Wednesday, November 6, 2013

SIGNS OF THE END TIMES: IS JESUS REALLY COMING BACK?

Please share this article.


When will the Second Coming of Jesus occur? Have all the predicted signs of the End Times come to pass yet? What are they? Have any already been fulfilled? How many haven't? Many think that if Jesus were coming back at all, he certainly would have come by now. “Take a look," they say, "at the escalating evil, degrading morals, world politics, nuclear threats, chemical weapons, devastating earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and super storms that are killing thousands. The scriptures promised that Jesus would come again, but the world is continuing on like it always has.” 


Questions and uncertainties about Jesus' Second Coming and signs of the End Times are not frivolous concerns. They are important. They involve imperatives that God wants us to understand. Why? Because they affect the destiny of every man, woman and child on earth.

Pastor Lee Coffelt, my guest writer this month, zeroes in on this crucial matter. Retired in 2008 after pasturing in California for fifty years, he now lives in the State of Washington and attends Bethany Christian Assembly where he and his wife Carol assist the pastoral staff by working with the Young at Heart. A dynamic speaker, his material always contains concrete information based on the Word of God. I’m honored to have his article appear on my blog.

This is a Christian blog with biblically-themed articles. It also includes respectful articles on the errors of Mormonism. If you would like to be automatically notified each time a new article is posted (once a month), please contact me at janishutchinson@comcast.net.
The previous article, "Is there a Book of Mormon connection to the 
White Indians of the Canary, Polynesian and Easter Islands?” 
can be found in the Archived Articles section on the dashboard; or, it may appear below this article.

SIGNS OF THE END TIMES: IS JESUS REALLY COMING BACK?
by
Pastor Lee Coffelt
(All scriptures are from the New Living Translation)

Pastor Lee Coffelt and his wife, Carol
The question of when Jesus' Second Coming will occur has been an ongoing one from New Testament times down to today. For many, however, the question is not, When? but Is Jesus really coming back at all? Many are saying, "The world is continuing on the same as it always has, but still no sign of Jesus."
Did the New Testament writers predict today’s attitude? Take a look at what the Apostle Peter prophesied:
"Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” (2 Pet 3:3-4)

Today, like Peter prophesied, many think that our generation will also pass without the 2nd Coming, just like the previous generations passed without His coming. The problem is that they fail to take notice of the signs of the End Times that must occur before Jesus returns. Described in the Bible, they determine when the Second Coming will occur. We need to pay attention to them.

The signs of the End Times
Below are 10 signs of the End Times. Some have already happened; some are occurring now, and some are in the near future.

I.   The Holocaust and the re-emergence of Israel.
One of the preeminent signs of the End Times is the Jewish survival of the Holocaust and the re-emergence of the nation of Israel as a Jewish state. Over 2600 years ago, the Prophet Ezekiel foretold these two events, and used a valley of dry bones to represent Israel (the Jews):

 

A Valley of Dry Bones

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. 3 Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”
“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”
4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord!This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. 8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”
10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 37: 1-17; underlining mine)

Does the history of the Jews bear this out?

Following the first century Roman conquest of the Holy Land, the Jews were banished from the land of Israel. The Romans renamed the area Palestine (taken from the name Philistine) and exiled its people to the farthest corners of the Roman Empire.

Yet in Ezekiel 37, God promised to bring the Jews out of exile. He promised to bring them back into the land of Israel. Not only did He promise to restore their nation, but God promised to do so by opening their “graves” at a time when the Jews would feel that “all hope is gone.”

The aftermath of Hitler’s Holocaust of the Jewish people that nearly destroyed an entire race of people, created these very conditions and drained the hope of countless survivors. But out of the Holocaust, God brought the Jewish people back into the land of Israel just as He had promised.

On May 14, 1948, the nation of Israel reappeared in fulfillment of not just Ezekiel 37:11-13, but also countless Old Testament prophecies.

Of all the signs of the End Times, the re-establishment of Israel as an independent nation is the clearest and most unmistakable sign that we are in the last part of the last days.

II.  Jerusalem—a burden to the world
Another visible sign of the End Times is the world diplomatic struggle over Jerusalem. The prophet Zechariah foresaw this event centuries ago:

I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves. (Zechariah 12:2-3)

Since 1967, when the Israelis retook Jerusalem in the Six Day War, the division of Jerusalem and ownership of the Temple Mount in particular have been a source of countless U.N. resolutions, diplomatic crises, and calls for war.

