David Reagan — The Signs of the Times
I’m sure that many times you’ve heard the statement the signs of the times point to the soon return of Jesus. Well, what are those signs? How many are there? When did they begin? Are they easily recognizable? Are they increasing in number? And where can they be found in the Bible?
My topic for this session is the signs of the times and I’d like to begin with a very crucial question. And that is, can we really know anything about the timing of the Lord’s return? The Bible would seem to indicate that there is nothing we can know. For example, take these passages from Matthew 24, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son but the Father alone.
Therefore, be on the alert because you do not know which day your Lord is coming. For this reason you be ready too for the Son of Man is coming in an hour when you do not think He will.” That’s only one of many such passages that can be found in the New Testament that warn us about the fact that no one can know the day or time when the Lord Jesus Christ is coming.
And yet, despite these repeated warnings, there have always been date setters and today we are living in the midst of an absolute epidemic of date setting. Take this man for example, Harold Camping. Harold Camping owns the largest Christian radio network in the United States and he predicted the Second Coming in September of 1994. Well of course he missed it, but people like this never learn. Hardly had he missed it that he published a new book, Time Has an End, and now he has set a new date for 2011.
I’m sure most of you probably remember this little booklet, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988, by Edgar Whisenant. I tell you I was on the radio at that time. I got so many of those things I think I was knee-deep in them. I think he sold 4 million copies of this little pamphlet and when the Lord didn’t come you know what Edgar did? He put out a new booklet, 89 Reasons Why Jesus is Coming in 1989.
Some of these guys never learn they just keep setting dates. Satan loves date setters; they discredit Christianity in the eyes of unbelievers. And date setters discredit Bible prophecy in the eyes of Christians, and they subject the Church to ridicule and to mockery. It leads us to a question and the question is this. What can we know if anything at all about the timing of the Lord’s return? What can we know? Well, the answer depends on what you mean by the Lord’s return.
Now this is gonna come as a real surprise to some of you. The answer depends upon what you mean by the Lord’s return. Let me explain. The date of the Second Coming can be precisely calculated. Because the book of Revelation says it will occur exactly 2520 days after the Tribulation begins, the starting point being the signing of a treaty that will ensure peace for Israel and allow them to rebuild their temple.
Now since we can know precisely the date of the Second Coming once the Tribulation begins, then the verses that declare that no one can know the date of the Lord’s return must be referring to another event. They must be referring to the Rapture when the Lord will be return for His Church. No one can know that date but we are given signs for the end times and when we see those signs we can be certain that we are at least living in the season of the Rapture even though no one can know the date of the Rapture.
Let’s take a look for a moment at the evidence that we really can know the season of the Rapture. You’ll find it in three places in particular, first Thessalonians 5, Hebrews 10, and Matthew 24. In first Thessalonians 5 is says, “Now as to the signs and the seasons brethren you have no need of anything to be written to you for you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” Now when I was growing up that’s where we stopped reading.
Preacher would read that and say; “Now because of that, we know there’s nothing we can know. So there’s no reason to worry about it, no reason to study it, no reason to be concerned about it, you might as well forget about it.” And we never live in any anticipation of the Coming of the Lord. But one day I read this, notice it’s addressed to believers. “Now as to the signs and seasons brethren,” this is addressed to believers…I kept reading. I could hardly believe my eyes, look what comes after this, “But you brethren, you believers, are not in darkness that the day should overcome you like a thief.
For you are sons of light and sons of day, we are not of night nor of darkness, so then let us not sleep as others do but let us be alert and sober.” What’s He saying here? Jesus is coming like a thief in the night. That Rapture, that coming for the church is gonna be like a thief in the night. But He says that’s not for you brethren, not for believers because why, because you’re sons of light.
What does that mean? We have the Holy Spirit living within us and through the Holy Spirit we can understand things that the world cannot understand. He’s coming like a thief in the night for pagans. He’s coming like a thief in the night for unbelievers. He’s coming like a thief in the night for a lot of Christians who don’t know Bible prophecy and don’t know anything about what God’s prophetic Word says.
They will be surprised. But if you know the Word and you rely upon the Holy Spirit to help you understand God’s prophetic Word. There is absolutely no reason why you should be surprised at the return of Jesus because you can know the season. Here’s another evidence Hebrews 10:25, “Do not forsake the assembling together as is the habit of some, but encourage one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” What day? Well we’re told, the day is the Day of Judgment, in verses 27, it says, “As we see that Day of Judgment drawing near be sure you’re there at the assembly, be sure you don’t miss the meeting of the saints, be sure you’re encouraging one another.”
That means there’s something you can see, something you can perceive, something you can point to and say, “You see this? You see that? You see that? Jesus is coming soon.” There are things we can see and perceive and know that we are in the season of the Lord’s return. Jesus taught that himself. Look at this, Matthew 24:33, He had just gotten through given a great discourse on the end times, giving all kinds of signs to watch for and then He says, “Even so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.”
What do these verses mean? I think they mean very clearly that there are signs that we can watch for, signs that will point us to the season of the Lord’s return, things that we can perceive with our senses. And when we see them know that we are living in the season of the Lord’s return. In summary, these Scriptures are saying there are signs that we should be living watching for. And I want to emphasize that there are an overwhelming abundance of them, I mean an overwhelming abundance.
When I first started these I just got almost discouraged there were so many. I was trying to get a hold on them, a grasp on them I found it was kind of like nailing Jell-O to the wall. I just couldn’t do it. And then one day I got an idea and the idea was to take them and put them into categories, because there are so many of them. Let me emphasize how many there are, regarding the first coming, we’d have 300 prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the first coming. A little over 300. but concerning the second coming there’s over 500 prophecies in the Old Testament. That’s the Old Testament! But in the New Testament, one out of every 25 verses has to do with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
So there is at least two or three times as much prophecy concerning the Second Coming, as there is concerning the First Coming and that leads us to a question. The question, why are there so many more prophecies concerning the Second Coming then there are about the First Coming? And the answer is really very simple. The answer is that God wants us to know the season of the Lord’s return because Jesus’ Return is going to initiate the Wrath of God. And God does not wish that any should perish.
When Jesus appears in the heavens for His Church and takes us out of this world, the Wrath of God is going to begin. And the wrath of God is going to be poured out as it’s never been poured out in all of history. He’s going to pour out His wrath upon those who have rejected the grace, mercy, and love. Not in vengeance, that is never the purpose of God’s wrath. The purpose of God’s wrath is always to bring people to the end of themselves so that they will accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and will be saved! But there’s going to be a great outpouring of wrath and God does not wish that any should perish.