End Times - Putting the Pieces in Place
Chapter 2: Sign Posts Along the Way
Matthew 24:3 (NKJV) Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
In the Jewish Scriptures before the birth of Jesus (our Old Testament), there were many prophecies about the coming Messiah (i.e., Jesus, the Christ). Some of those prophecies described the Messiah as coming to rid the earth of those who do not serve God. These prophecies described a kingly Messiah who was coming to conquer and reign. Other prophecies of the Messiah described His death in payment for our sins. These prophecies described a servant Messiah who would suffer at the hands of men.
Before the birth of Jesus, the Jewish people studied the messianic prophecies to understand what God would do. Many of these people often did not understand that the prophecies were talking about two separate comings of the Messiah. His first coming would be in a servant role to redeem man to God by suffering death on a cross (Isa. 52:13-15; 53:1-12). The second would be in a kingly role as a conqueror of all evil and the deliverer of God's people (Jer. 23:5-6; Dan. 7:13-14). Unfortunately, many people only looked for the kingly Messiah who would deliver the Jewish people from the tyranny of Roman rule (Acts 1:6). Since the servant prophecies did not seem to fit this view of the Messiah, those prophecies were often ignored or misapplied.
As a result, when Jesus came, the people thought that He was the kingly Messiah who would set up God's kingdom in Jerusalem. A few days before Passover, these people spread palm branches and clothes in the road to welcome their coming king (John 12:12-13). When Jesus failed to fulfill their understanding of the prophecies, these same people turned against Him, demanding His death (John 19:14-15).
The Jewish people made a common mistake when it comes to biblical prophecy. They thought that the primary purpose of prophecy was to describe what would happen in the future. They also added too many assumptions based upon their limited understanding of the prophecies. Even though the prophecies were fulfilled (to that point) exactly as given, many of the Jewish people did not recognize it because they were not fulfilled the way they expected. We must be careful to not make a similar mistake when studying end-time prophecies.
Throughout the Bible, God has provided many end-time prophecies for us. These prophecies serve two major purposes. First, when they come to pass, they assure us that God has everything under control (John 13:19; 14:29: 16:4). He is not surprised by the events taking place.
The second major purpose of these prophecies is to show us where we are in God's plan. In this sense, prophecies are similar to city limit signs. When you reach the city limit sign for your destination, then you know where you are. Bible prophecies are not always intended to function as mileage signs. That is, they do not often tell us how far we have to go before we arrive. Instead, Bible prophecies often show us when we arrive at certain points in history.
For example, the Abomination of Desolation is a type of sign post that tells Christians when we are entering the Great Tribulation (Mat. 24:15,21). We will probably not know ahead of time when the Great Tribulation will start. However, when we see the Abomination of Desolation, we will know that the Great Tribulation has started. Therefore, the Gospel writer tells us that it is important to understand the prophecy about the Abomination of Desolation (Mat. 24:15). Besides serving to show us when we reach a certain point in history, this prophecy about the Abomination of Desolation also serves to assure us that God is not caught off guard by the works of the enemy.
When studying end-time prophecies, avoid the temptation to be too specific about how the prophecies will be fulfilled. Primarily, seek to understand enough about the prophecies to recognize them when they come to pass. If you do that, you will be least likely to miss these important sign posts provided by God.
Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. NKJV indicates quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. KJV indicates quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible. Numbers associated with Greek (italic) or Hebrew (upright) words refer to the corresponding words in the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, by James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D.
Please make copies of this book to give to your friends. (A searchable and printable version in Adobe Acrobat format is available for download.) Your comments and suggestion are also welcome. Thank you for helping others to understand the Bible teachings on the End Times.
God bless you.
If you have questions or comments, please contact Sonny Bowman.