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When Will the Lord Return?

Jesus is Coming Back Again and He Told Us
What to Look for Right Before He Returns

 

When will the Lord Return?

 

Jesus will return to planet Earth; he could do that at any moment. His followers asked for information about when this would happen, so the Lord gave them a list of signs which would occur right before he returns. Jesus also gave several other key events which gave them a much clearer insight into when this would all happen. In this article I'll examine what Jesus told us to search for so that we wouldn't be caught by surprise.

But before attempting to answer this question, let me emphasize that Jesus declared that no man knows the day or the hour of his return. He admitted that even he didn't even know when that would be, but only the Father knows. (See Mark 13:36) He also declared that we shouldn't believe anyone's attempt to set a day or an hour for his return. Actually, such a person should be seen as a false prophet.

 

But the Lord did encourage us to read the signposts that he gave to us so that we would know right before he returns that the event was imminent.  This is a lot like guessing the coming weather by looking up at the conditions found in the sky. Using this method, we'll only be able to determine the "general hour" of the actual event. But when we start seeing all of these signs lining up, then it will be time to make preparations—because he'll be right around the corner.


A Longer List of Last Day Signs


Right before Jesus was crucified, he told his followers about the coming destruction of the temple and of the nation of Israel. He had talked about this in more detail (see Luke 19:41-44) but these prophecies prompted the disciples to ask when this would happen and also what would be the sign of his coming at the end of the age. Because the destruction of the temple (and Israel) would happen in about 40 years, and his return would not happen for at least 2,000 years, it is easy to confuse the two events when you read the the Lord's words.

 

Jesus gave an extensive answer to their questions and laid it out for us in Matthew 24:4-14. (See 8 Signs of the Last Days). But there are a LOT other end time signs that both the Lord and the New Testament authors gave to us. Take a look at this longer list and see how many of these signs you think have been fulfilled (or which are being fulfilled) in today's world. Remember, the world has dramatically changed since all of these signposts were given back 2,000 years ago. There is no way that these predictions could have been written as guesses. They could only have been put together by God himself through his writers and prophets.


Signs of the Times: the End is Near

 


1. Signs in Nature


There were all types of signs which would be given to us signaling that we had reached the end of our age. I've placed them into three groups to help you see just how thorough God's warnings are. Let's begin with those dramatic events that will take place in nature:


1. There will be Famines and Plagues
"There will ... be famines and plagues in many lands." Luke 21:11 NLT

2. Deadly Diseases will be Prevalent
"These were given authority over one-fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword and famine and disease.." Revelation 6:8 NLT.

3. There will be Mass Deaths of Animals and Fish.
"Along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, and also the fish of the sea disappear." Hosea 4:3 NLT. "And every living thing in the sea died." Revelation 16:3 NLT. See Is Fukushima God's Judgment?

4. There will be Strange Signs in the Sky.
"And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars." Luke 21:25a NLT. The following video promotes a book, but it also makes some clear connections between other prophetic passages in the Bible and predictions about the "blood moons" that be coming upon the earth. It offers clear confirmation that the days of the end are drawing very close:



5. The Nations will be in Turmoil because of the Signs in the Sea.

"Here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides." Luke 21:25b NLT

6. There will be Earthquakes in Many Places.
"There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world." Matthew 24:7 NLT

7. People will be Terrified.
"People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken." Luke 21:26 NLT

While these signs in nature will/are certainly dramatic, many have a difficult time understanding that these things are all the hand of God. So the Lord has given us many signs that we can also see in the breakdown of our society:

2. Signs in Society


8. At the End of Time, Many will Travel Back and Forth.
"Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth..." Daniel 12:4 NASV

9. At the End of Time, Knowledge will Increase.
"Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time... knowledge will increase." Daniel 12:4 NASV
 
10. In the last times Traditional Marriage will be Attacked.
"In the last days... they will say it is wrong to be married..." 1 Timothy 4:3 NLT

11. They'll Also Attack Certain Foods.
"They will say it is... wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth." 1 Timothy 4:3 NLT

12. The Attitudes in the Last Days.
"For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God... They will consider nothing sacred." 2 Timothy 3:2 NLT

13. Youth will Become Rebellious.
"In the last days ... they will... be... disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful." 2 Timothy 3:2 NLT

14. People will be Ruthless Against Each Other.
"They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God." 2 Timothy 3:3-4 NLT

15. The Earth will be Filled with Sexual Immorality
"And don't forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God's judgment." Jude 7 NLT.

