Signs of the Times


Dr. John Hoole



In Luke 21, Jesus is recorded saying, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.  On earth, nations will be in anguish … for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. [Luke 21:25-26]Then He added: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” [Luke 21:28].


Our Lord clearly indicated that certain “signs” would precede His return.  He also said “that day will close on you unexpectedly.”Therefore, He urged us, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen” [Luke 21:34-36].


Since Jesus returned to heaven with the promise that He would someday come back, nearly every generation has interpreted Bible prophecy in light of its own historical experience.  And every previous generation thought that theirs might be the one finding His return.  So, some are asking, why do we then think that He might return in our lifetime?  Why should we even try to discern the signs of the times?  Won’t we fall into the same category at every generation before who were wrong?  I believe these are valid questions.


Let me begin by saying I believe we are witnessing an unparalleled correspondence between the trend of world events and Bible prophecy.  People from all walks of life and religious backgrounds are asking the same questions.  Could the end really be near?  Is the world well down the road toward Armageddon?


Ever since Christ promised to return, Christians in all generation have been asking the same question as the Apostle asked Jesus in Matthew 24:3.


Matthew 24:3 NKJV


3      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?"


A study of prophetic writings from the first century to the present will show that Bible-believing Christians have always been interested in “When?” and the “signs.”


The purpose of this lesson is to answer but a few of the questions that are being raised.  We will look at what I believe are some major indicators that we very well could be living in the generation that sees Christ return to earth.


A word of caution – The Bible teaches us, “Let your moderation be known unto all men” [Phil. 4:5].  A study of “signs” of the end of the age or the return of Christ should always be undertaken with a degree of restraint.  Date setters are to be ignored outright.  It has always puzzled me that anyone would try to set dates for Christ’s return.


Matthew 24:36 NKJV


36    But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.


Acts 1:7 NKJV


7      And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.


Now, let’s look at some of the major signs or indicators of the Coming of Christ.  I have chosen those prophetic topics about the end times, that I believe it would be unwise to ignore.


The Rebirth of the Nation of Israel


If I were to be asked what I believe to be the greatest sign of the soon-coming of our Lord, without hesitation I would say it is the establishment of the nation of Israel on May 14, 1948  (That would be 5th day of Iyar, year 5708 on the Jewish calendar).  Israel!  The modern state of Israel.  This singular event is a prophetic watershed.


May 14, 1948 was very important day in human history - maybe even pivotal day.  On that afternoon, a car was quickly traveling down Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv.  The vehicle was carrying the prominent Jewish leader David Ben-Gurion.  The car stops in front of the Tel Aviv Art Museum a few minutes before 4:00 p.m.  More than 400 people were inside, made up of Jewish religious and political leaders.  David Ben-Gurion bounds up the steps to the podium, and at precisely four o'clock P.M., local time, he calls the meeting to order.


He immediately reads these historic words:


"This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.  Accordingly, we...are here assembled...and by virtue of our natural and historic right, and on the strength of the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, hereby declare the establishment of the Jewish State in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel."


Six thousand miles away, President Truman sat in the Oval Office reading a forty-word statement about to be released to the press.  He penciled in a few added words, then signs his approval and noted the time.  It was 6:11 p.m.  One minute later, the White House press secretary read the release to the world.  The United States had officially recognized the birth of the modern nation of Israel.


In the study of End Times Prophecy, few areas have been more important than understanding the place Israel will play.  What amazes many people is that in the last seven-plus decades, this nation, having a population of only 9 million people, has become the geopolitical center of the world.  Why is this so?  Why is a fledgling country with a total land space smaller than the state of New Jersey mentioned in the nightly news more than any other nation except the U.S.?  Why is Israel the focus of so much attention?  Why do normally calm world leaders erupt with emotion when Israel is mentioned?


