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The Signs Of The Lord’s Return

By David R. Reagan 

    In Hebrews 10:25 we are told that we are to be “encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”  The context is the Second Coming of Jesus.  This passage makes it clear that we can know the season of the Lord’s return – that tangible things will be visible to alert us to the Lord’s soon return.  What are those things?  What are the signs the Bible tells us to watch for?

    There are a great number and variety of these signs.  In fact, there are so many that it is difficult to get a handle on them.  They tend to overwhelm you.  The best way I have found to get a grasp on them is to group them into several broad categories.  Let’s take a look at them in that manner. 

The Signs of Nature

    “…And there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11).

    This category of signs has always been the least respected, even among believers. The mere mention of it usually evokes a sneer accompanied by the words, “Come on, what else is new? There have always been earthquakes and tornados and hurricanes.” But those who have this attitude forget that Jesus said the signs would be like “birth pangs” (Matt. 24:8). That means they will increase in frequency and intensity the closer we get to the Lord’s return. In other words, there will be more frequent natural disasters and more intense ones. And that is exactly what has been happening.

The Signs of Society

    Jesus said He would return at a time when society would resemble “the days of Noah” (Matt. 24:37).  The Old Testament tells us that Noah’s age was one of wickedness and violence because the thoughts of men’s hearts were continually focused on evil (Gen. 6:5-13).

    Romans 1:18-32 gives a chilling description of a society wallowing in immorality.  In this passage, Paul says the root cause of all the problems is man’s rejection of God:  “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator...” (Rom. 1:25).  In other words, they put their faith in man, giving their allegiance to humanism, the religion of Satan.

    Paul says that because they turned their backs on God, He removed some of His restraints on evil and “gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to ­impurity” (Rom. 1:24).  The result was an outbreak of sexual sin in the form of fornication and adultery.

    When they continued in their ­idolatry and immorality, God removed His remaining restraints on evil and “gave them over to degrading passions” (Rom. 1:26).  The result was an epidemic of homosexuality which produced woeful diseases, for men received “in their own persons the due penalty of their error” (Rom. 1:27).

    As homosexuality gained momentum, the society slipped quickly into a cesspool of wickedness.  People were filled with greed, envy, deceit, hatred, arrogance, and malice.  These attitudes were reflected in a growing tide of unrighteous acts.  Slander, rebellion, and violence increased (Rom. 1:28-31).

    In Second Timothy 3:1-5 Paul speaks as a prophet, using almost the identical language of Romans to tell us what the society of the end times will be like.  In doing so, he confirms the statement of Jesus that He will return at a time when society has gone full circle, returning to the depravity of Noah’s day.

    Paul says that the society of the end times will be characterized by great stress (2 Tim. 3:1).  It will be a society in which man will love three things:  self, money, and pleasure (2 Tim. 3:2-4).  What Paul identifies here is the religion, the god, and the lifestyle of the end-time society.

    The religion will be the same as in the times of Noah.  It will be humanism, the love of self.  Whenever humanism is the religion, the god is always materialism, the love of money.  And when material­ism is the god, the lifestyle is always hedonism, the love of pleasure.     These three satanic loves – self, money, and pleasure – combine to produce a fourth characteristic called nihilism.  It is the payoff.  We reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7), and the harvest of humanism, materialism, and hedonism is nihilism – or despair.     Paul describes the resulting despair in graphic terms:  “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...” (2 Tim. 3:2-4).

     Does it sound familiar?  It sounds like the evening news to me.

    We call ourselves a Christian nation, but our predominant religion is really humanism.  Humanists control the Congress, the judiciary, the presidency, the bureaucracy, and the schools.

    We are a nation of materialists who worship the dollar.  Greed is the motivating force of big labor, big business, big government, big religion, and big sports.

    And do I really need to say anything about our hedonistic lifestyle?  “If it feels good, do it!” is the philosophy of our age.

    What is worse is that we are exporting our pagan values and lifestyle to the rest of the world through our television programs and movies.  The American dream of money, sex, and power has become the world’s dream.

    And we are reaping what we have sown.  Our society wallows in despair as people seek to fill the vacuum in their lives with drugs, alcohol, sex, and violence.  Prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes – and Jesus is coming soon. 

The Spiritual Signs

    There are numerous spiritual signs that we are to watch for, both negative and positive ones.

