End Times Bible Prophecy
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An End Times Timeline

An End Times Timeline

Much has been written about the last days and the end times just prior to the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But just how do these events fit together?

What is the chronology of events which will take place in the last days?

While the following timeline is by no means an exhaustive examination of the end times, my hope is that it will provide a summary overview of the sequence of major events set to take place during this time period:

1) The Rapture of the Church

In all likelihood, the next event on God's prophetic calendar is the rapture of the church.  Loosely translated, the word 'rapture' means to 'catch up' or 'snatch away.'  Prior to the Tribulation period, Jesus Christ will return in the clouds to gather all earthly believers unto Himself.  Paul revealed this event in his letter to the Corinthians:

"But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die." 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NLT)

Paul is clear in his statement that not every Christian will die.  Some will be transformed "in the blinking of an eye? before their earthly lives have come to an end.  But will this event happen before, during, or after the Tribulation?

The answer is clear when this passage is taken in context with other biblical passages.

When Least Expected

Jesus taught His disciples to expect His return at any moment, for no one can know the day of His coming:

"So you, too, must keep watch!  For you don't know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into.  You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected."  Matthew 24:42-44 (NLT)

The rapture will occur unexpectedly, much like a thief in the night.  This is consistent with the teaching of Jesus that no one will know the day or the hour of His coming:

"However, no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows. When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah?s day. In those days before the Flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn't realize what was going to happen until the Flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes." Matthew 24:36-39 (NLT)

If the return of Jesus to rapture His followers is a truly unexpected event which takes the world by surprise, then by definition most of the world can not be waiting in anticipation.  Therefore, the rapture must occur before the Tribulation.

Why?

Because once the numerous and specific prophecies concerning the Tribulation are being fulfilled in world events, most of the world will take notice.  The events of the tribulation will be so earth-shattering in nature, and the corresponding bible prophecies so clear, that a large portion of the world will come to anticipate the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ.

The Promise of Christ

Lest there be any doubt that the rapture occurs before the Tribulation, make note of this promise from Jesus Himself:

"Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world." Revelation 3:10 (NLT)

Jesus has promised to protect those who follow Him from ?the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world."  This time exists to test "those who belong to this world," not those who belong to Him.  Therefore, God?s Word in all its consistency reveals that the rapture will occur before the Tribulation.

2) The War of Gog and Magog

The next event on God's prophetic timeline is the War of Gog and Magog.  The leader of Russia will form a military coalition which includes the nations Iran, Libya, Ethiopia, and Turkey, and he will lead them against the nation of Israel.

"Therefore, son of man, prophesy against Gog. Give him this message from the Sovereign Lord: When my people are living in peace in their land, then you will rouse yourself. You will come from your homeland in the distant north with your vast cavalry and your mighty army, and you will cover the land like a cloud. This will happen in the distant future. I will bring you against my land as everyone watches, and my holiness will be displayed by what happens to you. Then all the nations will know that I am the Lord." Ezekiel 38:14-16 (NLT)

God will display His glory to all the nations of the world by personally destroying this Russian military coalition.  This will happen either at the beginning of, or sometime before, the tribulation.

How do we know?

Because God tells us the nation of Israel will use the leftover implements of this war as fuel for seven years:

"Then the people in the towns of Israel will go out and pick up your small and large shields, bows and arrows, javelins and spears, and they will use them for fuel. There will be enough to last them seven years!"  Ezekiel 39:9 (NLT)

It seems unlikely that Israel will use these weapons as fuel during the Millennial Kingdom, since Jesus Christ will provide all the light and energy that is needed for daily living.  And since the tribulation leading up to the Millennial Kingdom lasts a total of seven years, it's only logical that the War of Gog and Magog either takes place before the tribulation or else marks it beginning.

3) The Antichrist's 7-Year Covenant with Israel

The Antichrist will reveal himself by confirming a covenant with the nation of Israel:

"He will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven" Daniel 9:27 (NLT)

The details and nature of this treaty are yet unknown, but many have speculated that in a bid for Middle Eastern peace, Israel will agree to rely on the Antichrist for its national defense.  It is generally accepted that the signing of this accord with Israel will mark the beginning of the Tribulation period.

4) The Tribulation (Daniel's 70th Week)

As previously stated, the War of Gog and Magog either occurs at the beginning of the tribulation or signals its approach.  The tribulation is a period of seven years of turmoil and horror which will come upon the world.  The time period is also known as Daniel's seventieth week, as the concept was laid out by God in the Book of Daniel:

"A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place." Daniel 9:24 (NLT)

This passage clearly states that a period of 490 years is allotted for the nation of Israel to accomplish God's purposes.  It also reveals that 483 of those years have already passed:

"Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler - the Anointed One - comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times." Daniel 9:24-25 (NLT)

This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus Christ appeared 483 years after the command was given to rebuild Jerusalem.  The arrival of Jesus Christ fulfilled 69 of the prophetic 7-year periods outlined in the Book of Daniel, with one period yet remaining:

"After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end." Daniel 9:26 (NLT)

This time period will also witness the 7 Seal Judgments (Revelation 6:1-17) and the 7 Trumpet Judgments (Revelation 8:1-9:21)

Since the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the world has been living on borrowed time.  Once the rapture of the church puts an end to the "Age of Grace," the final seven year period will begin.  This is widely known as the Tribulation, and it officially begins with the Antichrist's confirmation of a covenant with Israel.

