UNDERSTANDING THE END TIMES
Matthew 24:3 KJV: And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Here, the disciples asked the Lord Jesus about the end-times in a question that shows three periods of the end time:
1. The destruction of the temple and Jerusalem (‘When shall these things be?’); which took place in AD 70.
2. The signs of Christ’s coming
3. The end of the world.
The first period is over: the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD.
We are now in the second period the signs of Christ’s coming.We have seen almost all the signs of His coming especially, since 1900: we have had two world wars at a level of destruction, using technology for aerial, mechanized and nuclear warfare, far exceeding anything mankind had ever witnessed before this time.
Also, we have seen and are seeing a great increase in ‘natural’ disasters like floods, earthquakes and pestilences like AIDS.
Matthew 24:6-8 KJV: And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (7) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (8) All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Very significantly, in 1948, we saw the sign of the ‘fig tree’ (Mt. 24:32, Hos. 9:10, Joel. 1:7, Lk.13:6-9) symbolically referring to the restoring of the nation of Israel to the land of Canaan:
Matthew 24:32-34 KJV: Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: (33) So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (34) Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Hosea 9:10 KJV: I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.
Joel 1:7 KJV: He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
The scripture tells us that the last generation will be the one that sees the ‘fig tree put forth her leaves’; this symbolically refers to the rebirth of Israel in 1948.
How long then is a generation?
Genesis 15:13 KJV: And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
Genesis 15:16 KJV: But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
According to these scriptures, a generation is about 100 years. Now, because these are prophetic shadows it may not be exactly 100 years, it might a little more or less, depending on whether the Church hastens or delays (like Moses delayed the exodus of Israel from Egypt from 400 to 430 years (Gen 15:13 cp. Ex. 12:40-41) coming of the Lord:
2Peter 3:12 NIV: as you look forward to the day of God and speed it’s coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
So we expect that the rest of this second period and the last period: the end of the world, which will witness the great tribulation (Mt. 24: 15-28, Rev. 6-19) and end with the physical return of the Lord Jesus for the millennial reign (Mt. 24:29-31 and Rev. 19:11-20:4), to all end about 2048 AD. Again this date is not fixed or ‘set in stone’: it might be some years earlier or later depending on what Church does to either speed up or delay the time as explained above.
Now this second period, the signs of His coming, will end when the perfect church, typified by the man-child (Is. 8:18 and Rev. 12:5) uses the glory of God (Is. 40:5, Rom. 8:19, Is 60:1-5) released by the Spirit without measure, to preach and demonstrate (1 Cor. 2:4) the gospel of the Kingdom to every tribe, tongue and kindred (Rev. 7:9) and so disciple them.
Matthew 24:14 KJV: And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
In our article next week, we will look at the last period of the end-time: the end of the world in more detail.