Well gang, we’re ready to explore our third study objective: to provide a framework from which to view today’s events through the lens of Scripture. Terms such as “last days,” “end times,” latter days,” and “time of the end” show up throughout Scripture. Exactly what do these terms mean? Are they all talking about the same time frame? When will they occur?
Good questions, so let’s take a look at a diagram that will serve as the framework to help us understand the timing of end time events. You may want to refer back to this diagram as you read and study end times passages of Scripture.
This diagram depicts five phases of events:
- Church Age. This is the age in which we are living! It began at Pentecost and will continue until the rapture. At that point, the Bible teaches that believers will be “snatched” from the earth to meet the Lord in the air, and that we will receive rewards at the judgment seat of Christ.
- Tribulation. Soon after the rapture, the 7-year tribulation will get underway on earth. While tribulation rages on earth, believers (who were raptured) will enjoy the 7-year Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven!
- Millennium. Armageddon will mark the end of the second phase on earth, as Jesus will return to end that chaos! This is referred to as Jesus’ Second Coming, or His Glorious Appearing, and it launches the Millennium. Believers who have been enjoying the marriage feast in heaven will return to earth with Jesus to rule and reign for 1000 years. Satan will be bound while the Kingdom Age of Jesus commences on earth. At the end, Satan will be loosed briefly.
- Great White Throne Judgment. During the Great White Throne Judgment, Satan and all his followers will be judged and cast into the eternal lake of fire. Believers will not go through this judgment.
- Eternal state. The Bible teaches us that EVERYONE will experience eternity, but as realtors say, “It’s all about location, location, location!” Satan, his demons and those who reject Christ will spend eternity in hell. It is a real place created for the devil, but many will choose to follow him there rather than trust Jesus Christ as Savior. Jesus’s followers, however, will spend eternity with Him in the New Heaven and New Earth.
This is your GPS! All end time prophetic events described in Scripture fit into one of the five phases illustrated in this diagram. So, keep your GPS handy as you navigate through the rest of the study.
Finally, a word about Jesus’s Second Coming. We know that believers will be “caught up” in the rapture to meet Jesus in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55) The Bible also teaches us that Jesus Christ will physically return to earth (often called His “glorious appearing”). Thus, think of Jesus’s Second Coming as one event, two phases: rapture and glorious appearing.
In God’s sovereign wisdom, He has plans for both Jews (His chosen people) and Gentiles! The Church Age is the time frame God has made possible for Gentiles to be “grafted in” as His chosen as well. Thus, the rapture brings an end to the Church Age and will usher believers into the presence of God. The Jews, meanwhile, having rejected the Messiah, will be awakened during the tribulation. That time frame will end with Jesus’s glorious appearing, when all Israel will be saved! (Romans 11:26)
So, there you have it! One event, Jesus’s Second Coming, in two phases…rapture for Gentiles, and glorious appearing for Jews!
God is gracious, and will always make a way for those who choose to look upon Him as Messiah!
Thanks for sailing the seas of prophecy with us! I hope you are enjoying the cruise, and that you will stick with us through the next few weeks. We’ve got exciting destinations to explore!