 

"And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot." Luke 17:28 NLT

16. Lawlessness Will Increase.
"Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold." Matthew 24:12 NASV

17. Violence Will Fill the Earth.
"When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah's day." Matthew 24:37 NLT

"Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence... So God said to Noah, "I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence." Genesis 6:11, 13 NLT

18. Men will Mock the Warning Signs at the End of the Age.
"In the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, 'What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.'" 2 Peter 3:3-4 NLT

19. Men Will Deny God's Past Judgment.
"They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood."
2 Peter 3:5-6). NLT

20. There Will Be Wars and Threats of Wars.
"And you will hear of wars and threats of wars... Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." Matthew 24:6-7 NLT

21. People Will be Crying for Peace.
"The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, 'Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly." 1 Thessalonians 5:3 NIV

23. The Future Will be Fearful for Many
"People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world." Luke 21:26 NIV


3. Spiritual Signs

Are You Ready for the Lord's Return?


24. Many False Prophets will Appear.
"And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people." Matthew 24:11 NLT

25. Many False Messiahs will Come.
"For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God's chosen ones." Matthew 24:24 NLT

26. False Bible Teachers will Preach Greed.
"There will be false teachers among you... In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money." 2 Peter 2:1, 3 NLT

27. Christians will be Persecuted and Killed.
"Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers." Matthew 24:9 NLT

28. Many Believers Will Fall Away.
"At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other." Matthew 24:11 NLT.

29. People will Follow Deceptive Spirits and Teachings from Demons.
"Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons." 1 Timothy 4:1 NLT

30. There will be a Rise in the Occult.
"They continued to worship demons ... they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality..." Revelation 9:20-21 NLT

31. Men will Substitute Fantasy and Myth for Christian Truth
"They will reject the truth and chase after myths." 2 Timothy 4:4 NLT

32. There Will Be a Powerful Religious System Persecuting the Church.
The Great Harlot is a religious system that will persecute true believers in the last days. Revelation 17, 18, 19

33. People will be Forced to Worship the Beast.
"He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead." Revelation 13:17 NLT

34. The Christian Gospel will be Preached to the Nations.
"And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14 NLT

 

Israel Will Become a Nation Again


I review 12 of the most dramatic prophecies about Israel coming into the land in detail in my article Israel Will Become A Nation, but there is more you should know about Israel to understand when the Lord will return. To understand his return, you must realize that the fate of Israel is a big key to unlocking the lock that's on our understanding of the future. When the Lord was talking about what would happen before his return, he gave the disciples a short parable:

"Learn the lesson from the fig tree," he said. "When its branch has grown tender, and you see the leaves coming out, you notice it and know summer is near. So when you see all of these things taking place, realize the kingdom of God is at hand. Truly I say to you, that generation will not pass away before all these things will have been fulfilled. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Matthew 24:32-35; Mark 13:28-31).

The Lord used parables both to confuse his enemies and enlighten his followers. This is just such a case. Most people tend to miss what the Lord was saying here, but it is obvious from second century documents that the disciples grasped his message.

Jesus had given an earlier parable in his ministry about a vineyard owner who has waited three years for fruit to appear on his fig tree (Luke 13:6-9) only to find no fruit. He is ready to cut down the tree but is encouraged to give it a little more time before axing it. This symbolism of the fig tree was obviously aimed at unrepentant Israel. He offers that particular parable right after he has talked about Jews dying at the hands of Pilate and when the tower in Siloam fell. He then says, "unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:1-5). In that parable, Jesus reveals that God is about to cut down the nation of Israel because it did not bear the fruit of changed thinking by believing in the Messiah who has been sent to them.

