I. The Tribulation
The end time is portrayed in an awesome way in the Scripture. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). The judgment of God is revealed in the closing lesson of our home Bible study. Daniel, the great prophet during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews, recorded a period of seven years at the end time. This period of time will bring terrible calamity on the earth. He described seventy “weeks,” or periods of seven, that would relate to Jewish history. Each “week” represents seven years, for a total of 490 years. Daniel did not prophesy about the church age; his prophecy concerns the state of the Jews in God’s plan.
1. Daniel’s Seventieth Week
To understand the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy, it is necessary to have an understanding of how the Scripture describes the seventy weeks. Daniel was told in Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.”
Sixty-nine of these weeks were to take place between the decree to restore Jerusalem and the crucifixion of “Messiah the Prince” (Jesus Christ) (Daniel 9:25–26). Seven weeks (or 49 years) were used to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. There were sixty-two weeks (or 434 years) from the rebuilding of the walls until the crucifixion of the Messiah. Using the scriptural definition of a year (360 days each), there were 69 weeks or 483 years between 445 BC and AD 32. This leaves one week remaining of the seventy. Daniel 9:27 says that in this week of years the Antichrist system (“the prince that shall come” in verse 26) will break a covenant with the Jewish nation and bring much havoc on the earth. There is an interval of time between the sixty-ninth week and the seventieth week during which time the church age exists. The church age will continue until the time of the Rapture. The seventieth week that follows is the period called the Tribulation.
2. The Tribulation Judgments
During the seven years of tribulation, evil people will bring various calamities upon the earth, and God will pour out severe judgment on the earth. These devastating events are introduced by the seals, the trumpets, and the vials (Revelation 6; 8; 9; 15; 16). During this time the people of the earth will go through a time of suffering and death such as the world has never known.
a. The Seals (Revelation 6; 8:1)
The seals describe the following events:
(1) An evil leader who is usually called the Antichrist will win the world to himself.
(2) Terrible war will come, followed by famine and death.
(3) One-fourth of the world’s population will die.
(4) There will be much persecution of people who turn to God during this time.
(5) Catastrophic earthquakes will disturb the earth.
(6) The moon will become as blood, and people will hide in the mountains for fear.
b. The Trumpets (Revelation 8–9)
(1) During these judgments hail will fall, and fire will burn over a third of the earth.
(2) A falling meteor will fall on one-third of the rivers.
(3) The fish of the sea will die.
(4) One-third of the sea will become blood.
(5) Poisons will contaminate one-third of the water supply and many will die.
(6) Great darkness will come over the earth.
(7) For five months scorpions will sting people on the earth.
(8) An army of two hundred million will kill one-third of the population.
c. The Vials (Revelation 16)
(1) The vials represent God’s final judgments for the Tribulation.
(2) Awful sores will afflict those with the mark of the Beast (those who follow the Antichrist).
(3) Everything in the ocean will die.
(4) The water will become blood.
(5) The sun will burn hotter than usual and will scorch people.
(6) The earth will be thrown into darkness, and great pain will come upon people.
(7) The river Euphrates will dry up so the armies of the East can come to Armageddon.
(8) Hail will fall, destroying whole cities.
d. The Terrible Death
In the fourth seal, one-fourth of the earth’s population will die. With nearly eight billion people living today, that would be almost two billion people dying in a short time. In the sixth trumpet, one-third of the remaining population, another two billion, will die in a short period. Death brings misery and heartache. All the world will feel this heartache over and over again.
The Reign of the Anti-Christ
II. The Reign of the Antichrist
A forceful political leader, usually called the Antichrist, will come forth to dominate world leadership during the Tribulation. He will have much help in the person of the false prophet, who will be the world religious leader. A world system of government under one head will envelop the political, religious, and economic areas of life.
1. The Antichrist
Second Thessalonians 2:3–10 describes this evil leader, calling him the “man of sin.” It further teaches:
• “The son of perdition, that man of sin will be revealed.”
• He will oppose God (verse 4).
• He will exalt himself above God (verse 4).
• He will sit in the Temple, showing himself as God (verse 4).
• He will be destroyed by the Lord Jesus at Armageddon (verse 8).
• Satan will empower him with signs and lying wonders (verse 9).
• He will deceive those who do not love the truth (verse 10).
• God will allow those who do not love the truth and are deceived by the Antichrist to believe a lie and be damned (verses 11–12). Revelation 13 describes him as a “beast” rising up out of the sea.
• The dragon (Satan) will give him his power and authority (verse 2).
• The one-world system of government will be, in some sense, a revival of the old Roman Empire (verse 3).
• The people will worship the Beast (verse 4).
• He will have total power the last three and a half years of the Tribulation (verse 5).
• He will blaspheme God, His name, and the heavenly dwellers (verse 6).
• He will make war against those who turn to God during this time (verse 7).
• He will cause all to receive a mark in the right hand or forehead in order to buy or sell (verses 16–17).
