Recognizing Signs of the Times
What are the specific signs
that point to the Lord's return
Dr. David R. Reagan
A year ago I felt
compelled to resign my membership in a prophecy study group
because the director suddenly revealed that he did not believe
there were any signs pointing to the soon return of Jesus, with
the possible exception of Israel.? I was astonished by that
statement, and I wrestled with what to do about it. I finally
decided that I had no choice but to resign from the organization.
After all, I have
devoted my life to proclaiming that the signs of the times point
to the soon return of Jesus. How could I be a member of an organization
whose director denies that any such signs exist? I concluded
that my continued membership in the organization would put me
in the position of being a house divided against myself. So,
The signs of the
times that point to the Lord's soon return are so plentiful
and obvious that I don't know how anyone with any spiritual
discernment could be blind to them. This, in fact, is an area
that even amillennialists and premillennialists can and do agree
In 1995 I was privileged
to participate in a prophecy conference in Orlando, Florida
that was sponsored by Midnight Call Ministries. One of the speakers
was a remarkable man of God from Abilene, Texas by the name
of Elbert Peak. This is a man who has been preaching Bible prophecy
for over 60 years.
His first topic at
the conference was "The Signs of the Times." He began
his presentation by saying: "I began preaching on the signs
sixty years ago when there were very few that you could actually
see. Today they are everywhere. I am no longer looking for signs;
I am listening for sounds!"
I shouted, "Amen!"
It is no longer necessary to search for signs. We are inundated
with them. There are so many and they are so clear, that it's
like the Lord has a neon sign in the sky blinking on and off,
saying, "Jesus is coming soon!" As Elbert Peak put it, we should
be listening for sounds -- the sound of a trumpet blast and
the shout of an archangel (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Meaning of Signs
What is a prophetic
sign? It is basically a prophecy concerning an historical event
or technological development that will characterize a future
time. Let's consider the First Advent of the Messiah as an example.
The prophet Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born
in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Daniel said the Messiah
would be "cut off" 483 years after an edict was issued to rebuild
Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25). He also stated that this would take
place before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. And
David stated in Psalm 22:16 that the Messiah's hands and feet
would be pierced.
One of these
signs is geographical -- the birth site of the Messiah. The
second is historical. The edict it refers to was issued in 457
BC. Counting 483 years from that date brings us to 27AD. The
Temple was destroyed in 70AD. So, the Messiah had to be "cut
off" (that is, killed) sometime between 27 AD and 70 AD. The
third sign is technological in nature. The method of execution
at the time David wrote Psalm 22 was stoning. Crucifixion was
not even invented by the Romans until 700 years later.
Jesus was born in
Bethlehem. He was executed in 31 AD, during the "historical
window" between 27 AD and 70 AD. And he was executed by crucifixion.
The fulfillment of these signs in the life of Jesus serves to
validate that He was the prophesied Messiah.
There are over 300
prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures about the First Coming of
the Messiah. But many are repetitious. For example, it is said
more than once that the Messiah will be of the house of David.
When you cull out all the repetitious prophecies, you are left
with a total of 109 which were fulfilled in the life of Jesus.
(For a detailed listing of these prophecies, order our publication
entitled "The First Advent of Jesus in Old Testament Prophecy.")
On one occasion
when Jesus was teaching, the Pharisees and Sadducees came and
asked Him to give them a "sign" to prove that He was the Messiah
(Matthew 16:1-4). What they wanted was a miracle. But Jesus
responded by playing with the word, "sign." He asked them why
they could read the weather but could not "discern the signs
of the times." Jesus used the word, "sign," to refer to fulfilled
prophecies in His life.
The same principle
applies to the Second Coming of Jesus. There are more than 500
prophecies in the Old Testament about the Second Coming, and
one out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament also
speak of this great event. These prophecies contain many signs
that we are to watch for, signs that will indicate that the
time of the Lord's return is drawing near.
Jesus Himself emphasized
this point in His Olivet discourse. He presented a long list
of signs that would characterize the end times, and then He
said, "when you see all these things, recognize that I will
be near, right at the door" (Matthew 24:33). Paul also made
the point that we can recognize the season of the Lord's return.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 he stated that even though the Lord
will return like "a thief in the night," He is not coming for
believers in that manner because we are "sons of light." He
is referring here to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit
who can open our eyes to the signs of the times so that we are
not caught by surprise by the Lord's return. In like manner,
the author of Hebrews states that we are to "encourage one another"
as we see the day of judgment drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).
of the End Times
of the nation of Israel is a classic example of an end time
historical sign. Over and over again the Hebrew Scriptures prophesy
that in the end times, right before the return of the Messiah,
the nation of Israel will be re-established (Isaiah 11:10-12;
Ezekiel 37:1-12; Amos 9:13-15; and Zechariah 12:1-3). Jesus
emphasized this sign in Matthew 24 when He told us to watch
for the rebudding of the fig tree (a symbol of Israel). When
that happens, He said, the generation that sees it "will not
pass away until all these things [the return of the Lord] take
place" (Matthew 24:34).
