“For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.” Revelation 19:10 (NLT)
Almost two thousand years ago, Peter prophesied about the end times. He said just before Jesus returns, people will openly mock the Second Coming. They’ll say, “What happened to Jesus? I thought He was coming back? Yet everything remains the same as it has since the world first began” (2 Peter 3:3-4). I’ll bet you’ve heard this argument many times. But is it true? Is the world of today “the same as it’s always been”? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s absurd to say it is.
Why? Because the truth is the exact opposite. Our generation is unlike any before it. Not only can we point to clear signs of His Return, but almost every sign the Bible says to look for is present right now! Some signs are completely fulfilled (such as the re-establishment of Israel as a nation). Others seem to be in an early stage of fulfillment (such as the emergence of a loose confederation of European nations as the dominant world power). But regardless of the stage of fulfillment, some form of almost every end times sign is converging in our time. Nevertheless, most people remain ignorant of these signs. And that’s a shame.
Remember, Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His time for their failure to recognize His coming. He said they knew how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but they didn’t know how to recognize the signs of the times (Matthew 16:2-3). Jesus expected the religious leaders of His day to recognize the signs of the coming Messiah. In the same way, Jesus expects us to recognize the signs of His Second Coming.
So let’s take the same approach. Just as you know a storm is coming when you see dark clouds on the horizon, these signs will alert you to His return:
1) Israel Back in the Land
In A.D. 70, Roman soldiers put down a rebellion, sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and carried the Jewish people to the farthest corners of the Empire to serve as slaves. They tried to eliminate every trace of the nation of Israel, even renaming the land Palestine in honor of Israel’s historical enemies, the Philistines. Rome intended to erase the memory of Israel forever.
Fortunately, God had other plans. Thousands of years ago, He foretold the long exile of His people. He promised to call them from “among the nations” (Ezekiel 39:28), from “the farthest corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12), and from “north, south, east, and west” (Psalm 107:3). He promised to welcome the Jewish people home from the lands where they were scattered (Ezekiel 20:34), and He promised to restore them to the land of Israel from distant lands (Jeremiah 30:2, 10). And this is exactly what He did. Every person on earth is an eyewitness to the modern miracle of Israel. Long ago, the prophets said this restoration will precede a monumental event – the coming of the Messiah to set up His everlasting Kingdom (Isaiah 35, Joel 3, Jeremiah 23, Micah 4). In other words, Israel’s existence in our day and time is a sign the Second Coming is near.
Think about that. Then think about this… For 1,878 years, Christians could not point to this sign. Israel didn’t exist, and the Jews were not in the land. But today? Jews from around the world return to Israel on a daily basis.
2) The Jews Back in Jerusalem
When the disciples asked Jesus to reveal the signs of His coming and the end of the age, He gave them one of the keys to understanding the timing of His return. He told the disciples this: Jerusalem “will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles come to an end.” And then? After that, Jesus promised to return (Luke 21:24-28).
So when did this time period begin? The Gentile trampling of Jerusalem began with the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 by Titus and the Roman legions. For centuries thereafter, Gentile kings and kingdoms held complete control over the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem. However, in June 1967, the Six Day War concluded with Israel in control of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount for the first time since A.D. 70. And according to Jesus, the Jewish repossession of Jerusalem will immediately precede His return.
For 1,897 years, Christians could not point to this sign. The Jewish people did not control Jerusalem. For those 1,897 years, numerous Gentile kingdoms ruled over Jerusalem. But today? Today, Israel controls Jerusalem.
3) Israel’s Neighbors Out to Destroy Her
More than three thousand years ago, the prophet Asaph claimed the surrounding nations would be unanimous in their contempt for Israel. He said they will say “Come, let us wipe away the nation of Israel. Let’s destroy the memory of its existence” (Psalm 83:4) and “Let us take for ourselves these pasturelands of God” (Psalm 83:12).
Do those statements sound familiar? They should. They’re almost word for word what we hear in the Middle East today. And we’ve heard these same declarations from the Muslim world over and over again since May 14, 1948.
Ezekiel predicted these same neighbors would say “God has given their land to us” (Ezekiel 11:14-17), and “Israel and Judah are ours. We will take possession of them. What do we care if their God is there?” (Ezekiel 35:10). Isn’t this what we read in the headlines each day? It is.
The Muslims claim the land of Israel belongs to them, that “the mountains of Israel have been given to us” (Ezekiel 35:12-13). Syria, which lost the strategically important Golan Heights in the Six-Day War joins a chorus of Israeli critics in claiming “the Golan Heights belong to us” (Ezekiel 36:2).
Again, for 1,878 years, this sign didn’t exist. Israel’s neighbors weren’t out to destroy her because Israel as a nation didn’t exist. But today it does, and the Bible tells us this hatred toward Israel will take place “when the time of Israel’s iniquity comes to an end” (Ezekiel 35:5). In other words, when God brings His people back into the land after a long exile.
4) Israel with an Exceedingly Great Army
In his Valley of the Dry Bones vision (where God breathes life back into the Jewish people), the prophet Ezekiel saw the Jewish people come to life and stand up as “an exceedingly great army” (Ezekiel 37:10). Zechariah repeated this promise, speaking of a day when Israel is like a fire among sheaves of grain, burning up the neighboring nations (Zechariah 12:6). In fact, he claims even the weakest soldier among them will be like David (Zechariah 12:8). Do we see this today? We sure do.
