I am scared. It seems that the world is falling apart and I have so many questions. How will we know who the Antichrist is? Are we Christians going to suffer through all the violence and disasters talked about in Revelation? When will the rapture take place? Can you sort these things out for me?
I wish that I could answer all of your questions clearly and with great certainty. Unfortunately, God has chosen not to give us all the information necessary to answer all of our questions with certainty. But God has given us enough information to get us way down the road in understanding the book of Revelation and in discerning what’s going to be happening in the end times.
End Times Prophecy
Understanding the return of Jesus and end-time events starts in Daniel 9:24-27.
These verses form the skeleton for all prophecy. All other prophetical passages are the meat on the skeleton. Revelation, Ezekiel, the Olivet Discourse, 1 & 2 Thessalonians are only understood with a foundational understanding of Daniel 9.
Without going into detailed explanations, trust me to give a simple overview.
God had a plan for Israel that lasted 70 years. We know these years as the Babylonian Captivity. At the conclusion of the 70 years, God revealed to Daniel that He had another program for Israel (Daniel 9:1-23) which would last 490 years and culminate at the second coming of Christ.
God’s new plan for Israel began at the command of Artaerxes (444 B.C.) to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem. The program would end 490 years later at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Let’s simplify: The time from the decree to restore Jerusalem until Jesus would come is 483 years. Using Jewish prophetic years of 360 days per year this figures out, incredibly, to April 6, 32 A.D. 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, Christ rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The 483 year period is over. There are seven years left to complete the plan.
Jesus knew Daniel’s prophecy. He knew that this was the exact day he was to enter Jerusalem. Unfortunately, He knew that the people failed to understand what was happening. “If only you had known,” He said. And He wept over the city.
This is a tremendous confirmation of the Word of God! 483 years after the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, Jesus Christ road into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey.
End Times Timeline
Three events occur after the end of 483 years and before the beginning of the last seven-year period.
1. Jesus Was Crucified.
Daniel 9:26a: “After the 483 years, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.”
2. The Temple And The City Of Jerusalem Was Destroyed.
Daniel 9:26b: “The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood.”
The “Ruler who is to come” refers to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans who were led by Titus in 70 A.D. Titus foreshadowed the Antichrist who would eventually destroy the temple and then rule during the last seven-year-period known as the Tribulation. He’s the little horn of Daniel 7:8 and the Beast of Rev. 13.
3. Wars Will Continue Unabated Until The 70th “Seven” Commences.
Daniel 9:26c: “War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.”
At the Triumphant Entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, 30 AD, God’s prophetic time clock stopped. The hands are poised at 483, indicating that there is still one “seven” to go.
Think of it like the time clock at the end of a football game. Time out is called with ten seconds left. All the fans are anxiously waiting for final play. How long is football game? 60 minutes. Not really. The time from start to finish is often three hours.
How long is God’s plan for Israel? 490 years. Not really.
4. The time period between the crucifixion of Jesus and his second coming is known as the “Great Parenthesis” or, the “Church Age.”
At the conclusion of this period, the final-seven years will occur.
Signs of End Times
The 70th year events are described in Daniel 9:27
Daniel 9:27: “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
1. The final seven years begin when the Antichrist makes a peace covenant with the nation of Israel.
Three and one-half years into the final seven the Antichrist breaks the covenant. He puts an end to sacrifices and offerings in the temple; and, indwelt by Satan (Revelation 12:9, 12; 13:4), he sets up the Abomination of Desolation in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus says, “Get out of town fast the Holocaust is now beginning!”
2. The Battle of Armageddon soon follows and the Antichrist is cast into a hellish prison (Revelation 19:20).
Second Coming of Christ
The second coming of Christ is in two parts: the Rapture which occurs sometime around the beginning of the last seven years and the Revelation which concludes at the end of the seven years.
Note the following verses that reveal a Biblical paradox concerning Christ’s second coming. In each case, the first verse describes the Rapture while the second verse describes the Revelation.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:17: “…we will meet the Lord in the air.”
- Zechariah 14:4-5: “His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and Revelation 16:15: “He will come in secret, as a ‘thief in the night.’”
- Revelation 1:7: “Every eye will behold Him.”
- Titus 2:13: “The return of Christ is a time of blessing and hope.”
- 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9: “The return of Christ is a time of punishment and judgment.”
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and John 14:2-3: “He will come ‘for’ His saints.’”
- Zechariah 14:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Revelation 19:11-16: “He will come ‘with’ His saints.”
The only way to reconcile these verses is to understand that Christ’s second coming is in two stages:
The first stage occurs when Christ comes in the air, in secret, in great blessing and hope, for His saints to remove them to Heaven. This is called the Rapture. Rapture comes from a Latin word, Rapturo which means to catch away.
The second stage occurs at the end of the last seven-year period when Christ comes to the ground, with every eye on Him, with His saints, to bring judgment and punishment. This is called the Revelation.
Will Christians be here? That depends upon which scenario you choose.
There are three major choices with a number of variation to consider as we attempt to pinpoint when rapture will occur during the end times:
1. Pre-Tribulation is the view that the rapture will occur sometime before, or at the beginning, of the final seven years. This is the view my wife espouses. She doesn’t want to be anywhere near those last seven years.
God has rescued His people from great trouble in the past. He closed the door of the ark and Noah and his family were saved from the flood.
He opened the Red Sea to make a way of escape for Israel when the Egyptians were on them.
In Daniel 3, Daniel is absent from the fiery furnace. Some believe that by missing the fire he is a pre-figure of the deliverance of Christians by the rapture.
Of course, there are numerous pictures in Revelation of Christians who are undergoing suffering. Many suppose that these are people who missed the rapture but received Christ afterwards. Or, on the other hand, Post-Tribulationists believe this.
2. Mid-Tribulation is the view that the rapture will occur in the middle of the seven years when the Antichrist sets up the Abomination Of Desolation on the altar in the Temple. Like pre-Tribulationists, mid-Tribulationists will not experience the horrors of the last 3½ years described in Revelation.
I espouse the Mid-Tribulation (my wife is pre-tribulation!) position and expect to figure out who the Antichrist is through the number of his name: 666. I want to see the peace treaty; no matter what, I want out of here before the last 3½ years occur.
3. Post-Tribulationists believe that the rapture occurs after the seven-years, and that, therefore, Christians will go through the horrors described in the book of Revelation. There are verses that may support this interpretation, but I hope not. I don’t want to be anywhere around that horrible time.
How to Prepare for the End Times
1. Don’t be caught off guard. Live a pure and holy life. Prophecy is a call to holy living.
2. Be certain that you are a Christian: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
3. Plan as though He weren’t coming for 1000 years; but live as if He were coming in the next 10 minutes.
Well, Angie, I hope that I’ve been able to take a fascinating and complex subject and make it as simple as I can. I hope you find it helpful.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese.His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.