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Since all the Cultural Signs of the apocalypse listed in The Book Of Signs have the same basic foundation, we will deal with them in one article instead of repeating ourselves.
The first Cultural Sign given is Materialism. Dr. David Jeremiah correctly identifies materialism as a major problem in our society today. He gives wise advice on overcoming this attacking force which seeks to distract us from our true mission. Generosity is a great antidote to greed and materialism. The problem is that he thinks these things are signs of Christ’s coming and are going to grow worse as we get closer to the end.
We can expect this headlong descent into deeper materialism to intensify as the end draws near. The apostle Paul clearly saw it coming…Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 76). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
He then quotes 2 Tim. 3:1-5:
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
As with any term in Scripture, we need to let Scripture define its own terms. The temptation is to place modern definitions or our own definitions of words and terms. Then we can make them say whatever we want. The Book Of Signs assumes that the term ‘last days’ refers to the time just before the coming of Christ. But is that how Scripture uses the term?
But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams. Acts 2:16-17, NKJV
Peter, in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, said that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that day in AD 30 was the fulfillment of what Joel had prophesied would happen in the ‘last days.’ This is clear Scriptural teaching that the apostles were living in the Last Days. But we need at least two witnesses…
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds… Heb. 1:1-2, NKJV
When did God speak through His Son? When Jesus walked the earth. So Jesus Himself was living in the ‘last days.’
Now that we have established that the term Last Days refers to the time of Jesus and the apostles let’s go back to 2 Timothy 3 and look at verses 10 and 11.
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 2 Tim. 3:10-11, NKJV
Second Timothy is Paul’s instructions to Timothy directly. After listing all these things in verses 1-2, Paul told Timothy to turn away from them. In other words, Paul was talking about a current situation that Timothy had to face personally. And in the verses above, Paul contrasts Timothy’s obedience to the lovers of money, etc., in the beginning verses. Again, this is a situation that was contemporary with Paul and Timothy, not predicting something that would happen 2,000 years in the future.
So what does the term ‘last days’ mean Scripturally? There are two possibilities. First, it may mean the entire period from the days of Jesus until His Second Coming. If this is the case, then the last days have been going on for 2,000 years and may go on for another 2,000 years. Only God knows. The only thing we can say for sure is that we are closer now than they were then. Second, It may refer to the fact that they were living in the Last Days of the nation of Israel and the Old Covenant system. If this is the case, then the last days ended in AD 70 when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. I think this is the most likely of the two as the term ‘days’ seems to indicate a short period of time, in which case, we are now living beyond the time the Bible calls the last days.
The next Cultural Sign mentioned in The Book Of Signs is Immorality. Once again, the vast majority of what Dr. David Jeremiah says is correct, except when he tries to apply it as a sign of the end times.
The Bible anticipated that decadent times like our present age would come. In speaking of His second coming, the Lord Jesus said, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:37). Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 87). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
I am not going to go into detail here about Matthew 24 as we will be dealing with it in later chapters. I will, however, point out something that many seem to miss.
Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Matt. 24:34, NKJV
Jesus looked at His disciples and told them that their generation would not pass away until all the things listed in verses 1-33 had taken place. Verse 37, quoted above, continues referring to the same event. Therefore, this verse can not be applied to ‘our present age.’
I am aware that some people understand verse 34 as meaning that the generation that begins to see these signs will also see the end of them. They make this assumption so that they can apply these signs to our modern times. I have checked many versions, and none of them, except the Amplified in brackets, gives that meaning. Jesus certainly could have said it that way if He had wanted to, but the fact is, He did not. The only way to get this alternate reading is to claim to know what Jesus meant instead of looking at what He said. That is a dangerous activity.
This chapter also uses the ‘Last Days’ verse discussed above.
The third Cultural Sign given is Radical Islam. This chapter has a lot of great information on Islam, how it treats others and how we should respond to it. However, there is not a single Scripture used to link it to the end times. I am not sure how this qualifies as one of the ’31 Undeniable Prophecies Of The Apocalypse.’
The fourth Cultural Sign given is Persecution. This chapter examines past and current persecution. It is an excellent chapter in that regard, with helpful insight into both the current situation and how to handle it in a Biblical way. The only link to making this a sign of the end times is a passing reference to Matthew 24, which we have mentioned above. We have an entire course on this subject: Persecution And The Christian.
The fifth Cultural Sign given is Spiritual Warfare. This chapter also has a lot of good information on the subject of spiritual warfare. For a detailed, balanced study of this topic, I would suggest our Practical Spiritual Warfare course, which uses a textbook by Rev. Judson Cornwall. As far as linking spiritual warfare to the end times, The Book Of Signs uses two Scriptures.
