What is a biblical sign? The short answer is an event, symbol, place, or person whose existence or occurrence indicates something important in God’s plan for the future.
Importantly, these signs are identified in Scripture. They don’t come from people’s opinions or fortune-cookie interpretations. Rather, they are mortared into the very bedrock of God’s Word.
Jesus referred to Himself as a sign: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
Our Lord actually scolded the Pharisees and Sadducees because they were uninterested in the signs of the times:
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red;’ and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:1–3).
What Are the Signs of the Second Coming?
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke each contain a sermon, usually referred to as “The Olivet Discourse,” in which Jesus presents a list of signs that describe the future of the world.
Here are six critical signs contained in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse:
1. Deception by false Christs (vv. 4–5).
2. Disputes and warfare among nations (vv. 6–7).
3. Disease and famine worldwide (vv. 7–8).
4. Deliverance of believers to tribulation (v. 9).
5. Defection of false believers (vv. 10–13).
6. Declaration of the gospel to the whole world (v. 14).
These six signs cover the first three-and-one-half years of the Tribulation and coincide with the Book of Revelation. But while these signs will be fulfilled in the seven-year Tribulation Period, they will not start on a dime. They will build up over time.
Paul reminded the Thessalonians that the Rapture would come as a thief in the night —unexpectedly, quietly, and suddenly.
Using the same figure Jesus used in the Olivet Discourse, but with a different sense, the apostle wrote:
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:1–3).
What Should We Know about These Signs?
What Jesus wants us to know is this: the six signs that are going to happen in the future will not be all-of-a-sudden experiences. They will be like birth pains, with the frequency and intensity of each event gradually increasing.
When we observe that pattern in the world, we’ve discovered the secret to understanding the signs of the times.
As we study these verses in Matthew 24, three things should be apparent to us.
First, Jesus wants us to study the future. Jesus was in the habit of preparing His disciples for upcoming events even during His days on this earth.
As we’ve seen, He made a point of telling those around Him some of the things they could anticipate in the days ahead.
So don’t let anyone tell you that Jesus didn’t bother about the future or that He was uninterested in prophecy. The facts say otherwise.
If the future was an important subject to Jesus, it should be important to us too!
Second, our Lord’s prophetic ministry transforms us so we’ll be able to meet the future. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you [about the future], that you should not be made to stumble” (John 16:1).
In other words, “Men, if you grasp what I am telling you about the future, you won’t fall all over yourself. You won’t fall into the trap of running around in panic mode when you have no reason to be in panic mode.”
Third, the signs of the End Times will help us trust our Savior — assuming we pay attention. If you have put your faith in Christ and have spent significant time in the Word of God, tough times can be like a magnet that draws you to the Lord.
The Lord Is with Us
Nothing is going to happen, ever, that will catch Jesus Christ by surprise. He is able to help His children work through anything, and not a single thing is going to happen in the future that can change that fact.
Jesus told His disciples that in the world they would have tribulation. What we often miss is what He didn’tsay.
Jesus did not say, “In the world you will have tribulation but I have overcome tribulation.” No, Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but I have overcome the world.”
Jesus does not just overcome the event. He overcomes the environment in which the event occurs. Therefore, we can trust Him.
Jesus comes to us in the midst of the struggle, when the battle is almost unbearable and the circumstances look impossible.
In the voice of absolute certainty, of power and strength beyond imagining, He speaks to us of peace and gives us the encouragement we need. He raises our morale and fills us with strength.
Taken from The Great Disappearance: 31 Ways to be Rapture Ready by Dr. David Jeremiah. Copyright © 2023 by Dr. David Jeremiah. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson.
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Dr. David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church. He has been faithfully studying and teaching the Word of God for sixty years. He is also a prolific author, being the recipient of numerous awards for his books including bestseller lists in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, and USA Today, the ECPA Medallion of Excellence Award, as well as two Gold Medallion Awards. Dr. Jeremiah is a sought-after speaker across the country—speaking frequently at universities, conventions, and conferences, as well as chapels for professional football and basketball teams. In 2020 he was awarded NRB’s Hall of Fame and President’s Awards. Believing our dreams should always be greater than our memories, he continually trusts God to accomplish great things through Turning Point’s ministry around the globe.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.