Questions, questions, questions …
One of the things I do now is to go onto the website called Quora https://www.quora.com . You can post questions on any issue on this and put answers to other people’s questions. One of the questions that came up recently was
‘Is the world going to come to an end someday?’
I put a reply to this: ‘Yes but not for at least 1007 years.’ How did I come to this figure?
According to the Bible certain events are yet to come before the end of the world.
- The 7-year period known as the Great Tribulation, which will precede the Second Coming of Messiah / Christ to the earth (see Matthew 24, Revelation 6–19)
- The reign of Messiah, after His Second Coming. According to Revelation 20 this will be a 1000 period bringing the peace and justice of the Messianic Age that the Hebrew prophets looked forward to (Isaiah 2, 11, Zechariah 14, etc)
- The end of the world when God will create new heavens and a new earth in which there will be righteousness. (2 Peter 3, Revelation 21)
Although the end of the world may be a long time off, the end of the age is much nearer. In Matthew 24 Jesus answered the disciples’ question, ‘What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” In the Authorised Version of the Bible the question concerns ‘the end of the world’, but the word used in the original is the Greek word ‘aeon’ which is better translated ‘age’ than world.
So, the Second Coming of Christ to the earth will be the end of the age, not the end of the world. We may see this as ‘the end of the world as we know it’, but it is not the end of the physical world. After the return of the Messiah there will be another 1000 years, during which time He will rule over the earth and restore it to how God wanted it to be in the beginning.
Here are some of the things the Bible prophesies for the end of the age. Note they are happening now or are on their way to being fulfilled.
- There will be an increase in wars, famines, plagues, and earthquakes leading to a time of great trouble on the earth. Luke 21.10-11
- The earth will be full of violence ‘as in the days of Noah’ and many people will be afraid of what is going to happen. Luke 17.26-27, Luke 21.25-6, Genesis 6.11
- There will be sexual immorality ‘as in the days of Lot’ (Sodom and Gomorrah). Luke 17.28-8, Matthew 24.12, Romans 1.24-27, 2 Timothy 3.1-9
- There will be widespread pollution of the earth and problems with the environment. Isaiah 24, Revelation 8.6-11
- There will be a restoration of Israel as a Jewish land. There will be a conflict over Jerusalem which will involve all nations of the world. Ezekiel 36-9, Zechariah 12-14, Luke 21.20-24, Revelation 16.16
- There will be a globalisation process which will bring nations together. An antichristian world government will arise out of this. Revelation 13
- There will be an increase in technology. Daniel 12.4, Revelation 13.11-18
- There will be false prophets who will lead people astray and cause confusion about God and salvation. Matthew 24.5, 24.23-27, Revelation 17.1-6
- There will be an attack on the basic truths of the Bible and opposition to those who teach the Gospel. Matthew 24.10-11, 2 Timothy 4.2-5, 2 Peter 2, 1 John 2.18-23
- The message of the Gospel will reach all nations despite opposition and persecution. Matthew 24.9-14, Matthew 28.18-20
What have we been told about the end of the age?
These things happening now mean that the human race is on the way to the great tribulation period which Jesus described in this way:
This means there will be a time of trouble unlike any that has been before or ever will be again. Hebrew prophets also speak about such a time in passages like Isaiah 24, Jeremiah 30, Daniel 12. Jesus says that if God did not cut short this time ‘no flesh would be saved’, which means it would be the end of life on earth.
Evidence that this is a seven-year period is based on the interpretation of the ‘seventy weeks of years’ prophecy in Daniel 9.20-27. This concludes with a seven-year period that brings this age to an end. This time will begin with some kind of peace agreement between the coming antichrist and Israel. In the middle of the time the abomination of desolation, which Jesus refers to in Matthew 24, will be set up leading to the final judgement which is poured out on the one responsible for this (the coming antichrist).
This time of trouble is described in more detail in the Book of Revelation, chapters 6-19. According to Revelation 6, the four horsemen of the apocalypse the seven-year tribulation period will start with one known as the beast or antichrist, riding out ‘conquering and to conquer’. His rise to power will be followed by war, famine, and mass death. Midway through the seven-year period of the tribulation he will place the image of himself in the holy place (the abomination of desolation) and bring in the Mark of the Beast system (666).
Revelation 13.5 says this will go on for 42 months which is 3 ½ years, the last half of the seven-year period. Daniel 9.27 says this will happen in the middle of the week (7 years) and Daniel 7.25 speaks of the ‘time, times and half a time’ (time = 1 year, times = 2 years, half a time = half a year, total = 3 ½ years).
