The earth is wobbling like a top ready to spin out of control. Can you feel it?
We are rapidly approaching the point of no return where humanity’s actions will tip the scales of God’s wrath. Life as we know it will come crashing to a cataclysmic halt. Christians know it, other religions know it, secular observers know it. “The Apocalypse” is almost upon us. It will be a time of chaos, destruction, and confusion.
Fortunately, God has not left us in the dark about what is to come. God’s prophetic tapestry is woven through like threads in both the Old and New Testaments. Close up, the intricate designs can seem confusing and even contradictory. God has intentionally designed a pattern that is complex. He leaves for us a trail of puzzle pieces, not unlike the parables Jesus told, and exactly like at His first coming. It is only through rigorously searching and praying through the Scriptures that keys emerge, pieces fit together, and the big picture is revealed. Keep in mind that these things were written 1900-3000 years ago!!!
Over the course of history, God has dealt with humanity in a few different ways. These ways are known as Dispensations. In the garden of Eden, God met with Adam and Eve in human form. Here, the very first prophetic word was uttered by God – “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV) After the fall of humanity, God continued to speak directly to the early patriarchs. This continued through Noah and the global flood until the time of Abraham. The nations had been dispersed at the tower of Babel, and God selected one man, Abraham, to seed the nation of Israel – His nation, His people.
Israel’s purpose was to be set apart, to be a beacon of God’s light in the world and draw the nations back to Him. Israel, for the most part, failed miserably. God could rely only on Himself. Thus, in the fullness of time, God became as one of us in the form of Jesus. Jesus succeeded where Israel had failed, and set in motion the reclaiming of the nations unto God. Israel expected this to happen all at once, but the mystery was that this reclaiming would now be done through the “church” – a body of Jews and Gentiles called by God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 11:25). The church was now set apart as God’s salt and light in the world.
The time is very quickly approaching when this mission of the church will suddenly end.
God’s timeline for humanity proceeds right on schedule. The end of this age will come abruptly to a halt with the noisy, not-so-secret rapture of the church. The dead in Christ will arise, and the invisible body of Christ will be transformed in the blink of an eye. Together they will be snatched away from what is coming on the earth, safely hidden in heaven. A parable of this can be seen in the ritual of the Jewish Wedding. We may not know the day or the hour, but there are definite clues to the season. We can watch for the signs to occur that point to this event. You may agree or disagree with some of these signs but what is clear is that prophecy scholars agree that there is a convergence of signs:
- The Fig Tree sign – Jesus tells His disciples that when they “see the fig tree leaf out”, they would know that the time of His coming was near. Many prophecy scholars agree that this sign refers to Israel’s rebirth in May 1948. This was predicted in scripture over 2500 years ago.
- Israel Reborn – Regardless of whether or not the fig tree refers to Israel, Israel’s rebirth as a nation after 2000 years of not being one is a flashing neon light! The Kingdom of Heaven is Near!!!
- Jerusalem Recaptured – Jerusalem features heavily in end times prophecy. The 6 day war of 1967 was very significant prophetically! It’s possible that war fulfilled Psalm 83; alternately, the complete fulfillment of Psalm 83 may be yet future.
- Jewish Aliyah – Along with the re-establishment of Israel as a physical/political nation, God’s chosen people are foretold to return to the Promised Land. This has been slowly but surely occurring over the last 120 years or so, with approximately 45% of the world’s Jewry living in Israel at this time (2016). According to Jewish tradition, conditions are set for prophets to appear when at least 50% of the world’s Jewry is located in Israel.
- The Third Temple – We know from the book of Daniel, the gospels, and Revelation that there will be a functioning Jewish Temple during the “70th Week of Daniel“. While the Temple has not yet been built, the plans are complete, Levite priests are trained, and Temple equipment/furniture has been made.
- Apostasy in the Church – It seems that as we approach the time of the end, churches will fall away from preaching sound doctrine. Instead, they will focus on a social gospel that “tickles men’s ears” (tells them what they want to hear to feel good). Sexual immorality will be tolerated.
- Immorality in Society – Society will move further and further away from God and His laws/morals. We see this most clearly in the last several decades through Abortion (1.5 billion since 1980), Homosexuality (general worldwide acceptance in non-Muslim nations), and Human Euthanasia (legal in some nations, including Canada). There are many examples of immorality and corruption.
- As in the Days of Lot – Society will be marked by violence, homosexuality, and sexual immorality. Interestingly, the LGBTQ community has adopted the symbol of God’s promise “in the days of Noah” as the symbol of their pride.
- As in the Days of Noah – Society will be marked by violence, DNA manipulation, and sexual immorality.
- Knowledge Will Increase – In the latter days, people will travel “to and fro” and knowledge will increase. We are approaching a “technological tower of Babel” situation!
