Brian Thomas: Things are definitely accelerating today in the world as far as Bible prophecy goes, and we are seeing so many fulfillments of these prophecies. But, one thing I do have to ask is, "Are we getting ahead of ourselves?" Sometimes those of us like myself who are very excited about the return of Jesus Christ sometimes have a tendency to read a bit into things. So, are we seeing the true fulfillment of these prophecies? And, what may be things still to come?
To answer these questions, we're going to look particularly at twelve signs of the times that the Bible told us to look out for which would reveal to us that we are truly living in the last days. A lot of these signs we are going to look at were actually prophecies that came out of the mouth of Jesus Christ during His time on earth.
I want to begin with is the increase in immorality. The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 that this would be a mark of the last days. Briefly it states, "But mark this, there will terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." Have we arrived to the point that these signs of immorality are currently being fulfilled today?
Nathan Jones: I believe so, Brian.
When we talk about the signs of the times given in the Bible which Jesus and the Apostles and the Prophets told us about, we have to also take into account that these signs we are told will come more both in frequency and intensity the closer to when Jesus returns at His Second Coming. We merely have to look over the last 100 years or so to see they are certainly increasing in both frequency and intensity.
Jesus in Matthew 24:8 called this escalation of signs "birth pains." The term is an illustration based on how a woman goes through labor. As the labor pains come on during the delivery, they occur more frequent and more intense until the baby finally comes. That is what the world is going through right now.
One of the main types or categories of end times signs is the increase in immorality. If we go to Matthew 24, which is one of the best chapters for knowing the end times, Jesus explains in pretty thorough detail what the moral condition will be like coming upon His Second Coming. In verses 37-39, Jesus declares, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man." We know from the Bible that the days of Noah were very lawless and the society was very hedonistic. The Bible even says that Noah was the only righteous man alive at the time! And so, the closer we get to Jesus' return, society will continue to become more and more like Noah's immoral time period.
We can learn from 2 Timothy 3:1-4 just what an immoral society looks like. This passage even points out to the return of such a society by beginning with, "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days." The first characteristic is that the people will become lovers of themselves, so much so that the love of most will grow cold, as Jesus stated in Matthew 24:12. Without love, immorality then will just flourish. We are seeing this lack of love all over the world today with high crime, with senseless violence, and with no love shared between parents and children so that there's child abuse and abortion. We are seeing lawlessness and corruption at every level of government. We are seeing countries that are ruled with iron fisted dictators. And, sadly, even the Western nations which have historically been such bastions of freedom are quickly falling apart due to immorality.
Brian Thomas: If anyone is a little skeptical as far as the proof that there's an increase in immorality, I just want to read a little bit of the research that I've found. There was a record 41% of babies born to unmarried woman in 2008 in the United States of America, which is up from 28% in 1990 and up from 18% in 1980. The trend continues worldwide with the European Union's out of wedlock births at 35.1% in 2008, which was up from 25.1% in 1998 and up from 17.4% in 1990.
There are a lot more statistics out there showing an increase in immorality, but basically what these birth statistics are showing us is that there has been an increasing trend in children being born to unmarried woman, which obviously means there is more fornication going on, which the Bible speaks against. This statistic is one of many examples of immorality increasing in the world. Statistically, we definitely can see that we are living in an increasingly immoral time period which marks the end times.
Nathan Jones: I used to live in Philadelphia for a number of years. It is a very violent town. Instead of it being called the "city of brotherly love," it should be called the "city of brotherly shove." My mother grew up in Philadelphia and she would tell us stories of when she was seven years old. She would get on the bus by herself and go downtown and she would do a little shopping with some friends maybe before she would come back. She said she never had to worry about crime or violence or being molested or anything horrible like that. Now that I have children who are that age, I worry about them just going down the street to the local park because it has just gotten so bad with the crime and everything. I worry about all the child molestation and the abuse going on.
Even though we call our own society a "Christian" society, it is awful. And then, when we read about some of the other countries that have no Christian foundation whatsoever, living means for them that they are constantly watching their backs.
We can simply look at the trends going on even during our own lifetimes now that we have lived while enough and can claim that, though I'm not saying that we are even very old, Brian. You know you can see this increase. It is just getting worse and worse to the point where you fear for your family and sometimes for your life all of the time. I agree, this increase in immorality is definitely supported by the statistics.
Speaking of getting worse, after Jesus comes to Rapture the Church up to Him, there will be seven years of tribulation which will befall the planet. During those seven years called the Tribulation, that is when the world will really see lawlessness and immorality radically increase until the day Jesus returns at the end of those seven years. We on this planet are definitely on that steep decline into total immorality, but it will exponentially explode once the Church is no longer here to be a restraining influence on the immorality in the world.
Brian Thomas: It sounds to me that what you are saying is that some of the signs we are seeing are actually building even today, though we haven't yet come to the Rapture of the Church. You are a Pre-Tribulation Rapture believer as I am myself, and so we believe the Rapture of the Church occurs before the Tribulation. So, once the Rapture has occurred, the world will see immorality escalate even moreso until the Second Coming of Christ which will happen at the end of the Tribulation?
Nathan Jones: Correct. During that Tribulation time on earth, God's judgments will be poured out on the earth because of its great immorality and sin. We can read in Revelation 22:15 where outside of Heaven dwell the "the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." That passage lists some of the aspects of the great immorality that goes on outside of Heaven.
Immorality will greatly increase in both frequency and intensity leading up to and throughout the Tribulation mainly because 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7 talks about the removal of the Restrainer, which is a restraining influence that God has placed on this planet that keeps it from getting as bad as it could be. I believe the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit's work through the Church, because once Jesus removes the Church then He is also removing a major restraining influence on the earth. Obviously, the Holy Spirit works during the Tribulation because people are getting saved. We need the Holy Spirit to get saved, so He is not being removed from the earth. With the removal of the Restrainer the world will endure an unprecedented amount of immorality. All the evil that believers in Christ have been trying to hold back won't be there anymore, and the world will instantly become a moral cesspool. It's just awful to think about.
