About two thousand years ago, Jesus rebuked the religious elites of His day. He criticized them for their failure to recognize His Coming. He told them, “You know how to look at the sky and predict the weather, but you don’t know how to recognize the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:1-3).
Just like you and me, the religious leaders could see dark clouds on the horizon and know a rain storm was on its way. In the same manner, Jesus said they should have seen the signs and prepared for His arrival. The Pharisees and Sadducees knew the Old Testament Messianic prophecies, yet they failed to recognize the Messiah.
But their failure is relevant to our day and time as well. Why? Because Jesus wasn’t simply addressing the Pharisees and Sadducees when He said this. He had a second audience in mind – you and me. That’s right. Jesus was also talking to our generation.
The Bible is filled with prophecies about the Second Coming, and Jesus commanded us to watch for Him (Mark 13:35-37). Our generation is also expected to recognize the “signs of the times.” But are we? Do you recognize the signs of the times?
Unfortunately, much of the world (including a large number of Christians) are not watching for Jesus. They’re asleep when it comes to the Second Coming, even though Jesus warned against it. Why do I say the world is asleep? Because right now, a flood of signs surround us. Never before have so many signs of the Second Coming been present. Here are just a few from 2020:
COVID-19 – Since emerging in Wuhan, China is late 2019, COVID-19 (a.k.a. “the coronavirus”) has wreaked havoc on the world stage. While many nations have made inroads to “flatten the curve” and even force a decline in new cases, many fear a “second wave” while others argue the first wave never went away. Far from being in the rearview mirror, the coronavirus pandemic is still an ongoing global emergency. A form of pestilence, it’s one of the signs Jesus told His followers to look for (Luke 21:11).
Global Riots – In late May, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer sparked nationwide protests in the United States. In London, authorities boarded up a statue of Winston Churchill to protect it from those threatening to tear it down. Throughout the world, we see images of arson, looting, and mayhem as a spirit of lawlessness prevails. The Bible says this is what people will be like in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
A Global Depression – Despite all the talk of a “V-shaped” recovery for the economy, no such thing is happening. The global travel industry is a fraction of what it was in early January, and it will likely be years before we see travel return to the old “normal.” Restaurants, hotels, and retail outlets have a fraction of the foot traffic they once had. Recently, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development estimated global GDP could plummet as much as 7.6% this year – twice what it previously announced in March. If these figures are correct, the current economic downturn will be twice as bad as the Great Recession and the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression.This creates fertile ground for the rise of a dictator. The Great Depression paved the way for Adolph Hitler. The Bible says a similar economic catastrophe will pave the way for the Antichrist (Revelation 6:5-6).
Swarms of Locusts – This year also saw the emergence of one of the worst locust plagues in decades. Swarms of billions of locusts, ranging anywhere from a third of a mile to a 100 square miles or more, have attacked crops on two continents. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization projects these swarms will continue to thrive and continue to spread. As these locust swarms destroy crops, millions face the prospect of famine in parts of the world where food insecurity is already common. Famine is one of the signs Jesus said to look for (Matthew 24:7).
Rumors of War -If Israel moves forward with plans to annex all or part of the West Bank, it will almost certainly face widespread condemnation in the international community and violent resistance from its longtime enemies. Only time will tell, but rumors of war are widespread. Jesus said rumors of war will be another sign of His coming (Matthew 24:6).
The Converging Signs- But these are just the latest signs. Many of the signs Jesus and the prophets said to look for appeared long before 2020. Generations of Christians lived and died without witnessing a single sign of the Second Coming. Yet our generation is witness to all of them. Those signs include:
Israel Back in the Land – God promised to bring the Jewish people back into the land of Israel before He returned (Jeremiah 23:7-8). He said He would call them from “among the nations” (Ezekiel 39:28), from “the farthest corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12), and from “north, south, east, and west” (Psalm 107:3). He promised to welcome them home from the lands where they were scattered (Ezekiel 20:34). When they did, He promised to return and establish His everlasting kingdom (Isaiah 11:11-12).
Israeli Control of Jerusalem – Jesus said armies would surround Jerusalem, destroy the city, and enslaves its citizens. This happened in A.D. 70 when the Roman legions did exactly that. Jesus then said people other than the Jewish people would control Jerusalem for a time, then the Jewish people would once again control Jerusalem. When they did, Jesus promised to return (Luke 21:24-28). Since 1967, the Jewish people have been in possession of Jerusalem.
The Gospel Preached Throughout the World – When asked about the end of the age and the signs of His coming, Jesus said the Gospel will be preached throughout the entire world. Every nation will hear it. Then, the end will come (Matthew 24:14). For centuries after the crucifixion, the Gospel was confined to a small area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. In the past two centuries, Christians have brought the Gospel to every nation in the world. Today, missionaries live in every nation. The Bible is translated in hundreds of languages, and the message of Jesus is sent around the world by radio, TV, satellite, and the Internet. Our generation is literally on the verge of spreading the Gospel to every last person on earth.
Increased Travel and Knowledge – Six hundred years before Jesus, an angel gave Daniel a special message. He said “travel and knowledge” will increase in the end times (Daniel 12:4). For centuries of human history, dramatic gains in travel and knowledge did NOT take place. Yet the last two hundred years have seen explosions in the speed and frequency of travel as well as the amount and availability of knowledge.
Given all these signs, you can be certain of one thing: Jesus is coming, and ours is the generation that will witness His return. How can I be so sure? Simple. All these signs are converging. Jesus said when you see these signs come together, you can know His return is near.
In fact, He said the generation witnessing these signs will not pass away before He returns (Matthew 24:34). Keep in mind – for 1,878 years of Christianity (A.D. 70 – A.D. 1948), none of these signs were present. Today, all of them are. That means Jesus is right at the door (Matthew 24:33).