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SIGNS OF THE END TIMES
When talking about the END we must be very careful not to confuse the TWO endings. Firstly will come the end for the 'church', the chosen body of Christ which Christ himself will come for in the clouds (1 Thes 4:13-18). This is a spiritual return for the spiritual church, only those called will see Him and be involved. The second end is the actual physical return to EARTH of Jesus Christ as the Jewish Messiah. This second coming will herald the beginning of the Millenium reign of Christ and the Judgement of the living Nations.
Although the two events are seperate and their functions are totaly different the signs are to some extent overlapping. It could be seen that there may be as little as 3.5 years seperating the two coings depending on your interpretation of the scriptures, so the signs are valid for the Christian as well as the Jew.
The only real major difference in context is that the SECOND COMING can actually be calculated from the prophecied 'signing of a treaty' which will encompass all the countries around Israel. The first coming or RAPTURE will be a surprise,"But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither (not yet) the Son, but the Father." Mark 13:32. However this is not the final word.
While we cannot name the exact date of the Lord's Return its nearness may be known by the character of the Times. As to this the New Testament gives no uncertain sound.
In Daniel 12:4, 9-10, we read,
"But thou, 0 Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the Book, even to the 'TIME OF THE END': many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. . . . Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the 'TIME OF 'THE END.' Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but the WISE SHALL UNDERSTAND."
These words tell us that the prophecies of Daniel ,were to be "shut up" and "sealed" until the "TIME OF THE END." This expression does not mean the "end of Time," but is the angelic messenger's way of referring to the "Last Days" of the "Times of the Gentiles.", today's times. At which time he declares that the Book will be "unsealed," and "knowledge shall be increased. " What is here meant is "prophetic knowledge" of the things recorded in the Book of Daniel and other prophetic writings of the Scriptures. This is made clear by the statement that only the "wise" shall understand. That is, those who are enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and not those, who merely have intellectual knowledge, for the wicked SHALL NOT UNDERSTAND.
How wonderfully this is true of these days. The Higher Critics have laboured hard to discredit the Book of Daniel, but without avail, for the Book is more studied than ever, and is being "unsealed" by Holy Spirit enlightened students of the Word of God, who clearly see that we have reached the "Time of the End," and are living in the closing days of the "Times of the Gentiles."
Let us take a quick look at the "Signs of the Times. " We can break down the evidence of the end times into "Ten Signs."
1. POST-MILLENNIAL SCOFFERS
In 2 Pet. 3: 3-4 we read: "That there shall come in the 'Last Days'SCOFFERS, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of HIS COMING? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." How true this is of the present day. The Doctrine of the Second coming is "scoffed" at, and those who hold it are looked upon as deluded fanatics, and sad to say, this opposition comes from prominent religious leaders of the Day.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, we are told that "THAT DAY (the Day of the Lord) shall not come, except there come a FALLING AWAY first." This Falling Away is evidenced on every hand.
3. FALSE TEACHERS
In 2 Peter 2: 1-2 we are warned against "False Teachers" who shall privately bring in "damnable heresies," even denying the Lord that bought them, such as Christian Scientists, and that many shall follow their "pernicious ways," and sad to relate these "followers" are recruited from the orthodox church members, of whom the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Tim. 4: 3-4), saying: "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears:and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto FABLES."
This "turning away" or rejection of christianity is evident all over today. There is a "turning away" in doctrinal standards, in the demand for a regenerated church membership, in church and Sunday school attendance, and in the Lords day observance. Many churchgoers will not endure sound doctrine. They will not go to hear those who preach the total depravity of man, the necessity of the New Birth, and the conscious and endless torment of those who will 'itch' (tickle) their ears with pleasing, novel and sensational doctrines.
In 1 Timothy 4:1 we are warned of a departure from the faith. That in the 'Later times' (the last days of this dispensation) some shall 'depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils'. This is being fulfilled in the increasing number of Spiritualistic Mediums and to dabble in psychical research.
5. PERILOUS TIMES
Of these times Paul told Timothy. 'this know also, that in the Last days Perilous times shall come. For men shall be Lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection (for their own offspring), truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a FORM of godliness, but denying the POWER thereof." 2 Tim. 3: 1-5. We have neither time nor space to go into deail, but what a catalogue we have here of the "perilous conditions" of the times in which we live.