#2) Hope in the Rapture
Brian Thomas: The world is getting increasingly more wicked, and that's why I'm really looking forward to the Rapture of the Church, because as bad as things are today, they will become worse tomorrow. We can already look around us and see the escalating immorality and crime and just the sin nature, and it can get a bit depressing. To think that these things are going to become so much worse during that seven year period called the Tribulation, well there is just no reason why I would want to be here to experience that. I know sometimes that we who believe in the Pre-Tribulational Rapture get accused of being cowards or escapists, but we simply are going along with what the Bible states — that we are not appointed to the wrath of God.
I do think it's important that we bring up the Rapture because it brings the Church hope.
Nathan Jones: Indeed, the Apostle Paul said in Titus 2:13 that the Rapture is our "blessed hope." As we see these prophetic signs increase and as we see the world just coming to ruins around us, believers in Christ can be encouraged that Jesus is coming back. Our response to the Rapture in and of itself becomes a sign of the end times.
The Rapture is an amazing hope to have, Brian! It is an amazing hope to have because we can know that as terrible as it is getting out there, believers in Christ don't have much longer to worry about it. We also don't have to worry about having to endure the 21 judgments God pours out upon the earth as soon as Jesus opens the Seal Judgments during the Tribulation which will just devastate the planet ecologically, politically, and well you name it. The world will be in utter ruins the Bible forewarns us.
Being part of the Church and being saved means we won't have to be here to witness the truly rapid descent into immorality. Now is the time for anyone out there who isn't saved to ask Jesus to be their Savior and so be included in the Rapture.
We can read about the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 and John 14. When Jesus Christ comes to take believers in Him up to Heaven to dwell with Him during those seven years of tribulation which will befall the planet, we can say with high probability that will not look down and see what is going on the earth, and that's a good thing. We instead will be with the Lord celebrating the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, which is a great party that He throws. We will also be going through the Judgment of the Just when the Lord will reward us for our work done while on earth. And, we will be preparing to come back with Jesus who at the end of the Tribulation returns to the earth to conquer the Antichrist and his one-world system. Jesus will afterwards set up his thousand year Millennial Kingdom right on here on earth.
Believers in Christ don't have to worry about living through any of the Tribulation. We can look at the signs of the times around us and instead of dreading being possibly destroyed by them, we can be encouraged and have hope that we will be rescued from them through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Brian Thomas: Absolutely! You make a great point that when we look around us and see all the immorality and pain in the world that it can be depressing, but I quickly remind myself and I hope others do the same that even though we are not happy that these things are happening, we do find joy in knowing that all these "labor pains" are pointing to the return of our Messiah. We know that we will be with Him very soon, and so there is just so much great hope and joy in that fact.
Nathan Jones: That is a great hope, Brian! That is also an important point you bring up, because there are some people who believe that if you are looking forward to the Rapture then you are just getting your kicks from watching the world get trashed by crime and violence and all these natural disasters going on. That is just so far from the truth!
The reality of it is the joy in knowing that the Lord is coming soon, and even though the world will go through seven years of intense suffering the Bible says that millions of people during that time will come to know Jesus as their Savior. It surprisingly takes that much devastation to get people to start thinking about the Lord. And then, we know afterwards Jesus ushers in a thousand years of Him reigning right here on earth in peace and righteousness and justice. So, for the believer in Christ, we can look at all this and say, "Wow, it is great that we know the Lord is coming soon and it is awful what is going on now and we have to endure some of that, but when He comes we will be rescued from it." That is the hope that the believers in Christ have and only believers in Christ can have.
Brian Thomas: We have so much to look forward to. So many say Bible prophecy is all gloom and doom, but this is not a gloom and doom message. Bible prophecy provides a message of great hope and joy because we have so much to look forward to.
Nathan Jones: Concerning Bible prophecy, too many people focus on the negative aspects like the Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast. They will obsess over those aspects and over the horrors that will happen during the Tribulation. But, this only covers our short time leading up to the Tribulation, and then the seven years of Tribulation. After that we are talking about 1,000 years of the Lord ruling. Sure, it will get bad again at the very end of the Millennial Kingdom when Satan is released, but again that is just for a brief time. Then we get to experience eternity. Eternity is all about being with the Lord who loves us, who created us, and was willing to die for us. Yes, we have to get through the little bit of bad points along the way, and we can tend to focus too much on them because that is where we are living on stage right now where all the bad stuff is happening. But, this terrible time is just like a small blip on the radar of eternity and wonder ahead of us, if we know Jesus as our Savior.
#3) Natural Disasters
Brian Thomas: I want to speak now on earthquakes. Wow! We have seen so many destructive earthquakes going on just over the last two years. The world witnessed the significant earthquake that hit and flooded northern Japan followed by frequent aftershocks. Japan had the big 9.0 earthquake just this year. We have seen major earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. There have been so many of these earthquakes that they are literally reshaping the earth. In terms of physical land masses, the countries are actually moving several inches and even in some cases maybe even a couple of feet.
In Matthew 24:7, Jesus Christ spoke of earthquakes when He stated, "Nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places." Have we arrived today to the point that Jesus Christ was speaking of concerning these earthquakes happening in various places?
Nathan Jones: Certainly, one of the biggest signs of the end times and the definitely the most noticeable sign is natural disasters.
Concerning the catastrophic earthquake in Japan, it is interesting that the mayor of Tokyo being a Buddhist said something like, "I think God is trying to get our attention." He quickly recanted his statement later on, but even people who don't believe that there is a God as in the God of the Bible are noticing that He is trying to get our attention.
Many people including Christians will look at all these natural disasters and say, "Oh, you know, this is just nature happening." Or, they will pass the cause of these natural disasters off as Global Warning or some man-made event. But, God all throughout the Bible demonstrated that He uses natural disasters to wake people up from their spiritual apathy so they will ask for forgiveness and will turn to Jesus in repentance. Judgment brings repentance.
A British charity called Oxfam went through Red Cross data and found that the earth is currently experiencing approximately 500 natural disasters per year. There was only 120 per year back in 1980. The number of weather related disasters in 2006 was 240, while there was only 60 back in 1980. Between 1985-1994 they found there were 174 million people affected by these disasters each year. This figure has increased today to 70% or 254 million per year. These statistics are about three years old, but the latest statistics that have come out say that we are having so many major devastating earthquakes that we can expect one big one to occur every 45 days. Can you imagine an earthquake like in Japan happening every 45 days?
Earthquakes and other natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity. This is leading up to the point which the Bible talks about in Revelation 6:12-14 and 11:13 and 16:17-21, that there will be a number of ultra-devastating earthquakes which will happen during the Tribulation. As a matter of fact, there will be one so bad that the Bible says it will level the mountains across the planet. So, all these disasters that we are feeling now are working their way up to the particular judgments that God has planned for the earth and where a super earthquake will finally totally ravage the face of the earth.
The result to the earth's landscape from this coming super earthquake we can also read about in the Bible. During the Millennial Kingdom when Jesus is back and ruling the planet, we are told in Zechariah 14:10 and Micah 4:1 that Jerusalem will be raised up as the highest point on the earth. The remainder of the earth will remain a flattened plain. The earth will be flat. I live in Texas and it is as flat as a board. I'm going to miss visiting mountains. Imagine all of the people living in mountainous areas like Switzerland and in the Rocky Mountains having their mountains tumble down around them and the resulting amount of death that will unfortunately come of that.
So, yes, all these natural disasters are continuing in frequency and intensity working their way up to the super earthquake which will flatten the world during the Tribulation.
Brian Thomas: From what the Bible says and it's hard to fathom, but what we are witnessing with today's earthquakes can only be thought of as little more than tremors in comparison to the earthquake that is going to come during the Tribulation. That is really amazing!
The nay-sayers out there who believe earthquakes have been going on for thousands of years and are no different now have to run up against the statistics that show they are happening with more frequency and more intensity. Natural disasters are a "labor pains" sign that Christ spoke of in Matthew 24. The world can easily see these things are happening closer together and with more intensity. No doubt exists that we are definitely seeing these things happening today.
Nathan Jones: Definitely! The resulting tsunamis are due to the underground seismic activity, and Luke 21:25 also points out that in the end times there will be the tossing of the seas.
The Bible also talks about signs in the sun and the moon and the stars. Astronomers have been very perplexed lately because the sun seems so very inactive, and then for a bit there got suddenly very active. The Bible particularly talks about the moon becoming in appearance like sackcloth and like blood. "Blood moons" are what we call it today, where the moon because of our atmosphere looks red. There are a series of these blood moons coming. The Bible talks about the stars just disappearing out of the sky.
A lot of these astronomical signs I believe we are not quite seeing the fulfillment of just yet. During the Tribulation, especially during the last part under what are called the Vial or Bowl Judgments, the sun will scorch the earth and the stars will appear to have fallen out of the sky. The full fulfillment of those celestial signs will happen during the Tribulation. But, we are starting to see just the very beginnings of these signs, like say the tossing of the seas in these great tsunamis that have been wiping out so many countries. The partial fulfillment of natural disasters we are already beginning to see fulfilled in this day and age.
Brian Thomas: The tsunami we saw this year in Japan because of the massive earthquake, it was just amazing footage to sit there and watch on television. The videos showed this consuming ocean wave coming in and literally picking up over 50 to 100 cars in places. It just totally obliterated everything in its path. When I saw that, scripture like Luke 21:25 was the first thing that came into my mind. It concerns the seas and the waves roaring. Just a few years earlier in 2004 in the Indian Ocean, we witnessed another tsunami that killed tens of thousands of people. When we see these disasters happening it sounds like we should expect them to occur even more as we approach the Tribulation, and then during the Tribulation period these things will increase even more in frequency and intensity.
Nathan Jones: Oh, definitely. Look at between 1991 and 2004, just 13 years of American history. Nine out of the ten largest insurance-related natural disasters happened. Nine of the ten greatest FEMA relief costs were incurred. Five of the costliest hurricanes in history struck the U.S., and we suffered under four of the largest tornado swarms in history, the worst being the record number of tornados which struck this year. That's all happened just during the last two decades!
The statistics show that we are in an incredible exponential curve of increasing natural disasters that are pointing to the Lord's soon return.
Brian Thomas: Jesus Christ is letting us know. The signs are all around us. He is letting us know that He is coming soon and to get ready.
Nathan Jones: Amen! Isn't it great about the personality of God? For example, when we read in Ezekiel 38-39 about the Gog-Magog Battle — a group of Islamic nations along with Russia that come against Israel in the end times and try to conquer it — it says there a few times that God lets the world know ahead of time that this event is going to happen. Isn't it great that God didn't just leave us in the dark? If we get into the Bible and read, we can understand that the Lord is telling us, "I am coming back soon." He wants us to know. He wants us to be prepared. It's like when Jesus used the story of the virgins waiting for a wedding. They are just sitting waiting keeping their lamps lighted for when Jesus comes. Well, it is that close. Jesus is coming just so soon that we need to keep our lamps lit, so to speak. We need to keep our lives in tune to serving the Lord with the time we have remaining in anticipation of His return.
Brian Thomas: Absolutely! You are so right on that. God didn't have to tell us. He didn't have to warn us at all. He could have just said, "Be ready." And yet, He did warn us to get ready because He let us know what the signs would be that would let us know when it is about to happen.
Nathan Jones: It's just so sad that it takes these kinds of intense natural disasters to get our attention. We are just that stiff-necked and close-minded and self-focused on our own lives that God has to go to this length to bring us to finally admit there is a God and I'd better get to know Him and get my life right with Him.
