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Tuesday, May 29 2012
The Two Signs Of Christ's Return
There have been many false prophets (see also What's The Bible Word For False Prophet?) over the centuries who have claimed to know when the Messiah is going to return - or even that He has returned. All of them had a number of things in common; the most glaring one was, and is, that they claim to know something that the Messiah Himself said that He doesn't know. Only the Father knows, because only the Father decides when it will happen (see The Seals Of Prophecy). The false prophets presume to put themselves on the same level as God - just as Satan tried to do in his rebellion (see Satan's Fall: From Conservative To Liberal).
"24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (Matthew 24:36 KJV)
The Messiah warned His people about the false prophets who would surely come, claiming to know the time of His return.
"24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many." (Matthew 24:11 KJV)
Another common factor for all false prophets who "set dates" is that they are always proven wrong; their "prophecy" fails (over and over, in some cases - their deceived followers can't let go of the usually "likeable" fraud) - revealing the worthless fruit that they bear. Like Satan, they always look and sound very good and appealing ("11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 KJV), but they are always proven to be liars.
"7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
False prophets also almost always have a narcissistic attitude that prophecy will be fulfilled wherever they happen to be, their city, their country - while arrogantly ignoring what the Word of God actually says (including the warning to not "set dates"). To them, the center of all of God's Creation is limited to the playground between their ears, and in their own lifetime.
Even within the Church of God will be found false prophets who seek to "make merchandise of you," with the coming result of "their damnation."
"2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." (2 Peter 2:1-3 KJV)
"I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth"
Does that mean that we are totally clueless about when the Father will decide that the Messiah will return? No! The Word of God plainly provides two signs, two signals, that reveal, when the Messiah's return is 42 months away, and when it is days away. They do not "set dates," as Christ commanded not to do, but they do obey Christ's command "24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 24:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." (Matthew 24:32-33 KJV).
The first sign will be the miraculous beginning of the ministry of Christ's "two witnesses." Their ministry will continue for 42 months (about three and a half years), until they are martyred in Jerusalem, resurrected a little over three days later - after which Christ's return will happen. Put most simply, if, on any given day, the public, miraculous ministry of the two witnesses hasn't begun, then the return of Christ is at least 42 months away (although it can seem immediate for those who die - see Could Christ Return Tonight?).
The first part of the prophecy about the two witnesses is important because it describes the same 42 months in which the conditions for the "abomination of desolation" (the second sign, as we will get to below) to occur will be set up.
"11:1 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. 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles [see also What Did The Messiah Say About Gentiles?]: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months." (Revelation 11:1-2 KJV)
Unlike the many false prophets who have claimed to be the two witnesses, their ministry will be powerfully miraculous - in effect, an end-time version of Moses and Aaron (although, like all prophets throughout history, they will be people of the time in which they serve).
"11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 11:5 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 [see Who Has A Spirit Of Confrontation?]. 11:6 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." (Revelation 11:3-6 KJV)
When their ministry has been completed, the LORD (i.e. Jesus Christ; see Appearances Of The LORD God] will permit their martyrdom, in Jerusalem, where their dead bodies will be left in the street by the "Babylon" of man-made religions that call Jerusalem their religious capital (Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholic/Protestantism and Mohammadanism; see A History Of Jerusalem: Zionism and A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad).
"11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:7-18 KJV)
The entire world of "Babylon" (see What And Where Is Babylon Today?) will celebrate their deaths because "these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth" with the Truth that couldn't be silenced for 42 months.
"11:9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 11:10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth." (Revelation 11:9-10 KJV)
The two witnesses will be resurrected after a little over three days - upon which the evil ones of the world will discover that the Truth that they heard is about to come full force upon the whole world (see The Coming World Dictator).
"11:11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 11:12 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. 11:13 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. 11:14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly." (Revelation 11:11-14 KJV)
Christ's return will occur shortly after the end of the 42-month ministry of the two witnesses.
"11:15 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." (Revelation 11:15 KJV)
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place ... they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory"
Overall, the "end time" will last 42 months ("power was given unto him to continue forty and two months," verse 5 below), during which the Satan-empowered "beast" will deceive the entire world into surrendering to its mis-leadership. The ministry of the "two witnesses" will begin, and end, with that same 42 months - as we read above.