What are the odds of Israel winning four conventional wars in a 25 year period? Israel barely cracks the Top 100 nations in terms of population, but its military consistently ranks among the most powerful in the world. The whole country is less than 13,000 square miles (approximately the size of New Jersey). That’s less than one-tenth of one percent of the land mass of the surrounding nations that wish to destroy her. Does this sound like a recipe for “an exceedingly great army”?
Yet, that’s exactly what the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is. Surrounded on all sides, a brand new nation that didn’t even have a formal military emerged victorious in a multi-front war in 1948. With Syria, Jordan, and Egypt preparing for war, the Israelis struck preemptively in 1967. The result? They achieved overwhelming victory in just six days.
Caught by surprise on Yom Kippur in 1973, her enemies almost cut Israel in half within 48 hours. But the IDF quickly won back all the territory it lost in the opening days of the war, and the world brokered a truce with the IDF at the gates of Cairo and Damascus. Against all odds, Israel always seems to come out on top.
And what does the Bible say about the timing of Israel’s emergence as a world military power? When does it say Israel will have an “exceedingly great army”? You guessed it. The Bible says, “when God’s people are re-gathered in the land just before the Messiah returns” (Ezekiel 12, 36, 37). When the Jewish people have been “brought back from the nations where they were scattered, and given the land of Israel by God Himself” (Ezekiel 11:17).
5) An Increase in Travel and Knowledge
Approximately 2,600 years ago, an angel told the prophet Daniel to keep his visions secret until a later date. What later date? The angel said, “Until the end times, when travel and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4). In other words, a significant increase in travel and knowledge will mark the end times and the time just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Have we seen such an increase? I think the answer is obvious. For all of human history right up until the early 19th Century, the fastest mode of land-based transportation was a horse. Yet today, we can travel to the other side of the earth in a matter of hours. As for an increase in knowledge, think about how much information is on the Internet. In 1990, there was only one website. Six years later, the Internet featured more than one hundred thousand. And a decade later? One hundred million. Today, estimates place the number of websites at somewhere around six hundred million.
6) The Rise of a United Europe
The Bible repeatedly states a revived version of the Roman Empire will ascend to power in the end times (Daniel 2, Daniel 7, Revelation 17). This will be the final world empire before Jesus returns. According to Daniel, it will be a ten nation alliance made up of weak and strong nations. Some parts will be as strong as iron, while other parts will be as weak as clay. Do we see this empire today? No. Not yet. Do we see an alliance of strong and weak nations in the area of the old Roman Empire. Absolutely!
It’s called the European Union, and its entire purpose is to collectively strengthen the member nations through alliance – just as the statue’s iron and clay feet and toes would attempt to strengthen themselves through “intermarriage” (Daniel 2:43).
As of this writing, the European Union contains the world’s 4th, 5th, and 6th largest economies (Germany, the United Kingdom, and France) – but it also contains the world’s 103rd, 112th, and 136th largest economies (Estonia, Iceland, and Malta). Individually, no EU nation is a world power. Together, the combined nations of the EU are the world’s leading economic power. And this is precisely the type of arrangement the Bible says will exist in the time just prior to Christ’s return.
7) The Gospel Preached Throughout the World
In answering His disciples, Jesus described many signs to look for. Among them, He said this: “And the Gospel will be preached throughout the entire world, so that every nation will hear it – and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Think we’re getting close to that day now? I do. The Bible is available in hundreds of languages. Satellites broadcast Christian programming throughout the world. And every day, missionaries carry the Gospel to people who have never heard it before. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close.
Unfortunately, while this sign is all around us, most people don’t see it as a sign. They don’t think the global reach of Christianity is a big deal. But think about it. The promise to see the Gospel preached throughout the world was made by a Jewish carpenter with some fishermen as followers nearly 2,000 years ago. That’s a bold proclamation, and its fulfillment is something the world takes for granted.
Even after 1,500 years of Christianity, the message of Jesus was largely confined to the European continent. But today, the Gospel is preached in every nation.
The Converging Signs
All the signs mentioned here – the re-establishment of Israel, the Jews back in Jerusalem, the dramatic increase in travel and knowledge, and many more – point to the near return of Jesus. Not a single one of these signs existed for almost the entire history of Christianity – and now they all do! Think that matters? I do.
When the disciples approached Jesus and asked Him, “What are the signs of your coming and the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus replied by giving them a list of signs and events to look for – signs such false prophets, earthquakes, wars, and desecration of the Temple. But Jesus said one sign in particular is cause to “look up” because your redemption draws near. Our generation is witness to that sign. So what is it?
That’s right. The #1 sign is not a single sign, but the convergence of all the signs Jesus, Moses, and the Old Testament prophets said to look for. Jesus said, “When you see all these things occur, look up. For your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:28). Note that Jesus didn’t say, “When you see one or two of these signs.” He said, “When you see all these signs.” In other words, the convergence of all the signs He spoke of are what we should be looking for.
The convergence of so many specific and detailed events – events Jesus told us to look for – should command the attention of even the most hardened skeptics. Why? Because for more than 1,800 years following the crucifixion, these signs were noticeably absent. But today? Today, we see them all around us. For the first time ever, each of these signs is present. And at the same time! Think that’s a coincidence? I don’t. It’s not a coincidence. And time will prove it’s not. Jesus is coming. Now is the season of His return.