Jesus said He would come back. 

He will come back to raise the dead, judge the world, put an end to evil, and rule in righteousness with the saints for eternity. 

For many Christians, the anticipation of His promise is waning. Even with all the events of the last year, the joy of expectancy seems to be missing. Ignorance of the season has been substituted for watching for the “signs of the times.” 

WE’VE BEEN FOOLED BY “FALSE LABOR” 

Perhaps that’s because Christians have been “crying wolf” for almost 2,000 years, saying, “The time has come; the signs have been fulfilled!” We’ve been hearing for decades that Christ is near, right at the door. I remember hearing one prominent leader in the “Jesus Movement” tell his flock in the early 1970s that he could not see the world lasting past 1975. Many of my friends took him at his word. They delayed their education, or rushed into marriage (or both) on the basis of such misplaced zeal. Now, these same Christians are very reluctant to proclaim the Lord’s return to their friends and neighbors. Believers felt foolish when the promised “signs of His return” never materialized. Now they would rather take a safe, wait and see approach. Sheepishness has overcome the recipients of the Blessed Hope. 

Is Jesus really coming back soon? How can one be sure? Can we proclaim it with certainty? After all, didn’t Jesus say that we wouldn’t know the day or the hour of His return? We won’t get fooled again, will we? Wouldn’t it be wiser just to let Him come back any way He wants, and leave the speculation to fanatics? 

No, the Bible tells us to be aware of the signs of the times. Jesus said, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:31).” Paul also said something similar in his first letter to the Thessalonians: “But you brothers, are not in darkness, so that this day (the day of the Lord) should surprise you like a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:4).” We are to know what those signs are, and to look for them. 

What are they? When asked, most Christians give the following answer: “Wars, pestilences, earthquakes, and famines are increasing.” But Jesus said signs like these are only the beginning of the birth pangs that will lead up to His arrival (Matthew 24:8). We all know that labor pains are often confused with “false labor.” So is it any wonder that Christians have jumped the gun so often throughout history? Just because a war, a tyrant, an earthquake, or a new plague comes upon the world scene does not necessarily mean Jesus is coming back! 

But our Lord did give us two signs that are unmistakable. When they take place, we can know with absolute assurance that His coming is near. These signs were clearly described by Jesus, and they are being fulfilled today! 

SIGN #1:  THE GREAT COMMISSON IS NEARLY COMPLETE 

The first sign is this: Jesus said, “this gospel shall be preached in the world as a testimony to the nations, and THEN the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Christ knew that his chosen people, the Jews, would soon reject him. He wept over them, yet pronounced judgment upon them and the city of Jerusalem. Their temple would be destroyed and they would be scattered throughout the world in exile. Their rejection would usher in what Jesus called the time of the Gentiles. And that is exactly what has happened. Over the last 2000 years, the gospel has been proclaimed throughout the whole earth. The Great Commission is nearly complete. 

How do we know this? From 1979 to 1983, I did missions research for the Missions Research and Communication (MARC) Department of World Vision International. We listed over 16,000 people groups who had not yet received a valid witness of the Gospel. Other missions researchers (such as the Joshua Project) continued this kind of study so that churches and mission agencies could strategically send missionaries to these groups. Since then, the list of unreached peoples has been shrinking rapidly. By 1999, only 197 people groups had not yet been targeted for missions outreach! Today, every one of these groups has been claimed by a mission agency in order to be reached! The job is not yet over; churches still need to be planted among them. But the time of the Gentiles is nearly fulfilled; soon there will be members of every tribe and kindred and tongue in the Kingdom of Heaven! 

SIGN #2:  JERUSALEM IS A JEWISH CITY 

The second unmistakable sign is related to the first. God did not reject his chosen people forever. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (see Romans 11:29 and Jeremiah 31:35-36). The Bible says that God would gather His people back into the land from which they were exiled, and would re-establish Jerusalem as their capital city. This is the second unmistakable sign we can point to: Jesus said that, “Jerusalem shall be trodden on by the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles has been fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). In 1967, Jerusalem became a Jewish city for the first time since 70 AD when the Israeli army captured the Old City of Jerusalem during the famous “Six-Day War.” 

Today’s Middle Eastern conflict is all centered around Jerusalem, in fulfillment of Zechariah 12:2: “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling.” Later in the same chapter, Zechariah prophesies a great war that will culminate in the return of Jesus the Messiah: “They [the Jews] will look upon Him whom they had pierced, and will mourn for Him” (in repentance). 

Jesus will come back during this great Battle of Armageddon, at which time He will say “Behold, I come like a thief” (Revelation 16:15-16). We have enough facts to be ready! These are the Last Days! Let’s proclaim Him our soon and coming King! 

If you would like to know more about Bible Prophecy and the End Times, read my book, “The Door of Judgment.”