Your mind is built on the idea of complexities and predicting events of the future. If someone throws you a ball, your brain will work very quickly to understand the physics of that object as it floats through the air in an arch towards your hand. You have seen this pattern before and likely practiced it hundreds of times. This allows your brain to know when and where to put your hand to catch it. We practice predicting thousands of times a day. Driving a car, going to the store, and working all day long are things that require small predictions. You need to swerve to avoid the ditch. You need milk and eggs for next week. You want a paycheck so you must go to work today. They are just simple predictions that make an ordered life. People are drawn to the predictions the bible makes about the future. It feels good to remove the uncertainties of this life, by knowing what tomorrow or the next day will hold. Prophecies however are very complex and people often read into them what they want to happen. As I began to study prophecy I noticed that many people make assumptions about the end-times. Perhaps it is just our mind trying to fill in the gaps, trying to understand, but we must be careful that we don’t make the bible say things it does not intend to say. Below are several assumptions people make about the end.
There will be a seven year period of tribulation. This concept comes from a prophecy in Daniel 9 that talks about 70 weeks (of years). There is a general consensus that 69 weeks have passed, and the final week will happen in the future, and I agree. But take a deeper look. Daniel only says that in this final week the antichrist will make a covenant with the many (Israel). That’s it. The final 7 year period is a contract. We do know that during the last half of that contract the world will be under the heavy thumb of a militant Antichrist. This final three and a half year period is also known by the name Jacob’s Trouble. I think it’s misleading to say seven years of tribulation. The days leading up to this seven year agreement could also be full of tribulation. Likewise, the tribulation may not start until after the contract is broken by the Antichrist in the middle of this time period. A better way to talk about these seven years would be to reference Daniel’s 70th week.
The contract with Israel will be about peace. In the passage mentioned above Daniel only says there will be a contract. It could be a peace contract. It could be a land contract. It could be a contract for the rebuilding of the temple. It could be a behind-the-scenes contract that is not visible to the world. The phrase “when they say, peace and safety, then comes sudden destruction” is often misused by Bible prophecy students to suggest a peace contract. But that passage only tells us that Israel will be enjoying peace right up until the point that the Antichrist snaps and invades their country.
Tribulation is the same thing as God’s wrath. The bible does tell us that we as believers are not appointed to wrath. I mean, why would Jesus beat up His bride? Why would God punish his Bride? It is a false hope to say Christians won’t experience any tribulation. Many say that Christians won’t go through any tribulation. They stand upon the verse that says, God has not appointed us to wrath, but believers have always experienced persecution. Countless have been horribly murdered throughout the ages. What makes the Church of the last day any different than those who have already died for their faith? Persecution by the world is not the same as God’s wrath. We will suffer persecution, and more so as the day approaches. I don’t know how much tribulation the Church will experience, but I also follow the advice of Luke 21:36 when it says, pray that you may be worthy to escape all these things. There will be persecution as we approach the final seven years. I believe the Church will not experience God’s wrath. There is a clear difference between the seven seals and the trumpets and bowls. The seals all speak of man-made hardships like deception and war which leads to famine and persecution. These are things common to mankind. The trumpets and bowls however are obviously the wrath of God. Below are a few verses that speaks to the idea that we will experience tribulation.
It is possible the Church could experience the seals, but we won’t be here for the trumpets and bowls. It’s difficult to determine when the Day of the Lord starts and stops, but there is some evidence to suggest both ends will be marked by large celestial events. Rev 6:12 seems to mark the beginning of this time period, “sun became as black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood.” The chapter goes on to tell us the expression of those that see this event, “for the great day of Their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Joel 2:31 says these things will happen before the Day of the Lord. Joel 3:15 mentions a second celestial event, “The sun and moon have become dark, And the stars have lost their brightness.” Some have suggested that the prophet is only repeating himself in these two passages, but the context says differently. The first seems to be a dimming, the latter a darkening. They differ in magnitude. They also differ in time. The first happens ‘before’ the Day of the Lord, but the second happen as armies are destroyed in the final war.
- Luke 21:12
- 2 Tim 3:12
- 1 Pet 4:12-14
- 1 John 3:13
- Acts 14:22
- 1 Pet 4:19
- Rev 2:10
- John 16:2
- Matt 10:22
- Matt 24:9
- Phil 1:29
The Seals and the Trumpets occur on the first half and the bowls on the last half of the 7 year period. There are few hard anchor points between Daniel’s 7 years and the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls of Revelation. It is commonly assumed the 1st seal of Revelation ties to the start of the contract in Daniel and the last bowl lines up with the 2nd coming of Christ. But it’s only a best guess by many. I do think the end of the seven year agreement can be lined up with the Return of Christ in Rev 19, but it’s tough to align other points. It is possible some seals happen prior to the seven years. What if the first five seals happen in the 10 years leading up to the seven year contract? And then on the signing of the contract the sixth seal is opened and the rapture occurs? Then on the seventh seal the world takes a pause to try and absorb what just occurred and to prepare themselves for the coming wrath. “and they said to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the sight of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;'”
The Antichrist will rule the whole world. There are a few verses that seem to say that the antichrist will rule the whole world, but I think those verses mean his kingdom will be large and powerful and influence the whole world. I believe he will also rule the known world of John’s day. The focus of Revelation and Jacob’s Trouble is the redemption of Israel and the judgement of a sinful world, so that leads me to believe the main focus of end-times events will center around Israel. The first question we must ask is who is the antichrist fighting against? Even Jesus said a kingdom divided against itself will not stand, so we know the Antichrist must fight others who oppose him. Upon closer inspection of the beast in Revelation 13 we see that it has 7 heads and 10 horns. Again, prophecy is often vague and we must approach it with respect. Rev 17 could give us understanding.It says the 7 heads represent kingdoms. In John’s day. Five had past, one existed at his writing, and one was yet to come. These could represent all the kingdoms to ever rule over Israel (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, Islam). There will also be an 8th kingdom of the Antichrist that is a revised seventh kingdom. Revelation 17 goes on to tell us the meaning of the 10 horns. They are 10 kings (rulers of nations) that align with the Antichrist in the last day. So his alliance is large. 10 kings. He will conqueror three and he himself will join the remaining seven. So his final alliance will be a coalition of eight. These eight kingdoms will war with the rest of the world. Some will fall and some will try to avoid the conflict. He will rule over a powerful kingdom, but we can’t assume he will rule all 195 countries that exist today.