This class is designed to focus the student on the signs of the return of Christ prepare tell them what to expect. The student will be made aware of what Christ said about his return and will be challenged to live as if this could happen at any time. It is recommended that you write down your answers and/or print them out. At the bottom a link will be provided to some of our own answers.
You’ve seen them, or at least know about them. People who walk about, carrying signs saying “The end is near!” You might have laughed at them, or felt sorry for them.The truth is, nobody knows when the end is. We do know that it is one day closer than it was yesterday. Jesus gave us some signs about his coming and what we should expect before it.
Often, “the end” is looked upon as a bad thing. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In “the end” believers will be united with Christ. There will be no more sorrow and no more pain. All the things of this world will pass away; and we won’t miss them one bit! “The end” is not negative but a wonderful thing that every Christian should be looking forward to.
It should be noted from the start that it is not the purpose of this study to place any dates on the coming of Christ. Nor is it to be implied that Christ’s return will happen tomorrow. Nor will it be said that it won’t happen tomorrow. We just don’t know.
As Jesus says in Matthew 24:36, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Paul write in Thessalonians 5, “Now brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying ‘Peace and safety’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
Paul mentions that destruction will come quickly, but Jesus gave his followers some signs of what would precede his coming. In Matthew 24:3 they say, “Tell us, when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
In Matthew 24:4-8 Jesus describes the beginning of birth pains. Read the verses and list the things that will happen.
Do you see these things happening in the world today? Have they gotten worse in the last 50-100 years? Do you think they will continue to get worse?
Read verses 9-14. What signs are mentioned here? Do you these things occurring today?
Verse 14 states that the gospel “will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations.” Missionaries have physically been in many places of the world today. With the rise of technology, it is very easy to spread the gospel. This small website alone has reached at least 66 nations at last count. Think of how easily the word can go out!
Verse fifteen begins the description of the tribulation. If you believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, you believe that the church will already be called up to heaven at this time. This is the idea that the popular Left Behind series portrays.
When reading prophecy one can quickly be confused because there are two comings of Christ mentioned. The first is Christ coming in the clouds. This is the rapture of the church. This is a very good time for Christians. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 describes this. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
The second time, Christ will actually touch foot to the ground. This is the Second Coming as most often referred to. Zechariah 14:2-4 is the most vivid picture of this. “I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.”
Many people do not understand prophecy because they do not see the entire picture. Many try to read the book of Revelation and believe that this is all that the Lord has revealed about his return. Unfortunately there are pieces missing. We know this because the pieces are filled in by other scriptures. Thessalonians describes the coming of the antichrist and the rapture. The gospels give a description of what the world will be like before Jesus’ return.
However, the Old Testament is often forgotten in the study of prophecy. In truth, it is the most revealing part of what will come. Zechariah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel are all very descriptive of what is to come.
So, is the time soon or not? Matthew 24:32-35 states, “Now learn the lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pas away, but my words will never pass away.”
When we see these things, we know that the time is near. Just as fig leaves signify that summer is near, these signs signify that Christ’s return is near. So what are we to do?
Read Matthew 25:1-13. Jesus told this parable right after stating that the time of his return was unknown. How does this relate? What should we do in response to his return happening at an unknown time?
A lot of the signs that Jesus mentioned are happening in the world today. Many have been occurring for quite a long time. We need to live as if Jesus will return tomorrow. If Jesus returned tomorrow, what would you want to do today? Are you willing to do it?