I’ve put together some timelines of scripture verses around end times. This provides a great perspective of how everything fits together. Some things fall nicely into place, and others seem to hang out of context.
This perspective is important to correct sensational ideas that circulate regularly. For example, some see the ozone hole, and claim that we’re witnessing the 4th bowl judgement where the sun is burning people. From this timeline, we must ask, “Are people worshipping the Beast by taking his Mark? Have they received boils? Have the oceans and waterways been turned into blood?”
Similarly, many denounce the latest technology as the Mark of the Beast. Who’s the Beast that confirmed a peace treaty with Israel 3.5 years ago? What happened to the death of ¼ of the population through conflict, famine, and wild animals? Or the great earthquake? Where’s the plague that killed another ¼? What about the violation of the Jewish Temple, which doesn’t yet exist?
The overall timeline looks like this.
I’ve extended my timeline proving 6,000 years of biblical history into the future. This can be downloaded from http://Bretanark.com/Downloads/7000 Years.png and http://Bretanark.com/Downloads/7000 Years.svg
The focus of this article is since the restoration of Israel.
So, the real end of the world is over 1007 years away. The coming seven-year tribulation is the end of the age. For a brief time, Satan will lead the world, but he’ll be imprisoned for 1000 years while Jesus rules over the Earth with his saints. At the end of this, Satan will be released to lead a final rebellion. Then he’ll be thrown into Hell with those who follow him by not submitting to Jesus’ rule over their lives. Then this temporary universe will be replaced with an eternal one.
As we look to Jesus’ soon return, we zoom in to the time since Palestine was restored to Israel with the Balfour declaration in 1917, late in World War One. This is the promise prophesied in Ezekiel 36, that Israel will return and the land will no longer be a toxic wasteland, but will become prosperous again. This is not for Israel’s sake, who are still as ungodly as before, but for God’s sake, who has set Israel as the sign of his faithfulness.
It wasn’t until after the holocaust of World War Two, that Israel claimed sovereignty over their land in 1948. When they read Ezekiel 37’s they recognized the fulfilment of a valley of dry bones, coming together, and growing flesh. Then the Lord breathed life into a long dead nation.
We then speculate over the future. Some fervently preach an imminent return. I’d like to contrast this with the possibility of Jesus returning in about 50 years’ time. The dates I give are not prophetic but intend to help understand the concept. While we really don’t know when things will happen, it’s important to understand these prophecies. Then we can answer sensational claims that bring a bad reputation to the evangelistic and apologetic value of Bible prophecy.
Ezekiel continues to be a vital thread, with Ezekiel 38-39 describing a Russian-lead invasion to pillage the land. Israel takes over 7 months to bury the invading troops and they burn the remaining weapons for 7 years.
Then Ezekiel 40-48 describes a new temple, which the whole world will come to each year to worship. Its courtyard is 1.8km square – the size of a city centre.
The imminent return theory requires that a lot of remaining prophecies be squashed into a seven-year period. But this is still possible. Key points are the Ezekiel 38 invasion with its seven-year burning of weapons, the rebuilding of the temple and the seven-year tribulation.
A return in 50 years’ time allows for prophecies such as these to unfold, as well as geo-political and societal developments, that bring the wickedness of our world to reach the depravity of the times of Noah and Lot. Then the world will be in such a state that God must intervene before its wickedness consumes every single person.
I find it interesting that between Jesus’ crucifixion around 30AD and the destruction of the temple in 70AD are 40 years. This is a common biblical theme in God carrying his people through troubled times, giving us every possible opportunity to grow and depend on him. If Jesus were to return in 50 years, we could see the Ezekiel 38 invasion, which will prove to the world, that Israel’s God is true. Then we’d have 40 years to embrace this truth before God begins to pour out his judgement on the world in the seven-year tribulation. This provides plenty of time for Israel to rebuild their temple, which is prominent in tribulation prophecies.
I understand that Israel has everything ready to rebuild the temple, but from its go-ahead to completion would take 3.5 years, particularly to fulfil religious preparations. An imminent tribulation implies the peace treaty begins the building process and as soon as it’s consecrated, it’s defiled by the Antichrist. This makes some sense in that such worship is in rejection of God’s Messiah, so God may prevent it. One could also say that the antichrist is waiting for this moment. However, God allowed sacrifices to continue 40 years after Jesus’ death, so I see no reason that God wouldn’t allow them to perform sacrifices again. This would indeed draw many people back to God as the ancient practices are demonstrated to the world.
The rapture is not presented on these timelines, because we just don’t know when it’ll happen.
I believe it will be pre-trib, but I can’t disprove mid or end-trib. I believe it could even be decades before.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 Brothers and sisters, I don’t want you to be ignorant about those who are asleep [in death], that you’re not overcome with grief like those who have no hope. 14If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, God will bring with him those who are asleep in Jesus. 15According to the Lord’s word, we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord won’t precede those who are asleep. 16The Lord himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the sounding of God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore comfort each other with these words.
