End Times - Putting the Pieces in Place
Chapter 13 (part 1): Miscellaneous Information (part 1)
Psalms 119:130 (NKJV) The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
This chapter provides information on many questions and issues related to end-time events. Some of the information provides answers to common questions about the End Times. Information is also provided on some end-time details that do not warrant a complete chapter. Following is a list of links to the various topics.
The elect of Matthew 24
Will there be a Rapture?
Is the Rapture secret and invisible?
Will only some Christians be raptured?
Is the Rapture shown in Revelation 4:1-6?
When is the Rapture?
Clouds and the coming of Jesus
Will the temple be rebuilt?
Do faithful Christians go through the Great Tribulation?
Will Christians be kept from the Great Tribulation?
Persecution of Christians during the Great Tribulation
As a thief in the night
How long is the Great Tribulation?
The 70 weeks of Daniel
The Beast’s wound in the head
The Mark of the Beast (666)
Is Jacob’s trouble the Great Tribulation?
When is the Battle of Armageddon?
When do Gog and Magog fight against God’s people?
Will heaven and earth be rejuvenated rather than replaced?
The parable of the wheat and tares
The 144,000 sealed in Revelation
The Day of the Lord
The seven seals
The seven plagues
The three woes
The two witnesses
Gospel preached to all the earth
The elect of Matthew 24 [Return to topic list]
The term elect used in Matthew 24:29-31 refers to those chosen of God. The term is used in a similar sense today when referring to someone as a bride-elect (or president-elect). When used in this way, the term means the woman is chosen to be a bride, but the wedding has not taken place. In a similar sense, those who are born again (i.e., Christians) constitute the bride-elect of Christ who is waiting for the marriage supper of the Lamb (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:9). The Bride is chosen and the wedding is scheduled, but it has not taken place. Therefore, Christians are technically the bride-elect (or elect) of Christ.
Romans 11:7 shows that elect refers to the Church (Christians) and not just the national Jews. (Note: Born again Jews are also part of the elect.) This passage says, "...That which Israel [the national Jews] is seeking for, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen [election in KJV] obtained it...." The word chosen in this passage comes from the same Greek root as the word elect in Matthew 24. Colossians 3:11-13 shows that there is no distinction between Greek [non-Jew] and Jew and that when born again, they both are the chosen [elect in KJV] of God. Jew and non-Jew are chosen [elect in KJV] by the sanctifying work of the Spirit (1 Pet 1:1-2).
Will there be a Rapture? [Return to topic list]
Some teach there will be no rapture (i.e., catching away) of the Church. They believe that the Lord will simply come to earth and set up His kingdom without taking His people to Heaven. Others teach that God’s people will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air then immediately come back to earth with Him for the millennial kingdom without spending time in Heaven. Both of these views are incorrect according to the following Scriptures.
First Thessalonians 4:16-17 says, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." This passage explains that there will be a catching up of the Church at the return of Christ.
The Church will spend some time in Heaven during the Wrath of God. This is shown in Revelation 7:9-17 where a great multitude from every nation is shown before the throne of God in Heaven. These are the people who have come out of the Great Tribulation (Rev. 7:14). They will be in Heaven during the time when God pours out His wrath (judgment) upon the remaining inhabitants of the earth as described in Revelation chapters 8 and 9. These people apparently return to earth for the millennial reign of Christ (Rev. 20:4-6).
Is the Rapture secret and invisible? [Return to topic list]
Some people teach that the return of Jesus for the Church (i.e., the Rapture) will be secret and invisible. This teaching says that when Jesus takes the Christians out of the world, most people who remain will be puzzled about what happened to all those people who disappeared. This opinion may arise partly from a misunderstanding of Hebrews 9:28. As translated in the King James Version, the passage says, "...unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time...." Some have thought this passage means Jesus would only be visible to those who were ready for the Rapture. Reading this passage in most other translations makes it obvious that this is not the proper understanding. For example, the New American Standard Bible translates it as, "so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." This passage shows that the first time Jesus came, it was to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sin. The next time He comes, He will not need to deliver us from our sin but will deliver (save) us out of this world and from the soon coming Wrath of God (1 Thes. 1:10).
This passage in Hebrews 9:28 does not suggest a secret or invisible return of Jesus. This is obvious even in the King James Version, once the context is understood. The complete verse (KJV) says, "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." When the whole verse is considered, even the KJV fails to support an invisible return of Jesus. What do other Scriptures say about the visibility of Jesus’ return?
In Matthew 24 Jesus warns against claims that He will come secretly (vs. 23). He said that His return would be as visible as the lightning which flashes from east to west across the sky (vv. 26-27). All the people on earth will see Him at His coming (Mat. 24:30; Rev. 1:7; Rev. 6:15-17). Another passage referring to the gathering of the Church says that Christians will be rescued from afflictions when the Lord Jesus is "... revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God...." (2 Thes. 1:6-8). Jesus will come, "... with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God...." (1 Thes. 4:16). John said, "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen." (Rev. 1:7). These passages describe the return of the Lord as a highly visible event.