#4) Apostasy in the Church
Brian Thomas: Let's talk about apostasy in the Church, something sadly unfortunate that no Christian should find any delight in happening. The Apostle Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, "Let no one deceive you by any means for that day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition." Paul was talking here about the falling away of the church, the apostasy in the church. Have we arrived at this end times sign?
Nathan Jones: When we consider that the leading "evangelical" of our time period is Rob Bell of Mars Hill Church who can write a book that teaches there's no one going to Hell and that God will allow everybody into Heaven and there is no punishment for our rebellion against God, then we know without a shadow of a doubt that the church is in serious, serious trouble.
The Church has become so seeker sensitive, and that can be a good thing in that we want unbelievers to come to know Jesus as their Savior, but we have ended up chasing the believers right out of their churches. We have filled our churches with unbelievers and now are putting unbelievers into the church pulpits. These new church leaders are not saved. They have no fruits of the Spirit. They have no signs in their lives that show that they are saved.
These unbelievers in the pulpits keep writing their apostate books and they keep leading their apostate churches saying every kind of doctrine that has nothing to do with the Bible whatsoever. They teach their own flavor of universalism with its belief that everybody will get to Heaven and that all paths lead to God. This teaching is clearly not true nor biblical because Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through me." Universalism is the leading teaching of apostates. They believe that Jesus isn't the only way to Heaven and that Jesus isn't the Son of God. It's a terrible heresy to say that Jesus' death on the cross is not enough to get us into Heaven and that we can get ourselves into Heaven. It is the lie straight from Satan in the Garden of Eden.
We are definitely seeing more apostasy in the church today. Second Timothy 4:3 says, "For a time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine, instead to suit their own desires they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." Well, that is exactly what we are seeing today. We now have a great number of people who are saying they are Christians, but they are surrounding themselves with teachers that only tell them what they want to hear and not what the Bible is teaching.
We can go into Revelation 2-3 and read about the Seven Churches. These are seven literal churches Jesus addressed that were in Asia Minor at the time, and they also represent seven eras within church history from the Apostles time going out and starting the churches to today which is clearly the final phase of Church History. This final phase of Church History is defined by the Church of Laodicea. It is the apathetic church. It is the church that thinks it's wealthy and that it's got it all together. We today think we've got it all together, but Jesus says we are naked, poor and blind, and we need to return to Christ. If we don't, Jesus says He will spit us out. There would be just no reason to keep us around because we are lukewarm and bad to His taste with our empty doctrines and egos, and we just don't have it all together whatsoever.
The explosive growth of apostasy is a big sign particularly demonstrated by the Western Church. I've got to say a lot of people get down on the Church today because of our apathy and apostasy that has overtaken us, but on the positive side there are some good spiritual signs. So many people are getting saved around the world. I have an associate who travels down to Asia and to Africa a lot and he says that there are so many people getting saved, especially in Africa. So many Africans are turning against Islam causing the Islamic clerics to be quite scared. They are holding conventions and saying, "Hey, we've got a big problem here. People are converting like crazy to Christianity." So, the Gospel is still marching on and there is still a great need for people to turn to Jesus. But, overall, we are seeing especially in the Western world the decline of the Church here over apostasy and false teaching.
Brian Thomas: I'm so glad you mentioned Rob Bell who really just breaks my heart seeing the type of message that he's putting out there. I think so many of us need to be voices to counter what he is teaching because you are right, he is putting out the message that everybody gets saved, and we know that simply isn't true. The Bible makes it very clear that universalism is not true. What is the purpose of our entire lives here if in the end everyone is saved? No, that is just a great heresy.
Nathan Jones: On some television and radio programs they for various reasons don't want you to name names, but if we are going to talk about apostasy then we have to point out just who these apostate teachers are and what they are teaching. People need to look out for them and be aware. I believe the Lord wants us to make sure that we point out apostasy as Paul did all the time when he said things like, "Don't listen to this guy. He is teaching you something wrong." We have to point out that guys like Rob Bell and some of Rick Warren's teachings which are just totally false teachings. They've got it wrong because they're not using the Bible and the Holy Spirit to guide what they're sharing.
Acceptance of Homosexuality
Brian Thomas: Right! I want to share something that happened last year concerning another case of apostasy in the Church. An article that I was reading stated that on January 3, 2010, a gay couple walked out of the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church service in Washington, D.C. The reason they walked out was to protest the pastor's statement of, "Sex is only pleasing to God in the marriage bed, and the marriage bed is [for] a man and a woman." Of course, we know as Christians that this pastor was exactly right in what he was stating, but as a result this gay couple decided to walk out in protest, and sadly they found a church in which this type of thing is accepted. They found a church called Covenant Baptist Church which bills itself as a LGBT affirming congregation, which means the pastor supports same-sex marriage. If anyone is not familiar with LGBT, it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender." This is a group that really promotes and pushes the whole homosexual agenda. And so, this is just another example of where we see apostasy flourishing.
I have to ask myself this question, "How can any pastor of a church who knows their Scripture and sees that right in the Bible it speaks against homosexuality, yet bill itself as a church that accepts same-sex marriage?" And yet, we are seeing this very thing popping up all over the country.
Nathan Jones: Just go to whosoever.org. It's a homosexual website that promotes the teaching that Christians can be homosexuals and also be Christians. This points right back to the end times sign of increasing immorality that is consuming the earth. We know this teaching is not of the Bible and so is therefore a lie. For example, Jesus in Revelation 22:15 described those outside of Heaven in the very end of time who were dwelling in Hell. Why they are in Hell is because they never accepted Jesus. Jesus described them as, "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral..." Homosexuality in the Bible is said to be sexually immoral. The sexually immoral are lumped in with, "the murders, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."
God never says, "You can continue to live in immorality and rebellion against me and at the same time you can be saved and forgiven by me." It just doesn't work that way. When we turn to Jesus, when we ask for forgiveness of our sins, it is for forgiveness for all of our sins and not what sins we think are sins and are not sins.
