Christ’s second coming won’t happen without warning. Like the birth pains a mother feels before delivering a child, there will be seven years of Tribulation—of birth pains, if you will—that will increase in frequency and intensity just before Christ’s return and the birth of His new kingdom.
The End Times In Perspective
There is going to come a time, the Bible says, when the world is going to be filled with all kinds of calamities. There will be a time of tribulation, economic collapse, crisis, and catastrophe. Many people today are wondering, “Do the events around us indicate that the end is drawing near?”
I agree that today’s news is filled with calamities, but as Christians, we have nothing to worry about. I can assure you that we are not yet in the End Times or Tribulation because the Bible says one other event must happen first: the Rapture of the church.
Three Extremes to Avoid in Bible Prophecy
Since the beginning of the world, people have tried to predict the end of the world. As we have seen, Jesus said: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36). We can’t know the time, but God wants us to be aware of the times. We need to avoid fanaticism.
Fatalism is the attitude that says, “Well, the world’s going to hell in a handbasket, and Christ is coming back. There’s nothing I can do to change that, so why bother to do anything about the world situation?” Let me remind you of something: just because an event is inevitable does not mean it’s immediate.
The fact that Christ is coming back again should not motivate us to inaction; it ought to motivate us to action. Knowing that the end is coming ought to make us work that much harder. Jesus said: “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). As Christians, we ought to be the ones at the forefront of the action in this world.
Some people have been hardened to the idea of Christ coming back again. The Apostle Peter said that is exactly what unbelievers will say in the last days in 2 Peter 3:3–7. Jesus is coming back again, and He’s coming back for everyone to see. Jesus said: “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27).
The Overlap Between “The Last Days” and “The End Times”
We are now living in what the Bible calls “the last days” that began after Christ’s ascension into heaven and will end with the Rapture of the Church. After the Rapture will come the final seven years of earth’s history we call the Tribulation, which will culminate in the visible return of Jesus Christ to establish His reign on earth.
The signs that will precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will grow in frequency and intensity throughout the Tribulation just as the labor pains increase in frequency and intensity before a mother gives birth. “When you see all of these things come to pass at the same time, it doesn’t mean it’s the end, but it is the end of the beginning.”
Five Signs of the End Times
The first sign Jesus mentioned is spiritual deception. Jesus said to His disciples: “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many” (Matthew 24:4–5). Implied in Jesus’s words is this reality: as we get closer to the end, we’re going to see the number of these false teachers increase.
The second sign that Jesus described is international conflict. Jesus said: “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars . . . For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:6–7a). Again, wars are nothing new. But all of history is moving toward that final world war that will take place in Israel known as Armageddon, which is prophesied in Daniel 11:40–45, Zechariah 14:1–5, and Revelation 16:12–16.
Third, Jesus said that natural disasters will precede His coming: “In various places there will be famines and earthquakes” (Matthew 24:7b). Jesus went on to say all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. They are going to increase in intensity and frequency.
Persecution of Christians
Number four, Jesus said His return will be marked by fierce persecution of believers. Matthew 24:9 says, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” Christians have always been persecuted, but there is a level of persecution that is yet to come against believers that will come from all nations.
Fifth, Jesus said another sign of His return will be widespread apostasy in Matthew 24:10–12. When Jesus talked about apostasy, He was talking about people who claim to be believers, people who claim to believe the Bible, but in the last days, they will fall away from that faith and try to lead astray as many people as possible.
Jesus’s Command for Those Living in the End Times
How should we respond? Revelation 16:15 says, “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.” Jesus is saying that whenever the end is here—whether it’s the Second Coming for a future generation, or the Rapture, or our own death and we stand before God—we don’t want to be caught unprepared, naked without the proper clothing. The only way you want to meet God one day is to be dressed in the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Full Passage: Matthew 24:1-14