As for signs of the return of Christ, there is no shortage of topics to write about. On the contrary, the problem may be knowing where to start. Truly there are signs of the last days all around us.
If you don’t understand what I am referring to, you should pick up a good book to help point out all the “end times” prophecy in the Bible. You can follow me on GoodReads.com to see what I have read under username JSexton. I have read a few, but a good start for many would be to read “Are we Living in the End Times” by Dr. Tim Lahaye and Jerry B Jenkins. They lay out the prophecies in an easy to understand way. The book also points out how new technologies, world events, and the ways of man are all pointing to us living in the final “trimester” of the last days.
It may seem odd to use the reference of a pregnancy timescale value when discussing the overall timeline of the earth’s current existence. However, this is exactly the way Jesus describes the signs in His discourse on the subject. (Matthew 24) “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” (Matthew 24:7-8 NASB)
Many Bible scholars believe that World War 1 was the initial sign that Christ’s return would be soon. Matthew 24:6 tells us; “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.” Verse 7 then adds that “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom”. Therefore because World War 1 is recognized by the majority of the world as the first worldwide war this is most likely the first sign of the last days. However, verse 6 tells us “but that is not yet the end” and verse 8 states “all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs”.
As we move through Matthew 24 and into verse 9 and 10 there is a move into the next phase of signs. Jesus tell the disciples that in the last days they will be hated b all nations because of the name of Christ. The verse also tells us that “many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.” The disciples were Jewish and Christian. Surely over the last several decades we have seen how people have hated the Jewish people, but now that hatred is also pointed at anyone who holds true to Christian values.
Verses 11- 13 reminds us that not every religious leader is working in unison with the will of God. On the contrary, some have betrayed sound doctrine and ignored the teachings of the Bible. We must do our best to not be fooled by these “False Prophets”. Their teachings lead to “lawlessness” and because of this “most people’s love will grow cold.” Our job as Christians is to endure to the end so that we may be saved.
So, when will the rapture take place? No one knows for sure, it says so in the Bible. We do know this, that the gospel will have been preached to all the ethnic groups and nations of the world before the “end” will come. According to verse 14 after the gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world, then the end will come. There is debate about if this verse means “the end” as the Rapture or the “Glorious Appearing” at the end of the tribulation. This is because verse 15 talks about an event that is thought to take place in the middle of the Tribulation as described in Daniel 9:27. This event at 3.5 years into the tribulation is when the antichrist will set himself up in the temple in Jerusalem. This event is called the “abomination of desolation.” So it is very possible that the Rapture may take place before the gospel is preached to every tribe and nation, but everyone must have heard the gospel before the “Glorious Appearing” of Christ with all the army of the saints at the end of the 7 years of tribulation. Those people who accept Christ during the tribulation will still be able to spend eternity with Christ after the “Glorious Appearing” and the judgement.
Let me do a little keyword clarification here for those who don’t understand the difference between the rapture and the “Glorious Appearing”. The rapture is the time when Christ will come quickly and gather those who believe in Him. Those taken will quickly be taken up to Heaven. This event will most likely happen before the tribulation begins. The start of the tribulation will begin when the Anti-Christ signs a 7 year treaty with Israel. The “Glorious Appearing” is the event that happens at the end of the 7 years of tribulation. At this event Christ will return and put on a show for the whole world to see. The raptured saints will also return as Christ’s army, even though Jesus won’t need any help defeating the anti-christ.
For those of us who believe that the rapture will take place before the tribulation, there are many world events happening now that makes us feel that Christ’s return must be soon. Let me point out a few things here that I see as harbingers:
- Growing antisemitism as well as hatred for Christians around the world, including the United States.
- The increasing deception of false teachings, even among some “mainline” denominations.
- A more deliberate move by the ultra wealthy to create a one world government. This includes a major religious leader. It seems as though they will use climate change and trade agreements to help make this happen.
- Technological advancements that will allow for the anti-christ to have access to the private information of all people.
- Our world becoming more like what was described in the days of Noah. (See Genesis 6)
What should we do as Christians as we move closer to the Christ’s return?
- Share and show Christ’s love with everyone.
- Spread the Gospel of the hope we have in Christ, without condemnation.
- Hold strong to Biblical truth and right doctrine, even in the face of those “religious” leaders who may be false prophets. These people should not be allowed to remain unchallenged.
- Don’t let yourself get bogged down in disputes over things that are not beneficial to the kingdom of God. Our right of religious freedom is under continual attack, and too many Christians are spending their time fighting against things that don’t really matter as much in the grand scheme of eternity.