Questions About The End Times People are Really Asking: The TOP Most Frequently Asked Questions About The End Times
Have Questions, Find Answers on Otakada.org – About the end times people are really asking – Daily, people turn to the Internet to find answers to their questions about spiritual matters. Topics related to spirituality are the second-most searched subjects online. Sadly, websites that present false teachings far outnumber those that proclaim the truth of God’s Word. We will provide answers as the Holy Spirit leads us from a biblical perspective. You will also need to pray to secure answers to any question you may have because one of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth – John 16:13. Today, we look at Questions About the end times people are really asking and questions that relate to this with biblical answers.. Enjoy
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But before we answer questions about the end times, hereunder is the most important question that has to do with your eternal destiny with answer for your necessary action:
Question: What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Savior?
Answer: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? To properly understand this question, you must first understand the terms “Jesus Christ,” “personal,” and “Savior.”
Who is Jesus Christ? Many people will acknowledge Jesus Christ as a good man, a great teacher, or even a prophet of God. These things are definitely true of Jesus, but they do not fully define who He truly is. The Bible tells us that Jesus is God in the flesh, God in human form (see John 1:1, 14). God came to earth to teach us, heal us, correct us, forgive us—and die for us! Jesus Christ is God, the Creator, the sovereign Lord. Have you accepted this Jesus?
What is a Savior, and why do we need a Savior? The Bible tells us that we have all sinned; we have all committed evil acts (Romans 3:10-18). As a result of our sin, we deserve God’s anger and judgment. The only just punishment for sins committed against an infinite and eternal God is an infinite punishment (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:11-15). That is why we need a Savior!
Jesus Christ came to earth and died in our place. Jesus’ death was an infinite payment for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8). Jesus paid the price so that we would not have to. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proved that His death was sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. That is why Jesus is the one and only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)! Are you trusting in Jesus as your Savior?
Is Jesus your “personal” Savior? Many people view Christianity as attending church, performing rituals, and/or not committing certain sins. That is not Christianity. True Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Accepting Jesus as your personal Savior means placing your own personal faith and trust in Him. No one is saved by the faith of others. No one is forgiven by doing certain deeds. The only way to be saved is to personally accept Jesus as your Savior, trusting in His death as the payment for your sins and His resurrection as your guarantee of eternal life (John 3:16). Is Jesus personally your Savior?
If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, say the following words to God. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. Only believing in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross for you can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith
in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. “God, I know that I have sinned against You and deserve punishment. But I believe Jesus Christ took the punishment I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I receive Your offer of forgiveness and place my trust in You for salvation. I accept Jesus as my personal Savior! Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness— the gift of eternal life! Amen!”
Now, Top Questions About the End Times People are Really Asking:
What is going to happen according to end times prophecy?
What signs indicate that the end times are approaching?
What is the rapture of the church?
What is the tribulation? How do we know the tribulation will last seven years? When is the rapture going to occur in relation to the tribulation?
What is the second coming of Jesus Christ? What is the Millennial Kingdom?
Who is the Antichrist?
Who are the 144,000? What is the abomination of desolation? What is the Apocalypse?
What is the battle of Armageddon? What is the day of the Lord? What is the difference between the rapture and the second coming? Who are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse?
How are we to live our lives in light of Christ’s return?
What is the mark of the beast (666)? What are the seven seals, trumpets, and bowls in the book of Revelation? How can I understand the book of Revelation?
Question: What is going to happen according to end times prophecy?
Answer: The Bible has a lot to say about the end times. Nearly every book of the Bible contains prophecy regarding the end times. Taking all of these prophecies and organizing them can be difficult. Following is a very brief summary of what the Bible declares will happen in the end times.
Christ will remove all born-again believers from the earth in an event known as the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54). At the judgment seat of Christ, these believers will be rewarded for good works and faithful service during their time on earth or will lose rewards, but not eternal life, for lack of service and obedience (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
The Antichrist (the beast) will come into power and will sign a covenant with Israel for seven years (Daniel 9:27). This seven-year period of time is known as the “tribulation.” During the tribulation, there will be terrible wars, famines, plagues, and natural disasters. God will be pouring out His wrath against sin, evil, and wickedness. The tribulation will include the appearance of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the seven seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments.
About halfway through the seven years, the Antichrist will break the peace covenant with Israel and make war against it. The Antichrist will commit “the abomination of desolation” and set up an image of himself to be worshipped in the Jerusalem temple (Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10), which will have been rebuilt. The second half of the tribulation is known as “the great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14) and “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7).
At the end of the seven-year tribulation, the Antichrist will launch a final attack on Jerusalem, culminating in the battle of Armageddon. Jesus Christ will return, destroy the Antichrist and his armies, and cast them into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:11-21). Christ will then bind Satan in the Abyss for 1000 years and He will rule His earthly kingdom for this thousand-year period (Revelation 20:1-6).
