The Signs of the End Times

Signs that the End Times are Approaching

I will not make any predictions about when the end times will begin, and I believe it is unwise to even attempt such a prediction. However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be observant. In particular, we can observe that the appropriateness of the end times is becoming more and more evident. Even so, I cannot be certain about when the end time will begin. It could be tomorrow, or it may still be many years away.

Below are a few items of interest with regard to the appropriateness of the times:

♦ Israel

In relatively recent times (since 1948), the nation Israel has occupied its Biblical homeland. This makes a literal understanding of Revelation possible. Not only that, but (as explained in Seven Heads and Ten Horns), it seems that this happened as a direct result of the “seventh kingdom” that was prophesied in Revelation 17.

♦ The Pattern of Seven

The Bible has clearly established a pattern of seven things, in which the seventh thing is special. For example, creation is depicted as seven days with the seventh being a rest day. From this came the seven-day cycle (a week), in which the seventh day is the sabbath. Likewise, each seven-year cycle ends with the seventh year being a “shmita” year.

The Jewish Talmud is believed to contain some parts of the “Oral Torah” which was passed down from Moses, plus rabbinic commentary. In the Talmud, Rabbi Katina speaks about a cycle of seven millennia:

Just as the seventh year is the Shmita year, so too does the world have one thousand years out of seven that are fallow (mushmat), as it is written, ‘And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day’”.

If this is so, it would seem that the special seventh millennium mentioned in the Talmud might be the Millennial kingdom described in Revelation 20. In that case, the end times should begin about 6,000 years from the time of Adam. Although we cannot be precise, the Biblical record indicates that we could already be close to 6,000 years.

♦ Unity of Unbelievers

Recall that in Genesis 11, idolatrous people were building the Tower of Babel. God responded by causing them to have different languages. As a result, their unity was broken, and the people were scattered. For thousands of years, the language barrier has maintained this disunity among the largely unbelieving world.

However, in relatively recent times, English has emerged as an international language. Very recently, computer software has developed to the point where written and spoken languages can be automatically and quickly translated from nearly any language to any other. To a large and growing extent, language differences no longer divide the unbelieving world. This greatly facilitates the idea that there could be worldwide unity among unbelievers, and this would facilitate worldwide political and religious leaders, such as those described in Revelation.

♦ Technological Advances and Dependencies

Technological advances in communication (e.g. satellites, broadcasting, Internet, smart phones) have made it possible for any event to become known to practically anyone, anywhere in the world, within minutes. This can go a long way to facilitating worldwide political and religious influence. It can also explain how the whole world would be able to to look at the two dead witnesses in Jerusalem (Rev 11:9).

Technology may also be used to perpetrate massive deceptions by creating convincing, and yet false, “evidence” of news events earth. Reliable information could become a very scarce commodity as we approach the end times. Technology could contribute to the foretold deceptions of the end times (e.g. Rev 13:14, 15).

The world has become exceedingly dependent on technology for commerce. Vast sums of money and private information are managed by computer systems that promise security and privacy, and yet have proven to be vulnerable to cyber attacks. We are even seeing a new type of warfare called cyber-warfare, in which anyone with sufficient technological skills could anonymously do serious harm to millions of people on the other side of the planet. These things could become causes for war, or motivation for tight financial crackdowns, such as that described in Rev 13:17.

♦ Causes for War

The second seal event says that war will break out. There are plenty of reasons for why there might be war, although one primary reason is the presence of Israel among its hostile neighbors.

Another reason for war pertains to the need for oil, which is largely supplied by Israel’s hostile neighbors. Tensions over oil will only rise because demand for it is increasing, and yet scientists say that we will soon reach a point where oil production must decline. There is only so much oil in the earth and it can’t last forever, but the world has become utterly dependent on the convenient and cheap energy it provides.

♦ Increasing anti-semitism

We know that the end times will be characterized by a deep worldwide hatred for Israel, which will spill over into hatred for her offspring, the church (Rev 12:13,17). During the great tribulation, efforts will be made to annihilate Israel, but a remnant will survive thanks only to an act of divine intervention (Rev 12:14,15,16). The end times will end with all nations gathering with intent to destroy Israel at Armageddon. Again God will intervene to protect Israel and destroy the nations (Rev 19:19,20,21).

