The New Testament is full of warnings concerning the ‘last days’ or ‘end times’, where destruction and wickedness will prevail, and half the population of the earth will be wiped out before judgement day. The book of Revelation is dedicated to presenting the impending doom of the earth’s inhabitants, and Jesus himself mentioned that the world would end in distress because of the selfishness and wickedness of mankind.
But even with a large amount of information presented in the Bible there are many Christians who ignore it, believing that it is wrong to think about such things, and that in reality we are destined for world peace. These same people are unhappy with the increasing ‘doom and gloom’ presented in the media and yet fail to associate this with what Jesus said life would be like during the end times.
Another point that stirs up controversy is the ‘rapture’, in which Christ comes to take faithful Christians from the earth, leaving the wicked to face a time of destruction and wrath poured out upon them – referred to as the ‘great tribulation’. The rapture sounds foolish to most people, which makes it hard for them to accept, and is one of the areas of the Bible that many Christians try to brush under the carpet.
Increasingly we are hearing of Christians, even those in high places in the church, saying that not all of the bible is true, and that its accounts of the creation and flood are just myths. The bible is slowly being thrown aside to be replaced with the doctrines of men, so that Christians can fit in with what the world accepts.
Christians who believe that the whole bible is the true word of God are now labelled ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘extremists’, and are categorised with Muslim suicide bombers who kill innocent people in the name of Islam. One reason for this is that many Christians are rejoicing over terrible signs mentioned in the Bible which are coming to pass, signifying that we are close to the end of the world. The rejoicing is not over the terrible things that are happening, but that these things signify Christ’s return is at hand. Nevertheless, there are those who consider that rejoicing at such chaos is evidence of a desire to create it – which is not the case. According to the bible, Christians are told to live peaceably with all men:
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” – Hebrews 12 v 14
Christians are told not to avenge themselves, as that is God’s job, but that they should instead do good to those who make themselves enemies:
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12 v 18-21
Some people claim that the Bible contradicts itself, as Jesus specifically said “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”:
Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” – Matthew 10 v 32-36
Looking at the above scripture in context, we can clearly see that Jesus was not suggesting his followers persecute people, but that his followers shall suffer persecution. This is evident because he says that he will deny whoever denies him – why would any Christian deny that Jesus is Christ unless threatened with harm?
Is Watching for the End Times Wrong?
“Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.” – Amos 5 v 18
No Christian should ever desire the great tribulation itself; however, contrary to what many Christians claim, we are specifically instructed in the New Testament to watch out for its signs, which mark the coming of Christ:
“Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” — Mark 13 v 33-37
We are reproved for not observing the signs God has provided for us in the Bible. Concerning the end times, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?” – Luke 12 v 56
Moreover, it is considered a blessing if we take note of these signs. The book of Revelation starts with, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” — Revelation 1 v 3
Obviously the bible contains things pertaining to the future so that we can discern the times we are living in. What other reason is there for such things to be written? Although Jesus did instruct people not to worry about the future, he never told them to ignore it. When asked when the time of the end would be, Jesus didn’t tell his disciples that it was wrong to be interested in the future; instead, he gave them specific indicators of when the end would be, and also said, “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” – Mark 13 v 37
Of course, watching for the signs is not the main objective. Jesus specifically instructed his followers to live holy lives, and the signs are for a wake-up call to Christians who may have pushed God aside while they fulfil their own desires.
The Rapture – watching for signs of the coming of Christ
The following Bible passages are quoting Christ himself:
“And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” – Luke 17 v 26-30
“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” – Matthew v 37-42
We are told to watch because we do not know when Christ will return – it will take everybody by surprise. Christ’s return will be at a time of peace, as at that time people will be eating, drinking, buying, selling, building, planting, marrying, working, etc.
This coming of Christ is obviously not his coming at the end of the world, which the bible says will be a time of terror, violence and desolation, where he will come in power and glory to judge the world.