At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released, defeated again, and then cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10) for eternity. Christ then judges all unbelievers (Revelation 20:10-15) at the great white throne judgment, casting them all into the lake of fire. Christ will then usher in a new heaven and new earth and the New Jerusalem—the eternal dwelling place of believers. There will be no more sin, sorrow, or death (Revelation 21-22).
Question: What signs indicate that the end times are approaching?
Answer: Matthew 24:5-8 gives us some important clues so we can discern the approach of the end times, “For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” An increase in false messiahs, an increase in warfare, and increases in famines, plagues, and natural disasters— these are signs of the end times. In this passage, though, we are given a warning: we are not to be deceived, because these events are only the beginning of birth pains; the end is still to come.
Some interpreters point to every earthquake, every political upheaval, and every attack on Israel as a sure sign that the end times are rapidly approaching. While the events may signal the approach of the last days, they are not necessarily indicators that the end times have arrived. The apostle Paul warned that the last days would bring a marked increase in false teaching. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). The last days are described as “perilous times” because of the increasingly evil character of man and people who actively “resist the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-9; see also 2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Other possible signs would include a rebuilding of a Jewish temple in Jerusalem, increased hostility towards Israel, and advances toward a one-world government. The most prominent sign of the end times, however, is the nation of Israel. In 1948, Israel was recognized as a sovereign state, essentially for the first time since AD 70. God promised Abraham that his posterity would have Canaan as “an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8), and Ezekiel prophesied a physical and spiritual resuscitation of Israel (Ezekiel chapter 37). Having Israel as a nation in its own land is important in light of end times prophecy because of Israel’s prominence in eschatology (Daniel 10:14; 11:41; Revelation 11:8).
With these signs in mind, we can be wise and discerning in regard to the expectation of the end times. We should not, however, interpret any of these singular events as a clear indication of the soon arrival of the end times. God has given us enough information that we can be prepared, and that is what we are called to be.
Question: What is the rapture of the church?
Answer: The word “rapture” does not occur in the Bible. The concept of the rapture, though, is clearly taught in Scripture. The rapture of the church is the event in which God removes all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is described primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with those believers who are still alive and who will at that time also be given glorified bodies. “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The rapture will be instantaneous in nature, and we will receive glorified bodies at that time. “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The rapture is the glorious event we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from sin. We will be in God’s presence forever. There is far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God’s intent. Rather, in regard to the rapture, God wants us to “encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
Question: What is the tribulation? How do we know the tribulation will last seven years?
Answer: The tribulation is a future seven-year period of time when God will finish His discipline of Israel and finalize His judgment of the unbelieving world. The church, made up of all who have trusted in the person and work of the Lord Jesus to save them from being punished for sin, will not be present during the tribulation. The church will be removed from the earth in an event known as the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53). The church is saved from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Throughout Scripture, the tribulation is referred to by other names such as the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6-9; Joel 1:15; 2:1-31; 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2); trouble or tribulation (Deuteronomy 4:30; Zephaniah 1:1); the great tribulation, which refers to the more intense second half of the seven-year period (Matthew 24:21); time or day of trouble (Daniel 12:1; Zephaniah 1:15); time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).
An understanding of Daniel 9:24-27 is necessary in order to understand the purpose and time of the tribulation. This passage speaks of 70 weeks that have been declared against “your people.” Daniel’s people are the Jews, the nation of Israel, and Daniel 9:24 speaks of a period of time that God has given “to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” God declares that “seventy sevens” will fulfill all these things. This is 70 sevens of years, or 490 years. (Some translations refer to 70 weeks of years.) This is confirmed by another part of this passage in Daniel. In verses 25 and 26, Daniel is told that the Messiah will be cut off after “seven sevens and sixty-two sevens” (69 total), beginning with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. In other words, 69 sevens of years (483 years) after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, the Messiah will be cut off. Biblical historians confirm that 483 years passed from the time of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the time when Jesus was crucified. Most Christian scholars, regardless of their view of eschatology (future things/events), have the above understanding of Daniel’s 70 sevens.
With 483 years having passed from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the cutting off of the Messiah, this leaves one seven-year period to be fulfilled in terms of Daniel 9:24: “to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” This final seven-year period is known as the tribulation period—it is a time when God finishes judging Israel for its sin.
Daniel 9:27 gives a few highlights of the seven-year tribulation period: “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.” The person of whom this verse speaks is the person Jesus calls the “abomination that causes desolation” (Matthew 24:15) and is called “the beast” in Revelation 13. Daniel 9:27 says that the beast will make a covenant for seven years, but in the middle of this week (3 1/2 years into the tribulation), he will break the covenant, putting a stop to sacrifice. Revelation 13 explains that the beast will place an image of himself in the temple and require the world to worship him. Revelation 13:5 says that this will go on for 42 months, which is 3 1/2 years. Since Daniel 9:27 says that this will happen in the middle of the week, and Revelation 13:5 says that the beast will do this for a period of 42 months, it is easy to see that the total length of time is 84 months or seven years. Also see Daniel 7:25, where the “time, times, and half a time” (time=l year; times=2 years; half a time=l/2 year; total of 3 1/2 years) also refers to “great tribulation,” the last half of the seven-year tribulation period when the beast will be in power.
