Study 5 THE SIGNS OF HIS COMING
In our last study we saw that the “blessed hope” of the Christian is the personal return of Christ, and that He will return first into the air for His own (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and then to the earth with His own (Jude 14; Zechariah 14:4; Acts 1:11). Now, is there any way in which we can receive guidance as to when He will come? We would, of course, be foolish and wrong to try to fix the exact day and hour of His return (Zechariah 14:7; Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32; Acts 1:6-7), but the Word of God mentions certain signs or indications that we are nearing the end of the present age - look up Luke 21:28. The Lord Jesus, the Old Testament prophets and the apostles all foretold that certain events would take place on the earth and in the Church which would herald the second advent. Just as the appearance of John the Baptist was the token that Jesus the Messiah was about to be revealed the first time (Isaiah 40:3), so today the presence of certain unmistakable signs in the Church and in the world tell us that His second coming is near at hand.
Strictly speaking, there are no “signs” connected with the rapture of believers, which is the first phase of the return of Christ; the coming of the Lord into the air for His saints is always proposed as the imminent hope of the Church (Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). “Signs” only have to do with His return in power and glory, to reign as the Son of Man; but seeing that the coming of the Lord for His people must precede His coming with His people, it follows that if the signs of His return in glory “are shaping themselves visibly before our eyes and tell us that His return is not far off, the rapture must be much nearer.”
If we take our Bible and make a careful study of the scripture references tabulated below, we shall discover that (1) The World Signs; (2) The Church Signs and (3) The Jewish Signs all proclaim the Lord’s coming to be near at hand.
1. THE WORLD SIGNS
- An increase of sin and lawlessness and conditions similar to the days of Noah and Lot - 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Luke 17:26-30; Genesis 6:11.
- >Great national distress, perplexity and fear - Luke 21:25-26 and, in particular, the fear of nuclear war - Matthew 24:3-6; 2 Peter 3:10.
- Famine, pestilence and earthquakes - Matthew 24:7.
- Labour problems, strikes and widespread commercial and industrial unrest - Zechariah 8:10; James 5:4.
- An amazing increase in travel and knowledge - Daniel 12:4; Nahum 2:3-4; Isaiah 31:5; 60:8.
- The amassing of wealth - James 5:1-3.
- Much talk of peace, and the holding of peace conferences –
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3.
Are not these signs evident in a very marked degree today? Do not these world signs proclaim the nearness of our Lord’s return?
2. THE CHURCH SIGNS
- The increase of apostasy - 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:1;
2 Timothy 4:3-4.
- Hypocrisy and much empty profession - 2 Timothy 3:5.
- Lukewarmness in the Church - Matthew 24:12; Revelation 3:14-20.
- Many who scoff at the Truth - 2 Peter 3:3-4.
- False prophets and a great increase in false religions and demonism (the occult) - Matthew 24:11; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-10; 2 Peter 2:1-2.
- Much persecution of the faithful ones - Matthew 24:9-10; Mark 13:9-13.
- Worldwide evangelism - Mark 13:10.
Do you not agree that these signs are evident in a very marked degree today? Do not these church signs proclaim the nearness of our Lord’s return?
3. THE JEWISH SIGNS
Please read Luke 21:29-33. In this scripture our Lord compares the Jewish nation to a fig tree, and He tells us that when the fig tree begins to bud and bear fruit we may be sure that His coming again is near at hand.
The budding of the fig tree is taking place today.
- Over the past 30 years, the Jews have been returning to Israel in fulfilment of many prophecies - Isaiah 11:11-12; Ezekiel 36:24; 37:21; Jeremiah 23:3-8; 32:37-41; Amos 9:14-15; Luke 21:24. “Jews from all parts of the world have been regathering in the land of Israel. Week by week, month by month, by ship and plane, great throngs of the sons and daughters of Abraham have been arriving at the ports of Israel.”
- There are wonderful industrial, agricultural and cultural developments in Israel, in fulfilment of prophecy - Isaiah 35:1-10; Jeremiah 30:18-22; 31:7-14; Zechariah 14:9-11; Hosea 3:4-5.
This is a truly significant Jewish sign that proclaims the nearness of our Lord’s return.
As you study and meditate upon the above scripture portions, is it not clear that we are living at the end of the present age and that we are justified in believing that “the Lord’s coming is near”? (James 5:8). This truth is at the same time most glorious and most solemn. It is glorious for all who know Him and who are trusting Him as their Lord and Saviour, but it is terribly solemn for those who do not know Him, who have never turned to Him in repentance and faith. Please conclude this study by looking up Isaiah 55:6-7.