This morning we are beginning a new sermon series called “Signs of the End Times”. Over the next 8-10 weeks we will be discussing several warning signs given in the Bible that indicate Christ’s return is near. These varied signs will be categorized and presented in messages by type, with titles such as “Spiritual Delusion”, “Natural Disasters”, “Political Upheaval”, “Increased Knowledge”, and “Rampant Immorality”. Though we will cover several signs of the end times, it is certainly possible and even likely that we will not address them all.
This series will not dogmatically insist on any specific timeline or sequence of events related to the end times. There are many differing and informed opinions about the exact details, participants, and even order of eschatological events such as the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Millennium, and so forth. While I have my own deeply held convictions about these issues, the scope of this series will be limited to a broad consideration of certain signs and indicators that suggest the end is approaching.
Furthermore, we will not attempt to interpret end time prophecies in this series. Over the years, many theologians and scholars have sought to explain the prophetic writings of John, Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and others. Their interpretations often differ extensively from one another. We will examine these things at another time. For now, rather than speculating and debating over the exact meaning of apocalyptic prophecy, we will instead focus on those clearly seen and easily identifiable signs that are given in Scripture.
We will begin this study today with a message titled “Historical Patterns and Precedent”. Scripture indicates that certain pieces have to be in place prior to the Lord’s second coming. If and when these preconditions have been met, the end is imminent. We will highlight one such historical event that occurred less than 100 years ago. Also, we will examine 2 Biblical patterns that began in ages past which generally point to the arrival of the last days.
I. THE 7000-YEAR AGE OF MAN THEORY
The Bible reveals that God established a basic pattern by which the passage of time is measured. In the beginning, God fashioned the heavens and earth over a period of 6 days. Then, having completed His creative work, the LORD rested on the 7th day (Genesis 1-2). Following this precedent, God later commanded His followers to observe a Sabbath day of rest once each week and to keep this particular day holy. This principle didn’t apply exclusively to the days of the week, but also to the passage of years (Leviticus 23, 25). Farmers were to plant and harvest crops or tend to their vineyards for 6 consecutive years, then allow their fields and/or vines to lay fallow on the 7th year as a season of renewal and renourishment. Both the weekly and yearly cycles of 7 were to be (and to some extent have been) continuously repeated throughout history.
Interestingly, the Bible twice equates a single day in God’s timing to 1,000 years on man’s calendar. Moses wrote in Psalm 90:4 that “a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it passes by”. Centuries later, in 2 Peter 3:8, the former apostle wrote that “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”
Combining these 2 elements, some have theorized what is known as “The 7000-Year Age of Man”. It is based upon God’s 7 day pattern, which He ordained during the creation. Using the aforementioned Biblical scale which equates 1 day to 1,000 years, this theory proposes that mankind will live upon the earth for 7,000 years (which is 7 “days”). This period will consist of 6,000 years (6 days) of “work” followed by 1,000 years (1 day) of “rest”. After these years are concluded, eternity will officially begin.
This pattern is intriguing because it roughly corresponds to the historical timeline described in the Bible. Using the chronologies detailed in Scripture, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden around 4,000 BC. This is when the passage of time became meaningful, since aging and physical death entered the world as the result of sin. Approximately 6,000 years have passed since then, bringing this world to the present time of about 2,000 AD. During these years mankind has labored upon the earth. This would leave 1,000 years - possibly referring to the Millennium - as a time of rest prior to the culmination of the age.
If one subscribes to this theory and to the pattern and timeline upon which it is based, the return of Christ must be very near. If this hypothesis is true, the time of Jesus’ earthly kingdom and Millennial reign has arrived, which means His second coming is due at any moment. This fascinating theory is not an end time sign per se, nor is it based on any particular prophecy, but rather it originates from a Biblically-based historical pattern which suggests that humanity is living in the last days.
II. THE EARTHLY REPRESENTATIVE THEORY
Throughout the course of history, men and women of faith have always served as God’s witnesses and representatives on the earth. During the most ancient times, God appeared directly to particular individuals and families. There was no designated people group or divinely established organization to represent God. This arrangement changed when God selected Abraham and his descendants from among all the people of the earth to be His chosen nation. During this era Israel was specifically called to represent God. This arrangement changed yet again when Jesus came and established the church. As members of His body, Christians everywhere were commissioned to be the Lord’s witnesses.
These 3 distinct periods can be called “The Age of Particulars”, “The Age of Israel”, and “The Age of the Church”. The first era spanned from the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden until the calling of Abraham. The second started with the Abrahamic Covenant and ended with Christ. The third began at Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection and continues to the present time. What’s notable is that both “The Age of the Particulars” and “The Age of Israel” each lasted approximately 2,000 years - from around 4,000 BC to 2,000 BC and 2,000 BC to 30 AD respectively. If “The Age of the Church” were to follow this same pattern, it would cease after roughly 2,000 as well. That would bring it to an end sometime in the vicinity of 2,000 AD - which is now! The Church Age concludes with the return of Christ and the onset of end time events.
III. THE REBIRTH OF ISRAEL
During the aftermath of World War II, in 1948, the nation of Israel was reborn. This remarkable occurrence is unparalleled in world history. While there are a few nations that have existed continuously in some form or fashion since ancient times, the state of Israel completely vanished for almost 2,000 years and was then miraculously resurrected.
Due to heavy persecution by the Romans following the New Testament era, most Jews were either killed or displaced. Many had already left the country and resettled elsewhere for other reasons. This mass dispersion of ethnic Jews to locations across Europe and Asia left the land of Israel largely unoccupied and unproductive for centuries. The Jewish people acclimated to other societies and cultures while the once-great nation of Israel faded into the pages of history. Then, when World War II ended, many Jewish survivors of the holocaust that had been perpetrated by Nazi Germany proudly migrated back to their ancestral homeland. Israel was reconstituted and recognized as an independent nation once again.
The rebirth of Israel is critical to eschatology. Most credible, scholarly interpretations of end times events include the nation of Israel. The Bible suggests that in the last days there will be a mass return of Jews to the ancient land of Israel, that it will be attacked on multiple occasions by various confederations of enemies, that the Antichrist will make and break a treaty with it, that a third Jewish temple might be constructed in Jerusalem, and that many Jews will finally accept Jesus as the Messiah. All of these events are contingent upon the existence of Israel as a nation-state. Thus, the rebirth of Israel was an important prerequisite to the onset of the end times. All the pieces are now in place for the return of Christ.
Based upon the historical patterns and evidence we’ve discussed today, it seems that the end times are near. As a matter of fact, I personally believe that Jesus will come again during my lifetime. If He does, I am ready. I’ve accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior and trusted in Him for the forgiveness of my sins. I have been born again, covered by the blood of the Lamb, made righteous in Christ, and now stand justified before and reconciled to Almighty God. Are you ready for the Lord’s return? Are you ready for the End Times? If not, you best prepare yourselves now…