For further references about the tribulation, see Revelation 11:2-3, which speaks of 1260 days and 42 months, and Daniel 12:11-12, which speaks of 1290 days and 1335 days. These days have a reference to the midpoint of the tribulation. The additional days in Daniel 12 may include the time at the end for the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31-46) and time for the setting up of Christ’s millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).
Question: When is the rapture going to occur in relation to the tribulation?
Answer: The timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation is one of the most controversial issues in the church today. The three primary views are pretribulational (the rapture occurs before the tribulation), mid-tribulational (the rapture occurs at or near the midpoint of the tribulation), and post-tribulational (the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation). A fourth view, commonly known as pre-wrath, is a slight modification of the mid-tribulational position.
First, it is important to recognize the purpose of the tribulation. According to Daniel 9:27, there is a seventieth “seven” (seven years) that is still yet to come. Daniel’s entire prophecy of the seventy sevens (Daniel 9:20-27) is speaking of the nation of Israel. It is a time period in which God focuses His attention especially on Israel. The seventieth seven, the tribulation, must also be a time when God deals specifically with Israel. While this does not necessarily indicate that the church could not also be present, it does bring into question why the church would need to be on the earth during that time.
The primary Scripture passage on the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It states that all living believers, along with all believers who have died, will meet the Lord Jesus in the air and will be with Him forever. The rapture is God’s removing His people from the earth. A few verses later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The book of Revelation, which deals primarily with the time period of the tribulation, is a prophetic message of how God will pour out His wrath upon the earth during the tribulation. It seems inconsistent for God to promise believers that they will not suffer wrath and then leave them on the earth to suffer through the wrath of the tribulation. The fact that God promises to deliver Christians from wrath shortly after promising to remove His people from the earth seems to link those two events together.
Another crucial passage on the timing of the rapture is Revelation 3:10, in which Christ promises to deliver believers from the “hour of trial” that is going to come upon the earth. This could mean two things. Either Christ will protect believers in the midst of the trials, or He will deliver believers out of the trials. Both are valid meanings of the Greek word translated “from.” However, it is important to recognize what believers are promised to be kept from. It is not just the trial, but the “hour” of trial. Christ is promising to keep believers from the very time period that contains the trials, namely the tribulation. The purpose of the tribulation, the purpose of the rapture, the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:9, and the interpretation of Revelation 3:10 all give clear support to the pretribulational position. If the Bible is interpreted literally and consistently, the pretribulational position is the most biblically-based interpretation.
Question: What is the second coming of Jesus Christ?
Answer: The second coming of Jesus Christ is the hope of believers that God is in control of all things, and is faithful to the promises and prophecies in His Word. In His first coming, Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem, just as prophesied. Jesus fulfilled many of the prophecies of the Messiah during His birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection. However, there are some prophecies regarding the Messiah that Jesus has not yet fulfilled. The second coming of Christ will be the return of Christ to fulfill these remaining prophecies. In His first coming, Jesus was the suffering Servant. In His second coming, Jesus will be the conquering King. In His first coming, Jesus arrived in the most humble of circumstances. In His second coming, Jesus will arrive with the armies of heaven at His side.
The Old Testament prophets did not make clearly this distinction between the two comings. This can be seen in Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7 and Zechariah 14:4. As a result of the prophecies seeming to speak of two individuals, many Jewish scholars believed there would be both a suffering Messiah and a conquering Messiah. What they failed to understand is that there is only one Messiah and He would fulfill both roles. Jesus fulfilled the role of the suffering servant (Isaiah chapter 53) in His first coming. Jesus will fulfill the role of Israel’s deliverer and King in His second coming. Zechariah 12:10 and Revelation 1:7, describing the second coming, look back to Jesus being pierced. Israel, and the whole world, will mourn for not having accepted the Messiah the first time He came.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels declared to the apostles, ‘“Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:11). Zechariah 14:4 identifies the location of the second coming as the Mount of Olives. Matthew 24:30 declares, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” Titus 2:13 describes the second coming as a “glorious appearing.”
The second coming is spoken of in greatest detail in Revelation 19:11-16, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Question: What is the Millennial Kingdom, and should it be understood literally?
Answer: The millennial kingdom is the title given to the 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. Some seek to interpret the 1000 years in an allegorical manner. Some understand the 1000 years as merely a figurative way of saying “a long period of time,” not a literal, physical reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. However, six times in Revelation 20:2-7, the millennial kingdom is specifically said to be 1000 years in length. If God wished to communicate “a long period of time,” He could have easily done so without explicitly and repeatedly mentioning an exact time frame.