We may safely assume that such worldwide hatred for Israel won’t happen overnight. Just a few decades ago, Israel regained its Biblical homeland after a wave of worldwide sympathy after the Holocaust. Today, we are witnessing an alarming increase in anti-semitism in the world, particularly in Europe. The same sort of hate crimes and murderous chants against Jews that preceded the Holocaust are on the rise. The idea that the Jewish state is illegitimate is gaining support around the world. We even see an upward trend in Holocaust-denial. Every year that passes, the morally unthinkable idea that another type of Holocaust could happen becomes more plausible. This is what the prophecies concerning the great tribulation foretell.

♦ Corruption of Churches

We are warned that the churches will become corrupted as we approach the last days. Paul wrote the following:

2 Tim 3:1-7 – 1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Tim 3:12-13 – 12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

2 Tim 4:3-4 – 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Note that the verses above aren’t just talking about the general wickedness of the world, they are talking about corruption within the church. That’s why 2 Tim 3:5 mentions wicked people “holding to a form of godliness“, and 2 Tim 3:13 describes wicked people as “impostors“, and 2 Tim 4:3 says that wicked people “will not endure sound doctrine“, but they will seek unsound doctrine instead.

These are all things we see happening in churches today. The true Christian should know this, and therefore not be surprised by the idea that the churches are in store for severe chastisement, just as Old Testament Israel was chastised when they accumulated false teachers and neglected sound doctrine.

Signs When the End Times Begin

What will happen when the seven-year end times period actually begins?

Indications are that the first day of the seven-year end times period will, for the most part, be like any other day. There will be no “flashes in the sky”, “miraculous events”, or “audible voices from heaven” announcing that the end times have begun.

There will be the first seal event (Rev 6:1-2), which is the emergence of Antichrist, and possibly a negotiation or treaty that he conducts concerning Israel. Then there shall be war, famine, and death, as explained by the second, third, and fourth seals. Of course, events like the ones listed in the first four seal events have occurred several times in history. They themselves offer no conclusive proof that we are in the end times period.

Another thing that will be happening in the first 3 1/2 years is the sealing of the 144,000 Jewish men to be servants of God. It’s not clear exactly how this will “sealing” appear on earth. It may very well go by unnoticed by most people. These men will likely come from among the Messianic Jews (Jewish Christians), which is a group that appears to be growing rapidly. There may already be enough Jewish men who follow Christ to account for the 144,000.

There is one conclusive event by which we can know we are in the end times. This event is the abomination of desolation. This is when Antichrist shall defile the holy place in Jerusalem.

Jesus gives this as the key sign in Matt 24:15 – 15“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains”.

Then, after describing the events that follow, he says the second coming will happen. Matt 24:33 – …when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

Paul also identifies this event as a sign in 2 Thes 2:3-4 – 3…for it [the Day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”  

This abomination of desolation will accomplish the following:

  • It will mark the midpoint of the seven-year end times period,
  • It will conclusively identify Antichrist,
  • It will be the beginning of the great tribulation period.

When we see this event, I believe one can count 1,260 backward to know then the end times period began, and one can count 1,260 days forward to know when to expect the bowl events to begin.

The Temple in Jerusalem

One might argue that seven-year end times period can’t begin until there is a temple in Jerusalem. After all, the abomination of desolation seems to require a temple for Antichrist to defile. However, having a temple before the seven-years begin is not absolutely necessary. Since the abomination of desolation does not occur until we are already 3 1/2 years into the end times, there could possibly be time for the temple to be constructed after the end times begin.

But even if we do some day see a temple being constructed in Israel, it is not a sign that we are in the end times, because it could possibly be constructed before the end times begins.

Side note: Interestingly, there are Jewish groups that have already put together plans for the next temple, and they have already crafted many of the implements to be used within it. This means the temple could go up rather quickly if the opportunity presents itself. It’s easy to look at the situation there and think that it can’t happen — but remember that people said the same thing about Israel occupying their Biblical homeland. Learn a lesson from that, and trust that God’s word will be true.

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