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Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” With these words, Jesus’ disciples urged Him to tell them what events or conditions would mark the time of His return (Matthew 24:3).
Jesus told His disciples there would be some unmistakable signs when His return was imminent. He explained that, just as a fig tree leafing out is a sure sign of the coming summer, “so you also, when you see all these things, know that [My return] is near—at the doors!” (Matthew 24:32-33).
God in His Word gives us a broad outline and sequence of prophetic events. All the details are still beyond our understanding at this time, however some major events and conditions can be confirmed and identified.
Following are three conditions prophesied by Christ as signs of His imminent return that have already come to pass.
Christ prophesied the end time “will be a time of great distress; such as there has never been before since the beginning of the world, and will never be again. If that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive; but for the sake of God’s chosen it will be cut short” (Matthew 24:21-22, Revised English Bible).
Jesus said a time would come when the destructive capacity of mankind would be so awesome that all life could be obliterated from earth. This is why the time of “great distress” is described as so terrifying and unequaled in history.
This prophecy was fulfilled in 1945 with the detonation of the first nuclear weapons. Today, there are thousands of nuclear warheads providing mankind with the frightening ability to destroy human life from the planet many times over. This is one of the reasons Jesus Christ must intervene to save mankind.
Prophecies in the books of Joel, Zechariah and elsewhere in the Bible indicate an organized, significant Jewish presence in Jerusalem before Christ’s second coming. For example, the abomination of desolation, described several times in Daniel 8-12, deals with the defiling of the sacrifices and the holy place in Jerusalem. For such prophecies to be fulfilled, at least an altar in a “holy place” is needed if a temple is not actually built.
Before the 20th century this seemed like an impossibility, as the Jewish people had been scattered for almost 2,000 years. But in 1948 the fledgling Israeli state was formed, and in the 1967 Six Day War Israel took possession of Jerusalem, with only the Temple Mount being left under Muslim control. Now with most of the holy places in Jerusalem under Israeli control it is possible that sacrifices could once again begin even without a temple, setting the stage for Daniel’s prophecy to be fulfilled. There might even be a future agreement bringing the temple mount under Israeli control.
The third prophecy deals with the end-time revival of a modern day type of the Roman Empire, prophesied extensively in the books of Daniel and Revelation. Daniel prophesied the domination of four kingdoms, which were in succession, the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greco-Macedonian and Roman empires.(Daniel 2:31- 40). As foretold Rome did prove to be more domineering than its predecessors, swallowing up its remnants in a reign that lasted for centuries.
The prophecy of Daniel then goes on to predict: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed . . .; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). This is clearly a prophecy of the Kingdom of God, brought into reality on the earth by Jesus Christ at His return.
Some question whether the current moves to unify Europe are in any way related to this prophesied end time power. It is interesting to let history show the roots of the European Economic Community . Michael Elliot of Newsweek reported in 1996: “In January 1957, six nations signed a treaty on the site of the ancient Roman Capitol, and brought into being the European Economic Community . . . An aide to Paul-Henri Spaak, the then Belgian foreign minister, remembers that his boss said, ‘Do you think that we have laid the first stone of a new Roman Empire?’ Recalls the aide, ‘We felt very strongly we were Romans that day’ ” (“Don’t Spoil a Success,” Newsweek , international edition, Jan. 29, 1996, p. 40).
In a seemingly insignificant way, at the time, the idea of beginning a new Roman Empire was on the minds of the founders of the modern day attempt to unite the European nations. It is at least one of the most likely ways various prophecies of Daniel and Revelation could be fulfilled in light of current conditions. Wh
What is sure is that the Bible remains the inspired Word of God, and these prophecies will come to pass regardless of whether we understand all the details.
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