The religious leaders, during the time Christ was on earth, should have known from biblical prophecies that the Messiah was among them and Christ chastised them for their lack of awareness: "Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3).
Just as Jesus told the doubting Sadducees and Pharisees that prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah should have been recognized, we are warned today not to overlook the obvious signs of fulfilled prophecy indicating the time of Christ’s return to this earth is near.
Following are seven end-time conditions to watch for—signs revealing the spiritual weather forecast of our day.
A study of history and archaeology along with the Bible reveals who the modern descendants of ancient Israel are today. Foremost among them are the peoples of the United States, Great Britain and other English-speaking nations, such as Australia. (See our study guide The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy to learn more.)
Sadly, biblical prophecy describes the decline of these nations from a combination of war, financial collapse, natural disasters and social breakdown, with immorality and national sin leading to punishment from God.
The prophetic book of Hosea was written to both ancient Israel and its modern descendants, with most of the prophecies having a dual fulfilment. In ancient Israel, as it is today, true worship was corrupted by syncretism or blending with pagan religion along with other sins described in Hosea 4:1-3.
Bible prophecy foretells the formation of a powerful European-centred superstate of 10 nations or groups of nations shortly before Christ returns, describing it as the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire. The book of Revelation calls this power bloc and its dictatorial ruler “the beast”—the system portrayed as a seven-headed beast with 10 horns (see Revelation 13 and 17 and Daniel 7). It is militarily dominant, as well as being a political and religious power, and Revelation 18 reveals this system, called Babylon, to also be a great economic power. (Download and read our study guide The Final Superpower for more detail).
As the new European political and military power develops, an influential religious leader over a powerful church will provide guidance and unity to this new superpower. “So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” (Revelation 13:4).
Watch for the increasing prominence of a powerful false church with influence worldwide—over “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” (Revelation 17:1,15).
With the decline of the English-speaking nations mentioned earlier in Daniel 11, verses 40-42 describe the next horrifying conflict: “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him [the king of the North]; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships;... He shall also enter the Glorious Land [the Holy Land], and many countries shall be overthrown….” (Daniel 11:40-41).
This is describing a war between the aforementioned united European power as the king of the North and the king of the South, consisting most likely of a group of Islamic nations centered to the south of Jerusalem that will band together to protect and advance their interests, religion and culture. You can read a detailed analysis of this development in our free study guide The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.
Revelation 9 also tells of a great Asian regional power whose massive armies will attack the forces of the king of the North just before Christ’s return, described as the sixth of seven trumpet blasts and the ‘the second woe’.
China is already a dominant financial and military power in Asia and studies claim it could have as many as 3,000 nuclear warheads. Watch for growing cooperation and partnership between many Asian powers, including China, Russia and Iran.
When relating events preceding His return, Jesus said “this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:13-14). This is now possible with world-wide communication networks and the Internet.
Then, just before what is known as the Great Tribulation, God will send ‘two witnesses’ to warn the world one last time they are headed in the wrong direction : “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days [3½ years]” (Revelation 11:3).
The ‘Bride of Christ’ is described as people “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” and will be a target for Satan’s wrath during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 12:17). They are filled with God’s Spirit and believe their purpose is to serve others and develop the fruit of the Spirit in their lives (Galatians 5:22-23). They will have done their best to set the right example and preach the Gospel to the world.
And then, at last, after the persecution of the Great Tribulation and terrible wars Jesus Christ will return to this earth, heralding the end of this present evil age. Under the government of Jesus Christ peace and the true teachings of the Bible prevail.
Beyond Today magazine