    Concerning the negative signs, a typical passage is the following one found in Second Timothy 4:3-4 –  “The time will come when they [professing Christians] 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 to myths.”

    Some of the negative spiritual signs that are specifically prophesied include the following:  false christs, cultic groups, heresies, apostasy, skepticism, deception, occultism, and persecution.  The one that Jesus mentioned most frequently was false christs and their cultic groups (Matt. 24:5, 11, 24).  And in fulfillment of these prophecies, we have experienced an explosion of cults.

    Meanwhile, much of mainline Christianity wallows in apostasy.  Many of the old-line denominations have rejected the authority of the Scriptures.  Some groups have rejected the true Gospel for a gospel that promises health, wealth, and power.  Too many of our churches have surrendered the preaching of the Bible to the proclamation of pop-psychology in an effort to keep from offending anyone, when the reality is that people need to be lovingly confronted with their sins and then pointed in faith to Jesus as their only hope.  And they also need to be taught how to test everything by the standard of God’s Word, as the Bereans did with the teaching of the Apostle Paul (Acts 17:10-11).

    True Christians – those who live their faith, speak out against ungodliness, and stand for righteousness – are being submitted to increasing persecution.  Their rights are being denied in schools.  They are discriminated against in the workplace in both hiring and promotion.  They are mocked by the entertainment media.

    Satan is on the prowl.  He knows Bible prophecy, and he knows his time is short.  He is attacking the church with a vengeance.  He has also gone public, and the consequent outbreak of satanism is something to behold.  It is pervasive.  Satanic themes dominate books, movies, television programs, and music.  People are enthralled with astrology, numerology, transcendental meditation, channeling, crystal-gazing, and many other manifestations of occultic entrapment.

    I warned you that the negative signs are very negative, pointing to a society that is spiritually sick to its core.  Let’s move on to the positive spiritual signs and do some rejoicing!

    One is the proclamation of the Gospel to all the world (Matt. 24:14).  This is being fulfilled today as a result of modern technology such as shortwave radio and satellite television.  With the advent of computer technology, the Word has been translated into hundreds, even thousands, of languages and dialects.

    Another positive sign is the increasing understanding of Bible prophecy.  Many of the prophecies concerning the end times were not even understood by the prophets who gave them.  A good ­example is Daniel.  He was mystified by many of the end-time prophecies which the Lord gave him.  When he inquired about this, the Lord told him to stop worrying about it because the words are concealed and sealed up until the end time (Dan. 12:4, 9).

    As we get nearer to the day the Lord will return, we understand more and more of Bible prophecy.  Some of the new understanding is due to the development of world events, such as the re-establishment of the nation of Israel.  Other mysterious prophecies can now be understood due to modern technological developments.  But some of our greater understanding is due to the illumination of the Holy Spirit – not the giving of new revelation, but the provision of enlightenment concerning the revelation that has already been given in God’s Word.

    The great end-time pouring out of the Holy Spirit that was prophesied by the prophet Joel has also begun.  Joel called it “the latter rain” (Joel 2:23), and he said it would occur after the Jews had returned to their land.  The state of Israel was re-established in 1948.  Since that time, God has anointed ministries and movements which have prompted renewal in worship and given emphasis to the continuing validity of the gifts of the Spirit. 

The Signs of World Politics

    “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars…for nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…” (Matt. 24:6-7).

    I taught international politics for 20 years before I entered the ministry full time, so this is an area that is particularly fascinating to me.

    The Bible prophesies a very specific end-time configuration of world politics.  Israel is pictured as being re-established (Ezek. 37:21-22) and surrounded by hostile Arab neighbors intent on its destruction (Ezek. 35:1-36:7).  This, of course, has been the situation in the Middle East since the Israeli Declaration of Independence in May of 1948.

    Particularly menacing to Israel will be a superpower located in the “remote parts of the north” (Ezek. 38:6).  This nation is identified in Ezekiel 38 in terms that can only be interpreted to mean modern-day Russia.  The reunification of Europe is also prophesied (Dan. 7:7-8, 24).

    The world will be characterized by wars and rumors of wars (Matt. 24:6).  The nations will also be afflicted with internal political strife that will often lead to “kingdom against kingdom,” or civil war (Matt. 24:7).  Lawlessness will increase everywhere (Matt. 24:12), a prophecy that has been fulfilled on the international scene with the advent of modern terrorism.

