Nearly 2,000 years ago, a fundamental misunderstanding of prophecy led many of God’s people during the time of Jesus to reject Him as Messiah.  The Jewish people were looking for a conquering lion and instead Jesus came as a sacrificial lamb.  Yet there was a remnant who knew the signs of His coming.  A few wise men were watching, seeking for a star and to their joy they knew the signs of the Messiah’s coming.

Could it be that history will repeat itself?  Could it be that the majority of the professed Christian world will be just as unprepared when Jesus comes again because they did not understand the true signs of Jesus return? Could it be that a misunderstanding of Bible prophecy will lead the vast majority of God’s people to reject Jesus right before His second coming and receive the mark of the beast?

What are the true signs of Jesus return?  Is the rapture a secret?  And what is the greatest deception in the last days that will lead many Christians astray?  Let us study the Bible to discover the true signs of Christ’s return, so that we may be prepared for the soon return of Jesus Christ.

But before we do so, let us pray…

Dear gracious and loving Heavenly Father,

Lord nothing is too difficult for you.  Who may instruct you? For your wisdom is great.  Lord today we do not rely on our own simple human minds.  Lord today may we not lean on our own understanding and preconceived ideas and theories.  Lord today, may we have the mind of Christ.  Today Lord may you teach us.  Today Lord we lay aside any ideas regarding the theories of raptures and last day events.  And today may we just sit at your feet and listen to your words.  Help us to follow you, and be ready for your soon return.  We thank you Lord for hearing our prayer and we praise you Lord for what you are about to do.  Teach us Lord for we pray all these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, amen.

The Final Deception

What is the greatest deception in the last days?  The Bible gives us the answer when it says

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.  Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (2 Timothy 3:1, Matthew 24:21-24)

Let me ask you a question, based on this passage who is Satan trying to deceive?  Would you attempt to deceive those who are already deceived?  If someone believes that 2 + 2 was equal to 40.  And then Satan came along and deceived that person into believing that 2 +2 was equal to 22.   Would Satan really rejoice? Why go deceive those who are already deceived?  Why waste your time?  Friends, Jesus warned us that there will be false prophets and false christs, but their primary goal is to deceive you and me.  And so in Matthew 24, Jesus gave a warning specifically for our generation.   And in this passage Jesus, speaking to us, warns us that false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  These false prophets are not working some sleight of hand illusions friends, for even Jesus said that these “false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders”.  The question we must ask ourselves is, who are these sinister false prophets and false christs?  The Bible warns us that these are no ordinary men, for the book of Revelation speaking of these great signs says “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” (Revelation 16:14)

What type of signs are we soon to see?

The book of Job tells us that Satan has the ability to even send down fire from the sky in an attempt to make it look like God is doing such work (see Job 1:9-12, 16-19).  The book of Revelation tells us that Satan will again use such a deception in the last days again for it is written “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men” (Revelation 13:13).  Satan also has the ability to give people diseases for it is written “So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” (Job 2:7).  Angels and likewise fallen angels also have the ability to bring physical blindness to people (Matthew 12:22, Genesis 19:11).  But in the last days, Satan and his demons are not going to appear to people in red suits with pitchforks, casting plagues on people.  Jesus said they will be false propehts and false christs.  They will appear to be sent from God.   “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.  And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14)

Now let’s prayerfully consider the warning of Jesus, combined with some additional Bible verses we have covered.  Simply listen to this stirring warning for our time, direct from the Scriptures.  “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.  And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (Matthew 24:23-24, Revelation 16:14, 2 Corinthians 11:14)

Based on these three Bible passages we can reach only one conclusion.  As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13-15. The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: “Christ has come! Christ has come!” The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. He heals the diseases of the people and in gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Savior uttered.   Multitudes of all classes bow down before him, not knowing that who they worship is the father of lies.  “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.  For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”   (Matthew 24:26, 24)

This will be an almost overwhelming deception.  None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. Only this class will be able to detect this counterfeit christ.  But how?

Detecting The Counterfeit

How do you detect a counterfeit?  If I gave you an Indonesian dollar bill and I said I want you to examine this right now, and tell me if it is a counterfeit or a genuine.  Would you be able to tell?  Unless you are familiar with Indonesian currency you wouldn’t know.  In fact you might not even know what color the genuine is.  But if I gave you a United States $100 dollar bill, and said please tell me if this is a genuine or a counterfeit.  What would you do?  You would probably first check the color.  Then perhaps you would read the writing on the dollar bill.  Then you would likely hold it up to the light, as all genuine $100 bills have a small piece of metal inside that can be seen when they are held up to a light source.  Beloved in order to detect a counterfeit, we need to hold up every statement, every theory, every sermon up to the light, the word of God.  For it is written “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” And “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Psalm 119:105, Isaiah 8:20)

The easiest way to detect a counterfeit is to know what the genuine looks like.  The easiest way to detect a false Christ, is to know just exactly how Jesus will come.

How will Jesus come?  Let’s let Jesus tell us…let’s continue to read the words of Jesus in Matthew 24 for He says…

For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:27)

How quick is lightning?  Instant.  When Jesus appears, people in China will see Jesus the same time people in America see Him.  Again three verses later Jesus gives us even more signs saying, “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)

Based on the words of Jesus here, how many people see Him?  All people, instantly.  All the tribes will mourn.  The lost will mourn when they see Jesus return but the saved will rejoice.  For “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)

So when Jesus comes it is instant, and visible to all. Yet these are not the only signs of Christ’s return.  Let’s continue to read the words of Jesus, let’s move on to the very next verse in Matthew 24 where Jesus says….

And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)

When Jesus comes there will be a great….sound of a trumpet.  So when Jesus comes it is instant, visible, and audible to both the living righteous and wicked.  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

1 Thessalonians 4:16 tells us when Jesus Christ returns the dead in Christ rise.  And we meet Jesus where?  In the air.   So we are taken to Jesus.  So Jesus never even touches the ground.  We meet Him in the air.  What a wonderful day that will be!  To see your friends and family members who have died with faith in Jesus to be resurrected to meet the Lord.  Right by your side!  Based on these Scriptures, if someone claims to be Jesus, but you haven’t seen the dead in Christ rise yet and you are not taken to heaven, then that person is not Jesus.  Now it’s even simpler isn’t it?  If some dazzling being working miracles shows up claiming to be Jesus, but you are not yet taken to heaven, and your friends are not resurrected from the grave, then you know it is not Jesus.

Yes beloved, regarding the return of Christ, Jesus does say “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.”  (Matthew 24:40) Those who are lost will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming at His return (see Revelation 19:17-21, 2 Thessalonians 2:8).  At the same time the saved will go with Jesus immediately to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).  “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4) For Jesus said “As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37-39)

Jesus said as it was in the days of Noah so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  In the days of Noah there was no second boat.  Those who chose to be lost were all destroyed by the flood.  Likewise when Jesus comes there is no second boat.  There is no second chance.  Now is the time to give ourselves to Jesus.  “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Yes Satan will be working miracles, yes he will be trying to deceive even Christians.  It is true that Satan will masquerade as Christ for “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,  and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)  But we need not be afraid.  Jesus is coming soon to rescue His own.  For Jesus has promised “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” (Revelation 22:12)

I’m so thankful that no one needs to be lost.  Jesus has made it so clear that even a child could understand it.  The rapture is anything but secret for the entire world will see the literal, visible and audible second coming of Jesus Christ!