Are there "signs of the end times" that we are supposed to watch for? Have some already happened or are signs happening now? What if we miss these signs? How do we know if all the "end time signs" hype is correct, that the end times have begun and if Jesus’ coming is really near? Find out how to discern these signs and to better recognize the few true signs that the Bible does talk about us witnessing in the end times.
When you consider the content of popular Bible prophecy discussion on the Internet, most of it can be categorized under two related headings:
- The first category would be the doomsday date setting very familiar to us all (e.g. 2012 Mayan Calendar, 2011 Harold Camping, Y2K, etc.). I covered date setting in a previous article, but in brief it typically involves using some combination of Bible verses and calculations to arrive at a date or wider timeframe for a prophetic fulfillment such as the rapture or Jesus' return or sometimes a disaster.
- The second category is similarly based on interpreting Bible verses prophetically with the major difference being that it points to past or current events instead of future events. Any noteworthy event seems to be fair game to be interpreted as a “sign of the end times” or other fulfillment of some verse in the Bible.
Let's look at some of the many end time signs talked about, cover why they have failed to herald the end times, and then cover the true signs that have been missed.
Ten “End Times Signs”
Since the '90s when I started paying attention to Bible prophecy, I have seen more signs of the end than you can shake a prophet's staff at. The suggestion is that given the preponderance of these indicators, we can expect Jesus to come back soon—or at least the rapture to happen at any moment. Or as some claim, we are the “last generation ” now or ever since these signs hit. The consequence of this thinking is that people have been on the edge of their seat for many decades (if not centuries) expecting the end to begin.
Here are just ten examples of the many signs of the end which have been suggested and the typical reasoning behind them (note: not my reasoning):
- Nuclear Weapons (1940s)
Theory: “Jesus said no flesh would be saved alive unless he comes back when he does (Mt 24:22) and man only had the capability of wiping out all life with the advent of nuclear weapons.”
- Instant, Global Communications (1950s)
Theory: “When the Two Witnesses are killed, it says that the whole world looks at their dead bodies (Rev 11:7-10). This requires modern global telecommunications like satellites and TV to fulfill.”
- Israel Reborn, Recaptures Jerusalem (1948, 1967)
Theory: “ Israel being back in the land is prophetically significant since animal sacrifices and a Third Temple are part of end time prophecy. Israel return then heralds the end, just as the Parable of the Fig Tree predicts.”
- The Seven Year Oslo Peace and Security Agreement (1993)
Theory: “Oslo fulfills the 70th week which is a seven year period surrounding a 'confirmed covenant' (Dan 9:27) thought to be a peace treaty.”
- The European Union (1993)
Theory: “A first step towards the resurrected Roman Empire that the 4th beast of Daniel 7 predicts.”
- The Red Heifer Born (in USA: 1997, in Israel: 2002)
Theory: “ The Red Heifer is a sacrificial cow necessary for purification of the temple site according to Numbers 19:2-10. The appearance of one after their absence since 70 AD paves the way to the required end time Third Temple.”
- The Seventh Millennium (2000/2001)
Theory: “If chronologists are correct that Jesus came around 4000 years from Adam, then the year 2000 would be 6000 from Adam, thought to be when the Millennium would begin.”
- World Travel (1960s)
Theory: “Daniel 12 talks about “ many going to and fro” which is thought to refer to extensive travel of modern times.”
- Israel in Conflict (1948, 1967, 1973, etc.)
Theory: “Jesus spoke of wars and rumors of wars (Mt 24:6) and there are several end time prophecies about Israel at war (Ps 83; Isaiah 17).”
- Increased Earthquakes, Famine, Plagues, and Natural Disasters
Theory: “Increases in such disasters fulfills what Jesus predicted in the Olivet Discourse (Mt 24:6-7).”
False Positives – Why?
All of the signs above are at least a decade old, most much more than that. Yet what they also have in common—which we must not forget—is that they all looked reasonable at the time. Some people still hold on to them as signs of the end times. Unfortunately, as time goes on and nothing prophetic continues to happen, it becomes harder to “suspend disbelief” about them.
For that reason I name them false positives. They seemed like a positive match for the fulfillment of some verse of the Bible, yet they are all turning out to be false.
So, what went wrong?
The problem they all have in common is that they cherry-pick verses, take them out of context, and alter the meaning of these texts to fit the theories using “anything goes ” hermeneutic methods. Anything can be proven or supported with the Bible if such an approach is employed. Since most people have not developed the discernment to see how the Bible is being misapplied to these theories, they believe them or at least give them the benefit of the doubt (often out of fear of rejecting them and being sorry later).
Both the theory inventors and the theory believers suffer from the same disadvantage. They have not been able to see the the real McCoy which makes it easy for counterfeits and imposters to escape detection and seem plausible.
Thankfully, Jesus laid out the true signs of the end in his Olivet Discourse (Mt 24=Mk 13=Lk 21). Yet few people have understood them because the signs are not communicated in the clearest terms. Plus, when you do understand them, they are so extremely negative that you naturally resist believing or accepting them as correct.
In the famous Parable of the Fig Tree, Jesus compared the events he predicted to appear before the end to the leaves on a tree appearing before summer comes (Mt 24). Ironically, even that parable has been taken out of context and turned into its own sign of the end (Israel becoming a nation and taking Jerusalem in 1967)! This has lead to people missing the simple plain message that the Olivet Discourse relays:
Jesus said plainly “you will hear of rumors....but the end is not yet, for... ” (Mt 24:6). The word “for” denotes a shift in the topic from things that mean the end is not yet (like rumors of wars) to things that mean the end is finally upon you. Three things are given and grouped together as the “beginning of sorrows” or “birthpangs” (Mt 24:8).
- Nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom (World War III) (Mt 24:7)
- Earthquakes, famine and plagues in all places (not "diverse" places) (Mt 24:7 HRV/Hebrew = Lk 21:11 YLT) (See Earthquakes in Prophecy for details.)
- “Terrifying sights and great signs from heaven” (Lk 21:11=Mt 24:7=Rev 6:12-8:13)
It turns out that the “beginning of sorrows” events match what Revelation describes beginning at the 6th seal through 4th trumpet (literal disasters from space triggered by star Wormwood that lead to terrifying sights from heaven, cold, famine, and pestilence).
As I have covered in other articles, before all that and “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” come, other prophecies tell us that God intends to send Elijah the prophet to preach the true Gospel again that leads us to repentance (Mal 4:5=Rev 14:6-7=Mt 24:14=Mt 17:11).
Since Wormwood's disasters of the 6th seal have not come yet nor has (the end time) Elijah arrived to warn us to repent before the beginning of sorrows, then we must accept as Jesus said that “the end is not yet.”
Most of my readers are new to end time Bible prophecy and have no more than a few years of serious investigation into it. Such people naturally find prophecy information confusing and scary (e.g., “what if I disregard an end time sign theory that turns out to be true? ”). For them, the best way I can sum up this topic is by sharing my own perspective.
Since the '90s, I have seen countless end time signs heralded. I have seen innumerable dated and undated predictions for Bible prophecy fulfillments made. Some sounded better than others, but they all were based on Scripture. Nevertheless they all failed to come to pass or prove to herald the end times.
Now we can see why. The one true set of end time signs that Jesus gave have not appeared. No matter what you hear to contrary, you can rest assured that the prophecies are not about to come to pass on you while you're busy doing the best you can to manage your life or feeling bad that you “don't understand prophecy like I should.” Our loving God must (and will) make sure that those who love him (however imperfectly) do not miss the real end time signs and how to escape them (Lk 21:36).
Knowing from the above why past end time signs have fizzled and what the real signs are, take a look at some of the latest theories on end time signs and see for yourself:
"Depart From Me, I Never Knew you!" - Jesus
Jesus predicted that he will tell many sincere believers to basically "get lost" instead of welcoming them into the Kingdom. So...who are they and what did they miss or do wrong? In this study, get those answers and the one requirement for salvation Jesus taught (that Christianity misses) so that you can make sure you don't hear these dreaded words yourself!
- Strange Trumpet Sounds Heard Worldwide (2015)
Theory: Costa Rica (where I live) and other countries including Canada, Germany, the U.S. and Ukraine reported strange trumpet-like sounds in 2012. Now it's coming up again in 2015. They cause many Christians to wonder since Jesus said that trumpets would herald his return (Mt 24:31) and Revelation talks about seven trumpets (Rev 8:2). Others wondered if they were Wormwood-related. Are they prophetic?Reality: Only the last of Revelation's seven trumpets is said to be audible, and it comes at his return (Mt 24:31) not years earlier. Wormwood hits us hard all at once when it comes at the 6th seal, not progressively with percursor warning shots, etc. It's impossible for the trumpets to come until the 6th seal comes, which it certainly has not. Don't worry, whatever it is, it's not a prophetic sign of the end from the Bible.
- Mass Animal Deaths (2010)
Theory: “The Bible talks about mass animal deaths happening (Hos 4:1-3; Zeph 1:2-3)”Reality: Hosea 4 refers to Israel and her crimes and plagues (Hos 4:1) while Zephaniah 1 talks speaks of the Day of the LORD (Zeph 1:7,14) or at least a judgment on Judah and Jerusalem (Zeph 1:4). Neither verse has anything to do with our modern time.
- Your "End Time Sign" Here — Email Tim to suggest a sign (use the Feedback link below).
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Tim is the author of this site (since 1999) and the book Know the Future that explains Revelation literally at last--including the key event of Wormwood (Rev 6-8). To read more from Tim and not miss a single new article, sign up for his free newsletter above.