The Bible tells us that when Christ returns to earth He will establish Himself as King in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David (Luke 1:32-33). The unconditional covenants demand a literal, physical return of Christ to establish the kingdom. The Abrahamic covenant promised Israel a land, a posterity and ruler, and a spiritual blessing (Genesis 12:1-3). The Palestinian covenant promised Israel a restoration to the land and occupation of the land (Deuteronomy 30:1-10). The Davidic covenant promised Israel forgiveness—the means whereby the nation could be blessed (2 Samuel 7:10-13).
At the second coming, these covenants will be fulfilled as Israel is re-gathered from the nations (Matthew 24:31), converted (Zechariah 12:10-14), and restored to the land under the rule of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Bible speaks of the conditions during the millennium as a perfect environment physically and spiritually. It will be a time of peace (Micah 4:2-4; Isaiah 32:17-18), joy (Isaiah 61:7, 10), comfort (Isaiah 40:1-2), and no poverty or sickness (Amos 9:13-15; Joel 2:28-29). The Bible also tells us that only believers will enter the millennial kingdom. Because of this, it will be a time of complete righteousness (Matthew 25:37; Psalm 24:3-4), obedience (Jeremiah 31:33), holiness (Isaiah 35:8), truth (Isaiah 65:16), and fullness of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29). Christ will rule as king (Isaiah 9:3-7; 11:1-10), with David as regent (Jeremiah 33:15-21; Amos 9:11). Nobles and governors will also rule (Isaiah 32:1; Matthew 19:28), and
Jerusalem will be the political center of the world (Zechariah 8:3).
Revelation 20:2-7 gives the precise time period of the millennial kingdom. Even without these scriptures, there are countless others that point to a literal reign of the Messiah on the earth. The fulfillment of many of God’s covenants and promises rests on a literal, physical, future kingdom. There is no solid basis to deny the literal interpretation of the millennial kingdom and its duration being 1000 years.
Question: Who is the Antichrist?
Answer: There is much speculation about the identity of the Antichrist. Some of the more popular targets are Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Pope Benedict XVI. In the United States, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and current President Barack Obama, are the most frequent candidates. So, who is the Antichrist, and how will we recognize him?
The Bible really does not say anything specific about where the Antichrist will come from. Many Bible scholars speculate that he will come from a confederacy of ten nations and/or a reborn Roman empire (Daniel 7:24-25; Revelation 17:7). Others see him as having to be a Jew in order to claim to be the Messiah. It is all just speculation since the Bible does not specifically say where the Antichrist will come from or what race he will be. One day, the Antichrist will be revealed. Second Thessalonians 2:3-4 tells us how we will recognize the Antichrist: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
It is likely that most people who are alive when the Antichrist is revealed will be very surprised at his identity. The Antichrist may or may not be alive today. Martin Luther was convinced that the pope in his time was the Antichrist. During the 1940’s, many believed Adolph Hitler was the Antichrist. Others who have lived in the past few hundred years have been equally sure as to the identity of the Antichrist. So far, they have all been incorrect. We should put the speculations behind us and focus on what the Bible actually says about the Antichrist. Revelation 13:5-8 declares, “The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”
Question: Who are the 144,000?
Answer: The book of Revelation has always presented the interpreter with challenges. The book is steeped in vivid imagery and symbolism which people have interpreted differently depending on their preconceptions of the book as a whole. There are four main interpretive approaches to the book of Revelation: 1) preterist (which sees all or most of the events in Revelation as having already occurred by the end of the 1st century); 2) historicist (which sees Revelation as a survey of church history from apostolic times to the present); 3) idealist (which sees Revelation as a depiction of the struggle between good and evil); 4) futurist (which sees Revelation as prophecy of events to come). Of the four, only the futurist approach interprets Revelation in the same grammatical-historical method as the rest of Scripture. It is also a better fit with Revelation’s own claim to be prophecy (Revelation 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18, 19).
So the answer to the question “who are the 144,000?” will depend on which interpretive approach you take to the book of Revelation. With the exception of the futurist approach, all of the other approaches interpret the 144,000 symbolically, as representative of the church and the number 144,000 being symbolic of the totality—i.e., the complete number—of the church. Yet when taken at face value: “Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel” (Revelation 7:4), nothing in the passage leads to interpreting the 144,000 as anything but a literal number of Jews—12,000 taken from every tribe of the “sons of Israel.” The New Testament offers no clear cut text replacing Israel with the church.
These Jews are “sealed,” which means they have the special protection of God from all of the divine judgments and from the Antichrist to perform their mission during the tribulation period (see Revelation 6:17, in which people will wonder who can stand from the wrath to come). The tribulation period is a future seven- year period of time in which God will enact divine judgment against those who reject Him and will complete His plan of salvation for the nation of Israel. All of this is according to God’s revelation to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27). The 144,000 Jews are a sort of “first fruits” (Revelation 14:4) of a redeemed Israel which has been previously prophesied (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:25-27), and their mission is to evangelize the post-rapture world and proclaim the gospel during the tribulation period. As a result of their ministry, millions—“a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7:9)—will come to faith in Christ.
