Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jesus is Returning In Our Time: Revelation Signs 1-3

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Many examples of modern day signs that Jesus is returning in our time can be found in the book of Revelation. Seven of the many signs will be covered, starting with the following three.


1) The Tribulation Slaughter

Revelation 6 says that the Tribulation will begin with a series of judgments that will result in the death of one-fourth of Mankind. The world's population is approaching six billion. That means one and a half billion people will die in the initial judgments, reducing the world's population to 4 1/2 billion. The next series of judgments, recorded in Revelation 8 and 9 will kill another third of Mankind. One-third of 4 1/2 billion is another one and a half billion. Thus, in the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation, a total of 3 billion people will die. That's half the population of the world!

Is this possible apart from the use of nuclear weapons? Only if it is a supernatural intervention of God. But God normally works through natural processes.

The unparalleled carnage of the Tribulation seems to me to point to nuclear weapons. Revelation 8 speaks of one-third of the earth being burned and one-third of the seas being polluted (Revelation 8:7-8). Later in the Tribulation, near the end, we are told that people will suffer from "loathsome and malignant sores" (Revelation 16:2). That sounds like one of the effects of radiation poisoning.

The advent of nuclear weapons makes possible for the first time the overwhelming Tribulation carnage portrayed in Revelation. I think nuclear power was what Jesus referred to in His Olivet Discourse when He said that the end times will be characterized by "men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (Luke 21:26).

The prophecies concerning the Tribulation carnage have clearly depended upon a major technological breakthrough for their understanding. That breakthrough occurred on July 16, 1945 when the first atomic bomb was exploded in New Mexico. When the first hydrogen bomb was exploded in 1952, we entered the era when, for the first time in human history, we could inflict upon ourselves the kind of carnage described in the book of Revelation.


2) The Army of 200 Million

Chapters 9 and 16 of Revelation state that an army of 200 million soldiers will march "from the east" toward Israel. Daniel 11 indicates that this will be an army representing nations in revolt against the Antichrist (Daniel 11:44).

Demographers estimate that the total population of the world at the time the Apostle John wrote Revelation (95 A.D.) was only 200 million. How could an army that size march out of the east? It made no sense. In fact, it took 1,650 years for the world's population to double to 400 million! At the beginning of the 20th Century the total world population was only 1.6 billion, still too small for an army of 200 million to march from the east.

But the 20th Century has witnessed an exponential increase in population. The population count is now at 6.7 billion, and just one country to the east of Israel — namely, China — could field an army of 200 million.

Here we have a clear example of a prophecy about the end times that could never be understood apart from historical developments.


3) The Two Witnesses

Revelation 11 reveals that two great witnesses of God will preach in the city of Jerusalem during the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation. Then, in the middle of that terrible period, the Antichrist will kill them.

We are further told that their dead bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 1/2 days and that all the people of the world will look upon them. How could that be? Prior to 1957 that prophecy was not understandable in natural terms. There was just no way that all the people of the world could look upon two dead bodies in the streets of Jerusalem.

All that changed on October 4, 1957 when the Russians sent up the first satellite called Sputnik. Today, 52 years later, our planet has many man-made satellites circling it, making possible all sorts of instantaneous communication.

When those two prophets lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem, all someone will have to do is point a TV camera at them, send the signal up to a satellite, and all the world will be able to look upon them. Once again, modern technology has made an ancient prophecy understandable for the first time.


The next article will look at more examples of modern day signs that Jesus is returning in our time from the book of Revelation.

9 comments:

Mitchell said...

Thank you Dr. Reagan.

I think it would be good to mention the Semitic style of Revelation when studying the text. In the Seals (Rev 6), the Trumpets (Rev 8-11), and Bowls of Wrath (Rev 16) the seventh and last item in each series occurs at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ immediately after the tribulation. We see somewhat concurrent fulfillment. Later descriptions include additional details, and this is a well-recognized feature of narrative style in Semitic literature.

Note, for example, that we find this same Semitic literary technique in the creation account, where creation is overviewed in Genesis 1:1, and then, the creation process is fully outlined in Genesis 1:2-2:2. Finally, in a third outline of creation in Genesis 2:2-25, a different but compatible viewpoint is brought out, which runs concurrently with the previous two, but with a different focus.

So, the seals, trumpets and bowls would start at different times, run concurrently and all end together at the Second Coming.

Note some advantages in the above arrangement: The seals, trumpets and bowls increase in frequency and severity, similar to birthpangs (Mat.24:8); The sixth bowl (Rev.16:12-16) is preparatory for the sixth trumpet (Rev.9:13-16); And the sixth seal (Rev.6:12-14) fits in very well with the post-tribulational signs that Joel and Christ spoke of, which come just before Christ's Second Coming (Joel 2:30-31 & Mat.24:29-31) to set up his kingdom on earth (Rev. 11:15-18). So, the seventh item from each of the three series, all happen together at the time of the Second Coming ...even the seventh seal's "silence in heaven for half an hour" (Rev.8:1) occurs at this time, which is reasonable if the Lord Jesus along with all the heavenly armies have gone to earth for a time during the Second Coming.

son of thunder said...

It's sad that so many Christians are scared to death about what's going on in the world today, but that's only because they haven't been taught anything but sloppy agape, tolerance, and a purpose-driven lifestyle. Many are told that the Bible isn't literal or mean what it says, and these false teachers have done a great dis-service for our Lord and His Kingdom and have done a greater service for theirs.

Personally, I agree with Hal Lindsey when he says it's an exciting time to be alive.

Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus!!!!

Mitchell said...

One more comment if I may, this time regarding the two witnesses. The context in Revelation is placing the two witnesses in the last half of the 7 year tribulation, not the first half.

Notice what it says about the Gentiles:

Revelation 11:1-3, "And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty [and] two months. And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth."

There is peace in Israel during the first 3 1/2 years, and it is only after Antichrist reveals his true colors that "all hell breaks loose." For there to be peace the holy city cannot be "tread under foot" for the first half of the tribulation.

Revelation 11:5-6, "And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will."

This definitely does not sound like a time of peace, but rather of Great Tribulation during the last half of Daniel's 70th week. Notice that these specific phenomena (fire, water turning into blood, and plagues) are among those included in the Trumpet Judgments (Revelation 8:7,8b, 9:17,18,20). This could possibly be related some how.

Also notice what happens when the two witnesses are killed:

Rev 11:12-13, "And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven."

Could this earthquake have been caused by the opening of the 6th seal? This is exactly one of the things that happens when the 6th seal is opened.

An additional clue is found in the next two verses regarding the timing:

Rev 11:14-16, "The second woe is past; [and], behold, the third woe cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever."

This can only be true at the Second Coming of Jesus, not in the middle of the tribulation.

Rev 11:18 gives us another clue, saying, "And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth."

The Wrath of God does not come until immediately after the tribulation, according to Rev 6:12-17, "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"

We know this is immediately after the tribulation because Jesus said so specifically in Matthew 24:29, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken".

So, to summarize, the descriptions of the events surrounding the two witnesses during their ministry and after their death definitely places their ministry in the last half of the tribulation, not the first half. Their being killed by the Beast and God raising them to heaven will be one of the final signals that the Day of the Lord -- the Day of His Wrath -- is about to soon take place.

Billy said...

The two witnesses is my absolute favorite part of Revelation. No one can point to any point in history and say this event has already occurred and therefore disputes those who may argue that Revelation is all about past events and has no relevancy to today.

son of thunder said...

I'm intriqued by the two witnesses. Which of the OT saints are they? It's almost upsetting knowing I won't be here to see them in action.

But as for my favorite part, it would have to be the end.

Billy said...

I kinda overstated the "my favorit part", that would be in context to evidence that Revelation is relevant to today.

My favorite part actually is that the saints get to return with Jesus as He comes back to Earth the second time.

davidson county said...

Maranatha! 1 Thessalonians 4:16!

son of thunder said...

Sorry, Billy, we have to go with your first answer.

Seriously, though, I have to agree with the two witnesses part. There is absolutely no way that a prophecy "scholar" can look at Revelation and say it's already happened; Not with those two guys never having made an appearance. At least not at the exact same time.

hartdawg said...

i heard people spiritualize the two witnesses. they are the church and isreal. they are the old and new testament. they are the law and prophets...