• His number is 666 (verse 18).
2. The False Prophet (Religious Government)
Revelation 13 also describes a religious leader in the Tribulation who works closely with the Antichrist. He will assist the Antichrist in attaining world supremacy. The false prophet is mentioned three other times (Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). According to Revelation 13:
• He will exercise great power (verse 12).
• He will cause the people to worship the Antichrist and submit to the world system (verse 12).
• He will perform miracles by the power of Satan (verse 14).
• He will be a deceiver (verse 14).
• He will have an image of the Antichrist made (verse 14).
• He will give life to the image and cause the image to speak (verse 15).
• He will put to death all that will not worship the image of the Beast (verse 15).
3. The Antichrist System of Political Government
The ten toes of the image of Nebuchadnezzar and the ten horns of the Beast in Revelation 13:1; 17:12; and Daniel 7:7, 24 are a confederation of ten nations that will constitute a world power in the last days. These nations will help the Antichrist come to power and sustain that power for some years. Their authority will be lessened by the Antichrist after he has used them to gain world power. This confederation will probably develop into a powerful economic bloc, which will give them great influence in the making of a world leader. This bloc will be greatly dominated by a world religion, which Revelation 17 describes as a great harlot drunk with blood of saints and martyrs. This harlot will ride the beast until the beast kills her. The political-economic system will destroy the false world church, taking its power and wealth.
The valley of Jezreel or Esdraelon is located west of the Jordan River and east of the Mediterranean Sea. The Battle of Armageddon will be fought in this area. The name Armageddon is taken from the strategic military city of Megiddo, which was the fortified chariot city of Solomon. Armageddon, it has been said, “will be the battleground for the greatest bloodbath the world has ever seen.”
1. Preparation for Armageddon
The Jews will be a thorn in the flesh of this world leader. He will be able to break the will of the other nations but not the Jews. He will determine to destroy them and will gather his leaders and armies together for this purpose. At this time the Lord will intervene with a heavenly army. “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army” (Revelation 19:19). “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. . . . And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Revelation 16:13–14, 16).
2. Armageddon Closes Out the Tribulation
This battle will be the end of the Tribulation. It will be the final attack of the Antichrist against God and His people. The cup of God’s wrath will be full at this time, and He will personally come to end the wild and savage earthly reign of the Beast and his system. After this battle Jesus will set up the millennial reign on earth (one thousand years of peace).
3. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:11, 14, 16).
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge, and make war. . . .And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. . . . And he hath on his vesture, and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Jesus will come with His church to end the reign of the Beast and destroy his world system.
4. The Judgment of the Beast and False Prophet
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet. . . .These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20).
The Great White Throne Judgement
IV. The Great White Throne Judgment
The Great White Throne Judgment will be a judgment of all the dead from the beginning of human existence on the earth. The only people who will not need to be judged will be the redeemed people, both dead and living, who arose to meet the Lord at the Rapture. “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened” (Revelation 20:11–12).
1. The Throne
John saw an impressive, large white throne.
2. The Judge
Jesus Christ will sit upon the throne.
3. The Judged
The dead from all walks of life will be judged. “And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead that were in them” (Revelation 20:13).
4. The Evidence
“The books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12). The books represent:
a. The Bible, which reveals God’s plan for humanity.
b. The recorded history of each person’s life.
c. The Book of Life, the book with the names of the righteous of all ages.
5. The Witnesses
The saints of the church will be present with Jesus.
6. The Judgment
Those whose names are not in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).
Time Ends - Then Eternity
V. Time Ends—Then Eternity
The time after the White Throne Judgment is not described in detail, but the Bible does give us some interesting insights.
1. Earth Aflame
Second Peter 3:10 tells us, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” The whole earth and space around it will be aflame. Everything humankind has made on the earth will be burned and destroyed. Everything humans have sent into outer space will be totally obliterated. The earth and the heavens around it will be completely purged.
2. New Heaven and New Earth
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1). “We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness” (II Peter 3:13). Second Peter compares this transformation with the Flood of Noah’s day, which “being overflowed with water, perished” (verse 6). This comparison indicates that God will renovate heaven and earth rather than create from nothing. The earth was totally changed by the water but was not destroyed.
3. The New Jerusalem
John saw a beautiful city coming down from God. “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). There will be a new heaven, a new earth, and a new city. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. . . . I go to prepare a place for you . . . that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2–3). Revelation 21 uses wonderful imagery to describe the splendor of the eternal dwelling place of God’s people. It depicts the city as twelve thousand furlongs (1,500 miles) in length, breadth, and height (verse 16). It is made of pure gold like clear glass (verse 18), with walls of jasper and gates of pearl (verse 21). It will not need any power plant, sun, or moon to shine, for Jesus will be the light (verse 13).There time and eternity will meet. The temporal will cease forever, and the hope of the righteous from all ages shall be fulfilled. We shall live with our Lord Jesus Christ forever.