This generation of passengers on Planet Earth is passing through a corridor John the apostle and prophet called “the last time” (1 John 2:18). More to the point, we are somewhere near the very end of that corridor, and signs the size of billboards are on either side of the broad way that leads the world’s inhabitants toward Armageddon. The only way to miss those gargantuan signs, for the true child of God, is to deliberately ignore them, choosing instead to focus on things of this world that perspective hides in the distant blackness.
We are, as my good friend Chuck Missler says, in the time of the signs. They are signs so dramatic, so blatant, that the whinnying and violent snorting of the four horses of the apocalypse can almost be heard as they angrily paw the earth with rage, straining to burst to full gallop, determined to carry their death-dealing riders on their missions of globe-shattering devastation.
Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things and the One who holds all of creation together (Colossians 1:16-17), gave the signs that would be most prevalent at the time just before His return to earth. These primary signals are found in three of the Gospels: Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. We will first look at the Matthew account of the signs He gave for the final generation of human history, just before His second advent.
Sign 1: Deceivers who Claim Christ
Jesus was directly asked by His disciples: 1) When would the things Jesus prophesied be? 2) What would be the signs of His second coming? and 3) When would be the end of the world?
He gave the following answer: “…Take heed that no man deceive you, For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5).
Jesus gave “deception” as the first major sign that will alert the spiritually attuned believer that His second coming is near. Jesus, as recorded a few verses later, amplified His words on “deception” that would be manifest at the very end of the age:
”And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:11).
The Lord begins by saying that Many will come in His name. This means, I think, that these end-times deceivers will claim to come as true believers in Jesus Christ. They will use His holy name to convince the undiscerning that the individuals making the claim are of the Church, the body of Christ. These are those who will be among the individuals Jesus condemned, as recorded in the following Scripture: “But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all [ye] workers of iniquity” (Lk. 13:27).
However, this prophecy that Jesus gave as the first sign of the very end of the age goes, I’m convinced, much deeper. These deceivers will be declaring that they, themselves, will be Christ-like, not in the sense of being a true Christian who is a Spirit-filled follower of Jesus Christ, but in the sense that they have powers and abilities like Jesus himself. They will claim to be the special conduit from God, used by the Almighty to read minds, receive special telepathic words from Him upon command, and even to raise the dead.
But, it will all be smoke and mirrors. There will not be a single validated case of any of these supposed miraculous activities direct from the portals of heaven to the mortals of Planet Earth. The question to ask, then, while considering the time of the signs and whether we are indeed at the very end of the age as predicted by Jesus is: Do we see today any sign, any indicator, that there are such “deceivers” among us?
There have always been deceivers and those specifically claiming to be Jesus Christ. Some have been certifiable lunatics, some have been proven charlatans, and have faded into the darkness of the exposed and deposed. Today, it seems to me at least, they are announcing their Christ-like powers from the very billboards mentioned earlier–the ones lining either side of that broad way that leads to destruction during these troubling days.
We see many of them as glitzy, projected TV images calling the gullible to give their money to special programs they proclaim God has told them about, which can make the members of their audiences healthy, wealthy, and wise beyond their wildest imaginations.
These promote the outward turning message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ only in a minimal way, their messages designed to turn thoughts inward to the feel-good message that God wants them to materially prosper. Viewers are deceived, because they can see, through glazed, mesmerized eyes, that the wealth message certainly works for the rich and famous purveyors of the prosperity gospel. Their desire to obligate the God of heaven to provide overflowing wealth and health, based upon the TV magicians’ special formulas for success, make the deluded open their wallets with glee.
Paul the apostle’s prophetic words ring true for our time: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
Others, appearing more sophisticated and high-minded, claim to have Christ within their pontificating, but are turned far from truth found in God’s Word. These ecclesiastical elitists fit the mold of false prophets/teachers found in forewarnings of Paul and Peter:
- “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come…For men shall…[Have] a form of godliness, but [deny] the power thereof…” (2 Tim. 3:1, 5).
- “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pet. 2:1).
These, though under the guise of Christian clergy, join the ecumenists who proclaim that there are many ways to God and heaven. By this heresy, they deny the Lord Jesus, who said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the father, but by me” (Jn. 14:6).
Sign 2: Wars and Rumors of Wars
The second sign of the very end of the age given by Jesus is in His declaration: “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matt. 24:6).
“What is so different about hearing of wars and rumors of war?” one might ask. Such has been part of the human condition since history first began to be recorded. The key to what makes this profoundly different is found in Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:21: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” The Lord himself said that the time of the end will be worse than any in history. This declaration, by its very nature, makes the “wars and rumors of wars” He predicts well beyond the norm. We see just how far beyond the norm they will be, as recorded in His next statement: “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 21:22).
We will look more deeply into the time of the signs in part 2.