We are on the threshold of the most fantastic and exciting event of history. Nearly 2,000 years ago, God stepped out of eternity into time, became man, and visited earth in the Person of Jesus Christ. Before leaving the earth, He told His disciples that He would physically return to earth at a future time in history when mankind was on the verge of destroying the entire human race. He indicated that this would take place during a thermonuclear war which the Bible described in great detail centuries before the atom bomb was ever heard of. He said that should He not return at the moment that He will and bring peace to the earth, mankind would not survive this war.
His followers asked Him when this would be. He said it was not for them to know the day and the hour, but that He would give them a number of signs. When they saw these signs, they would know that they were living in the generation of His return. They would have this hope to look forward to.
The Bible contains so many references to the second coming of Christ that it can be said that the major part of the Scriptures deals with this event. It is mentioned 380 times in the New Testament alone. Twenty-three out of the 27 books of the New Testament mention this tremendous event.
Following is a list of the many signs the Bible gives as an indication of the approaching, physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth. Individually these signs would not mean much, but the fact that all of these are being fulfilled simultaneously at one point in history is very significant indeed.
1. Israel and the Middle East crisis. For over 3,000 years the Bible has said that the final events of history and the second coming of Christ would center around the nation of Israel. Until May 14, 1948, there was no nation of Israel. Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trodden down by Gentiles until the end.1 Jerusalem was controlled by the Gentiles from 586 B.C. until June, 1967, when, in a six-day war, outnumbered 80 to one, the Jews captured the city of Jerusalem, bringing the times of the Gentiles to an end. In 145l B.C. God told Moses what would happen to the Israelites from that time to the present day.2 These prophecies have been fulfilled to the letter.
2. Israel to become the burden and concern off the world. One of President Nixon’s advisers said, “The Middle East situation is the most serious and complex problem of our century, which could launch a third world war.” Here is a nation about the size of the state of New Jersey, and 2,600 years ago God said, through the prophet Zechariah, that it would become the center of trouble for the world after it became a nation once again.3
3. The construction of a new Jewish Temple. Jesus predicted that the second Jewish temple would be destroyed.4 This took place 40 years later in 70 A.D. Jesus also indicated that a new Jewish temple would be in existence before He returned. He mentions the desolation of the Holy Place in the temple in the last days; and, of course, before a temple can be desolated, there has to be a temple to desolate.5 At the present time, there is an increasing amount of talk and plans among Jews concerning building a new temple.
4. Russia. The hatred of Russia for the new state of Israel and Russia’s later invasion of Israel is described in chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel. That this passage of Scripture deals with Russia is clear both from linguistic consideration and from the geographical location of that country as the great power directly to the north of Palestine. Gog, the land and of Magog, is the ancient name for the people and area of land we now know as Russia. Meshech is the ancient name of Moscow.6 Tubal is present day Tobolsk, the former eastern capital of Russia. Ezekiel says, among other things, that this country (Russia) will go against the land and the people that are gathered out of all nations (Israel). “It shall be in the latter days.”7 All but one-sixth of this army will be destroyed, and it will take Israel seven months to bury the dead.8
5. Red China (Kings of the East9). The split between Russia and Red China was the beginning of this picture. The Bible describes a great Eastern army that marches westward over the Euphrates River, which is supernaturally dried up, allowing an army of 200 million to enter into the last war of the world, the Battle of Armageddon.10 In this war, one-third of the population is killed.11 Red China now boasts of having an army of over 200 million men, which is approximately two-thirds the total population of the United States.
6. European Common Market.12 Prior to the return of Christ, a ten-nation confederacy will be formed out of the old Roman Empire. The European Common Market appears to be this confederacy.
7. The world’s last and most powerful dictator.14 According to the Bible, a man will step on the scene to become the head of the ten-nation confederacy. He will be controlled by Satan, but will appear to be a man of peace, and will sweep people off their feet with his charm and cleverness. His formula for peace will make sense to billions, and he will practically rule the world for three and one-half years. Eventually he will demand that people worship him as God,15 and will be responsible for the death of millions. Christ’s return puts an end to his horrible reign of terror.16
8. The increase in wars.17 There have always been wars. But Jesus said that just before the end they would suddenly increase in intensity and frequency. He compared this to the increase, intensity and frequency of birth pangs just before birth. In World War I, eight million five hundred thousand were killed. In World War II fifty-two million were killed. Since 1700, there have been over 480 wars (conflicts with deaths of 1,000 or more per year) resulting in over 120,000,000 deaths. Approximately 95% of all war deaths have occurred in the 20th century. The Joint Chiefs of Staff say there are 25 places in the world where another Vietnam could break out overnight. Man, in his arrogance, thought he could have peace without including the Prince of Peace, and the results have been disastrous. Dag Hammarskjold, who spent his life working for world peace, said, “I see no hope for a permanent world peace. We tried so hard and failed so miserably. Unless the world experiences a spiritual rebirth within the next few years, we are doomed.” Permanent peace will come only when the Prince of Peace returns, puts an end to war, and sets up His great and mighty kingdom.
