Signs of the Last Days According to Jesus

Bible is a book of revelations about the restoration of the Kingdom of God. Bible contains many prophesies about future events. These prophesies are recorded in the Bible by different authors at different periods of time. These prophesies are God’s revelation about His ultimate plan for humans. The disciples of Jesus who followed Him while He was alive on this earth, believed that He was the Jewish Messiah who came to re-establish the Jewish Kingdom forever. Their perception changed only when they were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. When they received more revelations from the Holy Spirit, their concept about the Jewish Messiah was replaced by a spiritual Kingdom. They suddenly understood that Jesus is the “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 - NKJV). This is a fundamental change to their concept of Jesus that happened on the Pentecost day. If this revelation was not achieved, they would not go beyond the Jewish community. But Jesus’ intention was to send them to Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. They were entrusted by our Lord with a great mission unto the end of the world.


The most important prophesy in the Bible is what Jesus has spoken about His Second coming. The whole Bible has many prophecies about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. On the basis of these prophecies, some Bible teachers have assumed the time period for His Coming. But in fact we are prohibited to assume dates and time periods for Coming. Still we are not totally oblivious to the signs of the last days. And we understand by observing the signs prophesied by our Lord that the day is drawing near. Jesus has prophesied many signs of the days of His Coming so that we will keep awake and raise our head in expectation.


Approximately one quarter of the Bible is about the future of humans and the world. 1800 passages in the Bible deal with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Among these 318 passages are in the New Testament. Bible does not predict a materialistic paradise in this world. Bible foresees a world torn by lawlessness, hate, war, famines, pestilence and natural calamities. These events will be followed by God’s intervention into this world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke contain an account of Christ teaching about the signs of the last days. Jesus said:  “So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:31 - NKJV). These signs must occur first before His second coming. His Second Coming signals the last days of this world order.


His prophecies concerning the last days are recorded in Matthew 24: 3-44, Mark 13: 3-33 and Luke 21:  7-36. He spoke these prophecies while they were on the Mount Olive. Matthew says that the disciples went to Jesus privately asking questions about the sign of His Second coming and of the end of the world. Luke simply says that the disciples asked Him the question while Mark names them as Peter, James and John. And so it seems that it was a private talk to three of the disciples, not a public preaching. The discourse of Jesus Christ gives a series of signs that must occur before He returns, which we are to watch carefully. Understanding them will help us to keep awake when Christ comes again. Otherwise His coming will happen to us, like a thief who comes unexpectedly.


The discourse came after Jesus left the Jerusalem Temple. While they were leaving the Temple, His disciples tried to draw His attention to the beautiful construction of the temple. But Jesus responded in an unexpected way. He said: “And Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Matthew 24:2 - NKJV). Since the destruction of the first temple happened once earlier in their history, the disciples believed in its probability in future also. So when they were alone on the Mount Olive, they asked Jesus, “when will this happen”. They added two more questions to this. The second and third questions are about the Second Coming of Jesus and the end of the world.


The first phase of signs


The first warning Jesus gave His disciples is that there will arise deceivers in the last days. Jesus also told them how to know them. They will come claiming His name, His authority and appointment. When Matthew records Jesus saying that the deceivers will claim, “I am the Christ”, Mark and Luke says that they will say, “I am He,'” (Matthew 24:5, Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8 – NKJV). Both way of saying seems the same but there is an important different. Claiming that a person is Christ and claiming that “I am He” are two different things. In the Jewish history, before and after Jesus Christ, there have been people who claimed that they are Messiah or Christ whom they are expecting. Some may arise in the future also. But somebody claiming in the last days that he is Jesus Christ is different from this. Jesus has ascended to the heaven promising us to “come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11). In the last days some will appear claiming that they are the Second appearance of Jesus Christ who have ascended into heaven. This will be the greatest deception.


