October 1, 2012
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
I Need a Nap!
On the closing night of our citywide crusade in Rochester, New York, I went down front after the service to greet people, sign Bibles, and just enjoy a time of fellowship with our friends there.
As always, several children gathered around me — we seem to have a special affection for each other. The photographer who was covering the crusade for us asked if I’d pose for a photo with his two children. When he finished taking the shot, one of the youngsters, a little boy, crawled up in my lap.
“I’m tired,” he said, “I need a nap.” Then he nestled inside my arms, laid his head trustingly on my shoulder, and started to go to sleep.
In a few minutes his dad came and took him from me, but as I sat looking down at that beautiful child resting in my arms, I remembered how Jesus taught that we must receive the kingdom of God in simple, childlike faith and trust… and rest in Him.
The Lord invites us to come to Him when we are tired and worn out and “take a nap,” secure in His care. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
Why, then, are so many plodding along, worn out and exhausted, loaded down with burdens and care? For these people, life almost seems to be an endurance contest, each day providing another grim challenge.
Could it be because we haven’t really learned to trust… or have gotten our eyes on the frailties of men instead of the everlasting arms of the Lord?
A lesson in trust
When my brothers and I were quite young, Dad sometimes would take us swimming in a beautiful fresh water stream. There was a little waterfall that dropped into a natural pool, and my older brother would plunge over that waterfall and splash into the water below.
It looked like such fun… but I was afraid to try it myself. I was four years younger than my brother, and when I climbed up above the falls, the jump down took my breath — and my courage — away! No amount of coaxing or wheedling by my brother could convince me to try it.
Finally, my father went into the pool below and looked up at me. “Jump down here, Rexella,” he said. “I’ll catch you!” And he held out his arms.
Immediately I jumped into the waterfall, down in and under the torrent, deep into the water below. As I came up out of the deep, half laughing, half crying, Dad’s strong arms caught me and lifted me up.
After a few more jumps, I was ready to try it on my own… and I was never afraid to go over the waterfall again.
What made the difference? Trust! I knew my father would take care of me and never allow me to be injured. So if he had said to follow him through fire, I would have put my hand in his and started walking!
How much more should we trust our Heavenly Father? When the burdens and troubles of this life are wearing us down, we should come into the presence of God and say, “Lord, I need a nap.” Then, casting all our care upon the One who knows and understands all things, we can put our heads upon the bosom of Christ and rest in Him.
Dare to trust God
But we can relax and rest only when we trust God and turn loose of our load of care. It is possible to come to Jesus and present our problems, then go away just as burdened and weighted down as when we came.
We sometimes think we’re the only ones who understand just what’s at stake. We can’t turn loose and fully trust the Lord or anybody else. So we go away sorrowful, trying to worry our way through.
Perhaps you are carrying a heavy load today that has you exhausted, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Dare to trust God.
He sees your concern for those loved ones.
He knows the financial needs you are facing.
He understands the anxiety and indecision that has stolen your peace of mind and kept you awake so many midnight hours.
What would happen if you really trusted the Lord with all of your life? What if you threw yourself into His arms and said, “I need a nap,” and let Him take care of you? Would He let you fall, or turn His back on you?
Of course not! He will not — cannot — fail. So cast all your care upon Him for He careth for you (see 1 Peter 5:7).
But we must trust Him, yield to Him, wait for Him. How often do we get too impatient, even in prayer? Do we kneel to pray, and instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us, blurt out our frustration and tell God how we think He should meet our need?
In the beautiful words of the poet —
He knows, He loves, He cares,
nothing this truth can dim.
God gives the very best to those
who leave the choice with Him.
The beautiful old gospel song, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” reminds us of the help that is ours when we come, trusting, into His presence.
“Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God… in prayer.”
Trust God, my friend. Hear His invitation to come to Him and find rest. Join me in looking up into the wonderful face of Jesus and saying, “I’ve come to You, Lord, because I need a nap!”
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dearest Drs. Jack and Rexella,
You are both such a blessing to me and me so look forward to your weekly program. I pray for God to continually bless your ministry and I KNOW that He does because you preach the whole Word of God from the Holy Bible. Again thank you for preaching God’s Words!!! But more importantly thank you for giving the invitation to receive our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on your weekly broadcast. Please dont ever stop giving the Invitation. I look forward to meeting you both someday.
Dear Jack and Rexella,
Thank you for your newsletters. They make my “heart sing” especially when the news of today’s world makes me “heart sick.” I grieve for my country that we have fallen so far from God, that His blessings have been removed. I grieve that my grandchildren will not know the freedoms that we have enjoyed for generations. Our government is so corrupt, the cover up is astounding! Thank God, He is in control no matter the situation! I pray daily that His will, will be done and I pray for Christ to come soon before my children and grandchildren suffer the dangers that are on the way for us Christians and the Jewish people!
HIGHLIGHTED PRODUCT OFFERS
- Is America, under President Barack Obama’s leadership, moving toward socialism? Maybe even communism?
- What radical cadre of left-wing extremists is out to destroy the USA’s moral foundations?
- Who was the first ‘radical’ known to man, and where is his kingdom?
- How are demonic spirits controlling some of the most influential politicians, kings, and dictators of this world?
- What did noted pundit Peggy Noonan mean when she described President Obama as ‘devious’ and ‘dishonest’?
- Can President Obama (or anyone else) really be a Christian if they believe there are many ways to heaven?
- Who said Barack Obama could be America’s most biblically hostile president – and why?
Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe answer these and other critical questions about the administration of President Obama and where his leadership is taking America! Discover the moral and spiritual repercussions of the dubious ‘change’ President Obama promised, and is making to this nation.
Unprecedented blasphemy; apostasy; heresy; so-called Christian leaders utterly turning their backs on the Word of God.
What does it mean? What does the Bible say about this colossal falling-away from the faith? What does it signal about YOUR FUTURE?
Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe offer the astonishing answers to these and other riveting questions:
- What does the word apostasy actually mean? Where are we seeing it today?
- What is the “blasphemy law”? How have our U.S. leaders responded to it?
- How does the persecution of Christians around the world relate to the final signs pointing to the return of the Lord?
- How is it possible to determine whether someone is truly a Christian when they claim to be?
- And much more!