We are told that the people of Noah’s day lived normal lives up until Noah was removed into the ark. Again, life in Sodom carried on as normal until Lot was removed. Concerning the latter days, the scriptures say that one person will be taken and the other left, in times of peace before the great tribulation. As destruction came once Noah and Lot had entered into safety, destruction will begin once the righteous have been removed from the earth. This is the rapture that causes so much debate amongst both Christians and unbelievers.
The fact that the world will be at peace when the rapture takes place is confirmed in the first book of Thessalonians, where the destruction begins at a time when everyone is feeling safe and at peace:
“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” – 1 Thessalonians 5 v 2-4
A few verses further down we read:
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” – 1 Thessalonians 5 v 9
The passage clearly tells us that when the world is living in peace and safety it will experience sudden destruction – the wrath of God. It tells us that ‘they’, the wicked, shall not escape. But we are told that Christians, those not living in darkness, shall not be part of the destruction, for Christians are not appointed to the wrath to come.
The ‘second coming’ of Christ is when Christ shall return, and is not the same as the rapture. As we have already read, when Christ returns to take his people in the rapture he will come unnoticed, like a thief in the night, in times of peace. In the book of Matthew we read the words of Jesus, explaining that his second coming will be after the time of tribulation, not in times of peace, and that every person on the earth shall see him:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” – Matthew 24 v 29-30
The passage continues, seemingly suggesting that the rapture will occur at the same time as Christ’s second coming:
“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” – Matthew 24 v 31
Although the above verse comes directly after those that refer to Christ’s second coming, it does not specifically claim that this gathering will occur at the same time as the second coming. We already know that Christ will come before the tribulation, as a thief in the night, to take his elect when people are living in peace. We also know that many Christians will not be watching and waiting for Christ’s return, but will be more interested in worldly pleasures.
If the rapture was to occur after the tribulation period, which the bible says is three and a half years, not only would Christians know exactly when Christ should come, but it’s highly unlikely that any Christian would be unprepared for Christ’s return, having been through such tribulation.
The nature of the rapture is described as follows:
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4 v 16-17
Rather than ignoring the signs of the times, Jesus constantly tells his followers to watch out and prepare for his coming by keeping God’s commandments and living a holy life. He also says that those who do not prepare shall be punished:
“But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” – Luke 12 v 44 – 47
There are many people who call themselves Christians, who know God’s holy will, but choose to live their lives contrary to what the Bible teaches. To these people Jesus says “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity”:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” – Matthew 7 v 21-23
There are many things that the Bible tells us are sinful; however, many Christians now accept such things as though they are not. We are warned about this, being told that it is unbelief through the deceitfulness of sin:
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” – Hebrews 3 v 12 – 14
Countless Christians are no longer walking according to the will of God – as defined in the Bible. We are warned that this will happen in the end times:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” – 2 Timothy 3 v 1-5
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” – 1 Timothy 4 v 1-3
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” – 2 Thessalonians 2 v 3-4
From the above scriptures we can clearly see that there will be a ‘falling away’ of the church in the end times, where Christians will turn their back on God after being seduced by doctrines teaching that it is acceptable for people to do whatever they like. As well as the falling away, we will see Antichrist revealed, who will defile the Jewish temple and claim that he is God, demanding that people worship him as a replacement of Jesus.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” – Luke 21 v 28-31
When mentioning the signs of the end times, Jesus also said that when we start seeing these signs we should watch and prepare for his coming.
“In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” – Luke 17 v 31-33
It is clear that Jesus is associating Lots wife with the desire to retain our earthly possessions, and that we must not consider our life on earth as more important than the eternal life of our souls. Before God rained down fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah he took Lot, his wife, and his daughters out of Sodom, telling them flee and to not look back. We are told, “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” – Genesis 19 v 26. Lot’s wife, instead of embracing the salvation God had given and looking forward to their destination, looked back with longing to the life she had. In doing so she ended up partaking in the same punishment that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah had to face. Surely Jesus is saying that if we desire our earthly lives more than the Kingdom of God, instead of being raptured we shall remain to face the great tribulation.
