Summary: We know that Christ’s return is imminent. The Bible contains prophecies that could not have been fulfilled until this generation. It’s encouraging to think that we appear to be living in the generation that will ultimately witness the most important and e
Opening illustration: video on ‘Signs of the second coming of Christ’
Introduction: Shortly before His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus Christ delivered a major prophecy of end-time events, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. He was asked by His disciples: “When will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24: 3). Jesus responded with a description of conditions and events that would lead up to His second coming. Moreover, He said that when these signs became evident, His return would occur within one generation (Matthew 24: 34). Could this be that generation? Throughout the nearly 2,000 years since Christ gave His prophecy, many have thought that theirs was the time of His return - and turned out to be wrong, of course. But interestingly, there are a number of prophecies in the Bible that could not be fulfilled until our modern era, the post–World War II period. Many people alive today think that Christ’s return is imminent. Certainly, the Bible contains prophecies that could not have been fulfilled until this generation.
Proper view of prophecy
Referring to Christ’s first coming, Peter mentioned that fulfilled prophecy should serve to strengthen our hope and faith in prophecies that are as yet unfulfilled. “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts . . .” (2 Peter 1: 19). Here Peter compares Bible prophecies to a light that provides visibility until the final coming of God’s Kingdom, brought by Jesus Christ to earth. When this occurs every eye will see His glory as a great light (Matthew 24: 27, 30; Revelation 1: 7).
God in His Word gives us a broad outline and sequence of prophetic events, but many specifics are unclear. Some things can be seen clearly, but others are still beyond our view at this point in history. In other words, there is a framework of prophecy that is reliable, but it can be counterproductive to try to interpret every detail. So what is this framework of prophecy? Among the many prophecies of events leading up to Christ’s return are various major prophetic conditions that can be confirmed and identified historically. As Peter said, we “do well to heed” them.
What are the 7 major signs of the second coming of Christ?
1. The human race would have the ability to exterminate itself
In Matthew 24: 22, describing world conditions prior to His second coming, Jesus said that “if that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive; but for the sake of God’s chosen it will be cut short” (Revised English Bible). The main message that Jesus Christ brought was of the coming Kingdom of God. This is described as “the gospel” (Mark 1:14). Gospel means “good news.” While some of the prophecies concerning events prior to the establishment of the Kingdom can seem negative, we should always keep in mind that the central focus of Bible prophecy is the good news (gospel) of the coming Kingdom of God. Matthew 24: 22 shows us that if Jesus Christ does not intervene in world affairs, the human race will be faced with extinction. It’s crucial to note that humanity has had the capability for self-annihilation for only a little more than 60 years, since both the United States and the Soviet Union developed and stockpiled hydrogen bombs and the world had to learn to live with “mutually assured destruction.” At that time there were only three nuclear powers (Britain being the other). By the middle of the 1960s France and China had joined the nuclear club. Today at least ten nations have nuclear warheads and the number looks set to increase with a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Of course, the more nuclear powers we have in the world, the more likely it is that someone will use this deadly force for evil. Although international attention has been focused on the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran during the last few years, little attention has been given to the possibility of some or all of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of radical Islamists. During the ongoing crisis in Pakistan, the Taliban and al-Qaeda and their sympathizers have steadily gained more power, territory and influence, making nuclear terrorism more likely. Consider the consequences for the rest of the world if Osama bin Laden (or others like him) had access to nuclear weapons! Meanwhile, Russia and China are determinedly flexing their military muscles, raising fears of a return to Cold War–era tensions.
The good news in all this is that Christian believers have an assurance that Jesus Christ will intervene to save mankind from annihilation. This prophecy could not be fulfilled until man had the potential for self-extinction through weapons of mass destruction.