As I have spent some time reflecting on the past 18 weeks of our End Times study, I am amazed at all we have learned and the many truths that have been clarified for me, personally, along the way. For those following along, we are taking a pause for the summer, and I want to dedicate this post as a review of all we have covered thus far. Our entire End Times study is called “The Coming Parousia.” We saw that the use of the Greek word “Parousia” in the Bible, primarily refers the Second Coming of Christ as seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, “the coming of the Lord.” The Parousia is not limited to the single event of Christ’s return, but includes all the related events that go along with it. This study is based on a pre-trib rapture view and is divided into four parts, primarily following Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s outline of End Time events in his book, The Footsteps of the Messiah.
Part One/Week One: Part One not only introduced us to the book of Revelation, but also to all of the End Times events prophesied to take place before the seven-year Tribulation. We began our study with the exiled apostle John and his amazing vision of the risen Christ commanding him to “write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches” (Revelation 1:11a NASB1995). Revelation 1:19 reveals the timeline of the book which includes the things John saw (chapter one), “the things which are” (chapters 2-3), and “the things which will take place after these things” (chapters 4-22).
Part One/Week Two: Next, we studied the Times of the Gentiles prophesied in Daniel 2 (Nebuchadnezzar’s dream). This prophetic timeline extends from the Babylonian Empire to the future Gentile kingdom of the feet and ten toes of iron mixed with clay. The fourth kingdom is unique and complex, unlike any other Gentile kingdom. The amazing thing about this prophecy is the absolute control God has over all man-made kingdoms. Jesus is the stone that will ultimately crush this last kingdom (Daniel 2:20-22, 44-45).
Part One/Week Three: We studied the Letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation 2-3 which contain specific messages to seven specific churches, as well as messages for all believers in the Church Age. These letters are both challenging and convicting as the Lord desires His bride (the Church) to be presented to Him spotless and blameless (Ephesians 5:27).
Part One/Week Four: At this point in our study we started looking into the chronological End Times events prophesied to happen before the Tribulation. The birth pangs mentioned in Matthew 24 began in 1900’s with World War I & II. Along with the world wars were famines and earthquakes, which are still happening today. The re-establishment of Israel was another prophetic event that took place in 1948. The Battle of Gog & Magog, is prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39. The Bible doesn’t tell us when it will take place, but given the fact that the burning of weapons spans 7 years, in my mind the latest possible time it could start would be 3.5 years before the beginning of the Tribulation. This would allow for the full 7 years of burning weapons before the Jews are chased out of Israel in the middle of the Tribulation. Ultimately, only God knows when the Battle of Gog & Magog will occur. For now, we need to keep our eyes on Israel and pay attention to any Russian alliance that involves Iran, Ethiopia, Somalia, Armenia, Germany, and possibly Turkey.
Part One/Week Five: The next pre-Tribulation prophetic event we looked at is the One World Government of the 4th Kingdom and the Ten Kings & Ten Kingdoms which will arise out of it (Daniel 7:23-24). I was surprised to learn that the 10 Kings/10 Kingdom government is in place before the tribulation! It is prophesied to be in place before the Antichrist comes to center stage (Daniel 7:24-25).
Part One/Week Six: We then turned our attention toward other pre-Tribulation events that are not in chronological order: the world-wide blackout (Joel 2:30-31), the return of Elijah the Prophet (Malachi 4:5-6), and the building of the Tribulation Temple. We don’t know for sure when the Temple will be rebuilt, but we know it has to be built and fully functional by the middle of the Tribulation when the Antichrist desecrates the Temple. We looked at several current events surrounding the coming Temple from the Temple Institute website, as well as the 5 red heifers that are currently a year away from being confirmed. If these red heifers are confirmed as eligible, it would be an historic and potentially prophetic event concerning the rebuilding of the Temple.
Part One/Week Seven: The last pre-Tribulation event we studied was the Rapture of the Church seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The word “rapture” is the English translation of the Latin word “rapio” which is translated from the Greek word “harpazo,” meaning “to catch up.” What a blessed hope we have in Jesus that we are not destined for the wrath of the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10). The rapture is a signless event. It is imminent and does not trigger the start of the Tribulation. Therefore, we must be ready at all times to meet the Lord in the air! Our study of the rapture began a 3 week look into God’s timeline for the Church where we studied the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Part One/Week Eight: The Judgment Seat of Christ is for the Church and takes place after the rapture. We discussed the believer’s crowns and rewards and how what we do on this earth matters in eternity. Every act of surrender we have in this life will come forth as gold when tried by fire in eternity. The hope of His coming for us in the rapture is a purifying hope as 1 John 3:3 tells us, and our aim as believers is to be found spotless and blameless at His coming (2 Peter 3:14).
Part One/Week Nine: The Marriage Supper of the Lamb takes place after the Second Coming of Christ. This special supper for the Bride of Christ (the Church) has many similarities to the Jewish wedding ceremony. Although it is not chronological in our End Times study, it involves the “Eschatology of the Church” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 141). The rapture of the Church, the Judgment Seat of Christ, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb are all events involving the Church and are part of the Day of Christ. The Day of Christ is God’s plan for the Church, while the Day of the LORD is God’s plan for Israel and the unbelieving world.
