What are some of the end times signs? (This question centered on questioning "signs in the heavens" but I have decided to expand on it.)
No name or city given
What do we mean by the "End Times"? (Part 1)
When most Christians refer to the End Times they are really talking about the Second Coming of Christ. I have noticed that secular folks often say it a little differently. They refer to it as "the end of the world."
Either way you look at it; it is not the end. We are actually on a path into eternity and though things will change, they will not end. When Christ returns (this time in all his glory and triumph), the Bible says that he will rule on the earth for a thousand years -- the Millennial Reign. Beyond that there will be a new heaven and new earth and eternity.
Why all the speculation on our proximity to the end times? It is because most people are aware, even if only vaguely, that the end times signal some very hard times. The Bible talks about a seven year tribulation period that will precede the return of Jesus. The book of Revelation describes cataclysmic events and devastations on the earth which almost defy the imagination.
Here is an example; "I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place." (Revelation 6:12-14)
It sounds like there is some really scary stuff ahead but God did not tell us so that we will be afraid. In fact, quite the opposite is true. He wants us to be confident in him and his control over human events and he wants us to be prepared. He also wants us to understand our times and help to hasten his return.
Can we hasten his return? (Part 2)
A really big sign to watch for in the end times involves us. Matthew 24:14 says; "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." There is huge excitement at this time in circles of those who track gospel penetration. Many believe it is finally possible to fulfill this requirement in our generation because of the advancement of technology.
A huge push is on to translate the bible into every known language; transmit the gospel via TV satellite to remote areas or closed areas like Arab countries; and send missionaries to the whole world in record numbers. The gearing up for this final penetration is in itself a sign that something is up. God is stirring hearts as never before to fulfill the Great Commission.
The Great Commission is stated in Mark 16:14; "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Jesus said this right before he ascended into heaven after his resurrection so it was the last thing on his mind before he left the earth. I agree with the preacher I heard who said; "his last concern should be our first priority."
Therefore, if you are interested in watching for end time signs; follow the penetration of the gospel into all nations, cultures and people groups. If you are interested in hastening the day when Jesus will return again, participate in spreading the gospel.
Contribute financially to those ministries that translate the Bible, spread the gospel, and send missionaries. Spread God's message of love to everyone you know; whether through your Christ centered lifestyle or direct presentation. Become a missionary yourself and go to the ends of the earth to save souls. The Bible says that the fields are white for harvest (See John 4:35) so grab a sickle and start reaping.
Comparing the First and Second Coming (Part 3)
"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son…" (Galatians 4:4) The first time Jesus came to the earth he was right on time and when he comes back again he will also be right on time. No one except God alone knows when that exact moment will be; when all conditions are perfectly ripe for his appearing.
Precisely because we don't know the day or the hour, anyone who claims that knowledge can be labeled as false. In the end there will be a flurry of false prophets and false reports about Jesus' return. We are told this will happen; "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand." (Mark 13:22-23)
What then can we compare? It is interesting to me that when Jesus came the first time there seemed to be a great divide: those who discerned their times and were expectant for the Messiah (in Greek, "Christ," the Anointed One) and those who were clearly clueless. Expect the same thing for the Second Coming.
At Christ's birth, we have wise men from the East and shepherds who knew. We have Simeon who met Mary and Joseph in the temple when they brought the baby Jesus for dedication. He knew. And we have ancient Anna, the widowed prophetess, who approached the holy family and told everyone who would listen that Israel's redemption was here. (See Luke 2:25-38 for the full story) For most people, though, business went on as usual.
When John the Baptist came on the scene to prepare the way for Christ's public ministry, multitudes came out to the desert to repent and be baptized. Their hearts were stirred and ready to embrace a savior. Following them were the Sadducees and Pharisees (religious hierarchy) who came out only to go through the motions of baptism and repentance without any real heart change. They just wanted to appear good in front of the people.
When Jesus came the first time, many were ready for it. Others were oblivious or even hostile. Watch closely! As we get ready for Christ's Second Coming you will still see both kinds. The question is: which are you?
Signs (Part 4)
Are there some specific things to watch for? Yes, there are many things which help us discern the times we are living in. The Bible gives much prophetically that applies to the "End Times." Here are a few.
The significance of May 14, 1948 cannot be overestimated. On that day Israel declared their sovereignty as a nation again after 2900 years. This event was a significant marker for the End Times and was prophesied in the Old Testament. "But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase." (Jeremiah 23:3)
Increase of knowledge and travel
"But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." (Daniel 12:4) There is an explosion of both travel ability (run to and fro) and knowledge such as we could not have thought possible even 100 years ago.
Increase of cataclysmic events
"And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven." (Luke 21:11) There have always been earthquakes, famines and pestilence throughout history but the increase and intensity of all these events converging at one time in history is a sign to us.
Lawlessness and cold love
"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold." (Matthew 24:12) Watch for an increase in violence, the conscious of man hardened and no longer able to be pricked, morality in a malaise, genuine love and caring more rare to find.
This short little list barely scratches the surface. For real in depth study of end time signs and prophecy, I trust Perry Stone's ministry. I have found his teaching to be balanced and anointed. If you are interested in more, I suggest you visit his website at www.perrystone.org.
How can I prepare? (Part 5)
Yes, it is possible to be prepared even though you do not know the day and time precisely. Over and over again in scripture, when Jesus spoke of the time of the end, he recommended being ready. "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (Matthew 24:44) The trick is to be ready AT ALL TIMES.
You know how it is when a couple is expecting a baby. They have a general due date but they don't know the precise time labor will start or when they will have to leave for the hospital. Toward the end, they pack a bag in readiness for the hospital. They know if they leave it up to the last minute there will be a rush and things will be forgotten.
The most important part of readiness for Christ's Second Coming is being born again. If that first step is not in place, no other step counts. See Meet the Master if you would like to take this step for the first time.
If you are sure that Jesus is your Lord and your Savior, make sure you live a life sold out to God's kingdom. Don't be one of those whose heart and love has grown cold. Daily cultivate your relationship with Jesus, making him be THE priority of every day. If you do that, you will not have to worry about whether he comes back tomorrow or ten years from now.
A final thought: do not be afraid. "You need not be afraid of disaster or the plots of wicked men, for the Lord is with you." (Proverbs 3:25-26) Indeed!
And so we wait. "Even so, come Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." (Revelation 22:20-21)