Signs the End of Days Is Near
LHC: Message Three (050220AM)
Week 3: Signs That the End of Days Is Near
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you see the signs of His coming again!
SUNDAY: Prophecy by the Numbers Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. —Revelation 1:3, emphasis added When Jesus walked on earth, He announced to His disciples that His coming was near. In fact, the anticipation of His soon return was what motivated the early church. Now, 2,000 years later, those who love Him are still looking for the Second Coming of Christ. Is there any way we can know that His coming is actually close at hand? I believe there is. While studying a series I was preparing (“What’s Next for Planet Earth?”), I began examining just how much God has left for us to know about events yet to come, and found J. Barton Payne’s series of numbers regarding prophecy to be quite enlightening! The Bible has a total of 31,103 verses, 8,352 of which are prophetic; they speak of events yet to come. All biblical predictions about the future can be grouped into 737 different predictions. Of the 8,352 verses, 6,312 (or 522 different predictions) have already happened exactly as God’s Word said they would. About 2,040 verses, with 215 specific predictions from God about the end of the world, are in process of being fulfilled.1 These prophecies can be further divided into eighteen chronological categories (by the timing of the events). There are only five categories of the eighteen left to be fulfilled. Here are the categories: church prophecies, Second Coming prophecies, Millennial prophecies, Final Judgment prophecies, and New Jerusalem prophecies. Each of the prophetic signs that Christ and His apostles gave is very specific. Jesus has explained that as we get closer to the Second Coming, we will witness these events, which will begin at the same time, run concurrently, and crescendo like the pains of a woman giving birth. The list of the biblical signs of Christ’s return will not be full blown until the actual Tribulation, after the Rapture has occurred. Each of these signs, Jesus said, is a trend. These trends are speeding up in our generation; the last seconds of the countdown clock of Christ’s return are clicking away. The prophetic picture Christ
painted grows clearer daily as signs captured by the apostles and prophets between 2,000 and 3,500 years ago are now happening in our lifetime.
In all history—only our generation has seen every one of these events starting to unfold. As Jesus said in Matthew 24, when you see these things happening, know that the end of days is getting near. If Christ were to come today, are you ready to meet Him face-to-face? My Prayer for You This Week: Father in heaven, I pray that no one would evade answering this question: What will you do with Jesus who is called the Christ? For what would it profit a man if he gained the whole world but lost his own soul? Oh Christ, You are the One who fulfills every promise that God ever made. And Lord, You are not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. For those who do not know You personally, we pray that You would stir their hearts as they think about prophecy, the imminence of Your return, and the horrors that are coming. May they repent and turn in simple faith to You, oh Christ. Thank You for laying down the “Steps to Eternity” that we will be studying this week—events which will soon take place on this planet. Help us to not be ashamed before You at Your coming. May we be able to honestly say, “Lord, we’re ready! Come or call for us at any time!” In Your precious name we pray. Amen.
MONDAY: Signs of Christ’s Return “The sign of the Son of Man will appear . . . and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” —Matthew 24:30, emphasis added All of the yet-to-be-completed prophecies fit within specific major events. Probably the most exciting are the dozens of signs of Christ’s Second Coming. Jesus described many of them in incredible detail. But here is what I want you to see: Jesus said these signs will not suddenly appear. Rather, they will become a trend that amplifies and strengthens until they become overwhelming, like a woman about to give birth. Before I survey the major events of the yet-to-be-completed prophecies (Thursday-Saturday), I will cover ten of Christ’s precise, clear, and specific predictions. You may be startled. Every one of the signs that He gave to us are present in our world today. You and I are in the first generation in history to experience these signs all at once!
Ten Signs of Christ’s Return 1. The Sign of Global Travel: Daniel was overwhelmed when he caught a glimpse of the number of people and the speed with which they would be moving about the planet in the end days. So God told him, “Daniel, . . . seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4, emphasis added).
The Bible said that there would be many involved in travel, and today the transportation industry is one of the largest segments of the global economy. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, few individuals traveled beyond their community. Until recently, horse, foot, and boat were the only modes of transportation. Yet, in our day, millions travel “to and fro” great distances every year. 2. The Sign of a Global Explosion of Knowledge: God said that “knowledge shall increase” in the end days (Daniel 12:4). For example, we’ve recently seen the introduction of a new generation of computer chips. Each generation has basically doubled its processing speed and power. However, the newest chip—the “Cell”—doesn’t double; everything that the computer does the “Cell” multiplies by sixty times! We live in a fast-paced world where many “run to and fro,” frantically searching for whatever seems to be missing in their lives. Yet nothing satisfies: what is “hot” today is quickly “ho hum” tomorrow! God says that in the last days men will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God . . . always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:4, 7). Do you know some people like that? Have you loved them enough to warn them of the judgment to come and to offer the only hope that can truly satisfy?