Much of the confusion regarding the 144,000 is a result of the false doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that 144,000 is a limit to the number of people who will reign with Christ in heaven and spend eternity with God. The 144,000 have what the Jehovah’s Witnesses call the heavenly hope. Those who are not among the 144,000 will enjoy what they call the earthly hope—a paradise on earth ruled by Christ and the 144,000. Clearly, we can see that Jehovah’s Witness teaching sets up a caste society in the afterlife with a ruling class (the 144,000) and those who are ruled. The Bible teaches no such “dual class” doctrine. It is true that according to Revelation 20:4 there will be people ruling in the millennium with Christ. These people will be comprised of the church (believers in Jesus Christ), Old Testament saints (believers who died before Christ’s first advent), and tribulation saints (those who accept Christ during the tribulation). Yet the Bible places no numerical limit on this group of people. Furthermore, the millennium is different from the eternal state, which will take place at the completion of the millennial period. At that time, God will dwell with us in the New Jerusalem. He will be our God and we will be His people (Revelation 21:3). The inheritance promised to us in Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14) will become ours, and we will all be co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
Question: What is the abomination of desolation?
Answer: The phrase “abomination of desolation” refers to Matthew 24:15 (KJV): “So when you see standing in the holy place The abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand.” This is referring to 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.” In 167 BC a Greek ruler by the name of Antiochus Epiphanies set up an altar to Zeus over the altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. He also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the abomination of desolation.
In Matthew 24:15, Jesus was speaking some 200 years after the abomination of desolation described above had already occurred. So, Jesus must have been prophesying that some time in the future another abomination of desolation would occur in a Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Most Bible prophecy interpreters believe that Jesus was referring to the Antichrist who will do something very similar to what Antiochus Epiphanies did. This is confirmed by the fact that some of what Daniel prophesied in Daniel 9:27 did not occur in 167 BC with Antiochus Epiphanies. Antiochus did not confirm a covenant with Israel for seven years. It is the Antichrist who, in the end times, will establish a covenant with Israel for seven years and then break it by doing something similar to the abomination of desolation in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
Whatever the future abomination of desolation is, it will leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that the one perpetrating it is the person known as the Antichrist. Revelation 13:14 describes him making some kind of image which all are forced to worship. Turning the temple of the living God into a place of worship for the Antichrist is truly an “abomination.” Those who are alive and remain during the tribulation should be watchful and recognize that this event is the beginning of 3 1/2 years of the worst of the tribulation period and that the return of the Lord Jesus is imminent. “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
Question: What is the Apocalypse?
Answer: The word “apocalypse” comes from the Greek word apocalupsis which means “revealing, disclosure, to take off the cover.” The book of Revelation is sometimes referred to as the “Apocalypse of John” because it is God’s revealing of the end times to the apostle John. Further, the Greek word for “apocalypse” is the very first word in the Greek text of the book of Revelation. The phrase “apocalyptic literature” is used to describe the use of symbols, images, and numbers to depict future events. Outside of Revelation, examples of apocalyptic literature in the Bible are Daniel chapters 7-12, Isaiah chapters 24-27, Ezekiel chapters 37-41, and Zechariah chapters 9-12.
Why was apocalyptic literature written with such symbolism and imagery? The apocalyptic books were written when it was more prudent to disguise the message in images and symbolism than to give the message in plain language. Further, the symbolism created an element of mystery about details of time and place. The purpose of such symbolism, however, was not to cause confusion, but rather to instruct and encourage followers of God in difficult times.
Beyond the specifically biblical meaning, the term “apocalypse” is often used to refer to the end times in general, or to the last end times events specifically. End-times events such as the second coming of Christ and the battle of Armageddon are sometimes referred to as the Apocalypse. The Apocalypse will be the ultimate revealing of God, His wrath, His justice, and, ultimately, His love. Jesus Christ is the supreme “apocalypse” of God, as He revealed God to us (John 14:9; Hebrews 1:2).
Question: What is the battle of Armageddon?
Answer: The word “Armageddon” comes from a Hebrew word Har-Magedone, which means “Mount Megiddo” and has become synonymous with the future battle in which God will intervene and destroy the armies of the Antichrist as predicted in biblical prophecy (Revelation 16:16; 20:1-3, 7-10). There will be a multitude of people engaged in the battle of Armageddon, as all the nations gather together to fight against Christ.
The exact location of the valley of Armageddon is unclear because there is no mountain called Meggido. However, since “Har” can also mean hill, the most likely location is the hill country surrounding the plain of Meggido, some sixty miles north of Jerusalem. More than two hundred battles have been fought in that region. The plain of Megiddo and the nearby plain of Esdraelon will be the focal point for the battle of Armadeggon, which will rage the entire length of Israel as far south as the Edomite city of Bozrah (Isaiah 63:1). The valley of Armageddon was famous for two great victories in Israel’s history: 1) Barak’s victory over the Canaanites (Judges 4:15) and
2) Gideon’s victory over the Midianites (Judges 7). Armageddon was also the site for two great tragedies: 1) the death of Saul and his sons (1 Samuel 31:8) and 2) the death of King Josiah (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:22).
