I have personally been searching the Bible for years in an effort to identify all the signs that show we are living in the end times and soon return of Jesus Christ. It has not been an easy task to get a hold on them. That's because there are so many of them, both in the Old and New Testaments. I have found that the best way to deal with them is to put them in categories, and in doing that, I have come up with six categories of end time signs. The following is the third category - Spiritual Signs.
3) The Spiritual Signs
There are more signs in this category than any other. Many are evil in nature, but there are also some very positive ones. Concerning the negative signs, a typical passage is the following one found in 2 Timothy 4:3-4:
"The time will come when they [professing Christians] will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths."
Some of the negative spiritual signs that are specifically prophesied include the following: false christs, cultic groups, heresies, apostasy, skepticism, deception, occultism, and persecution.
The one that Jesus mentioned most frequently was false christs and their cultic groups (Matthew 24:5, 11, 24). And in fulfillment of these prophecies, we have experienced an explosion of cults since 1850.
But, praise God, we are told that there will be some very positive spiritual signs in the end times. The most important one that is prophesied in many places is a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29).
This outpouring began at the dawn of the 20th Century, and proved to be one of the greatest spiritual surprises — and blessings — of the century. You see, when that century began, the prevailing viewpoint among both Catholics and Protestants regarding the Holy Spirit was Cessationism. This view held that the gifts of the Spirit ceased when the last Apostle died. In effect, it was a belief that the Holy Spirit had retired in the First Century.
The 20th Century had hardly gotten started when a Holy Spirit revival broke out at a small Bible college in Topeka, Kansas in 1901. Three years later, a similar Holy Spirit revival swept Wales and began to spread worldwide. Then, in 1906, the Spirit fell with great power on a humble Black preacher in Los Angeles named William J. Seymour. The Azuza Street Revival, as it came to be called, continued for four years and gave birth to the Pentecostal Movement.
The Bible prophesies two great outpourings of the Spirit and symbolically pictures them as the "early and latter rains" (Joel 2:23), based on the two rainy seasons of Israel. The early rain occurred at Pentecost in the First Century when the Church was established. The latter rain was prophesied to occur after the Jewish people had been re-established in their homeland (Joel 2:18-26).
The latter rain began with the Pentecostal Movement, just as God began to regather the Jews to their homeland under the visionary leadership of Theodore Herzl. But the rain did not become a downpour until after the re-establishment of the state of Israel in May of 1948, just as prophesied by Joel.
First came the anointing of Billy Graham's ministry in 1949, followed by the Charismatic Movement of the 1960's. Today, most of Christianity, whether Pentecostal, Charismatic, or Traditional, fully recognizes that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is alive and well in Spirit-led worship, the continuing validity of spiritual gifts, the reality of spiritual warfare, and the importance of a Spirit-filled life in winning that warfare.
In addition to the rediscovery of the Holy Spirit, there are other positive spiritual prophecies being fulfilled today — like the preaching of the Gospel worldwide (Matthew 24:14), the revival of Davidic praise worship (Amos 9:11) and the emergence of Messianic Judaism (Romans 9:27).
Another remarkable positive sign is the understanding of Bible prophecy. You see, the Hebrew prophets often did not understand the end time prophecies that the Lord gave to them. A good example can be found in Daniel 12:8-9 where the prophet complains to the Lord that he does not understand the prophecies that have been entrusted to him. The Lord's response was, "Don't worry about it. Just write the prophecies. They have been sealed up until the end times."
In other words, the Bible teaches that many of the end time prophecies will not be understood until the time comes for them to be fulfilled. And that is exactly what has been happening in the past 100 years. Historical developments and scientific inventions are now making it possible for us to understand end time prophecies that have never been understood before.
Take Israel for example. All of end time prophecy revolves around the nation of Israel. But how could those prophecies be understood as long as Israel did not exist and there was no prospect that the nation would ever exist again?
This is the reason that Hal Lindsey's book, The Late Great Planet Earth, became such a phenomenal bestseller in the 1970's. For the first time it explained the events prophesied in the book of Revelation in natural terms that people could easily understand.
We'll look at the remaining three categories in Part 4 of this series.