The struggle over the “Peace Process” in the Middle East is the stated number one priority of world diplomats, and Jerusalem resides at the center of discussions about “land for peace.”

With the threat of World War 3 casting a shadow over every decision to rebuild Jewish settlements or expand Israeli society, the city of Jerusalem is no doubt “a burden for the world.”

Is this “the way it’s always been?” No. Until this generation, Jerusalem was not “a burden for the world.” In fact, prior to 1948, world diplomatic leaders rarely mentioned it. But today is a different story.

III.  Dramatic increase in travel and knowledge
Another sign of the End Times, that anyone can easily recognize, is the recent explosive increase in travel and knowledge.

Travel: In a vision, God revealed to the prophet Daniel that in “the time of the end,” travel and knowledge will increase.

But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase. (Daniel 12:4)

Is that the case now? Yes!!!

At the time the book of Daniel was written, horses were the world’s fastest mode of transportation and remained so for over 2000 years until the Industrial Revolution spawned such innovations as the steamboat, the locomotive, and the horseless carriage.

Today’s world is definitely not “the way it’s always been.” We have automobiles, super jets and manned space flights. Frequency and speed of travel have markedly increased.

What about knowledge? In Daniel’s time, few people received a formal education. In fact, basic literacy was a foreign concept to all but an elite minority of the world until the past 100-150 years.

Yet, in the past century alone, human knowledge of science, biology, technology and countless fields of endeavor has exploded. And the advent of the Internet has created a worldwide archive of human knowledge that far exceeds even the wildest dreams of the great ancient civilizations. It has indeed “greatly increased.”

Given that all this can be ascertained from mere observation, how can anyone say with a straight face that “things today are the same as they’ve always been.” Absolutely not. We are definitely in the End Times!

IV.  Exponential growth marks the end times
If a marked increase in travel and knowledge constitute one of the most clearly observable signs of the End Times, then the two are merely components of a much larger sign of the End Times—EXPONENTIAL GROWTH of greater frequency and intensity in the signs as Christ return draws near.

Jesus pointed to exponential growth as a sign of His Coming in Matthew 24:3-8:

Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”
Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

Some translations say, “This is the beginning of sorrows or horrors.” But the word “horrors” or “sorrows,” comes from the word “odin” which is best translated as “the pain of childbirth” or “birth pangs.”

This means that much like birth pangs, signs of the End Times will appear with greater frequency and intensity as Christ’s return draws near. This is why Jesus mentioned this sign first when answering his disciples’ questions: “When will all this take place? Will there be any sign ahead of time to signal your return and the end of the world?

According to Jesus, four things in particular will increase in frequency and intensity as the world draws closer to His return: 
  • Claims of being the Messiah
  • Wars
  • Famines
  • Earthquakes.

Have we  seen these four things increase in frequency and intensity in the recent past? YES!

Claims of being the Messiah: The known total thus far for those claiming to be the Messiah, is 87. Down through the ages many claimed to be the Messiah. In the 1st Century AD there were 21 claims by Jews and 34 claims by Christians who called themselves the Messiah, focusing on particular roles of the Christ. (http://tinyurl.com/qkkcq) Those claiming to actually be Jesus in the 19th and 21st Century, number 32. (http://tinyurl.com/3ogytgw) Although indeed a sign of the times, these Messianic claims can easily be dismissed if one knows their Bible.

But, let’s take a look at wars, famines and earthquakes over the past 500 years.

V.  Wars—a sign of the End Times
According to a Wikipedia list of wars, the past 500 years have witnessed an increase in the frequency of wars:

15th Century:     29 wars
16th Century:     59 wars
17th Century:     75 wars
18th Century:     69 wars
19th Century:   294 wars
20th Century:  278 wars

The first decade of the 21st Century has already witnessed 55 wars, putting humanity on course for 550 wars over the next one hundred year period. For most of human history, wars were fought through individual hand-to-hand combat. But the past few hundred years have witnessed the ascension of more accurate guns, machine guns, and aerial bombing. Today, single weapon of mass destruction can kill hundreds of thousands of people. So, have these wars increased in intensity? YES!