What’s more, as the end of the present age approaches, we can be sure that satanic activity will increase: “The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 126). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
The terms ‘latter days’ and ‘last days’ are synonyms, so what we have said about Last Days also applies here. Note verse 6 of this chapter:
If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. [NKJV]
Paul would not have needed to tell Timothy to instruct the brethren about these things if they were yet 2,000 years in the future. This tells us that Paul was not referring to future events but actions that were unfolding as he was writing.
The other Scripture that is mentioned in this section is 2 Thess. 2:3-4.
In the last days he will bring us the Antichrist, whose deception will inflict untold damage: “That Day [of Christ] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:3–4). Jeremiah, David. The Book of Signs (p. 128). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Admittedly this is a difficult Scripture. Competent Bible teachers have given different explanations of what it means. For example, the ‘man of sin’ has been identified as Nero, the Jewish Nation, the Gnostics, Caligula, Titus, Muhammed, the Pope, Napoleon, and I am sure others. This, by itself, should tell us that it cannot be used as ‘undeniable’ evidence of the dispensational view.
There is some weight to the idea that Nero may be the son of perdition mentioned here. He was the first Imperial persecutor of the Christian faith and tried to wipe it out with extreme cruelty and perversion. Early in his reign Nero was kept in check by his advisor, Seneca. When Seneca was removed by forced suicide, Nero’s bestial nature rose to the surface.
Another idea which has merit and is promoted by Dr. Jonathan Welton, author of the textbook we use in our Understanding The End Times course, is that the man of sin refers to John Levi. If you have not studied the history of the times - which you need to do if you want to understand these areas - you probably have not heard of him. He was a wicked Jewish bandit who cruelly took over Jerusalem, tortured the inhabitants, stopped the daily sacrifices, believed himself to be the Messiah, refused to make peace with the Romans and was ultimately the cause of the Temple’s destruction. He was successfully opposed for a while by the High Priest Ananus, who was later murdered.
Whichever explanation you think is most Scriptural, it certainly cannot be used as ‘undeniable’ evidence since there is so much disagreement on its meaning.
The sixth Cultural Sign: Apathy. Should we care about the return of Jesus? Of course we should! The literal, physical return of Jesus has been the hope of Christians for the last 2,000 years.
Many churches reflect an apathetic, rather than serious, attitude toward the coming of the Lord. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 140). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
The Book of Signs bemoans the idea the churches and Christians no longer seem to prioritize the Second Coming of Jesus. I would suspect that what is really happening is many churches are quietly abandoning the dispensational view of the Second Coming but don’t want to upset members who may still hold that view. Also, after so many failed dispensational prophecies, some have become disillusioned with the end-times obsession of others. And others, while still maintaining the hope of the Return of Christ, have focused on what He actually told us to do - make disciples [Matt. 28:19-20]. None of these reasons mean that Christians are apathetic about the Second Coming.
And if you happen to be teaching through the Gospels, you will come to Matthew 24 and 25 and find yourself headlong in the second coming of our Lord…The information contained in these two chapters of Matthew is primarily addressed to those who will be alive during the generation of the Tribulation. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (pp. 141-142). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
You will notice immediately that this argument falls back on the idea that the author understands what Jesus meant by ‘this generation’ [Matt. 24:34], instead of accepting what Jesus actually said. We have dealt with this above. We will be looking in more detail at Matthew 24 later; however, if you are in a hurry, you can take our courses Matthew 24 And The Great Tribulation or Understanding The End Times.
Dr. Jeremiah quotes Scriptures that use terms like “the coming of the Lord is near” [James 5:8, “the end of all things is at hand” [1 Peter 4:7], “it is the last hour” [1 John 2:18], and others. He seems to assume that these Scriptures were written for our time right now. Why? He claims to be an expository preacher, but one of the foundational rules of Bible interpretation is asking what a passage meant to the original hearers/readers. There is no attempt to explain that. How did the First Century Christians understand these passages? Did they figure ‘the last hour’ meant 2,000 plus years? And IF they figured these urgent prophecies were not meant for them [big IF], what makes us think they apply right now and not, say, in the year AD 3023?
There are many cultural signs that we are living in the last days of Western Civilization. This is a cycle that has happened in the past. A civilization becomes prosperous, then does a nose dive into corruption and immorality. Because of internal decay, it is often conquered and replaced by another civilization. The only thing that can prevent the demise of Western Civilization is a massive repentance, revival and return to the God of the Bible and His Law. However, the state of Western Civilization is a witness to what happens when we abandon God, not a sign of the end times.
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