What does the Bible say about the future?
Many have produced their own Tribulation timeline. These vary wildly depending on various biases. I recommend extracting the common points from many witnesses to establish a balanced understanding, just as one would examine a legal case. 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 people claiming personal revelations 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.
Occasionally we’ll hear some sensationalist claim, such as seeing the third bowl judgement. But this must follow the first two. The first brings boils on those with the Mark of the Beast, which happens 3.5 years after the world peace treaty is enforced, which happens after the Restrainer is removed.
The seven trumpets are introduced by the seventh seal. The sixth seal is an earthquake which kills a quarter of the world. The sixth trumpet releases an army of 200 million from the Euphrates to kill another quarter, but the people wouldn’t turn away from worshipping idols. So, they weren’t yet forced to worship the Beast.
The following chart is a guide to those scriptures, which I summarize after.
This describes the Beast with 10 horns.
Daniel 7:7 After this in the visions during the night, I saw a fourth, terrifying, frightening, and incredibly powerful Beast, which had great iron teeth. It devoured and shattered and trampled whatever remained. It was different to all the beasts that came before it. It had ten horns. 8While I was thinking about the horns, I saw another little horn came up among them. Three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking arrogantly.
11I then looked because of the voice and the arrogant words which the horn spoke. I watched until the Beast was killed, and his body destroyed, and thrown into the blazing fire.
25He’ll speak impressive words against the Most High and wear out the saints of the Most High. He’ll attempt to change holy days and religious laws. The saints will be given into his hand for 3.5 years.
This provides a concise overview of the Tribulation period.
Daniel 9:27 He’ll confirm the treaty with many for one week [of years]. 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.
Daniel 11:40 At the time of the end, Egypt will come against him, and a northern country will come against him like a whirlwind, with tanks and other vehicles, and many transports. He’ll invade and sweep through many countries. 41He’ll also invade Israel, and many countries will be overthrown. But Jordan will escape out of his hand. 42He’ll attack many countries, and the land of Egypt won’t escape. 43He’ll take over the treasures of gold and silver, and all the precious things of Egypt. Libya and Sudan will submit to him. 44News from of the east and the north will trouble him. So, he’ll go out with great fury to destroy, and utterly wipe them out. 45He’ll build his camp between the seas in the glorious holy mountain. However, he’ll be killed with no one to help 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 9:27.
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. Note that a prophetic year is 360 days, which differs from a solar year over seven years by 36.75 days. So, what’s up with this extra 1-2.5 months? It may be a time of restoration and purification when Jesus returns, similar to Israel’s journey from Egypt to receiving the covenant at Mt Sanai.
I’ve heard from Ken Johnson that 1,335 is an idiom for Pentecost, which is the day that God gave the law at Mt Sinai; and the day the Church was born. It’s reasonable that God would establish his millennial covenant on this same day too. If we back-date this literally, this suggests that the Tribulation begins around the spring equinox when the Jewish religious year begins around March 21st. We still don’t know what year, and this says nothing of when the Rapture would happen. Even with a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, the world would take some time before they’d be ready to establish a world ruler and a world peace treaty with Israel.
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.
We can debate whether this is already fulfilled. 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, when many who once followed God will turn away. Over the past 100 years, church attendance has dropped from 80% to 5%, 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 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 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 sound 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, but they could be volcanic.
The fifth trumpet opens the bottomless pit, from which “locusts” pour out like smoke. Instead of plants, these will harm every person who wasn’t sealed by God for five months. Suicide to avoid this will fail.
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, bringing down judgements of God, and burning up any who oppose them. Most speculate one of these is Elijah, and the other is Enoch or Moses. They’ll be killed by the Beast after 3.5 years.
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, which aligns 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 raptured from the Earth.
The 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.
These 3.5 years align with the second half of the Tribulation. The Beast demands that all people worship him, and he asserts his place as God in the Jewish Temple.
Seven angels are given bowls of God’s anger. The temple in Heaven is 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 wouldn’t mistake something like a red algal bloom for blood.
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 will 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.