Since those exhilarating days in 1917, many other equally significant and exciting events have occurred that have increased the fever pitch of expectation of the Lord's return. The nation of Israel has been re-established (May 14, 1948). The city of Jerusalem has been reoccupied by the Jews (June 7, 1967). The Arab nations have come against Israel (the wars of 1948, 1967, 1973, 1981, and 1991), and all the nations of the world are now turning against Israel over the issue of Jerusalem. Europe is reuniting, and Russia is threatening the Middle East.In short, all the pieces of the end-time prophetic puzzle are in place for the first time ever, and the message is clear: Jesus is returning soon! He is at the very gates of heaven awaiting His Father's command. We are living on borrowed time. We should be listening for sounds rather than looking for signs. And we should be facing the new millennium with expectant hope.Many people scoff at these events and refuse to give them any spiritual significance because they believe there is nothing that can be known about the timing of the Lord's return. They usually base this conclusion on the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:42-44 where He stated that He would return “like a thief in the night.”But Paul makes it clear in I Thessalonians 5:1-6 that Jesus' statement does not apply to believers: “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief ..... He then proceeds to explain why. “For you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” Paul is referring to the light of the Holy Spirit who indwells all true believers and who can enlighten us through our study of Scripture to know the season of the Lord's return (1 John 2:27).The point is that we cannot know the date of the Lord's return but we can certainly know the season. The writer of Hebrews makes this clear when, speaking of the Lord's return, he writes that believers are to encourage one another “as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25). There is something we can see, something we can perceive, that will indicate to us that the Lord is about to return. Jesus himself made the same point in His Olivet Discourse when He said, “When these things [signs of the times] begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).God's LovingkindnessAs a matter of fact, God is obligated by His character to warn the world of the imminent return of His Son. The reason is that Jesus is returning in great wrath to “judge and wage war” (Rev. 19:11), and God never pours out His wrath without warning.God does not wish that any should perish, but that all should be brought to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). Therefore, God always warns before He executes His wrath. He warned the world through Noah for 120 years. He warned Sodom and Gomorrah through Abraham. He sent Jonah to warn the pagan city of Ninevah, and He sent Nahum to the same city 150 years later.Likewise, God is warning the world today that His Son is about to return. He is calling the world to repentance through the “signs of the times.” The Bible is full of these signs. There are about 500 prophecies in the Old Testament that relate to the second coming of the Messiah. In the New Testament, 1 out of every 25 verses is concerned with the return of Jesus.In fact, there are so many signs that it is difficult to grasp all of them. The best way I have found to do this is to put them in categories.
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