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The Moment of Truth - Lesson 22

The Signs of the Times

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Let’s ask God to guide us:

Heavenly Father,

We humbly come to You, grateful that You have given us Your Word, which is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.

As we study what the Bible teaches about the signs of the times, we ask You once again to accompany us and to guide us through Your Spirit.

In Jesus Christ our Savior we pray.


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2 Peter 1:19

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place.


The apostle Peter told us that we do well to study Bible prophecy, in order to know what the future has in store for each of us, and apply that knowledge in making the best decisions.

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Matthew 24:3

The disciples came to [Jesus] privately, saying,

«Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world?»


Like most of us, Jesus’ disciples were concerned about the signs announcing the end of the world.

Jesus answered their questions in a very clear way. He enumerated many signs, that we can divide into two categories:

- signs in the natural world;
- signs in the social world.

Let’s see them.

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The signs of the times: two great categories

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Luke 21:11

Great earthquakes shall be in divers places.


First, let’s look at the signs in the natural world.

Jesus foretold that, shortly before His return, «great earthquakes shall be in divers places».

With the choice of the adjective «great», Jesus focused especially on the gravity of earthquakes, more than simply on their frequency.

In fact, with the lightning growth of the world population in the last decades, we can notice that earthquakes are always more and more destructive and murderous, affecting a larger number of people.

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Luke 21:11

Fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.


Luke 21:25

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars.


Jesus Christ gave us a real astronomical calendar, allowing us to see the imminence of the end of the world by observing a succession of heavenly phenomena.

Let’s see what these phenomena are.

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Mark 13:24,25

The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall.


Revelation 6:12,13

And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell to the earth.


These three heavenly phenomena were foretold by Jesus, the apostle John, and Old Testament prophets. In all passages, these phenomena always appear in the same order.

Now, let’s look at them one by one.

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Revelation 6:12

And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair.


This phenomenon, recorded in books about the history of Astronomy, took place on May 19, 1780.

It was not an eclipse, and this fact still remains unexplained.

An eyewitness declared, «A sheet of white paper held within a few inches of the eyes was equally invisible with the blackest velvet.» (Samuel Tenney, Letter (1785) in «Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society»).

The darkening of the sun lasted many hours, leaving many places in America in total darkness.

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Revelation 6:12

And the moon became as blood.


Joel 2:31

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.


The night following the dark day of May 19, 1780, the clouds dispersed to unveil the moon which was, according to eyewitnesses, «as red as blood».

This additional historical fact, also still unexplained, can be verified in any good Astronomy encyclopedia.

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Revelation 6:13

And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.


The great star shower took place during the early morning hours of November 13, 1833. This heavenly spectacle produced such a light that it was possible to read the newspaper in the street.

Those who witnessed this fantastic phenomenon thought that the end of the world had come.

This is another historical fact that can easily be found in any good Astronomy encyclopedia.

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Matthew 24:7

And there shall be famines (...) in divers places.


What was formerly called the Third World now represents more than two thirds of the world population. In fact:

- 20% of people on earth have enough to eat or even more;
- 60% are insufficiently fed;
- 20% are definitely underfed.

Among the latter, hunger kills more than 25 million people each year.

In addition, world population increases by more than 70 million births each year, most of them in underdeveloped countries, the future victims of hunger...

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Luke 21:11

And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, (...) and pestilences.


«Pestilences» in these modern times are multiplying.

Sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia and herpes, are spreading at an alarming rate.

AIDS, recently added to the list, has claimed hundreds of thousands of victims in only a few years. And this is only the tip of the iceberg, since thousands of people carry the virus and unknowingly continue to spread the terrible disease.

Not to mention avian flu, flesh-eating bacteria, mad-cow disease, and still others, too numerous to mention...

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Matthew 24:6,7

And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars.

See that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.


The twentieth century saw the first two World Wars in human history.

World War II alone claimed 50 million victims.

Since 1945, more than 150 wars have caused the death of more than 25 million people, and there have been only 26 days of worldwide peace!

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Revelation 11:18

The nations were angry, and Your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should give reward to Your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.


The nuclear era now endows man with the power to annihilate the entire planet with increasingly powerful weapons.

We also see the huge problem of environmental pollution, causing irreversible harm to Nature, turning its delicate balance upside down.

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1 Thessalonians 5:3

For when they shall say, «Peace and safety!» then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail on a woman with child.

And they shall not escape.


Other signs, in the social world, show us the imminence of the end of the world.

For example, let’s think about peace and disarmament conferences, which are multiplying like never before.

But unfortunately, all the efforts made to preserve peace have few effects other than fulfilling Bible prophecy.

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Luke 21:25-27

There shall be (...) on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.


Isn’t this just like reading the editorial of some newspaper? What an accurate description of our world today!

Notice that this sign closely precedes the return of Jesus Christ.

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James 5:1-4

Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come on you.

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is corroded; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire.

You have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, cries: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.


Another sign of the times: struggles between employers and employees, often the result of a highly unequal distribution of wealth.

