Compiled by Joseph Candel
–An Overview of Endtime Bible Prophecy
The Bible not only tells us about yesterday, it also tells us about tomorrow. It is full of thousands of detailed prophecies that describe specific people, places, times, situations, and events. Many of these prophecies are about the final period of man’s kingdoms on earth, a period known as the Endtime–the time in which we are now living.
1. Signs of the times
The Bible gives us numerous “signs of the times,” signs and signals that we are to watch for so we can know exactly how close we are to Jesus’ return. These signs include drastic upsurges in the number and severity of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes (Matthew 24:7); the Gospel being preached in all the world (Matthew 24:14); dramatic increases in international travel and scientific knowledge (Daniel 12:4); a great “falling away” from the true God as “evil men and seducers grow worse and worse” and deceive many (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Timothy 3:13 KJV); unprecedented selfishness and lack of natural affection (Matthew 24:12; 2 Timothy 3:1-4). All this results in “distress of nations,” with “men’s hearts failing them from fear” (Luke 21:25-26)–signs that are all obviously being fulfilled today more than ever before.
2. Rise of the Antichrist
One of the most important signs of the Endtime is the rise of a totally godless anti-Christ world government led by a demonic dictator who will actually be fully possessed by Satan himself, the world leader known as the Antichrist. In desperation, the world will turn to this political superman, hoping that he will be able to solve pressing problems, cure economic ills, unite international politics, end religious squabbles, and defuse the nuclear time bomb (Daniel 8:23-25; 11:21,24; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
3. Signing of the covenant
The Antichrist will sign a seven-year covenant, or agreement, by which he will bring a measure of world peace by reconciling the world’s major religions (Daniel 9:27a). Through this covenant he will also somehow settle the current crisis in the Middle East by working out a compromise between the Arabs and the Jews, enabling the Jews to rebuild their Temple and resume their religious animal sacrifices (Daniel 8:11; 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4).
During the first half of the Antichrist’s seven-year reign, people are going to think that he is wonderful because he will have brought some peace, restored the world’s economy, redistributed the wealth, helped the poor, solved the Middle East crisis, and promised religious liberty (Daniel 11:21-24,39).
4. Breaking of the covenant
But suddenly, halfway through his seven-year reign, the Antichrist will break the covenant (Daniel 9:27b), invade Israel from the north (Daniel 11:28-31), abolish all traditional religious worship (Revelation 13:7-8), declare that he himself is God (2 Thessalonians 2:4), and demand that all the world worship him and his “image,” which could be some kind of computerized robot.
The false prophet–the Antichrist’s chief aide, who deceives the world–will make this image to the Antichrist (Revelation 13:11-14) and place it at the site of the rebuilt Jewish Temple (Daniel 11:31). This image, which the prophet Daniel referred to as the “abomination of desolation,” will “speak” and somehow have power to cause those who refuse to worship it to be killed (Revelation 13:14-15). Jesus said that when we see this abomination of desolation standing at the Temple, we will know that the last three and a half years of man’s rule on earth has begun–a time of “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:15,21).
5. Great tribulation
During this final three-and-a-half-year period, the Antichrist will enact a mandatory one-world credit system, creating a cashless society. The Antichrist government will use this new credit system to try to force everybody to submit to and worship the Antichrist, because no one will be able to buy or sell without a personal credit number, the “mark of the Beast,” in their hands or foreheads (Revelation 13:16-18). But God’s children and many others will refuse to worship the Antichrist or receive his mark, and the Lord will take care of them (Revelation 12:6,14).
While the Antichrist and his followers are persecuting and trying to kill their enemies, God is going to let loose pestilences and plagues that will attack the followers of the Antichrist (Revelation chapter 8; 9:1-11; 11:3-6). The Tribulation will be like the last days of the children of Israel in Egypt, before Moses led them out. God’s prophets will do mighty signs, wonders, and miracles to defend the Gospel and God’s children, while God sends plague after plague on their enemies (Revelation 11:3,5-6).
A number of wars and the Antichrist’s worldwide persecution of all who refuse to worship him will make the Tribulation a time of trouble “such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). But the Bible also tells us in several places and in several corroborating ways exactly how long the Tribulation will last–three and a half years, or 42 months, or 1,260 days from when the Antichrist sets up his image at the Temple. God revealed this to encourage us to hang on and keep going for Jesus during what will be a very difficult period for Christians (Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 13:5; 12:6,14; 11:3).
During this time, “the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many” (Daniel 11:32-33). The people of the world are going to be more desperate for the truth than ever, and those who know God’s Word and are faithful witnesses for the Lord are going to teach and encourage millions. In spite of all that the Devil’s forces will do to try to stop them, millions of God’s children will keep going for God till the very end.
6. Nuclear war
At some point, possibly toward the end of the Great Tribulation or even after the Rapture (point 7), 10 “kings” will join forces with the Antichrist and together they will destroy with fire “Babylon, the great whore” in a final judgment. From a number of Scriptures, this sounds like 10 of the leading nations of Europe (or perhaps “10 kings” refers to the European Community as a whole) will unite with Russia and turn on the United States in a nuclear first strike that will destroy her in “one hour” (Revelation 17:12-13,16-17; 18:2,7-8). How and when all of this will play out is still unclear, but as the time draws nearer, we will see exactly how these verses will be fulfilled.
7. The Rapture
At the end of the final three and a half years–“immediately after the tribulation of those days”–just when the Antichrist thinks he has the world in his grasp, Jesus will return to rescue all of His children out of this world. The Antichrist’s forces will be shocked as they, too, see the Lord coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:29-31; Revelation 1:7).
When Jesus returns, all of God’s saved children will be gloriously resurrected in what is known as the Rapture. The apostle Paul writes: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The graves of all the Christians who have already died will burst open and they will receive new supernatural bodies, like Jesus’ body after He was resurrected. “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” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).