The Four Signposts is an interpretation of Daniel chapters 7 and 8, and Revelation 6:1-8, which all taken together identify four sets of events and seasons that must occur prior to the Tribulation. If this interpretation is correct, it seems to me that these foretold events would be rather significant in their scope. They may not be as great as the Tribulation itself in terms of historical and societal impact, but they would still perhaps be mentioned elsewhere in the Bible as occuring prior to the Tribulation. Did Christ mention these events to us? I speculate that He did in Matthew 24.
Daniel 7 and 8 are written in such a way that it is not humanly possible to interpret them and fully understand and appreciate them until the time of the end when prophecy is to be unsealed. And so if Christ were to tell us anything about them, I would expect Christ to tell us in such a way that would be consistent with keeping them sealed. If Christ was to tell us about the events of Daniel 7 and 8, He would have had to be as cryptic in his speech as Daniel 7 and 8 are.
If the Signpost events really exist, then I would expect Christ to have known about these events prior to the Tribulation. He is the sealer and unsealer of prophecy. We as a body of believers today, did not know about the Four Signposts until this year (2012), as far as I know, and relatively few people still know about it (though the number is growing). The message of my recently published book, Hidden In Plain Sight, is spreading. But Christ knew about these things all along.
And so it turns out that there are some interesting comparisons between the features of these Signpost events, and some of the things Christ told his disciples in Matthew 24. This chapter can be divided as follows, and we will discuss here the parts that are underlined –
– Verses 1-3 tells us the narrative leading to Christ’s discourse on the end times
– Verses 4-8 Christ tells us of the times prior to the Tribulation; the birth pains
– Verses 9-14 Christ’s overview of the end times
– Verses 15-28 Christ tells us of the Tribulation
– Verses 29-31 Christ tells us of his glorious Return
– Verses 32-35 Christ tells us that all of these things will happen in one generation
– Verses 36-51 Christ tells us that no one will know the day or hour of his Return
After Jesus left the Temple grounds and mentioned that not one stone would be left on another (Matt. 24:2), his disciples came to Him and asked, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3) The disciples didn’t know it, but the stones of the Temple would be thrown down in 70 AD, fulfilling Christ’s statement of Matthew 24:2. They asked “when will this happen” but they also asked “what will be the sign of your coming?” The answer to the second question is different from the first. The first occurred in 70 AD by soldiers under the banner of Rome. Unknown to the disciples, Christ’s coming would be more than nineteen centuries after the Temple was destroyed.
Jesus begins his answer to the second part of the question, about the signs of his coming (which is what the Signposts are), by warning about false christs (Matt. 24:4-5). The next thing Christ says in verses 5-6 is eerily similar to the conditions during the Four Signposts. But before seeing what verses 5 and 6 say, let us look at the relevant features of the Signposts themselves.
The Four Signposts comprise four sets of events that are to happen one after the other and fairly continuously, all the way up to the 7-year Tribulation.
These Four signposts will be marked by wars, and reports (or rumors) of wars:
1) First Signpost – Iran-Iraq War, Invasion of Kuwait, Gulf War I, Gulf War II;
2) Second Signpost – Iran invades and occupies much of the Middle East, completely overrunning several nations;
3) Third Signpost – Sunni Confederacy counterattacks and re-conquers Middle East;
4) Fourth Signpost – The Four resulting new nations have continual war between them.
When Iran invades the Middle East in the Second Signpost, Iranian forces will occupy the oilfields, effectively cutting the world’s production of oil immediately by one quarter. The red horseman, who is part of the Second Signpost (see my book Hidden In Plain Sight, chapters 7, 8 and 10), is given power to take peace (security, peace of mind) from the earth (Rev. 6:4). This peace would be taken because of what would happen to oil and financial markets. Not only would oil skyrocket, but the dollar could see a fall because the purchasing of Saudi Arabia’s and other nations’ oil by nations like Japan, in dollars, would cease. Demand for dollars would drop precipitously. Because of these things people will become greatly alarmed.