- The Gospel Will be Preached to All Nations – While there are still unreached people groups within nations, the gospel has been successfully taken to all nations around the globe. The gospel will continue to be preached during the coming times of tribulation by the 2 Witnesses, sealed 144,000 Hebrews, and an angel from God.
- A Great Sign in the Sun, Moon, and Stars – It appears God may be announcing the imminent rapture of the church and the nearness of His Second Coming through a great sign in the sun, moon, and stars described in Revelation 12:1-2. This great sign appeared in the sky on September 23, 2017. Interestingly, satan also seems to think September 23 is an important date.
- The Great Pyramid – The Great Pyramid in Egypt seems to have been specifically designed to point to the First and Second comings of Jesus Christ.
- The Feasts of God – God has appointments on His calendar. He calls these His “moedim”, or appointed times. The next appointments on His calendar are the Fall Feasts. There is some question, however, if the late spring feast of Pentecost has fully been fulfilled…
- “Balaamic Prophecies” – Secular society can’t help itself but advertise that the “end is near”
- Nonspecific Signs – God may be issuing His final warnings via nonspecific signs (i.e. August 21,2017 solar eclipse, “Planet X“)
A summary of some of these signs and more can be seen in this article: Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign – The Convergence is Now.
The Path Diverges
A great divide exists; there are two tracks that humanity will take. Those who took the narrow road will be a part of the heavenly track: the body of Christ will be in heaven for the time of “tribulation” on the earth. They will participate in the Day of Christ (judgment for rewards). Meanwhile, the Day of the Lord is the track on earth for those who were on the broad road leading to destruction.
Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV
God’s judgment will be poured out in full force on a wicked and Christ-rejecting world. However, God will not leave the world without witness. He will call forth 2 Witnesses who will function similarly to the Old-Testament prophets. Additionally, with the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church complete, the Holy Spirit will immediately move to supernaturally seal 144,000 specially chosen Hebrews. God will use these witnesses to call forth His elect – a third of Israel along with many “gentile” followers.
Before we get any further, there are several prophesied wars involving Israel that will occur in the future. The timing of these is broadly in “the latter years”. Several of these may occur before the rapture of the church (Nation Rising Against Nation – WW3; The Destruction of Damascus; Arab-Israeli Promised Land War). One of these may occur during or shortly after the removal of the true church from the earth (Gog and Magog War – many nations rising against Israel). These wars may blur together and occur in a short span of time.
Regardless of the exact timing, God Himself will intervene to save Israel in these wars. As a result, Israel will want to re-institute their Temple worship of God with Old Testament-style sacrifices. The person (or ‘being’) who arises and takes credit for winning these wars won’t be God, but he will end up claiming to be. It is certain that one war will occur approximately seven years after the rapture, in which this god-imposter will be destroyed (The Battle of Armageddon). See here for an overview of all these wars.
The 7-Year Tribulation Begins
With the body of Christ safely tucked away in heaven, let’s go over what’s going to happen on earth. When Jesus rose from the dead, great power was released in some type of nuclear transformation event. This triggered an earthquake. When the dead in Christ rise, it is possible that this event will trigger similar earthquakes on a global scale – wherever the dead in Christ lie. The earthquakes will then trigger volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. The sun will be darkened and the moon appear blood red from smoke and ash in the air (I believe this is the prophetic “blood moon sign”). In a short span of time, 25% of humanity will die from famine, war/murder, disease outbreaks, and wild animals (emboldened by severe food shortages) – the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Throughout the church age, followers of Christ have been indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit. When these true believers are removed from the earth, the Holy Spirit’s restraining influence over evil and the powers of darkness will be removed. At this time, a cosmic war erupts between the holy angels and the fallen angels. Satan (the name given to the fallen spirit-being opposing God), represented as a dragon and a serpent, and his demon horde (fallen angels) will be defeated and lose their access to heaven. They will be granted authority by God to deceive humanity, for the sake of accomplishing His divine purposes. We are not told exactly what this involves but we do know that satan has been hard at work preparing for it (likely, “aliens”, which are fallen angelic beings). He knows the time is close.
The combination of the removal of living believers to heaven and the disasters of the 7 Seals will leave the world reeling. A great power vacuum will exist in the world as social and economic structures collapse under the burden of disaster. A man or being will rise to power quickly, to bring “peace” and “unity”. This man is known in the Bible as “the lawless one”, “the antichrist”, “false christ”, “false messiah”, and “the beast”. The “antichrist” will participate in ushering in a new world order. Wars will be involved as nations and leaders try to sort out a semblance of order and power. There are several opinions as to how this might play out, but I will give my understanding here.