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” – Luke 21 v 32-36
Again, here we are warned not to be concerned with satisfying our earthly desires. We are told to watch and pray always, that we may be worthy to escape all the things that shall happen. This obviously means that those who are prepared and are worthy will escape the great tribulation through the rapture.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” – Luke 21 v 28
We are told that when the signs mentioned by Jesus begin to come to pass (i.e. when the signs first start appearing), be prepared to be redeemed. This redemption is obviously not deliverance from sin, as Christians are redeemed as soon as they repent and believe in Christ; instead, this redemption is the deliverance, or rescue, from the tribulation.
Signs of the End Times
The following scripture is taken from the gospels, quoting the words of Christ concerning the end times:
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” – Matthew 24 v 4-8
Above, Jesus lists things that shall come to pass in the end times, and we are told that these signs are the ‘beginning of sorrows’ – signifying that the time of tribulation is close at hand. The signs are:
- False Christs – which shall deceive many people
- Wars and rumours of wars
- Nations and kingdoms rising up against each other
We can already see most of these things happening more and more frequently.
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” – Matthew 24 v 23-28
Jesus warns that there shall be many people claiming to be Christ. It seems that even those who are considered true Christians will be fooled by the false Christs because of the signs and wonders performed. Considering that the bible warns us so clearly about these things, it seems that in the end times many Christians will not be paying much attention to the bible – something that is already coming to pass.
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” – Matthew 24 v 9-14
Here it seems that Jesus is talking specifically to Christian Jews. He mentions that they shall be hated of all ‘nations’ because of Christ. It is unlikely that this has already occurred because Jesus says “he that shall endure unto the end… shall be saved.” Also, we are told that the Christian gospel shall be preached to every nation in the world, and then the end shall come.
“But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.” – Luke 21 v 12-19
We are told that the above persecution is to occur before the signs of the end appear. Again, to signify that Jesus was talking to Christian Jews in Israel, he specifically mentions that they will be delivered up to ‘synagogues’, which are Jewish houses of worship.
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” – Matthew 24 v 15-22
The great tribulation begins when the abomination of desolation is placed in the temple in Jerusalem. This is the act of Antichrist, a man who will defile the Jewish temple and set himself up as God. This indicates that the temple in Jerusalem is to be rebuilt before the tribulation begins.
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” – Daniel 9 v 27
The covenant confirmed will be a peace agreement, and the ‘one week’ is symbolic of 7 years. We are told that after 3 and a half years Antichrist will break the peace agreement and defile the temple. The very idea of a peace agreement in Israel, in this day and age, fits in perfectly.
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” – Daniel 12 v 11
The above scripture, again from the book of Daniel, says that after the abomination of desolation is set up there shall be 1,290 days. This is half of 7 years, confirming that the ‘one week’ is allegorical.
“And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” – Daniel 11 v 31-32
Concerning Antichrist, we are also told that he will have a flattering tongue, which he uses to stir up people who are against God.
“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” – Luke 21 v 20-24
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” – Matthew 24 v 29-31
Note that the sun and moon being darkened, and the signs in the heavens are to occur after the great tribulation.
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” – Luke 21 v 25-27
The end of the world is depicted here as a time where the people left on the earth will be dying of fright from the fearful things happening to the earth.
The very end is where Jesus returns to judge the world, where each person shall be judged according to the lives they have lived.
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” — Matthew 26 v 31-46
If we believe the bible then we must believe that the future shall be full of destruction. We must watch and pray, preparing ourselves, living holy and peaceful lives before God. We must believe that the bible predicts the future so that we can know what God has planned, and know that he is in control. We must be aware that the bible warns us that in the end times many Christians shall fall away from the faith, listening to people telling them they do not have to live holy lives. The bible tells us so much about the future for a reason, not so that we should ignore it.