“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” – Jesus Christ, as recorded in Mark 13:32-37.
We do not know when Christ will return, but He tells us to watch for His coming.
The Bible lists several things to watch for – earthquakes, false Christs, wars, and rumors of wars are the most well-known. The gospel of Luke mentions signs in outer space, the nations of the earth facing problems with no solutions, and abnormally hostile weather (Luke 21:25).
Paul writes a list in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 that speaks of the attitudes and actions of people in the last days. Paul’s list describes people today so well that one must wonder if the end is much closer than we realize.
Many students of Bible prophecy believe the second coming comes in two phases — the rapture, then the actual return of Christ at the end of the Tribulation period.
The rapture is an event where Christ appears in the clouds and calls the saved out of the world. The most vivid description of the rapture is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Christians dispute the timing of the rapture. Many believe in a pre-tribulation rapture (that is my opinion). Others believe the rapture will occur sometime during the Tribulation period.
Regardless of your belief on the timing of the rapture, one thing is true for both camps – Jesus told us to watch for the signs of His coming.
As mentioned earlier, several lists throughout the Bible describe signs telling us that His return is near. However, instead of talking about things on the lists, this column will look at some things that are not apparent signs.
Watch for signs regarding the Temple in Jerusalem. You may be thinking, “What Temple in Jerusalem?” The Romans destroyed the Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. So, why would a building that has not existed in two thousand years be a sign of the second coming?
There are prophetic events yet to happen inside the Temple; therefore, the Temple must be rebuilt. At the midpoint of the Tribulation Period, the Antichrist will walk into the Holy of Holies, located inside the Temple, and proclaim himself as god. When Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation Period, He will walk into the Temple and start His one-thousand-year reign on earth. Neither of these events can occur without the Temple being there.
Next up, keep an eye on the saber-rattling surrounding Ukraine. There is a prophecy in Ezekiel 38-39 describing an invasion of Israel. The nations involved in this invasion are (Biblical names in parenthesis) – Russia (Magog), Iran (Persia), several former Soviet states (Meshech/Tubal), Ukraine (Gomer), Turkey (Togarmah), Ethiopia, and Libya.
Notice Ukraine is on the list. For Ukraine to go to war alongside Russia, either Russia must take over Ukraine or the two become allies.
When you compare Ezekiel 38:20,23; 39:7 with Revelation 6:15-17, it appears that the two passages may describe the same event. If that is the case, this invasion occurs during the Tribulation Period.
The rapture is shortly before the Tribulation and the return of Christ at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. Therefore, anything in the news indicating that events of the Tribulation are starting to take shape are huge signs.
Jesus is coming again someday. I pray the rapture is in my lifetime; I pray the rapture comes in 2022. Regardless of when He returns, we are about to tear another page off the calendar. As each page falls to the floor, we are closer to His return. Are you ready for Jesus to come back? Are you watching?
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With houses of worship still under restrictions across much of the nation, the editors of the Baltimore Post-Examiner are inviting an array of spiritual teachers to share insights from the ages along with words of comfort and encouragement. These timely messages are not exclusive to any particular faith walk and will be included in our ongoing Spirituality series.
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com