TUESDAY: Can You See These Signs of Christ’s Return? “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” —Matthew 24:8, emphasis added 3. The Sign of Global Weather Gone Wild: Jesus predicted that there would be a time when weather would be so bad that not just a few but the whole world would be troubled and fearful as many thousands are killed by the prevalent chaotic weather. Jesus foresaw “the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25) in the last days, like the 2004 Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, and likened these trends to birth pangs—“the beginning of sorrows.” The Greek word odin, often translated as “sorrows” in Matthew 24:8, literally means “birth pangs.” Paul says that the Creation is under the curse of sin but it “will be delivered from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). While the Creation likewise awaits the coming of the liberator, Christ the Lord, the universe itself will travail in intensity and frequency as the time of its delivery draws near: For . . . the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs (Romans 8:22). Of course, chaotic weather has always existed, but there are indicators that we are witnessing an unusual surge in strange and devastating weather around the globe. 4. The Sign of Global Telecommunication and Television: God’s Word explicitly specified that the whole world would simultaneously be able to see and hear globally: The . . . nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and . . . will rejoice over them, . . . because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 11:9–10). In the Apostle John’s day, news traveled at “the speed of horseback.” But for the first time ever, due to the
invention of television and the deployment of global satellite networks during the twentieth century, news can travel the world at the speed of light. 5. The Sign of Global Evangelism: Jesus has told us that before the end of days, the gospel would be preached to all nations. We can now preach the gospel of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross anywhere on earth through e-mail, radio or television waves. In fact, my little Web site (www.discoverthebook.org) alone has visitors from over a hundred different nations on earth! The Christian gospel is now being “preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Portions of God’s Word or the entire Bible have been translated into over 2,300 languages and dialects, covering more than 90 percent of the world’s population. 6. The Sign of Global Pestilences: Despite an increase in scientific knowledge, the Bible predicted that deadly diseases would still be prevalent in the end days: “There will be famines, pestilences [deadly diseases], and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7). Emerging diseases such as AIDS, Ebola virus, Hantavirus, West Nile, SARS, Avian Flu, and so forth, underscore this fact. Ironically, only a few decades ago, some scientists were forecasting that advances in medicine might soon eradicate deadly diseases. For some dear souls, becoming more aware of the details of the coming judgments can be frightening. If you find yourself struggling with fear, be like David and cry out to God, When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2). God promises to keep you in perfect peace if your mind is trustingly focused on Him (Isaiah 26:3)!
WEDNESDAY: Our World Is Changing Fast “There will be signs in the sun, . . . moon, and . . . stars; and . . . distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring.” —Luke 21:25, emphasis added 7. The Sign of Global Tracking and Positioning: The Bible says there will be technology capable of tracking the world’s population and commerce: He causes all . . . to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except One who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Revelation 13:16–17). Consider this interesting excerpt from a recent article: As an example of sophisticated tracking that has already existed for years, being recognized has never been easier for VIP patrons of the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona, Spain. Like a scene out of a science-fiction movie, all it takes is a syringe-injected microchip implant for the beautiful men and women of the nightclub scene to breeze past a ‘reader’ that recognizes their identity, credit balance, and even automatically opens doors to exclusive areas of the club for them. Conrad K. Chase, director of the Club, explains, “By simply passing by our reader, the Baja Beach Club will know who you are and what your credit balance is. From the moment of their implantation they will also have free entry and access to the VIP area.2
8. The Sign of Weapons of Mass Destruction: The term “weapons of mass destruction” is commonly used these days, but often without the somberness that it warrants. God has warned us that at the end of the world mankind would be capable of destroying all life: “There will be great tribulation, . . . And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” (Matthew 24:21–22). When Jesus made this prediction, the armaments of His day were swords and spears. However, with our generation’s nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, it is not only possible to wipe out all flesh on planet Earth, but it is also plausible! 9. The Sign of the Return of the Wandering Jews to the Promised Land: Over twenty-six centuries ago, God promised that at the end of the world, Jews would gather together once again in Israel: “ ‘Thus says the LORD God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, . . . and will . . . bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation . . . ; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again” ‘ ” (Ezekiel 37:21–22; see also Ezekiel 38:8 and Jeremiah 31:7–10). Since 1948 the world has witnessed the call of God deep within the hearts of 5.4 million Jews who have done everything they could to emigrate to the Promised Land. More arrive each day! 10. The Sign of Israel Building a Security Wall: God told Ezekiel 150 years, after Israel had been captured, its cities destroyed, and the population exiled to Assyria by Sargon, that Israel would build walls for security—even though there had been no “Israel” for 150 years! For 2,520 years after the Assyrian conquest, there was no sovereign nation called Israel until 1948. Israel was an occupied land, captured and recaptured by various conquerors for twenty-five centuries. Listen to what Ezekiel was told to say: There would be a people gathered from across the world to Israel (38:12); they would be called Israel (38:18); they would dwell in a land where the walls have been taken down (38:11). Amazing! Until 2002, this has always been spoken of as an allusion to defensive preparations. However, for several years now, in an effort to slow the flow of suicide bombers, Israel has been building the most notorious wall in the world. And that wall will be totally completed, because Ezekiel saw it taken down when Israel accepts the European Peace Treaty through the Antichrist’s rule during the Tribulation, and thus trusts in a false peace (Daniel 9:27)! Multitudes are already trusting in a false peace, and don’t even know it. So God warns: There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12). There is only ONE way to escape “the way of death,” and that is to trust in Jesus who declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). In what or whom are you placing your trust today?
