As questions go, theirs seemed simple enough. “What will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” The earthly ministry of Jesus was winding down. Enjoying a rare moment alone with Him on the Mount of Olives, the disciples had begun peppering Him with questions about His departure, and His promised return. News of His imminent departure had stunned them. Word that He would be returning had no doubt provided some comfort. But, clearly, not wanting to be taken by surprise when He returned, they raised an essential question, “what sign should we look for?”
The question must have brought a smile to the heart of Jesus. After all, ever seeking signs from God, mankind seemed to habitually misinterpret signs given by God, or routinely ignored them. His own birth was a prime example. The signs had been everywhere that God’s promise of a redeemer had been fulfilled in Bethlehem. Still, the vast majority of God’s people missed that
M. H. Manser has observed that the reality and authority of God are confirmed supernaturally through the signs He ordains. “Signs,” wrote Manser, “may serve either as a warning to those in rebellion against God, or as encouragement for those serving God. And, in His description of signs in the world prior to His second coming, the imagery offered by Jesus was stark, portending a time of turmoil for mankind when the earth would be littered with the wreckage of conflict, pandemic depravation, and the aftermath of widespread natural disasters.”
We now find evidence for each of these in events occurring in our time period. As a result, some Christians teach that because we see these events, the end is here. But, is that true?
In this age of social media and around-the-clock cable fare, it is easy to assign significance to the political upheavals, natural disasters, and current events that fill our daily news cycles. Despite our best efforts, peace on earth cannot be found. Wars rage in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, Ukraine, and other hot spots around the world. The Asia Pacific region has been racked by typhoons and tsunamis. The earthly landscape seems to be an animated billboard of signs heralding the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus. This has resulted in any number of professed prophets declaring that these events are signs of the end. Such conclusions might even seem reasonable, considering Jesus’ response to the disciples’ request for signs of the end. Since, globally, it is now possible to find much of what had been foretold by Jesus, doesn’t that mean the end of the world is at hand? Actually, it does not.
As often happens, when some Christians rehearse the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, they miss key aspects of the signs referred to by Jesus. It is true that the Lord spoke of conflicts and calamities, but a careful reading of the passages involved reveals what is often overlooked. Clarification is offered in Matthew 24:6, “But the end is not yet.” According to Jesus there is more to come. In fact, He reiterates in Matthew 24:8, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
For those who have chosen to embrace a relationship with the King of Glory, these signs are not a time for distress.
Based on current events, and their misreading of the signs, some have chosen to sound the alarm, causing fear and concern among God’s people. However, we can avoid confusion through a faithful reading of God’s Word. Jesus counseled in Luke 21:9, “But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”
There is no need to guess when the end shall arrive. The Lord has provided in His Word wisdom for His people regarding end time events. Nations shall war. Earthquakes will cause devastating temblors. Famines will spread. Pestilence will gain a global foothold. But, these signs merely represent the beginning of the end. However, for those who have chosen to embrace a relationship with the King of Glory, these signs are not a time for distress. To the contrary, these signs confirm that their faith has not been in vain. Jesus is about to return.
The final signs, marking the end of the age and the return of Jesus, will be reflected in the seven last plagues. Revelation 16 reveals the nature of those signs. In Egypt, the children of God were protected under the banner of the blood as the plagues fell. When the seven last plagues fall, the children of God will be likewise protected under the banner of the blood. The fulfilling of this prophetic truth will be the ultimate sign that our redemption is completed. That shall be a clear sign that we will see Jesus as He is, and we shall be as He is. A sure sign that eternity is ours to live.