    There is no doubt that we are living in a world where the end-time pattern has come together. 

The Signs of Israel

    “And it shall come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured.  And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it” (Zech. 12:3).

    The signs that relate to Israel are the most important of all because the Jews are God’s prophetic time clock.  What I mean by this is that the Scriptures will often tie a prophesied future event with something that will happen to the Jews.  We are told to watch the Jews, and when the prophesied event concerning them occurs, we can be sure that the other prophesied event will also occur.     An example can be found in Luke 21:24 where Jesus prophesied that the Jews would be dispersed from Jerusalem and be led captive among the nations.  But then He added that one day they would return to re-occupy Jerusalem, and when this happens, the end-time events will occur that will lead to His return.

    There are many prophecies concerning the Jews in the end times, many of which began to be fulfilled in the 20th  Century, but there are four key ones.  The first key prophecy is their worldwide regathering in unbelief (Isa. 11:11-12).  In 1900 there were only 40,000 Jews in Palestine.  By the end of World War II that number had risen to 800,000.  Today, there are more than 5.8 million who have come from all over the world. 

    The Prophet Jeremiah says twice that when history is completed, the Jewish people will look back and conclude that their worldwide regathering was a greater miracle than their deliverance from Egyptian captivity (Jer. 16:14-15; 23:7-8).  We are truly living in momentous times!

    The second key prophecy concerning the Jews is a natural consequence of their regathering.  It is the re-­establishment of their state which occurred on May 14, 1948 (Isa. 66:7-8).

    Regarding the re-establishment of the state of Israel, Jesus told His disciples to watch “the fig tree,” because when it blooms again, all the things prophesied about the end times will come to pass (Matt. 24:32-34).  The fig tree is one of the symbols of Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures (Hos. 9:10; Jer. 24:1-10; Joel 1:7).

    The day before, while walking with His disciples, Jesus had spotted a fig tree with no fruit.  He pointed to the tree and put a curse on it.  The tree immediately withered (Matt. 21:19).  This action was a symbolic prophecy pointing to the fact that the wrath of God would be poured out on Israel because the nation had rejected its Messiah.

    The next day Jesus referred back to this fig tree and said to watch for it to rebloom one day.  He then added that the generation that witnesses the re-­blossoming of the fig tree “will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt. 24:34).

    The fig tree bloomed on May 14, 1948.  We are the terminal generation.

    The third key prophecy is the re-­occupation of Jerusalem which occurred on June 7, 1967, during the miraculous Six Day War (Zech. 8:4-8).

    In the same discourse Jesus said for His followers to watch Jerusalem.  “They [the Jews] will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive into all the nations,” He prophesied.  Then, He added, “Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).

    Forty years after He spoke these words, the first part of His prophecy was fulfilled as the Romans conquered Israel, destroyed Jerusalem, and scattered the Jews worldwide.  Jerusalem passed from the Romans to the Byzantines, and from them to the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Mamelukes, the Turks, the British, and – finally – the Jordanians.

    For 1,897 years Jerusalem was under Gentile control.  The liberation came on June 7, 1967.  It is one of the surest signs that our time is short.

    The fourth key prophecy is the one whose fulfillment we are witnessing today – the re-focusing of world politics upon the nation of Israel (Zech. 12:2-3).  All the nations of the world, including the United States, are coming against Israel over the issue of the control of the nation’s capital – the city of Jerusalem.  The Vatican wants the city put under its control.  The United Nations wants it to be internationalized.  The European Union and the United States are demanding it be divided between the Arabs and the Jews.  The Arabs want all of it.     

Are You Ready?

    God in His grace and mercy has provided us with a host of signs to prepare us for the soon return of His Son.  Prophecy is being fulfilled daily before our eyes.  Jesus said in Luke 21:28 that when these signs begin to appear, “Straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

    We are in the season.  We are living on borrowed time.  Therefore, we are warned in Luke 12:35-37 – 

    “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight.  And be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.  Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert when he comes….” 

    – This article is arranged from writings by David R. Reagan including the books The Master Plan, copyright © 1993 by Lamb & Lion Ministries, and Living on Borrowed Time, copyright © 2013 by Lamb & Lion Ministries.  Used by permission.