and Hitler attempted. Today we are seeing the European nations working together in a loose confederacy called the European Union.

Motivated by the events of World War II, the reunification process began in 1957 with the Treaty of Rome. Today there are 28 nations that are part of the European Union. The Euro currency is used every day by some 332 million Europeans and is proof of cooperation between EU countries.[2] The headquarters of the union is in Strasbourg, France. Their parliament of six-hundred members meets in a building that resembles the Tower of Babel. The EU is not the end times empire, but it shows that there is a unifying movement among the European nations. What we have seen develop in the last 45 years sets the stage for what the Bible is prophesying: a revived Roman Empire.

 

Sign 6: A Growing Apostasy

2 Thessalonians 2:3 predicts a time when there will be a great apostate departure from the church. Apostates are individuals who knew the truth of Christianity but deliberately left the faith and embraced false teachings. Christianity has struggled with apostate teaching throughout its history. In this passage, Paul speaks of a time when there will be a significant departure from sound doctrine. If we are nearing the return of Christ, we should see a growing intensity in apostate teaching and indeed that is what is happening today.

We have denominations that deny the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture. As a result, there is a diminishing of biblical authority and an acceptance, even an endorsing of immoral behavior. We have denominations ordaining gay pastors and performing gay marriages. We have denominations denying the deity of Christ. There are denominations that teach universalism. We are seeing a growing apostasy as we have never seen before. This is what we should expect if the return of Christ is near.

 

Sign 7: Weapons of Mass Destruction

Rev. 8:7-11 prophesy cosmic disturbances and catastrophic fires that destroy a third of the earth. This could be describing a nuclear catastrophe. Today there are nine nations with nuclear weapons. The list includes: Soviet Union, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) a group that monitors nuclear weapons there are 15,000 in 2017, according to FAS. In other words, we could destroy the earth in a nuclear inferno several times over.  The scenarios pictured in Revelation are no longer fantasy but a realistic depiction of the capabilities of modern warfare.

Sign 8: Globalism

The COVID-19 pandemic reveals the need for the world to work together. With the increase in communication technology, the instability of modern currency, and natural disasters, there is a need for greater global cooperation. Several worldwide organizations already exist: GATT, NAFTA, WTO, NATO, UN, IMF, WSSD. I believe the globalism we see developing today is setting the stage for the world community at the end of the age, as predicted in Bible prophecy.  At the end of the age, there will be a one world government, economy, and religion ruled by one man, the Antichrist. This end-time world order is described in Revelation 13.

Modern technology today makes a one-world order possible. This pandemic has taught us how fragile our economic system is, how quickly our food supply could disappear, and the panic this instigates. Imagine when the plagues of God’s future judgement strike. There will be a need for a stabilization of the world and this can only be done through a central world government. This is now a realistic scenario.

 

Conclusion

 

When you go to an arena and see the stage being set up by the crew, you know the concert is about to begin. The events of today continue to set the stage and we are just waiting for the concert to begin. There are no more prophecies that need to be fulfilled for Christ to return for His church.

What are we to do in the meantime?  Jesus said in Matthew 24:46-47, “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.” We are not to despair over the world situation. Instead, we need to understand that the world events of the day are moving right along with God’s plan. Therefore, we are not to be discouraged but live with courage and hope as we see that His return is near. Until then, we are to be faithful servants doing the master’s will. That means we are to be living holy lives, studying His word, evangelizing, and living with expectant hope as we recognize the signs of the time.

 

 

 

© Evidence and Answers, April 2020.

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[1] Mark Hitchcock, Seven Signs of the End Times (Colorado Springs, CO.: Multnomah Publishers, 2002), 64-65.

[2] http://europa.eu/about-eu/basic-information/money/index_en.htm

 

 

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