It seems like everywhere we look today, we see violence, hatred, and debauchery of every kind. Cities track the number of murders year-to-date, and the local news reports on whether or not the latest body count is a new record. Films and television shows constantly push the envelope, portraying ever increasing violence and sexual immorality of every kind.
This is what Paul said the last days will be like. He said people will love only themselves and their money. They'll be boastful, proud, scoffing, disobedient, ungrateful, unloving, and unforgiving. They'll consider nothing sacred. They'll slander others and have no self-control.
They'll be cruel and hate what is good, betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God (2 Timothy 3:2-5). This is the exact type of behavior we see today. Therefore, it's no surprise so many people think the end is near.
It turns out what many people instinctively think is actually true. The end is near. How can I be so sure? Because Jesus and the Hebrew prophets cited specific events they said will mark the end times. Today, we see those events.
The Gospel is being preached to the ends of the earth (Matthew 24:14)... Travel and knowledge are increasing exponentially (Daniel 12:4)... The Jewish people once again control Jerusalem (Luke 21:24)... And these are just a few of the signs. Jesus said, "When you see all these things take place, stand and look up, for your salvation draws near!" (Luke 21:28).
This means the convergence of all these signs is the #1 reason to believe His Second Coming is near.
But among all the signs, which one is the greatest? What's the most important individual sign Jesus is about to return?
Without a doubt, I believe the greatest sign is the regathering of the Jewish people back in the land of Israel. Not only did God promise it would happen in the last days, but the Tribulation itself cannot occur without Israel. Here are just a few end times events that require the nation of Israel:
The Antichrist's Covenant - The Tribulation begins when Israel agrees to a covenant or treaty with the Antichrist (Daniel 9:27). How could Israel agree to such a covenant if it doesn't exist?
The Purpose of the Tribulation - God's primary purpose in the Tribulation is to fulfill His promises to the nation of Israel (Daniel 9:24). Before this can happen, Israel must exist.
Jerusalem - Jesus said the Jewish people will lose control of Jerusalem, but later, they will regain control (Luke 21:24). Only then will the end times events He described take place. This means the Tribulation cannot occur unless the Jewish people control Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 38-39 - The Bible says in the last days, when God brings the Jewish people back into the land from the many lands where they've been scattered (Ezekiel 38:8), a massive coalition of armies will invade Israel. This can't happen unless Israel exists.
Israel's "Exceedingly Great" Army - Ezekiel says Israel will have an "exceedingly great army" in the last days (Ezekiel 37:10). God says Israel will be like a fire among sheaves of grain, burning up the neighboring nations (Zechariah 12:6). He says even the weakest soldier among them will be like David (Zechariah 12:8). Again, how could all this happen if Israel doesn't exist?
The Abomination of Desolation - In the middle of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will put an end to the Temple sacrifices and offerings (Daniel 9:27). Then, he will sit in the Temple and proclaim himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). This is an act of desecration Jesus calls "the abomination of desolation" (Matthew 24:15).
Before it can take place, the Jewish Temple must exist. The Roman legions destroyed it in A.D. 70. This means a new Temple must be built. And for that to happen, the Jewish people must be back in the land and in control of Jerusalem.
These are just a few of the events the Bible says will take place in the end times. How can they happen if Israel doesn't exist? They can't. They require the Jewish people back in the land of Israel. Without a doubt, Israel plays the lead role in God's end time plan. Without it, there can be no end times.
Prior to May 14, 1948, this presented a problem. Israel did not exist. In the eyes of the world, Israel was gone forever. But those who understood bible prophecy knew better. They knew God promised to bring the Jewish people back into the land. They knew the Hebrew prophets said over and over again the people of Israel will be brought back into the land in the last days. And that's exactly what happened.
The entire Bible (and the Old Testament in particular) contain specific and undeniable promises from God to bring His people back into the land of Israel. For example, God promised Moses and the Israelites: "Even though you are banished to the ends of the earth, the Lord your God will gather you from there and bring you back again. The Lord your God will return you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will possess that land again" Deuteronomy 30:4-5 (NLT).
Throughout Israel's history, one prophet after another said the same thing. Through them, God promised to bring the Jewish people back into the land despite the hardships they faced (Isaiah 43:1-13). He promised to call them from "the farthest corners of the earth" (Isaiah 11:12), from "among the nations" (Ezekiel 39:28), and from "north, south, east, and west" (Psalm 107:3).
