- By Britt Gillette -
The number one sign of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is the convergence of all the signs He said to look for. Jesus said, "When you see all these things take place, look up! Your salvation draws near" (Luke 21:28). What are the things Jesus and the prophets said to look for? Israel back in the land (Jeremiah 23:7-8)... The Jewish people back in control of Jerusalem (Luke 21:24)... The Gospel being preached to the whole world (Matthew 24:14)... And more... Today, we see these signs. Because we do, we can be confident we live in the season of His return. But Jesus cited other signs too. So did the prophets. And we see those signs as well. As 2018 draws to a close, what are the biggest prophetic trends we see? Below is a list of what I believe are the top 5:
1) The Rise of the Gog of Magog Alliance
2018 saw a continuation of the recent developing alliance between Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Russia and Iran have grown closer and closer since the mid-1990s. Their joint occupation of Syria in the aftermath of the Syrian civil war has only brought further cooperation. Yet, as recently as 2015, Turkey looked like an adversary of both nations. In November of that year, Turkey shot down a Russian jet that strayed into its airspace. Far from allies, the two nations looked more like they were on the verge of war than friendship. But things have since changed. Turkish President Erdogan has consolidated his grip on power. He now antagonizes the United States while making friendly visits with Vladimir Putin.
Pursuing its own interests, Turkey is now a major player in the Syrian conflict. Along with Russia and Iran, they've effectively carved Syria into various spheres of influence. The result is a once unlikely alliance formed on Israel's northern border. These are the very same nations Ezekiel said would invade Israel from the north in "the latter days" (Ezekiel 38:8).
Iran has been belligerent toward Israel for decades. Now, Russia and Turkey are too. Russia blames Israel for a September 17 incident that led to Syrian forces downing a Russian spy plane. In May, Turkey told Israeli ambassador Eitan Naeh to leave the country. Since then, more Israeli officials have left Turkey, and the Turkish consul general has been expelled from Israel. Israeli relations with all three countries are suffering a clear downtrend.
2) The Continued Rise of Artificial Intelligence
This year featured a number of news stories on massive advances made in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). One example was China's Yitu Technologies, a company at the forefront of AI development. Yitu created a technology called Dragonfly. Dragonfly can search and analyze billions of photographs and locate a single person in a matter of seconds. Connected to cameras in the Shanghai Metro, it identified over 500 "criminals" in a three-month period. It's so powerful it can recognize people wearing disguises. And it can identify people using pictures that are more than 30 years old.
In the near future, technologies like Dragonfly will be commonplace. Large tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple seem willing to give into China's demands. Despite Google's mission statement to "do no evil," several media outlets report they've been working on a search engine to comply with the Chinese government's strict surveillance and censorship demands. Similarly, Facebook reportedly built a censorship tool in an effort to appease the Chinese government and gain access to its one billion Internet users.
As advanced technology spreads, it will become impossible for individual citizens to stand up to oppressive governments - especially if they're aided by large multinational corporations.
Just think of the power AI gives the Chinese government. As Dragonfly connects to every camera in China, no one will be able to hide. While this is good for catching criminals, not every person sought by the Chinese government is a criminal. Chinese dissidents, political activists, ethnic minorities, Christians, and other "enemies of the state" will have nowhere to hide. And it's quite unlikely China will be the only state to take advantage of this technology. In one form or another, every nation on earth is already making use of AI.
3) An Increase in High Magnitude Earthquakes
Jesus said several signs will increase like birth pains before He returns (Matthew 24:8). This means those signs will increase in frequency and intensity before the Second Coming. One of the signs Jesus cited is earthquakes (Matthew 24:7). As mentioned in my book Signs of the Second Coming, we've seen a marked increase in the frequency of high intensity earthquakes over the past two decades. From 1900 to 1950, the world only registered six 8.0 magnitude earthquakes. Since 2010, we've had ten. Earlier this year, more than 70 earthquakes hit the Pacific Ring of Fire in a 48-hour period. The earth is preparing for the King's return!
4) Continued EU Volatility
In a June 23, 2016 referendum, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU). The media labeled this British exit from the EU "Brexit." Many predicted an immediate collapse of the EU. They said further exits would likely follow. Yet 2 ½ years later, the EU is still together and the UK hasn't left. This should come as no surprise. Over two thousand years ago, the prophet Daniel described the initial stages of the Antichrist's global empire. He described it as an alliance of weak and strong nations (Daniel 2:42). He said it would be a divided alliance, loosely held together (Daniel 2:41).
This is what we see today with the EU. Since its inception, the EU has been an odd collection of governments, economies, currencies, and militaries. EU nations include some of the world's largest and smallest economies. These same nations have some of the world's largest and smallest militaries. From the Schuman Declaration in 1950 to the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007, the rise of the EU has been marked by a struggle to agree on important issues. These include arguments over a single currency (the United Kingdom and Denmark opted out), disagreements over how to handle debt crises (the Greek bailouts), and disputes over open borders (the Syrian refugee crisis). Each step along the way, the EU struggled to survive. Yet it has survived.
If the EU is the forerunner to the empire Daniel described, then it will continue to survive. And its power will grow until it envelops the whole world.
5) The Love of Many Grows Cold
The Bible says in the end times "the love of many will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12). "People will be lovers of themselves and their money. They'll be "boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They'll consider nothing sacred. They'll be unloving and unforgiving - slanderers with no self-control. They'll be cruel and hate what is good. They'll betray their friends, be reckless, prideful, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. They'll act religious, but reject the power that could make them godly" (2 Timothy 3:2-5).
While you can find examples of evil in every generation, ours features some of the most vile behavior since the days of Noah, when the thoughts of people were nothing but "continuous evil" (Genesis 6:5).
2018 featured a number of examples. In February, Nikolas Cruz killed 17 students and school staffers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It was the deadliest mass shooting of the year in the U.S., and it made national headlines. But not every story of evil makes headlines. Also in February, a woman in Schenectady, New York got upset after an argument and threw her baby at a New York State trooper. She was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and endangering the welfare of a child.
She wasn't alone. It was a year where the love of many grew cold for their own children. For example, in August, authorities arrested Chris Watts for killing his pregnant wife, Shanann, and their two daughters - ages 3 and 4. Then, he threw his wife in a shallow grave and stuffed his daughters' bodies in vats of oil. What could be more evil?
These are just a few news stories from the past year. But unfortunately, they aren't isolated incidents. In fact, stories of aberrant and criminal behavior have become so commonplace that most of them aren't reported in the media. Instead, we hear statistics about the number of rapes, murders, and assaults year to date, and whether or not this year is worse than the last. The world is saturated with violence - just as in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37).
What to Look for in 2019
Hopefully, Jesus will return before the end of this year. But if He doesn't, look for these trends to continue in 2019. Look for increasing cooperation between Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Look for a strengthening EU, even as the alliance remains volatile. Watch for a continued increase in AI capability. Look out for the continuing degeneration of society. And don't be surprised if we have one or more 8.0 magnitude earthquakes. All of these things and more will probably mark 2019. This is why the #1 thing you should look for is the return of our Savior. As we enter the new year, all the signs scream, "Jesus is coming!"