A New World Order
First, shortly after the rapture, it appears that either the “antichrist” or the “false prophet” will enter into a covenant with Israel. The covenant may be made for 7 years (peace agreement), or it may be presented as eternal (a “new messianic covenant”). It is also possible that God reconfirms His Abrahamic covenant with Israel through supernaturally protecting them from annihilation at this point. The confirming of this covenant, whatever it turns out to be, will start an event known as the 70th Week of Daniel. This 70th Week pertains directly to the nation of Israel and ethnic Hebrews, and is generally known as “The 7 Year Tribulation”. The Third Temple will be built in Jerusalem (or Shiloh? or the city of David?) at this time.
Concurrently, the world will first be divided into four parts (“kingdoms”). Two kingdoms may be ruled by singular rulers. One kingdom will be ruled by 4 “kings”. The fourth kingdom will be ruled by 10 “kings”. In this fourth kingdom, three of these 10 kings will be quickly displaced by the man who will become the “antichrist”. This fourth kingdom, led by the antichrist, will take over the other 3 kingdoms over the next few years. While people often talk about the antichrist ushering in a “peace treaty” and “false peace”, I personally don’t see the first half of the “Tribulation” as peaceful at all. World leaders will be posturing and fighting trying to both rise to power and establish control and organization following the massive destruction of the opening of the Seals.
By the midpoint of the “Tribulation”, the antichrist will have successfully achieved world rule. This antichrist (“beast”) kingdom will then be granted global rule by God for a period of 1260 days. God will oversee and allow this as part of Israel’s purification.
The “antichrist” will be supported by a false prophet. The false prophet may identify himself “Elijah”. These two, and their entourage, will be extremely convincing and will be accompanied by all kinds of miraculous signs and wonders. They will be empowered by none other than satan – forming an “unholy trinity”.
At some point, the “antichrist” will likely identify as the Jewish messiah. He may also identify as the messiah for other religions as well, explaining that everyone had different understandings of the same thing. He may encourage Old Testament-style worship of God… at first. Some of Israel (up to 2/3) will embrace this man as their anticipated messiah, here to usher in the messianic kingdom. They will believe the events that will have already transpired (wars in which they survived, the building of the Third Temple, sacrifices restarting) have fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. They will believe that a time of peace and prosperity for Israel, the millennial kingdom, is nigh. In reality, their time of testing is just beginning.
The First Half – God’s Witnesses
Meanwhile, right after the church has been taken to heaven, God will have sent witnesses to declare the gospel. There will be two special prophets for God who will proclaim truth. They will speak out against the “antichrist” and his deception. There will also be 144,000 Hebrews who come to faith in Jesus Christ. These 144,000 will be sealed by God and protected from some of the cataclysmic events that take place.
Remember the four horsemen? The effects of the opening of the seals will be playing out upon the earth during the first half of the “Tribulation”. Cataclysmic disasters will continue and supernatural beings will appear. There are 7 specific “Trumpets of Judgment” that will take place. The first 4 involve death of trees and green grass, contamination of the oceans, contamination of fresh water, and dimming of the sun, moon, and stars (possibly from atmospheric contamination). These 4 possibly occur very shortly after the rapture of the church. Trumpet 5 involves a 5 month long torment of humanity by a demonic army, where people will seek death (suicide) but it will not be found.
The truth of the gospel will not be popular, and the Two Witnesses will be killed after 3.5 years of ministry (42 months / 1260 days) by the “antichrist”. Most on the earth will celebrate their deaths by giving gifts. This is the only celebration mentioned in the book of Revelation. The 144,000 may also be killed around this time. Trumpet 6 involves another demonic army that begins at some point after the 5 month torture ends. This army kills 1/3 of humanity over a period of time ending when the two witnesses for God are resurrected from the dead – 3.5 days after their deaths.
In total, over 50% of humanity has now been killed (over 3 billion people), by the midpoint of “The Tribulation”. The “Great Tribulation” – that period of time when the antichrist is given global rule for 1260 days and is allowed to persecute and kill those who do not worship him – will have not yet begun! The massive death tolls from war, famine, plagues, wild animals and demonic armies, will focus much of humanity’s efforts on mere survival.
The Second Half – Antichrist’s Rule
Near the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week, the “antichrist” will be killed. It is likely that the he will die via a head wound. He will miraculously rise from the dead with God’s permission. His first course of action will be to kill the Two Witnesses. At some point (likely upon their death), the “antichrist” will set himself up in the Jewish temple, proclaiming to be “god”. He will stop all sacrifices to God and desecrate the altar. This is the trigger for Jews who know their Tanach (Old Testament) to flee to the wilderness. The warning is given both in the books of Daniel (OT – Daniel 9:27) and Matthew (NT – Matthew 24:15-21).
When Jesus came and revealed Himself to be God after 3.5 years of ministry, Israel killed Him. When the “antichrist” reveals himself to be “god” 3.5 years into Daniel’s 70th Week, it appears that Israel embraces him. This is foretold by Jesus in John 5:43 – “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.”
While the “antichrist” is celebrating his victory, the 2 bodies of God’s witnesses will lay in the streets of Jerusalem. 3.5 days later, they will rise from the dead and God will call them up to heaven. A great earthquake will result and 7000 people will die. This ends the 6th Trumpet judgment (the “second woe”). The 7th trumpet blows at some point after the “antichrist” declares himself to be god.
The “antichrist” will establish world rule at this time, merging religion, economy, and power. He will set up an economic system which requires taking his mark or pledging allegiance to him to be able to buy or sell. Will this mark alter DNA in some manner? An angel will warn mankind not to take this mark – this is the final warning before God outpours the final 7 Bowls of His wrath. True salvation is still possible up until taking the mark of the beast. Choose wisely, your eternal soul is at stake!
Once the mark system has been set up, at some point the 7 Bowls, which complete God’s wrath, will be outpoured. These judgments involve painful sores appearing on people who have taken the mark of the beast; the entire sea turning to blood and all sea creatures dying; all rivers and springs becoming blood; scorching by the sun; the kingdom of the beast being plunged into darkness; the Euphrates river drying up to allow humanity to assemble for a final battle against Jesus; and finally, the greatest global earthquake ever will resurface the planet, accompanied by a severe thunderstorm and 100 pound hailstones.
The Ending is Decreed, It Will Come to Pass
As the 6th Bowl of wrath is poured out, the “antichrist” will send deceiving spirits to gather the world for a war against Jesus Christ. My guess is that he will state that this is the final battle before humankind’s evolutionary transformation can be completed… but that is speculation… Once everyone is gathered, they will prepare for the Battle of Armageddon. It appears that God will provide a final escape route for those dwelling in Jerusalem via the Mount of Olives splitting, before the Battle of Armageddon ensues. The battle will occur 1260 (or possibly 1290) days after the “antichrist” declares himself to be god and sets up the “abomination of desolation” on the Temple altar.
The ending is decreed and it will come to pass – Jesus Christ will appear with His heavenly armies (angels and human followers who were taken at the beginning of this tribulation). It won’t be a battle though, Jesus will simply open His mouth and defeat all who are gathered by a Word. All the armies gathered against Him will be defeated in one big wallop by the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God.
The beast (“antichrist”) and the false prophet will be thrown alive into the lake of fire. All humans opposing Jesus Christ will be killed. It’s not going to be a good death – “And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. And on that day a great panic from the Lord shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of another, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other.“ (Zechariah 14:12-13 ESV). Satan will then be thrown into the abyss and chained for 1000 years – the duration of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.
This completes the Day of the Lord and the 70th week of Daniel.
The Millennial Kingdom and Eternity
Once the Battle of Armageddon is complete, humanity will be judged on whether or not they can enter the Millennial Kingdom. This is known as the “Sheep and Goats Judgement” and the separation of the “Wheat and Tares”. Believers during the “Tribulation” will not be sealed by the Holy Spirit and will be responsible for ensuring they remain in the faith until the end. They also are required to demonstrate their faith through good works. True believers, the “sheep” and “wheat”, will be ushered in to the Millennial Kingdom. Unbelievers, or those who lost their faith, the “goats” and “tares”, will be killed and sent to hell to await the Great White Throne judgment.
The true Messianic Kingdom will then be ushered in by Jesus, and will last 1000 years. During this period of time, the Earth will be restored to near-Eden-like condition with most aspects of the curse reversed. Longevity will be restored. Only the “sin nature” will remain. Remarkably, even under the direct rule of Christ, humanity will still be filled with rebellion. A number too high to count will rise up at the end of this time period when Satan is released for a “little season”. They will gather against Jesus, yes, again, and the Last Battle will ensue. Humanity still hasn’t learned that you can’t beat God, and they will all be destroyed with no actual fighting.
This form of heaven and earth will pass away, followed by the Great White Throne Judgment. The Great White Throne judgment will see the resurrection of all humanity from the dead to face the living God. This does not include those who participated in the “first resurrection” – all those in Christ prior to the Millennial Kingdom. Followers of Christ (from the Millennial Kingdom) will enter eternal life; those who rejected Jesus will be cast into the eternal Lake of Fire.
Once judgment is complete, Eternity ensues. Humans are eternal – our souls never die. Where your soul will spend eternity is completely up to you, but it can only be decided while in your physical body.
There is only ONE road that leads to life, and that is through Jesus Christ. Those who have not had their sin debt paid by the blood of Jesus will face God’s wrath and judgments. Please consider carefully if your heart has truly been transformed (“born again”). There is a difference between religion (including intellectual knowledge and the traditions of man), and relationship with God! Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Matthew 16:26 ESV
We urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:1-2 ESV
For Further Reading:
The Bible is infallible. I am not. I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture. I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly. I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!