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THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AND JUDGMENT
Separating Fact from Fiction
Signs of Christ’s Coming
Victor M. Eskew
A. Many individuals are looking for an imminent return of Jesus Christ. The reason is because they believe that the signs of Christ’s coming are being fulfilled in our world.
1. “Though the Bible clearly teaches that no man can know the exact time when Christ will return, it gives many signs that will take place before the return of Christ so that Christians can know that the coming of Christ is drawing near” (The King Is Coming, Homer Duncan, p. 23).
2. “Like other Christians, Latter-day Saints believe and look forward to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It was prophesied in the Bible and the Book of Mormon that there will be certain signs that will precede His coming for the faithful to watch for”
B. There are several passages that they turn to that cause them to believe that signs have been given for Christ’s Second Coming.
1. Matthew 24:1-4a
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them…
2. Luke 21:28
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
3. II Timothy 3:1
This know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come.
4. II Peter 3:3-4
Knowing this first , that there shall come in the last days, scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
I. MANY LISTS OF “SIGNS” HAVE BEEN GIVEN
A. In his book, The King Is Coming, Homer Duncan presents “Ninety-Seven Scriptural Signs That Indicate The Imminent Return of The Lord Jesus Christ” (pp. 27-108).
B. In an article entitled, “Seven Major Prophetic Signs of the Second Coming,” Jack Kelly professes that “currently all of them are in some stage of fulfillment” (www.gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy)
C. Roderick C. Meredith has written a book entitled, “Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return” (www.tomorrowsworld.org/booklets).
D. On the website, www.understandingmormonism.org/jesus_second-coming, the author lists eighteen signs that he believes predict the second coming of Jesus Christ.
II. CONFUSION IN INTERPRETATION
A. Religious men, and supposed Bible scholars have been looking at the signs of the times for years and have been predicting the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. (See “Is the End Near, Allen Webster)
1. Montanus’ followers, in the second century, sold their belongings and ascended to a hill to await Jesus’ return. Eventually, police had to disperse them because they resorted to stealing to survive.
2. Hippolytus of Rome predicted A.D. 500 based on the dimensions of Noah’s ark.
3. Pope Sylvester II predicted January 1, 1000. Riot occurred. Pilgrims headed to Jerusalem.
4. Pope Innocent III taught it would come 666 years after Islam’s rise (1284).
5. Martin Luther predicted 1600.
6. Christopher Columbus predicted 1656 in The Book of Prophecies (1501).
7. Fifth Monarchists predicted 1666 due to the date including 666 and 100,000 dying of bubonic plague that year.
8. Following Isaac Newton’s death in 1727, thousands of pages deciphering Bible codes and dates were found. Some estimate he spent twice the time on this as on science. In a twist to common date-setting, he said the end of the world would be no earlier than 2060. He said, “This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men.”
9. William Miller, an upstate New York farmer and founder of Adventism, thought he had found the final day by matching dates on the calendar with the words of the prophet Daniel. He calculated the last day to be Sunday, March 21, 1844. His congregation, many in white robes, went to meet Jesus on a rooftop. When He did not come, calculations were revised to October 22, 1844.
10. Joseph Smith said Christ would come by 1891.
11. Charles T. Russell predicted Jesus’ return in 1874. After it passed, he explained that Jesus had come in invisible form to right a spiritual battle that would close in October 1914. Other Watchtower prophets predicted the “end of the present order of things” for 1918, 1925, 1975, and 1984.
12. Herbert W. Armstrong told members a “rapture” was to take place in 1936, and only they would be saved.
13. During World World II, some watched world political events and nuclear armaments involving Europe, Israel, Russia, and America and warned the last days were here. Premillennial leaders were convinced the end would be within one generation (40 years) of Israel’s becoming a nation in 1948. Hal Lindsey laid it out in his popular book The Late Great Planet Earth (1970). He believed Jesus would return by 1988 and that after seven years of tribulation, Jesus would visibly appear by 1995 to win the Battle of Armageddon and commence a millennial reign on earth.
14. Jerry Falwell foresaw God pouring out judgment on the world on January 1, 2000.
15. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins stated that the Y2K bug would trigger global economic chaos, which the Antichrist would use to rise to power. As the date approached, they recanted.