Because of this history, the valley of Armageddon became a symbol of the final conflict between God and the forces of evil. The word “Armageddon” only occurs in Revelation 16:16, “Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” This speaks of the kings who are loyal to the Antichrist gathering together for a final assault on Israel. At Armageddon “the cup filled with the wine of the fury of [God’s] wrath” (Revelation 16:19) will be delivered, and the Antichrist and his followers will be overthrown and defeated. “Armageddon” has become a general term that refers to the end of the world, not exclusively to the battle that takes place in the plain of Megiddo.
Question: What is the day of the Lord?
Answer: The phrase “day of the Lord” usually identifies events that take place at the end of history (Isaiah 7:18-25) and is often closely associated with the phrase “that day.” One key to understanding these phrases is to note that they always identify a span of time during which God personally intervenes in history, directly or indirectly, to accomplish some specific aspect His plan.
Most people associate the day of the Lord with a period of time or a special day that will occur when God’s will and purpose for His world and for mankind will be fulfilled. Some scholars believe that the day of the Lord will be a longer period of time than a single day—a period of time when Christ will reign throughout the world before He cleanses heaven and earth in preparation for the eternal state of all mankind. Other scholars believe the day of the Lord will be an instantaneous event when Christ returns to earth to redeem His faithful believers and send unbelievers to eternal damnation.
The phrase “the day of the Lord” is used nineteen times in the Old Testament (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6, 9; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18, 20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7,14; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5) and four times in the New Testament (Acts 2:20; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10). It is also alluded to in other passages (Revelation 6:17; 16:14).
The Old Testament passages dealing with the day of the Lord often convey a sense of imminence, nearness, and expectation: “Wail, for the day of the Lord is near!” (Isaiah 13:6); “For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is near” (Ezekiel 30:3); “Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand” (Joel 2:1); “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14); “Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near” (Zephaniah 1:7). This is because the Old Testament passages referring to the day of the Lord often speak of both a near and a far fulfillment, as does much of Old Testament prophecy. Some Old Testament passages that refer to the day of the Lord describe historical judgments that have already been fulfilled in some sense (Isaiah 13:6-22; Ezekiel 30:2-19; Joel 1:15, 3:14; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:14-18), while others refers to divine judgments that will take place toward the end of the age (Joel 2:30-32; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:1, 5).
The New Testament calls it a day of “wrath,” a day of “visitation,” and the “great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:4) and refers to a still future fulfillment when God’s wrath is poured out on unbelieving Israel (Isaiah 22; Jeremiah 30:1-17; Joel 1-2; Amos 5; Zephaniah 1) and on the unbelieving world (Ezekiel 38-39; Zechariah 14). The Scriptures indicate that “the day of the Lord” will come quickly, like a thief in the night (Zephaniah 1:14-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:2), and therefore Christians must be watchful and ready for the coming of Christ at any moment.
Besides being a time of judgment, it will also be a time of salvation as God will deliver the remnant of Israel, fulfilling His promise that “all of Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26), forgiving their sins and restoring His chosen people to the land He promised to Abraham (Isaiah 10:27; Jeremiah 30:19-31, 40; Micah 4; Zechariah 13). The final outcome of the day of the Lord will be that “the arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:17). The ultimate or final fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the day of the Lord will come at the end of history when God, with wondrous power, will punish evil and fulfill all His promises.
Question: What is the difference between the rapture and the second coming?
Answer: The rapture and the second coming of Christ are often confused. Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a scripture verse is referring to the rapture or the second coming. However, in studying end-times Bible prophecy, it is very important to differentiate between the two.
The rapture is when Jesus Christ returns to remove the church (all believers in Christ) from the earth. The rapture is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. Believers who have died will have their bodies resurrected and, along with believers who are still living, will meet the Lord in the air. This will all occur in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. The second coming is when Jesus returns to defeat the Antichrist, destroy evil, and establish His millennial kingdom. The second coming is described in Revelation 19:11-16.
The important differences between the rapture and second coming are as follows:
1. At the rapture, believers meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
At the second coming, believers return with the Lord to the earth
2. The second coming occurs after the great and terrible tribulation (Revelation chapters 6-19). The rapture occurs before the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10).
3. The rapture is the removal of believers from the earth as an act of
deliverance (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 5:9). The second coming includes the
removal of unbelievers as an act of judgment (Matthew 24:40-41).
4. The rapture will be secret and instant (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). The second coming will be visible to all (Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:29-30).
5. The second coming of Christ will not occur until after certain other end times events take place (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:15-30; Revelation chapters 6-18). The rapture is imminent; it could take place at any moment (Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54).
Why is it important to keep the rapture and the second coming distinct?
1. If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, believers will have to go through the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10). 2. If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, the return of Christ is not imminent—there are many things which must occur before He can return (Matthew 24:4-30).
