Summary: The End Times can e really confusing and a little scary. Here are the nuts and bolts of Revelation and some helpful points to keep in mind.
The End Times and the book of Revelations is something that I got really interested about back in High School. When I was a senior, one of my friends let me borrow a copy of the popular book called Left Behind which was a novel that followed an interpretation about how the world was going to end according to the Bible. It is such a huge topic and one that can be very, very confusing and one that has been debated for a very long time. This afternoon, I want to try to give you guys the best overview I can of what the Bible teaches about the End Times.
To do this, I want to walk us through the big pieces of the End Times that are resented in scripture and talk about the different interpretations about them.
Let’s start with the rapture. Who can tell me what the rapture is? The rapture is the time where everyone who has a relationship with Christ will be brought up into the sky to be with Jesus.
• Matthew 24:40-41 “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.”
• 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.”
• Revelation 3:10 “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.”
There are a few different opinions about this. There are some people who believe that the rapture will happen at the begging of the seven year period known as Tribulation, which we’ll talk about in a minute. There are some who believe it will happen after half of the Tribulation, 3 ½ years, and then there are some who think it will happen at the end of the Tribulation. The passage from Revelation seems to support the rapture being at the beginning of the seven years and the passage from Thessalonians tends to support the rapture being at the end. Bottom line: no one really knows for sure.
The next big thing that you may hear about is Tribulation, as we just mentioned. The Tribulation is a seven year period that marks the final years of the world as we know it that was predicted as early as Daniel 9:27 “The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven (years), but after half this time (3 ½ years), 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.” Some people believe that this is an exact seven years that will happen and other believe that the End Times are already going on and that the seven was simply to denote the Tribulation has a set beginning and end. Either way, there are a number of things that will happen during this period.
1. The anti-Christ will come to power - This will be a person who is a great leader, who lots of people respect and admire, and who will bring a temporary peace to the world (key word: temporary). Often times, the anti-Christ gets personified in people like Adolf Hitler or Osama Bin Laden but in reality, the anti-Christ will at first be someone like Gandhi or Mother Teresa. They will do amazing things. After 3 ½ years of this though, that person will go back on everything they said, desecrate (or vandalize) the temple and declare persecution on all who refused to worship – mainly those with a relationship with Jesus.
2. The Seals, Trumpets and Bowls – These are a number of things that Gods set in motion for the specific purpose of trying to get people’s attention and prove to them that He is God. They are similar to the plagues in Egypt as God tried to get Pharaoh’s attention. These things are not about God’s judgment and Him punishing people, it is about his love and wanting people to turn to him. Here is a brief list of what will happen from Revelation 6, 8-9, 11:15-19, 16
• Seal #1 – Rev. 6:2 The best interpretation for this is false prophets, in other words, people who would go out and teach lies about Jesus.