by Matt Slick
The signs of the "End Times," also called "the end of the age," and the "Return of Christ" are clearly laid out in Scripture. All we need to do is look at what Christ said when he was asked that question. To summarize in advance, the signs of the end times will include the presence of false christs and false prophets, false teaching, war, persecution, apostasy, lawlessness, earthquakes, famine, plagues, increase in selfishness, denial of what is good, mocking of Jesus, an increase in knowledge, rise of spiritism, decay of marriage, ungodly lusts, rebuilding of the Temple, and the arrival of the antichrist.
Pretty bleak prediction, isn't it? Yes, it is. But that is what Scripture teaches as you will see below.
Now, I believe that this pessimistic, even depressing future, is the natural result of sin. I further believe it is prophesied by God to Adam.
Genesis 2:17, "but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."
God told Adam that the day he would eat of the fruit, that he would die. Did he die that day? Yes, he did, but not physically. He lived for many, many years afterward. But the death that God was speaking of was separation from him. We know this because sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2) which is the ultimate death. In my opinion, when God was speaking to Adam, he was speaking to all who are "in Adam." 1 Cor. 15:22 says, "For as in Adam all die..." God was speaking to all whom Adam represented, and I believe that his participation in sin is the death of us all. Ultimately, sin will have its dark fruit: death. In my opinion, this is why Jesus said...
Matthew 24:22–24, "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
I think that the natural outcome of sin is death and separation from God. It is because of sin that mankind will destroy itself. But, those days will be cut short.
Now that I have presented a rather depressing eschatological position, I will now turn to the Scriptures that tell us what the signs of the end times will be. Let's take a look at Matthew 24:3-12; Luke 21:10-12; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; and 2 Tim. 4:3-4.
- Matthew 24:3–12, "As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
- Jesus answers
- 4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.
- False Christs will arise
- 5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.
- Wars and rumors of wars
- 6 “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.
- 7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
- Persecution of believers
- 9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
- Apostasy of many, betrayal, and hatred
- 10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
- False Prophets will arise
- 11 “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
- Increase of lawlessness and love will grow cold
- 12 "Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold."
Not only are Jesus' words regarding the end times recorded in the book of Matthew, but they are also recorded in the book of Luke where you get even more information.
- Earthquakes, plagues, famine, signs in the heavens
- Luke 21:10–11, "Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, 11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven."
We can easily understand what earthquakes and plagues and famines are. But what is meant by "great signs from heaven"? Could it be catastrophic events associated with the sky? Perhaps meteors, comets? I don't know.
Paul also spoke of the end times. What he mentions the same kind of thing that Jesus describes what happened in the last days.
- Apostasy, possible spiritism, decay of marriage
- 1 Timothy 4:1–3, "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth."
- People will be selfish, out of control, haters of good
- 2 Timothy 3:1–5, "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these."
- Increase of false teaching
- 2 Timothy 4:3–4, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths."
Peter also spoke of the last days
- Mocking of Jesus
- 2 Peter 3:3–4, "Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.'"
Now perhaps I am going out on a bit of a limb here when I allude to the mocking of Jesus' name to when unbelievers use his name in vain. It occurs in movies, TV, magazines, the Internet, and even by many Christians. This marking of Christ's name has been on a sharp increase in the past few years. It is hard to escape.
Jude spoke of the Last Time
- Mockers who follow after their lusts
- Jude 17–19, "But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit."
Knowledge will increase
Daniel 12:4, "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase."
Daniel is a very prophetic book, and this single verse speaks of "the end of time" when people will travel great distances and knowledge will increase. It is possible that this verse refers to our present time since we have had an incredible explosion of information.
The Rise of the Antichrist, and the rebuilt Temple
- 2 Thessalonians 2:3–4, "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God."
- Revelation 13:14–17, "And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17 and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name."
The Antichrist, that man of lawlessness, will arise during the last days. At the time of the writing of this article, it is not known who he is or even if he is alive. But, this figure will have control over large portions of the earth and, as the text says, people will not be able to buy or sell without a mark that he will require.
To conclude I will relist the opening statement to this article and provide a list that summarizes the signs that we should be aware of before the return of Christ. I suspect that there are other signs that I have not gone over here. But, this will suffice. Yes, it is depressing. But, our hope must be found in Jesus and not our circumstances. Look to Jesus, not to the trouble ahead.
- Presence of false christs and false prophets (Matt. 24:5, 11)
- War, (Matt. 24:6-7; Luke 21:10)
- Persecution of the faithful, (Matt. 24:9)
- Apostasy, (Matt. 24:10; 1 Tim. 4:1)
- Lawlessness increases and love grows cold, (Matt. 24:12)
- Earthquakes, famine, and plague, (Luke 21:11)
- Increase in selfishness, (2 Tim. 2:2)
- Lovers of self, money, and pleasure. Arrogant, disobedient, ungrateful, and unholy. They will be haters of good, conceited, appearing godly but are not, (2 Tim. 3:2-5)
- Mocking of Jesus, (2 Peter 3:3-4; Jude 17-19)
- Increase in knowledge, (Daniel 12:4)
- Rise of spiritism, (1 Tim. 4:1)
- Decay of marriage, (1 Tim. 4:1)
- False teaching, (2 Tim. 4:3–4)
- The gospel will be preached to the whole world, (Matt. 24:14)
- Signs in the heavens, (Luke 21:11)
- Sun and Moon will be darkened, (Matt. 24:29)
- The sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, (Matt. 24:30)
- Abuse and destruction of the earth and its resources, (Rev. 11:18)
- All the nations of the earth will gather against Israel, (Zech. 12:3)
- Rebuilding of the Temple, (2 Thess. 2:3–4)
- Arrival of the Antichrist, (2 Thess. 2:3–4; Rev. 13:14–17)
- Enforcement of the mark of the beast, (Rev. 13:17)
- Repentance of Israel and the Jews coming to faith in Christ (Rom. 11:25-26)