VI.  Famines—a sign of the End Times
According to a Wikipedia list of famines, the past 500 years have also witnessed an increase in the frequency of famines:

15th Century:              6 famines
16th Century:            10 famines
17th Century:            24 famines
18th Century:            28 famines
19th Century:            30 famines
20th Century:            44 famines

The first decade of the 21st Century alone has already witnessed 12 famines, putting humanity on course for 120 famines over the next one hundred year period.

Have these famines increased in intensity and severity? Yes. As the population of the world has grown, famines have caused more and more death and destruction in their wake.

The first half of the 20th Century alone witnessed the following famines:

The 1921 famine in Russia:                            5 million plus dead
The 1928-1929 famine in China:                     3 million plus dead
The 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine:                  2.6 to 10 million dead      
The 1932-1933 famine in Kazakhstan:            1.2 to 1.5 million dead
The 1936 famine in China:                              5 million plus dead.
The 1942-1943 famine in China:                     1 million plus dead
The 1946-1947 famine in the Soviet Union:      1 million plus dead

That’s an estimated 18.8 to 26.5 million who perished from famine just from the above seven famines alone.

And from 1959 to 1961, the Great Chinese Famine is estimated to have killed more than 36 million people.

Famines have dramatically increased in both frequency and intensity since Jesus first answered His disciples’ questions.

VII.  Earthquakes—another sign of the End Times
According to a Wikipedia list of earthquakes, the past 500 years have witnessed the following number of earthquakes described as a magnitude 7.0 or greater.

15th  Century:     2 earthquakes
16th Century:      3 earthquakes
17th Century:      7 earthquakes
18th Century:      13 earthquakes
19th  Century:     29 earthquakes
20th  Century:     123 earthquakes

The first decade of the 21st Century has already witnessed 144 earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or greater, putting humanity on course for 1440 such earthquakes over the next one hundred year period.

The dramatic increase in devastating wars, famines and earthquakes from the time of Jesus until today is one of the clearest signs of the End Times.

VIII.  Rise of the Gog/Magog alliance
Yet another sign of the End Times is the current rise of the Gog/Magog Alliance against Israel. The details of this future military alliance are found in the Book of Ezekiel, chapters 38-39:
                       
A Message for Gog (Ezek. 38:1-6)
This is another message that came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, turn and face Gog of the land of Magog, the prince who rules over the nations of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him. Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord: Gog, I am your enemy! I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws to lead you out with your whole army—your horses and charioteers in full armor and a great horde armed with shields and swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya will join you, too, with all their weapons. Gomer and all its armies will also join you, along with the armies of Beth-togarmah from the distant north, and many others.

The nations cited in the above verses are associated with their Old Testament predecessors, but they all represent nations that exist today. Here is a list of those nations, each followed by its modern day equivalent:

Magog, Mesech and Tubal:        Russia
Persia:                                      Iran
Cush:                                        Ethiopia
Put:                                           Libya
Gomer:                                     Turkey
Beth-togarmah:                          Turkey, Armenia, and the Turkish-speaking peoples of
                                                 Asia Minor.

According to God, Magog (Russia) will mobilize a coalition in the last days that includes the above nations, and allow them to come against Israel:

Ezekiel’s prophecy to Gog continues:

7 “Get ready; be prepared! Keep all the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them. A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel. 9 You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.”
(If you are wondering why God’s is allowing the coalition to come against Israel, chapter 38:10-23 explains that it is to make God’s power evident when he ultimately destroys Magog.)

Throughout human history, there has never been a cooperative military alliance between the nations of Russia and Iran—at least until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Since then, a cooperative diplomatic and military alliance between Iran and Russia has formed and slowly expanded, ultimately leading to Russia’s assistance in providing Iran with the necessary support to make the Bushehr nuclear power plant operational.

The nuclear plant officially opened on September 12, 2011 and began operating at 100% capacity on August 31, 2012. This year, on September 23, 2013, operational control was transferred from Russia to Iran.

But wait—there’s more . . .

In February 2013, Iran stated it planned to start joint work with Russia on a second power unit at Bushehr. Although Iran insists that the facilities will be used for peaceful power-generation only, Israel and other nations express fear that the reactor could help Iran create an atomic bomb.

