We are told in 1 Chronicles 12:32 that the leaders of Issachar “understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.” The wise men from the east (Matthew 2), the godly old man Simeon (Luke 2), and the old prophetess Anna (Luke 2) all understood the timeframe of the Lord’s first arrival, and their amazing stories are recorded for us in Scripture.

We also find that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and the crowds of people for not knowing the signs of their day.

To the scribes and Pharisees He said,“Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3). To the crowds he said, “You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky,but why do you not analyze this present time?” (Luke 12:56).

On one occasion, as Jesus and His disciples were leaving the temple in Jerusalem, He informed them that the beautiful temple and surrounding buildings they were admiring would one day be completely destroyed. Later, His disciples approached Jesus wanting to understand more.

In Matthew 24:3 we read, “As [Jesus] was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen,and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’”

Rather than rebuke them or downplay the question, Jesus gave them a full chapter’s worth of signs followed by another full chapter of related parables. This central teaching by Jesus regarding the end times signs is recorded in three of the four gospels—in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.

The apostle Paul, whom God used to take Christianity to the Gentiles, realized that the church age was the last age or era before the rapture and the terrible tribulation period.

He tells us in Romans 13:11–12, “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

If this was true in Paul’s day, it’s even truer today since almost 2000 years have passed. Paul also admonished believers to be watchful and ready.
Finally, the book of Hebrews provides the insight that those living close to Jesus’ return will be able to recognize that they are in the season of the Lord’s return.

Consider the bold statement in the latter part of Hebrews 10:25 where we read, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

Clearly, believers at the end of the church age will be able to understand when they are living in the season of the Lord’s return.

A careful study of Scripture demonstrates that believers are instructed to watch for the Lord’s return and understand their times.

This post is an excerpt from The Prophecy Pros Illustrated Guide to Tough Questions About the End Times by Jeff Kinley and Todd Hampson.

Get free monthly resources to help you learn and teach Bible prophecy and Eschatology!