Pre-tribbers believe the Rapture occurs before the Antichrist is revealed, because the Holy-Spirit-filled church is the Restrainer:
2 Thessalonians 2:6 Now you know what the
Restrainer is, so that he’ll be revealed at the proper time. 7The hidden power of lawlessness
is already at work. The one who
restrains will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way. 8Then the lawless one will be
revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and
destroy by the glory of his coming.
Many have produced their own Tribulation timeline. These vary wildly depending of various biases. I couldn’t find one that I liked after producing my own, which I think closely aligns with common teaching I’ve heard. This diversity shows that it’s really important to study scriptures for yourself and not trust anyone’s speculations including your own. We’re often wisely reminded to not get hung up on how the future will play out. Also be wary of personal revelations people claim from God. This is the nature of gnostic sects who claim to have had private revelation that is known only to those truly initiated into their ranks. As you consider my interpretation, it’s vital to compare this with the scriptures. This chart should be a guide to those scriptures, which I summarize after.
This provides a simple overview of the tribulation period.
Daniel 9:27 He’ll confirm the treaty with many for one week. In the middle of that week he’ll stop the sacrifices and offerings. He’ll lay out disgusting things to desecrate it, until his evil is complete, and his fate will be poured out on him.
This covers the latter half of the tribulation and a bit beyond. It starts with the Sacrifice being taken away when the temple is violated in Daniel 9.
Daniel 12:7 I heard the man clothed in linen, who was on the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to Heaven, and swore by him that lives forever, that it will be for 3.5 years. When he’s completely scattered the power of the holy people, all these things will be finished.
11From the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the disgusting thing of desecration is set up, will be 1,290 days. 12Blessed is he who remains faithful until 1,335 days.
From the violation of the temple will be 3 years and 7 months. Those who remain faithful for a further 1.5 months will be blessed. I wonder what’s up with this extra 1-2.5 months. Maybe a time of restoration and purification when Jesus returns. Note that a prophetic year is 360 days, which differs from a solar year over seven years by 36.75 days.
Although brief, it’s worth mentioning this vague fragment of timing.
Matthew 24:14 This gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations. Then the end will come.
There is debate whether this is already fulfilled or not. While the gospel has reached right around the world, there are remote tribes who have not yet heard it. Is the coming of the end the start or the end of the tribulation?
2 Thessalonians 2
2 Thessalonians 2:3 … that day won’t come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He’ll oppose and elevate himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
7… The one who restrains will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way. 8Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will … destroy …
This builds upon Daniel 9’s overview. The rebellion is also translated as the apostacy, described as a time when many who once followed God will turn away. Many use this to point the finger at other parts of the church that don’t worship like us. We see that over the past 100 years, church attendance has dropped from 90% to 7%, as society has embraced liberalism and evolutionism. Our great Christian countries have apostatized. However, outside the western countries, the church has seen a great growth. So, I don’t think this interpretation is right either.
I think there’ll be another great world-wide revival, but then many will fall away. After the Ezekiel 38 battle, previous atheists will polarize to embrace God or rebel against him.
Others see the world after the rapture being the apostacy.
The first six of seven seals are broken – one after the other.
The first seal depicts a white horse whose rider carries a bow. He conquers the world with peace. This seems to coincide with Daniel 9’s peace treaty. I see a charismatic world leader, who will unite the world to the “World Peace” that has been craved for so long.
Paul-Henri Spaak, a Belgian Prime Minister, is rumoured to say
We do not want another committee, we have too many already. What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all people, and to lift us out of the economic morass into which we are sinking. Send us such a man, and be he god or devil, we will receive him.
The second seal depicts a fiery red horse, whose rider takes peace from the Earth and causes people to kill each other. Many read into this a nuclear World War. But there’s no mention of the world being destroyed by fire here. I think it could be civil wars all over the world.
The third seal depicts a black horse who brings famine to the world. This is a logical economic consequence to conflict throughout the world.
The fourth seal depicts a pale or sickly green horse who brings death to a quarter of the world – through weapons, starvation, and wild animals.
The fifth seal sees Martyrs in Heaven asking how long it will be until they are avenged.
The sixth seal brings a great earthquake that displaces every mountain and island. This also darkens the Sun and messes with the sky. I wonder if this is partly volcanic.
144,000 people are sealed – 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. This suggests that the tribes will be known. Currently most Jews don’t know their ancestry. Certainly, there are very few who claim heritage from the Northern tribes. I suspect genetic testing might bring answers in this area before this time, which would be quite exciting.
After this we see a great multitude from all the nations, tribes, peoples, and languages in Heaven. These came out of the great tribulation.
It’s possible that this is outside the timing of the seals and trumpets.
The seventh seal brings Heavenly signs and another Earthquake. Then the angels prepare to wound the seven trumpets.
This means that the seven seals precede the seven trumpets.