The Bible says that any sex outside of marriage is sexual immorality. The Bible is not particularly picking on the people who are homosexuals, but includes the people who are sleeping around. It is talking about the adulterers as well, and if there is any sin that the Bible talks about the most, it certainly is adultery. These are the very sins the Lord says that are keeping you separated from Him. You just cannot hold onto your sexual immorality and still be a child of God.
Homosexuality being acceptable in the Church is a huge apostasy that is spreading and is affecting every denomination. While it used to be just the Episcopalians who were the ones who obsessing over this, now the debate is taking over the Lutheran churches, the Baptist and pretty much every other denomination. The reason for this is because the denominational leaders and even the pastors are not into the Word enough to understand exactly what the Word teaches on this subject. Or, they don't take the Bible as the inerrant Word of God to begin with and so they pick and choose what they want to believe.
So, yes, apostasy in the Church is just to my amazement right now growing in leaps and bounds. It results in a made up religion. We can't even call these people Christians anymore, because they are making up their religion as they go.
Brian Thomas: I just want to state for anyone who wants to argue for these things, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states that homosexuality is a sin and those people will not enter the Kingdom of God. Living that lifestyle and having that unrepentant sin and with churches accepting it goes right along with what 1 Timothy 4:1 teaches, that this is nothing but a doctrine of the Devil to accept homosexuality.
God knows what is good for us and He knows what is bad for us. He knows what destroys us. Again, like you were saying, it's not about picking on anyone in particular who engages in sexual immorality like the homosexuals and the adulterers, but God knows this destroys us and so He is looking out for our own good and for what's in our best interest. It is so important for people to understand that.
Nathan Jones: That's exactly right! I think sometimes as Christians we get so offended by that particular kind of sin that we react to these people in an unloving manner. I was getting a haircut a few years back and the lady asked me what I did for a living. I told her I was a reverend or evangelist and since we don't have a church to pastor we kind of just pastor everybody we come across. She replied that she didn't like God because she was a homosexual. She's a lesbian. And, do you know what I did? Instead of jumping out of my chair and saying "forget you" and running out like what is usually the common reaction with most Christians, I had the great opportunity to share the Gospel with her. Well, she had some really interesting views of God and salvation. I finally got down to the brass tacks of it is all that without repentance we are still under God's wrath as John 3:36 tells us. So, no matter if she is a homosexual, or a liar, or an adultery, or any kind of sinner, if we don't ask for Jesus' forgiveness of our sins and flee those sins and turn to Christ then we are not obeying Jesus. How then can we believe that we will live in Heaven with Him forever if we won't obey Him in the smallest things that He asks us to do?
#5-6) Nuclear Weapons and Wars
Brian Thomas: In Revelation 6:14, referring to what happens during the Tribulation, it reads, "Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place." Is this passage referring to nuclear warfare?
Nathan Jones: One of the categories of signs found in Daniel 12:4 is an increase in technology, which would also encompass nuclear technology. It's amazing to think that people were using horse carts and living in mud homes for hundreds and hundreds of years, and then in the late 1700's and early 1800's the world witnessed technology taking off and increasing exponentially. Being a Web guy of course, I have to know the technology behind the Web, and I tell you the technology changes so rapidly and so often that keeping up with it is somewhat of a headache. But, the Bible says that there has to be an increase in technology in the end times as a sign of the time pointing to the Lord's soon return.
We have witnessed in this modern age amazing breakthroughs in technology that explain some of the end times events we read about in the Bible. We can look in Revelation 11 about the Two Witnesses who during the Tribulation God ordains to witnesse to the world and who will share the Gospel during the Tribulation. In the middle of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will come and kill them, and then three and a half days later the Lord will resurrect them. The Bible says that the whole world will see the Two Witnesses die and come back to life. Back before there was television and satellites and global communication technology like that, there was no way the Two Witnesses could have been viewed by the whole world. So, we need that kind of technology to help explain some of these prophetic statements.
The actual use of nuclear weapons is beyond awful. We can get a small glimpse into their destructive capabilities and the lasting effects of radiation from movies like the Terminator series or The Day After, if you remember those movies from the '80s. We all know somewhat about how horrible nuclear warfare really is from those movies.
I believe the Bible definitely talks about the use of nuclear weapons. Take a First Century man like the Apostle John who can only explain what he saw in terms he understood, like in saying the sky is receding like a scroll. That happens to be exactly what a nuclear weapon does. The sky looks like it is scrolling up just after the bomb blast.
We can read in Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 the oracle against Damascus, which is the capital city of Syria and is also the oldest city in the world. The Bible says that in one day Damascus will be destroyed by Israel. Well, the only way technologically it could be done today is if Israel is forced to drop a nuclear bomb on Damascus.
We also read in Revelation 8:7 that a third of the world will be terribly burned up by the scorching sun causing terrible burns. The people in Revelation 16 will have loathsome and malignant sores all over them. We are seeing this happening in Japan right now with the nuclear reactors having gone critical and pouring radiation all over those people trying to contain the leaks. They are getting sores all over them as they are dying of radiation poisoning.
The Bible in Revelation 8 and 9 describes a nuclear war during the Tribulation. The Antichrist as he goes out to conquer the world will use nuclear weapons resulting in about a third of mankind, that would be about 1.5 billion of those remaining from the previous wars of the Tribulation, being killed from the nuclear war. This coming nuclear war will devastate the planet.
Many of the Tribulation judgments that we read about after this global war are mostly all effects from nuclear radiation. We read about the disasters from the sky causing the destruction of the seas and the people having sores all over them. As horrible as our worst nightmare might be, they're nothing compared to the nuclear weapons that will be used at that time and the nuclear holocaust that will befall this planet during the Tribulation.
#7) New World Order
Brian Thomas: We've heard the term "New World Order" for a long time now. We hear it referred to in so many different ways: the New World Order, the One World Government, the Government Globalization, and Socialism. This coming one-world government will be the foundation of what Revelation 13 speaks of concerning a time when the Antichrist comes to absolute power. He will so control the entire world that no one will be able to buy or sell anything unless they have the Mark of the Beast symbol, which is the number representing the Antichrist's name.