Luke records that Jesus said, “For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time has drawn near.' Therefore do not go after them.” (Luke 21:8 - NKJV). Here Jesus might be talking about same person who claims that “I am He” or about many other end time prophets. These end time prophets will claim that, “The time has drawn near.” We are warned by our master not to go after them. Why should not we predict the time of His coming? At many occasions, His disciples asked about the time of His Second Coming. But Jesus did not give them a specific date or time for His second coming or for all the end time events. Because the date and time is vested in the authority of God the Father. In fact Jesus warned them against setting dates for His Second Coming. He knew that in future there will arise people who will announce that the end of the world is near. Their intention is to mislead the believers. We are supposed to be watchful of the events happening around us and be ready in season and out of season for His Coming.


Wars, Diseases, famine and fearful sights


After speaking about deceivers, Jesus goes on to speak about an unprecedented increase of wars among nations and within nations. He said: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars … For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:6, 7 - NKJV). Towards the end of the world wars will become more devastating and more frequent. All these wars will culminate in what is called “the battle of Armageddon.”


But before the last war, the world will long for peace. The Apostle Paul speaks in I Thessalonians 5:3: “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (NKJV). We have never talked this much about peace ever before in the history. Treaties are made and alliance are formed to bring peace in the world. Religions are joining hands to work out a path to permanent peace and harmony. But there is something that never brings peace to the world. We blame it on terrorism, communalism and fascism and so on. But the real cause of all evil in this world is sin and its only solution is Jesus Christ.


Jesus continued to speak about famines, pandemics and earthquakes. All these things existed even before the birth of Jesus. It happened after the death of Jesus more than once. But Jesus is speaking about an increase of famine and pestilence which the world shall fail to control. Luke 21:11 adds one more sign along with the above: “and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.”  And then He added that “All these are the beginning of sorrows”. That means, a greater sorrowful time is expected after all these events.


The second phase of signs


The second phase of end time signs are described in Matthew 24: 9-14, Mark 13:9-13 and Luke 21:12-19. After saying that, “All these are the beginning of sorrows”, Matthew 24: 9 says: "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you”; Mark 13:9 says: "… for they will deliver you up to councils,” and Luke 21:12 says: "… they will lay their hands on you and persecute you,”. This is the second phase of the end signs. Persecutions of the believers are mentioned here. Jesus said, “they will deliver you”. Who are the “they” Jesus talked about? We should find them in the verses above it. Jesus started his prophecy by mentioning deceivers. “For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and will deceive many.” (Mark 13:6 – NKJV). After mentioning the deceivers, He talked about nobody else. So it is reasonable to believe that these deceivers who will come claiming that they are Jesus Christ, will persecute the believers. They shall come claiming that Jesus Christ has come again and will persecute those who do not believe them. They are seemingly religious people but wolves inside. History also vouchsafe that saintly believers were persecuted many times by the established Church. The Catholics and the Protestants, both persecuted those who disagreed with them. This may happen again in future.


Jesus goes on to speak about deception, hatred, betrayal and false prophets. In fact Jesus spoke about these things as end time signs more than supernatural phenomena. To all these He added lawlessness and unloving nature of man. All these are sure signs that the end is near. But the only event that comes close to the end of the world is, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” And He ends the second phase of prophecy with a comforting note: "But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”


The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple


Matthew 24:15 onwards Jesus answers the question about the destruction of the Jerusalem city and the Temple. Jesus said, “Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (15, 16). What did He mean by saying “abomination of desolation’, spoken of by Daniel the prophet”?


Daniel’s prophecy about the abomination of desolation is recorded in the book of Daniel 12:11. This incident had two historical fulfilments. Still Bible scholars believe that it has an eschatological fulfilment. Daniel spoke about the time when the abomination of desolation is set up in the Temple after the daily sacrifice is abolished. This prophecy is an important time marker signaling the nearness of the return of Jesus Christ.


