What Are The Signs Of The End Times?
In my discussions with many of my religious friends and some of my not so religious friends the second coming of Christ often comes up. The majority of them ask about the signs of the coming of Christ. The more Biblically literate ones may even make reference to Matthew 24, which is the favorite section of Scripture that some use as a reference to the second coming of Christ. However, a careful reading of Matthew 24 will reveal that Jesus in the first 34 verses is not talking about the destruction of the world but rather the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem, which took place in A.D. 70. This would constitute the end of the Jewish age or for the Jewish people the end of their world. There is no reason to argue about this for the Lord himself put a timetable on the fulfillment of this prophecy. He said in verse 34 “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” If you want to be contentious about this, you have my permission to argue with Jesus or you can just cross out verse 34 out of your Bible. (I would be more than happy to discuss this deeper if anyone would like more information.)
Matthew 24 is an example of what is called apocalyptic literature. This kind of language was used during times of persecution to reveal certain truths to insiders while confusing the outsiders. So by its very nature this language is very hard to interpret for it was intended to confuse people. It is filled with symbolism and all kinds of figures of speech. We find it used both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Two of its chief characteristics are that it is very symbolic and is usually used to denote a destruction that is going to come upon the outsiders. The destruction is usually in the form of God turning his face away from a person or nation, turning them over to themselves and finally destroying them. To those being destroyed it all looks like natural causes, for they fail to see God behind the scenes.
In fact, in the last sentence, I use an apocalyptic expression, “God turning his face away from a people”. We know that God does not have a literal face as, we humans, so we know that the expression must be symbolic and needs to be interrupted to have the right understanding.
With this background information, we can begin to have a rational discussion about the signs that may lead up to the coming of Christ. I say may because the same apocalyptic language is used in regards to the destruction of nations as is used in the destruction of the world. So even after we interpret the symbols correctly, the question needs to be asked, are they referring to a local destruction as in the case of the nation, or are we talking about the end of the world?
One thing we do know is that when God turns his face away from the people, their destruction is not far off. So what are the signs that God have turned his face against a people?
The first one is that God turns them over to themselves. The apostle Paul speaks about this in the Book of Romans 1:18-32.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, …. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Sound familiar?
From the above we see that one of the signs that God has turned his face away from a nation is he turn them over to their addictions and they become the playthings of their own appetite and lower nature.
The second sign of an approaching destruction can be seen in the book of Revelation (Rev 6:5-6).
” When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
At this point you may be saying what does that mean? The writer is just echoing a theme that goes throughout the entire Bible and is found in much of the apocalyptic literature that God will punish the outsider by destroying their economy. Sound familiar?
The thirty is found in Revelation (Rev 6:12-14).
“I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” At first this sounds like a bunch of madness. However, when the symbols are understood it makes all the sense in the world. In the ancient world people believed that every earthly leader was represented symbolically by one of the heavenly bodies. Once you understand this, the interpretation becomes extremely simple. The writer is simply saying that when God turns his face against the people he will remove all the true leadership in that nation and the nation will be destroyed by confusion and chaos that comes from the lack of leadership. Sound familiar?
The forth is that God put a spirit of stupidity on those he has turned his face against. It says in Rom 11:8 “as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” Now I do not know how literal we can take this but it does seem from history that every great society in its years of declension had a retreat from reason and a decline in its ability to educate its masses. Could this be a sign that God has turned us over to ourselves and turned his face against us? Of course, if it is a sign, we probably will be to stupid to see it for he has closed our eyes so we cannot see. Sound familiar?
I personally gather from the above that we are in the end times. I don’t know if it is the end times for the world, for I do not know enough about what’s going on in the entire world to speak with any certainty. Only God knows that. However, it does seem that we are living in the end times of our nation and Western civilization, which is our world as we have know it. If we do not change our ways, God’s destruction will surely come. In fact, it looks like it has already started.
What can we do? We can begin by examining ourselves and then begin to speak out against the evil in this nation. The problem is not that there are so many evil men, but rather there are so many good men which do not speak out. LD