The Bible offers many monumental signs that point to the end times and Christ’s Second Coming. I want to focus on five of the most crucial that must occur before the coming of the Lord. As you read and study these signs, you must remember that four of these have already been revealed, some more fully than others.
1: Restoration of the State of Israel and “The Fig Tree Generation”
The Bible recognizes this restoration as the first event that must take place before the coming of the Lord: “For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers” (Jeremiah 16:15, NKJV).
The state of Israel was restored when at midnight, May 14, 1948, the Provisional Government of Israel declared its independence and proclaimed a new State of Israel. This prophecy is ongoing and is still being fulfilled today as more and more Jewish people from nations around the world return to their homeland each year.
At the time Jesus was telling this parable, the nation of Israel had been scattered for 2,000 years. During those two centuries, the Jewish people retained their native tongue, even though they did not live in their land (prophesied in Jeremiah 31:23). With the restoration of Israel came the restoration of a people that were nearly wiped off the face of the earth. What has happened since Israel’s statehood is nothing short of miraculous!
Isaiah prophesied: “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.” (Isaiah 35:1-2, ESVUK). Before 1948, the land of Israel was practically nothing but desert and desolation, yet every time I return to Israel today, I am amazed at the abundance of palms, banana trees, and flowers growing profusely throughout the region. The desert is blossoming, even as the impact of this renewed nation spreads!
In fact, if you look closely at Matthew 24:3 you see that the followers of the Lord wanted to know the sign—singular—of Christ’s return and the end of the age. Jesus answered with a lengthy list of what they should be looking for, including false prophets, wars, famines, earthquakes, the Gospel being preached to the nations, and much more. Many of these events began to unfold immediately after Christ ascended back to the Father. Many more continue happening today.
But what was the one “sign” that would be unmistakable? As Jesus often did, He answered their pointed, momentous question by telling a simple story:
Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. (Matthew 24:32-34, NKJV)
The fig tree in this story is Israel, which tells us that one of the foremost signs of the Second Coming is the restoration of Israel, which God did in 1948. What God has done through the modern creation of the nation of Israel is nothing short of a miracle and the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. And the most significant aspect of this prophetic parable is what would happen when the leaves of the fig tree would begin to blossom again.
One sign! One generation! On God’s timetable, a generation is 100 years (Genesis 15:13,16). But what are the far-reaching ramifications for us living in 2020 as the fig tree blossoms become more consequential with each passing day?
Even as you read these words, Jewish believers are preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the streets of Jerusalem and throughout Israel! Rabbis are sharing the message of the Messiah to the young and old right beside the Wailing Wall!
This is taking place in Israel—not in New York, Moscow, São Paulo, London, Seoul, or Dubai, but in the Holy Land! Jews are witnessing to their own people and in their own language, one preserved despite persecution and dispersion.
And Jewish people of all ages are receiving our Lord Jesus Christ into their hearts!
This hasn’t happened in two millennia, yet it was prophesied in Scripture and is taking place right now, fulfilling Matthew 10:23.
Even casual students of prophecy are realizing that these are the most amazing hours in which we are living!
What is all of this telling us? Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!
Whatever happens in Israel affects the world. We cannot unravel or understand what is taking place in the Middle East or on the world scene without recognizing the central point of God’s time clock—Israel.
2: Rise of Russia
According to my understanding of Scripture, the area now known as Russia is mentioned significantly in prophecy. Ezekiel 37 talks about the restoration of Israel, and then the prophecy that Russia will one day be as powerful as it once was and that it will seek to invade Israel (Ezekiel 38:14-16) because of their jealousy of Israel, the blossoming “Fig Tree.”
One passage in Ezekiel 38:1-4, which speaks of Gog (the man), Magog (his land), and Meshech (the ancient name of Moscow). The area represents present-day Russia. Ezekiel prophesies that this country and its allies will attempt an incursion, but God will turn them back so that all the world will see that “I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23).
I believe that this incursion attempt will not happen until Israel is largely at peace with its neighbors, and the result of the region’s peace will be incredible prosperity.
3: Europe and the Anti-Christ
The third thing prophesized to happen before the coming of the Lord is the rise of a new superpower. Daniel 7 describes what many students of biblical prophecy believe that will lead to the Roman Empire (once a European kingdom) being reborn into a major confederacy.
The alliance will have awesome, far-reaching authority over the world that will lead to a powerful individual, the antichrist, who will come out of this renewed empire (Daniel 8:23-24).
4: Explosion of Knowledge
Daniel the prophet foretold “the time of the end” when “many shall run to and fro” and “knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4, NKJV). Imagine what the prophet saw in his vision of the future where automobiles, supersonic jets, and even space flights are common!
In the early 1900s, human knowledge was doubling every 100 years. At the end of World War II in 1945, it was doubling every 25 years. Today, human knowledge is doubling every 12 hours. We are surrounded by artificial intelligence (AI), leading many futurists to point to the time at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization.
5: Greatest Revival in World History
I don’t believe in a “doom-and-gloom” Gospel. We can read the end of the Book, and we know the victory that is coming—which is the fifth major thing that will happen before the return of Jesus Christ.
It was no mere coincidence that when Israel was revived as a nation in 1948, God’s hand began moving as well upon the Christian church worldwide in a powerful new outpouring, and according to what I see in Scripture, a mighty spiritual outpouring is coming. We are going to see the greatest revival since Pentecost. Joel 2 speaks of these times, and Acts 3:19-21 clearly talks about this incredible event.
The greatest prophetic sign of our wonderful Lord’s imminent return will be an unparalleled outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s revival fires upon the world. Isaiah described these days: “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1, NKJV).
We are already seeing this happen before our eyes! God is opening doors that we never dreamed possible. And as the time of His return approaches, the cry of heaven for souls and the impact for coming generations for Christ continues to intensify.