He promised to bring them home and display His holiness to the nations (Ezekiel 20:41-42). He promised to welcome them home from "the lands where they were scattered" (Ezekiel 20:34). He said He would restore them to the land of Israel from distant lands (Jeremiah 30:2-10). And God promised, though scattered among the nations, His people would never forget Him, and He would bring them back into the land of Israel (Zechariah 10:9). God kept His promise. Modern day Israel is the proof.
But God promised to do more than simply restore the nation of Israel, he said how He would do it. He said Israel will be created in a single day (Isaiah 66:7-8), return as a united nation (Ezekiel 37:22), transform from a desolate wasteland to a lush garden (Ezekiel 36:34-35; Isaiah 51:3), and form "an exceedingly great army" (Ezekiel 37:10). Each and every one of these things happened.
When Will All This Happen?
But as amazing as these fulfilled prophecies are, what surprises most people is when God said they will be fulfilled. Because the Hebrew prophets directly linked the rebirth of Israel with the Second Coming of the Jesus Christ.
Through the prophet Hosea, God said the people of Israel will go a long time without a king, sacrifices, sacred pillars, or priests, then they will return to the land and seek their God and Messiah in the last days (Hosea 3:4-5).
The prophet Joel said the armies of the world will gather together for the battle of Armageddon "at the time when God restores Judah and Jerusalem," bringing His people back from among the nations where they were scattered (Joel 3:1-2). In other words, once God restores the nation of Israel, Armageddon and the end times will soon follow.
God promised the Jewish people will return to the land and the desert will bloom (Isaiah 35:1). Then the Lord will return to destroy Israel's enemies (Isaiah 35:2-4). Through Jeremiah, God promised to gather the remnant of His flock from the nations where he had driven them and bring them back into the land (Jeremiah 23:3-4).
Then, He promised to raise up a righteous descendant of King David, a king who will rule the land with wisdom (Jeremiah 23:5-6). This is the long-awaited Messiah, and He will come to rule "when the people are back in the land" (Jeremiah 23:7-8).
Through Isaiah, God promised to restore the nation of Israel and raise its flag among the nations (Isaiah 11:12). When that happens, God says "the wolf and the lamb will lie together" and "leopards will lie down with goats." Even a baby will play with a cobra and not be bitten! (Isaiah 11:6-9). The heir to David's throne (Jesus Christ) will rule over the nations, transforming the world into a place of peace and tranquility (Isaiah 11:10).
This describes the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ. And when will His Kingdom come? After His people are re-gathered "from distant lands" and "the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 11:11-12) and after Israel is reborn as a single, unified nation (Isaiah 11:13).
As if all this weren't enough, Jesus said when the Jewish people return to the land, they'll regain control over Jerusalem. He said the Gentiles will trample Jerusalem until the times of the Gentiles come to an end. When this happens, He said it's a sign of His return (Luke 21:24). In 1967, the nation of Israel took control of Jerusalem for the first time in 1,897 years. Coincidence? No. Jesus said the generation that witnesses these events will not pass away before He returns (Luke 21:32).
This year, the modern day nation of Israel celebrates 71 years since its founding. It's been 52 years since Israel retook control of Jerusalem. How many more years can go by before the generation that witnessed these events is gone? How many more years can go by before Jesus returns? It can't be many.
Why It Matters
The regathering of the Jewish people back in the land of Israel is the #1 sign of the end times. For 1,878 years, this sign didn't exist. Today, it does. Think about the miracle this represents. Throughout history, conquered people disappear. They assimilate into surrounding nations. Where are Israel's ancient neighbors?
Where are the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites (Deuteronomy 7:1)? They're lost to history. Yet despite almost 2,000 years without a homeland, the Jewish people continue to thrive. They still retain their unique cultural, religious, and ethnic identity.
Despite almost 2,000 years of rampant anti-Semitism, marked by the Spanish Inquisition, Russian pogroms, and the Nazi holocaust, the Jewish people are still around. Now, they're back in the land. This is nothing less than a modern miracle.
It's clear evidence for the whole world that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the one true God. It's also the number one reason to believe Jesus is coming soon!