Q: #18. What are the signs of the end times and Jesus' return?
By: Steve Shirley
A: People have been trying to figure out when Jesus will return for over 2000 years. There have been countless dates predicted which have come and gone. This has caused much harm to the Christian faith, because it makes us look like a bunch of kooks to an unbelieving world... The Bible tells us that only the Father in Heaven knows the day of Jesus' return (Mt 24:36)(Mk 13:32)(Acts 1:7).
However, we are told to expect His return at any moment, and to be prepared (Mt 25:1-13)(Mt 24:42-51)(Mk 13:32-37)(Lk 12:35-48)(1 Thess 5:1-4)(Rev 16:15). We do know that each day that passes brings us one day closer to His return.
Most of the signs in the Bible pointing to Jesus return are quite clear, while others that are taken to be signs seem to be a stretch to me (i.e. signs pointing to automobiles). There is considerable controversy among those who study eschatology (end times) about how to interpret many of these verses. This being said, let me first list what appear to be very clear verses that tell us what to look for before Jesus return, and then I will list a few of the more controversial ones.
There will be many false Christs: (Mt 24:5)(Mk 13:6)(Lk 21:8)
Wars and rumors of wars: (Mt 24:6)(Mk 13:7)(Lk 21:9)
An increase in famines, pestilence, and earthquakes: (Mt 24:7)(Mk 13:8)(Lk 21:11)
An increase in the persecution of Christians: (Mt 24:9)(Mk 13:9,13)(Lk 21:12)
There will be those who turn from the faith: (Mt 24:10)(1 Tim 4:1)(2 Th 2:3)(2 Tim 4:3-4)
Many false prophets: (Mt 24:11)
Lawlessness will increase and love will grow cold: (Mt 24:12)
The gospel will be preached in all the world: (Mt 24:14)(Mk 13:10)
An increase in demonic activity: (1 Tim 4:1)
Wonders in heaven and signs on the Earth: (Acts 2:19-20)
An increased outpouring of the Spirit: (Acts 2:17-18)(Joel 2:28-29)
People who walk after their own ungodly lusts: (Jude 1:18)
An increase in people who will teach it is wrong to marry (i.e. more and more people living together) or eat certain foods (i.e. more and more radical vegetarians condemning others for eating meat) (1 Tim 4:3)
People will be: lovers of themselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, lack self control, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, reckless, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, have a form of godliness, but denying its power (2 Tim 3:2-5).
In addition, most believe that a KEY sign occurred on May 17, 1948, when Israel became a nation. Jesus said in (Mt 24:32-34)(Mk 13:28-30)(Lk 21:29-32) that when the fig tree (which symbolizes Israel (Jer 24:1-8)(Joel 1:7)(Hos 9:10) (Isa 21:18-22)) puts forth leaves (when Israel would be reborn) we will know summer is nigh (or His return would soon follow).
Here are a few of the more controversial signs that some say we should look for as well (I left out many that just didn't seem at all plausible to me.)
An increase in travel and knowledge: (Dan 12:4)
The Jews will return home (to Israel): (Jer 23:7-8)
The regathering of people to Israel: (Isa 11:10-12)(Ezek 37:1-14)
Revived Roman empire: (Dan 2:41-42)
One other verse which is interesting to look at is (Rev 11:9), which speaks about the two witnesses which will be killed during the tribulation. It says, "And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half..." How could people all around the world see their dead bodies? It certainly seems to be pointing to the ability we now have to view images from all around the world through our various means of communication (i.e. television, satellites, etc...)
Is Jesus about to return? I don't know. Do many of these signs see to point to the world we are living in today? They sure do to me! Let us plan like Jesus won't be returning in our lifetime, but live like He could return at any moment.