9. Earthquakes.18 There has been a tremendous increase in earthquakes in the past three years. A group of government scientists have called for a 220 million dollar research program to study the problem.19
10. Famines.18 Because of the population explosion and a coming world famine, it has been said that millions will die of starvation during the next few years; and it is already too late to do anything about it.20 An average of 6,000 people die of starvation each day now.
11. Terrors and great signs from heaven and in the sun, moon and stars.21 This possibly refers to space travel, and may even have reference to UFO’s. Also, should there be a nuclear explosion set off on the moon, as scientists are now talking about, it might cause the moon to appear to turn blood red,22 and the sea and waves to react.23
12. Germ warfare. I cannot help but feel that, with all of our scientific advancement in the field of medicine toward controlling sickness and disease, there is only one thing that could explain the horrible and widespread death of millions which the Book of Revelation attributes to plagues and disease – that is germ warfare. For instance, one ounce of botulinus toxin, theoretically, is enough to kill 60 million people.
13. Heart attacks.24 An elderly doctor recently told me that when he went through medical school, a heart attack was so rare he had to travel over 100 miles just to study one case. Now it is one of the leading causes of death. It is also interesting to note that the Bible said 2,000 years ago that worry and overeating would be the main causes of these heart attacks.
14. Thermonuclear warfare.25 The Bible tells about the earth and the elements dissolving and melting with intense heat in the last days. Until the atom bomb came along, scientists scoffed at these verses. The science book of 50 years ago is the joke book of today. Yet the Bible, written 2,000-3,000 years ago, is now more relevant and up to date than tomorrow’s newspaper. Many verses, written at a time when the deadliest weapon known to man was the sword, describe the result of thermonuclear warfare.26
15. The explosion of knowledge.27 At the present time, scientific knowledge is doubling every 15 years. But man is “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”28 Scientific enlightenment without moral dedication only makes total self-destruction more likely and more dreadful. This has brought man to the place where God will eventually have to interfere to save man – from himself.
16. Extensive traveling.29 Here again we see that the amount of travel has increased fantastically in these last few years.
17. Abounding lawlessness.30 J. Edgar Hoover says that crime is now increasing nine times as fast as the increase in population. The eminent historian, Arnold Toynbee, has said that 19 of the 21 great civilizations have fallen from within rather than from without.
18. The church departing from the true faith.31 Many students are antagonistic to the church and say it is not relevant. It is becoming more difficult to find a good church where Christ and true Christianity are presented. Don’t confuse Christianity with churchianity. Christianity is not just a matter of being religious and going to church. Religion is a ritual; Christianity is a relationship – a relationship with Jesus Christ through trusting in Christ’s death as the complete payment for all our sins so that we can be forgiven and have eternal life in heaven.
19. Turning unto fables. The booming interest in astrology, reincarnation, and various categories of the “supernatural” is part of the result of the departure from true Christianity. The Bible says, “For 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; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”32
20. People scoffing at the return of Christ.33 One of the most interesting signs the Bible gives to indicate the nearness of Christ’s return to the earth is the increasing number of people who will ridicule the possibility of His return. Many so-called theologians and ministers have ignored and even denied the teaching of Christ’s second coming in spite of the fact that one out of every 25 verses throughout the New Testament deals with this event.
21. The rise of false prophets.34 Throughout the world, I have found students are following, and even giving their lives to, a weird assortment of prophets of LSD, meditation and religion. They are desperately attempting to find reality in the world of fantasy. In so doing, they are missing out on the real thing. Jesus said, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”
22. The development of a one-world church.35 When we understand the symbolism of Revelation 17, along with other prophecies, we see that there will gradually develop a great, false, one-world religion and ecclesiastical system. This world religion will be anything but Christian, and will persecute the true Christians. At the present time, great strides have already been made toward uniting the Catholic and Protestant churches at almost any cost, with one merger of churches following another. According to U.S. News and World Report (July 25, 1966), eight of the most powerful Protestant denominations have blue-printed a merger designed to bring together 20 million churchgoers in the 1970’s. Other movements are striving for the federation of all religions into one great. universal, world-wide church.
23. Worldwide evangelism. Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.”36 By means of radio, television, and the printed page, there is hardly a place in the world that has not, or could not within a short period of time, hear the gospel. Students ask me, “What about the ‘heathen’ in Africa?” When I was in Africa, they asked me, “What about the heathen in America?” Africa has more missionaries than any place I know. That continent is being saturated with the message of Christ.
