What’s So Significant about the Signs?

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Based on the feedback I receive from my writing, especially from one of my recent posts, I know some believers question the relevance of what we are seeing today in regard to the return of the Lord. The world has seen natural disasters, earthquakes, and wars since the beginning of recorded history. What’s so significant about the things we are seeing today? Are they really any different than what has happened in earlier times?

I know many sincere Christians who do not recognize the signs of the times because people have talked about Jesus’ soon return for so long and nothing has happened. They point to World War II and how bad things looked then, but we recovered from that.  “Things may look bad now,” they say, “but history has a way of correcting the extremes in society.”

Do current world events really signify that we are living in the last days? Yes, I believe they do for the following reasons.

Israel

If I could sum up the significance of what we are seeing today in one word it would be “Israel.” Its mere existence as a nation adds considerable weight to everything we see happening throughout the world.

Many people, including me, believe Jesus’ reference to the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-33 depicts the reemergence of Israel as a nation. Scripture often portrays Israel as a fig tree and if that is also the case here, Jesus’ words indicate that the flourishing of Israel as a nation today is definitely a sign we are living in the last days.

The Old Testament prophets often spoke of God gathering the people of Israel back into a nation in the last days. Jeremiah stated that as long as the “fixed order” of the sun, moon, and stars remains, Israel would be a nation in God’s eyes (Jer. 31:35-37). He also spoke of a time when God would bring His people back from nations and securely plant them in the land (32:36-41). The promises go far beyond what happened when the people of Judah returned from their Babylonian captivity; they speak to a future restoration that leads to a descendant of King David, the Messiah, ruling over the nation.

In Luke 21:24 Jesus said this, “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” The implication is clear. Israel’s capture of old Jerusalem in 1967 was highly significant and is a strong indicator that Jesus remembers His promise to return to earth someday.

The Temple

Many who have studied prophecy throughout the ages have not only looked for God to establish Israel as a nation again, but also for the rebuilding of the temple. Isaac Newton, the famous physicist, believed this and looked for both. Irenaeus, a famous church father of the second century AD, also wrote about a future temple existing in the last days, one that the antichrist would defile.

Jesus said that Daniel’s “abomination of desolation,” the antichrist’s defiling of the temple, would take place during the tribulation before His glorious return to earth (Matt. 24:15; Dan. 9:27). In order for this to happen, Israel will need to build another temple and this is exactly what we see happening today.

The Temple Institute in Israel has drafted the plans for the temple, built many of its furnishings, and is training Levites to serve as priests.

The Temple Institute in Israel has drafted the plans for the temple, built many of its furnishings, and is training Levites to serve as priests. The Sanhedrin recently selected a high priest for the temple. And the nation is already planning the infrastructure necessary for the large crowds that will come to visit the temple from all over the world.

Birth Pains

The signs receiving so much attention today come from the lips of Jesus Himself. In Matthew 24:3-8, He described these indicators of the last days as “the beginning of birth pains.” Yes there have always been wars and threats of wars, but never with the frequency as well as the potential for such severe consequences. If North Korea were to follow through on their threats, the resulting war could kill tens of millions almost instantly.

As of writing this paragraph, there have been 249 earthquakes in the world with an intensity of 4.0 or greater in the last seven days. It’s rarely been over 100 earthquakes in the time that I have followed this. Famines and pestilences are also increasing worldwide, just as Jesus said.

After Jesus gave us these signs and talked further of His coming He said this, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:44). Jesus’ command for believers of all ages was to be ready and watchful for His return. How much more so should we doing this with all we are seeing today?

Ezekiel 38-39

Something else that ignites the interest of prophecy nerds such as me is the aligning of nations in the Middle East exactly according to what Ezekiel prophesied for the last days (see chapters 38-39). Let me give you some of the highlights of what he predicted without going into the details of how we arrive at these conclusions.

Ezekiel said that in the last days a coalition of nations, led by Russia, Turkey, and Iran would come against Israel. Many refer to this as the battle of Gog and Magog. Today we see these nations closely aligned as never before in history and all three have a significant military presence in Syria, close to the border of Israel. Earlier this month, Israel attacked a chemical and biological weapons factory in Syria run mainly by the Iranians. Could something like this be the spark that ignites this prophesied conflict?

Why would these nations attack Israel? Ezekiel says the motive will be the wealth of Israel, which until recently no one would have thought possible. Now, however, we know that Israel possesses a gigantic reservoir of natural gas as well as a rich supply of oil discovered in the Golan Heights. Putin, the president of Russian, already feels threatened by Israel’s natural gas deals with Europe and the closeness of the oil reserves to Syria could easily lead to an attack.

In addition, Iran issues frequent threats to annihilate the nation of Israel and Turkey, which once was an ally of Israel, has now closely aligned itself with those seeking her destruction.

Of equal significance are the nations that do not come against Israel. Egypt is missing from the list and text says that Saudi Arabia will merely protest the attack. Events in the past few years have brought these nations into a much closer alliance with Israel than ever before.

A One-World Government

While the Bible does not use the term “one-world government,” it’s clear from passages both in Daniel and Revelation that the coming antichrist will gain control of much of the world if not all of it. Scripture says a time is coming when the world will be under a ruling body led by the antichrist, which I believe will form quickly at the start of the coming tribulation.

