Recognizing Signs of the Times
What are the specific signs that point to the Lord's return
Dr. David R. Reagan
A year ago I felt compelled to resign
my membership in a prophecy study group because the
director suddenly revealed that he did not believe there
were any signs pointing to the soon return of Jesus,
with the possible exception of Israel.? I was astonished
by that statement, and I wrestled with what to do about
it. I finally decided that I had no choice but to resign
from the organization.
After all, I have devoted my life to proclaiming
that the signs of the times point to the soon return
of Jesus. How could I be a member of an organization
whose director denies that any such signs exist? I concluded
that my continued membership in the organization would
put me in the position of being a house divided against
myself. So, I resigned.
The signs of the times that point to the Lord's soon
return are so plentiful and obvious that I don't know
how anyone with any spiritual discernment could be
blind to them. This, in fact, is an area that even
amillennialists and premillennialists can and do agree
In 1995 I was privileged to participate
in a prophecy conference in Orlando, Florida that was
sponsored by Midnight Call Ministries. One of the speakers
was a remarkable man of God from Abilene, Texas by the
name of Elbert Peak. This is a man who has been preaching
Bible prophecy for over 60 years.
His first topic at the conference was
"The Signs of the Times." He began his presentation
by saying: "I began preaching on the signs sixty years
ago when there were very few that you could actually
see. Today they are everywhere. I am no longer looking
for signs; I am listening for sounds!"
I shouted, "Amen!" It is no longer
necessary to search for signs. We are inundated with
them. There are so many and they are so clear, that
it's like the Lord has a neon sign in the sky blinking
on and off, saying, "Jesus is coming soon!" As Elbert
Peak put it, we should be listening for sounds -- the
sound of a trumpet blast and the shout of an archangel
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
The Meaning of Signs
What is a prophetic sign? It is basically a prophecy
concerning an historical event or technological development
that will characterize a future time. Let's consider
the First Advent of the Messiah as an example. The
prophet Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be
born in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Daniel
said the Messiah would be "cut off" 483 years after
an edict was issued to rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25).
He also stated that this would take place before the
destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. And David
stated in Psalm 22:16 that the Messiah's hands and
feet would be pierced.
One of these signs is geographical
-- the birth site of the Messiah. The second is historical.
The edict it refers to was issued in 457 BC. Counting
483 years from that date brings us to 27AD. The Temple
was destroyed in 70AD. So, the Messiah had to be "cut
off" (that is, killed) sometime between 27 AD and 70
AD. The third sign is technological in nature. The method
of execution at the time David wrote Psalm 22 was stoning.
Crucifixion was not even invented by the Romans until
700 years later.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He was executed
in 31 AD, during the "historical window" between 27
AD and 70 AD. And he was executed by crucifixion. The
fulfillment of these signs in the life of Jesus serves
to validate that He was the prophesied Messiah.
There are over 300 prophecies in the Hebrew
Scriptures about the First Coming of the Messiah. But
many are repetitious. For example, it is said more than
once that the Messiah will be of the house of David.
When you cull out all the repetitious prophecies, you
are left with a total of 109 which were fulfilled in
the life of Jesus. (For a detailed listing of these
prophecies, order our publication entitled "The First
Advent of Jesus in Old Testament Prophecy.")
On one occasion when Jesus was teaching, the Pharisees
and Sadducees came and asked Him to give them a "sign"
to prove that He was the Messiah (Matthew 16:1-4).
What they wanted was a miracle. But Jesus responded
by playing with the word, "sign." He asked them why
they could read the weather but could not "discern
the signs of the times." Jesus used the word, "sign,"
to refer to fulfilled prophecies in His life.
The same principle applies to the Second
Coming of Jesus. There are more than 500 prophecies
in the Old Testament about the Second Coming, and one
out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament
also speak of this great event. These prophecies contain
many signs that we are to watch for, signs that will
indicate that the time of the Lord's return is drawing
Jesus Himself emphasized this point in
His Olivet discourse. He presented a long list of signs
that would characterize the end times, and then He said,
"when you see all these things, recognize that I will
be near, right at the door" (Matthew 24:33). Paul also
made the point that we can recognize the season of the
Lord's return. In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 he stated that
even though the Lord will return like "a thief in the
night," He is not coming for believers in that manner
because we are "sons of light." He is referring here
to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who can
open our eyes to the signs of the times so that we are
not caught by surprise by the Lord's return. In like
manner, the author of Hebrews states that we are to
"encourage one another" as we see the day of judgment
drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).
the End Times
The re-establishment of the nation of Israel is a
classic example of an end time historical sign. Over
and over again the Hebrew Scriptures prophesy that
in the end times, right before the return of the Messiah,
the nation of Israel will be re-established (Isaiah
11:10-12; Ezekiel 37:1-12; Amos 9:13-15; and Zechariah
12:1-3). Jesus emphasized this sign in Matthew 24
when He told us to watch for the rebudding of the
fig tree (a symbol of Israel). When that happens,
He said, the generation that sees it "will not pass
away until all these things [the return of the Lord]
take place" (Matthew 24:34).