Is this whole push towards globalization of government and world control by socialism laying down the foundation for the Antichrist's rule which will come during the Tribulation?
Nathan Jones: It definitely is. Subsequently, the Mark of the Beast is one of the Tribulation era signs that we today get most caught up in. A lot of people are out there scared about accidently taking the Mark of the Beast. I even wrote an article Stop Panicking Over the Mark of the Beast about this hysteria. People are terrified that they are going to have to take this government mandated Mark, even though the Bible makes it clear it's a mid-Tribulation event and the Church won't even be on earth during that time.
The Bible tells us how the one world leader called the Antichrist will unite the world, most likely very easily because after the Rapture and all the natural disasters the people will be looking for some kind of leadership to fix all of the horrific aftermath. The United Nations or whatever it morphs into will have to band the world together to try to deal with these problems.
Revelation 13:16-18 reveals that the Antichrist will not only rule the world, but so he can find out who is loyal to him goes as far as having his subjects wear his name on their forehead or right hand. It has something to do with the number 666, though we have no idea at this point exactly what it means, although lots of people have come up with some very interesting theories on what it could be. We do know it is a system that is implemented three and a half years into the Tribulation, so again to my brothers and sisters in Christ, we do not have to worry about accidently taking the Mark of the Beast and so be condemned to Hell forever. That Mark system will be set up so only people who follow the Antichrist can buy or sell. This leaves all those people who will accept Christ during the Tribulation having to find some other way to buy and sell. Because of the global financial implications to this system, we can know that the end time Beast system of the Antichrist as the Apostle John and the Prophet Daniel describe is going to be a one world government and one world order.
We can see everywhere today a huge push towards globalism. It doesn't matter which administration you are living under, they are all pushing towards some kind of centralized world leadership, some kind of global authority. The UN is really weak right now, and so it will need to be replaced by the Antichrist system at some point which will have true global governorship and power.
The one-world government will arise founded on crisis. You can't change a whole system of government without there being a huge crisis that the people are facing. During crisis people support radical change in hopes of finding security. The people will be terrified by the Rapture of the Church, being deluded into whatever excuse will be generally accepted as the reason or reasons behind it and fearing they may soon too just vanish. Secondly, the people left behind will be facing an economic disaster. The Third Seal Judgment concerns poverty and people starving. And then, of course, the people will be facing down all the increasing natural disasters that will be devastating the world, all of which are the judgments of God upon the earth timed for the Tribulation. All of these factors will usher in a call for a New World Order.
As awful it is to see it our country in decline as we leave our values behind and as our government looks towards leadership from a global entity rather than our own people, it's just the beginning step for when eventually all the world's nations will turn their leadership and authority over to a one world ruler. The transition of power will happen very rapidly to this false messiah as the world will be looking for him to rescue them from the economic and natural disasters that the 21 judgments of God that will be poured out on the world. And, the Antichrist will reign supreme, though only for a short time until Christ's return.
#8) Apathy Concerning God's Prophetic Word
Brian Thomas: Let's address the end times sign of apathy.
I once heard a pastor state that most Christians today do not feel Bible prophecy is relevant to their present state of their lives and that instead most are concerned about marital issues, employment, health issues, etc. Immediately upon hearing this pastor say this, I was reminded of Matthew 24:37-39 when Jesus Christ stated that in the last days before His return it would be as in the days of Noah when people would not be concerned about what is about to happen. What could be more relevant than our Messiah returning to earth? He's the one who can bring all of these problems to an end — marital issues, health issues, whatever it is — Jesus can bring all of these heart-wrenching issues to an end. So, how can the good news of Christ's return not be relevant?
Isn't this apathy towards God's prophetic word also be one of the signs that happens before the return of Christ?
Nathan Jones: Yes, it's that Church of Laodicea mentality which claims, "We've got it all together and we don't really need you, God. We are just going to keep on practicing Christianity without Christ, thank you very much." Such an attitude is definitely a sign.
The scoffers of 2 Peter 3:1-4 scoff at the very idea that things are changing. It is sad, really. I mean, all this craziness over Mayan calendars and 2012 and crazy stuff like that ironically makes it so that more people who don't know Jesus as their Savior are the actual ones who know something big is coming. But, it's the Church today that sits under their self-created false impression that instead of Jesus we are the ones who are going to conquer the world for Christ in some Post-Millennial viewpoint and then hand the world that is all saved over to Jesus. That is certainly not what the Bible teaches. That is so not what the Bible teaches.
What's also a sad thing is that we kind of think like Laodicea that we spiritually have got it all together. We condescendingly pat Jesus on the arm like a child and say, "Hey, Lord, we are just going to save the world for you and hand it to you on a silver platter and so you are good to go." But, that is just theologically so wrong. Such an unbiblical attitude gives churches this weird sense that they can ignore the 31% of the Bible that is Bible prophecy.
Another reason for Church apathy concerning God's prophetic word is because a lot of pastors just don't know that part of the Bible. I run into a lot of these pastors and other people who cross our path here at Lamb & Lion Ministries, and so we spend a lot of our time helping churches learn and to teach the prophetic part of the Bible. Pastors just haven't been taught a lot about Bible prophecy in the seminaries, which don't teach it as much. These poor pastors just don't know where to begin. They'll see there are a lot of strange end times viewpoints out there which people get from slicing out a verse or two and ignoring the rest of the context, and so it kind of confuses them. I think a lot of pastors whether they like Bible prophecy or they don't like Bible prophecy some are kind of just throwing up their hands and saying, "I can't deal with it because I just don't understand it. I'm going to focus instead on what I do understand." So, I will give these pastors some credit.
Taking the overall pulse of the Church today, though, we can see this great apathy concerning God's prophetic word hanging over the Church right now, even though the signs are everywhere and should provide a greater understanding of God and His plans for us. I've seen pastors who I know are strictly Amillennial teachers, believing there is no literal thousand year reign of Christ coming and that everything will just pan out in the end, but who lately have with the increase in disasters are starting to wonder, "You know, I think maybe there is more to this Jesus coming back sooner than I thought." So, God is starting to wake the Church up a little bit there due to these other signs, and that's encouraging.
