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STUDY 8: SIGNS OF THE TIMES ON OUR LORD’S RETURN

 

Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

THE Bible gives time prophecies and sign prophecies to indicate the time and fact of

Jesus’ Return. Because Christ’s Return is invisible, both sets of prophecies are necessary,

otherwise we could not know of His Return. Both time prophecies (see Study 7) and sign

prophecies (this Study) prove that He has already returned in His Second Advent. We will first

present twelve secular signs, followed by fourteen religious signs proving that our Lord has

returned in His Second Advent.

 

Secular Signs of our Lord’s Return

 

(1.) Exposures of evil in all walks of life are the manifestations of the judging work of our Lord’s

Second Advent, as a few of many Scriptures prove (Luke 12: 2) (1 Thessalonians 5: 1-4)

(2 Timothy 4: 1). We find these exposures of evil along the lines of vice, and certain phases of

poverty, education, statecraft, finance, industry, business and labor. That these exposures have

been increasingly made since 1874, and were seldom made previously, prove that Jesus’ Second

Advent has set in.

 

(2.) The increase of travel greatly during “the time of the end” (Daniel 12: 4). The most rapid

means of communication in 1799, the beginning of “the time of the end,” was on horseback,

while now telephones, radio, television and computers unite cities, nations and continents. This

predicted “running to and fro” is being fulfilled by us as we travel everywhere by automobile,

boat, train and jets.

 

(3.) The increase of knowledge is prophesied in “the time of the end” (Daniel 12: 4). Not long

before 1799 illiteracy was general among the masses, while now ability to read and write is

general, even among the poorest classes. Since 1874 knowledge has increased greatly, more than

in all previous history, and statistics indicate that knowledge is doubling at an ever increasing

rate.

 

(4.) The Bible teaches that great calamities would accompany Christ’s Return (Luke 21: 11).

Since 1874, some of the greatest and certainly the most frequent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions,

hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, floods, famines, pestilences, ship, mining, train and air disasters,

fires, wars, revolutions, terrorism, etc., have occurred.

 

(5.) Israel’s recovery from blindness and their restoration to God’s favor

(Romans 11: 11, 15, 25-27). Prior to 1878, both Orthodox and Reformed Jews regarded Jesus as

a reprobate of the worst kind and as the worst of all false prophets. But since that time their

attitude has changed so greatly that now many Jews think very favorably of Jesus, calling Him

the greatest of Israel’s prophets, a holy man and a most marvelous reformer. The New Testament

is being read widely in Jewish circles, and is removing Israel’s blindness and prejudice.

 

(6.) Israel’s return to Palestine as their home land, and Israel’s reviving national consciousness,

symbolized by the fig tree’s leafing (Jeremiah 16: 13-18) (Ezekiel 37: 21-28)

(Matthew 24: 30-33). In 1878, through the Berlin Congress of Nations, Israel’s return to

Palestine was legalized. In 1917 Britain issued the Balfour Declaration which pledged her “to

view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” An

important step was the setting up of the State of Israel in May 1948. Today there are well over

6,000,000 Jews in Palestine from scores of different countries.

 

(7.) War preparations and world war (Joel 3: 9-14). These war preparations began about 1874,

and eclipsed all previous war preparations of history. World War I (1914-1918) followed, after

which even greater war preparations were made, and these in turn were followed by World War

II (1939-1945).

 

(8.) Conflict between Capital and Labor (James 5: 1-8) (Amos 8: 4-10) (Micah 6: 10-16).

Increasingly since 1874 there have been great conflicts between them. Many of the evils that

beset the world can be attributed to this conflict. There are many rights and wrongs on both

sides, with selfishness as the ruling principle of both parties. This conflict will culminate in

world revolution, commonly called the Battle of Armageddon.

 

(9.) The Bible prophesies a great symbolic bundling of the tares, an assembling of imitation

Christians into all sorts of organizations, during the period of Christ’s Return

(Matthew 13: 29, 30, 40, 41). Ever since 1874 many organizations of imitation Christians have

increased along capitalistic, labor, religious, national, international, political, fraternal, reform,

philanthropic, social, etc., lines. This bundling work was to precede the hurling of the bundles

into the symbolic furnace of fire, which represents the Great Tribulation, with which this Age

ends.

 

(10.) The Bible prophesies that there would be great unrest among all classes of people

(Luke 21: 25-27). This unrest implies a widespread distress from, and a deep-seated

dissatisfaction with prevailing conditions and a fear of worse future conditions. This unrest is

found among all ranks of society.

 

(11.) A world-wide unmanageable crisis, such as the world has never previously seen

(Luke 21: 25-27) (Isaiah 29: 14) (Psalm 82: 1-5). Though there has been unmanageable crisis in

human history, such conditions are more in evidence in the world now and are more widespread

than ever before. The experts in every field are at a loss as how to manage this crisis, and are

much discouraged at the present and full of forebodings for the future.

 

(12.) The beginning of the Great Tribulation, or Time of Trouble, with which the Gospel Age

ends and the Millennial Age begins (Matthew 24: 21, 22: 13: 41, 42) (Daniel 12: 1)

(Revelation 14: 14, 18-20). The Great Tribulation, which began in 1914, consists of world war,

revolution, famine, pestilence and anarchy.

 

Religious Signs of our Lord’s Return

 

(1.) The Bible prophesies that a world-wide proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom would

be accomplished just before the Gospel Age Harvest would begin (Matthew 24: 14, 3)

(Matthew 13: 39). The Lord raised up the Foreign Missionary Societies from 1792 onward, and

the Bible Societies from 1804 onward, and through these two movements caused the Bible to be

translated into all national languages, and to be circulated among all nations by 1861, thirteen

years before the Harvest and Christ’s Return set in.

 

(2.) The Bible prophesies that unbelief and false belief would be widespread (Luke 18: 8)

(2 Timothy 4: 1-4) (1 Timothy 4: 1-3). Such false belief and unbelief are found not only in the

creeds and sects, but especially in Evolution, Higher Criticism, Materialism, Atheism,

Agnosticism, Infidelism, Modernism, Christian Science, Spiritism, Occultism, etc.

 

(3.) The abounding of iniquity (2 Timothy 3: 1-9, 13) (Matthew 24: 12). While there is much

good in the world, there was probably never a time in human history when wickedness – toward

God and man – was greater than it is now. Much of the evil in the world is now organized, and

therefore more ruthless and powerful than ever before. The rule of selfishness rather than the

Golden Rule prevails almost universally in all branches of society, and it is beyond human power

to remedy this rule of selfishness.

 

(4.) The Bible prophesies that scoffing at Jesus’ presence, and the unbelief of ignorance in the

proclamation of His Return as having set in would be general (2 Peter 3: 3, 4). Since the fact of

our Lord’s Return as having set in has been publicly presented, the predicted scoffing has been

taking place.

 

(5.) The Bible prophesies a great falling away in the churches (2 Timothy 3: 1-9; 4: 3, 4).

According to 2 Timothy 3: 1-9, many of the clergy at the time of our Lord’s Return would be

selfish, worldly, unbelievers, dishonest, moral cowards, etc. According to the same Scripture,

many of the laity of the time of our Lord’s Return would be grossly ignorant of the Bible,

zealless for God and true religion, worldly and would reject the truth for error.

 

(6.) The Bible predicts that at the time of Christ’s Return there would be false Christ’s and false

prophets in the world (Matthew 24: 24). Because the true Christ is Jesus, the Head, and the

faithful Church, His body, individuals cannot be meant in this passage, but that it must consist of

a counterfeit head and a counterfeit body. Every sect that claims another head than Christ and

claims to be the true Church must be a false Christ. Likewise, the false prophets would be such

sectarian and error-teaching systems as claim to have no heads other than Christ, but claim to be

the true Church. Our times above all other times abound with the activities of such false Christs

and false prophets.

 

(7.) The Bible prophesies a federating of the churches (Isaiah 8: 9-12) (Revelation 6: 14). Since

1874, there have been agitations for a union of all the churches. This union in federative form

embraces most of the Protestant denominations; and efforts are being made to federate the

Roman and Greek Catholic Churches.

 

(8.) The Bible prophesies that there would be a general expectation of the near establishment of

God’s Kingdom on the part of the consecrated (Matthew 25: 1-12) (Luke 21: 28, 31). The Second

Advent movement among the consecrated began late in 1875, and the consecrated recognizing

Christ’s Second Presence, He must have been here in His Second Advent before late in 1875.

