The signs of Jesus' return
In this Bible study, I would like to share four aspects with you. The Bible tells us that these are, amongst others, signs of the impending return of Jesus.
1. All things will continue as they were from the beginning.
The disciples asked Jesus what these signs would be. He warned them not to consider disasters as such since they would always come – wars, rumors of war, nation against nation, earthquakes, and famines. Life would be normal, not abnormal – people marrying, eating, drinking, sleeping, or working. All these things would go on right up to the day of His coming, just as they have to this day.
2. Jesus especially emphasized that there would be false prophets, false teachers, and false Messiahs.
Scripture speaks of the Antichrist. Deceivers have always been an active part of this evil world. Their satanic character has been constantly evident by their wickedness carried out blasphemously in the name of God. Wholesale murder became a pious act as an offering to God. The persecution of good men and women stains the pages of history with their blood.
The 19th century saw an extension of errors. In the West, aggressive anti-Christian forces, calling themselves ‘liberal’, arose. Thousands of churches have become sources of unbelief, denying the power of God. Atheism is now rampant. Superstitions have taken deep root while the truth is suppressed. Spiritist, paranormal, pantheistic, and mind-power cults have multiplied by the hundreds. Others claim to be Christians yet deny every Christian truth, “deceiving and being deceived” as Jesus said.
The ground is well prepared for any kind of Anti-Christ. He can take into his system every Christ-denying cult, every man-made religion, and shape them into a single universal anti-Christian organization complete with false miracles, signs, and wonders. Everything is ready.
3. A revived Israel
In chapters 43 and 44 of Isaiah’s prophecy, Israel’s future is foretold. “I will gather you from the west; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’” Then it says, “You are My witnesses,” says the LORD.”
Those who now put their trust in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, are also ‘chosen’, as Israel was chosen. Jesus said, “you did not choose Me, but I chose you (John 15:16), and “you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8). Jews are witnesses to the Lord (Jahveh or Jehovah), and Christians are witnesses to Christ, but both together become a sign of the times.
Jesus described it in this parable: Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves,you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! (Matthew 24:32-33). We see today the fig tree beginning to show the signs of the coming summer of God. God has brought about what He said. Israel is now a nation in its own right, and in its own homeland.
4. A revived Church
Then Isaiah foreshadows the sign of a revived Church in chapter 44 verse 3: “I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.” The promised outpouring of the supernatural blessing of the Spirit of God is, according to Scripture, characteristic of the last days, when Israel is re-gathered. Joel chapter 2 describes the presence of Israel back in her homeland with the land once more changed from a desert to fertility. Then we read:
“Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame. And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:27-29).
This special outpouring began on the Day of Pentecost. Peter declared “this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.” At the beginning of the 20th century, the last century of the second millennium, these two things began to happen together — Israel becoming a gathered nation again, and the same wonders as on the day of Pentecost taking place, with ordinary people speaking with tongues and prophesying. There has been enormous world-wide development abundantly fulfilling God’s promise.
In all the world
Jesus said that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). At that time, it seemed only a laughable hope, but today it is close to realization. With it has come the greatest witness to Christ, and also the greatest bloodbath of Christian suffering and martyrdom of all time. It is the satanic testimony to the nearness of Christ’s return. He sees the signs of the times and that, with the coming of Christ, his freedom is coming to an end.
This tremendous twin sign of Israel and the Church is put in a nutshell in the book of James.
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7-8).
The reference to early and latter rains relates to the rains of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:23). The two seasons of rain are those of the early church, and of the times immediately prior to the end before God puts in the sickle, with a dry season during those middle centuries. The latter rains fill out the seedlings and produce the final crop. This is the harvest that Christ is coming to gather. He will harvest the world.
‘Normality’ is a sign in itself
But what does this mean for us? Apart from such signs as these, life on our planet will proceed as usual. Jesus madethis very ‘normality’ a sign in itself. He said:
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37-39).
Jesus also compared the last days with the last days of Sodom and Gomorrah: “Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30). This double reference by Jesus to eating and drinking seems to be based on another prophecy:
“Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit” (Ezekiel 16:49-50).
God is patient – up to a point
Such words could be a perfect description of the world today. Never has there been such fullness of food - material affluence and satisfaction. Leisure pursuits are multiplied into major preoccupations. This age has twisted them all into abnormal interests, and even perversions, as a means of pushing God out of life.
God will not tolerate it forever. The coming of Christ will mean great tribulation for the godless, the Christ-rejecters, and even the plain indifferent. For the believer it means glory. Christ will gather together His elect, the dead and the living, from the four corners of the earth, to be with Him forever.
In this intellectual and arrogant age, our Gospel message becomes again the same as Paul preached in Athens: “God...now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
Do you know this Coming One? Are you prepared to meet Him now? You will certainly meet Him one day. The Bible tells you to repent – in other words, to stop loving and practicing sin. You cannot do this on your own, only God can enable you to turn towards Him and away from sin. If you are not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Coming One, yet know that you should be, then say the following prayer and you will be prepared to meet him.
“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9‐10).
Dear heavenly Father,
I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
I come with all my sins, burdens, and addictions.
Wash me now with the precious blood of Jesus shed on Calvary.
Break the chains of sin and Satan in my life and family.
Mark me with your precious blood.
I want to be yours, spirit, soul, and body, for my time on earth and in eternity.
I put my faith in you alone, Lord Jesus Christ. You are the Son of the Living God.
I believe with my heart what I now confess with my mouth:
You are my Savior, Lord, and God.
Now I am born again - a child of God.
I believe it and receive it in the name of Jesus.
If you have said this prayer, and really meant what you said, then you are indeed ready to meet the Coming One. And He truly is also looking forward to meeting you!
And if you are a born-again believer, know that your times are in His hands. When He appears, let us stand joyfully together before the throne. We know that we share in His reward, for we have been His hands and feet here on earth, faithfully serving Him to the very end of all things.
On the 21st December 2020, our board member of many years, Erna Marquardt was called home by the Lord at the age of 92.
Erna and her sister Frieda were crucial supporters who helped to make CfaN what it is today. Their many years of faithful service and commitment – especially in the early years of the ministry – were a powerful blessing for Reinhard, Anni and all of us in CfaN today.