The End Times According to the Bible
It seems many people today want to know about the end times according to the bible. In these uncertain times, more and more people are seeking answers. Some have heard talk of bible prophecy fulfilled. Due to movies like those in the "Left Behind" series, some have heard of the rapture and the tribulation. Indeed, if you search Google stats, you will find literally thousands of searches for "rapture tribulation".
I am not a prophetic teacher. Prophecy is not my ministry. I am a teacher of God's Word as it applies to salvation and sanctification ... in other words "how to become a Christian and how to live as one." My strength is in interpreting scripture. But scripture speaks very much of prophecy and indeed prophecy is vitally important for a number of reasons, the chief of which is to understand the times in which we are living and thus use that as a tool to help those who have not yet understood God's plan of salvation and why it is so important. Thus I am always prepared to share the essence of prophecy as it relates to the choice God has placed before each human being.
To me, a perusal of the things that thousands are searching for on Google shows that regardless of what we see on the surface of society, deep down people are curious. And they are curious because they need some fundamental hope, some real security in their innermost beings-hope and security which they cannot find in an increasingly uncertain world.
The fact is that the pre-tribulation rapture offers just that security. The hope it gives is transcendent. Paul said, "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 15:19) But, of course, he shows that our hope transcends this life and, therefore, those who believe and accept God's word are truly blessed … in both lives- the here and the hereafter.
You see, the world's religions and the New Agers are correct: man's innermost being does not die. It indeed lives eternally. The question is - "Where will it live?" Or, more properly, where will WE live? God says there are two options … heaven and hell. And the choice is 100% ours.
But that choice exists only in this life, on this earth. And that exists only as long as this current "age", this current dispensation, continues. But, according to the Bible, this dispensation will end as every other previous dispensation has ended ... just as prophesied. And the time of the end of this current dispensation is, the Bible teaches, in the not too distant future. Over the millennia bible prophecies were unfailingly fulfilled, leading up to the time of Jesus Christ. But a few remain until-as was told to the prophet Daniel 2,600 years ago-"the time of the end."
Now, Daniel is a very interesting prophet. He prophesied the coming and death of Jesus Christ to the exact year. He also prophesied that the final seven years until Messiah would return and rule the earth would be a time of terrible suffering, tribulation and a final cataclysmic war. When combined with the prophecies of Isaiah, David and Jesus Himself, we can see that the times we are living in match exactly with the descriptions given in those prophecies.
It is true, of course, that there have been similar times over the past couple of thousand years and during those periods many have believed-like us-that they were living in the "end times". So what makes our belief any different from all of the preceding mistaken beliefs? The answer is very simple- Israel.
There were prophecies given hundreds of years before Christ that stated He would be killed and that the nation of Israel would be destroyed, its people scattered across the face of the earth, their lives continually in peril wherever they settled. Jesus Himself made similar prophecies. This has come to pass, in spades. And Jesus indicated that when we saw Israel once again become a nation (something the prophet Isaiah discussed rhetorically) then we should look for His second coming. Some interpret the prophecy to mean that the generation that saw the recreation of the nation of Israel would not pass away before that second coming. Either way you interpret that, the end is definitely close.
Never since Titus destroyed Jerusalem and slaughtered the majority of its residents in 72 AD has Israel been a nation. (In fact, the Jews hadn't ruled themselves for hundreds of years before Christ, even though they still existed as a nation. They were vassals of the Persians, then the Greeks, and then the Romans.) But on May 14, 1948 Israel was once again declared a nation. And, again in fulfillment of ancient biblical prophecies, the Jews began returning from all over the earth. Thus we now have a situation that has never existed before - a situation that explains why we believe the prophetic time of the end is near. No other generation since Christ saw this prophetic fulfillment, a fulfillment necessary before the end times could begin. But we have seen it. Unbelievably, and against all odds and the entire sweep of history, Israel is a nation
And, indeed, we are seeing even more prophecy fulfilled.
Among the ancient prophecies regarding Israel is that she would also become a thorn in the side of the world. And 2500 years ago the bible predicted would become a burdensome stone for the nations to lift. "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." (Zechariah 12: 3) Does that not describe the situation today? What other nation the geographic size of Israel, and with her small population, has ever caused the entire world such trouble by its existence? And, in fulfillment of even more two and a half thousand-year-old prophecies, she is ringed by enemies who are out to destroy her. Indeed, is not the destruction of Israel as a nation the sworn goal, in writing, of most of her enemies, including the most powerful nations in the Middle East?
Therefore, I feel secure in stating that for the first time in history ALL of the conditions laid out in ancient prophecy are now fulfilled. Nothing else prevents the events of the end times from progressing to that final, cataclysmic seven year period that the Bible describes as the Great Tribulation.
The good news is that the Bible also promises that those who are God's through Christ, will not go through this period of Tribulation, which is also referred to as the outpouring of the wrath of God. There is an event called the Rapture. But that is a subject for another article.
In the meantime, if anybody is interested, there is a library of good articles on the Last Days, the End Time, the Tribulation, and the Rapture at Rapture Forums - The End Times Resource.