 

(9.) The Bible prophesies the clarification of the Truth on every subject, especially religion

(Daniel 12: 4, 10, 12) (Isaiah 60: 1, 2; 52: 6-8) (Luke 12: 37). The wonderful enlightenment of

our times, especially since 1874, on secular and religious subjects is due to, and proves Christ’s

Second Presence. The wonderful inventions and discoveries of our times and the great advances

in all branches of secular knowledge for human welfare are due to the presence of Christ.

 

(10.) The Bible prophesies the Gospel Age Harvest work, whereby the fruitage of the Gospel

Age sowing is gathered (Psalm 50: 5) (Matthew 13: 29, 30, 40-43; 24: 31). This Harvest work

took place from 1874 until 1914. One of the activities of that period was a gathering of the

Lord’s faithful people to Himself; that He would use “angels” – human messengers – who by the

sickle of Truth reaped God’s faithful people. This reaping work was done by the greatest

manifestation of Bible Truth given since the days of the Apostles.

 

(11.) The Bible teaches the cleansing and testing of the consecrated amid experiences that try the

hearts of all professed Christians (Malachi 3: 1-3). This passage indicates that fiery trials would

be permitted to come upon the Lord’s consecrated people beginning in 1878, and that the

purpose of these trials is the cleansing of God’s people from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit

(2 Corinthians 7: 1). Present conditions are conducive to the testing of the consecrated, for there

never was so much error as now in the world, and there were never more allurements than now

to appeal to the selfish, worldly and sinful instincts of God’s professed people. But the Lord

permits these inducements to error, selfishness, worldliness and sinfulness to prove who will be

true to the Lord and the principles of truth and righteousness amid such crucial trials.

 

(12.) The Bible prophesies the manifestation of unfaithful Christians. The fiery trials that

manifest the full faithfulness of some consecrated Christians and the measurable faithfulness of

others, also reveal the unfaithfulness of still others (Psalm 91: 3-12). Such unfaithfulness always

began by a slackening of one’s spirit of consecration; this was followed by their cherishing some

secret sin; that their secret sins were followed by presumptuous sins; that in turn these

presumptuous sins were allowed to dominate; and that these finally led to the great transgression

– the sin unto death (Psalm 19: 12, 13).

 

(13.) The Bible foretells that the prophet Elijah would come before the great and dreadful day of

the Lord, and seek to convert the world to the Lord, and, if successful in his mission, the Time of

Trouble would not come, but, if unsuccessful, it would come (Malachi 4: 5, 6). The Scriptures

indicate that that great Israelitish Prophet-Reformer – of whom the prophet Elijah and John the

Baptist pictured – is Jesus and the Church. Just as Elijah and John the Baptist sought to convert

Israel, Jesus and the Church sought to convert the world (Matthew 28: 18, 19). But just as Elijah

failed to accomplish a thorough conversion, so the true Church has failed to convert the world.

Instead, the world has hardened its heart, and, as a consequence, the predicted curse of

Malachi 4: 6, the great Time of Trouble, has come.

 

(14.) The Bible foretells that Jesus’ Second Advent would be preceded by the great Antichrist

(1 John 2: 18; 4: 3); that Antichrist would come into existence amid a great falling away, his rise

to power despite a hindrance in the way, his prosperity and his revelation, and that his

destruction would take place at the Second Advent (2 Thessalonians 2: 3-8). The fact that

Antichrist had his small beginning in Apostolic times, and that he would come to his end during

the Second Advent, means that he cannot be an individual and literal man, but a system. As we

noted under the sixth religious sign above, the Christ consists of one Body, consisting of many

members, the true Church, with Jesus as its Head. Likewise, the Antichrist is one body

consisting of many members, the Roman Catholic Church, with the pope as its head. This does

not mean that individual Roman Catholics, many of whom are real children of God, are

antichrists, but that the papal system as such, not an individual, is the great Antichrist.

 

The above 26 signs of the times show clearly to the “watchers” (Matthew 24: 42) (Mark 13: 37)

that our Lord has returned in His Second Advent and is engaged in overthrowing Satan’s empire.

His Return has been the hope of all true Christians from the beginning of the Gospel Age. The

consciousness of His now being here in His Second Advent should fill our hearts with joy, and

lead us to greater diligence in searching the Word of God, to learn its deeper truths. Finally, it

should lead us to live closer to the Lord. Only those who use the knowledge of Christ’s Second

Presence in this way glorify God, and profit themselves and others. The Lord will help us to do

them, if we seek His help therein through Jesus Christ.

 

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