Is Russia really interested in Israel? This is becoming apparent. According to Bloomberg News dated June 7, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to provide troops for the UN peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights (land between Israel and Syria) ever since Austria decided to withdraw its soldiers, validating their withdrawal by citing escalating risks from Syria’s civil war. Austria has been the biggest provider of troops to a United Nations contingent, enforcing a buffer zone between Syria and Israel since 1974.

However, since Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and due to the 39-year-old agreement between Syria and Israel that created the peacekeeping mission, Russia wouldn’t be able to participate in that. However, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s UN Ambassador, insisted that “times have changed,” and believes that permanent members of the Security Council should now be allowed to step in. Will this happen? Is peacekeeping their sole motive? It remains to be seen. (Read full article, “Russia Offers to Replace Austria as UN Golan Peacekeepers” by Sangwon Yoon and Caroline Alexander at http://tinyurl.com/lfy7trx)

IXThe Rise of a global government
Another sign of the End Times is the current trend toward globalization.

According to the Book of Revelation 13:7, globalization involves more than just multinational corporations and global commerce. One day, the Anti-Christ, a single man, will rule all the people and nations on the earth.

And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation.

With each passing day, more and more nations are ceding their sovereignty to larger institutions such as the European Union, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Court.

Given the current global financial crisis and the potential catastrophe of a global war, more and more diplomatic leaders and world politicians are calling for global government. And as human technology continues to advance and mature, we’re quickly reaching a point where global totalitarian rule will be possible.

In the meantime, what does God want done?

X.  The Good News preached throughout the world
Jesus revealed the following sign of the End Times to His disciples in Matthew 24:14 in response to their questions about the end of the age and the sign of His coming: 

And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

The idea of Christ’s Coming to be preceded by the preaching of the Gospel “throughout the whole world” is reiterated in the Book of Revelation 14:6-7:

And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language and people. “Fear God” he shouted. “Give glory to Him. For the time has come when He will sit as Judge. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”

In the time of Jesus, the Gospel was confined to a relatively small number of people in and around Israel, and much of the earth’s land mass was completely unknown to the disciples of Jesus. So, the odds of the disciples preaching the Gospel of Christ “throughout the whole world” in their own time was quite remote.

Yet, 2000 years later, the Gospel is being preached in every nation; the Bible has been translated in hundreds of languages; and the Gospel of Christ is delivered through thousands of ministries via radio, cable TV, satellite and Internet.

The truth is that our generation is closer to preaching the Gospel “throughout the whole world” than any preceding generation.

Below is a summary of the ten signs, although not the only signs, and cannot be easily dismissed:

1.      The Holocaust and the re-emergence of Israel.
2.      Jerusalem—a burden to the world
3.      The dramatic increase in travel and knowledge
4.      Exponential Growth in the End Times
5.      Wars—a sign of the End Times
6.      Famines—a sign of the End Times
7.      Earthquakes—a sign of the End Times
8.      Rise of the Gog/Magog Alliance
9.      Rise of a global government
10.  The Good News preached throughout the world

The warning
The Bible has much to say about the last days and the time of the end, and as followers of Christ we are warned to recognize the signs. Jesus said the following in Matthew 24:

“Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.” (v. 28)

“When you see all these things beginning to happen, you can know that My return is near, even at the doors. Then at last this age will come to its close.” (vs. 33-34)

Why are we warned to recognize the signs of the times? Because if we acknowledge the signs, as well as our Lord’s command to stay awake and alert, we will be driven to live Godly lives. Paul says in Romans 13:11: 
Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now that when we first believed. 
The signs of the End Times have not only been spelled out for us in the Bible but are in process now. Time will soon run out. It is to everyone’s spiritual advantage to pay attention and be prepared. Jesus’ Coming will be a momentous event!

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage each other with these words. (I Thess 4:15)

#

THANK YOU FOR VISITING! 

If you would like to be on my mailing list to receive notices (once a month) when new articles are posted, let me know at janishutchinson@comcast.net

The next post will be approximately December 15. 

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE,
PLEASE CLICK THE SHARE BUTTONS BELOW

To leave a comment, scroll down to the bottom


www.blogpingtool.com Hypersmash.com

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please write your comment, but be respectful. If you would like me to respond to a specific question, you will have to include your email address in your comment. Otherwise, you will only be able to see my response if you come back later to this article.