It is considered poor form in our day to discuss religion or politics in polite company. Another topic that is off limits for many Christians is speculation on the timing of Christ’s return. There have been so many predictions that have not come true that believers are skeptical about prophecy being fulfilled in our day. The problem with this kind of thinking is that pastors and teachers have disconnected Biblical teaching from current events. Consequently, when Jesus does return, many believers will be caught unaware.
Jesus did say that only the Father knows the day and the hour of His return. But He also said there will be many signs that His return is nearing. These include the return of Israel to the promised land, an increase in wars, natural disasters, apostasy in the church, rising immorality and sexual depravity, economic collapse, and increasing hostility towards the Jewish people. While some of these things have been taking place since the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, they have escalated dramatically in recent years.
The most obvious sign that Christ is coming soon was the formation of a Jewish state in 1948. No other nation in history has ever been reconstituted thousands of years after being destroyed and scattered to the four winds. This had to occur before any of the other prophecies concerning the end times could be fulfilled, because they all have to do with the restoration of the kingdom to Christ and his chosen people.
Another sign that the end is near is the dramatic increase in natural disasters since the restoration of Israel. In the 1970s there were 41 earthquakes with an average magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter Scale. In the 1980s the number increased to 47 with an average intensity of 6.4. The 1990s saw 56 with an average strength of 6.9. From the year 2000 to 2010 the number jumped to a staggering 356 with an average intensity of 6.8. During that time, the number of fatalities went from 418,933 to 789,921.
Jesus compared the rapidly increasing rate of natural disasters, violence and wars in the last days to the intensifying birth pangs of a woman in labor. The nearer she gets to delivery, the closer the birth pangs become. Today, things that once horrified us have become so commonplace that we take little notice of them. But one day all hell will break loose as heaven and earth are shaken as Christ returns to establish His kingdom. All the nations will be terrified as they are caught going about business as usual, totally unprepared for the devastation that is about to befall them.
If we are indeed rapidly approaching that day, we should also expect to see a dramatic increase in demonic activity. Satan will try to preempt the establishment of Christ’s reign by solidifying his own grasp on power. While it may be true that no one knows exactly when Christ will return, Satan has a very good idea. Why? Because he has access to heaven. Remember, he came before the celestial throne to accuse Job of being a fair-weather follower. The Bible also tells us that He stands before the throne of God accusing believers. So if there is a great mobilization of the host of heaven in advance Christ’s coming, Satan will be well aware of it.
When Jesus cast the demons out of the two Gadarene demoniacs in Matthew 8:29 they cried out, ““Son of God, leave us alone! Have you come here to torment us before the time?” They knew the day of final judgment had not yet come. Before that time, Satan will make a pre-emptive attempt to establish his own rule by unleashing a torrent of demons from hell in an all-out assault on the people of God.
Now consider this. The Muslims also believe there is an apocalypse coming. They are trying to deliberately bring it about in order to set the stage for the return of the Twelfth Imam, whom they call the ‘Mahdi.’ This is their version of the Messiah. He was a young boy in the ninth century AD when he vanished without a trace. Muslims believe he never really died and that he will return to rule over a worldwide caliphate in the last days. According to the Koran, a period of worldwide tribulation will usher in his kingdom.
Many Muslims believe this man is alive today. They are feverishly beheading infidels in an attempt to prepare the way for him. The book of Revelations describes these persecuted believers in chapter 20 verse 4: “ Then I saw thrones and seated on them were those who had been given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. These had not worshiped the beast or his image and had refused to receive his mark on their forehead or hand. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” In context, this verse is describing events that occur in the last seven years before Christ’s return – the period the Bible calls the ‘Tribulation.’ The beheading of Christians has already begun in earnest.
The beast to which this passage refers fits the description of the Mahdi, or Islam’s ‘Messiah.’ Muslims believe he will make his appearance in the next ten years. According to Joel Rosenberg, author of “The Twelfth Imam,” an expert on Islam and its role in Bible Prophecy, the mayhem Muslims are fomenting in the Middle East today is designed to drive a flood of refugees into Europe and destabilize those governments with continuous low level terrorist attacks until they finally collapse. Then they will replace them with a caliphate governed by Sharia law and the Mahdi will take control.
Satan once tried to dethrone God, but was cast out of heaven along with one third of the angelic host who had joined his insurrection. His name then was Lucifer, which means ‘Light.’ He was the most splendid of all the angels, second in power to God alone. But when he was cast out, he became an agent of darkness and his followers a host of demons. Now he is described as a deceiver, destroyer and accuser. He is still trying to usurp God’s throne, though he knows he cannot win and his ultimate destiny is to be cast into the lake of fire forever along with all his followers. Although he still has limited access to heaven, the Bible says he will be cast to earth just before Christ’s return. At that time he will unleash his full fury on the children of God because he knows his time is short. It is that fury that we are seeing today.
So if you are one of those who shy away from talking about Jesus Christ in public, keep this in mind. He is coming at a time you do not expect and probably much sooner than you think. Share the gospel with that friend of yours who is ‘on the bubble’ at your very next opportunity. Take every chance God gives you to acknowledge Christ before men, because, if you don’t, He will not acknowledge you before His Father. Divest yourself of everything you don’t need and use the proceeds to support your brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for Christ’s sake. It is all going to burn in a few short years, anyway. Stop laying up treasures on earth and begin to build eternal wealth so that when you stand before Christ He can say, “Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Mt 25:21)