Will only some Christians be raptured? [Return to topic list]
Scriptures describing the second coming of Jesus do not support the partial rapture theory. Except for those under the altar who have been martyred for the Lord, there is no suggestion of any persons permanently in Heaven before the great multitude is described in Revelation 7:9-17. This multitude consists of those who have come out of the Great Tribulation (Rev. 7:14).
The partial rapture theory typically claims certain Christians (i.e., those who are ready) will be raptured before the Great Tribulation and others will be raptured after the Great Tribulation. An understanding of the chronology of the End Times exposes the error of this theory.
Is the Rapture shown in Revelation 4:1-6? [Return to topic list]
This passage (Rev. 4:1-6) says, "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.’ Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne...." Some people teach that when John is told to, "... Come up here...." the Rapture is being described. There are a couple of issues which indicate that this passage is not talking about the Rapture of the Church.
First, this was simply an invitation to the apostle John to see future events from a heavenly perspective. This is shown at the end of verse one. This is not an unusual way for God to give revelations to man. For example, Paul spoke of a man who was caught up into Heaven and heard inexpressible words (2 Cor. 12:1-4). He explained that this had to do with visions and revelations of the Lord (2 Cor. 12:1). Ezekiel also saw visions of God when the heavens were opened (Ezek. 1:1). This passage is simply what it claims to be—a time when John was taken up to Heaven to receive revelation about end-time events.
If this had been the occasion of the rapture of the Church, John should have seen a large group of other saints in Heaven who had been raptured at the same time as he. Revelation chapters four and five give no suggestion of the large group of saints who should be in Heaven if the passage in Revelation 4:1-2 describes the Rapture. Notice that the great multitude of saints does not show up in Heaven until Revelation 7:9-17. This occurs just after the signs in heaven (which immediately precede the Rapture—Mat. 24:29-31) and immediately before the outpouring of God’s Wrath.
When is the Rapture? [Return to topic list]
The Rapture occurs immediately after the Great Tribulation and the signs in the sun, moon, and stars (Mat. 24:29-31). The Rapture will take place before the Wrath of God (Rev. 7:9,13-14; 8:1-7; 14:14-20). Christians are destined to suffer tribulation and persecution (1 Thes. 3:3-4; 2 Tim. 3:12). However, Jesus delivered Christians from the Wrath of God (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9).
Clouds and the coming of Jesus [Return to topic list]
According to Revelation 1:7, Jesus will come with clouds. Some have thought that these clouds might refer to the Christians gathered in the air during the Rapture (1 Thes. 4:17; Heb. 12:1). However, it is more likely that the clouds in Revelation 1:7 are literal clouds for the following reasons. Jesus was received into a physical cloud when He departed after His resurrection (Acts 1:9-11). We are told that He will return in a similar manner. Jesus also sits on a cloud when He comes to gather the saints (Rev. 14:14-16; Mat. 24:30). Since this is just before the saints are raptured, they must not make up this cloud. At the Rapture, Christians rise up into the clouds in the air (1 Thes. 4:17). In Daniel, Jesus is shown coming with the clouds of heaven (Dan. 7:13-14).
There may be a connection between the clouds of Revelation 1:7 and the glory of God. For example, when Jesus was transfigured, a bright cloud appeared (Mat. 17:5). When Solomon dedicated the temple, a cloud filled it and the priests could not continue to minister (1 Kg. 8:10-12). The Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt in a cloud (Ex. 13:21-22; Ex. 14:19, 20, 24; Ex. 16:10). The mountain where Moses received the ten commandments (Mt. Sinai) was covered with a cloud when the Lord was there (Ex. 19:16-18).
Will the temple be rebuilt? [Return to topic list]
Since the Abomination of Desolation includes the forbidding of sacrifices, some teach that the temple in Jerusalem must be rebuilt before the Great Tribulation. That may be true (see Rev. 11:1-2). However, it may be possible for this prophecy to be fulfilled without the rebuilding of the temple.
There is no legitimate need for a physical temple as a place of sin sacrifice since the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus made one sacrifice for sins that does not need repeating in any form (Heb. 10:11-14). Since He completely paid for sin, there is no longer an offering or sacrifice for sin (Heb. 10:18, 26). The old covenant with its sacrifices and ordinances has become obsolete and is replaced by the new covenant in Jesus (Heb. 8:13; Heb. 10:8-11). If a temple is built and sacrifices for sin are offered, it will be in rebellion against the plan of God for salvation (Heb. 10:28-29; Gal. 4:21-26; Gal. 5:1-6; Rom. 10:3-4).
The first possibility for fulfilling the prophecy about the Abomination of Desolation without rebuilding the temple is that sacrifices may be made in a different location. For example, Jews made sacrifices in the Tabernacle at several locations long before the temple was built by Solomon. The second possibility is that the forbidden sacrifices may be something other than animal sacrifices. The Bible mentions several non-animal sacrifices. For example, there is a sacrifice of thanksgiving and a sacrifice of praise (Ps. 116:17; Heb 13:15). Things sent to support ministry work are also called sacrifices (Phil. 4:8).
The people of God are the temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 2:19-22). There is no need for a physical temple. However, that does not mean that one will not be built. It is important to be alert to various possible ways of fulfilling the Abomination of Desolation.
Do faithful Christians go through the Great Tribulation? [Return to topic list]
The following Scriptures show that faithful Christians are on earth during the Great Tribulation.
Matthew 24:21-25 (NKJV) "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. 23 "Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 "See, I have told you beforehand. [Note: If the chosen ones of God were not going to be here, this warning would not have been needed.]
Daniel 11:31-34 (NKJV) "And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. 32 "Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. 33 "And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. 34 "Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue.
Also "... Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." This patience of the saints is their refusal to worship the Beast or to take his mark (Rev. 14:9-12). These are activities that take place during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 13:16-18). This shows that Christians will be on earth during the reign of the Beast. Those Christians who go through the Great Tribulation are not second class Christians who missed the Rapture (See Rev. 7:4-17). (If anything, these Christians seem to receive special recognition.)
Will Christians be kept from the Great Tribulation? [Return to topic list]
Some people teach that Revelation 3:10 promises Christians that they will not go through the Great Tribulation.
Revelation 3:10 (NKJV) "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."
If this passage is talking about the Great Tribulation, the word keep does not necessarily mean that the Christians will be removed. The same Greek word is used in a similar fashion in John 17:15. However, that passage clearly shows that the word is used to mean a protection from the trouble rather than a removal from the earth. The meaning of keep in these passages appears to be a protection in the midst of a problem.
John 17:11-15 (NKJV) "Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 15 (NKJV) "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. [emphasis added]
In Revelation 3:10, the Greek words for trial (temptation in KJV) and test (try in KJV) refer to a testing in the sense of determining the value or validity of something. Since the Great Tribulation will make a separation between those people who belong to God and those who do not, this passage could be promising protection from failing the test (Mat. 24:11-13; 2 Tim. 1:12).
Persecution of Christians during the Great Tribulation [Return to topic list]
During the Great Tribulation, the Beast will persecute God’s people. This should not be surprising since Satan’s only purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). All through history, the people of God have been persecuted by the people who are following Satan. Jesus was persecuted and He promised that those who follow Him will also be persecuted and hated (Mat. 10:22-26; 24:9; Luke 21:12-19; John 15:18-21). We are destined for tribulation (1 Thes. 3:3-4; John 16:33). However, persecution and tribulation cannot separate us from Christ’s love for us (Rom. 8:35).
The Beast will especially persecute and kill God’s people during the Great Tribulation (Dan. 7:21, 25; 8:24; 11:32-33; 12:7; Rev. 12:13, 17; 13:7; 20:4). He will receive authority to fight against Christians and to prevail in some cases (Rev. 13:7-8). Many Christians will oppose the Beast (Dan. 11:32-33; Rev. 11:3-11). Apparently, the Beast’s persecution of the people of God will serve to purify them (Dan. 11:35; Rom. 5:3-4).
During the Great Tribulation, God will provide some assistance to those of His people who are persecuted by the Beast (Dan. 11:34). This protection will include some kind of protection in the wilderness with some assistance provided by the earth (Rev. 12:14-16; Mat. 24:16-20). Christians can count on the Lord’s help, no matter what they may go through (Heb. 13:5-6; Ps 23:4).
As a thief in the night [Return to topic list]
Jesus warned us that He will come as a thief in the night.
Revelation 16:15 (NKJV) "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."
Luke 12:35-40 (NKJV) "Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 "and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 "Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 "And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39 "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
Matthew 24:42-51 (NKJV) "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 "Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 "Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 "But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 "and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 "and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The primary intent of these passages is to warn God’s people to be alert at all times. Jesus’ coming will not be unexpectedly like a thief in the night for those Christians who stay alert and busy about the Father’s business (see following verses).
Revelation 3:3 (NKJV) "Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. [emphasis added]
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 (NKJV) But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. [emphasis added]
Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. NKJV indicates quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. KJV indicates quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible. Numbers associated with Greek (italic) or Hebrew (upright) words refer to the corresponding words in the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, by James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D.
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God bless you.
If you have questions or comments, please contact Sonny Bowman.