Since the start of the virus, this column has focused mostly on Biblical prophecy. I feel it prudent to take a step back and give readers an overview of what is coming according to the Bible. With the outbreak of COVID-19, specific political news from the Middle East, natural disasters around the globe, and civil unrest here in the United States, the pointing toward the Bible and its end-time prophecies are at a fever pitch. It is time to lay the cards on the table to see how events will develop. I will attempt to do this as close to chronological order as possible.
The most earth-shattering event in human history has yet to occur — the second coming of Jesus Christ. There are “signs” of His coming. The most specific lists are in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. These signs are:
1. False Christs. These are people who claim to be the returned Christ or some other sort of messiah and those claiming to be Christians but teach things contrary to the Bible.
2. Wars and rumors of wars.
4. Pestilence (widespread disease and physical ailments).
5. Earthquakes in diverse places.
By the way, Luke adds, “commotions” (a term used for civil unrest) and signs from the heavens to the things Matthew mentions.
Someone can say that these “signs” have been around since the beginning of history and are correct. However, the Bible does teach that these things will increase in frequency and intensity; the closer we get to Christ’s return.
COVID-19 brought us the pestilence. Shortly after the American lockdown, there were earthquakes in the Carolinas, Kentucky, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and elsewhere. Now two months later, we can toss in Luke’s warning of civil unrest. Also, floating out there is the threat of war in the Middle East over Israel’s future annexation of the West Bank. We are currently seeing a lot of signs at the same time.
There are other signs as well, but they are not labeled “signs.” Terms like “in the last days” or “latter days” describe the events leading to Christ’s return. 1 Timothy 4 speaks of the religious hypocrisy; 2 Timothy 3 gazes into people’s heart attitudes in the “last days.”
Some specific prophecies allude to signs. For example, The Bible tells us the Antichrist will enter the Temple in Jerusalem and proclaim himself to be God. The Jewish Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans. The Temple must be rebuilt for this prophecy to take place. Therefore, any mention of rebuilding the Temple is a “sign.”
The most vivid description of the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Christ removes all true believers from the earth. The famous phrase, “In the twinkling of an eye” comes from an explanation of the rapture found in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.
This prophetic passage could occur before the rapture; however, this battle probably is the critical event bringing the Antichrist to power. There are no prophecies needing fulfillment before the rapture. Therefore, we will place it here, chronologically. In short, Israel is invaded by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and from Gaza and the West Bank within their nation. With the currently proposed annexation of the West Bank and the threat of military action by the three mentioned nations and the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank, this prophecy is looming large.
If any time in history holds the distinction as “hell on earth,” this is it. These seven years will make the persecution and destruction of WWII look like a child’s unmade bed.
The Antichrist will sign a treaty concerning Jerusalem with many nations. This most likely is because of the mess the world is in after the battle of Psalm 83 (Daniel 9:27).
During these seven years, the Antichrist gains full control of the world, and God sends judgment upon the earth. The plagues sent are world-wide and will kill billions of people. During this period, 144,000 Jews will emerge proclaiming the gospel of Christ; many will see salvation. Two “witnesses” will headquarter in Jerusalem as a thorn in the side of the Antichrist.
Half-way through the Tribulation, the Antichrist will kill the two witnesses, walk into the Temple, and proclaim himself to be God. At this time, he will also pronounce a death sentence to all Jews and Christians. He will institute the mark of the beast mentioned above.
The last event of the seven-year Tribulation is the return of Christ. The Antichrist will have the armies of the world waiting at Armageddon to fight Christ at His return (Revelation 19:19). None of the armies of heaven will raise a sword as Christ kills His foes with the spoken word (Revelation 19:15). Satan is taken and chained up in the bottomless pit.
Christ will establish His 1,000-year reign of the earth from Jerusalem at this time.
At the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ, Satan is loosed and defeated once and for all. Then the judgment of the unsaved and finally eternity begins.