SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE IS SIGNS
There are many signs posting the return of Christ along the highway to heaven, but not one of them gives an exact time. I guess we could say that the speed of Christ’s return is an un-posted limit. As it states in Matthew, chapter 24, starting at verse 36, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.”
God has selected men along histories’ path to tell the faithful about the glory of the end time. The prophet Daniel, Jesus the Son of God, and the Apostle, John, have sounded the cry over a period of some 2,500 years. Patiently and in faith we wait. We know Jesus is coming! We know Jesus is coming in great glory and majesty! We know Jesus is coming to gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other! We just don’t know when. In 2 Peter the apostle explains that God’s time table is not the same as our own. “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised...? But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Even though we do not know the exact date of Christ’s return we know that his coming will be soon. We know that he will descend back to this earth in the same manner as His ascension. “After he said this he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’” (Acts 1)
I’m sure you’re asking yourselves, how can this author make such a bold claim? Is he a prophet? Is he a seer? No! This author is simply literate, and is able to read the signs posted in God’s holy word. God wants us to be able to read these signs and interpret their meaning. Jesus said, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’” He also said, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.” As we can interpret the coming of the summer, or the coming of a storm, we too can see the coming of the Son of God.
Each of the authors (Matthew, Mark and Luke) of the Synoptic Gospels devote time and space in their writings to the rendering of intelligible signs of the end time. Let’s stop for a moment, and see what each of these authors’ had to say about these exciting epochs.
MATT: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
"So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel-let the reader understand-then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.”
“Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’”
“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
Mark: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.”
“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
"When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong-let the reader understand- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning when God created the world, until now-and never to be equaled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect-if that were possible. So be on guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.”
“But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’”
"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. and he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”
Luke: “Watch out that you are not deceived, For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.”
“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!
There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
How many wars must there be? How many earthquakes? False prophets? Christs? So many questions, so few answers. Only God the father is privy to that information. But with each event that transpires here on earth, are we not one step closer to God’s glory? With each seal that the Lamb opens, should we not feel the quake here on earth?
Are there any signs that still need posting on the highway to heaven, or have all things come to pass? What delays the glory of Jesus Christ’s return? Paul tells of the “Man of Lawlessness” in 2 Thessalonians. “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
Has the man of lawlessness already come? God knows we have had enough villains in this world! Could it have been one of the Caesars? Perhaps the one that destroyed the temple of God trying to make others worship him as if he were God? Again, I must plead ignorance, because I just don’t know! For every question there are more questions! For every answer there are more answers! I know you must be confused and asking what is the meaning of this chapter, so let me close by saying this. Many signs have appeared up to this point and who knows how many more will come? We must wait, and continue to do God’s work. Not worrying about tomorrow, because worrying will not change the outcome. In faith, we must continue to preach the word of God to all we see. For perhaps in telling the gospel story to just one more lost soul we will fulfill the requirement of having the word preached to the whole world.
I guess what I am saying is to read the signs and to know what they say, but to keep on keeping on. Don’t bury your head in fear, waiting for the second coming of Christ. Continue to do the great commission which we were all tasked with. Don’t take your eyes off the road to study the signs, because I fear this distraction may cause you to crash. Don’t listen to those who say they know the day and hour of his return, because they don’t! Just believe, through faith, that it is. And finally place one more sign on your own car, that this vehicle will be left abandoned on the day of Rapture!