For answers, we must turn not to the evening news or the front page of the newspaper, but the Bible.  As Rabbi Binyamin Elon, a member of the Israeli Knesset, wrote:


"I believe that if you do not know how to read the Bible, you cannot understand the daily newspaper.  If you do not know the biblical story of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you cannot possibly understand the miracle of the modern state of Israel."


Yes, there is only one source that gives a clear and authoritative answer - the Bible!!  Although it was completely written almost two thousand years before the conditions we find in the Middle East today, the Bible provides a supernaturally inspired analysis of both the factors and the forces that are involved.


Many of the various prophetic interpretations that are proposed, turn on what they believe the Bible says about Israel in the End Times.  If we fails to understand God’s program for Israel, we will very probably be mislead in what we believe about …


                •  The role of the nations in the Middle East.

                •  The purpose of the rapture,

                •  What part the church will play in God’s future plans,

                •  The meaning of the millennium,


Many of the different interpretations of the End Times, stem largely from how they treat the Jews or the nation of Israel.


The most prophesied event in end-time passages in the Bible is the return of the Jewish people to their promised land.  There are dozens of Scriptures predicting that the Jews must be back in the homeland for the events of the end times to unfold [ Jer. 30:1-3; Ezek. 34:11-24; Zech. 10:6-10]


Simply stated, almost all the key events of the end times hinge in one way or another on the existence of the nation of Israel.  Israel is the battleground for all the great end-time conflicts and wars described in the Bible.


In A.D. 70 the land of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, and the Jewish Temple were crushed under the heel of Roman dominance.  Since that time, the Jews have been scattered all over the world.  God had warned the Jews through Moses just before Moses dies.


Deuteronomy 28:64-66 NKJV


64    Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known — wood and stone.

65    And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul.

66    Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life.


God did not intend to leave them scattered.  On multiple occasions, God promised to bring them back to their land.


In the famous “valley of dry bones” vision in Ezekiel 37, the bones symbolize the nation of Israel coming back together in the end times.  In that passage, Ezekiel sees a graveyard vision illustrating the national return, restoration, and regeneration of the “whole house of Israel.”


Ezekiel 37:11 NKJV


11    Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!'


Israel is pictured here as first being restored physically.  In verses 4-8 of this chapter, we are given the process of the coming together of bones, sinew, and skin.  A whole army comes together bone by bone, followed by being covered by tendons, flesh, and skin.  But according to verse 8, they are just a bunch of lifeless corpses.


Then Ezekiel witnesses Israel’s spiritual regeneration when, in verse 9, the breath of the Spirit breathes spiritual life into the dead nation.  That as yet has not occurred, although many Jews have come to accept Christ as their Messiah.  But, I believe the physical regathering to the Land of Israel has begun.  The pile of dry bones are coming together.


The regathering of Israel will set the stage for many of the events of the end times.  The Bible predicts that Israel must be partially regathered to her land for the events of the end times to unfold.  Many of the End-time prophecies in Scripture are built upon the assumption that Israel will be regathered to her land and functioning as a nation again.


Daniel 9:27 tells us the 7-year Tribulation period begins with the signing of a covenant between  the Antichrist and the leaders of Israel.  That cannot happen without the presence of a Jewish state.


Alignment of Nations


As mentioned earlier, the migration of Jews to their nation is prophesied to have an effect on what the Bible prophesies about many other nations.


The Lord said that at the End of the Age He will make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding people reeling (NIV).


Zechariah 12:2-3 NKJV


2      Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.

3      And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.


Over the last several years, much of the Middle East talk has been focused on Jerusalem.  American leaders, traditionally some of Israel’s most loyal allies, have publicly called East Jerusalem occupied territory, and demanded that no more Jewish home be built there..


I am of the opinion that Jerusalem won’t really be free of Gentile “trampling” until the Lord returns


The Bible records more than two dozen nations that will be impacted in the End Times.  Actually we know that all nations will be impacted, but many are specifically named in the Bible prophecies.