Most Jews did not repent during the Lord's ministry. So right after the Triumphal Entry when Jesus cleanses the temple and condemns their defilement of his Father's house, Jesus also curses a fig tree that he finds which has leaves but no fruit. Immediately it begins to wither. The temple cleansing and the fig tree are joint statements about how Israel has turned its back on Christ and how God feels about it.r>
The very next day, Jesus utters this parable about the budding fig tree, right after he has cursed a real fig tree. He knows the disciples will eventually discern that it is about more than just an example of watching the seasons change. Jesus was consistently using the fig tree as a symbol for Israel. so when he says that it's branches and leaves will grow tender, something is coming.

 

For Israel to be a budding tree once again, it would need to be replanted. The Lord had already predicted at this point that Jerusalem and the temple would cease to be (in just about 40 years). So for this sign to come true in the last days, Israel would have had to become a nation once again. Christians as far back as the second century believed that this parable referred to Israel coming back into the land.

Of course this happened on May 14, 1948; the nation of Israel was reestablished in the land. Never in history has any nation been reestablished after it has been out of existence for so long. Israel did not exist for 1,900 years, yet the Jews never lost their cultural and religious identity and many have now come back into the land. Because this is such an amazing prophetic feat (and it was also predicted by many of the earlier Hebrew Prophets) it means that this particular sign holds great significance for those who want to have a better understanding when the End Times will begin.

I believe Jesus was saying, when you see Israel come back into the land, know that the kingdom of God is near. When you see "all these things taking place" then "that generation will not pass away before all these things will have been fulfilled." This probably means that the generation who witnesses the nation of Israel being reborn will also see Christ's return. Some of those who were alive in 1948 will very likely be alive to see Christ's return (or at least the beginning of tribulation events).

 

The only thing that might change this timing is the fact that Israel has not fully "budded" spiritually. Israel is still essentially a secular state and most Jews living in the land are walking far from their God. So it is possible that the Lord marks the beginning of the last generation from some future day when Israel will have a spiritual awakening.

 

A Spiritual Awakening Predicted for Israel

 

The Apostle Paul experienced many rejections at the hands of his fellow Jews, but he believed they would eventually find Jesus as their Messiah. And he predicted that when the Jews accept the Lord, it will "...be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!" (Romans 11:15 NLT).


When Paul uses the phrase "life for those who were dead" it may be a reference to the vision of the "valley of the dead bones" found in Ezekiel 37. In that passage, the Lord showed Ezekiel a valley full of dead dry bones who he was to prophesize over. Then God caused all those bones to assemble together; he put flesh on them; and then he breathed into them and they came alive. Then Ezekiel explains what this all means:


"Then he said to me, 'Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel...' 'O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel... I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it.'" (Ezekiel 37:11, 12b, 14 NLT).


"Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days." (Hosea 3:5 NIV). So God's plan for bringing the Jews back into their land also involves their spiritual awakening.


When Jesus wept over Jerusalem's rejection, he also said: "And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, 'Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!'" (Matthew 23:38-39 NLT). Jesus stated that Jerusalem would never see him again until the Jews welcomed him and those who come in his name.


It would therefore seem this can only happen when the Jews come to faith in Christ—the very thing which Paul (quoting the Old Testament) asserts: "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins' " (Rom. 11:26-27).


But today, Israel only has a religious remnant, because the vast majority of the Jews are not religious at all. They don't know their scriptures and they don't know the Lord. So one of the things that is yet to happen with Israel coming into the land is for them to turn back to the their God. And that might have an impact upon what will be the beginning date for the last generation.


The Abomination of Desolation


Jesus gives another powerful description of what will happen and includes a specific detail that provide a clear (if somewhat illusive) sign:

The Abomination of Desolation"When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

"If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Messiah!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be  on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time." (Mark 13:14-23).