Because the visions of Daniel chapters 7 and 8 are part of God’s Word, these events must happen. When each of these events occur, people may think that each one is finally the end. After all, Iran invading and cutting off the oil would seem like the Antichrist has arrived. But no, it is not. And when the Confederacy fights back, led by a charismatic leader people may think that the Muslims are finally united and that that leader is the Antichrist, but no, again. When each of these events occur the end is still to come.
All four of these sets of events show that Iraq will rise against Iran and then Kuwait, Iran will rise against many nations, four nations will then rise against Iran. So during these Signposts nation will rise against nation in the Middle East.
In addition to wars, there will be a shortage of food and there will be famine in the Third Signpost, where it takes a day’s wage to feed one’s family.
The Fourth Signpost will be the time when the man who will be Antichrist arises out of one of the four new nations created at the end of the Third Signpost. Daniel 8 speaks of this time, when the Antichrist is assembling his empire by assimilation of the Muslim nations in the Middle East. Daniel 8:23b-24 says, “…a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people.” (emphasis mine)
Astounding devastation would most likely be man-made disasters, and could even include the use of nuclear weapons. Great disasters, natural (like Katrina) or man-made (like Dresden), or a combination (like Fukushima), are behind the Greek word, “seismos”, which is translated in our Bibles, “earthquakes”. A seismos was any great disaster, not just earthquakes. But our english Bible translators translate it as “earthquakes”. Therefore the Fourth Signpost will see astounding devastation, or seismos, or in our Bibles, earthquakes.
So in Matthew 24:6-7 Jesus says (with emphasis mine),
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”
The underlined words and phrases describe quite well the kinds of things that are featured in the events making up the Four Signposts. Now, I realize that this idea of these two verses applying to the Signposts flies in the face of what most of us have thought these verses have always meant. After all, war, famines and earthquakes (disasters) have been with us the whole time since Christ’s time and so these events have been like birth pains (vs. 8) getting worse and worse since but only getting really bad in the last century or last few decades. Of course, the whole end-time Signpost theology flies in the face of traditional thinking.
But there a couple of hints in Matthew 24 that tell us that verses 6-7 may very well apply to the Four Signposts, and not to the general case of applying over the last century or more. First is that the whole chapter, taken in context, concerns the end times – either Christ’s Return, or the Tribulation or the times leading up to it. Christ spoke of false christs in verse 5. There have always been false christs, but the false christ to really watch for in the context of the end is the Antichrist. Likewise in verses 6-7 there have always been wars and disasters, but the ones to really watch for to tell you its getting near the end is the Signposts.
Secondly, Jesus said in Matthew 24:32-34, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”
The Signposts are the reading of the fig leaves. We may know the season by looking at those fig leaves. The main point here is that Jesus said when you see all of these things – that is everything – the wars, things to be alarmed by, disasters, the Tribulation – all the things He spoke of in Matthew 24 – you know Christ is at the door. Christ then said that this generation that sees all these things will not pass away until all these things happen.
Therefore Christ could not have been referring to wars and disasters for the last nineteen centuries, or even over the twentieth century, but those only things happening in the last thirty to forty years, i.e. the time span of the Signposts, and the Tribulation, and Christ’s Return.
In conclusion, then , I believe there is reason to believe that Christ was referring to the events of the Four Signposts (though necessarily cryptically) in Matthew 24:6-8. Christ told us what to expect: wars, disasters, in connection with the end but they are not the end. And He told us to not be alarmed by these events. And the end is not yet, but it is soon. Very soon. And these things are indeed the beginning of the birth pains.
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:6-8)
Categories: Signpost Theology
This is so exiting! At the same time I was reading “Hidden In Plain Sight” I was lead to Dalton Thomas (cannot remember how. I expect you know him as I think it was through reading Joel Richardson I came across him). He had posted on his web sight the links to a recent series of 5 messages he gave, I think in USA. The first 2 were on Matthew 24 & 25, the 3rd on Daniel 11 – “The Maskilim” being the faithful ones, and the last 2 were to do with martyrdom/missions. Great messages. I have put the link here for the series. Very sobering altogether.
Thank you for this very good article Mark. I am continually struck by the Lord’s timing in what he brings across my path.
God bless you.
To be honest I never even heard of him. But I will check out this link. Thank you.