Seriously, how many signs of Jesus’ return do you need?
I just read an interesting article by Dr. David Reagan of Lamb & Lion Ministries (April 14, 2021). (Source) The gist of Dr. Reagan’s article are the numerous signs indicating Jesus’ soon return. All arguments aside about whether the Rapture is before or after the Tribulation, I’d like to make a point.
Seriously, how many signs do you need?
I’m not talking to you if you’re the born-again person who is anxiously scanning the sky for Jesus’ return. And I’m not talking to you if you have no relationship with God and couldn’t give a rip.
I’m talking to Dr. David Reagan and his list of 50 prophetic signs pointing toward Jesus’ return.
To be clear, I’m in no way attacking Dr. David Reagan. I’m just mulling over his article and offering my thoughts. (Okay, I’m lovingly poking Dr. Reagan just a bit.)
Honestly, he’s to be commended for his commitment to studying Bible prophecy. Too few pastors and Christian teachers do, in my opinion. And Jesus’ people absolutely need solid teaching on prophecy to prepare them for the Day of the Lord and Jesus’ return.
What’s this Day of the Lord thing and how is it connected to Jesus’ return?
Well, according to Bible prophecy (and therefore, God) the trajectory of human life on earth will not continue forever as it is now. We started in Eden and got kicked out because of our selfish, sinful rebellion. You know, like you do with a repugnant teenager repudiating the house rules. At the Fall death entered humanity and the world, resulting in the decaying mess and sorrow we wallow in daily. Yeah, there are bright spots and enjoyable times in life, but our inevitable and rotten end is death. Separation from our bodies and existential separation from God. Stinks, don’t it?
Unless you accept God’s plan to restore things to the Eden standard.
Yup, God’s outrageously cool plan is to restore creation to how He designed it, including us. You think car enthusiasts and art preservation societies are meticulous about restoring their heart’s desires to their original state? They have nothing on God!
Jesus’ died to make this restoration possible. When will this global renovation happen? When God steps in to set things right, that is when Jesus returns as our world leader. Humanity will have had their “day” on earth to shape it in their twisted, selfish image. And we’ve seen how that has worked out over the millennia.
When Jesus returns, it will be the His time, the Lord’s time, His Day, the Day of the Lord.
The Day of the Lord is commonly referred to in Jewish End-Time theology as the “birth pains/labor pains of Messiah.” Why? Because labor contractions increase in frequency and intensity at the approach of a baby’s grand appearance. Apostle Paul affirms this view in Romans 8:20-22, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now” (italics mine).
The rabbis say the signs leading to Messiah’s appearance will be like labor pains. They will increase in frequency and intensity. “Normal” earth troubles will become abnormal calamities. As labor has waves of contractions, so the earth will be convulsed by waves of geological, political, social, and spiritual tumults, escalating to the point where humanity’s very existence is in question (Mark 13:20).
The key is increasing in frequency and intensity!
The Bible is filled with prophetic snapshots of God’s plan to restore everything to His original design. Part of those revelations unveil signs that will precede the Day of the Lord, Jesus’ return. Dr. Reagan lists 50 prophetic signs and says those are not even the full list he’s compiled!
But seriously, how many signs do you need, Dr. Reagan? That raises important questions.
Are these signs specific to Jesus’ return? In other words, will they be unique to the End-Time generation (Luke 21:28), the generation that will physically see Jesus galloping into our world from the heavenly dimension (Revelation 19:11-16)? If not unique, then are they common to humanity’s experience, and should they even be considered as signs? If they are to be signs of Jesus’ return, what will make them unique as Day of the Lord markers? Are there baseline signs that serve as a pivot point around which the other signs must revolve to make them unique?
I raise these questions because Christians hype out over “signs of the times” and “Jesus’ soon return” every time there is a Sign of Nature or Society, a Spiritual Sign, or World Politics, Technology, or Israel sign as Dr. Reagan categorizes them.
The problem with such constant sign-claiming is non-believers look at our “hysteria,” shake their heads, and almost quote 2 Peter 3:4,
“Where is his ‘coming’ that he promised? Ever since our ancestors fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.”
And they’re not wrong.
So let’s answer the questions.
Are Dr. Reagan’s listed signs common to humanity’s experience? Truthfully, yes. Below are the signs from his list that are common to humanity from the beginning of creation. As you go through them, it’s obvious these phenomena are a travelogue of humanity’s hellish world-tour, especially over the last 2,000 years!
Instability of nature (sorry, climate concerns are not new).
Lawlessness and violence, immorality, materialism, hedonism, and humanism (humanity as god). Show me one human era that has not bathed in these things.
Depraved entertainment (Rome’s gladiators? Hollywood?). Calling evil good and good evil (Humanity’s hallmark). Use of drugs. Blasphemy. Paganism. Despair (No kidding!).
Signs in the heavens (eclipses, comets, meteors, constellations). Increasing knowledge. Increasing travel (This is a bit of a stretch based on a too literal interpretation of Daniel 12:4).
