The signs of the last days and the return of the Lord

1. Introduction

For some time I have felt an urge to share prophetic scriptures about the last days and the coming of the Lord and compare current events and developments with them. I like to make plain that it is not my intention to be dogmatic in my interpretations and comments.

T. J. de Ruiter, Dutch Pentecostal Pastor and Bible Teacher, March 2007

2. About the meaning of 'soon' in end time prophecy

The apostle Peter indicates in 2 Peter 3:8 that 'one day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years are with the Lord as one day.' This is surely a statement to ponder about. God is living in his heavenly, eternal 'time' and that is the reason for his transcendent experience of time - if I can speak in this way about God. Moreover we should try to understand that the aspect of duration is for Him of far less importance than the completion of processes that are working in creation, whether bad or good.

If we accept this view we can to some extent understand that the Holy Spirit speaking through prophets could use the word 'soon' with His divine understanding of duration. The result is that the prophetic inspired use of the concept 'soon' could stretch itself over thousands of years. The apostle Peter condemns mockers for they don't see this important aspect of God's appreciation of time and find in the long waiting process a reason to mock and ridicule the promise of the return of Christ; read 2 Peter 3:3-9; James 5:7. In  Revelation 22:12 is the Greek word 'tachu' used. This is very often translated as 'soon'. But the word 'tachu' can also be translated and understood as 'coming quickly or fast.' Then this word could apply to the manner of His journey back to earth. Once He has been given the sign to return then He will travel as fast as He can. I make this point because this verse is often used by those who expect a soon return of the Lord, e.g. withn a few years or before they will die.

If we take the 'relativity of time' from God's perspective seriously it will help us to understand that prophetic recording of events and developments of the last days are not always in the earthly chronological order we would appreciate - especially when trained in western logical thinking. We will also appreciate that it was impossible in writings of a limited volume as the Gospels and the letters to describe elaborately the developments of the prolonged period of the 'last days.'

3. Characteristics or signs of the last days and the approaching end

The Bible teaches that the last days will see….

a. An outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh (the prophet Joel and apostle Peter  in Acts 2:17).

b.The preaching of the Gospel to all nations. Then the end will come, so said Jesus (Matthew 24:14).


The 'Lausanne Committee' for world evangelisation, well-known through her conferences, declared some time ago that more than likely all nations, peoples and tribes will long before the end of this century have heard the testimony of Jesus.

Winter and Loch were quoted in Mission Frontiers: "For the first time in history we have clearly arrived in the last phase of world evangelism. Nearly everywhere can churches be founded within the social structure of each nation in their own language." Some experts are sure that within ten years each nation and each tribe will have the Bible or a part of it - the New Testament - in their own language.

c. A great increase of egoism, materialism, hedonism, nihilism, demonic teachings, hypocrisy,  immorality, even amongst believers. There will be a decrease of true love and an increase  of hatred against the Jews and Christians (Matthew 24:9-12; Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

d. An increase of false teachers, leaders and of those who say that they are the Christ, that is an 'anointed one.'


Since the 19th century there has been an enormous increase in the number of false spiritual leaders (false Christ's) and prophets.

e. Towards the end an increase of great natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis and of atmospheric and cosmic frightening
    signs (Matthew 24:29-30, Luke 21:25-28).


Towards the end of this age there will apparently be a time of great disasters upon earth. Apart from earthquakes and tsunamis there will be a darkening of sun and moon and stars will fall from the sky (Matthew 24:29). I suggest - I am not dogmatic about it - that it is very well possible that here is written in simple descriptions about nuclear wars with terrible flashing explosions and enormous clouds of darkening smoke and about rockets falling from the skies like stars. Another way of describing such events was not possible in those days. The shaking of the powers of the heavens could refer to the results of the dangerous manipulations with the essential structures of matter and its basic energies. Many are convinced that these scientific technologies will cause unforeseeable disturbances.

f.  A treading down of Jerusalem by heathen nations till the times of the gentiles will have reached their completion (Luke 21:24). There will be a desecration on the 'holy place' (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4).

g. A powerful, godless, arrogant leader will succeed to enforce a time of international political 'peace' and with  great force he will oppress and subdue Israel, declaring himself to be god (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 2: 3,4).

h. Worldwide communications. Notice what is written in Matthew 24:30: all tribes on earth shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.


We know that it will not be long until everybody on this planet can watch via satellite TV local events happening somewhere. The technological developments for worldwide communication increase with rapid speed. So when Jesus will return it could technically be possible that everybody can watch His descent to the Mount of Olives in Israel.

It is interesting to think about what Jesus could have meant with prophetic insight as recorded in Matthew 24:38-42 and Luke 7:30-37. He said that when He returns two will be working on the land, two will be grinding at the mill and two willl be in bed. We know now that the earth is a turning globe and whilst one side of it is turned to the sun and people are working, the other side is in darkness and people are sleeping. He was probably hinting at the rapture of the church as an event with worldwide consequences. There are going to be those who are in bed and those who are working. The rapture will be a worldwide dramatic event.

i.  It will be a time of increasing pleasure, frivolous and careless living; read Matthew 24:37-39. In Matthew 24:42-44 and Luke 21:34-36 the Lord warned Christians not to partake in this lifestyle.

Are we not living in a time in which there is an immense increase of frivolous and careless living? More and more people seem to be only living for feasting with excess use of alcohol and drugs and for morbid, sensual shows and parties.

4. The return of Jesus Christ is going to be the end of the present
     world order and at the same time a new beginning.

When the horrors mentioned above will come upon humanity and especially upon Israel and the believers, God will shorten the days otherwise humanity will by her own doing be destroyed (Matthew 24:22). God the Father will give the signal - and this moment was known by Him from the beginning - that Jesus must return (Acts 1:7).

The return of Christ, preceded by the rapture of the church shall be a….

a. A new beginning for Israel (the prophets and Acts 3:19-21).

b. A new beginning for the church (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

<>c. A new beginning for humanity and the environment in which she has to live
    (2 Peter 3:10-13). 

In closing: As Christians it is our duty to watch the developments in these days with our Bible opened and observe how the fulfillment of prophecies will unfold. (Luke 21:31,36; 2 Thessalonians 2:15).

With the Writer of Revelation and the Church of all ages and places, we pray: "Come Lord Jesus."

T. J.  de Ruiter, Pentecostal Pastor and Teacher in The Netherlands


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