The Times of the Signs, Part Three, by Ed Wood

Ed Wood | Terry James Prophecy Line

(Part 1 and Part 2)

By way of a review, here are the prophecies from the Olivet Discourse already occurring that we looked at in Part One of this series:

  1.  The appearance of False Prophets.
  2. Wars and rumors of wars (The Twentieth Century was the worst so far.)
  3. Famine.
  4. Earthquakes.
  5. Natural Disasters.
  6. People getting worse.
  7. Christians being persecuted.
  8. The access and preaching of the Gospel to virtually every part of the world.
  9. Strife among families.

The second article covered what we can expect before the Tribulation:

10) The Rapture

After the Rapture, the Tribulation will begin with the pouring out of God’s Judgments upon the earth as listed in the Book of Revelation. As conditions become increasingly worse for those not taken in the Rapture, it is likely that these desperate people will be looking for an “Answer Man” in much the same way the post World War 1 Germans ultimately chose Adolf Hitler.

This next time, though, the range and demonic power of the future leader will reach beyond a single country. This “man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) will ultimately end up ruling the entire world. A major act of his will be the ratifying of a seven-year “covenant with many,” (Daniel 9:27). It will be a treaty he will also break after three and a half years.

The Great Tribulation Begins

THE ANTICHRIST MOVES INTO THE TEMPLE AND CLAIMS TO BE GOD

After the “son of perdition,” breaks the seven-year covenant “with many” he will move himself into the restored Jewish temple (Daniel 11:45) proclaiming the he is actually God in human form – the “messiah. He will be backed up in this outrageous lie by his henchman, the false prophet (Revelation 13:1-18). The “abomination of desolation” will set up in the temple and the last, worst years of the Tribulation period will begin.

The Jews, who have re-instituted the Mosaic system of the Old Testament in the rebuilt temple, will discover to their dismay that they have been betrayed and no doubt actively resist his claim of deity. Except for resistance from “the east,” the Antichrist would have probably moved immediately to crush the Jews with a Final Solution of his own (Daniel 11:44). The delay buys time for Israel to seek refuge in the wilderness at Petra and with the assistance of the descendants of Moab:

Isaiah {16:1-5} Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela* to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion. For it shall be, [that,] as a wandering bird cast out of  the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon. Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the Outcasts**; bewray*** not him that wandereth. Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler****: for the extortioner**** is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land. And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he***** shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness. *Petra, ** Israelite refugees, *** “betray”, **** The Antichrist, ***** Jesus – who has returned. (We will look at this in greater detail shortly.)

From the New Testament, we have what is appears to be Jesus’ warning to the Jews of when to make their move:

Matthew {24:15-21} When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 

Mark 13:14-19 gives us this same account but Luke’s version, though similar, has important differences:

Luke {21:20-24} And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

Note that the “abomination of desolation” is not mentioned and that the Israelites either be cut down with the sword or dispersed across the world while their territory is taken over by the Gentiles. This sounds much more like the account of the invasion of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D. and its aftermath. The temple at that time was also not desecrated by a false messiah and his image. Instead, it was totally destroyed.

Today, the Jews are still dispersed and until 1948 had no country to call their own. In Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts, Israel has to be a nation because this is a necessary precondition for the temple to exist once more because the Antichrist cannot defile it if it isn’t there.

THE END OF THE TRIBULATION

The last three and a half years will see an increase of the severity of the judgments being poured out upon the earth by God. The Antichrist has usurped the temple and is dealing with opposition from “the east.” During that time, it appears that not all the Jews have sought refuge in the wilderness, that some have managed to hang on in Jerusalem. Perhaps it will be the Israeli army supported by willing civilians. By the end of the Tribulation, the situation will become completely desperate as the Antichrist, with demonic help, gathers together troops from the rulers of the whole world, including those from the east who have now become his allies.