In just two Bible passages, we find more than 1½ dozen nations or people groups mentioned by name, all of whom would like to see Israel cease to exist in the Middle East.  These two passages speak of two future wars against the Jewish nation, and are mentioned in Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 & 39.


Let’s read Psalm 83.


Psalms 83:1-8 NKJV


1      Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God!

2      For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head.

3      They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones.

4      They have said, "Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more."

5      For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You:

6      The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites;

7      Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;

8      Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah


Before going further, let’s identify where these people groups/tribes lived.


        Edom                 Southern Jordan

        Ishmaelites          Northwest Saudi Arabia

        Moab                  Central Jordan

        Hagrites               Egypt (Hagar was an Egyptian)

        Gebal                  Northern Lebanon

        Ammon               Northern Jordan

        Amalek                Negev/Southern Jordan/Sinai

        Philista                 Gaza Strip – (Hamas)

        Tyre                     Southern Lebanon – (Hezbollah)

        Assyria                 Northwest Iraq (Near Turkey and Syria)


The people involved in the war of Psalm 83 form an “inner circle” of nations.  By that, I mean, these enemies are predominantly immediate neighbors of Israel.  The nine  nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38 form an “outer circle.”  That is, none of them border immediately on Israel.


The outer ring consist of these nations:


        •  Russia             - Magog, Rosh

                (Including some of the former Islamic provinces of Russia)

        •  Iran            - Persia

        •  Sudan              - Cush [Ethiopia]

        •  Libya               - Phut

        •  Turkey     - Togarmah, Meshech, Gomer, Tubal


Between these two passages, there are 19 people groups involved against the nation of Israel.  Ten are mentioned in Psalm 83, and nine in Ezekiel 38, and no nation finds itself involved in both wars.


In the Ezekiel prophecy, we read of a massive assault by Russia, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Turkey, etc.  With the sheer size of the assault force, Israel will seem to have no chance of defending itself.  God, however, will intervene and supernaturally annihilate the invaders.  The nations involved will be reduced to ashes.  Of the 19 different tribes or people groups, all but possibly one are Muslim nations today.


For the first time in history, we are on the brink of a setting where this prophecy could be fulfilled.  Israel again will be seen as the “bad guy” for daring to defend themselves.  What I like about these verses though, is that the Lord isn’t going to stand for it.  It says He will rebuke them for both their words and their actions against Israel.  I am kind of curious exactly what He’s going to do or say.  But, whatever it is, God is going to have the last word.


Revised Roman Empire


At another location on earth, we are told of another group of nations.  The Bible speaks of ten national powers being associated with the coming Antichrist.  Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 mention four separate entities.


         Daniel 2 mentions them in the form of a gigantic metallic statue.’


        Daniel 7 depicts them as coming up out of the sea.


We are told, in verses 17-28 of chapter 7, that these four beasts represent four “kings” and “kingdoms.”  These kingdoms are prophesied to rise one after the other, with each nation worse than and more powerful the those before it.


Most Bible scholars agree that these four beasts represent the empires of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome, and we do know from history that these four kingdoms did arise in this order.  The fourth kingdom, Rome, is described the most “dreadful and terrible” beast of all (Daniel 7:7).


However, the prophecies about this fourth beast have not been completely fulfilled.  In fact, the same beast reappears in Revelation 13:1-2.  The ten horns on the Revelation beast are said to be “ten kings” and are the same as the “ten horns” of Daniel’s beast.  These ten kings are part of the Roman beast of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13.


For centuries Europe has wanted to reunite its separate nations, but only in the 20th century have we seen the actual formation of the “European Community.”  Since World War II, various treaties have been signs and various governments have been established to bring Europe closer to being united.


The European Community has established a Commission, a Council of Ministers, a European Parliament, and a European Court of Justice.  So with every passing day, the nations of the ancient Roman Empire are moving a step closer to forming their own federated kingdom.


