Signs of the End Times
Read Mark 13:10, 19-23 (ESV)
“And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations... For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.”
What are 3 signs in today’s verses that indicate Jesus’ return is near?
Yesterday, we emphasized that no one knows the day or the hour of Jesus’ return. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have any idea of what to expect as the day grows nearer and nearer. In today’s verses, Jesus explained some of those signs.
First, He stated that the Gospel must be proclaimed to all nations. So where do we stand on the global missions front? Well, God has certainly used His people to spread the Gospel worldwide and grow the church just as He intended. But we aren’t finished yet. There are still unreached people groups in many countries. We should continue to preach the Gospel and support ministries and missionaries who are working to fulfill the Great Commission globally.
Another sign of the end is the Great Tribulation. Jesus warned that a time of suffering will occur that is worse than anything the world has seen before. Just what kind of tribulation will occur?
In Mark 13:7-9, Jesus warned of wars, earthquakes, and famines. He also urged His followers to be prepared because they will be taken to court, beaten, and persecuted. But this persecution is not without a purpose. Jesus said, “you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them” (v.9). Even in the midst of this great suffering, those who belong to Christ are commanded to continually bear witness to Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Christians have to be willing to suffer for His sake. But notice that Jesus said God cut these days short. He put a limit on the time period of the tribulation. That means that suffering has an expiration date. It will not continue forever! And He did that for the benefit of His elect. His chosen ones.
Jesus also warned His followers to be on guard so that they are not deceived. He clearly stated that many will come that claim to be Him. These false christs and false prophets will even be able to produce fake signs and wonders. They will claim to be able to perform miracles. But Jesus firmly warns us not to be deceived because He has already told us all that we need to know to stand firm. We know this information beforehand so we shouldn’t buy into the lies. We know better!
Matthew 24:4-8 records Jesus warning of these things as well: “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
When my wife was pregnant with our first son, we went to the hospital worried that she was in preterm labor. But those were just the beginning of the birth pains. It was a false alarm and yet, all of those pains were signaling that, day by day, we were getting closer and closer to our son’s birth.
Friends, we don’t know exactly when Jesus will return. Biblical scholars and those who study the end times disagree on how exactly the timeline of His return will play out. But the birth pains have started. Every natural disaster, every war, every catastrophic event that occurs is just the beginning. But those events serve to remind us that day by day, we are getting closer to Jesus’ return. They remind us to be on guard. And they keep us longing for His return. Come, quickly, Lord Jesus.
Lord, there is a lot I don’t know or understand about when You are coming back. But I am thankful that You have told me what I need to know to be prepared. Help me to stand firm in the midst of suffering. Give me the courage to always bear witness to others for Your sake. Keep me on guard and longing for You. Amen.