The book of Revelation is full of
technological signs concerning the end times. Take,
for example, the prophecy that one-half the population
of the world will die in the first three and a half
years of the Tribulation (1/4 in the Seal Judgments
and 1/3 of those remaining in the Trumpet Judgments
-- Revelation 6-9). How could such unparalleled carnage
occur apart from the development of nuclear weapons
and their missile delivery systems?
Or consider the prophecy that when the
two great witnesses of God are killed by the Antichrist
in the middle of the Tribulation, the whole world "will
look upon their dead bodies for three and a half days"
(Revelation 11:9). How could this be possible before
the development of television and satellite transmission?
Another prophecy in Revelation that has
been waiting for historical developments is the one
that states there will be an army of 200 million soldiers
that will march across Asia toward Israel during the
period of the Tribulation. At the time that prophecy
was written (95 AD), there were only 200 million people
on planet earth! It took 1,600 years for the population
of the earth to double to 400 million. In fact, the
earth's population did not reach one billion until 1850.
This century has experienced a population explosion
due to the advent of modern medicine (keep in mind that
the first antibiotic, penicillin, was not discovered
until 1928!). Today, the earth's population has just
passed the six billion mark, and one Asian nation alone
-- namely, China -- could easily send an army of 200
million, as prophesied in Revelation.
An Overview of the Signs
Let me present you with an outline overview
of the signs of the times:
I. Signs of Nature
(Matthew 24:7; Mark 13: 8; and Luke 21:11)
4) Signs in the Heavens
(Unusual weather, new discoveries
in space, UFO's, etc.)
II. Signs of Society
(Matthew 24:12,37-39 & 2 Timothy 3:1-4)
III. Spiritual Signs
a) False Christs & Prophets
and their cultic groups (Matthew 24:5,11,2-4;
Mark 13:6,21-22; and Luke 21:8).
b) Apostasy in the professing church (2 Thessalonians
2:3; and 2 Timothy 3:5, 4:3-4).
c) Widespread heresy in the church (2 Timothy
d) Movement toward a one world religion (Revelation
e) Persecution of true believers (Matthew 24:9-10;
Mark 13:9,11-13; and Luke 21:12-19).
f) Outbreak of demonic and occultic activity
(1 Timothy 4:1).
a) Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
b) Revival of Davidic worship (1 Chronicles
16:1-39; Psalm 150; and Amos 9:11).
c) Worldwide evangelism (Matthew 24:14 and Mark
d) Understanding of Bible prophecy (Daniel 12:4,8-9).
IV. World Political Signs
1) Re-establishment of Israel. (Ezekiel
36:22 - 37:1-2; Zechariah 12:1-6; Matthew 24:32-34;
Mark 13:28- 30; and Luke 21:29-31).
2) Arab hostility toward Israel (Ezekiel 35:1
3) Russia as a menacing power to Israel (Ezekiel
38:1 - 39:16).
4) Asian nations capable of fielding an army of
200 million (Revelation 9:15-16 and 16:12).
5) Wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6-7; Mark
13:7-8; and Luke 21:10).
6) Kingdom against kingdom -- that is, civil wars
and ethnic wars (Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; and
7) Reunification of Europe (Daniel 2:41-44, 7:8,
24-25, and 9:26).
8) Movement toward a one world economy (Revelation
V. Technological Signs
1) Nuclear weapons.
(Matthew 24:22; Luke 21: 25-26; and
Revelation 6:8, 8:7 and 16: 2-).
2) Television and satellite transmission (Revelation
3) Robotics (Revelation 13:14-15).
4) Computer and laser technology (Revelation 13:16-18).
5) High speed transportation (Daniel 12:4).
VI. The Accelerator Sign
1) Population explosion (Revelation
9: 15-16 and 16:12).
2) Increase in knowledge (Dan-iel 12:4).
3) Increase in violence (Matthew 24:12).
4) Increase in transportation (Daniel 12:4).
5) Rapid disintegration of society (1 Timothy
6) Signs in general to be like birth pangs' that
is, increasing in frequency and intensity (Matthew
VII. Signs of Israel
1) Regathering of the people (Isaiah
11:10-12 and Ezekiel 37:1-12).
2) Re-establishment of the state (Isaiah 66:7-8;
Zechariah 12:1-6; and Matthew 24:32-35).
3) Reclamation of the land (Isaiah 35:1-2,7 and
4) Revival of the language (Zephaniah 3:9).
5) Resurgence of the military (Zechariah 12:6)
6) Refocusing of world politics (Zechariah 12:2-3).
7) Reoccupation of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-6).
God never pours out His wrath without warning
because "He does not wish that any should perish, but
that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus
said that when we see all these signs come together,
He will be "right at the door," ready to return (Matthew
24: 33). God is warning, and Jesus is at the gates of
Heaven waiting for His Father's command.
Are you ready?