Part Two/Week One: Part Two covered all the events prophesied to happen during the first half of the Tribulation. We turned our attention to Revelation 4 to what I believe is the Church in heaven. We saw through John’s eyes the incredible throne of God and all that surrounds it. The 24 elders around the throne appear to represent the Church having already been rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Chapter 5 continues the majestic scene around the throne of God where we see the Lamb “standing, as if slain” (Rev. 5:6). He was the only One worthy to open the seven-sealed scroll containing the righteous judgments of God. When He had taken the book, myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands of angels, along with the 24 elders and 4 living creatures erupt in worship of the Lamb.
Part Two/Week Two: We then discovered the purpose of the Tribulation. It’s hard to imagine the reality of what’s to come in the world, but there is much comfort in knowing God’s purpose in it. We saw a purpose for Israel, for God’s righteous judgments to be displayed, to portray Satan’s true character, and to provide salvation (Hitchcock, The End, p. 237-241).
Part Two/Week Three: We studied The Decree of 70 Weeks found in Daniel 9:24-27. This prophecy is probably the most famous End Times prophecy in the Bible. We learned that the 70 weeks prophesied for Israel was actually seventy sets of sevens totaling 490 years. The 70 weeks started when King Artaxerxes issued the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in Nehemiah 2 and stopped at exactly 69 weeks (483 years) when Messiah the Prince entered Jerusalem at the Triumphal Entry. The precision of this prophecy is mind blowing! We are currently in the gap between the 69th and 70th week. I believe this gap is for the Church Age. When the Antichrist signs the covenant with Israel, the Tribulation starts and the 70th week begins (Daniel 9:27).
Part Two: Weeks Four & Five: Revelation 6 marks the beginning of the Tribulation with the opening of the first seal. The first four seals are known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first horseman represents the Antichrist who comes disguised as a man of peace but goes out conquering and to conquer. The 2nd-4th horsemen were studied in week five and represent war, famine, and death. One fourth of the world’s population will be killed during the fourth seal. The fifth seal is the martyred Saints under the altar crying out for justice and comforted by God. What wonderful assurance for the believer to be reminded that God knows all and sees all. He is the Righteous Judge (Psalm 7:11; 1 Peter 2:23) and will bring all things to justice one day.
Part Two: Week Six: This week we delved into Revelation 7. We learned about the 4 angels standing at the 4 corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth. We saw that the winds represented God’s judgment which would not be released until after the 144,000 had been sealed. The 144,000 are a group of Jews from all over the world who get saved early on and are set apart to preach the gospel during the Tribulation. The last half of Revelation 7 tells us the awesome result of their ministry as an innumerable multitude of Tribulation Saints “from every nation and all tribes and people and tongues” (Rev. 7:9) will be saved as a result of the ministry of the 144,000. I love that as God’s judgments are poured out from the ends of the earth, so is the message of salvation which is proclaimed by the 144,000 around the world.
Part Two: Week Seven: We then turned our attention to the Seventh Seal and Trumpet Judgments in Revelation 8. There was silence in heaven for half an hour because of the great calamities that were about to come on the earth. I believe the first 6 seals and part of the 7th (including the first 6 Trumpet Judgments which are part of the seventh seal) occur in the first half of the Tribulation, while the 7th trumpet, containing the 7 bowl judgments occurs in the last half of the Tribulation. By the time the angel blows the 6th trumpet, more than half of the earth’s population will have died. The magnitude of these judgments are seen in the fact that the 5th-7th trumpets are also known as the “woe” judgments.
Part Two: Week Eight: This week we turned our attention to the parenthetical events set to happen alongside the chronological events of the seals and trumpets. Revelation 11 speaks of the ministry of the Two Witnesses, two unnamed prophets of God who have the ability to bring about God’s judgments. The other parenthetical event is the One World Religion seen in “mystery Babylon,” the great harlot, the counterfeit bride of Messiah (Revelation 17). This pagan, Satanic religion is supported by the nations of the world. We looked at a literal interpretation of Babylon, a city which has both a spiritual and political component. We will get more into that in Part 3.
Part 2/Week 9: In our last week of study for Part 2, we learned about The Angel & the Little Book in Revelation 10. This brings us to the middle of the Tribulation. John sees a strong angel standing with one foot on the sea and one foot on the land. This represents God’s authority over everything. We looked at the 7 thunders and how they represent the voice of God, but saw how God also speaks in a still small voice to those who are listening. The strong angel holds a little, open book and John is told to eat it. We aren’t told what the book contains, but the context seems to point to it containing the word of the Lord regarding the specific judgments still to come on the world. We learn that these judgments will mark the end, or completion of God’s righteous judgments during the Tribulation. When John ate the book, it was sweet to his taste but bitter to his stomach. The sweetness represents the Word of God to the believer, but the bitterness represents the bitter reality of God’s judgment on the lost (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). John is told he “must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings” (Rev. 10:11).
Wow! If you are still reading this post, God bless you! LOL! We have certainly covered a lot in our few months together. I feel like I barely scratched the surface in this review. One of my favorite realizations throughout this study is how much prophecy revolves around Christ. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10c). The heart of the Lamb to seek and save the lost is seen throughout the whole book of Revelation. I pray you have been blessed as you studied. Revelation is the only book with a promise for those who study it. “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3).
We will resume with Part 3 in the fall as we study the events that happen in the Middle of the Tribulation, as well as the events of the second half including The Battle of Armageddon & The Second Coming of Christ. Part 4 will cover the Millennial Kingdom & Eternal Order. I am so excited at what God has in store for us (if we aren’t raptured first, which would be glorious)! May God bless you as you continue to study His Word. Keep looking up and be aware of the signs of the times. Our redemption draweth nigh!