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2 Timothy 3:1-5

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.


Here is a very sad portrait of the moral condition of men just before Jesus’ return.

Our generation couldn’t have been more accurately described.

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2 Timothy 3:13

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.


As we read the newspapers and watch the news on television, we are horrified by the incredible cruelty of men.

Many people hope that love will end up reversing this trend, but the Bible teaches that, on the contrary, things will grow worse and worse until the return of Jesus.

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Matthew 24:12

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.


With so much crime and violence, people have become very distrustful and fearful.

Take time to note on your next bus ride how cold and unsympathetic we have become. Hardly anyone speaks to anyone else, and smiles are very rare.

We no longer open our doors to strangers, fearing that something bad might happen.

Once again, Jesus perfectly described our generation.

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Matthew 24:37-39

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away.

So shall also the coming of the Son of man be.


People remained indifferent when Noah (Noe) warned them of the coming of the Flood.

It is exactly the same today, as people are told that the end of the world is very near.

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Genesis 6:5,11-14

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (...)

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

And God looked on the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth. And God said to Noah,

«The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make you an ark.»


Such was the condition prevailing in Noah’s days.

Thoughtful people, as they contemplate our society today, note the parallels with these days.

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Luke 18:8

Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?


With these words, Christ also foretold that at the end of time, we would witness a fading in genuine Christian faith.

Indeed people prefer to forsake faith in God, and turn to other kinds of spirituality, or simply declare themselves atheists.

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2 Peter 3:3,4

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying,

«Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.»


Abandoning Christian faith, people will laugh at those who eagerly wait for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Isn’t this especially true today? We can all easily draw our own conclusions.

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2 Peter 3:5,6

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.


Completing the previous verses, the apostle Peter shows us that, in the last days, in addition to laughing at Jesus Christ’s return, men will deny the story of the Creation as described in the Bible, and will no longer believe in the account of the universal Flood.

Amazing, isn’t it?

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2 Timothy 4:3,4

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables.


Rejecting the authority of the Bible, many are being seduced and deceived by various «religious» movements which offer teachings appealing to their egos, without challenging their real inner spiritual problem.

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1 Timothy 4:1

Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.


People are turning more and more to occult sciences, astrology, and other forms of spiritualism.

More recently, we have witnessed the rise of many movements focused on the so-called infinite powers hidden within each one of us, which individuals are invited to discover and to develop.

Millions of people are joining these «New Age» movements.

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Matthew 24:4,5,24,25

And Jesus answered and said to them,

«Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, “I am Christ;” and shall deceive many. (...)

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Behold, I have told you before.»


From time immemorial, there have been madmen claiming to be Christ.

However, Jesus tells us that in the last days, we will no longer find them in asylums, but rather in places of influence where they will deceive a lot of people.

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Daniel 12:4

But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end.

Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.


Today, we see more than an explosion of scientific and technological knowledge.

In fact, on the spiritual level, the Scriptures, although forsaken by the great majority, are being studied more and more, in order to understand the message God wants to give us.

And, as foretold, the prophetic books of Daniel and Revelation are now unsealed, and reveal their valuable secrets to whoever seriously and sincerely studies them.

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Matthew 24:14

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations.

And then shall the end come.


This sign alone could convince us of the imminence of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, means of telecommunication have expanded at such a rate that at present, we have enough technology to reach everybody in the whole world.

Powerful computers can translate the Bible into other languages, sometimes in a few minutes, a work that, not so long ago, was a lifetime commitment.

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Matthew 16:2,3

[Jesus] answered and said to them,

«When it is evening you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.” And in the morning, “It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and lowering.”

O you hypocrites, you can discern the face of the sky, but can you not discern the signs of the times?»


Just as the Pharisees didn’t recognize the signs showing that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, so our generation doesn’t recognize the signs clearly foretelling His imminent return.

Yet these signs are quite obvious for any serious Bible student.

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Mark 13:32,33

But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

Take you heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is.


We cannot know the precise date of the return of Jesus Christ...

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Luke 21:28-31

«And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.»

And [Jesus] spoke to them a parable,

«Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, you see and know of your own selves that summer is now near at hand.

So likewise you, when you see these things come to pass, know you that the kingdom of God is near at hand.»


... but the signs of the times tell us that this great event cannot delay much longer.

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Hebrews 10:37

For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.


Revelation 22:20

He which testifies these things said, «Surely I come quickly.»

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


The return of Jesus Christ is imminent.

The next two lessons will lead us to study in depth what the Bible teaches about this event, how it will happen, and what will take place on earth on that day.

Don’t miss them!

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Let’s pray together:

Heavenly Father,

When we observe all the distress and upheavals which shatter our planet, we could be anxious about what the future holds for us.

But, for those who trust Your Word of truth, these things are signs foretelling the imminence of Jesus Christ’s return. What a wonderful day it will be!

Please help us to get ready for His return. In the precious name of Jesus Christ we pray.


The test of Lesson 22 is waiting for you!

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