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THEOLOGY > Future > The End of the Age > The Blessed Hope > Signs of His Coming      


While no one knows the day or the hour that the Lord will return, the believer does know that Christ will not return prior to certain events. Some of these happenings are general in nature, while others are more specific.

This discussion is neither complete in its listing of possible signs nor is it exhaustive in dealing with the signs that are listed. Sufficient detail is given so that a general understanding of the Scriptural teaching regarding the signs of His Coming can be achieved.

Preaching of the Gospel to all nations – Two statements establish the point: “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations” (Mk. 13:10), and  “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). In these texts note the words “first” and “then the end will come”; after the universal proclamation of the gospel then there will be the end of days.

Is this prediction still to be fulfilled, or has it already occurred? Related to this question are two verses written by Paul:

you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit (Col. 1:5-6);

the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven (Col. 1:23).

Are these two statements sufficient to declare that the sign given by Christ was fulfilled very early in the history of the Christian movement? Perhaps this question cannot be answered satisfactorily. But be that as it may be, the point is established that Jesus clearly stated that before He returned there would be the preaching of the Gospel to all the nations.

Times of the Gentiles – “And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Lu. 21:24). This remarkable and intriguing statement was spoken by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse. He makes three points: a time of the Gentiles is coming; it will last for a certain period; when it is over Jerusalem will no longer be under Gentile control. This is not the place to deal with all of this adequately.

But the fact is to be made that each of these predictions must come to pass before the Lord returns. In verse 27, Jesus states: “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory”; verse 27 follows verse 24. The sequence cannot be misunderstood: first, the “times of the Gentiles”; and second, the coming of the Son of Man.

If “the times of the Gentiles” began in A.D. 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, then when does “the times” end? How is it possible to know when “the times” are fulfilled? Is it conceivable that “the times” have already come to an end?

Wars – “But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Mk. 13:7-8; Matt. 24:5-6; Lu. 21:9-10). This is a general sign that predicts the course of historical events before the Lord’s Return. The believer is not to expect peace among nations, nor should the believer strive to bring an elusive and impossible international peace. Belief in such an attainment is the figment of a humanist mindset and the goal of a man without Biblical understanding.

False Prophets – “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Mk. 13:22: Matt. 24:24); “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (I Tim. 4:1). Like the previous sign, this one is of a more general nature. There will always be false prophets with their erroneous teaching, which teaching they seek to justify by their deceptive use of various means. Toward the end-time even the supernatural world of evil will come to dominate such false prophets.

Persecution – “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you” (Lu. 21:12-19; Matt. 24:9-13; Mk. 13:9-13). Whether this particular persecution is persecution before the destruction of Jerusalem or the general persecution of believers throughout history, the point is still established that before the end there will be persecution of believers by unbelievers. And the prediction of persecution is found throughout the New Testament, warning believers of the inevitability of suffering and even martyrdom.

Both Mark and Luke reference the fact that in families members will betray members (Mk. 12:12; Lu. 21:16). The betrayal will be between parents and children, siblings, relatives, and friends—the believer will be hated by all (Mk. 13:13; Lu. 21:17).

Matthew adds that “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (24:13; Mk. 13:13). In the face of persecution, God does not expect capitulation but endurance and faithfulness. And the true believer will endure.

Signs in the Heavens – “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring . . . then they will see the Son of Man coming” (Lu. 21:25, 27; Matt. 24:29; Mk. 13:24-25; see: II Pet. 3:10-11). Without specifying the particular manifestation of these signs, the Bible does predict events in the heavens and on the earth that will cause “perplexity.” Men’s hearts will fail (Lu. 21:26).

Environmental disasters occur throughout history: “And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows” (Mk. 13:8; Lu. 21:11), but evidently they will intensify at the end time.

The Apostasy – “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first” (II Thess. 2:3-4 in ESV; NKJV has “falling away” instead of “rebellion”). For a fuller discussion, see: The Apostasy.

Appearance of Antichrist – Paul clearly predicts an end-time evil person before the Second Coming of Christ:

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless . . . the man of lawlessness (NKJV has “man of sin”) is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God (II Thess. 2:3-4 in ESV; NKJV has “man of sin” instead of “man of lawlessness”).

Some students believe Jesus is speaking of this man of sin in the Olivet Discourse: “when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place . . . for then there will be great persecution” (Matt. 24:15). For a fuller discussion, see: The Antichrist.

Great Tribulation – “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation” (Mk. 13:19; Matt. 24:21); Mark adds: “But in those days, after that tribulation . . . then they will see the Son of man coming” (Mk. 13:24; Matt. 24:29). For a fuller discussion, see: The Great Tribulation and After the Tribulation.

Salvation of Israel – Support for this sign in found in Romans 11:12, 25-26; for a full discussion, see: Salvation of Israel.

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