Bible prophecy being fulfilled today? Are there signs of the times? Other
than items relating to the current process of Israel' s return to her land
(Ezek. 20:33-38; 22:17-22; 36:22-24; 38- 39; Isa. 11:11-12; Zeph. 2:1-2), I
don' t think Bible prophecy is being fulfilled during the church age in which we
currently live. However, there are clear signs of the times that indicate we
could be near the start of the tribulation and the Lord' s Return. Let me
rapture is a signless event, thus there are not and never will develop signs of
the time indicating that the rapture is near. This is true because the rapture
is imminent, it could happen at any moment. It is impossible for
an imminent event to have signs. If signs are related to an event then it
would indicate that it was near or not near and thus could not happen until
after the signs were present. Thus, signs would have to precede the event
which would mean that the event could not happen at any moment until after the
signs appeared. Since the rapture is said in the New Testament to be an event
that could occur at any moment, without warning (1 Corinthians 1:7; 16:22;
Philippians 3:20; 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; James
5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:13; Jude 21; Revelation 3:ll; 22:7,12,17,20) then it cannot be
related to any signs at all. However, this does not mean that there are not
signs of the time that do relate to other aspects of God' s plan.
The Church Age
would be too strong to say that there are signs of the end of the church age.
Instead, the Bible indicates what the condition of the church will be like, the
general course of the age, and then warns about some general trends toward the
later part of the church age.
from a few exceptions, the church age is not a time of prophetic fulfillment.
Instead, prophecy will be fulfilled after the rapture, in relation to God' s
dealing with the nation of Israel in the seven-year tribulation. The current
church age in which believers live today does not have a specific prophetic
countdown or timetable, as does Israel and her 70 weeks of years prophecy
(Daniel 9:14-27). The New Testament does, however, provide general traits that
characterize the church age as a time of growth through the preaching of the
gospel, but at the same time a growing apostasy as the church increasingly
departs from the faith.
specific prophecy that is fulfilled during the church age relates to God' s
prophetic plan for Israel and not directly to the church. For example, the
prophesied destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple in a.d. 70 relates to Israel (Matthew 23:38; Luke 19:43-44;
21:20-24). Thus it is not inconsistent that prophetic preparations relating to
Israel are already underway with the reestablishment of Israel as a nation in
1948 even though we still are living in the church age. Paul tells us in 2
Thessalonians 2:7 " For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he
who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way." The stage is
being set for the next phase of God' s plan for history- the tribulation.
church age is not characterized by historically verifiable prophetic events,
except her beginning on the Day of Pentecost and her ending with the rapture.
But the general course of this age has been prophesied and can provide a
general overview of what can be expected during this age. The New Testament
teaches us to expect that apostasy will characterize Christendom during the
time when the rapture will take place. This common distinctive provides for
believers today a general sign of the times.
are many signs relating to God' s end time program for Israel. However, we must
be careful in how we see them relating to us today during the church age.
Since Believers today live during the church age, which will end with the
rapture of the church, prophetic signs relating to Israel are not being
fulfilled in our day. Instead, what God is doing prophetically in our day is
preparing the world or " stage-setting" for the time when He will begin His plan
relating to Israel which will then involve the fulfillment of signs and times.
Thus, when we see events happening in our day, they are not a fulfillment of
Bible prophecy, instead, they are likely preparation for a future fulfillment
during the tribulation. One major indicator that we are likely near the
beginning of the tribulation is the clear fact that national Israel has been
reconstituted after almost 2,000 year.
present church age is not a time in which Bible prophecy is being fulfilled.
Bible prophecy relates to a time after the rapture (the seven-year tribulation
period). However, this does not mean that God is not preparing the world for
that future time during the present church age- in fact, He is. But this is not
" fulfillment" of Bible prophecy. So while prophecy is not being fulfilled in
our day, it does not follow that we cannot track " general trends" in current
preparation for the coming tribulation, especially since it immediately follows
the rapture. We call this approach " stage-setting." Just as many people set their
clothes out the night before they wear them the following day, so in the same
sense is God preparing the world for the certain fulfillment of prophecy in a
John Walvoord explains:
But if there are no
signs for the Rapture itself, what are the legitimate grounds for believing
that the Rapture could be especially near of this generation?
The answer is not
found in any prophetic events predicted before the Rapture but in understanding
the events that will follow the Rapture. Just as history was prepared for
Christ' s first coming, in a similar way history is preparing for the events
leading up to His Second Coming. . . . If this is the case, it leads to the
inevitable conclusion that the Rapture may be excitingly near.
Bible provides detailed prophecy about the seven-year tribulation. In fact,
Revelation 4- 19 gives a detailed, sequential outline of the major players and
events. Using Revelation as a framework, a Bible student is able to harmonize
the hundreds of other biblical passages that speak of the seven-year
tribulation into a clear model of the next time period for planet earth. With
such a template to guide us, we can see that already God is preparing or
setting the stage of the world in which the great drama of the tribulation will
unfold. In this way this future time casts shadows of expectation in our own
day so that current events provide discernible signs of the times.
is common for critics of those who believe that there are signs in our day of
Christ' s return to dismiss such a notion as " newspaper exegesis." By this the
critics mean that human ideas, not the Bible, are the true source of such
beliefs, such that they arise from a search of newspaper headlines rather than
from exegesis (i.e., proper interpretation) of the biblical text. Is this
some cases it would be true, but not necessarily in all. If one has first gone
to Scripture and derived a sound model of end-time events and there is true
correspondence with what is reported in the newspapers, then it can be valid.
However, if one is genuinely attempting to fit into the Bible today' s
headlines, then that is wrong and could rightly be termed " newspaper exegesis."
prophecy teachers incorrectly teach that Bible prophecy is being " fulfilled" in
our day. This is not the case, except in relation to the reestablishment of
the modern state of Israel. Nevertheless, I do support the notion that there
are signs of the times relating to the fact that God is setting the stage for a
time of future fulfillment, after the rapture, during the tribulation. Thus,
it is an overstatement to speak of prophecy being fulfilled in our day, but not
wrong to speak of signs that God is preparing for fulfillment.
is common for some prophecy teachers to go to a biblical passage, usually one
that will be fulfilled during the tribulation, and find a similarity to that
prophecy and something happening in our day. Just because something is
similar, does not mean it is the same.
example, years ago I remember reading in Isaiah 24:5a that the " earth is also
polluted by its inhabitants, . . ." I had heard a lot in the early 1970' s
about how the earth was being polluted. I then suggested to a couple of
friends that this was a prophecy of events taking place in our day. I made the
connection based upon the idea of " pollution," without considering the biblical
context of Isaiah 24. What is the contextual setting of Isaiah 24? It refers
to events that will take place during the future tribulation period. Are we
living in the tribulation period today? No! Thus, whatever was happening in
current events at that time was not a fulfillment, nor was it related to Isaiah
24 just because I believed there was a point of similarity. If you examine most
of the approaches in use today that claim fulfillment of prophecy relating to
the tribulation with events of our day, they take a similar approach and thus
have made a similar mistake.
I have noted before, there does not have to be actual fulfillment for a
development to be a sign of the times. This can be so because there can be
preparation for fulfillment. The preparation is not the fulfillment of a
prophecy, but it does indicate that God is preparing to fulfill a prophecy in
the near future. Such preparation for fulfillment is a sign of the times.
Walvoord echoes such a belief about current stage setting in preparation for
" . . . in our day, . . . there has been a
movement of God among Israel which has set the stage as never before for
exactly that fulfillment which is predicted for the period immediately after
the translation of the church. . . . More prophecies have either been fulfilled
or prepared for fulfillment in our day than in all the previous centuries since
the first of our era." 
no signs of the times specifically relate to the time of the rapture, this does
not mean that there are not signs relating to God' s overall prophetic plan,
specifically to His preparation of the world for the time of the tribulation
which will start after the rapture. This approach has been illustrated as
follows: If one sees signs that Christmas is coming (the tribulation) then
Thanksgiving must be even closer (the rapture). I am excited when I survey
current events that indicate that our Lord is indeed setting the state for the
tribulation and His return. This means that the signless event of the rapture
of the church is likely near. Maranatha!