24. Recognition of Jesus as their Messiah by the Jews. The Old Testament contains over 300 references to the first coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and for centuries the Jewish people in general have ignored these Scriptures. Speaking of the Messiah, Psalm 22 declares, “…they pierced my hands and my feet.”37 Concerning the Christ, Isaiah wrote, “But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”38 The Bible predicted that, as the return of Christ draws near, an increasing number of Jewish people will begin to recognize Jesus as their Messiah and eventually the entire nation of Israel will. Zechariah says, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, that, when they look on Him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for Him, as one weeps over a first born.”39 Recently, in answer to the statement by a Jewish rabbi that he was looking for the coming of the Messiah, a Christian replied, “We are also looking for Him. But we believe it will be the return of Christ.” Then he asked the rabbi, “What would you do if you discovered, when the Messiah does come, that it was the same Jesus who visited Israel 2,000 years ago?” He replied with tears in his eyes, “If it turned out to be Jesus, I would not be a bit surprised.”40
I personally have seen a greater interest in and response to the message of Christ among Jewish students this past year than in all the other years of speaking on college campuses put together. I have had many requests to speak about Jesus Christ in Jewish fraternities.
25. Television. At the time many of the Biblical prophecies were made, it was inconceivable to men how they could literally be fulfilled. For centuries people were baffled by such statements as, “All the nations of the earth …will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds and every eye will see Him.”41 These prophecies can now be fulfilled by means of worldwide television and satellites.
26. Moral conditions. In describing the moral conditions of the last days, the Scriptures say, “You must face the fact: the final age of this world is to be a time of troubles. Men will love nothing but money and self; they will be arrogant, boastful, and abusive; with no respect for parents, no gratitude, no piety, no natural affection; they will be implacable in their hatreds, scandal-mongers, intemperate and fierce, strangers to all goodness, traitors, adventurers, swollen with self-importance. They will be men who put pleasure in the place of God, men who preserve the outward form of religion, but are a standing denial of its reality.”42
27. The sign of the Eastern Gate. There are several gates in the wall surrounding the old city of Jerusalem, but only one gate on the eastern side. Two thousand six hundred years ago Ezekiel wrote, “…the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the East was shut. Then said the Lord unto me: This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it. Therefore it shall be shut.”43 Six hundred years later Jesus Christ made His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem by this gate. In 1543 this gate was sealed off. It is still sealed today, and it will remain sealed until Jesus returns and enters through that gate once again. There have been several attempts to open the gate, but all have failed. The last attempt was in 1967, when the Arabs planned to tear down the gate for King Hussein of Jordan to enter through. Before they could open the gate, the six-day war broke out and the Arabs lost the city of Jerusalem. This is another example of the amazing accuracy of the Word of God.
In his introductory remarks regarding the return of Christ, the apostle Paul said to the Christians, “I do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, as are those who have no hope…”44 The hope of the Christian is not in men, not in government, and not in religion, but in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As a friend of mine says, “As you go through life, if you miss Christ, then you have missed it all.” The Bible says. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who disbelieves the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”45 Paul also tells us that an understanding of the events leading to the return of Christ should motivate us to live lives pleasing to Him.46
If you have not already received Christ, I would like to encourage you to make this important decision, right now. The word Christian means “Christ in one.” Right now you can make this important prayer your prayer. It is not the words that are important, but rather the attitude of your hearts. If you want to express this decision to God, you could say something like this:
“Dear God, I know that I’m imperfect. But I believe that Jesus died for all my sins so that I’m completely forgiven for all of my sins and will now spend eternity with You in heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
1. Luke 21:24; 2. Deuteronomy 28:63-67; 30:1-3; Ezekiel 36:24, 28; 3. Zechariah 12:1-3; 4. Matthew 24:1-2; 5. Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 11:1-2; 6. Ezekiel 38:15; 39:2; 7. Ezekiel 38:8, 11-12, 16; 8. Ezekiel 39:2, 12; 9. Revelation 16:12-16; 9:13-21; Daniel 11:40-44; 10. Revelation 9:16; 11. Revelation 9:15, 18; 12. Daniel 7:23-28; 13. Revelation 17:18-19; 14. Daniel 8:23-25; 11:36-45; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 13:1-8; 15. 2 Thessalonians 2:4; 16. Daniel 8:25; 11:45; 17. Matthew 24:6-8; 18. Matthew 24:7; 19. Newsweek, February 10, 1969, p. 50; 20. Reader’s Digest, February, 1969, pp. 137-140; 21. Luke 21:11, 25; 22. Revelation 6:12; 23. Luke 21:25; 24. Luke 21:34; 25. 2 Peter 3:10-12; Isaiah 34:4; 26. Zechariah 14:12; 27. Daniel 12:4; 28. 2 Timothy 3:7; 29. Daniel 12:4; 30. Matthew 24:12; 31. Luke 18:8; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 32. 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 33. 2 Peter 3:3-4; 34. Matthew 24:5, 11, 24; 35. Revelation 17; 36. Matthew 24:14; 37. Psalms 22:16; 38. Isaiah 53:5; 39. Zechariah 12:10; 40. Inside Jerusalem, City of Destiny, Arnold Olson, G/L Publications, Glendale, California, 1968, p. 173; 41. Revelation 1:7; 42. 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 43. Ezekiel 44:1-2; 44. 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 45. John 3:36; 46. 1 John 3:1-3.
By André Kolé