By SHARON K. GILBERT
Originally published June 24, 2005
THE VERY first verse of the book of Revelation contains an important time element. Note that the wording says “which must shortly come to pass.” If I were to say to you that I’d come visit you shortly, what would you assume? Like me, you’d most likely believe I plan to visit pretty soon, and you’d be right. However, according to scripture (both apostolic writings and the very words of Christ Himself), certain signs must precede the return of Our Lord.
Let’s take a look at the list of signs mentioned by Jesus in Matthew, Chapter 24. In the third verse, Jesus’ disciples asked a very interesting and pointed question. Christ had just told them that the temple would one day be “thrown down” (verse 2). This statement must have really shocked this ragtag band of followers, since the temple served as the center of Jewish life. “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” they asked. (verse 3).
Christ answers the second question first by giving them a list of signs.
1. False Messiahs or Christs. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (verses 4 and 5). Kristo is the Greek word for Messiah, so Jesus tells us here that “the end of the world” would be preceded by a flurry of phony Messiahs. Just recently, we’ve seen Jim Jones, David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon, L. Ron Hubbard, Ti and Doe (of the Heaven’s Gate Cult), and Maitreya, to name but a few. Many cultures and cults have followed false Christs to their doom.
Take another look at this Sign of False Messiahs. Another name for this might be antichrists. I’ll bet you’ve heard of that one! Check out Revelation 6, verses 1 and 2: “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.”
This was written by the Apostle John, one of the very men who sat with Jesus on the Mount of Olives when Christ taught them about the signs dicussed in Matthew 24. John remembered these, and it’s clear that he’s showing us a parallel as this heavenly creature exhorts John to “come and see”. This Rider is the epitome of false Christs – he is the AntiChrist, riding out to take the conquer the world, claiming to be the returning Savior.
2. Wars and Rumors of Wars. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye 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…(verses, 6 and 7a). The 20th Century was the bloodiest in history. For an eye-opening list of “interventions” involving the United States (so this doesn’t include those we have left to others), check out Answers.com. Now with the 21st Century in full swing, the world is consolidating into regions of economic convenience, meant to deter the need for further interventions. But Jesus told us that despite all we do, “nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom”. So, the final world government won’t be easy to forge.
Compare this to the parallel verse in Revelation 6, verse 3: “And there went out another horse [that was] red: and [power] was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.”
War brings bloodshed and division to any country involved, but it also brings economic hardships. We see this now as the US economy nosedives toward recession. In Revelation 6, verses 5 and 6 John sees a third Rider on a horse leave heaven, bound for Earth, bringing the Greatest Depression the world has ever known. “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and [see] thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”
3. Plagues and pestilences. ….there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (verse 7b) Marburg, Ebola, HIV, Killer Influenza, Hanta Virus, resurgence of Whooping Cough, Tuberculosis, Necritizing Fasciitis, and the list goes on. Despite all our advances in medicine, and perhaps because of some of it (genetic experiments and indiscriminate use of antibiotics), the world walks a terrible path in the valley of the Shadow of Death.
What does the book of Revelation have to add to this? Did John see a vision of plagues, too? Check out verse 8: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
The Greek word translated “pale” in the above verse, is chloros, which means ’sickly pale’ or ‘green’. Have you ever gone horribly pale when sick? I sure have! Years ago, I had a horrible case of the flu with a raging fever while taking a ‘can’t miss’ mid-term exam in college. I could barely think, and I may have blacked out for a moment or two. My friends told me I had never looked so green! Now, take that up about a hundred notches, and you may have an idea what chloros means. A sickness or a series of diseases will overtake the Earth.
These are the first three signs of “The End of Time” (with four parallel signs in Revelation) given to us by Jesus Christ. Stay tuned for the rest of the signs – beginning with Earthquakes in Part 3 of Revelation 101.