So we conclude that the tribulation is the 7 year time line, divided into two halves of 3 ½ years during which time humanity’s decadence and depravity reach their fulness and are judged by God accordingly.
The highlight of this will be the Mark of the Beast system which will attempt to control people by causing them to receive a mark on their right hand or forehead which will give them the ability to buy and sell (participate in society). It appears that he will use the advanced technology we describe in the previous article to accomplish this. To receive the mark, you must worship the image of the beast. If you don’t, you will be cut out of society. If you do, you will damned to hell forever. Revelation 13-14. The judgement of God will be poured out on this wicked system, and it will eventually collapse in the ‘fall of Babylon’ (Revelation 18).
Many people will resist it and turn to Christ during the tribulation time (Revelation 7). These ones will face persecution at the hands of the beast (Revelation 13.9-10). Many of them will be killed, though there will be survivors who keep true to Jesus, refuse the mark, and survive this time.
This terrible time in earth’s history comes to an end with the war of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ to the earth (Revelation 16.12-16, 19.11-21), when He destroys the rule of the beast and ‘the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our God and of His Messiah and He shall reign forever and ever’ (Revelation 11.15).
At His return Jesus will come as King of kings and Lord of lords with all the power of God at His disposal. He will throw the beast and the false prophet into hell. He will return with all the true believers who have died during the church age. They will be resurrected and joined by those who are alive at the rapture of the church ((Jude 14-15, Revelation 19.14, Zechariah 14.5, 1 Thessalonians 4.15-18). He will resurrect all Old Testament believers (Daniel 12.1-3, 12.13) and all who were killed during the tribulation time (Revelation 20.4).
Those who physically survive the tribulation will be gathered at the ‘sheep and goats’ judgement, when the goats (unbelievers) will be cast off the earth and the sheep (believers) will enter into the Messianic kingdom and repopulate the earth during the Millennial reign of the Messiah (Matthew 25.31-46).
The Lord Jesus will then take up His Messianic rule, ruling the world from restored Jerusalem and bringing peace and justice to the world (Isaiah 2.1-4, Zechariah 14, Revelation 11.15, Revelation 20).
During this time the devil will be bound in a place called the abyss and unable to deceive the people living on earth. At the end of this time the devil will be loosed for a while and go out and gather rebels against the Lord to himself for the final battle (Revelation 20.7-10). The Bible indicates that there will be children born to saved survivors of the tribulation, some of whom will sin against the Lord, despite living in the best of all possible worlds (Isaiah 65.20, Zechariah 14.17-19, Revelation 20.8).
At this point God will bring about the end of the world and the entire universe and create the new heavens and the new earth where the redeemed will live forever:
Those who are not redeemed, whose names are not in the book of life will be judged at the Great White Throne judgement.
That is what will happen at the end of the world.
So, what about the 1007 years?
My figure of 1007 years will only happen if the tribulation period begins this year, which most likely will not be the case. So, I said ‘at least’ 1007 years, but it is probably more than that. How much more remains, we don’t know, because there is another event which must take place. And we don’t know the day or the hour when this will happen. It could be tomorrow, or it could be many years in the future.
This event is known as the rapture of the church. It is described in 1 Thessalonians 4.16-18.
At this event those who have died as believers in Jesus Christ and those who are still alive at the time when it happens will be supernaturally caught up to meet the Lord in the air (outside of this realm in some heavenly space). At this point our mortal bodies will be changed into immortal bodies, no longer subject to sickness, ageing and death (1 Corinthians 15.50-58). We will then always be with the Lord. So, where He is, we will be. If He is in heaven, we will be with Him in heaven. If He returns to the earth, we will be with Him on earth. It is worth being there because wherever He is it will be glorious. Wherever He is not, it will be horrible.
According to Matthew 24.36-44, this event will happen at an unknown date and we should be ready for it to happen at any time.
Christians who believe the end time prophecies have different views of when this event will take place. Some say before or at the end or in the middle of the seven-year tribulation period. See the accompanying chart.
If the rapture happens before the tribulation it could happen at any time now. Therefore, we need to be ready now for this event as Jesus said,
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
If it happens at the middle or the end of the tribulation it cannot happen until certain events described in the great tribulation period have taken place, so it cannot happen imminently.
I have done a study called the ‘Omega Course’ which is available on request, and which looks at reasons for all three options, but concludes that the pretribulation rapture is the most likely one to be correct.
We don’t know the day or the hour when these things will happen. We need to be ready for the imminent coming of the Lord. We also need to be ready to suffer for Him if called for.
There is one other interesting factor on the subject of the timing of these events which we will look at in a separate article (click on the button below).