#9-10) The Rebirth of Israel and the Controversy Over Jerusalem
Brian Thomas: The hatred of the Jews and their current control over Jerusalem is the center of the controversy that Zechariah 12:2-3 and Zechariah 14:1-3 speaks of reserved for the last days. These verses tell us that Jerusalem would become the center of world controversy. I think we have definitely arrived to that stage, wouldn't you agree?
Nathan Jones: Oh, goodness, if there is any sign we are witnessing right now that would make you and me to believe that Jesus is coming back soon is that Israel is a nation once again after being exiled for 1,897 years. Back in 70 AD, just as Jesus predicted the Temple was destroyed and Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews were scattered throughout the entire planet by the Roman Empire. You can even go see the Arch of Titus in Rome and see the fresco on it that testifies that the Jews and all of their gold items from the Temple were dragged into Rome, so it's a historically supported fact.
We know that the Jews were scattered throughout the planet as a result of the Roman conquest, but amazingly they kept through tradition their own people group and their own identity and because they never did merge into the societies they lived in very well. Always anti-Semitism chased them out of country after country. Finally, with the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and then UN Resolution 181 issued in 1947, Israel was allowed to come and take back at least a small part of their land, though not all of the land God promised them, and become a nation once more.
Israel becoming a nation again after all these centuries is a modern-day miracle. Do we see the ancient Hittites becoming a nation again? Do we see some of the American Indian tribes forming their own nation again? It just doesn't happen, especially after almost 2,000 years. But, it happened to Israel, the major people group of the Bible. This return to the land in fulfillment of Bible prophecies like Ezekiel 36-37 and Isaiah 11:11-12 and 66:7-8 is God saying, "Pay attention, this is a major, major thing happening." In May we came into Israel's 63rd birthday since Israel became a nation again in 1948.
Not only is the controversy over who controls Jerusalem an end times sign pointing to Jesus' soon return, but so is the rebirth of Israel. Jesus in Matthew 24:32-35 talks about a fig tree. In the Bible Israel is sometimes referred to as a fig tree. Jesus said that when it reblossoms, in other words when Israel becomes a nation once again, then we know that the time is short for His soon return.
It just gets me how some Christians will just blow off the miracle of Isreal becoming a nation again as if it's no significant thing. Whole denominations out there are trying to boycott Israel just because it exists. And yet, God wants Israel to exist because the Tribulation is not about the Church. The Church will be raptured and we will be out of here before then.
The Tribulation is in part about the world, the entire planet, and every nation coming against Israel to force them to give up there land and to be destroyed by Christ's victorious return. That, of course, is Satan working in the background. Satan wants the Jews destroyed because through the Jews God's plans will be fulfilled and they will finally as a nation know Jesus as their Savior.
Those who accept Jesus as Savior, both Jew and Gentile alike, who go through the Tribulation and survive will live on into the Millennial Kingdom in their earthly bodies. The Jews particularly will be a priesthood of people on the earth during that time. And so, God has these amazing promises that He made to the Jews.
If Satan can destroy the Jews, he believes it would thwart God's plans. Now, we know that Satan cannot thwart God's plans because God is all-powerful and Satan is nothing compared to Him, so he won't succeed in killing all of the Jews, though many will die. But, he is going to try. So, even though many non-Jews will come to know Jesus as their Savior during the Tribulation, it's about getting the Jews so persecuted that they finally turn to Jesus and accept Him as their Messiah. It says in the Bible that a third of the Jews as a nation will come to Jesus at the end of the Tribulation, and they will be the ones who along with other believers who survived the Tribulation will live on into the Millennial Kingdom in their earthly bodies and procreate and repopulate the planet again.
I have been to Israel a few times and it's simply amazing what they have done with rebuilding Israel in such a short time frame. It was such a barren wasteland that the census could actually count how many trees, something like 18,000 trees, existed in all of Israel. It was an utter wasteland. Mark Twain visited the Holy Land during the 1800's and pretty much declared it a God-forsaken rock. Well, as I was going through Israel it was like a flower-fest. There is more fruit growing there than you can imagine. I think there's like six million people living now in Israel. Supposedly there is actually more rain in Israel than ever before because of the amount of trees and plants they planted has increased the moisture content. Just as Bible prophecy predicted in Ezekiel 36:34-35, the land has been restored along with the people.
The Bible says that God through the coming Gog-Magog Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 will continue to bring the Jews back into Israel from all the corners of the earth. The persecution will get really bad and anti-Semitism will continue to rise around the planet and force all the Jews into returning back to Israel. This return is a major, major sign that proves to us that we are in the season of the Lord's return. Jesus in the Parable of that Fig Tree said that the generation that sees this return — that's you and me — when we see this we can know that Jesus is coming back very soon. So, wow, we are living in exciting, exciting times!
The Super Sign
Brian Thomas: We are living in exciting times. I just wish that the words that you are saying could be spoken in every single church in the entire world, because the Bible is so correct on this. The return of the Jews to Israel and their control of Jerusalem is what so many in the Bible prophecy community call the "Super Sign." It is what the Bible told us to look out for. When we see this happen, we can know the Lord's return is coming soon.
This Super Sign is just so clear cut, yet there are so many out there who say that Israel's return is just a coincidence and that Israel back in the land is merely a historic accident. There are many who would say, "Jesus Christ could return anywhere and it doesn't have to be Jerusalem. It could be New York City. It could be anywhere in the world." But, I say, "Where are you people drawing their conclusion from?" The Bible makes it so clear that Israel is where Jesus will return. People really need to open their eyes to this fact. I'm so encouraged that as you stated there are many who are beginning to recognizing the importance, and I do see that people are recognizing it, too. And yet, there is still a large majority in the Church who seem to be ignoring it, or want to look the other way for whatever reason.