We see calls for such a world-wide government in many places today. Pope Francis repeatedly calls for this as a way to combat global warming. George Soros is putting much of financial resources into making this happen as he repeatedly calls for a one-world monetary system. The UN has an agenda in place to help facilitate the transition to such a universal government. All these indicators and much more show the readiness of the world for this.

The signs we see today point to the nearness of the tribulation where the natural disasters and wars we see today will intensify to a degree never seen before in the history of the world. Since Jesus is coming before this time, the signs also signify the nearness of His return to take His church back to His Father’s house as He promised in John 14:2-3. Although some disagree with me on this, I firmly believe He will take His church out of the world before the coming great tribulation.

While I believe He will come for us quite soon, I am not putting any limitations on that. He may come today, later this month, next year, or sometime after that.

Let me be very clear that I am not setting any dates or deadlines for Jesus to come for us. He is exceedingly patient and waiting for as many as possible to repent and turn to Him. While I believe He will come for us quite soon, I am not putting any limitations on that. He may come today, later this month, next year, or sometime after that.

What I am saying is what we are seeing today points to the nearness of His return. So many things are already in place for the tribulation to begin, but are seemingly held in suspension waiting upon the Lord to remove His restraining force to bring about all that the Bible predicts for this time of trouble upon the earth.

It’s like watching a juggler with ten balls in the air. Eventually you know he will miss one of them and all the rest will soon be bouncing on the floor. He or she may keep all the balls up in the air much longer than we expect, but eventually they all will fall.

 

A Sign of Jesus’ Soon Return

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A drawing of the third temple as designed by the Temple Institute.

It happens with such frequency we sometimes miss it. We see a news story that speaks to our living in the last days and we pay little attention to it. Twenty years ago we might have fallen off our chairs reading it in the newspaper; now we quickly scroll past it on our smartphones.

That happened to me earlier this month when I first came across a news item from the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. On August 4, the Institute announced the creation of a school to train Levitical priests for eventual service in the future temple in Jerusalem.

Could you have imagined this headline twenty years ago? A school for Levites to train for service as priests in the temple! Many of us would have been looking up for the Lord’s return upon reading that, now we almost miss it amidst so many other signs of Jesus’ soon return.

So is the training of Levitical priests significant in terms of prophecy? Yes, I believe it is!

Scripture tells us Israel will have a temple during the tribulation. A study of Daniel 9 and Matthew 24 reveals that the antichrist will defile the temple half way through the tribulation. Jesus referred to this as the “abomination of desolation” in Matthew 24:15. The Apostle John received instructions to measure this temple during one of his visions of the tribulation (Rev. 11:1-2).

Building the third Jewish temple in Jerusalem, however, is not like building a home or even a school or church, far from yet. It’s so much more than simply a physical structure.

Consider all the Old Testament passages that speak to the design of the temple, its furnishings, the order of worship, the sacrifices, and the functions of the priests. Add to that centuries of tradition and rabbinical writings that also need to be carefully researched so that everything in the new temple, including the color of the priests clothing, exactly matches the temples of the past. This is a huge task! I have just begun to describe all that needs to be done in preparation for the Jewish third temple.

Since 1987, the Temple Institute has worked feverishly to prepare for the building of this temple. In 2015 they spent $100,000 on architectural designs for the future temple and earlier in 2016 announced the completion of the huge golden altar for sacrifices. Over the past three decades the Institute has extensively researched everything relating to the construction of the temple, its consecration, and the order of worship and crafted many of the furnishings for the temple. The school for training Levitical priests further demonstrates Israel’s readiness for the building of the temple.

With all the advance work completed by the Temple Institute, the temple can be constructed, furnished, and staffed with priests in a relatively short amount of time. This makes it possible for the rapture to occur even before Israel even has permission to build its temple. Twenty years ago, this might not have been nearly as feasible, especially if Israel wanted the third temple and its observances to match that of the past two temples.

Do you see it? This current intense preparation for rebuilding the temple culminating with the training of Levitical priests is just one more flashing arrow pointing to the nearness of Jesus’ return for His church.

Prophecy speaker J D Farag compares this to seeing Christmas decorations in the stores. When we begin to see these displays in the stores we not only realize Christmas is coming soon, but also know Thanksgiving is even closer. If we see signs pointing to the nearness of the tribulation, we know the Lord’s appearing is even closer because of His promise to return for His church before the time of tribulation overtakes the world.

The Christmas lights are brightly shining, are we ready for Thanksgiving? Jesus is coming soon!

Addendum for Prophecy Nerds:

If you are a prophecy nerd like me, you may find this added note interesting.

Some today suggest the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem will be part of the agreement Israel agrees to with the antichrist. Daniel 9:27 tells us about the covenant the antichrist will make with the “many.” If the temple is a part of this deal, it would explain how Israel could build the temple even though the Al-Aqsa Mosque currently occupies much of the Jewish temple mount.

At this point, it seems impossible that the Muslims would ever let Israel build its temple there.

The antichrist, however, may be the one to persuade the Arab nations to go along with the construction of the temple particularly if they get something in return for the concession. Would they be able to sense his deceitful motives?

The building of the temple alongside the Al-Aqsa Mosque appears to correspond to an interesting instruction John received regarding the measuring of this future temple (Rev. 11:1). The angel told him not to measure “the court outside the temple” since it was “given over to the nations.” Could the presence of the Muslim mosque explains this curious exception to the measuring the temple? I think it’s possible, maybe even likely!