The word abomination means “filthy” in Hebrew and “a foul thing” in Greek. That means abomination is something detestable to God and His people. The Word “abomination” appears more than 100 times in the Old Testament and just a few times in the New Testament. More often throughout the Bible “abomination” refers to covenant violations by idolatry (Deuteronomy 7:25; 13:14.) In the historical books of the Old Testament, “abomination” always describes idolatry and it is often connected to child sacrifice among the pagans. (1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:13). Abomination also refers to idolatry in the books of prophets, including Daniel 9 and 11. Daniel uses the Hebrew word siqqus, a term that always appears in connection with idolatry. In Hebrew the word desolation means, “devastate” or “something horrible that can leave a person speechless”. In Greek it means, “making desolate”. Jesus says that it would be “standing in the holy place”. So Daniel and Jesus were talking about an abhorrent thing connected to idolatry which will horribly desecrate the Jerusalem Temple. This prophecy does not refer to a single event, it has a multiple fulfilment. It was fulfilled partially before Christ, fulfilled after Christ and will again be fulfilled completely in future.


The first fulfilment of Daniel’s prophesy happened in the Jewish history, during the time of the Greek empire. We read the prophecy in Daniel 11:31: “And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. 


 Alexander the Great took control of Jerusalem in 332 B.C. After the death of Alexander the Greek empire was divided mainly into three. One of Alexander’s general, Seleucus I Nicator emerged as one of the strongest generals. He ruled over a large area of the Greek empire that included the city of Babylon, Mesopotamia, central Asia including Jerusalem. In the early days of their rule, the Jews enjoyed theocratic freedom. But in 175 B.C Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascended to the throne. He followed the policy of Hellenization. Religious observances of Sabbath and circumcision were outlawed. So in 167 B.C the Jews rose up against the Seleucid rule. The revolt took place while Antiochus was on a military campaign in Egypt. Antiochus returned to Jerusalem and violently put down the rebellion, killing thousands of Jews and selling others into slavery. His military forces entered the temple and stopped the regular sacrifices in the Temple. In 167 B.C. Antiochus erected a statue of the Greek god Zeus in the Jerusalem temple. He also ordered that swine, biblically an unclean animal, be offered on the temple altar, desecrating the holy place. This act was abominable to the Jewish people. This is the first fulfillment of the abomination of desolation prophesied by Daniel.


A second fulfillment of the prophesy about the “abomination of desolation” occurred during the time of the Roman Empire. Romans came to Judah in 63 BC and Pompey, the Roman general, entered into the Holy of Holies and thus desecrated it. But he left the Temple intact. In 54 BC Crassus, another Roman general, plundered the Temple treasury. In the first century BC, King Herod was appointed as ruler of the province of Judea. In 37 BC, King Herod enlarged the Temple Mount and rebuilt the Second Temple with the consent of the public. After the death of Herod in 4 BC, Judea came under the direct Roman administration. Jews were angry against the Roman suppression of Jewish life and revolted against the Romans more than once. The rebellion escalated into a full-scale revolt in 66 AD. So Rome sent forces led by Titus to suppress the revolt. In AD 70 they defeated the Jewish revolt and set fire to the Temple. Thus the Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in AD 70. Luke 21:20 says: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.” This may be a reference to this incident. Jesus made this prediction approximately 37 years before the event. Luke records Jesus saying that: "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. (21:22 - NKJV). So whatever happened to the Jews during this incident is the wrath of God.


Jesus also warned the disciples saying: "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies … Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. (Luke 21:20, 21). This prophecy was literally fulfilled and the Christians in Judah obeyed Christ’s command. Eusebius and Epiphanius of Salamis were church fathers lived in the 4th century. They have recorded the history of the destruction of Jerusalem. They says that Jerusalem Christians miraculously escaped from the destruction because they fled to Pella in the region of the Decapolis across the Jordan River. In fact the Jerusalem Christians were literally obeying the command of Jesus. The flight might have happened in AD 66 during the attack by Gallus. Four years later Jerusalem fell. Jews on the other hand rushed into the Jerusalem city and the Temple mount. They were killed by the Roman army.  Pella continued as an important Christian center for more than seventy years, during the time that Jerusalem remained desolate.  