The first trumpet destroys a third of the vegetation with hail and fire mixed with blood.
The second trumpet destroys a third of life in the sea, turning it to blood. Ships are also destroyed.
The third trumpet pollutes a third of the fresh waterways.
The fourth trumpet strikes a third of the Sun, Moon, and stars. A third of the day and the night are darkened.
Just to picture it simplistically, here’s a couple of maps of the Earth with one third shaded. This much of the Earth will be made uninhabitable. I don’t know if this would be in one block or blotched throughout the Earth.
The darkening of the sky sounds more like something in orbit blocking out a third of the sky as the earth rotates through the day.
These four events seem to be of astronomical origin.
The fifth trumpet opens the bottomless pit, from which killer “locusts” pour out like smoke. Instead of plants, these will harm every person who was not sealed by God for five months. Suicide to avoid this will not succeed.
Some equate the angel who is currently guarding these with the Restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2.
The sixth trumpet unleashes four angels who are bound at the Euphrates. These lead an army of 200,000,000 “horsemen” with plagues to kill a third of the world’s population. Despite these, the world would not turn from their immorality.
Two great prophets preach from the temple for 3.5 years, bringing down judgements of God, and burning up any who oppose them. Most speculate one of these is Elijah, and debate whether the other is Enoch or Moses. They will be killed by the Beast.
The timing of this is difficult to match up with other events. This seems to be part of the sixth trumpet. But others see these guys presiding over the first half of the tribulation and being defeated when the Beast betrays the treaty with Israel at the mid-point.
The seventh trumpet proclaims, “The kingdoms of this world now belong to our Lord and his Messiah.” The sinful and the righteous will be judged. This ends with a great earthquake and huge hail. This seems to align with the seventh bowl of God’s judgement in Revelation 16.
This begins with a flashback to Israel birthing the Messiah, with Satan waiting to consume the child, who is born and taken from the Earth.
That woman (Israel) is taken into the wilderness where God will care for them for 3.5 years.
Satan is cast out of Heaven to the Earth with his angels, who persecute the woman’s offspring – those who follow Jesus.
The Beast rises out of the Mediterranean as an empire of ten kingdoms. He’s empowered by Satan and given authority over every nation.
Then we see the False Prophet, who deceives the Earth with “miracles”. They make an image, which he animates to require being worshipped or killed. He forces everyone to receive the Mark to worship the Beast or be cut off from society for treason.
The 3.5 years aligns with the second half of the tribulation. The Beast demands that all people worship him, and he assumes his place as God in the Jewish Temple.
Seven angels are given bowls of God’s anger. The temple in Heaven is filled with filled with smoke so that no one could enter it until the bowls are poured out.
The seven bowls of God’s anger are reminiscent to the plagues on Egypt before God rescued his people under Moses’ leadership. As with Pharaoh, the people around the world won’t turn from their wickedness under these plagues.
The first bowl causes horrible boils on those who took the Mark of the Beast and worship him.
This means these bowls follow the Mark of the Beast but could be some time after.
The second bowl turns the sea into blood, killing everything in it. I reject the idea that this just looks like blood as some claim for the similar plague on Egypt. Ancient people would not mistake blood for something else like a red algal bloom.
The third bowl turns the rivers and springs into blood. Since they shed the blood of the saints, God gives them blood to drink.
The fourth bowl scorches people with the heat of the Sun.
The fifth bowl brings darkness on the Beast’s kingdom, causing painful sores.
The sixth bowl dries up the Euphrates, and the armies of the world gather in Armageddon to confront God.
This reminds me of how Nimrod enslaved the world to build the tower of Babel.
The seventh bowl brings the greatest earthquake ever to affect the Earth, dissolving islands and reshaping the continents. 50kg hail stones fall on people.
“Babylon”, (the Vatican) is destroyed.
Christ returns to destroy the Beast and his army with the breath of his mouth; and the birds feast on their remains.
Satan is imprisoned and Christ reigns for 1,000 years with the saints.
There’s a lot of prophecies regarding the future. Far more than I’ve covered here. It’s really important to take as much into consideration as possible when speculating on what will happen in the future. This is even more important when considering anyone’s interpretation. It’s not important to understand these completely, but it’s useful to be able to discern teaching that doesn’t line up with scripture.
The point in God revealing all of this is not for us to know exactly what’s going to happen, but to head off false teaching, and to encourage us that he has a plan. It demonstrates the perpetual wickedness of people’s hearts, that whether they prosper or suffer, whether God is hidden or taking an active role in our lives, most people continue to rebel against God. It thereby demonstrates God’s eternal, unconditional love for us, that he sent his Son to save us from the eternal punishment in Hell we deserve.
John 3:16 God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him won’t perish but have eternal life. 17Because God didn’t send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him isn’t condemned, but whoever doesn’t believe is already condemned because they haven’t believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
I pray God would richly bless you as you continue to meditate on his word.