This is part 8 in a 14 part series entitled Don’t Panic – Survival Guide to the Apocalypse. Full PDF Download available free here: Don’t Panic – Survival Guide
The End Is Decreed
“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.”
There will be no guessing, when Jesus returns to the earth it will be very obvious. If there’s any question, it’s not truly Him.
“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:26-27)
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ will mark the end of the time of tribulation, or trouble, upon the earth. It will happen on a special day where “there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.” (Zechariah 14:6-7) The light that is seen is the Sign of the Son of Man coming in power and great glory.
The day of Jesus’ coming can be anticipated. It will occur 2520 days after the confirming of a covenant with Israel. Additionally, it can be foreseen as occurring 1260 days after the “abomination of desolation” event mentioned previously. The first action that occurs is the “Battle of Armageddon”.
The Battle of Armageddon
Before we discuss Jesus’ return further, I want to point out that we saw in Revelation 16 (Bowl 6 Judgment) that the nations of the world will have gathered in and around Jerusalem specifically to fight Jesus. Three deceiving spirits will be sent forth from the “unholy trinity” of the dragon, beast, and false prophet to bring ALL the nations together in rebellion against God. The antichrist, empowered by satan, likely deceives the world into believing he is the “true messiah”, or the “true god”. In order for his rule to be complete, or for humanity to evolve spiritually (or whatever he’s going to claim), humanity needs to collectively fight against and defeat Jesus. It’s the ultimate battle between good and evil, the climax of the age of humanity.
The Euphrates river appears to dry up to allow the “kings from the east” access. The antichrist and his armies assemble in a Valley called Armageddon. In Hebrew, this word is Har-Magedone, meaning “mount” or “hill” called Megiddo. A possible location is the hill country surrounding the plain of Meggido, about 100km north of Jerusalem. Many battles have been fought in this region historically. It’s also possible that this battle may occur in and around the city of Jerusalem. The connection between the battle of Armageddon and Jerusalem is made in Zechariah 14, when the Lord gathers all nations against Jerusalem to battle.
For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. (Zechariah 14:2-3)
Regardless of the exact location, those gathered will be expecting Jesus to show up, and they will be preparing to do battle against Him. Let’s see how it turns out:
“So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:26-31)
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. (Zechariah 12:10-11)
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:11-16)
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:17-21)
The sun, moon, and stars will be darkened on a unique day. We know that in the judgment of Bowl 5, the light from the sun, moon, and stars is darkened. Does this darkness extend to the Second Coming of Christ in Bowl 7, or not? It is unclear to me whether it will be two separate darkness events, or if Bowl 5 will run straight through to Bowl 7. Regardless, in the evening on the final day, Jesus will appear in power and great glory. He will be flanked by the armies of heaven.
While the peoples of the earth had been collected in rebellion to FIGHT Jesus, when He shows up they will MOURN instead. Those who have been deceived by the antichrist, particularly those of the house of Israel, will weep bitterly as the realization that they rejected their true Messiah drives into their heart like a knife. The fact that they have been deceived will now be painfully obvious.
Jesus will descend and defeat those gathered against Him at the Battle of Armageddon. It will go something like this:
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. Even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the donkeys, and whatever beasts may be in those camps. (Zechariah 14:12-15)
The antichrist and the false prophet will then be thrown into the eternal lake of fire, and satan and the demons will be locked in the abyss (hell) for one thousand years.
“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:9-14)
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. (Revelation 20:1-3)
Survivors Will Be Gathered
Following the time of tribulation and the Battle of Armageddon, the population of surviving humanity will be quite small. It’s difficult to estimate, but maybe less than 1 billion people will remain? Whatever the number is, those who are alive and remain will be gathered, sorted, and judged. The purpose of this judgement is to determine who will be allowed entrance into Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom.
Bloodline Descendants of Abraham:
First, let’s examine the gathering of the bloodline descendants of Abraham. These are called the “elect”, and will include the portion of bloodline-Israelites who survive the tribulation physically. Many will have been sheltered in “the wilderness” for the second half of the tribulation period – the 1260 days in between the “abomination of desolation” and the “second coming of Christ”. They will be gathered by angels and collected in Israel:
“And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)
And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. (Mark 13:27)
And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:26)
“When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind.” (Ezekiel 39:27-29)
“For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.” (Jeremiah 30:3)
In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. (Isaiah 11:11)
In the whole land, declares the Lord,
two thirds shall be cut off and perish,
and one third shall be left alive.
And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ (Zechariah 13:8-9)
It seems that God will have judged and refined Israel through the process of the apocalyptic period. Those who have survived seem to all be followers of Jesus Christ and will enter the Millennial Kingdom.
All remaining human beings will be rounded up for judgment. This is known as the “Sheep and Goats” Judgment, and is likely a continuation of the courtroom scene we saw in Daniel 7. The Sheep and Goat categories determine where each person will spend the Millennial Kingdom:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
This judgment is also pictured in a similar parable about wheat versus tares (weeds that look like wheat):
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:24-30)
And also in a parable about fish:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:47-50)
The “sheep” (“wheat”, “good fish”) are placed at Jesus’ right hand, and are given an inheritance in the Millennial Kingdom. While not explicitly stated here, the sheep qualify for this inheritance by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – salvation (see John 1:12, Acts 15:11, Romans 3:22-24, Romans 4:4-8, Galatians 3:6-9, Ephesians 2:8-9). They demonstrate the authenticity of their faith through good works throughout the times of tribulation – a monumental task given that this will be the most difficult period humanity has ever faced. We know from Matthew 12 that Jesus considers those who do God’s will to be His brothers and sisters – “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (verse 49) Thus, humanity will be particularly evaluated as to the authenticity of their salvation through how they tried to meet the needs of other believers (food, water, shelter, clothing, and prison visitation mentioned here). Whatever we do for a fellow believer (or a fellow human being and “potential” believer), we do for God Himself. The good works are not the cause of salvation, but the effect of salvation. Salvation is, as always, by grace alone through faith alone.
Those who do not have an authentic and persistent faith, those who openly reject Christ, and those who took the “mark of the beast”, are considered the “goats” (“tares/weeds”, “bad fish”). Those who openly have rejected Christ and those who have taken the mark of the beast do not require further explanation. However, those who did not hold firm in the faith until the end, and those who did not have enough faith to demonstrate it through deeds, are also considered unbelievers. These unbelievers, the “goats”, seem to be physically killed at this point. Their souls will enter hell to await the Great White Throne Judgment in one thousand years.
This completes the time of tribulation upon the earth.
The Temple in Jerusalem will be restored and cleansed at this time, in preparation for Jesus to rule the earth for 1000 years.
It appears that the overall sequence that surrounds the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would be something like this:
- The antichrist, false prophet, and deceiving spirits collect armies assembled for battle against Jesus Christ. (Bowl 6)
- The Mount of Olives will be split in two, from East to West. A large valley will form. All who believe Jesus (the believing elect in Jerusalem) are to flee at this time – this is the command given right before the destruction of Mystery Babylon – “Come out of her, my people!”
- Mystery Babylon is destroyed by the antichrist, false prophet, and their entourage.
- A unique day of darkness arrives, with no cold or light.
- In the evening, there shall be light – the sign of the Son of Man. This is likely Jesus appearing on His white horse in the clouds of heaven, followed by his holy ones.
- Jesus destroys the armies gathered at Armageddon.
- The antichrist and false prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire (eternal).
- satan and the demons are cast into the Abyss (temporarily chained, 1000 years).
- Living humans are collected and judged for suitability to enter the Millennial Kingdom
- The Millennial Temple is established and dedicated.
- The Millennial Kingdom Begins.