The Bible says there will be TEN kings which make up this federation, and that they will give their power to the Antichrist who also rises up among them.  At this moment, we do not know for sure which ten European nations will make up this federation in its final form.  But one thing is very certain:  The “ten horns” of Revelation 13:1 and 17:12-13 are now a reality.


It is only a matter of time before the “United States of Europe” is formed with the Antichrist in control.


The Desert is Blossoming


The Old Testament prophets relate to the reader how fertile the land of Israel will be in the last days.  This is especially true in the prophecies of Isaiah.


Isaiah 27:6 NKJV


6      Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, And fill the face of the world with fruit.


When one considers how that during most of the last 2,000 years, the land of Israel lay in total desolation and utter deforestation throughout the land, it is remarkable that the Bible prophesies that the land would be abundantly fertile again in the last days.  The Roman Legion stripped the land of its trees and burned its orchards.  The Turkish absentee landlords displayed no genuine concern for the land.


In Mark Twain’s book, The Innocents Abroad, he comments about his 1867 tour of the Holy Land.  “There is hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere.  Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”


That was all well and truthful until the Jews returned to their ancient land.  They have transformed the Promised Land into the most agriculturally efficient land on earth.  The value of the agricultural crops produces annually exceeds $2.5 billion dollars.  Today, Israel supplies over 80% of the citrus fruit consumed by Europeans.


The astonishing fertility of Israel in the last days is verified by these yields:  Peak yields of tomatoes reach 202 tons per acre.


•  1.2 million roses per acre per season are grown in greenhouses.


•  Annual milk yields per cow reach an average of 2,640 gallons.


•  In the Negev Desert, peak yields of citrus reach 32 tons per acre.


•  Over 150 tons of Petters grown each year.


They have devised a remarkable new drip-irrigation technique that ensures every drop of water is delivered directly to the plant’s roots.  They utilize fertilizer from the minerals in the Dead Sea.  This has allowed Israel’s farmers to turn the deserts into lush gardens growing bananas, mangos, watermelon and grapes.


This was all prophesied by the Old Testament prophets.


Isaiah 35:7 NKJV


7      The parched ground shall become a pool, And the thirsty land springs of water; In the habitation of jackals, where each lay, There shall be grass with reeds and rushes.


When the Jews returned to their land, one of the first things they did was to plant trees.  They have planted 300 million trees thus far, with about 50% each for fruit bearing and non-fruit-bearing.  It has again become the land “flowing with milk and honey.”


Explosion of Travel


Daniel the prophet received some of the most sweeping prophecies found in the Bible.  Prophecies found in the book of Daniel take us from the days of the Babylonian captivity (which Daniel was part of) to the very end of this age.  It is fascinating that after giving him some of the most remarkable prophecies found in the Bible, God tells Daniel to "shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end."  But then God gives Daniel two signs that would help us identify "the time of the end.”


Daniel 12:4 NKJV


4      But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."


I love the two prophecies given in this verse.  That is because they are clearly pointing to our day.  They cannot be refuted by anyone.


The first sign here speaks of the Explosion in Travel.  For more than 5000 years prior to A.D.1850, the fastest speed at which mankind could travel did not vary at all.  Up until that time, the horse was the surest and fastest way to travel.  But in the last 150 years, the speed of travel and the places where we can quickly go is staggering.


I ran across an interesting fact given several years ago.  I quote: “Over fourteen million passengers passed through Ben Gurion airport in 2013.”  As I read that, I wondered what that statistic was in 2018.  I inquired on the internet and found it was twenty-three million.  That is a 64% increase in 5 years.


Man has traveled to the moon and back traveling approximately 25,000 miles per hour.  Truly, there has been a veritable explosion in travel over the last 150 years.


We can look around and see tremendous progress since the 1890s in automotive production, steam engines, and the discovery of flight.  We have seen interstate highways built and quick travel between cities.


