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Signs of the Second Coming

Although Holy Scripture does not reveal any dates, it indicates a series of signs by which one can infer the relative closeness of the Second Coming of Christ. In concluding His sermon about the end of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ said: "Now learn this parable of the fig tree. When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near; at the very doors!" In other words, observe events because they will give hints to you about how close the end of the world is (Mt. 24:32-34). In several of the sermons of Christ and in the preaching of the Apostles, we find the following signs of the Second Coming of Christ:

a) Global spread of the Gospel. Jesus Christ foretold that all nations will have the opportunity to believe in Him: "The Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness unto all nations; and then the end shall come" (Mt. 24:14).

b) Extreme weakening of the faith. Although Christ's teaching will be generally known, people will become indifferent to it, so much so that "when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Lk. 18:8). According to Saint Paul, this will be the time "when people will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires they will choose teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and go after fables" (2 Tim. 4:3-4). In other words, close to the end of the world people will become very cynical about Divinely revealed truths and absolute moral values. They will only listen to what sounds interesting or pleasing. This attitude will promote

c) The appearance of many false prophets and false messiahs. These deceiving teachers will entice people to join all kinds of sects and wild cults catering to the low moral standards of the crowd. The Lord warns us about the danger of false teachings, saying: "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Do not follow them. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand" (Mt. 24:5, 24; Mrk. 13:6). The book of Revelation describes some of the striking miracles of the last and ultimate false prophet and promoter of the Antichrist. The Apostle Paul explains to the Thessalonians that these will be not actual miracles but mere illusions and deceptions of the evil spirits (Rev. 13:13-15, 2 Thes. 2:9).

d) The turning to Christ of the Jewish people. As St. Paul predicts, the mass falling away from Christianity of many nations will coincide with the conversion of Jews to Christ: "For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: `The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob' Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways paths beyond tracking out!" (Romans 11:25-33).

It is significant to note that this prophecy of the Apostle Paul began to be fulfilled shortly after the Second World War. It started in New York where a Jew who was miraculously saved from a German concentration camp founded a Christian mission and started to preach Jesus Christ among his people. Being well-versed in Old Testament writings, he successfully proved that the historical Jesus Christ was indeed the Messiah promised by the prophets. As a result of his efforts, Christian Jewish communities began to appear in several large American cities so that by 1990 the number of converted Jews reached tens of thousands. (More information on the Messianic movement can be obtained from the book Return of the Remnant, by Dr. Michael Schiffman, Lederer Publication, Baltimore, Maryland, 1992 and from Messianic Jews, by John Fieldsend, Marc Olive Press, Monarch Publications 1993). Several Messianic societies publish excellent books and magazines on this subject, for example: Jews for Jesus, 60 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94102, tel.: (415) 864-2600.

e) Evil and lawlessness will increase greatly. As our Lord predicted: "Because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (Mt. 24:12). The weakening of faith will lead to further moral decline and in turn, as in a chain reaction, that will weaken faith even more. In the following gloomy picture the Apostle Paul depicts the general moral decay prior to the end of the world: "In the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power" (2 Tim 3:1-5).

From the combined predictions of Holy Scripture, it should be concluded that by the end of the world carnal desires and passions will suppress all noble and spiritual aspirations in people. Interest in Christ will cease, His teachings will be neglected and ridiculed, and everything related to Christianity its customs and traditions, Church architecture and music, Christian feast days will be considered ancient history. The general mood will be reminiscent of ante-deluvian times described in the book of Genesis: "And the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart for the earth is filled with violence through them" (Gen. 6:5-11). Similar conditions will prevail before the Second Coming of Christ.

f) Sorcery, the serving of evil spirits, and other pagan practices will become widespread. The minds of most people will be poisoned by all sorts of ungodly heresies, as the Holy Spirit expressly predicted through St. Paul: "In latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1). The Apostle John depicts the following gloomy picture about the overwhelming permeation of evil spirits into peoples lives: "And he [the Angel] opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit And they [the locusts which came from the pit] had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon." Even though the Lord, by means of different punishments and calamities, will try to stop people from doing evil, they "would not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts" (Rev. 9:2-21, 16:13, 18:23). As mutual enmity and hatred grow,

g) Persecution of the faithful will escalate. Christians will be hated by people who reject any mentioning of God's authority and who trust only in the power of their intellect. And as believing in God becomes unpopular, any Christian wishing to retain his faith will feel more and more isolated from society. He will discover that even his own relatives have become his enemies, as the Lord predicted: "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake; and then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another." So that even "brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake But he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Mt. 24:9-10; Mrk. 13:12-13; Lk. 21:16). The general moral decay and hatred will produce

h) Destabilization the very foundations of the social life. Bloody wars and various disasters will reach catastrophic proportions. People will become weary from the burden of suffering from disasters. They will be unable to overcome them through personal efforts; however, they will not turn to God for help due to their own disbelief. "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilence, and earthquakes in various places." But people will become so hardened that even these calamities will not turn them to repentance. Ever increasing licentiousness, hatred, and mutual enmity will ultimately lead to the Last Judgment. Comparing the last times with the time before the deluge the Apostle Peter says: "As God did not spare the ancient world [in the time of Noah] bringing in the flood on the ungodly and [later] turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorra into ashes, then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment" (2 Pet. 2:5-9). "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; and men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken" (Mt. ch. 24; Mrk. ch. 13 and Lk. ch. 21). The concluding words of this prophecy evidently pertain to the end of the world. However, a few years prior to this, a more fearful event in the life of mankind will occur: the coming to power of the Antichrist.

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