3. In describing the tribulation period, Revelation chapters 6-19 nowhere mentions the church. During the tribulation—also called “the time of trouble for Jacob” (Jeremiah 30:7)—God will again turn His primary attention to Israel (Romans 11:17-31).
The rapture and second coming are similar but separate events. Both involve Jesus returning. Both are end-times events. However, it is crucially important to recognize the differences. In summary, the rapture is the return of Christ in the clouds to remove all believers from the earth before the time of God’s wrath. The second coming is the return of Christ to the earth to bring the tribulation to an end and to defeat the Antichrist and his evil world empire.
Question: Who are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Answer: The four horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in Revelation chapter 6, verses 1-8. The four horsemen are symbolic descriptions of different events which will take place in the end times. The first horseman of the Apocalypse is mentioned in Revelation 6:2: “I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.” This first horseman likely refers to the Antichrist, who will be given authority and will conquer all who oppose him. The antichrist is the false imitator of the true Christ, who will also return on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-16).
The second horseman of the Apocalypse appears in Revelation 6:4, “Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.” The second horseman refers to terrible warfare that will break out in the end times. The third horseman is described in Revelation 6:5-6, “…and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”’ The third horseman of the Apocalypse refers to a great famine that will take place, likely as a result of the wars from the second horseman.
The fourth horseman is mentioned in Revelation 6:8, “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” The fourth horseman of the Apocalypse is symbolic of death and devastation. It seems to be a combination of the previous horsemen. The fourth horseman of the Apocalypse will bring further warfare and terrible famines along with awful plagues and diseases. What is most amazing, or perhaps terrifying, is that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are just “precursors” of even worse judgments that come later in the tribulation (Revelation chapters 8-9 and 16).
Question: How are we to live our lives in light of Christ’s return?
Answer: We believe that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, that is, His return could occur at any moment. We, with the apostle Paul, look for “the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Knowing that the Lord could come back today, some are tempted to stop what they are doing and just “wait” for Him.
However, there is a big difference between knowing that Jesus could return today and knowing that He will return today. Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour” (Matthew 24:36). The time of His coming is something God has not revealed to anyone, and so, until He calls us to Himself, we should continue serving Him. In Jesus’ parable of the ten talents, the departing king instructs his servants to “occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13 KJV).
The return of Christ is always presented in Scripture as a great motivation to action, not as a reason to cease from action. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, Paul wraps up his teaching on the rapture by saying, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:6, Paul concludes a lesson on Christ’s coming with these words: “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.” To retreat and “hold the fort” was never Jesus’ intention for us. Instead, we work while we can. “Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).
The apostles lived and served with the idea that Jesus could return within their lifetime; what if they had ceased from their labors and just “waited”? They would have been in disobedience to Christ’s command to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15), and the gospel would not have been spread. The apostles understood that Jesus’ imminent return meant they must busy themselves with God’s work. They lived life to the fullest, as if every day were their last. We, too, should view every day as a gift and use it to glorify God.
Question: What is the mark of the beast (666)?
Answer: The main passage in the Bible that mentions the “mark of the beast” is Revelation 13:15-18. Other references can be found in Revelation 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, and 20:4. This mark acts as a seal for the followers of Antichrist and the false prophet (the spokesperson for the Antichrist). The false prophet (the second beast) is the one who causes people to take this mark. The mark is literally placed in the hand or forehead and is not simply a card someone carries.
The recent breakthroughs in medical implant chip technologies have increased interest in the mark of the beast spoken of in Revelation chapter 13. It is possible that the technology we are seeing today represents the beginning stages of what may eventually be used as the mark of the beast. It is important to realize that a medical implant chip is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be something given only to those who worship the Antichrist. Having a medical or financial microchip inserted into your right hand or forehead is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be an end-times identification required by the Antichrist in order to buy or sell, and it will be given only to those who worship the Antichrist.
Many good expositors of Revelation differ widely as to the exact nature of the mark of the beast. Besides the implanted chip view, other speculations include an ID card, a microchip, a barcode that is tattooed into the skin, or simply a mark that identifies someone as being faithful to the Antichrist’s kingdom. This last view requires the least speculation, since it does not add any more information to what the Bible gives us. In other words, any of these things are possible, but at the same time they are all speculations. We should not spend a lot of time speculating on the precise details.
The meaning of 666 is a mystery as well. Some have speculated that there was a connection to June 6, 2006—06/06/06. However, in Revelation chapter 13, the number 666 identifies a person, not a date. Revelation 13:18 tells us, “This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.” Somehow, the number 666 will identify the Antichrist. For centuries Bible interpreters have been trying to identify certain individuals with 666. Nothing is conclusive. That is why Revelation 13:18 says the number requires wisdom. When the Antichrist is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), it will be clear who he is and how the number 666 identifies him.
Question: What are the seven seals, trumpets, and bowls in the book of Revelation?