The book of
Revelation is full of technological signs concerning the end
times. Take, for example, the prophecy that one-half the population
of the world will die in the first three and a half years of
the Tribulation (1/4 in the Seal Judgments and 1/3 of those
remaining in the Trumpet Judgments -- Revelation 6-9). How could
such unparalleled carnage occur apart from the development of
nuclear weapons and their missile delivery systems?
Or consider the prophecy
that when the two great witnesses of God are killed by the Antichrist
in the middle of the Tribulation, the whole world "will look
upon their dead bodies for three and a half days" (Revelation
11:9). How could this be possible before the development of
television and satellite transmission?
in Revelation that has been waiting for historical developments
is the one that states there will be an army of 200 million
soldiers that will march across Asia toward Israel during the
period of the Tribulation. At the time that prophecy was written
(95 AD), there were only 200 million people on planet earth!
It took 1,600 years for the population of the earth to double
to 400 million. In fact, the earth's population did not reach
one billion until 1850. This century has experienced a population
explosion due to the advent of modern medicine (keep in mind
that the first antibiotic, penicillin, was not discovered until
1928!). Today, the earth's population has just passed the six
billion mark, and one Asian nation alone -- namely, China --
could easily send an army of 200 million, as prophesied in Revelation.
Overview of the Signs
Let me present
you with an outline overview of the signs of the times:
I. Signs of Nature
(Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:
8; and Luke 21:11)
4) Signs in the Heavens
new discoveries in space, UFO's, etc.)
II. Signs of
(Matthew 24:12,37-39 &
2 Timothy 3:1-4)
a) False Christs
& Prophets and their cultic groups (Matthew
24:5,11,2-4; Mark 13:6,21-22; and Luke 21:8).
b) Apostasy in the professing
church (2 Thessalonians 2:3; and 2 Timothy 3:5, 4:3-4).
c) Widespread heresy in the
church (2 Timothy 4:1-4).
d) Movement toward a one
world religion (Revelation 17).
e) Persecution of true believers
(Matthew 24:9-10; Mark 13:9,11-13; and Luke 21:12-19).
f) Outbreak of demonic and
occultic activity (1 Timothy 4:1).
a) Outpouring of
the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29).
b) Revival of Davidic worship
(1 Chronicles 16:1-39; Psalm 150; and Amos 9:11).
c) Worldwide evangelism (Matthew
24:14 and Mark 13:10).
d) Understanding of Bible
prophecy (Daniel 12:4,8-9).
IV. World Political
of Israel. (Ezekiel 36:22 - 37:1-2; Zechariah 12:1-6; Matthew
24:32-34; Mark 13:28- 30; and Luke 21:29-31).
2) Arab hostility toward Israel
(Ezekiel 35:1 - 36:7).
3) Russia as a menacing power
to Israel (Ezekiel 38:1 - 39:16).
4) Asian nations capable of
fielding an army of 200 million (Revelation 9:15-16 and
5) Wars and rumors of wars
(Matthew 24:6-7; Mark 13:7-8; and Luke 21:10).
6) Kingdom against kingdom
-- that is, civil wars and ethnic wars (Matthew 24:7; Mark
13:8; and Luke 21:10).
7) Reunification of Europe
(Daniel 2:41-44, 7:8, 24-25, and 9:26).
8) Movement toward a one world
economy (Revelation 18).
1) Nuclear weapons.
Luke 21: 25-26; and Revelation 6:8, 8:7 and 16: 2-).
2) Television and satellite
transmission (Revelation 11:3-12).
3) Robotics (Revelation 13:14-15).
4) Computer and laser technology
5) High speed transportation
VI. The Accelerator
1) Population explosion
(Revelation 9: 15-16 and 16:12).
2) Increase in knowledge (Dan-iel
3) Increase in violence (Matthew
4) Increase in transportation
5) Rapid disintegration of
society (1 Timothy 3:1-4).
6) Signs in general to be like
birth pangs' that is, increasing in frequency and intensity
VII. Signs of
1) Regathering of
the people (Isaiah 11:10-12 and Ezekiel 37:1-12).
2) Re-establishment of the
state (Isaiah 66:7-8; Zechariah 12:1-6; and Matthew
3) Reclamation of the land
(Isaiah 35:1-2,7 and Ezekiel 36:34-35).
4) Revival of the language
5) Resurgence of the military
6) Refocusing of world politics
7) Reoccupation of Jerusalem
God never pours out His wrath
without warning because "He does not wish that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus
said that when we see all these signs come together, He will
be "right at the door," ready to return (Matthew 24: 33). God
is warning, and Jesus is at the gates of Heaven waiting for
His Father's command.
Are you ready?