THURSDAY: Steps to Eternity Seek those things which are above, where Christ is. —Colossians 3:1, emphasis added
We are now going to begin our three-day look at the clear and well-described major events that lay ahead not only for those who know Jesus but also for planet Earth. I call these the “Steps to Eternity”! Step One: The Rapture Be ready—Christ is coming! The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. —1 Thessalonians 4:16–18 Step Two: The Judgment Seat of Christ (Bema) Be holy—Christ will test our lives! For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. . . . Therefore we make it our aim . . . to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. —2 Corinthians 5:1, 9–10 Step Three: Tribulation Be thankful—Christ will keep us from the hour! When the Lamb opened one of the seals; . . . I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. When He opened the second seal, . . . Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the One who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another. . . . When He opened the third seal, . . . behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.” When He opened the fourth seal, . . . I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth. When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black . . . and the moon became like blood . . . the stars of heaven fell to the earth. . . . Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the
kings . . . , the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” —Revelation 6:1–17, emphasis added The Rapture can occur at any moment! Are you ready? Are you living a holy life in anticipation of appearing before the judgment seat of Christ? Are you thankful that God will keep you from the Great Tribulation that is coming upon planet Earth? May God enable you to live your life daily in light of these truths!
FRIDAY: Be Patient “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” —Hebrews 10:30, emphasis added Christ’s Second Coming is a constant reminder that He is coming to right all wrongs! Therefore, we need not waste our precious time trying to accomplish what He has already promised to do. God has everything under control. Allowing hurts to lead to anger and eventually fester into bitterness and a revenge-seeking spirit is a sinful and foolish pattern. For only God can completely and perfectly right all wrongs. The verses in Step Four below reveal the importance of surrendering to the Lord any desires to get even with others for hurting us. Step Four: Christ’s Second Coming Be patient—Christ will right all wrongs! I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; . . . saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, . . . captains, . . . mighty men, . . . horses and of those who sit on them, and . . . all people, free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast, the kings . . . , and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him . . . and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and . . . worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
—Revelation 19:11–21 Step Five: The Millennium Be focused—Christ will perfect the earth! Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released . . . to deceive the nations . . . , Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They . . . surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down . . . and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire . . . where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. —Revelation 20:1–10, emphasis added Step Six: The Great White Throne Be faithful—point people to Christ! Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. —Revelation 20:11–15 Only our God has impeccable wisdom and perfect justice to know how and when to deal with mankind’s sins against others and Himself. Our responsibility is to faithfully live a Christ-centered life that is kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving of those who have offended or hurt us—just as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us (see Ephesians 4:32). Such a consistent testimony is the best way to point others to Christ!
SATURDAY: Wise Investments with God “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” —Luke 12:34, emphasis added Are you intensely asking God to do anything in particular through your life that will last forever? What do you think would most please Christ? Step Seven: Heaven Be investing—lay up treasures in heaven! Christ said, “Here is something anyone in My family can do! Here is what you can do that I will love, and I will make your investments in these areas last forever!” Jesus collects all your prayers, so pray to Him: Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8). Jesus multiplies sacrificial gifts, so give to Him: Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans [a day’s wage]. So He . . . said to them, “. . . This poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury” (Mark 12:42–43). Jesus counts souls you lead to Him, so win the lost to Christ: For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19). Jesus remembers humble service, so serve Him: As He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head . . . “to anoint [His] body for burial. [And] wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Mark 14:3, 8–9). Jesus loves missionaries who do outreach, so go for Him: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). Make a choice to live in hope: Investing in heaven is the secret to having living hope for the end of days! Whenever you give significant, regular, sacrificial time to God, you are making a choice to live in hope. Whenever you share Christ with loved ones, friends, neighbors, and others whom God brings into your path, you are giving them an opportunity to live in hope as well. And whenever you invest financially in heaven instead of laying up treasures on earth that will soon be destroyed, you are once again sending ahead “gold, silver, and precious stones” to build upon in heaven. Are you diligently preparing for Christ’s return—eager to lovingly welcome Jesus, with a clear conscience, as you meet Him in the air at the Rapture, or at the time He escorts you through the “valley of the shadow of death”?
I exhort you to consciously make each moment count for God and eternity! For time is the only thing you cannot recover, earn more of, get from someone else, or do over again. It is an irreversible river that is flowing by ceaselessly at sixty seconds per minute, sixty minutes per hour! I pray that you are excited about seeing Jesus—it could be today!
1 J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1980), pp. 631–75.
2 Sherrie Gossett, “Paying for Drinks with a Wave of the Hand,” WorldNetDaily (April 14, 2004), accessed online at http://www.worldnetdaily.com/ news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=38038.