Answer: The seven seals (Revelation 6:1-17, 8:1-5), seven trumpets (Revelation 8:6-21, 11:15-19), and seven bowls (Revelation 16:1-21) are three succeeding series of end-times judgments from God. The judgments get progressively worse and more devastating as the end times progress. The seven seals, trumpets, and bowls are connected to one another. The seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets (Revelation 8:1-5), and the seventh trumpet introduces the seven bowls (Revelation 11:15-19, 15:1-8).
The first four of the seven seals are known as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first seal introduces the Antichrist (Revelation 6:1-2). The second seal causes great warfare (Revelation 6:3-4). The third of the seven seals causes famine (Revelation 6:5-6). The fourth seal brings about plague, further famine, and further warfare (Revelation 6:7-8).
The fifth seal tells us of those who will be martyred for their faith in Christ during the end times (Revelation 6:9-11). God hears their cries for justice and will deliver it in His timing—in the form of the sixth seal, along with the trumpet and bowl judgments. When the sixth of the seven seals is broken, a devastating earthquake occurs, causing massive upheaval and terrible devastation—along with unusual astronomical phenomena (Revelation 6:12-14). Those who survive are right to cry out, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:16-17).
The seven trumpets are described in Revelation 8:6-21. The seven trumpets are the “contents” of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1-5). The first trumpet causes hail and fire that destroys much of the plant life in the world (Revelation 8:7). The second trumpet brings about what seems to be a meteor hitting the oceans and causing the death of much of the world’s sea life (Revelation 8:8-9). The third trumpet is similar to the second, except it affects the world’s lakes and rivers instead of the oceans (Revelation 8:10-11).
The fourth of the seven trumpets causes the sun and moon to be darkened (Revelation 8:12). The fifth trumpet results in a plague of “demonic locusts” that attack and torture humanity (Revelation 9:1-11). The sixth trumpet releases a demonic army that kills a third of humanity (Revelation 9:12-21). The seventh trumpet calls forth the seven angels with the seven bowls of God’s wrath (Revelation 11:15-19, 15:1-8).
The seven bowl judgments are described in Revelation 16:1-21. The seven bowl judgments are called forth by the seventh trumpet. The first bowl causes painful sores to break out on humanity (Revelation 16:2). The second bowl results in the death of every living thing in the sea (Revelation 16:3). The third bowl causes the rivers to turn into blood (Revelation 16:4-7). The fourth of the seven bowls results in the sun’s heat being intensified and causing great pain (Revelation 16:8-9). The fifth bowl causes great darkness and an intensification of the sores from the first bowl (Revelation 16:10-11). The sixth bowl results in the Euphrates River being dried up and the armies of the Antichrist being gathered together to wage the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:12-14). The seventh bowl results in a devastating earthquake followed by giant hailstones (Revelation 16:15-21).
Revelation 16:5-7 declares of God, “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve. … Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”
Question: How can I understand the book of Revelation?
Answer: The key to Bible interpretation, especially for the book of Revelation, is to have a consistent hermeneutic. Hermeneutics is the study of the principles of interpretation. In other words, it is the way you interpret Scripture. A normal hermeneutic or normal interpretation of Scripture means that unless the verse or passage clearly indicates the author was using figurative language, it should be understood it in its normal sense. We are not to look for other meanings if the natural meaning of the sentence makes sense. Also, we are not to spiritualize Scripture by assigning meanings to words or phrases when it is clear the author, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, meant it to be understood as it is written.
One example is Revelation 20. Many will assign various meanings to references to a thousand-year period. Yet, the language does not imply in any way that the references to the thousand years should be taken to mean anything other than a literal period of one thousand years.
A simple outline for the book of Revelation is found in Revelation 1:19. In the first chapter, the risen and exalted Christ is speaking to John. Christ tells John to “write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” The things John had already seen are recorded in chapter 1. The “things which are” (that were present in John’s day) are recorded in chapters 2-3 (the letters to the churches). The “things that will take place” (future things) are recorded in chapters 4-22.
Generally speaking, chapters 4-18 of Revelation deal with God’s judgments on the people of the earth. These judgments are not for the church (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 9). Before the judgments begin, the church will have been removed from the earth in an event called the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Chapters 4-18 describe a time of “Jacob’s trouble”— trouble for Israel (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9:12, 12:1). It is also a time when God will judge unbelievers for their rebellion against Him.
Chapter 19 describes Christ’s return with the church, the bride of Christ. He defeats the beast and the false prophet and casts them into the lake of fire. In
Chapter 20, Christ has Satan bound and cast in the Abyss. Then Christ sets up His kingdom on earth that will last 1000 years. At the end of the 1000 years, Satan is released and he leads a rebellion against God. He is quickly defeated and also cast into the lake of fire. Then the final judgment occurs, the judgment for all unbelievers, when they too are cast into the lake of fire.
Chapters 21 and 22 describe what is referred to as the eternal state. In these chapters God tells us what eternity with Him will be like. The book of Revelation is understandable. God would not have given it to us if its meaning were entirely a mystery. The key to understanding the book of Revelation is to interpret it as literally as possible—it says what it means and means what it says.
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