VIDEO PART ONE: PREACHED in TWO PARTS, June 5 and June 12, 2016
Matthew 16:1-4 (cf. Luke 12:54-56)
What comes to your mind when you hear someone say, “It’s a sign of the times?” If you’re from my generation, you might think of a hit song in 1966 by Petula Clark—“It’s A Sign of the Times.”
We often use this expression when we see something that has become a part of our lives that is different from the way things used to be. “The signs of the times” point to some changes going on in our world. When you see someone texting on a smart phone, “It’s a sign of the times.”
It is not a new expression, as we see in our text.
The question Jesus asks is a rebuke of the Jewish leaders for being better at predicting the weather than discerning “the signs of the times.” They could understand the signs in the sky, but failed to understand the prophecies that predicted His coming.
Today weathermen have sophisticated satellites, barometers, radar, and computer simulations to forecast the weather. Yet, they only predict in percentages: 20% chance of rain… 30% chance of rain… etc. On a national average, weathermen are about 40% accurate.
Yet, people are more faithful to tune into the evening news to hear what Steve Pool says about the weather forecast than studying what the Bible says about “the signs of the times.” Some put more stock in “Punxsutawney Phil” seeing it’s shadow than they do Bible prophecy.
The religious leaders of Christ’s day should have known when Messiah would come. The Old Testament prophets foretold of certain “signs” that would indicate His coming:
- Born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14)
- Born at Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
- Come from Nazareth (Isa. 11:1; Mt. 2:23)
- Be a lowly man with no outward beauty or comeliness (Isa. 53).
- Recovering sight to the blind (Isa. 35:5; 42:7; Luke 4:18; John 9; Mt. • 11:5).
- Speak in parables (Ps. 78:2; Mt. 13:35).
- Ride into Jerusalem on the colt on a specific date to present Himself as King (Zech. 9:9; Dan 9; Mt. 21:5)
Jesus literally fulfilled all the prophecies of His first coming (over 300). He will also fulfill all the prophetic “signs” of His second coming.
The question Jesus asked in our text 2,000 years ago, could be asked of us today. We can read the signs of the weather, but are we reading the prophetic signs all around us. As the Pharisees failed to discern signs of Christ’s first coming, many today are oblivious to the signs that point to Christ’s second coming. They can predict a storm in the sky, but they cannot foresee the coming storm of God’s judgment.
“The times” are marked by “signs.” Remember “the signs” are given to the Jews, not us Gentiles—“The Jews require A SIGN, and the Greeks [Gentiles] seek after wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:22; Ex. 4:8, 30). “The signs” point to Christ’s second coming at the end of the seven-year tribulation period (Mt. 24:3). There are no signs specifically that point to the rapture of the church.
That does not mean you and I cannot learn something from “the signs” that point to Christ’s second coming. For example: Suppose you are driving west on Hwy. 16 from Tacoma to Port Orchard. You see a sign that says 25 miles to Bremerton. You are not going to Bremerton. You’re going to Port Orchard, but you know that Port Orchard comes before Bremerton. The next sign says, 20 miles to Bremerton. That means you are five miles closer to Port Orchard.
As we “discern the signs of the times” being fulfilled pointing to Christ’s coming at the end of the Tribulation, and we know the rapture of the church comes seven years before that, we must be getting close to the sound of the trumpet.
Let’s be clear—The rapture is imminent! Nothing needs to be fulfilled for the Lord to come in the clouds and call us out of here! We could be raptured at any moment!
We are not “sign seekers” (Mt. 16:4). However, while “the signs” may not be for us doctrinally, but we can be encouraged by them knowing it won’t be long until we’ll hear the trumpet calling us to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
The Bible gives us clear indications of what the “end times” will be like so we will not be caught off guard (see 1 Thess. 5:1-4)!
I.M. Haldeman pastored the First Baptist Church in New York City from 1884–1933. He wrote a book titled, “The Signs of the Times” in 1910. In this book he refers to “signs” of Christ’s second coming. Here are a few:
- The rise of modernism (Chapters 3 & 4—“The Progress of the Devil’s Lie;” “Jericho Theology”)
- The conforming of the church to the world (Chapter 2—“The Faith” pp. 35-37, 47).
- The rise of a social gospel (Chapter 5—“The New Religion”)
- The rise of humanism (Chapter 6—“Thinking Above What is Written”)
- The rise of socialism (Chapter 10)
- The rise of psychotherapy — metaphysical / mind healing (chapter 11–“Emmanuelism”).
- A global government (Chapter 14—“The Parliament of Nations”). [We are not far away from a one-world government and cashless society.]
- Regathering of Jew to Palestine (Chapter 15—“The Zionist Movement”)
The restoration of Israel as a nation is one of the most significant indicators of the nearness of Christ’s coming.
In 70 AD, Titus the Roman entered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. The Jews were scattered among the nations (James 1:1). They remained a people without a country. Numbers 23:9 prophesied Israel “shall not be reckoned among the nations.” They would remain a distinct and separate people—Truly a miracle of survival. There were plenty of biblical nations who have been wiped away. Can you find me a Moabite? A Perrizite? An Edomite? An Ammonite? No. But you don’t have any trouble finding an Israelite!
In 1948 the United Nations declared Israel a nation and returned the land of Palestine to them. Israel was reborn as prophesied.
- The prophet Amos wrote: “I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.” (Amos 9:14-15).
- Notice was Jesus said in Luke 21:24-32.
Israel is in the news on a daily basis. The world’s attention is upon to this small nation for one important reason: It will play a key role in the return of Christ. So this is a “sign of the times” we cannot ignore.
The rise of Russia as a world power and persecutor of Israel is also a “sign of the times” (See Scofield note at Ezekiel 38:2—written in 1909.)
Technology for a cashless society exists today (Rev. 13:16-18).
I. These are DARK times (1 Thess. 5:1-6). Spiritually, morally.
II. These are DEMONIC times (1 Tim. 4:1-4; Mt. 24:11; 2 Pet. 2:1-2).