I've been reading the past few days in the book of Matthew. Today as I started on the 24th chapter of Matthew the Holy Spirit stopped me when I got to the part about Jesus' return to the earth. He began by answering the disciple's question "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" As I read into that I couldn't go any further. The Holy Spirit had me write down some notes in the back of my Bible. I was encouraged and astonished at the same time. I want to share with you what He gave to me. First of all, it is nothing that we as true Christ-followers shouldn't already know. But we need to be alert to it as Jesus' first words were "See to it that no one misleads you." Matthew 24 outlines 8 clear signs that indicate the return of Jesus to the earth (the 2nd coming).
- Many false Christ's (Messiah's) will come. He said "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many." A false Christ is anyone or any ideal that offers some sort of salvation other than the one Jesus died to give you and me. This has been going on since just after Jesus' ascension back into heaven.
- Wars and rumors of wars. Jesus said, "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars." This too has been a well-defined sign of Jesus' return since He physically left the planet.
- Nation rising against nation. Again, this is an indicator that has been going on for centuries.
- Kingdom rising against kingdom. One prevalent sign of Jesus' return is that the battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan is increasingly escalating on earth since Jesus established His church in the earth. We clearly see God's people involved in this kingdom war which by the way will soon be overwhelmingly won by Jesus and His people.
- Famines and earthquakes in various places. Famines and earthquakes are not uncommon events in the earth. But lately the world has been experiencing these more than normal, and these events will increase as we draw closer to the coming of Jesus. Don't be misled though. Jesus said these occurrences are a distinct sign of His return to the earth.
- Tribulation. What is The Tribulation? It is a combination of several things - two of which are God's judgment on sin and the enemy's wrath on Christ-followers. Jesus said "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name." Notice Jesus said Christians (followers of Christ) will be hated world-wide for standing for Him. This will be a world-wide movement by the enemy to oppose Jesus by pouring out wrath on His followers. Remember the term world-wide.
- Many false prophets will rise. Don't be calling your local prophet a false prophet. Jesus means those who rise up in The Tribulation and offer peace and safety through ways and means that are contrary to Christ. Many will end up selling and forfeiting their souls because of these false prophets.
- Lawlessness will increase to the point that most people's love will grow cold. There has been a gradual move in our nation away from God's Word and the knowledge of it over the past 4 decades. It is most noticeable now in whole generations who know nothing of God's Word and therefore His laws. This is also a world-wide occurrence. There will come a time when most people in the earth will be consumed only on themselves. (As if you hadn't noticed!) Agape love will no longer be a motivation.
Jesus said that the one who endures to the end will be saved. During this time period Jesus also said "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." Did you catch that? Followers of Christ are hated on account of Jesus throughout the whole world. But at the same time the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached (by Christians and 144,000 Jews) in the whole world - then - the end will come.
Whether or not you believe in the rapture - the catching away of the church; whether or not you are pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib in your belief of the time of the rapture - Jesus clearly gave us these signs to observe so that we will not be misled. The greatest deception for any Christian is to believe you don't have to prepare for His 2nd coming. I don't know about you but if I had to make an estimate as to where we are today in the progression of these signs I would have to say that we are clearly between signs 5 and 6. What do you think?