|John 14:1-3||"... And If I go", said he, "... I will come again."|
When questioned by his disciples as to the 'sign' of his return and the end of this age (Matthew 24:3) the Saviour spoke of the signs (conditions) that would prevail on earth just prior to his coming; conditions which we believe are now here. This lesson is about those signs which lead us to the inescapable conclusion, that the return of Jesus Christ is very near "even at the door" as the Bible puts it.
Prophesied in literally scores of passages throughout the Scriptures, taught and parabolically explained in the most vivid and varied of ways, the return of Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah) to this earth will be one of the most breathtaking and glorious events ever to be witnessed by the sons and daughters of men. Its awesome significance to believer and unbeliever alike completely dwarfs all other considerations put together. And yet, strange as it may seem, the vast majority of human beings are quite oblivious - some willingly - of this fast approaching event. Even genuine believers in the Messiah, who ought to be tirelessly preparing for His appearance, are woefully ignorant of it. And so the gushing torrent of unpleasant news that pours forth each day from the news media is as much a mystery and terror to them as it is to a little child. No doubt many people correctly sense that the international situation is worsening and is so explosive that it could result in the annihilation of the human race. But why this is all happening and how it will be stabilised remains a complete mystery to them.
As a result people everywhere are sickened with the barrage of bad news that is broadcast each day and are going to great lengths to insulate themselves against it. And so we have multitudes turning to cheap thrills and soul destroying entertainment in a frantic effort to get the most out of life. "Eat, drink and be merry," they say, "for tomorrow we may die." The results of this sad trend are only too obvious.
These lessons have been designed to counteract that drift - for the Christian believer at any rate. If they are acted upon, the net result will be to spiritually orientate the student towards the reality of the coming King. This lesson in particular will act as a kind of survey map of the difficult terrain over which this generation is travelling. Using Bible prophecy alone, it will highlight the Signs of the Times which all point to one climactic event in the near future - the return of Yeshua the Messiah, the Saviour of the World!
Bad news as a consequence, though obviously unpleasant, is paradoxically
also a cause for hope; for as Christ so plainly said:
|Luke 21:28||"When these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."|
|Matthew 24:4-5||"Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many."|
Our Lord went on to warn his followers that there would arise "false prophets" and "false Christs" who would possess miracle-working powers (verse 24); powers which could easily be mistaken for the power of God Himself. Surprisingly enough these bogus prophets were to correctly proclaim that Jesus is the Christ, which is what he is. He is the Anointed One, the Messiah. So in this respect they are proclaiming the truth.
Why then does the Saviour call them "false prophets?" The answer is simply
this. These wonder working preachers, though conscious of the fact that Jesus
is the Christ, are nevertheless workers of iniquity. That is the crux of their
falsehood. They are blatant sinners (commandment breakers), deliberate and
persistent opponents of the divine law that defines iniquity. Yeshua refers
to them in another passage in these words:
|Matthew 7:22-24||"Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."|
Yes, that is the arena of their deception. They are "workers of iniquity." They say Lord, Lord, but do not obey the commandments. Iniquity is in fact blatant and persistent transgression of the commandments of God. (1 John 3:4)
And so to YOU comes the great warning, "Take heed that no man deceives you"; for miracle-backed deception is the first sign of Christ's return to earth. This warning is dramatically portrayed in the White Horse (the 1st Seal) of Revelation 6:2, Matthew 24:4-5&24.
|2 Timothy 3:1-5||"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural-affection, truce-breakers, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."|
A more accurate pen-picture of modern man can scarcely be found; and to think
that it was written over 1900 years ago. It is but another sign of our Lord's
(Matthew 24:12, 2 Peter 3:3-7. Also read Romans 1:18-32 where the Apostle Paul describes how unbelief and antagonism against truth causes Yahweh to hand society over to all kinds of confusion and sexual debauchery)
|1 Timothy 4:1||"Now the spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils."|
Millions, the world over, are becoming strangely fascinated by the supernatural
powers of heathenism and its many occult outlets. Voodoo, witchcraft, magic,
fire-walking, necromancy, divination and astrology are all manifestations of
evil spirits. In a very subtle form Spiritism has even entered the Churches.