Nathan Jones: Praise the Lord for your ministry, Brian. Blessings to Israel is a great name for a ministry!
A lot of people who disregard the significance of Israel's return say, "Those in Israel are all apostate." As I said earlier, I've been to Israel and it's true that 90% of the Jews living there are secular humanists, while the remaining 10% are Orthodox and do nothing but persecute Messianic believers in Christ. So, there is not doubt that the Jews in this time and age aren't the promised people whom God is talking about. The Church is, but when the Church Age is done, God isn't done with the Jews. He want to convert their hearts to Him. He wants them to respond to His plea that, "Hey, wait, I'm your Messiah. You gave up on me, but I'm still around. I'm going to rescue you out of this your darkest hour. I'm going to be there for you."
While there are so many unbelieving Jews during this Church Age and so mostly the Jews don't know Jesus as their Savior right now, there are many who do. There are over 40 Messianic Jewish ministries over in Israel right now trying to bring their people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We have ministries like yours, Brian, that are here in the United States that encourage people to support Israel. The Lord said in Genesis 12:3, "I will bless those who bless you." I think your ministry will be greatly blessed for anything you can do to help Israel and prepare them for the eventually time when they will accept Jesus as Savior.
Brian Thomas: Well, thank you so much, Nathan, that is very encouraging! I greatly appreciate that compliment. Forming Blessings to Israel is something that God just placed on my heart to get the message out and just be a blessing to the nation of Israel. They are in a state of spiritual blindness, but that veil will be lifted and they will accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah.
What's also great, and I try to get people to understand this, is that as Gentiles within the Church we are not competing with Israel. We are going to all be joined together as one big happy family. And actually, by accepting Christ now, we are already grafted into God's spiritual nation of Israel. I try to get people to understand that. We will be living in eternity as one big happy family under the rulership of Jesus Christ.
#11) Revival of the Roman Empire
#12) Spreading of the Gospel
Closing Words of Hope
Brian Thomas: Is the European Union the revival of the Roman Empire in fulfillment of Daniel 2?
Nathan Jones: The revival of the Roman Empire, yes, I believe it is. The nations of Europe have been at war with each other for hundreds and hundreds of years, and then to have them finally coalesce financially, politically, and now with the attacks in Libya militarily, they are finally organized together since they fell apart from the Roman Empire some 1,500 years ago. We are seeing this revival in our lifetime.
It's interesting that the United States is taking a back seat in world affairs and as of late is following the lead of the European Union, which shows that the EU is an emerging world power.
The EU is pretty frail right now, though. Portugal and Ireland and Greece have gone bankrupt, and Italy and Spain are just about to go bankrupt. They don't really get along all that well politically. But, out of that weak composite of "partly of iron and partly of baked clay" that Daniel described, the revival of the Roman Empire has come. And, out of that weak alliance, Daniel 9:26 tells us that the Antichrist will arise and give it strength and forge an empire. He will give his empire the strength that the European Union lacks today. The European Union is merely a small and weak predecessor to the great and powerful empire that the Antichrist will build and conquer the globe with.
#12) Spreading of the Gospel
Brian Thomas: Jesus in Matthew 24:14 spoke about another sign concerning the world-wide spread of the Gospel. I think that the validity of this sign is a no-brainer because we are seeing it being fulfilled from the standpoint of technologies like the Internet. One can literally be heard all around the entire globe in a matter of seconds. We'll see that come to its complete fulfillment during the Tribulation when the angels go out and proclaim the Gospel to the entire world, as I see it. Do you agree?
Nathan Jones: Yes, I totally agree. The one thing people mistake with this sign is that they read Matthew 24:14 and think the Gospel has to go to every nation, tongue, and tribe before Jesus comes back at the Rapture. That isn't what Jesus is saying at all. Jesus was saying that the Gospel had to go to every nation, tongue, and tribe before His return at the end of the Tribulation. So, the Rapture can happen first before the entire globe gets the Gospel message.
God has a lot of people set apart who will be saved during the Tribulation and be His missionaries. We've got the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11 who will witness from Jerusalem during the first three and a half years of the Tribulation. Revelation 7 says God has set apart 144,000 Jews who will come to know Jesus as their Savior. It talks about multitudes from every tribe, nation, and tongue who come to know the Lord, probably because of witnessing the Rapture or because of the judgments. God will even send an angel who will proclaim the Gospel throughout the entire planet.
The result of the evangelism efforts during the Tribulation is that it will make it so the people will know absolutely without a shadow of a doubt that there is a God and He wants them to be saved. They will have no choice but to either side with Jesus by accepting His salvation or with Satan by taking the Antichrist's mark.
And so, the Gospel will march throughout the planet, but it doesn't have to march to every person on the planet during the Church Age we are now living in before Jesus returns for us at the Rapture.
Closing Words of Hope
Brian Thomas: The soon coming of Jesus Christ is a message of hope and joy, and the signs of the end times point right to that message. I want to encourage people away from this whole stigma that Bible prophecy is gloom and doom and that there is so much to be afraid of. There is no gloom and doom to Bible prophecy when we look at the big picture. It is a great message of hope and we have just so much to look forward to. I am excited and I want others to get excited about it as well.
Let us get this message of hope out to the world — that Jesus Christ is returning soon. We will finally see and be joined with our great Messiah.
Nathan Jones: If anyone reading this hasn't accepted Jesus as your Savior, don't wait until the Rapture to find out that the signs the Bible has given us are right. Accept Jesus now! Pray, "Dear, Jesus, forgive me of my sins, and be my Savior." You, too, can be part of the Church. You can go up with Jesus in the Rapture and avoid all the disasters and judgments that are coming to this earth very soon. You can know Jesus for your Savior for all eternity.
Brian Thomas: I want to encourage everyone out there with what the Bible records Jesus Christ saying in Luke 21:28, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." We are definitely in the last days and our Messiah is coming soon, so continue to look up.
Blessings to all!