SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Matthew 24:3-14, 2 Timothy 3:1-5
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42:9)
The Bible is a written record not only of history but also of what is to come. The pages of the Old and New Testaments contain hundreds of prophesies and revelations — some of them very detailed and specific — of events that have not yet occurred. However, we know they will take place. Scripture is full of prophecies that already have taken place precisely as God revealed, and prophecies of events in the last days will transpire just as surely.
People around the globe discuss and debate what the future holds, though many ignore the prophetic signs playing out around them. There has never been a period in history when end-time prophecies aligned more closely with the conditions of the world than they do today. For believers, that is an exciting thought! Clearly, the culmination of God’s dealing with the people of this earth will soon occur.
Fully understanding prophesies concerning coming events can be challenging, so we should approach such passages with humility rather than dogmatic absoluteness. God has given man only limited glimpses of many aspects of the future. On the other hand, Scripture is very explicit about some coming events. As followers of Christ, we should seek to understand Biblical prophecies as clearly as possible, looking to the Holy Spirit for guidance. As we explore these indicators of what the future holds, we discover God’s hand in the chaos around us, and that gives us hope.
- In Daniel 2, we read of a prophecy that encompassed a wide swath of world history. This chapter tells of King Nebuchadnezzar’s troubling dream of a great image made of various materials, and Daniel’s interpretation of the dream’s meaning. Bible scholars concur that the various parts of the image represented a succession of world empires through the ages. In verse 34, the stone cut without hands that destroyed the last kingdom represents the Messiah and King of kings, Jesus Christ. Looking back through world history and the rise and fall of great kingdoms and dynasties, what can we conclude from this prophetic revelation about earthly powers? Why is this important to us as believers?
- In God’s Word, the nation of Israel often is a prophetic signpost. In Isaiah 11:12 we read a specific prophecy regarding Israel: “And he [God] shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” That prophecy was fulfilled in 1948 when Israel became a nation for the first time since 597 B.C. Since then, numerous Biblical prophecies regarding Israel have come to pass, including the return of rainfall to the land, the restoration of a pure language, the establishing of the shekel as official currency, and a number of astonishing military victories. We find another prophecy regarding Israel in Zechariah 12:1-3. In what ways has this prophecy been fulfilled in the nation of Israel?
- One of the most detailed passages in the Bible concerning end-time events, apart from the Book of Revelation, is found in Matthew chapter 24. When Jesus’ disciples asked Him what signs would precede His coming and the end of the world, He responded with a comprehensive list in a message referred to as His “Olivet Discourse.” In it, Christ telescoped near future events concerning the Jewish people of His day, and distant future events that would not occur until the time of the end. Some of these signs have already occurred, some are occurring today, and some are still to come. In Matthew 24:3-14, which of the signs Christ predicted do you see occurring in the world today?
- In addition to Jesus’ warning in His Olivet Discourse, prophets in the Old Testament and Christ’s disciples in the New Testament spoke of signs that would indicate Christ’s return to this earth is imminent. For example, in the Old Testament, Daniel predicted that in the last days, multitudes would travel to and fro, and knowledge would increase (Daniel 12:4). Zechariah spoke of the use of nuclear weapons (see Zechariah 14:12). In the New Testament, Peter predicted that many false prophets would emerge, bringing in heresies (2 Peter 2:1-2). John the Revelator indicated that the Gospel would be preached as a witness to all nations (Revelation 14:6). Why do you think God provided so many and varied signs related to the condition of the world at the end of time?
- In addition to foretelling world conditions just prior to Christ’s return, Biblical prophecies paint a graphic picture of the human condition at that time. In 2 Timothy 3, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, described to Timothy how the last days would be characterized by sinfulness. He introduced this portion of his epistle with the statement, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” In that statement, the Greek word translated perilous means “hard to bear, troublesome, dangerous.” Then Paul proceeded to describe what brought about the peril: the sinfulness of man. What does 2 Timothy 3:1-5 tell us about the condition of humanity in the last days?
- The Second Coming of Christ is a future event so important that it is mentioned in almost every New Testament book, and the imminence of His return is a theme woven through the prophetic passages of Scripture concerning this subject. The Second Coming encompasses two separate events: the Rapture of the Church, when Christ comes to claim His waiting Bride; and the Revelation of Christ, when Jesus comes with His saints from Heaven to execute judgment upon the ungodly and to set up His Millennial Kingdom and reign on this earth for a thousand years. According to the prophetic statements Paul made to the saints in Thessalonica and Corinth, what will happen to believers at the time of the Rapture? 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53
- While the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is taking place above, Bible prophecy indicates that a terrible outpouring of God’s wrath will occur on earth because of mankind’s rejection of God’s love and mercy. In the Book of Revelation, chapters 6-19 describe that time of catastrophic trouble and terrible suffering. Daniel, prophesying of it, said, “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1). How did Jesus characterize this time of trouble upon the earth? Matthew 24:21
- The most dominant figure of the Tribulation period will be the Antichrist, who will step onto the stage of world power and exert global authority given to him by Satan. Initially, he will expand his empire through subtle “peace” diplomacy, but later, his true nature will be revealed. His ascent to power will be rapid, as he will be a phenomenally persuasive and brilliant man. However, he will also be extremely wicked and diabolical. According to Revelation 13:8, all who dwell upon the earth whose names are not written in the Book of Life will worship him. Though the designation “Antichrist” only appears four times in the Word of God, this evil leader is described in various ways. How is the Antichrist identified in the following passages? Daniel 8:23; 9:26; 11:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Revelation 13:1
- The Word of God contains numerous prophecies of Christ’s future reign on this earth following the seven-year period of the Great Tribulation. Matthew 2:6 predicts that a governor will come out of Judah and reign over God’s people. In Luke 1:32-33, the angel announced to Mary that Jesus would be given the throne of his father David, and that He would reign over the house of Jacob forever. The prophet Daniel foretold that dominion, glory, and a kingdom would be given to “one like the Son of man,” and that all people, nations, and languages would serve Him (Daniel 7:13-14). Micah prophesied that Jesus would reign over Mount Zion (Micah 4:7). Isaiah vividly described a glorious kingdom given to Jesus from God, where He will rule in a royal manner (Isaiah 22:21-23). What do you think these prophetic indicators reveal about the purpose for the coming Millennial Kingdom?
Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day because they did not understand the meaning of their times. We want to consider the indicators that Christ’s return is imminent and be certain that we are ready.