SIGNS OF THE END
Don K. Preston
Those who claim that the end of the age was to occur in or around the year 2000 insisted that the predicted signs of the end were/are everywhere. As a matter of fact, the Iraqi conflict caused some prophecy pundits such as John Hagee to claim that the Rapture would occur within 6 months of March 2003! On Trinity Broadcasting, March 20, 2003, Hagee said the invasion of Iraq is the prelude to the end and that the end is only a matter of months away. I witnessed that program myself.
Jesus however, said that the signs of his coming and the end of the age, would occur in “this generation” (Matthew 24:34). That was his generation. Yet those who hold that Jesus’ coming has not yet occurred seek to redefine the term “this generation” and make it apply to our generation or to the future.
If it can be shown that every major sign of the Day of the Lord did occur in Jesus’ contemporary generation, this demands that Jesus’ prediction of his coming occurred then. It also means without doubt that his “this generation” cannot be applied to our generation or a future generation.
The fact is that every major sign--not to mention the “minor” signs of earthquake, famine, pestilence, etc.— that the Bible predicted to occur just prior to the Day of the Lord appeared in the first century. (Many try to say that there would be no signs of the end. This is false.) Notice what the Bible has to say about the signs of the end and the time of their occurrence.
Elijah was to come, “Before the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5-6). Jesus said John the Immerser was the predicted Elijah (Matthew 11:11-15, 17:9-13). But John, as Elijah appeared in Jesus’ contemporary generation.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was to occur in the Last Days before the coming of the Lord (Joel 2:28-32). On Pentecost, the Spirit was poured out and Peter said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:15f). The outpouring of the Spirit occurred in Jesus’ contemporary generation.
In Matthew 24:14 Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, then comes the end.” In Romans 16:25-26, Colossians 1:23, etc. Paul said the gospel had been preached into all the world. This happened in Jesus’ contemporary generation.
Jesus said that when the Abomination of Desolation appeared his disciples were to flee from Judea because of the coming tribulation. Then, “immediately after the tribulation” the Son of Man would come (Matthew 24:15-29). Church historian Eusebius says the early church fled Judea in about A. D. 66 being commanded to do so by the Lord. The Abomination of Desolation occurred in Jesus’ contemporary generation.
The Great Apostasy would be another sign of the Day of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:2f). In Matthew 24:9-12 Jesus said the love of the “majority” (NASV) of people would grow cold. He said it would be in his generation (v. 34). The rest of the New Testament documents the reality of that apostasy (Galatians 1:6f).
The Man of Sin, was a sign of the parousia. Paul specifically says that Man of Sin was already alive in his generation (2 Thessalonians 2:5-8).
The Bible thus gave six major signs of the coming of the Lord. Every one of the predicted signs occurred in Jesus’ contemporary generation!
Because every major sign of the Lord’s coming did occur in the first century generation it is wrong to look for those signs today. Because every major sign occurred in Jesus’ generation it is wrong to redefine “this generation” to mean our current generation or one that is yet future. Because all of those signs occurred in Jesus’ generation Jesus’ coming must have occurred then as well.