A question at the forefront of Christians' minds these days is "Are we in the end times?" and the answer is "Yes, we have been there for about 2000 years" for the end times began with the ministry of Jesus Christ on earth. But this is not what the people mean by the question and so they ask "Yes, I understand that but is what is happening in the Gulf War the beginning of the battle of Armageddon?" and to that I can definitely answer "No". I know that the Bible predicts that there are at least seven years left before Armageddon occurs. There may be another 2000 years of world history before that awful occurrence, but there are at least 7 years. We do not know the precise timetable of events just before Christ comes again and, in fact, Christ Himself said that He did not know the precise time of the end (Mark 13:32). With that said so that none of us will try to know something that even Christ does not know, we can look at some events that will occur leading up to Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ.
I. The Replacing of Israel in Their Promised Land (Amos 9:14-15)
This was done in 1948 and what has happened there is truly miraculous. Although Israel is not occupying all the land God gave to them, they are in place and speaking a language that should have disappeared long ago. The United States has played a prominent role in this regaining of the land by Israel.
II. The Rapture of the Church
The reason that I know that at least 7 years remain before the Battle of Armageddon is that the first event that must occur in a series of events leading up to that battle is the rapture of the Church. I can make this statement because I am a pre-tribulational pre-millennialist (see the appendix for details of this position). The rapture is described in 1Cor 15:51-58 and in 1Thes 4:13-18. Take time now to read those verses. In these verses we see that first the Christians who have already died will be reunited with their resurrected bodies (they will have been with Jesus in spirit since they died (2Cor 5:8)), and then those Christians who have not died will have their bodies suddenly changed and they will rise with Christ. So all the people who lived before Christ came to minister on earth but trusted God for the coming of Christ, and all the people who have trusted in Christ after His earthly ministry will all be together with Him in Heaven before the rest of the events occur. This wonderful union and reunion will last for seven years before the Battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. Other events which will occur without the presence of all these Christians are described in the following sections.
III. The Revival of the Roman Empire
This new worldly kingdom will consist of ten subunits or countries with their own rulers. This is described in Dan 7:7,24 and in Rev 13:1;17:3, 12-13. The initiation of the European Community (EC) is said by many to perhaps be the beginning of this new empire. The events that have occurred in Eastern Europe the past year are truly amazing as Communist rule has weakened and we see freedom there that the world has not seen in 45 years. This EC now seems too large to be only made up of 10 subunits but the membership could change quickly as world politics are so volatile now.
IV. The Rise of the Middle East Dictator
This is described in Dan 7:8 and in Rev 13:1-8. Out of the new Roman Empire a special person will make himself known by his wisdom and abilities. He will be the great leader of this powerful new empire.
V. Peace Treaty with Israel
Dan 9:27 tells us that this new ruler will propose a covenant with Israel. This will produce peace in this region of the world for the first time in a long time. At least the world will think that it is in peace. Israel will rebuild the Temple and begin sacrifices again for Dan 12:11 talks of when the regular sacrifice is abolished again. We can just feel the world relax as this region of oil importance and thus survival importance is at what looks like real peace. This peace period will last for 3.5 years.
VI. World Church Established
This is described in Rev 17:1-15 and something of the attitudes and philosophies are described in 2Tim 4:2-4, 1Tim 4:1, 2Pet 1:1-2, and 2Thess 2:6-10. Initially it will appear to the people that this is a great occurrence and signs of such an establishment are abundant now and have been observable for the past 20 years or so. But this will really be an awful perturbation of the Church.
VII. Russia Invades Israel
This is predicted in Ezek 38 (Gog is prince of Russia). Read Ezek 38:8 to see how we know that this invasion cannot occur until Israel has been put back into her land and is living securely. A news item on 1/30/91 reported that Russia recently warned the world that the Soviet Union may have to start importing oil by the end of 1993. Another news item on 1/31/91 reported that Gorbachev may now be sharing power with the military. Oil exports now form a major part of Soviet export earnings so such a reversal would be disastrous to their crumbling economy. Lack of oil and the military in power could be big factors in explaining why Russia might invade the Middle East. So peace will be broken but Russia's attacking force will be destroyed by God Himself (Ezek 39) and Israel will know that it was God who protected them.
VIII. Peace Treaty with Israel Broken
This is described in Dan 7:23 and the establishment of the world government is described in Rev 13:5-8, 15-17;17:16-17. This will be an awful time in the history of the world. For the next 3.5 years the world ruler will show who he really is.
IX. Martyrdom of Many Christians and Jews
The world government will not be compatible with the people who have become Christians during all these times and they will be martyred (Rev 7;9-17;13:15).
X. Judgments on Earth
This is described in Rev 6-18 as God's wrath is poured out on the earth. Remember 2 Thes 5:9 so that God's wrath is not for the Christian. All of these horrible times will lead to :
So from all the above we know that the Battle of Armageddon will not occur for at least 7 more years, and it could be many more years from now. But three important concepts should be clear:
"Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country."
God is not surprised by any of the events of our day. He set the date for the end at the same time that He began everything. God set the end tick of the clock of the universe when He wound it up.
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude 24-25)
!!!!!!!! Amen !!!!!!!!
Amillennial -- a belief that there is no literal thousand year time of peace, but that the Biblical reference is just to a long, indefinite time period between the ascension and ultimate return of Christ.
Post-millennial -- a belief that near the end of time the gospel will have produced a time of great peace which will last for 1000 years and then Christ will return. To have this view one must believe that man is becoming a better person as evolution proceeds.
Pre-millennial -- a belief that the world will not produce a peaceful time, but that Christ will return and rule for 1000 years with His saints (Rev 20:4-6). During this time period Satan will be locked away (Rev 20:2-3). At the end of the 1000 year rule of Christ Satan will be released and gather many with him to fight Christ. Satan is again defeated and judgment comes (Rev 20:7-15). At the end of this there will be a new heaven and a new earth (2Peter 3:10 , Rev 21:1-2).
Within the group of pre-millennial acceptors there are also three possibilities for further subdivision based upon 1 Thess 4:16-17 for the rapture and Daniel 12:7-11 for the seven year tribulation period divided into two groups of 3.5 years:
Pre-tribulation is a belief that the church will be raptured before tribulation begins.
Mid-tribulation is a belief that the church will be raptured after 3.5 years of tribulation.
Post-tribulation is a belief that the church will not be raptured during the tribulation but will rise to meet Christ as He comes back to rule after the tribulation period.
Most Southern Baptist ministers are pre-tribulational pre-millennialists. They believe that the Church will be raptured before the other events described in the accompanying paper and that seven years after the rapture the Battle of Armageddon will occur. I don't know what the end times will be like and I don't think that anyone else does either, other than God, Himself. Certainly the Scripture contained in Matthew chapter 13 must also be considered. The "other side" on this issue are preterists and that subject will require another paper to discuss those beliefs (see the book "The Last Days According to Jesus", R. C. Sproul, Baker Books, 1998). I don't feel real comfortable with either "side". I trust God and know that he is in absolute control.
Web Author: Dr. Leon L. Combs
Copyright �2000 by Dr. Leon L. Combs - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED