November 11, 2013
What are the signs of Christs return?
Now that we have addressed several foundational questions on the pre-Rapture signs, I want to show you how the Bible provides overwhelmingly clear evidence of other pretribulational signs demonstrating Christ’s impending return to earth. I will now begin to deal with every major sign in the New Testament to show that Jesus’ statement, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33), is being fulfilled in our day and age. Matthew 24:3-14 declares:
And as he [Jesus] sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying. Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another, And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
This passage may be among the most misunderstood of all prophetic pronouncements. The problem has arisen because many Christians still fail to see that God has two elect groups upon earth-the nation of Israel (Romans 11:28) and the Church (1 Peter 1:2). Romans 9-11 tells the entire story of God’s chosen people, Israel. Chapter 9 concerns Israel’s past, chapter 10 its present, and chapter 11 its future. Regarding its glorious past, Romans 9:4 declares that Israel was given the promises, including prophetic pledges. In chapter 10, verse 16, we find: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who [among them] hath believed our report?” Presently, they are blinded to their calling and promises, but in the future, “All Israel shall be saved: as it is written. There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:26).
Why will God perform this? Verse 29 provides the answer: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” God chose Israel (Deuteronomy 7:7-8) and He has never canceled His selection. Therefore, Israel remains God’s chosen people and heir to His promises as stated in Romans 11:28. The signs of Matthew 24 are presented to the elect- yes, elect Israel. We know this to be true in this chapter because of the regard for the Sabbath day (v. 20), because of the connection with synagogues (Luke 21:12), and because the setting of Matthew 24 is Jerusalem (v. 1). Only Bible manipulators, antidispensationalists, and antiliteralists could make Gentiles out of these Jews.
Included in this group are the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. Twelve thousand shall be chosen from each of the twelve tribes. Twelve thousand times twelve equals 144,000. The tribes are Juda, Reuben, Gad, Aser, Nephthalim, Manasses, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph, and Benjamin (Revelation 7:4-8). These signs are for Israel, who is looking for the return of her King in Revelation 19. They are not signposts for the Rapture.
The group looking for the fulfillment of signs in Matthew 24 is preaching a different gospel in verse 14. Gospel means “good news,” and their good news is the gospel of the kingdom or the good news that their King is about to return (Revelation 19:16). They will be traveling around the globe, 144,000 strong, singing “The King is coming! The King is coming!” Although the signs will be fulfilled in their entirety after the Christians are gone, we already see the tantalizing beginning of each of these signs. Again, this means that if these signs pointing to our return with the King are already in their initial stages, we must be snatched away very soon in order to prepare for our return to earth with Christ the King.
In Matthew 24:3, Jesus was asked, “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [to earth], and of the end of the world [or age of grace]?” He replied, “Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (v. 5). Since the year 1900, more than eleven hundred people claiming to be Christ have appeared on the world scene. These include Father Divine, Prophet Jones, Sweet Daddy Grace, Father Riker; Daniel Swalt, Moses Guibbory, Maharaj Ji, and Sun Myung Moon, not to mention scores of lesser-known, self-proclaimed messiahs who enjoyed a few fleeting moments of media fame.
Presently, while they might not refer to themselves as “false Christs,” certain members of our liberal clergy are playing such a role. Take, for example, a survey of the beliefs and attitudes of the Church of Scotland ministers. They have rightfully caused a stir within the denomination as the foundational truth of the Bible-the virgin birth of Christ-was recently called into question by religious leaders. The shocking results of the survey of 150 ministers were that 16 percent did not believe in the Immaculate Conception of Christ and 15 percent said that they “didn’t know.” An amazing 17 percent said that the Virgin Mary was not a virgin in twentieth-century terms, and 6 percent thought that Jesus was the product of Mary and Joseph having sex outside of marriage. (See Matthew 7:21-23 and 2 Peter 2:1-3.)
Such abuse of Scripture is yet another sign of the times. However, eventually, the ultimate false Christ-one who is probably alive even at this moment-will proclaim himself as the true Christ and become accepted on an international scale. The Bible predicts such an hour, when the Antichrist, “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped… sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4) and is accepted as such. This internationally deified dictator will inaugurate a world-peace program which will hold the world spellbound for forty-two months, or three and one-half years. Then, in the middle of the seven-year period of tribulation, he will break all of his pledges and destroy his contractual obligations with Israel (Daniel 9:27). At this time, Russia will begin a world war as she invades Israel (Ezekiel 38:11). This war will eventually involve all nations (Zechariah 14:2).
This is God’s outline from the Bible. First, the international dictator will establish global peace, and when the world believes that Utopia has arrived, the bottom will fall out of their hopes and aspirations: “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). We now move to even more dramatic signs that signify our Lord is coming soon.
What is the significance of todays wars,
famines, and increasing pestilences?
From the proclamation of Matthew 24:6-7, we see that the world can expect nothing but rivalry and battles until the Antichrist produces the false peace of the Tribulation era. More than 176 limited wars have been fought since the end of the Second World War. Today one out of every four nations on earth is engaged in some kind of military conflict.
Soon, however, we will experience the greatest global confrontation in history, for we are marching swiftly toward Armageddon at this moment. Over a decade ago, CIA and British Intelligence reports about the Soviet Union were grim. They reported the development of new weapons systems located throughout the Soviet Union, along with expenditures of enormous sums for underground civil defense shelters that meant that Russia was preparing for war. Many did not believe these pronouncements at the time.
Even today, while there is a semblance of peace (although the signs of a reemergence of the Cold War are increasing), we must not be lulled into thinking that Russia has changed her ways-especially since enormous numbers of nuclear warheads remain hidden in underground silos throughout the southern provinces of that vast land. I’ve noted that people no longer laugh at the prophecies uttered by Ezekiel in chapters 38 and 39 that picture the Russian hordes from the north swarming to the Middle East. Today, as the end-time clock continues to wind down, the red horse of the Apocalypse is about to appear. Revelation 6:4 states, “There went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.”
Famines and Pestilences
Christ continued in Matthew 24:7, “And there shall be famines, and pestilences.” More than two billion of the world’s inhabitants go to bed hungry each night. There are nationwide famine in the Sudan and Rwanda and reports of widespread cannibalism in North Korea-with news coming from Indonesia, the earth’s fourth largest nation that millions of people on those scattered islands remain on the brink of starvation. Thousands are dying painful deaths throughout our world, while scores of others are too numb with hunger to realize what is happening. One writer said it poignantly, “First the belly swells, then the hair turns gray and the skin cracks, after a while the victim dies in mute misery.” Such an experience will soon be the fate of millions of people. Paul Erlich, a biochemist at Stanford University, said it’s already too late to prevent famines that will kill millions, because already one-half billion are starving and another billion are malnourished. He may be right. There seems to be no possible solution in the near future, because it is too late to produce enough food.
America will undoubtedly be included in this suffering in the days ahead. In fact, the number of the beast, 666 (something we’ll address in a later question and answer), may come into existence through an international rationing plan. Soon the voice of Revelation 6:6 will sound, “A measure of wheat for a penny.” A measure in Bible times was a quart, and a penny was a day’s wages. Imagine a loaf of bread for a day’s labor. Pestilence, the twin sister of hunger, is also on the rampage. The swine flu scare, legionnaires’ disease, AIDS, and other diseases-many already fully resistant to antibiotics and other medications-are only the beginning. Years ago I read an article in Reader’s Digest, reprinted from an article in Time entitled, “The Bugs Are Coming.” And they have come indeed . . . and will continue to come in plague like fashion during these final days. Even as I write these words, other pestilential plagues are in their preparatory stages. The South American fire ant has advanced from its initial beachhead in Mobile, Alabama, and now infests more than one hundred billion acres in nine southern states, sometimes driving farm workers from the fields because of its fiery sting. In forest areas the gypsy moth, the spruce budworm, and the southern pine beetle have wreaked devastation on huge areas of woodland, defoliating and killing millions of valuable trees-enough, in fact, to build 910,000 houses per year! Corn borers and rootworms have attacked crops in the Corn Belt at an incredible rate. The boll weevil costs United States farmers millions of dollars in crop losses annually. The mosquito is infecting one million humans per year in Africa and killing thousands annually with malaria, while the black fly in the Volta River basin blinds hundreds of thousands each year.
The insect world is multiplying at an exponential rate. Entomologists estimate that the number has now climbed to one quintillion, representing five million different species. If a person could weigh all insects together, their combined weight would be twelve times that of the entire human race. Can there be any doubt that the pestilence Jesus predicted will soon rear its head in monstrous proportions and that world hunger will be felt by every country on earth? This, along with what comes out of the bottomless pit in Revelation 9:2 (causing the plague of verse 3), is just around the corner. Listen to the prediction: “There came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.” Their purpose is to destroy and kill. The Rapture is near, my friend … the signs are all around us.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
The Easy Burden
Talk about busy! For many months Dr. Van Impe and I have been going from early to late, working harder than we ever have in our lives.
In addition to our normal activities and responsibilities, every hour is filled with reading, praying, studying, writing, planning… working on our weekly telecasts, and the in-depth teaching videos we produce!
Don’t think I’m complaining — I’ve never been so excited and thrilled. There are so many tremendous opportunities before us that I can hardly wait for morning to come… and sometimes I’m reluctant to turn off the lights at bedtime.
The other day someone said to me, “Rexella, don’t overdo it. You’ve got so many responsibilities — it’s really a tremendous burden!”
I appreciated the concern of this friend, who had only my best interests at heart. But although I’m working harder than I have in all my life before, I am not overloaded and burdened down!
I have discovered the secret of the easy burden.
The lesson of the ant
A biologist once was doing a study of ants. One day he watched a worker ant carrying a piece of straw. Compared to the ant’s size and weight, that straw must have been a heavy and unwieldy load. But the ant kept working — kept carrying his load.
After a while the ant came to a large crack in the earth. He explored to the left and the right, but there was no way to go around — and the crack was too wide and too deep to get across.
The ant stood there on the brink of the precipice as though pondering the situation. Then, he took the burdensome straw off his back. Stumbling, tumbling, and straining, somehow he managed to put one end of the straw on one side of the crack and let it fall across the span! Then the ant walked across the straw safely to the other side.
With a few tugs and strains, he pulled the straw across the crack, put it back on his back… and went on his way again! He triumphed by using his burden as a bridge to the other side.
What a lesson for us!
In this life we will have burdens. The Apostle Paul noted, For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened (2 Corinthians 5:4). But we need not be unduly crushed to the ground by our load if we allow the Lord and His strength to sustain us. The psalmist cried, Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee (Psalm 55:22).
Jesus said, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 1 1:28-30).
Did you notice that Jesus did not say, “Come throw down your load and walk away with no burden at all. “He only promised to give us rest. Then we are to take on His yoke and pick up His burden. And what kind of load is it?
It is a light yoke, an easy burden!
The Lord has not promised that we will not have to work in this life. There is no guarantee that we will not face difficulties and trials. Nowhere does He tell us that the road will not be long or the night not so dark.
Rather, He promises that where we go, He will go… and never will we be left alone. For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5). And He also promised, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).
If Jesus is with us, and His burden is always light, why do we get so loaded down at times? I think it is because we pick up the burdens of the past along with tomorrow’s burden and add it to the load allotted for today.
John Newton once wrote, “I compare the troubles which we have to undergo in the course of a year to a great bundle of fagots, far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole at once. He mercifully unties the bundle and gives us first one stick, which we are to carry today, and then another, which we are to carry tomorrow, and so on. This we might easily manage if we would only take the burden appointed for us each day. But we choose to increase our troubles by carrying yesterday’s stick over again today and adding tomorrow’s burden to our load before we are required to carry it.”
Jesus says, “Come rest. Lay down yesterday’s burden, and don’t lift tomorrow’s load yet. Just pick up today’s burden… and it will be easy!”
And like the resourceful ant, we may discover that at times we can use our burden to bridge the chasms in the path before us. It can literally become a stepping-stone to higher ground.
A burden of joy
What an exhilarating realization! And here is another load-lifting thought. When we realize what our burden is — or to be more exact, who our burden is — our attitude changes.
I heard about an American soldier during the Vietnam war who saw a little 7-year-old girl carrying a 2-year-old baby on her back. As he passed her trudging along a dusty road, the G.I. said to her, “Honey, it looks like you’re carrying an awfully heavy load.”
But that little child had learned part of the secret of the easy burden. She replied, “Oh, no, this is no load — this is my brother!”
And it is true — the load of egotism and self-pity is tremendously heavy. No one can stand up under it for long! But if our burden is for others… for the lost and unreached, it can become a burden of joy.
We are reminded of Jesus, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross! What joy? The joy of seeing you and me in heaven! He carried the cross for us. He died that we might live. And now, His work completed, He is at the right hand of God.
Oh, I want to see Him! I am so homesick for heaven. And I believe it will not be long until our Saviour comes for us — perhaps today!
Until then, I know I can carry the easy burden He has for me. And so I can truthfully say that every television program I help to host, every article I write, and every letter I answer — the workload is not a depressing or oppressing burden. I can do it — I’m glad to — because of the joy that is set before me …the joy of knowing that I am doing it for the Lord to reach souls for eternity.
Stepping-stones to higher ground
I have no way of knowing what kind of burden you have been asked to bear. But I urge you to catch sight of the joy set before you. If it is to be a good mother to your children — do it with joy and blessing. If you are a father who gets up at 5:30 a.m. to go to work and earn a living for your family and to help support the work of God — do it with joy and a blessing.
My father got up at this hour almost every day of his adult life and yet always found delight in driving to every meeting that my husband and I or my brother Bob (who also is an evangelist) might have within a 100 mile radius of my parents’ home. Dad found strength in the Lord and got hold of the easy burden and made it a stepping-stone to higher ground. May you also, as mothers and fathers, find stepping-stones to higher ground.
The day will come — and soon, so soon — when you will stand before God and lay down your burden for the last time. What a thrill, what unspeakable joy, to hear the voice of your Father say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Mr. Van Impe:
I’ve been listening to you off and on since 1968 and during all those years your message has never changed, you’ve never compromised that “Jesus is coming soon, maybe today” and you’ve never given in to your critics. What a reputation, that a man can stay on the same course all his life. And yes, Jesus is coming soon, maybe before you get this. We’ll talk later.
Winston Salem, NC
Dr. Van Impe
Thank you for your stand concerning the Bible and not falling away like so many ministers. I have followed you since you were in Louisville KY in the late 70s or early 80’s. Appreciate you for taking a stand, for sharing the TRUE word from the Bible, for not fearing others when you feel the need to mention names of those who distort His word.
M. L. H.
I and all Bible-believing Christians are with you and praise God for preaching the truth no matter what the cost! I pray daily for you and your wife and ministry. God has put a prophetic mantle upon you for this hour!
Take heart and be strong in the Lord my dear brother and sister in Christ!
HIGHLIGHTED PRODUCT OFFERS
Is Sharia law on the horizon for all 57 Muslim countries; and then the whole world?
Are Muslims calling for Sharia law in the USA?
Could it be part of the one-world religion predicted in Bible prophecy?
What Christian leaders are compromising the faith for ‘Chrislam’, and what it the immediate danger?
What are Islam’s plans for Israel, Christianity, and planet earth?
Get the answers to these are other critical questions in this powerful teaching from Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe – and you will discover the startling truth about the real threat of Islam and its place in these latter days!
Rampant addictions; a sign of the times? Now you’ll understand how God’s Word previews the bondage of alcoholism and drugs, tobacco, pornography, gambling, and more that we see all around us today as a sign of the soon return of the Savior and the approaching Tribulation.
In this insightful video, Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe also reveal hope for you or a loved one who is struggling with a life-controlling addiction, through the power of Jesus Christ. Learn about the biblical perspective on substance abuse – the roots of addiction – how to overcome addictions as notorious as alcoholism or as overlooked as gossip, lying or cursing.