Signs of the Times from the Prophets:

Let’s look at just a couple of important Old Testament Prophecies that indicate what will be happening at the time near to Christ’s return.

1) The rebirth of Israel as a Nation with Jerusalem as its capital:

Most of the Old Testament prophets dwell on the rebirth of Israel as a nation, the regathering of the dispersed Jewish people to the land of Israel, and Israel regaining control of the city of Jerusalem from the gentiles. I want to focus on two of those prophecies, from the prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah.

Jeremiah 23:7-8 says,

"Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land."

Zechariah 14:11 says,

"And men shall dwell in it (Jerusalem), and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited."

The rebirth of the nation of Israel with Jerusalem as its capital under control of the Jews who have returned to their land is a key characteristic of the age in which Jesus will return. The Jewish people lost their homeland in A.D. 70 when the Romans destroyed the temple and drove most of the Jews out of Palestine. Then in 1948, for the first time since A.D. 70, the nation of Israel came back into existence.

In the New Testament Gospel of Luke Jesus prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke 21:24,

"And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

This passage in Luke 21 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel by the Romans, which was to take place about 40 years after Jesus spoke these words recorded by Luke. The last part of verse 24 is an interesting prophecy because it singles out Jerusalem. The times of the Gentiles is fulfilled (that is, comes to an end) when Jesus reappears. This prophecy of verse 24 indicates Jerusalem will be back under Jewish control at the time of Jesus’ reappearance.

Even after Israel came back into existence in 1948, Jerusalem remained under Gentile/Muslim (the term gentile means non-Jewish) control. But Israel did regain control of Jerusalem in the 6-day war in 1967 and vowed never to relinquish it. Those of us who lived through that time period will remember Moshe Dyan marching to the Western Wall of the temple when the battle for Jerusalem was over and proclaiming Jerusalem would never again be lost. Today, political control of Jerusalem is perhaps the most important issue between the Israelies and the Palestinians, with the nation of Israel determined never to give it up again.

2) A Marked Increase in Knowledge:

When we think of Old Testament prophecies about the day of the Lord’s return, the prophet Daniel is one of the first who comes to mind. Daniel gives us interpretations of his own visions, which accurately predicted the course of human governments in the ages to come.

Daniel 12:4,

"But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."

This short passage is profound and tells us three facts.

First, some details about the delivery of God’s people into Jesus’ presence at His reappearance are not yet revealed. This is consistent with Jesus’ teaching that we will not know the day or the hour until He actually reappears.

Second, the passage teaches us that in that era people will be searching for His appearance (running to and fro, a picture of earnest or even frantic searching).

Third—and this is what I want to focus on for a moment—the time of His reappearance will be a time when there has been a marked increase in knowledge. The Hebrew text of this section indicates either a marked increase in knowledge or perhaps could be regarded as an explosion of knowledge, understanding, and learning.

So God has given Daniel two signs that will occur when the time is near:

(1) an explosion of knowledge and

(2) a marked increase in learning and seeking knowledge. The emphasis of the text is that the increase in learning and knowledge is very or unusually great in its scope.

It may be that he is describing our age, an age in which human knowledge doubles every few years. We should note that there was a slow progress of increase of knowledge in science, industry, transportation, and so forth from the time of Daniel until about the middle of the 19th century.

Do you realize people have lived not too much differently throughout history up to the mid-19th century from the way people had always lived—with basic homes heated by fire, a general lack of medical knowledge and treatments, transportation by foot and animal, and so forth?

In just the last century, however, mankind has experienced an explosion of knowledge and technological development.

I have read medical knowledge alone is doubling every 3 years.

So what we can apply from Daniel 12:4, in light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 is that we, indeed, may be that generation that will not pass before Jesus returns.

But there is more . . .

3) Weapons of Mass Destruction:

Another prophecy from Zechariah seems to predict some weapon or force of mass destruction as another characteristic of the present age:

Zechariah 14:12,

"And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth."

Notice that the physical description of destruction of the body is consistent with modern weapons of mass destruction and reminds us of the effects of a nuclear holocaust. Since the development of nuclear weapons in the 1940s, mankind has had the capability of causing this very effect.

4) Instant Worldwide ability to Communicate:

Turn to Revelation 11:3; 7-10 and find another condition which exists that seems to indicate an event of prophecy can take place in the present era when it could not have taken place in prior eras.

Revelation 11:3, and also 7-10,

"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth,

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth."

It seems from this description that all parts of the world will have visual access to Jerusalem and will watch the bodies of the two witnesses, a fact which is possible in our age of satellite television which can give us live video coverage of events practically anywhere on the planet. Also, today live photos can be seen anywhere in the world via the Internet.

What does all this mean for us as believers? Look again at Matthew 24:42-44. Jesus tells us that we have two assignments with regard to His next appearance:

(1) Watch, because we do not know what hour He will come, and

(2) Be ready. We must live lives consistent with our relationship with our Savior, so that when He comes for us, he will find us faithful.

Matthew 24:42-44,

"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."

Illustration:

During one of his expeditions to the Antarctic, Sir Ernest Shackleton left some of his men on Elephant Island with the intent of returning for them and carrying them back to England. But he was delayed. By the time he could go back for them the sea had frozen and he had no access to the island. Three times he tried to reach them but was prevented by the ice. Finally, on his fourth try, he broke through and found a narrow channel. Much to his surprise, he found the crewmen waiting for him, supplies packed and ready to board. They were soon on their way back to England and he asked them how they knew to be ready for him. They told him they didn’t know when he would return, but they were sure he would because he told them he would. So every morning, the leader rolled up his bag, and packed his gear and told the crew to do the same thing saying, "Get your things ready, boys.

The boss may come today."

Christ could come at any moment. Are you ready?

If you’ve never trusted Christ today, you are not ready! Come today and have your sins forgiven and be ready to meet Him.

If you are a believer and you have been idle and not serving the Lord the way that you know He would have you, come and pray and ask the Lord for forgiveness and get busy! Jesus said "Occupy til I come"!

Let’s bow in prayer.