Those who advocate the Pre-Tribulation Rapture believes in a future fulfillment of the prophecy about the abomination of desolation. They argue that when Jesus spoke about the “abomination of desolation,” He was answering the question about the end of the age. Daniel 12:11 says that when the abomination of desolation will be set up, the daily sacrifices will be taken away. But the Jews are not currently offering any daily sacrifices in Jerusalem. That means daily sacrifices will be reestablished at some point in the future. For sacrifices to be offered, an altar must be constructed. The Jerusalem Temple will be reconstructed.


It is not clear what will be set up as “abomination of desolation” in the end time. Apostle Paul wrote about a future leader called “… the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4). The book of Revelation reveals a future political figure called the “beast” who will be allied with a religious figure known as the false prophet. Together, they will invade Jerusalem and control the city until Christ returns and overthrows them. It’s likely that this beast and false prophet will be responsible for setting up the future abomination of desolation.


Great Tribulation


After the prophecy about the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, Jesus suddenly goes on to the time of “great tribulation”. His prophecy is recorded in Matthew 24: 21-28 and Mark 13: 19-23. These prophecies have not yet fulfilled. Jesus said: "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matthew 24: 21). The destruction of the Jerusalem happened in AD 70 and the time of great tribulation has not yet begun. So there must be a time period between these two. Luke speaks about this, "And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24 - NKJV). We know from history that Jerusalem city and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans. Many were killed and were caught alive. They were sold as slaves to different regions of the Roman Empire. After the Romans the city and the Temple went into the hands of the Muslim Ottoman Empire. They built the Dome of Rock and a Mosque in the Temple Mount. To this day, the city and the Temple Mount are in the Muslim control partially. So the present days are the days in which “Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”


About the great tribulation days Jesus also said, "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24: 22 - NKJV). This verse says that the elect will be on earth while the “great tribulation” occurs. Mark also speaks about the elect who will be present during the tribulation days. “And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.” (Mark 13:20)    


The Second Coming of Christ

From here Jesus goes on to the end of the tribulation days. Mark 13:24 says, "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light”. These are signs in the sky. Luke 21: 26 adds another information about the mental state of the world. "… men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.” The world will be in utter confusion and distress. It is better to think that these signs would happen by the end of the tribulation days. Because Matthew also says that these signs will happen, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days” (24:29).


The next verse speaks about the Second Coming of Christ. In Matthew, the prophesy about the Second Coming of Christ is recorded just after the warning about false christs and false teachers. He says, “Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. (Matthew 24:26). That is, they claim a secret appearance of Christ in some secret place. But Jesus warns not to go after them. Because, "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (24:27). Luke and Mark also records this same prophesy. Jesus adds that, "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26). Here the “they” refers to the false prophets, false christs and the distressed world mentioned in the above verse.


Matthew continues to say that when Christ comes again, " And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (24:31). Mark also records this prophesy, but Luke misses it. The event is called the rapture of the Church. The elect are His redeemed people whom He shall gather to Him.


The last sign spoken by Jesus about the last days is the budding of the fig tree. All three gospel writers records the parable of the fig tree. In Luke we read Jesus’ words as, "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near.” (Luke 21:29, 30). Fig tree stands for Israel and “all the trees” may be the nations around it. When Israel begins to flourish again and other unexpected events happen in the neighboring nations, it is a sign of His Second Coming.


Signs within the Church

So far we have been discussing about the end time signs prophesied by Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself has prophesied about deceivers who will claim that they are Christ. That means they come from within the church. Usually the end time preachers of our day do not speak about the sings within the church. They are trying to emotionally exploit the believers by talking about supernatural phenomena and conspiracy theories. We have seen above that the scripture has strongly warned against these kind of preaching.

The believes today must watch about the signs within in the church. Jesus spoke about it. And Apostle Paul also spoke about. Let us discuss one scripture portion from 2 Timothy about the condition of the church in the last days.

