Pastor’s Note: The following excerpt is from the book I reviewed earlier in the month. Like the Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians, we SHOULD be comforting one another with the Scriptural prophecies that have been given us in God’s written word. Put your trust in the eternal word!
As with any of these articles that are not mine, the credit is listed at the end of the excerpted article and all rights are reserved to the author and publisher.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-21, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” KNJV (Bold emphasis, added).
“Signs of the times” are visible events, sometimes miraculous or otherwise unexplainable, that point to something beyond themselves. Many signs were predicted by Jesus and the prophets throughout Scripture. Signs help us know what to look for, what to pay attention to. When we read prophecy, we can look for these “signs of the times.” They show us what to be on the lookout for, much like a road sign points to what’s coming.
Jesus used the term “signs of the times” to verify His first coming. Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and performed the miracles of the Messiah right before the eyes of many people, yet they were blind to the clear confirmation of His identity (Matthew 16:1–3). Despite being shown signs to look for, the people didn’t pay attention. Jesus fulfilled 109 prophecies during His life on earth, and He indicted the Jewish leaders for missing these signs of His first coming. Most people of that day missed the clear signs—Jesus’ visible miracles confirmed the invisible truth that He was God. Those were the signs that verified His first coming, but what about the Second Coming? Have we been given any signs? What can we be looking for and paying attention to?
As recorded in Luke 21:25, Jesus said, “There will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides.” Jesus clearly referred to “signs” that will portend His second coming back to earth. In Matthew 24:3, when Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t worry about signs of the end of the age.” Or He didn’t say, “I’m not going to tell you, it’s none of your business.” No, in Matthew 24:4–31 he outlined several general and specific signs of the end of the age. Since Jesus gave us signs like these, we should be careful not to ignore them and scoff at them. We need to listen to what Jesus was saying.
After listing some of the main signs, Jesus concluded with the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24:32–33. “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door.”
Many believe that the fig tree refers to the nation of Israel since fig trees represented Israel in the Old Testament. However, Jesus was probably using a natural illustration that anyone could relate to. Just as the blossoming of the fig tree indicates that summer is near, so the fulfillment of the signs predicted in Matthew 24:4–31 will show that His second coming is near. We do not scoff at the signs of spring but look for them with anticipation. It should be the same with Jesus’ return. We should look forward to it.
Another New Testament passage that emphasizes the importance of signs of the Lord’s coming is Hebrews 10:24–25: “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (italics added). Some believe this verse refers to the approaching judgment of AD 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem. However, the book of Hebrews repeatedly refers to the Lord’s coming and the events associated with it (Hebrews 2:5; 9:28; 10:37; 12:26–28). If Hebrews 10:25 is referring to the Lord’s coming, and I believe it is, then the passage only makes sense if such discernment is actually possible. No person knows the time, but according to Hebrews 10:24–25 we are to see the day of His return drawing near by discerning the signs of the times.