5) Global Government

During the Tribulation, the Antichrist will consolidate his power quickly.  All the nations of the world will soon fall under his authority:

"And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation." Revelation 13:7 (NLT)

In fact, not one person will escape the reach of the Antichrist and his governmental dominion:

"He required everyone - great and small, rich and poor, slave and free - to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name." Revelation 13:16-17 (NLT)

The Antichrist will have unprecedented control over the world's financial transactions. He will have so much power that he will be able to determine on a case-by-case basis which individuals will be allowed to buy or sell anything.

6) Satan Thrown to the Earth

At the midpoint of the Tribulation period, a war will break out in heaven:

"Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon - the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world - was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, 'It has come at last - salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth - the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.'" Revelation 12:7-12 (NLT)

Traditionally, people have believed Satan resides in Hell, but Hell is actually his future destination.  Up until the midpoint of the Tribulation, Satan will continue to reside in Heaven.  The Book of Job confirms the assertion that Satan resides in Heaven, where he accuses mankind before the Lord, day and night:

"One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them."  Job 1:6 (NLT)

Many have often wondered why God allows evil to exist.  They fail to understand that we live in the midst of an epic spiritual war, pitting the forces of evil (Satan) against the forces of righteousness (Jesus).  To mankind, Satan's rebellion is an event from the ancient past, but on God?s eternal timeline, it's a relatively recent event.  Nevertheless, God will not tolerate Satan's rebellion, and the ultimate victor in this war is clear.  Satan will lose, and his defeat in the battle for heaven will result in his being thrown down to earth.

This event will occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation, and it will mark a terrible time for those who live on the earth.

7) The Abomination of Desolation

Satan's crushing defeat and subsequent fall to earth will coincide with another prophesied event - the abomination of desolation.  In fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy, the Antichrist will enter the Jewish Temple and proclaim himself to be God. He will set up an image in the Holy Place and demand the world worship it:

"He will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. Then as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the end that has been decreed is poured out on this defiler." Daniel 9:27 (NLT)

Jesus warned His disciples of this terrible event:

"The time will come when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about: the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place." Matthew 24:16 (NLT)

And the apostle Paul also described this abominable act:

"He will exalt himself and defy every god there is and tear down every object of adoration and worship. He will position himself in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God." 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NLT)

The bible is clear that the abomination of desolation will occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation:

"The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him." Daniel 9:27 (NLT)

8) The Jews Flee Israel

Following the abomination of desolation, the Jews will flee Israel:

"'The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about - the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.' (Reader, pay attention!) 'Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again.'" Matthew 24:15-21 (NLT)

The Jewish people, the nation of Israel, will flee into the wilderness where God Himself will supernaturally protect them from a second holocaust at the hands of the Antichrist:

"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days." Revelation 12:6 (NLT)

The Jews who escape will remain under God's protection for the duration of the Tribulation period, three and a half years.

9) The Mark of the Beast

As part of his nefarious system of self-worship, the Antichrist will establish a global financial system by which no one can buy or sell without his permission:

"He required everyone - great and small, rich and poor, slave and free - to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name." Revelation 13:16-17 (NLT)

The Antichrist and his followers will pay a hefty price for accepting the mark of the beast. The Bible tells us that ALL who accept the mark of the beast will face eternal judgment for their decision. The following verses reveal the consequences of this rebellion against God:

"Then a third angel followed them, shouting, 'Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or the hand must drink the wine of God's wrath. It is poured out undiluted into God's cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. The smoke of their torment rises forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the beast and his statue and have accepted the mark of his name." Revelation 14:9-11 (NLT)

Acceptance of the mark is not a matter to be taken lightly. Anyone who accepts the mark denies Christ in favor of a false god. This decision, once made, is irrevocable, and the consequences are everlasting.

10) The Great Tribulation

The final three and a half years of the Tribulation will be known as The Great Tribulation, a time of unrivaled horror.  The 7 Bowl Judgments (Revelation 16:1-21) will take place during this time.  And the Antichrist, demanding the world worship him as if he were God Almighty, will institute a world-wide campaign to murder and destroy all those who worship the one true God.  This period is known as The Great Tribulation, and it comprises the final three and a half years of the seven year Tribulation:

"He will defy the Most High and oppress the holy people of the Most High. He will try to change their sacred festivals and laws, and they will be placed under his control for a time, times, and half a time." Daniel 7:25 (NLT)

"Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months." Revelation 13:5 (NLT)

"There she would be cared for and protected from the dragon for a time, times, and half a time." Revelation 12:14 (NLT)

"They will trample the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days.? Revelation 11:2-3 (NLT)

The bible is clear in stating that the Great Tribulation will occur in the last three and a half years before the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ.

11) The Appearance of the Two Witnesses

During this time, God will give power to two witnesses, who will prophesy throughout the Great Tribulation:

"And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in sackcloth and will prophesy during those 1,260 days. These two prophets are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of all the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire flashes from the mouths of the prophets and consumes their enemies. This is how anyone who tries to harm them must die. They have power to shut the skies so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to send every kind of plague upon the earth as often as they wish." Revelation 11:3-6 (NLT)

For 1,260 days, these two witnesses will prophesy to the world, and despite a plethora of enemies, no one will be able to harm them. During that time, they will have the power to end rainfall, turn the rivers and oceans to blood, and send every kind of plague upon the earth.

12) Babylon Destroyed in One Hour

In the last days, the City of Babylon will not only rise to worldly prominence once again, but it will face the judgment of God Almighty in a single day:

"Therefore, these plagues will overtake her in a single day - death and mourning and famine.  She will be completely consumed by fire, for the Lord God who judges her is mighty.  And the kings of the world who committed adultery with her and enjoyed her great luxury will mourn for her as they see the smoke rising from her charred remains.  They will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will cry out, 'How terrible, how terrible for you, O Babylon, you great city!  In a single moment God's judgment came on you.'"  Revelation 18:8-10 (NLT)

The merchants and kings of the world will mourn the destruction of this worldly city, which had been the apex of human rebellion.  The city of Babylon will become a city of unparalleled wealth and opulence, as well as a city of debauchery, idolatry, sorcery, sexual immorality, and every other sort of unholy abomination.  In the aftermath of its judgment, those who reveled in its sins will literally sob because of its loss.

13) The Death of the Two Witnesses

At the end of the Great Tribulation, when their testimony is complete, the two witnesses of God will be killed.  Their bodies will lie unburied in the main street of Jerusalem as the world celebrates its good fortune:

"When they complete their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the bottomless pit will declare war against them. He will conquer them and kill them. And their bodies will lie in the main street of Jerusalem, the city which is called 'Sodom' and 'Egypt,' the city where their Lord was crucified. And for three and a half days, all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will come to stare at their bodies. No one will be allowed to bury them. All the people who belong to this world will give presents to each other to celebrate the death of the two prophets who had tormented them." Revelation 11:7-10 (NLT)

However, what happens next will strike fear in those who dare to celebrate:

"But after three and a half days, the spirit of life from God entered them, and they stood up! And terror struck all who were staring at them. Then a loud voice shouted from heaven, 'Come up here!' And they rose to heaven in a cloud as their enemies watched. And in the same hour there was a terrible earthquake that destroyed a tenth of the city. Seven thousand people died in that earthquake. And everyone who did not die was terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven." Revelation 11:11-13 (NLT)

Just as Jesus Christ rose from the dead after three days and three nights, so will His two witnesses be resurrected after three and a half days.

The Book of Revelation tells us that terror will strike all those who are staring at them.

14) The Gathering at Armageddon

In the aftermath of Satan being thrown to the earth, mankind will attempt to cast off every restraint of God's authority.  The evil demons under his command will convince the leaders of the world to gather together in order to do battle against God Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ:

"And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. These miracle-working demons caused all the rulers of the world to gather for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God Almighty." Revelation 16:13-14 (NLT)

The final gathering place for this battle will be a geographical location in the nation of Israel, known as Armageddon:

"And they gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place called Armageddon in Hebrew." Revelation 16:16 (NLT)

It is here, at Armageddon, that the final human attempt at world government will come to an end.  In fulfillment of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, the statue which represents human government will be smashed by the supernatural.  The Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ will take its place, and it will never be destroyed.

15) The Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ

While gathered at Armageddon, rebellious humanity will witness the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ:

"For as lightning lights up the entire sky, so it will be when the Son of Man comes." Matthew 24:27 (NLT)

The appearance of Christ in the sky will be unmistakable to the people of this world.  As they gather to do battle with Him, Christ will take up their challenge and take on the entire human race:

"Then the Lord will go out to fight against those nations, as he has fought in times past. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south. You will flee through this valley, for it will reach across to Azal. Yes, you will flee as you did from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all his holy ones with him." Zechariah 14:3-5 (NLT)

As the Lord's feet touch down on the Mount of Olives, a giant earthquake will split the ground.  Jesus Christ will come in vengeance against His enemies, as the Commander of Heaven's Armies.

16) The Birth of the Millennial Kingdom

Following His victory over the enemies of God, Jesus Christ will establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth:

"On that day the sources of light will no longer shine, yet there will be continuous day! Only the Lord knows how this could happen. There will be no normal day and night, for at evening time it will still be light. On that day life-giving waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half toward the Dead Sea and half toward the Mediterranean, flowing continuously in both summer and winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord ? his name alone will be worshiped." Zechariah 14:6-9 (NLT)

And the world will rejoice, because the world will finally be filled with peace and justice!

Britt Gillette is the founder of End Times Bible Prophecy and the author of Coming To Jesus and Signs Of The Second Coming. Receive his book 7 Signs of the End Times for FREE when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

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