I read a devotion recently that talked about how messed up Jesus’s family tree was—humanly speaking. In it, the author mentioned that many Jewish boys were named Jesus and that the name means “Jehovah is salvation.” Culturally, that entire generation of Jewish parents were waiting for the messiah—so much so that it played out in naming trends.
Reading that article made me think about what it must have been like to live in that culture at that time. It also made me think about how even though everyone was waiting—very few were really watching. Here’s what I mean. While many had embraced the cultural belief in a coming Messiah, few were actually watching for him or paying attention to the signs all around them. While the religious leaders of the day were familiar with history and the predicted time-frame for the arrival of the Messiah (Daniel 9), few were preparing the people. It’s almost as if the long-awaited arrival of the Messiah had become legend or myth in the minds of the average person. They had become comfortable with the idea of the Messiah coming at some point, but not the idea that it could all play out in real time before their eyes. The demands and familiarity of daily life tend to dull our senses to God’s activity all around us.
Second Coming Unseen
In similar fashion, would it be possible to make the same mistake with the second coming of Jesus? We assume the 1st coming was crystal clear, but only a handful of people really knew about the birth of the Savior—a few shepherds (seen as outcasts in their culture), Simeon and Anna at the temple, Mary and Joseph, and the Magi—who showed up about 2 years later after seeing the King’s star. These Magi were most-likely from the area of Babylon with connections to the prophet Daniel who was in exile there about 500 years earlier. Scripture tells us that Daniel became the leader of the Magi during his exile (Daniel 2:48) and he also provided the time-frame for the Messiah’s arrival (Daniel 9:25). It makes total sense that centuries later, the Magi would have been looking for signs of the coming Savior.
Outside of those examples, nobody knew. Three decades later when Jesus hung on a cross, still only a small handful really believed he was the Messiah. Even after the resurrection that number only grew slightly at first. It wasn’t until the church was born on the day of Pentecost that large groups of people began to understand the events of their day. Hindsight is 20/20. We look back at the first coming of Jesus with clarity and we assume we would have known it as it was happening. But the Biblical record tells us that’s not the case. Only a few were truly watching.
We view the events of Jesus’s 1st coming as if it were our favorite movie. We’ve watched it 100 times and know each line, but we still love watching it again. We don’t experience it in real time. We look back to it as a past event. For those who lived it, however, it was a much different experience. This is a very important fact to consider: It was easy to miss what was right in front of them.
Just as there was a two-part 1st-coming of Jesus (secretive birth and public triumphal entry), there will be a two-part 2nd-coming of Jesus (secretive rapture prior to the tribulation, then His physical return to earth at the end of the tribulation while the whole world watches). Are there things happening right in front of us related to the Lord’s return that we’re not seeing? Are we missing the forest for the trees?
Fast-forward To Today
Scripture reveals that believers in Christ are supposed to wait and watch. The church at large is good at waiting—we’re used to that. It’s been 2000 years. We’re not so good at watching though. Active waiting is only half of the equation. For various reasons, the majority of Christians have stopped watching. Please hear my heart on this—I don’t mean for that to sound judgmental. I was there too and I still tend to get pulled back there. Life is busy. Life is hard. There are distractions and daily demands. Who has time to watch, and what exactly does that even mean?
Scripture gives us the clear mandate to watch. Jesus gave us the clear mandate to watch, and to know the season or understand the times. There are several specific signs and sign categories we are told to keep an eye on to inform us that His return is near. Over the years date-setters, scoffers, apostate teaching, and sensationalism have taken a toll on the psyche of the average Christian—to the point where many feel there’s no way to really know when the Lord will return. Therefore we continue to wait, defaulting to an assumption that the Lord’s return is still in the vague and distant future. That is understandable—but it’s a deception from the enemy. We must also be vigilant in watching!
Literally, every single sign or sign trend that Jesus (Olivet Discourse), John (Revelation), Daniel (6 of 12 chapters in Daniel deal with end-times prophecy), Paul, and other writers mention, are very factually at play in our day. 100 years ago, none of the signs were in place. Even 10 years ago, only some of the prophecy puzzle pieces were in place. Today, they are all in place. There is nothing more that must occur before the rapture can take place, and the stage is 100% set for end-time events. Jesus himself indicated (in Mathew 24) that the generation that witnesses Israel becoming a nation again would be the generation that would see His return.
Without writing another full post to unpack that, the strongest Biblical candidates for a generation is 70-80 years, with a max duration of 120 years. Israel was reborn in “a single day” (fulfilling scripture exactly) on May 14th, 1948—almost 70 years ago. Is it coincidence that as we approach the 70 year mark that all end-time signs and conditions are in place? I would never set a date. It could still be 50 years away—or there could be something in Scripture that we have overlooked. We see just a dim reflection now. It’s possible we’ve missed something, but so many credible voices believe we are in the season of the Lord’s return. One thing is for sure. God does not mislead his children. He is mysterious, but not deceitful—it’s not in his nature and therefore not possible.
Last but not least, here is a brief list of signs that are in place today that were not even on the radar 100 years ago: Russia, Iran, and Turkey in a coalition together with troops positioned just north of Israel’s border. Economic and political instability on every continent. An explosion of technology and travel. Societal and family breakdown. Increased violence and selfishness. Rise of the occult. Cultural confusion and a rejection of logic. Increasing Apostasy in the church. Israel prospering financially and militarily. The Six Day War. America weakening. Internet and satellite TV. The nations of the world fixated on Israel and specifically, Jerusalem. Israel discovering massive energy supplies. World Wars. Nationalities fighting against each other. Europe weakly united and almost completely secular. Increased earthquakes and natural disasters. Flooding and tsunamis. Problems becoming so perplexing that governments don’t even know what to do to fix them. The rise of Asia. The rise of Globalism, a push for a one-world economy, religion, and government. A small handful of elite people controlling most of the worlds wealth. The rise of cults and atheism. A world-wide increase of sexual immorality and homosexuality. The list goes on and on.
Those are just off the top of my head. Every single one of those was predicted in Scripture as an end-time sign. Let that sink in a minute. Then dig into Scripture to verify or disprove what I have presented. If you’re not familiar with those signs, I believe they will have the same effect on you as they had on me when you personally study them. As you read prophetic passages yourself and wrestle with what you are reading, convictions will begin to form and a clear picture of the end-time landscape will emerge. Scripture changes us. It’s supernatural. You can’t digest it and not be changed.
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I pray that as you think about the signs and conditions that were in place for Jesus’s first coming, you’ll take time to wonder, contemplate, and study the Bible to understand the signs of our times. Could it be that we are on the cusp of the next great intersection of God and man?
Lastly, if you want to know what it means to be a Christian, please contact me. I would love to share a few Bible verses with you that clearly explain how we can accept Jesus’s free gift of salvation today. It’s the most important decision you will ever make, whether the rapture occurs in our lifetime or not. God promises abundant (John 10:10) and eternal life (John 3:16). Don’t miss it!