"13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
The first part of Christ's famous Olivet Prophecy (so-called because He gave it while they were on the Mount of Olives) describes conditions in the entire world in the 42 months just prior to His return (which will occur first on that same Mount of Olives: "14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east" Zechariah 14:4 KJV):
"24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. 24:2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Some believe that the abomination of desolation is the present-day occupation of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by the Muslim people. But that has gone on for centuries already, with no response from the LORD - and according to the Scriptures, the response from the LORD to the abomination of desolation will be immediate.
Others believe that it will be the Pope and/or a great European military dictator who will desecrate the Temple, or some "Holy Place" (see the Fact Finder question below) that will exist at that time - and that is correct, overall. But the actual abomination of desolation by the Pope and/or a great European military dictator will be brief, so brief that when it is seen to happen, God's wrath will come at that hour. Christ instructed His followers, those of them who happen to be in Jerusalem at that time, that when they see it, they are to get out of the city fast - they aren't even to go back to their homes or hotels to get supplies or clothing.
The martyrdom of the two witnesses, in Jerusalem, will occur just before the abomination of desolation happens. They will not have left the city, in obedience to the LORD's command, because the ultimate "abomination of desolation," although about to happen, will still not have occurred. Their deaths will be part of the about-to-happen abomination of desolation in the "holy place" (see the Fact Finder question below to understand what and where the "holy place" is).
"24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, whoso readeth, let him understand: 24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 24:17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 24:18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 24:19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 24:20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 24:23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 24:25 Behold, I have told you before.
According to the Holy Bible, what then are the two signs of Christ's Return?
Fact Finder: What and where is "the Holy Place"?
This Day In History, May 29
1167: Frederick Barbarossa was defeated by the Lombard League at the Battle of Legnano.
1328: Philip VI was crowned King of France.
1453: Ottoman Turks (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) under Sultan Mehmed II seized Constantinople (listen also to our Sermon Constantine's Papacy) after a seven-month siege. Emperor Constantine XI was killed in the battle. The Eastern Roman Empire collapsed, marking the end of the European Middle Ages.
1500: Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Diaz, who discovered the Cape of Good Hope, drowned during a voyage.
1555: The Peace of Amasya was concluded between the Ottoman Empire and Persia.
1660: King Charles II was restored to the English throne after the Puritan Commonwealth.
1727: Peter II was proclaimed Czar (the Russian form of "Caesar") of Russia.
1838: John George Lambton, the earl of Durham, landed at Quebec. British PM Lord Melbourne had appointed Lord Durham governor general of Canada to investigate colonial grievances after the Canadian rebellions of 1837. The Durham Report urged unification of Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec) and institution of government by colonists themselves. Unlike the American colonists to the south who rebelled after their demands were not met, all of the demands of the Canadian colonists were met, thereby avoiding another "revolution in the Americas."
1903: King Alexander Obrenovich of Serbia, and Queen Draga, were assassinated in Belgrade by the "Black Hand" organization.
1914: The ocean liner Empress of Ireland sank quickly in the Gulf of St. Lawrence off Rimouski, Quebec after colliding with a Norwegian coal ship in dense fog. 1,012 lives were lost, the worst maritime disaster in Canadian history.
1918: Armenian forces defeated the Ottomans at the Battle of Sardarapat.
1944: A German submarine sank the USS Block Island, a U.S. aircraft carrier, near Madeira. It was the only U.S. carrier lost in the Atlantic Ocean during the Second World War.
1950: The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the "Mounties") ship St. Roch arrived back at Halifax, Nova Scotia, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate North America.
1953: Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norkay become the first (known) humans to reach the top of Mount Everest.
1964: The Arab League met in "East Jerusalem," resulting in the creation of the "Palestinian Liberation Organization."
1966: Thanh Quang, a South Vietnamese Buddhist nun, committed suicide by burning with gasoline to protest the U.S. support of the Saigon regime.
1985: Amputee Steve Fonyo completed his cross-Canada run at Victoria, British Columbia; the marathon took 14 months.
1990: Boris Yeltsin was elected president of the Russian republic, thereby giving him an official power base to attack Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev.