WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH CONCERNING THE LAST TIMES AND THE END OF THE AGE?
I. The Importance of the Second Coming
A. Its prominence in scripture
1. It was the theme of many Old Testament prophets (Is. 24:1-23) (Is. 35:1-10) (Jer. 30,31) (Dan. 2,7,12) (Joel 3:1-21) (Zech. 14:1-12) (Mal. 4:1-6).
2. Jesus constantly bore witness to His Second Coming.(John 14:3) (Matt. 24,25) (Mark 13) (John 21:22).
3. Paul wrote entire letters to churches concerning the fact of His Second Coming (1 Thess. & 2 Thess.).
4. The other apostles thought the same thing (Acts 3:19-21) (1 John 2:28) (Jude 14,15).
5. Even the angels bore testimony that He would come again (Acts 1:11).
B. The purpose of these promises
1. To encourage us to look for His Coming (Titus 2:13) (2 Pet. 3:12,13).
2. To encourage us with hope (Titus 2:13).
3. To encourage holy living and godliness (2 Pet. 3:11,14).
4. To encourage us to be ready (Matt. 24:44).
5. To encourage us to pray that we might be accounted worthy to escape His judgment (Luke 21:36).
6. To comfort our hearts (1 Thess. 4:18).
II. The Manner of the Second Coming
A. Jesus will personally, visibly and in bodily form return so that every eye will see Him (Acts 1:11) (1 Thess. 4:16,17) (Rev. 1:7) (Matt. 24:30).
B. The heavens will roll back like a scroll to reveal His Coming (Rev. 6:14-17) (Is. 34:4).
C. His return will be sudden and without warning to those who are not looking for Him (Matt. 24:27) (Matt. 24:31-51).
D. His return will be with power and great glory (Matt. 24:30).
III. The Purpose of the Second Coming
A. To fulfill His Word to us (Matt. 24:34,35) (John 14:3).
B. To fulfill His promises to the Jews concerning the Kingdom Age (Is. 35:1-10) (Is. 2:1-5).
C. To fulfill His Word to judge the World (Matt. 25:32-46).
D. To glorify all believers (Col. 3:3,4).
E. To reward all believers (Matt. 16:27).
IV. The Time of His Return
A. No one knows the day or the hour (Matt. 24-36).
B. Yet, we can know when it is near. Immediately after Jesus said, "No one knows the day or the hour" of His return, He then gave signs of His Second Coming and told them to watch (Matt. 24:42). He also told them that when they see these things, know that His Coming is near (Matt. 24:33). These signs were given so they would be ready.
V. The Signs That We Should Look For
A. Israel being restored as a nation. This sign is directly related to His Second Coming and the end of the world (Joel 3:1-21) (Ezek. 37) (Ps. 102:16) (Ps. 14:7) (Micah 4:6,7) (Zeph. 3:14-20) (Rom. 11:12,15, 25-27). Israel became a nation again in 1948.
B. After the regatherance of the Jews back into their land, there will be a great war between Israel and a group of nations that will come from the far north (Ezek. 38:6) (Ezek. 39:1,2) See also, (Ezek. 38:1-6) (See the context: of Ezekiel 36,37,38 and 39). The principle nations in this attack are Gog of the land of Magog, Meshech and Tubal. These are the names of the sons of Japheth. (Gen. 10:2) After the flood, Gog according to Unger's Bible Dictionary. Many Biblical scholars believe that Gog refers to the ancient Scythian people who wandered in southern Russia from the Black Sea to the Altai Mountains in central Asia. This area today would cover the modern States of southern Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Meshech, according to the Greek historian Herodotus, settled in the mountains south-east of the Black Sea, and to the north of the ancient Assyrian empire. Today this area covers the modern countries of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbiajan, parts of Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Tubal is said to have settled the area further south covering what is today modern Syria. There will be many other nations that come together for this war with Israel. Yet, the Bible is clear, they are all destroyed.
C. The formation of a ten nation organization in Europe (covering the same general area of the Roman Empire) (Dan. 2:1-44). God revealed to Daniel in the interpretation of a dream that the king of Babylon had one night upon his bed. His dream was of a great image having a head of gold, chest of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, feet of iron and clay, and a great stone that struck the image in the feet and destroying it (Dan. 2:31-35). The interpretation revealed that each part of the image were the kingdoms of man. The Babylonian empire, the head of gold; Medo-Persian empire, the chest of silver; the Grecian empire, the belly of bronze; the Roman empire, the legs of iron; ten kingdoms, the ten toes that are formed from iron and clay; and the stone, the Kingdom of God that will consume these kingdoms and will stand forever (Dan. 2:36-45). Notice verse 44, "in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed." For a similar vision of Daniel more detailed study on this subject see Dan. 7:1-28. The European Community is a possible fulfillment of this prophecy.
D. These days will be like the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37-39). What were these days like?
1. The earth was corrupt before God (Gen. 6:11).
2. The earth was filled with violence (Gen. 6:11).
3. The people's imagination was only continually evil (Gen. 6:5).
4. The wickedness of man was great (Gen. 6:5) (Matt. 24:12).
5. There was an uncaring attitude among people of the consequences of their sin (Matt. 24:38,39).
E. Many false Christ's and spiritual deceivers (Matt. 24:4,5) (2 Tim. 4:3-5) (Matt. 24:11). The rise of the New Age movement and the many cult groups deceiving millions of people is the obvious fulfillment of these prophecies.
F. The beginning of sorrows (Matt. 24:6-8).
1. The increase of wars. Since the coming of Christ the world has experienced 13 years of war for every one year of peace.
2. The increase of famine. Over 20 million people have died from famine since 1948.
3. The increase of pestilence. The rise of the AIDS epidemic
(HIV-1 virus). Most scientists believe this pestilence will be far worse than the Black Plague of the 1300's. According to the Centers for Disease Control, (in 1987) one in 30 males, (ages 20-50) were infected with the virus or approximately 1 1/2 to 2 million. Also scientists now have detected the HIV2 virus, which is equally as fatal. In addition to these viruses, there are 38 sexually transmitted diseases and the number is growing.
4. The increase of earthquakes. According to the Department of the Interior statistics kept on 7.0 earthquakes and above the increase is dramatic.
1900-1939 (24) Earthquakes worldwide
1940-1949 (10) Earthquakes worldwide
1950-1959 (40) Earthquakes worldwide
1960-1969 (78) Earthquakes worldwide
1970-1979 (157) Earthquakes worldwide
1980-1986 (82) Earthquakes so far....
G. The buying and selling with numbers (Rev. 13:16,17). Of course, the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy will not occur until the Tribulation period and will be set in motion by the world ruler of the Ten Nations in Europe. It will consist of a number placed on the hand or the forehead of every person. Today we see the growing use of buying and selling with numbers. The use of credit cards, automatic funds transferred and direct deposits. In 1990 a law was passed that all children, from age 2 years and above, must be numbered by the Social Security Administration. It is THE LAW. We are surely moving in the direction of a numbered society.
H. The Temple will be rebuilt (Rev. 11:1) (2 Thess. 2:4) (Matt. 24:15). Before the events spoken of in these verses can take place, the Temple must be rebuilt. Today in Israel, the Orthodox Jews are discussing this very project.
V. What Happens Just Prior to the Second Coming
A. The rapture of the Church
1. What is the Rapture? This is when Jesus comes and takes the Church from the earth (1 Thess. 4:16,17). The Greek word for caught up means to seize, carry off or snatch away (Strong's Concordance). The word rapture comes from the Latin version of this text. Also see: (Luke 17:26-36) (1 Cor. 15:51-54).
2. When will the rapture happen? There is no way to be absolutely sure on this fact, because Jesus said, "no man knows the day or hour" (Matt. 24:36). Yet the weight of Scripture leads one to believe the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation period. Why?
a. The Tribulation period is the wrath of God coming upon the earth (Rev. 6:16) (Rev. 15:1). Yet God promises the saints that He has not appointed us to wrath but delivered us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 5:9) (1 Thess. 1:10).
b. A special promise to those who keep His commandments, He will keep them from the hour of trial which shall come on the whole world (Rev. 3:10).
c. Jesus told His disciples to pray always to escape the Tribulation period He had just described to them (Luke 21:36).
d. The Biblical illustrations of Noah and Lot being delivered from God's wrath on unbelievers. They are used as examples to us (Luke 17:26-36) (2 Peter 2:9).
e. God's example that He won't destroy the righteous with the wicked (Gen. 18:23-33).
3. Differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming.
a. He comes in the clouds and we are caught up to meet Him and then He comes to the Mount of Olives and the Church behind Him (1 Thess. 4:16,17) (Zech. 14:4) (Acts 1:11,12) (Rev. 19:7,8,14).
b. He comes secretly as a thief in the night, no one knowing the day or the hour and also coming so every eye can see Him and even knowing the day of His return (Matt. 24:36) (1 Thess. 5:2) (Rev. 1:7) (Dan. 12:11).
c. We are told to look for His appearing and to be ready at any moment, not look for the Tribulation or the Judgment to come (Titus 2:13) (Matt. 24:42,44).
B. The Tribulation Period
1. What is the Tribulation Period? It is a seven year period of time preceding the Second Coming of Christ. It is divided into two 3½ year periods. The first called the Tribulation and the second called the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:15-29). The Tribulation is also called the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27). This is confirmed by Jesus' reference to Daniel in (Matt. 25:15).
2. What is the purpose of the Tribulation?
a. First, to humble Israel (Jer. 30:1-11) (Matt. 23:39).
b. Second, to judge the ungodly (Rev. 14:7) (Rev. 6:16, 15:1).
3. What will the Tribulation be like?
a. The first 3½ years will be the beginning of sorrows (Matt. 24:6-8). The increase of wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes.
b. The second 3½ years will be incredible desolation and destruction. Approximately ½ to 3/4 of the world's population will die (Rev. 6:8) (Rev. 9:18) (Rev. 14:20). Approximately 1/3 of the forests, oceans and rivers will be destroyed (Rev. 8:7-11). The sun and the moon will be darkened and the stars will fall to earth (Rev. 8:12) (Matt. 24:29).
C. The Battle of Armageddon
What is the battle of Armageddon? It is the last great battle that will be fought on the earth just before the Second Coming (Rev. 16:12-16) (Joel 3:1-16) (Is. 34:1-10). The Kings of the East will come with a 200 million man army against the antichrist in Jerusalem (Rev. 9:16) (Zech. 12:9) (2 Thess. 2:3,4). At this time Jesus will return and step foot on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:3,4). All the armies will turn against Him in a futile attempt to resist Him returning (Rev. 19:19-21). The Jews will then recognize Jesus as their Messiah (Zech. 12:10,11) (Zech. 13:1).
VII. What Happens After the Second Coming
A. The Antichrist (The Beast) and the False Prophet are cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20,21).
B. Satan is bound for the thousand year reign of Christ upon the earth (Rev. 20:1-3).
C. The final division of the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31-46).
D. The judgment seat of Christ. This is only for believers to receive rewards not salvation (2 Cor. 5:10) (1 Cor. 3:13-15). The basis of His judgment will be: Did you serve Him for love (1 Cor. 13:3) (Luke 6:35)? Were you faithful to what was given to you (Matt. 25:23)? Did you do it all for His glory (Matt. 6:1)?
E. The millennium begins, the thousand year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:4,6). The saints will reign with Him (Rev. 2:26). Perfect righteousness will reign because the King of Righteousness reigns (Is. 11:1-5). The earth will be like the Garden of Eden again (Is. 51:3). There will be no more hunger because of the abundant harvests (Amos 9:11-13). There will be no sickness or disease (Is. 35:1-10). The animal kingdom will be in harmony with Man (Is. 11:6-10). The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord (Is. 11:9).
F. At the end of the millennium Satan is loosed and may revolt against Jesus again (Rev. 20:7-10). This rebellion is put down immediately (Rev. 20:9). What possible reason could God have for releasing Satan?
1. To show Satan would never change.
2. That Man's nature will never change, no matter how good his environment.
3. The only true test for Man is to have a real alternative.
G. Satan is cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).
H. The Great White Throne Judgment occurs (Rev. 20:11-15). All men and women from the beginning of time who went to hell, now stand before God for final judgment and the lake of fire.
I. Last, the first earth and heaven are passed away and God creates a New heaven and earth. We will live with Him throughout eternity (Rev. 21 & 22).