Indeed the Charismatic Movement's peculiar aversion to God's Law and its
infatuation with a bogus glossolalia (speaking in tongues) proves that its
wonder-working powers originate more often than not from Satan rather than from
Yahweh the God of Israel. This massive deception is exposed in
(Matthew 24:24, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, Revelation 16:13-14)
|Daniel 12:4||"But thou Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased."|
Here indeed is an unmistakable sign that we are living in the Time of the End; for in almost every department of learning, especially in the understanding of Bible prophecy, knowledge has increased considerably. It has been said that over 90% of all the scientists and inventors that were ever born are alive today. Just pause awhile and consider that amazing fact. It means that an enormous increase in knowledge has taken place in our generation, proving yet again that we are living in the "time of the end."
|Matthew 24:9-10||"All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted and shall kill you and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name sake. And then shall many be offended and shall betray one another and shall hate one another."|
Persecutions have existed ever since the day when Cain in a fit of jealous anger killed his brother Abel. What is meant here, therefore, is not that persecution will start - it had already started in the Saviour's day - but that the intensity and range of persecution would increase to hitherto unknown dimensions. It would be world wide! Such a persecution has already begun in some countries. It is scheduled to spread over all the earth.
"You shall be hated of ALL nations" said the Master.
True believers should, therefore, not be unduly surprised when that kind of persecution reaches this country - as it surely will. We are happy to report, however, that Yahweh's Church has been promised divine help in that terrible hour; help that will come in direct proportion to the measure of the trial to be faced; help that will enable the believer to overcome the very worst that Satan can do. We thank Yahweh for this. Matthew 24:9-10. Rev. 6:9-11, Rev.12: 14-17)Persecution is the 5th Seal of Revelation. It follows close after the Pale Horse (the 4th Seal).
|Matthew 24:29||"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars (meteorites) shall fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."|
This is a sign the whole world is soon to witness. It is the sixth seal of Revelation. It will be a celestial
display beyond anything the world has ever seen. When it happens it will
appear as though our entire galaxy is disintegrating as millions of meteorites
hurl themselves in all directions. Peoples of all nations will react to this
sign with terrifying panic and every soul on earth will begin to realise that
the end of this age is at hand.
(Luke 21:25-26, Jeremiah 4:23-28, Joel 2:30-32, the 6th Seal in Revelation 6:12-17)
|Daniel 7:25||"And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. "|
Did you notice that? "He thinks that he can change times and laws. The laws being referred to in this verse are Yahweh's Sabbath laws; for they are the only ones that involve the element of time. The Antichrist will imagine that he can change Yahweh's Sabbath law. The Sabbath, as we have learned in the previous lesson, is Yahweh's Signature, the eternal memorial token or sign of the perpetual covenant between Him and His people. The Antichrist vainly imagines that he can change the Almighty's Sabbath days! So great is his popularity and power and so complete his deception that almost all the inhabitants of the world believe his lie and begin to keep his bogus Sabbaths and festivals. These bogus religious holidays then become Antichrist's symbol of authority, his own signature - his MARK! (See our lesson on the Mark of the Beast where this subtle deception is exposed.)
The reign of the Antichrist is a short one, for he will meet his end at the
return of Jesus Christ. The following passages in Scripture describe his
meteoric rise and fall in the most striking way.
(2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Revelation 13, Revelation 19:11-21)
The reader will have noticed that throughout this lesson Christ's description of the events prior to his return have been matched at each step with one or the other of the Seven Seals of the Revelation. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which he gave to the Apostle John for the benefit of the whole Church is, in fact, a symbolic portrayal of the same events described in Matthew chapter 24 and Luke chapter 21. The chart will outline the Seven Seals of the Revelation. It will also help you to orientate yourself in "time" and to know just what to expect in the near future. You are strongly advised at this stage to begin reading the book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. In order that you may become more acquainted with that matchless prophecy a Stewarton Bible School booklet, Understand the Revelation is available online. Do not hesitate to read it.