When we begin to read 2 Timothy chapter 3, we may think that Paul is talking about people outside the church. But when we continue to read to verse 5, we suddenly realize that Paul is talking about believers within the church. Timothy was Paul’s trusted disciple and he was the first Christian Bishop of Ephesus. 2 Timothy is Paul’s last letter which he writes from the Roman prison. In chapter 3:1-8 Paul reminds Timothy about the great apostasy that will happened to the church.

Perilous times will come

2 Timothy 3 starts with Paul’s warning, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come” (3:1). What did Paul mean by the phrase “perilous times”? The Greek word used for “perilous” is “chalepos” (khal-ep-os). This word means furious or fierce. In Matthew 8: 28 we find the same Greek word. Jesus went to the country side of Gadarenes. There He met a demon possessed man, exceedingly fierce that nobody could pass the way where he lived. Here the Greek word, “chalepos” (khal-ep-os) is used to say that hat he was exceedingly fierce. That means, the “perilous times” spoken by Paul may be a fierce time of the church during which the church or its leaders and members are possessed by demons and behaves so violent that nobody could manage them. The Greeks used two words to denote time. They are “chronos” (khron'-os) and “kairos” (kahee-ros). “Chronos” is the time that we measure with clocks. It is the chronological or sequential time. “Kairos” is an occasion, seasons or the opportune time for action. So Paul is saying that there will be seasons of heightened peril in the church. The leaders and the believers within the church will be under the influence of demons and will be difficult to control.

False believers

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul gives nineteen negative characteristics of many professing believers during these difficult times. Let me read the passage from the Bible:


2 Timothy 3: 2 - 5

2    For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

 3   unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,

 4   traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

 5   having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (NKJV)

As we read Paul’s words, we understand that the terrible times will be caused by ungodly people within the church. This is what will make these last days different from other times. The church was persecuted by enemies in the past. There were difference of opinions within the church. But the last days will be different from those situations. There will be many in the church who profess Christianity but does not have the mindset of Jesus Christ. About them Paul says in verse 5, that they had an “outward appearance of religion” but “repudiated its power.” This means they had the outer trappings of Christianity but lived ungodly lives. They go to church, sings songs, give their tithes and go on mission trips and so on. But their life prove that they have never experienced Christ’s saving power.

This is exactly what Christ warned the disciples of in the parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13. Christ said the kingdom of heaven is tares and wheat (v. 36-43), and good and bad fish (v. 47-50)—essentially true and false believers. The current state of the kingdom is a mixture of good and evil. This reality often leads to disillusionment and apostasy.

False Teachers

From verse 6 - 9 Paul speaks about false teachers in the church. They seduce people and gain control over them. They may promise quick solutions to people’s problems. They always claim to reveal new revelations. And finally, false teachers oppose the truth and instigate rebellion against God and godly leaders. So Paul warns Timothy, “from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:5). This means that there should be a complete healthy separation from individuals who profess Christ but denies its reality.


All true Christians believe in the Second Coming of Christ. But there are different opinions about the time period of this marvelous event. So it is good to read into the signs prophesied by Christ to realize that His Coming is near. Getting ready for the rapture is more important than fixing the time of the event. Let us not forget that Jesus did not encourage us to fix the time of His Coming. That is never prophesied in the Scripture. Only signs of the last days are foretold. 

So stand steadfast in our faith during these last days. We should not be disillusioned by the fall away of the church. Rather we must keep ourselves safe from the apostasy of it. We should teach the believers to realize that the apostasy of the church is a sign of the last days and to be vigilant against it. Otherwise they will miss the kingdom of God for which they have left the world and followed Christ. Tragically we find many falling away from their faith by seeing that some of the co-believers and church leadership fall away. This happens because the church has failed to teach that “perilous times will come” within the church in the last days. We teach our believers to look at the starts, sun and moon for signs of the last days. We preach conspiracy theories as signs of the last days and emotionally exploit them.  But we fail to teach them that the church itself will fall way in the last days and they have to be watchful, vigilant and sober in order to remain steadfast in their faith. When Christ comes, he should find us faithful and holy. Only those who are faithful and holy will be received by Him. 

Thanks for reading. May God bless you!

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