People always want to know the future. They look around at our world and ask, “Is this the beginning of the end?” They consult pundits, prophets, and psychics who can’t tell them what the future holds. Christians, too, have questions: “What are the signs of the times? Is the Second Coming a real thing? Will the world see the literal return of Jesus?” But the only reliable source is the book with a batting average of 1000—the Word of God.
Jesus’ return is a major Bible doctrine, mentioned 1200 times in the Old Testament and 300 times in the New. God says this same Jesus who came before is coming again.
In Matthew chapters 23-25, Jesus leads us on a journey of prophecy that reveals the end-times fate of planet Earth. He told His disciples that one day the temple wouldn’t exist. That didn’t seem reasonable. How could the temple ever be destroyed? Forty years later, that’s exactly what happened. What Jesus foretold came to pass.
That should teach us we don’t live by reason but revelation—the revelation found in the Word of God.
Then the disciples asked Jesus three questions (Matthew 24:3).
1. When will the temple be destroyed?
2. What will be the sign of Your coming (when will You set up your kingdom)?
3. What is the sign of the end of the world (literally, “the end of the age”)?
They thought a Messianic age was about to begin. Jesus answers the first two of their questions, specifying seven signs that will occur before His Second Coming.
1. Deception of counterfeit Christs—Matthew 24:4-5; 1 John 4:1-3.
It would be a time of great deception. Just in the past 50 years alone, no less than 1,100 people have professed to be Christ.
2. Division of continuing conflict—Matthew 24:6-7a.
In 6,000 years of man’s recorded history, war has killed an estimated 600 million people. But half of those have died since 1900. Wars featuring terrorism are growing in number and intensity. Control of Jerusalem is at the heart of much of the unrest.
3. Disasters of cataclysmic consequence—Matthew 24:7b.
Famine - Famine still stalks many countries, and we’re unable to get food to the people who need it.
Plagues - In the 50s, we conquered polio. But then came AIDS, Ebola, and SARS. Now we face biological and chemical warfare.
Earthquakes - Megalithic earthquakes have increased over 2,000% since 1492. As many people have died from earthquakes in the last 40 years than the previous 120.
4. Defamation of committed Christians—Matthew 24:9-10.
Persecution of Christians will increase. We will be defamed if we love the Lord Jesus. This world doesn’t mind religion, but it resents Jesus Christ. More Christians have died for their faith in the past century than all other centuries since Calvary. Christian bashing is the favorite sport of newspapers, radio, and television.
5. Distortions from Christless cults—Matthew 24:11.
False “prophets” will deceive many. The world will embrace a one-world religion that claims God is revealed in Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed—a conglomerate of religions.
6. Display of carnal coldness—Matthew 24:12.
When false prophets remove society’s moral base, people become cold-hearted. It’s acceptable to kill babies, perform homosexual marriages, and euthanize the terminally ill or aged. As a crime wave of abounding lawlessness produces fear, we harden our hearts.
7. Discharge of Christ’s commission—Matthew 24:14
Jesus commissioned us to take the Gospel to every nation. Today, through crusades, radio, television, books, tapes, leaflets, and the Internet, everyone on earth can hear the Gospel.
These seven converging signs are “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). There have always been famines, war, and persecution, but when we see all these things multiply and intensify, something is about to happen. They mark the end of our age. But they do not mark the end of the world, for when Jesus returns, He returns at last to reign.
We no longer have to wait on any signs for Jesus to catch away the Church in the Rapture. He may come at any moment. If you stand before God unsaved, you won’t be able to say “I never knew” or “I never heard.” Don’t you think the wisest thing to do would be to give your heart to Jesus Christ?