How about religion? Cults. False christs. Apostasy in the Church (Only since the 1st c., no big deal). Attacks on Jesus. Attacks on the Bible. Persecution of Christians (Again, Rome, Islam, and Hindu persecution today). Occultism (Always).
And then there are politics and society. Wars and rumors of wars (When hasn’t there been wars and rumors of wars?). Weapons of mass destruction (OMG, that’s sooo last century!) Famine. Pestilence. Far Eastern military powers (Mongol hordes. Pearl Harbor. Hello!). Movement toward world government (And today’s question is “Who’s the megalomaniac du jour?”).
Finally, Bible and faith-specific signs. Arab threat to Israel (Read Josephus. This was common in the 1st c.). Denial of the Second Coming. Denial of creation by God. Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Gee, that’s only been happening for the last 2,000 years, Acts 2). Translation of the Bible into many languages (This started before Jesus was born). The understanding of Bible prophecy. Preaching of the Gospel worldwide (The Gospel has spread and receded over many geographic regions over the last two millennia. However, there has been a great increase in recent history.).
So, these signs truly are common. So, should they even be considered? Yes! But only IF they become like labor pains, increasing in frequency and intensity. Truthfully, given the big picture, many of them have ramped up in the last one hundred years, so Dr. Reagan is not off the mark.
What scares me is if the world wars, upheavals of nature, and persecutions have been so dreadful in the past, what in heaven’s name will it be like just before the Day of the Lord?
Some of the signs Dr. Reagan listed are more derived from the Bible, than declared. These are things such as television, satellite technology, and virtual reality of which prophets had no frame of reference.
Now come more specific signs from the Bible:
· Unification of Europe (This is IF you’re a proponent of a European Antichrist. The interpretation as a resurrected Islamic Caliphate with an Islamic leader opposing Jesus is gaining traction).
· Translation of the Bible into many languages (Rapidly approaching every language now).
· The understanding of Bible prophecy (Prophecy is always judged best after it happens. When it does, it often clarifies oncoming prophecies).
Here’s one disqualified sign in Dr. Reagan’s list, in my opinion: A revival of Davidic-style worship. Sorry to rain on anyone’s parade, but this “sign” is not about a worship style but a restoration of David’s family kingship. The context is Israel’s rise to lead the world (Amos 9:11).
Speaking of Israel, we finally reach the baseline signs. Two to be exact.
Israel as a nation and Jewish hegemony over Jerusalem. Why? Israel hasn’t existed as a nation or Jerusalem under Jewish control since A.D. 70! The other signs are common. These two are unique and were only brought about by God for His people against overwhelming odds.
In Matthew 21 Jesus withered a fig tree because it had no fruit. Jesus wasn’t upset about fruit. It was His illustration about Israel and her leaders at that time. As Israel’s Messiah, He had come as a “fruit inspector.” He was looking to see if Israel’s people, specifically the leaders, had faith in God to believe that Jesus was their Messiah, the Rightful King of Israel. Jesus knew they would reject Him (Luke 9:22) and as a result, God would “wither” the nation for their lack of faith. But not forever. The Jews would be preserved, and the fig tree, the nation of Israel, would spring to life just before His return. “Learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves (Israel springing to life – me), you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that he is near—at the door” (Matthew 24:32-33, italics mine).
When the nation was withered, Jerusalem would come under Gentile control. This happened when the Romans defeated the Jews in the rebellions of A.D. 70 and 136. But like the land, Jerusalem would once again come under Jewish control, “They will be killed by the sword and be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24, italics mine).
Contrary to Christianity’s generally and historically Gentile-centric viewpoint, God’s restoration plan, and Bible prophecy are Israel-centric. Check out these aspects of the two Israel-specific signs:
· Regathering of the Jews. (Isaiah 11:10-12)
· Re-establishment of Israel. (Isaiah 66:7-8)
· Reclamation of the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 36:34-35)
· Revival of Biblical Hebrew. (Zephaniah 3:9; Jeremiah 31:23)
· Re-occupation of Jerusalem. (Luke 21:24)
· Resurgence of the Israeli military. (Zechariah 12:6)
· Re-focusing of world politics on Israel. (Zechariah 12:3)
· Russian threat to Israel. (Ezekiel 38 and 39)
· The revival of Messianic Judaism. (Romans 9:27)
While the “common” signs have occurred since the beginning of time, only Israel re-born as a nation in 1948, and the Jewish people taking complete control of Jerusalem in 1967 serve as the immovable and irrefutable benchmarks pointing toward the Day of the Lord, Jesus’ Return.
While Dr. Reagan has done great work detailing the myriad of prophetic signs pointing toward a cataclysmic event in human history – the Day of the Lord and Jesus’ return – only two NEON signs, Israel’s rebirth and Jewish control of David’s capital, are sure markers where we’re at on the Lord’s timeline.
NOW I’m speaking to you, dear reader, whether you’re born-again or not. In Dr. Reagan’s words,
“The bottom line message of the signs is that we are living on borrowed time. And the crucial question for every human being is "Are you ready?" Are you ready for the return of Jesus? Will He come as your Blessed Hope or your Holy Terror?”
Seriously, how many signs do you need?
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts