Olivette Discourse: Signs of the Times

May 12, 2024 Download: Audio

Mark 13:3-23

“Signs of the Times” is a phrase that has weaved its way into our culture. Every time we hear of some new disturbing thing taking place in the world someone asks, “is this the end? We must be seeing the signs of the times. What else could it be?” Why has this penetrated our culture so deeply? In part, it is because of this passage. In it we find Jesus describing things that will take place before “the end.”

The principle call to the disciple in relation to these things we call “the signs of the times” is to endure. We would be wise to take this exhortation to heart. When hard things happen that threaten the peace and security of our world, we are called to endure in our faith. We recall the words of Jesus,

​4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. 8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:4–9)

“Signs of the time” became a popular buzzword about 50 years ago after the reemergence of Israel as a nation in 1948 and the great emphasis that the system of teaching we call Dispensationalism has placed upon this event. According to this system of teaching, it meant that we are the generation that will experience the last days and should be on the lookout for the signs of the times. As a result, it has been an area of particular interest and a major focus. Dallas Theological Seminary is the principle promotor of such system which has been the training ground for pastors. If you listen to radio teachers, this is likely the system that you will hear. It would seem to be the only viewpoint because it is the system of teaching that is hyperfocused on eschatology. There are other perspectives, but they haven’t given the attention to eschatology that dispensationalism has because modern events don’t necessarily carry the same weight.

So, are we seeing the “signs of the times”? To answer that I want to look to Scripture before we look to the newspaper. In other words, instead of getting caught up in the events going on around us and looking to see if we can find them in the Bible, we ought to look at the Bible to see where it is in history we ought to be looking for the signs.