Which Signs are Directional, Which Are a Warning?
Today, and perhaps understandably, some Christians believe we are seeing the signs of the times signaling the end of the world. Some may imagine these are the days Jesus describes to His disciples in Matthew 24:3-36. Others may think these are the Days of Elijah, and find encouragement. Regardless, the signs Jesus describes in this passage, in what is called the Olivet Discourse, are the tribulation signs. According to many Christians, and most reformed/evangelical believers, they cover the first 3 1/2 years of the seven years of The Tribulation. (It is the second 3 1/2 years that describe terrible events.)
But today, we live in the Church Age. At the end of this age, Christ will return for His church. These signs would not be seen by believers living on the earth during the Tribulation, because they were taken up in the rapture. (1)
- 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
- In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.(1 Corinthians 15:52)
It is fair to point out that that not everyone agrees with this position regarding the times we live in, identifying themselves variously in one of three primary views, which are pre-tribulational (the rapture occurs before the tribulation), mid-tribulational (the rapture occurs at or near the mid-point of the tribulation), and post-tribulational (the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation). (2)
Another crucial passage on the timing of the rapture is Revelation 3:10, in which Christ promises to deliver believers from the “hour of trial” that is going to come upon the earth. Pre-tribulational adherents, say believers will be spared from the horror of the tribulation because we are saved not just from the trial, but the hour of the trial.
Though we are not living in the Tribulation Age, theologians and Bible teachers will tell us that it is possible to get an impression of what that age might look like—a preview if you will. These are the signs in Matthew 24:3-9, 36:
- Deception by false “christs”
- Disputes and warfare among nations
- Devastation throughout the world (read pestilence in many translations)
- Deliverance of believers into the tribulation
- Defection of false believers
These are the signs of the end days, but the signs of today are a fuzzy image of the trials and tribulations to come. Regardless, most will agree—things look bad today.
But what is worse we might ask: a virus that preys on the elderly and the health-compromised, makes most people very uncomfortable, and spreads like hot peanut butter? Or outrageous civil disorder that is crushing urban centers all across the country?
This COVID-19 virus has a mortality rate of less than .04% as of July 17, 2020, accounting for all age groups. The complications are serious. No one is arguing that. Pneumonia, infections, and circulatory distress among anyone with compromised, underlying health conditions can be fatal. It’s a bad flu. But the response by governments, has plunged its people into economic chaos. The effects of delayed medical treatment, unemployment, businesses loss, are so staggering after more than four months, beggar description.
The virus is scary, but not nearly as scary as another virus attacking us at the same time—doubling the grief and stress of an already beleaguered nation. It’s a virus that has incubated in every institution of our society for decades, and it is finally erupting.
This virus is called cultural Marxism. It has spawned the greatest governmental malfeasance in American history. It has generated acts of tyranny from elected officials we trusted to protect us. It has replaced due diligence among health care professionals, law enforcement, news media, politicians, educators, and social service providers with hysteria and hype. This sign, more than the pestilence is the sign of these days.
It’s enough to break the heart, but it gets worse.
“The Average American,” whatever that may mean anymore, has adapted to all of this with an odd mixture of compliance and vitriol. Everyone is an expert on wearing masks, social distancing, and when we return to normal; something that may never happen for anyone older than 20. This Marxist virus of deceit presents with symptoms of social justice, racial division, governmental tyranny, loss of liberty, mockery, and craven opportunism.
The True Sign is Hope.
But for Christians, this is an amazing time of opportunity, renewal, and revival. Some even talk of another Great Awakening. The technology of meeting virtually for example, a poor substitute to be sure, has helped keep fellowship alive. Christians are still a force to be reckoned with.
While we are going to be facing incredible acrimony and hyperbole, pushback, resistance and attack, the churches are in the position of providing sanity, encouragement, and hope. We are the carriers of the antidote. Our antibodies are formed by the power of Holy Spirit. Our cure is Christ. He’s available without prescription. We are still free to offer His Gospel to whomever, wherever, whenever, and without permission.
We must pray for our nation, and then engage in our civic duty of adding salt and light in voting our biblical values this November.