The Bible presents a certain paradox when it comes to the end times. On one hand, we have Mark 13: 32, which tells us “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” So the angels in heaven don’t know when the end is coming. Not even Jesus, Himself, knows when He’s coming back, it seems.
Yet in Matthew 24: 5-8, Christ says, of the impending end of all things, that “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you dare not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
So we’re told that we cannot know when the end will come, yet we are given definitive signs that foretell its coming. How can we make sense of this?
One way in which these signs can be useful is if we, instead of trying to predict the end through them, simply take them as hope-filled reminders that Christ is going to return and redeem all of creation. In this way, when we see these events transpiring, we can find hope instead of fear as we prepare ourselves to weather the storm.
To help you see these events for what they are, let’s take a look at 6 Biblical signs of the end times.
Nation Against Nation
In Matthew 24:7, Christ gives us one of the signs, saying that, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”
Since war has been raging ever since the Biblical Fall, we have to assume that this means something more—something far more destructive or significant than what we’ve yet seen. And knowing what we’ve already been through—things like WWII—it is difficult to imagine anything worse.
We may very well be about to enter this troublesome age. However, with world tensions again growing taut, and with most every country now possessing the most powerful weapons in history, this sign may be fast approaching.
Consider North Korea, and its boasts of nuclear retaliation. Think on Russia’s growing tension with the United States. Think of the myriad conflicts in the Middle East. And don’t forget that China, one of the world’s superpowers, is growing increasingly hostile with the West.
With all that’s going on, we can’t help but be reminded of Christ’s return.
In Matthew 24:24, Jesus warns of another sign, saying “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”
These “false christs” will look like the real deal—they’ll preach like a Christian, be charismatic, and draw in many, many followers. Those followers will sincerely believe that, in following these people, they are doing the work of God.
But in reality, these false prophets are not of God at all. Their messages will be subtly corrupt. They’ll even perform miracles. This brings to mind many a corrupt religious leader.
But there is a way we can discern who is true from who is false—Christ, in John 14:21, says “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
If we steep ourselves in the study of Christ’s life, we can plainly point out those who are not like Him. So study up, and be prepared for the false prophets.
In 2 Timothy 3:1-4, Paul writes of a sign: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
Again, since human beings have always been all of these things, we must assume that these traits will occur at an unprecedented level—more brutal, more heartless, and more greedy and proud than ever.
The fall from God-inspired morality to relativity is a mark of the postmodern age. Ours is a society that has become suspicious of anything labeled “truth,” and this may very well be the beginning of this sign. Moral relativism allows for the creation of personal codes of morality, of personal interpretations of truth—everything is up to the individual. This may eventually allow for the extreme behaviors listed in this sign.
Remember the fruits of the spirit— love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Live by these, and you’ll avoid the trap of moral decay that so many are destined to fall into.
Signs in the Stars
In Luke 21:25-26, Christ speaks of the sky, saying, “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
This is an interesting one, and appears in several places in the Gospels. Some of the other verses speak of “roaring” in the heavens, as well as some kind of trouble in the seas.
One thing that’s certain—this sign will not be one to be missed.
It’s possible that this sign is simply speaking of human weaponry—satellite-based defenses capable of firing on the planet, missiles and bombs that streak down from the sky, and whatever other objects of destruction the human mind will contrive in the coming years.
Alternately, this could, as we see in Matthew 24:29-32, be the great sign that accompanies Christ’s return.
Whatever the case, when the sky darkens and the stars disappear and the moon becomes red as blood, you will know that Christ is near.
A Great Tribulation
The Great Tribulation is a bit of a contentious sign. Some interpret surrounding scripture to mean that believers will be taken up into heaven and spared this difficult time. Others believe that they will not be taken up until after.
Of this time, Christ says that “For then there will be a Great Tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.” This Tribulation will be set off by an action of the Antichrist and conclude with the coming of the true Christ.
The Book of Revelation gives us a few details about what this time period will entail: God’s wrath will be on the earth, the Beast will be revealed, and plagues and suffering will occur throughout the earth.
It may be that this Tribulation is the combined effect of all the other signs—a world torn by war, inhumanity, natural disasters, and heavenly disturbances would certainly qualify as a “tribulation.” Whatever the case, and whatever you believe about this troubling time, keep your eyes open for it, and make sure your heart is prepared for the coming of Christ.
Earthquakes in Many Places
Earthquakes play a big role in Biblical prophecy. In Matthew 24:6-7, Christ says that “there will be famines and earthquakes in various places” when the time is near for His return.
Notice the “various places.” We cannot point to every earthquake that happens and think the end is coming—this sign is something different, something more widespread.
Like many of the signs, this will be something we’re familiar with, but greatly intensified—these won’t be just any old earthquakes, but something that rocks the very foundations of the earth, and so do in many places at once.
These quakes are mentioned five times in the Book of Revelation, with the final earthquake corresponding with the seventh bowl of God’s wrath being poured out on the earth. This is described as “a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell.”
This is another sign that will be difficult to miss, but take care to interpret it correctly. These signs are merely the “birth pains” of Christ’s return, as Christ, Himself, says. Even in these frightening times, there is hope for a better world.
Prepare, Don’t Despair
Christ tells us the importance of the signs when He says, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.”
That’s it. That’s the essence of why we’ve been made aware of the signs—so that we might know that Christ is near and take heart, and so that we might also prepare ourselves.
So keep an eye out for these 6 major Biblical signs of Christ’s return—you might just be able to see a few already.
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