 

It might appear that Jesus was talking about the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple here. The Lord had predicted that destruction earlier, and we know that in about 40 years, the Jews would revolt against Rome and Roman armies would surround Jerusalem, lay a siege against it and eventually destroy both the city and the temple completely, but not before desecrating the temple. But I don't believe that Jesus was talking here about this same event.

1. First, the key event that the disciples are given to mark their awareness that the last days are beginning to unfold is the appearance of the "Abomination that causes desolation." This did not happen in the first century as the Romans had already destroyed Jerusalem and slaughtered most of the people BEFORE they defiled the temple and then destroyed it. So it wouldn't have been much of a warning.

 

2. Whatever this abomination of desolation is, it is found where it should not be, in the holy place within the temple (see Matthew 24:15). So this means the Dome of the Rock—which now occupies the site of the temple—could not be the abomination because it isn't actually within the temple.

 

3. This abomination is set up and stands so that it can be seen. That description would eliminate any virtual, holographic or invisible image.

 

4. This will all happen after you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20).

 

5. This will happen while Jerusalem is being trampled by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24).

 

6. Jesus clarifies that this is the same event which Daniel the prophet had predicted, so that connection offers us a lot more biblical clues as to what he was talking about.

 

7. According to Daniel 9:26-27, the one behind the abomination is the "prince" (who is also called the Beast or the Antichrist elsewhere) who will come from the people who destroyed the temple.

 

8. According to Daniel 11:31-32 and 12:11, he will abolish the daily sacrifice in the temple.

 

9. The armies will surround Jerusalem for 3 ½ years, or 42 months or 1260 days (according to Daniel 9:27; 7:25; Revelation 11:2-3; 13:5). So this is a future event closely associated with the Great Tribulation period which does not refer to the destruction of the second temple by the Romans which took place back in 70 A.D. (For more details on this, you might want to read Abomination Desolation).

Two things must happen before this passage can be fulfilled. First, the Jews need a new temple. Second, they must once again be sacrificing in that temple (because the prince will stop those sacrifices). Of course, this can't happen until the Jews either take control of, or have more autonomy over the temple mount. Because the Muslims currently control that area, the third temple cannot be built any time soon. If the Jews were to destroy the Dome of the Rock, it would certainly ignite a holy war of extreme proportions.

Revelation 11:1-2 offers an intriguing insight into what might happen with a future temple. "And there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, 'Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it. And leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.'"

There are many who believe that the Dome of the Rock does not actually sit on the site of Solomon's temple. If this is the case, it could be possible for the temple to be built next to the Islamic structure, side by side. This passage in Revelation appears to be from the same time period when the Abomination will be set up, so this provides an interesting possibility.

In short, the Lord's mentioning of the Abomination of Desolation as part of his list of signs is an indication that several more events will need to take place in Israel before the actual second coming of Christ.

 

You should know that the second coming of Christ is actually two events. First, the Lord comes to Rapture the believers out of this world, (but he does not actually set foot on the earth). And then second, he "officially" comes back to earth to judge the world and set up his kingdom.


Final Signs and the Rapture of Believers

The Rapture of Believers"Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31 NIV).

"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24:36-44 NIV).

Here the Lord talks about signs within the heavens which include the sign of the Son of Man when he comes on the clouds with a loud trumpet call, and gathers the believers from one end of the earth to the other. He states that two men will be in a field, one will be taken up and the other left. Two women will be grinding in a mill; one will be taken, the other left. Two people in one bed, one will be taken and the other left. (Luke 17:34).

This event has been called the Rapture and it involves the snatching away of believers into the air to be with the Lord. It will happen quickly. It will surprise and will probably terrify those left behind and those who see the sign of the Son of Man in the sky (whatever that is exactly). When believers are swept away like this, it will be one of the last warnings that the Lord gives that judgment is just over the horizon. With the Christians gone and the Holy Spirit restrained on earth, the coming prince (the Antichrist) will be free to cause incredible destruction on the earth.

