For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.Revelation 19:10
Studying Bible prophecy and understanding our times is one of the most fascinating and faith-building adventures we can take. The verse above informs us that the main purpose of prophecy is to give us a clear portrait of Jesus. He came the first time as a suffering servant and paid for our sins with his life. He rose from the grave defeating death and evil. One day soon he’s coming back as a conquering King to claim that victory in all of its fullness. Studying Bible prophecy points us to these amazing events and gives us hope, direction, purpose, and strength in a scary and confusing time.
In part 1 I defined what the signs are and demonstrated that we are expected to watch and be awake. Now, let’s take a brief look at some of the end-time signs. There are so many, I’ve grouped them into categories. I don’t have space include specific examples, but I wanted list the categories so you are familiar with them. In an upcoming post, I’ll share several compelling examples.
Here are the categories.
Many prophecy experts call Israel, “the super-sign.” They refer to it this way mainly for two reasons. First, all other end-time signs hinge on this one sign. No other sign of the end could occur until Israel became a nation again. Second, experts call it the super sign because of the sheer magnitude of this sign coming to pass. It is statistically impossible to predict this sign with all of its details and necessary preconditions, and have it fulfilled as it has in our modern era.
Israel’s rebirth is the main aspect this super-sign, but there are many other end-time signs associated with it. Several prophecies regarding events leading up to, and after, her rebirth in our modern era (beginning in the late 1800’s) were predicted in scripture.
The configuration of the middle-east, Europe, Asia, and even America are all prophesied in Scripture. Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation, and other books of the Bible prophesied very specific end-time alignments and conditions that are literally all in play today—after Israel became a nation again.
Signs of Nature
In the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) Jesus talked about an upheaval of nature (along with other signs) that would increase in frequency and intensity—like birth pains—as his return drew near. Specifically mentioned were earthquakes, and disease. Luke’s account also mentions the roaring and tossing of the sea. This phrase likely has a dual application—literal and symbolic. Along with the upheaval in nature, including tsunamis, hurricanes, and floods, these birth pains will also accompany perplexing problems that nations cannot solve.
In times past God has used storms, eclipses, earthquakes, stars, drought, locusts, fire, and many other elements of nature to communicate. With the convulsions of nature leading up to the tribulation period, God is again using the signs of nature to inform us that this era is drawing to a close. Eventually, the proverbial baby must be born.
Positive Spiritual Signs
One of the positive signs we read in the Olivet Discourse is the sign of the gospel preached to the whole world. In Matthew 24:14 we read, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Think about this statement for a moment. Jesus’s dirty dozen (the twelve disciples) from this tiny area in the Mideast were tasked with sparking a movement that would reach every part of the world. This movement spread out from there to the entire Roman Empire and beyond—reaching portions of the European continent, Asia, and North Africa within a few hundred years.
Fast-forward again to the early and mid-1900s, during which God used Billy Graham and a handful of Christian ministries to reach millions with the gospel. Billy Graham filled stadiums all over the world and used emerging satellite broadcasting technology to reach as many people as possible.
While Christianity wanes in the West, for the first time ever, revival is exploding in some of the darkest, most oppressive countries on earth. In Iran, for example, thousands are turning to Christ in response to Internet ministries and Christian programming on satellite television and over radio waves. There are also many reports of Muslims having dreams of Jesus reaching out to them. Elam Ministries estimates that there are more than 360,000 Christians in Iran. In 1979, there were only about 500.
I would also include the unsealing of many end-time prophecies as a positive spiritual sign as predicted in the book of Daniel. The closer we get to the Lord’s return, the more we understand Biblical prophecy and the times we live in.
Negative Spiritual Signs
Negative spiritual signs include false Christs, the rise of cults, apostasy and Biblical illiteracy in the church, scoffing, delusional thinking, the rise of the occult, and a global rise in Antisemitism and Christian persecution. All of these are signs that have increased like birth pains, and relate to end-time components.
Signs of Culture
In 2 Timothy 3:1-4, we read, “Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
Before Paul wrote 2 Timothy, Jesus provided similar information about society during his Olivet Discourse teaching. He stated that the conditions just before his return would be like the days of Noah and Lot. In Luke 17:26, 28-30 He said, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”
Signs of Technology
There’s an often-overlooked relationship between technology and prophecy. Many predictions in Scripture point to future technology that is necessary for certain foretold events to occur. The prophets of old simply delivered the messages and visions they received from the Lord, often not even understanding much about the prophecies themselves. The fulfillment of many of their prophecies were not even possible at the time they were given.
Nuclear weaponry, satellite and Internet broadcasting, massive data centers, DNA manipulation, artificial intelligence, surveillance systems, and many other current and emerging technologies are described in Bible prophecy or are logically necessary for end-time events to occur.
Sign of Convergence
Literally all of the signs and sign categories are converging in our day. An oft-used analogy is that of a play about to start. You look around and see that everyone is sitting in their seats and the house is getting full. The curtain on the stage is still closed, but under the curtain you can see feet shuffling around on the stage. You hear lots of commotion behind the curtain and you can sense everything is being set up. All you are waiting for are the lights to dim and for the curtain to open—then it’s show time.
Like two bookends of the signs categories we’ve been reviewing, Israel and convergence frame the discussion. On one hand, we have the rebirth of Israel as the first bookend. This super-sign clearly set the end-time clock into motion. On the other end we have the sign of convergence as we see all the signs lining up simultaneously.
As you and I consider these signs, we should be excited and encouraged that we live in such monumental times. Generations of believers have longed to see the things you and I see today! Even though the world seems to be falling apart, we need to remember the most important thing—God is in control and Christ is coming soon! So, look up and lift up your heads! Our redemption is close!