Revelation {16:12-14} And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [come] out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, [which] go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

Here is a description of the invasion of Jerusalem:

Zechariah {14:1-2} Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

The Antichrist’s victory would be inevitable except that:

Zechariah {14:3} Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

Revelation {19:11-16} And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes [were] as a flame of fire, and on his head [were] many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on [his] vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Jesus will banish the Antichrist and the False Prophet to the lake of fire and slay their troops (Revelation 19:17-21). Satan will be locked away for 1000 years and Jesus will reclaim the temple and begin his millennial reign.

Now there will be signs immediately before these events and the return of Jesus.

11) SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS

Matthew {24:29} Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.

It is quite clear from this and from Mark 13:24-25 that the phenomena in the skies will be universal and terrifying to the people who have managed to survive up until this point.

The gospel of Luke provides another look into what is coming.

Luke {21:25-28} And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

Once again, Matthew’s and Mark’s versions seem to be totally directed to the time immediately preceding Jesus’ Second coming while the final sentence in Luke’s account suggests that there might be earlier indications as well. Let’s look at verses 27 and 28 again:

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”

It’s true that those survivors who come to accept Jesus during the seven years of tribulation can expect their “redemption” when they see the signs listed above, but could it also be a warning to believers before the Tribulation even begins?

Could they be for us?

We’ve already seen the reasons in our past articles why the Rapture and the Second Coming are two distinctly different events. Remember that the former requires no prior conditions and is therefore unable to be fixed in time, while the latter must occur at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. The unexpected nature of the Rapture is consistent with what Jesus said here:

Luke {13:34-37} [For the Son of man is] as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

We are directed to be on “watch” and that suggests that there will be specific things that will occur even prior to the Rapture.

What kinds of early signs might we expect?

We’ve seen that Matthew 24:29 and Mark 13:24-25 provide us with several specific ones prior to the Second Coming:

The sun and moon darkened (also indicated in Revelation 18:12)

Stars falling from the sky.

The first sounds very much like what is commonly called “nuclear winter,” where the smoke and material ejected into the atmosphere by even a limited nuclear exchange obscures the light coming in from luminous objects in space along with the tainting of the water. A catastrophic asteroid impact or a huge meteor storm (stars falling from the sky) would have very similar effects, differing only in that the fallout from the latter would not be radioactive. This account from Revelation gives us an accurate description of what the results of either of these catastrophes would be like:

Revelation {8:7-12} The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. and the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

Looking at Luke’s passage, we see many other signs in addition to those from the sky which already have an eerie ring of familiarity to our Twenty-First Century world. Nations are increasingly in distress, racial tension is at an all-time high, and our seas are literally roaring with more storms and, earthquakes, and the resulting tsunamis with every passing year.

What we have not seen yet are any pronounced signs in the heavens. If Luke’s account is telling us to expect them in our own time along with those that are already happening, these should show up next. Exactly what they will be is open to speculation, but I think when they do begin to occur, they will be unmistakable. They will indicate that our time to be gathered together in the clouds with Jesus will be very near  (1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)!

Those signs that will occur at the end of the seven years will followed by:

Matthew {24:30-31} And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Bible does not tell us exactly what it will be, but it is clear that it will be so spectacular and unmistakable (Matthew 24:27) that the whole Earth will recognize it for what it is.

In Part Four of this series, we’ll look at what is to follow after Jesus comes back

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About Terry James

Leading biblical prophecy expert Terry James is an author, general editor, and co-author of numerous books on Bible prophecy—hundreds of thousands of which have been sold worldwide. His latest release is Rapture Ready…Or Not? 15 Reasons This Is the Generation That Will Be Left Behind, is for this generation of readers who are confused and look upon a world that seems to have destroyed opportunity for a bright, abundant future. The Rapture is about to catastrophically strike an unsuspecting world of both unbelievers and believers. Jesus Christ is the shelter from the coming Tribulation storm of God’s wrath and judgment.