A hundred years ago, it was a huge decision and expense and time to go half-way around the world to visit another culture.  But today we can be anywhere in the world in just a few hours.


I have been to Japan on six or seven occasion.  My wife and I have traveled to Europe.  We have visited Czechoslovakia, a country that only 30 years ago was behind the iron curtain.  In the last fifteen years, I have traveled to El Salvador, Guatemala, South Africa, India, Philippines, England, Rome, Israel (5), Egypt, Jordan (3), Turkey (3), Greece, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica.  Yes, “many shall run to and fro.”


The Increase of Knowledge


The second sign given to Daniel as an indicator of the “time of the end,” was that there would be a significant increase in knowledge.


As a young college student, studying mathematics and physics, I was already seeing students shy away from general physics opting for narrower specialties: Nuclear Physics, Thermodynamics, Astrophysics, String Theory, Geophysics, Aeronautical Physics.  There was simply too much to learn to be a generalist.


The same is true in the medical field.  There are fewer and fewer general practitioners.  All of this occurs because there is simply too much information to be an expert in everything.  Therefore, more and more are choosing specialties within their field of study.


Modern technology is a product of greatly increased knowledge.  There are many Bible prophecies of the End Times that cannot be understood apart from the technology we see today.  For example, how can the whole world look upon two bodies lying in the streets if Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8-9)?  Modern television and satellites communications networks make it easy,


How can the False Prophet build an image of the Antichrist that appears to be alive (Revelation 13:15)?  The answer, of course, is the science of robotics and/or holography.


Scriptures like Revelation 1:7, which says of Christ’s return, “all eyes will see Him,” has puzzled people for the last 2,000 years.  But now, with the ability to view activity at any place in the world as it happens, this is no longer a mystery.


Also, the technology needed to implement the Mark of the Beast is now here.  It is now possible to control what a person may be able to buy or sell as mentioned in Revelation 13.  Already, across the world 99% of commercial transactions in many countries are done without cash.


Throughout most of earth’s history the level of knowledge increased slowly and incrementally.  In some centuries and nations, the level of general knowledge actually decreased for a time, such as during the thousand years known as the Dark Ages after the fall of Rome.  Yet, since 1850 we have witnessed an explosion of knowledge in all fields beyond anything ever experienced in human history.


At the time of Daniel’s prophecy, books were rare and very expensive.  A copy of the Books of Moses would have cost perhaps a lifetime of wages.  Nowadays, the very young (and very old), with access to the internet, can, with a mobile phone, access literally trillions of articles and books from all over the world any time of day.


There are more scientists alive today (500,000) than have lived in all the rest of history.  Recently it was calculated that the sum total of human knowledge is growing so quickly that it literally doubles every twenty-four months.  This is intriguing in light of Daniel’s ancient prediction that “knowledge shall be increased” at “the time of the end.”




God is warning the world today that His Son is about to return.  He is calling the world to repentance.


The message of the hour to unbelievers can be summed up in these words:  “Flee from the wrath that is to come by fleeing into the loving arms of Jesus now.”  Jesus came the first time as an expression of God’s love.  He came to die for the sins of Mankind.  But, when He returns, He will come in vengeance to pour out the wrath of God on those who have rejected God’s love and grace and dismissed His warnings.


The Scriptures teach us that the population who are living when Christ returns, will witness the fulfillment of numerous prophecies pointing to His return.  We have witnessed more fulfilled prophecies than any other generation in the last 2,000 years.  The Lord has not left us in spiritual darkness concerning the signs indicating His return.


Although we are specifically warned that we cannot know “the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh” (Matthew 25:13) the fulfillment of dozens of specific prophecies strongly suggest that Jesus Christ’s Second Coming could occur during this generation.


Someday, without warning, the heavens will open “with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God (1 Thess. 4:16) announcing to all true Christians the awesome news that our years of anxiously waiting are finally over.