Many believe that the Rapture will happen before the Great Tribulation begins. From the context of this passage, it appears that the Rapture will take place after a lot of destruction and the Abomination of Desolation is erected into the Holy of Holies. During that period of time, there will be armies surrounding Jerusalem, and the Antichrist will be playing God in the world. If all that is true, believers will go through a lot of persecution leading up to this event and it won't be any fun living during this period of time.

If the pre-tribulation Rapture theory is actually correct, believers will disappear into the sky just as the world's condition is about to become incredibly bad. For the sake of the Church, I certainly hope that this theory is correct, but keep in mind nothing is sure about when the Rapture will take place. What is sure is that it is coming. Whether the pre-tribulation (or "early Rapture" theory) is correct or not, you should know that when the Rapture does come, it will be the last train out of Dodge before all hell breaks loose. So if you're still alive when it happens, you don't want to miss that train by not being ready for the ride.

Even the first-century Church believed Christ could come back at any moment to remove the believers from the coming wrath. (J. Dwight Pentecost, Will Man Survive? (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971, p. 41). There's no telling when this will happen. Jesus made it plain that no one knows the day or the hour. So we can only get close in our guesses based upon examining the many Bible prophecies on the subject of his return.

What If You're Not Ready for His Return?


Jesus said the last days before his coming will be "as it was in the days of Noah." Back then people were oblivious to the signs. They ate and drank and got married right up to the day Noah entered the ark. They knew nothing about what was coming until the flood swept them all away. Today we have so many diversions with television, cable, the Internet, movies, sports, music, art, celebrity worship, alcohol, pornography, a multitude of drugs and so much more. All of this stuff keeps us distracted and not paying attention to what's really happening in the world. And we're all in danger of being swept away.

Jesus Weeps for YouThe world situation is bad and is going to get much worse. Most people would rather not know. The world's problems just seem too depressing to them. But we can be sure things will get worse because it has all been predicted. As governments become more desperate for cash because they can't borrow any more money from the people who make the money, things will turn from bad to worse. Natural and man-made disasters are beginning to envelop us in ways only the ancient Scriptures could have imagined. And you really have to ask yourself if you're ready for what's coming? Because if you're not, Jesus weeps for you just like he wept over those who crucified him.

&q"Keep watch," Jesus said, "because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." He then gives the illustration of a house owner preparing for a thief who is coming in the middle of the night. I now live in a country a lot like Israel during Jesus' day. Thieves are not very sophisticated here, but they will definitely break in to any undefended home, especially in the middle of the night. High concrete fences topped with broken glass, large metal gates, bars on the windows, dogs, and hidden weapons are all standard defensive equipment in a country like this, if you want to protect your lives and your stuff.

Now of course, if you knew exactly when a thief was going to come to your house, you would certainly be ready for him. But because you never really know when or even if he's coming at all, its just too easy to get complacent and assume no one will ever break into your house. This is why so many homeowners make no preparations. It may seem like such a remote possibility that it will happen to you, that you don't give it much thought. But if you have even a little common sense, you'll make preparations so that when a thief does arrive you'll be prepared to fend him off.

The best way to prepare yourself for the Lord's coming is to be ready to meet the God of the universe on a moment's notice. This is something that you can't put off for a more convenient day. You might die tonight from any number of causes. Horrendous events will soon be upon us like a sudden hurricane of massive proportions. If you do not have Jesus living inside your heart, you don't really have a survival plan for the future.

It doesn't matter how much food you have stored in your basement; if you are not ready to fly into the sky to meet Christ when he comes, you're not ready for the worst case scenario here on our earth. The only way you can be sure you're ready to meet God is if you have become a true Christian. I've prepared several articles for you that will help you here in the Seeker's section so that you can connect with Jesus. Take a look at: How to Repent and How to Become A Christian.

The Lord could come back at any moment. No sign has to take place before he appears in the sky, with a trumpet and a shout, all Christians will rise up to him and then we will disappear, leaving the the world to wallow in the turmoil of its impending judgment. Trust me when I say that you want to be ready for that event when the Lord returns! The alternative to being left behind are just too horrific to contemplate.

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