16. Harold Camping gained notoriety by predicting that October 21, 2011, would be the final day. After the world did not end, Camping admitted in a private interview that he no longer believed anybody could know the time of the end of the world.
B. Building the temple
1. Premils say the temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem before the Second Coming happens.
2. Mormons also believe that the temple must be rebuilt, but they believe that it will be in the “New Jerusalem” that will be somewhere in Missouri.
C. The appearance of the Antichrist is one of the signs of Jesus’ return. In our next lesson, we will discuss the confusion that has surrounded him throughout history.
D. It would be an interesting study to take the teachings of several men who have believed and taught the imminent return of Christ and see what they have to say about the “signs” of Jesus’ coming.
John Nelson Darby Joseph Smith, Jr. C.I. Scofield Hebert W. Armstrong
1800 – 1882 1805 – 1844 1943 – 1921 1892 – 1986
Tim LaHaye Hal Lindsey Jack Van Impe John Hagee
1926 – Present 1929 – Present 1931 – Present 1940 – Present
III. MISUNDERSTANDING OF MATTHEW 24
A. Most Premils believe that Matthew 24 lists many of the “signs” of Jesus’ Second Coming.
1. “The greatest chapter in the Bible on the signs of the times is the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew (The King Is Coming, Duncan, 23)
2. “There are twenty-five signs of the Second Coming listed in Matthew 24. What we know is that they will happen in greater number and intensity during the Tribulation, but we already see them intensifying in number and force right now in our generation. So we look to these signs and know that our redemption draws near by the Second Coming…” (www.conditionalsalvation.com, “Signs of the Second Coming from Matthew 24).
B. An Explanation of Matthew 24
1. In Matthew 24, the disciples ask Jesus three questions.
a. When shall these things be?
1) In Matthew 24:2, Jesus had told His disciples that one stone of the temple would not be left upon another.
2) The disciples wondered when this would transpire.
b. What shall be the sign of thy coming?
c. And, of the end of the world?
2. Jesus answered the first question in Matthew 24:4-34.
a. Matthew 24:34
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till these things be fulfilled.
b. If the things applied to the attack of the Roman armies on the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the text makes perfect sense.
1) Jesus’ words to His apostles (Matt. 24:9)
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
2) Words given to those in Judea (Matt. 24:16)
Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains.
3) The practical aspects of Matthew 24:17-20
a) The one in the field should not go get his clothes.
b) Pregnant women would have difficulty in escape.
c) The winter would make their retreat difficult.
d) If the Romans attacked on the Sabbath day, the gates of the city would be shut.
4) The appeal Jesus makes to those hearing Him at that time (Matt. 24:33).
So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
3. Jesus answers the last two questions in Matthew 24:36-51.
a. Note that Matthew 24:36 begins with the word “but.”
1) “But” is a conjunction of contrast.
2) The fall of Jerusalem would come with signs, BUT of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
b. Four times in these verses Jesus reveals that we do not know when the Second Coming will be (Matt. 24:36, 42, 44, 50).
The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware.
1) If there are signs, we will be looking. This goes against Jesus’ words.
2) If there are signs, we will be aware. This, too, goes against Jesus’ words.
IV. THE LAST DAYS
A. When individuals hear the words “the last days,” they believe the Bible is referring to those last few days before the Christ returns.
B. The meaning of the words refers to the entire Christian era.
1.. “We are in ‘the last days’ and have been in them for nearly 2000 years, and for all we
know they may last for many more millenniums before the end comes. They began
when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and they continue unto the Second Coming” (The
Millennium, Loraine Boettner, p. 343).
2. Two passages plainly reveal this.
a. Acts 2:16-17
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh…
b. Hebrews 1:1-2a
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…
A. Jesus said that the Second Coming would be like unto the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37-39).
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
B. If there are definite signs of the Second Coming, we can rest assured that the Lord is not coming back for several more years (Ex., the temple must be rebuilt).
1.. “For several end time prophecies to be fulfilled, the temple will have to be rebuilt”
(www.conditionalsalvation.com, “Signs of the Second Coming from Matthew 24).
2. “For many years rumors have been floating around about the rebuilding of
the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The temple must be rebuilt either prior to
or during the tribulation” (The King Is Coming, Homer Duncan, 85).