end times questions

©2019 michael martin | mike@truthquest.org

1. introduction

The book of Revelation is perhaps one of the greatest curiosities that many people have. It contains many amazing events, warnings and mysteries.

While this article cannot do justice to the book of Revelation, we will attempt to answer a few basic questions that often come up.

 

2. will christians suffer from the tribulation?

The short answer, and the only answer that we can Biblically know for certain, is “we don’t know.”

A Biblical event known as the rapture will happen, in which all those who believe and have put their trust in Christ will be taken up in the air with Jesus. Consider this:

I thessalonians 4:16-17

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

So, when the rapture takes place, Jesus will come in the air and the dead who have believed and trusted in Christ will rise and be swept up in the air with Jesus.

Immediately after that, those who are still alive and who trust in Jesus will be swept up in the air along with them all to meet Jesus in the air.

And beginning at this point, these people will be physically with the Lord forever. That’s the rapture!

The question, then, is “when will the rapture happen?”

There are several ways to believe on this issue. Some of these are:

a. pre-tribulation rapture

This belief is that all disciples of Christ will be taken from the earth before any of the tribulation events from Revelation start happening.

b. mid-tribulation rapture

This belief is that the rapture will happen in the middle of the seven-year tribulation period, possibly at the halfway mark.

c. post-tribulation rapture

This belief is that the rapture will happen after the entire seven-year tribulation has taken place.

d. which is it?

There are Bible verses that, depending upon how you look at them, could support any one of these views. And the Bible does not explicitly say when the rapture will happen. On the contrary, we are told that we can’t know exactly when this will happen:

matthew 24:36-44

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

This amazing passage tells us that the rapture could happen at any time. When Jesus spoke these words, even He did not know when the rapture was to happen.

So, what are we to do?

 

e. pan-trib

It’ll all pan out in the end.

The rapture is not a mystery that we need to unlock. It is an event that we must be ready for, not by guessing or predicting when it will happen, but by simply serving God.

If we are faithfully serving and obeying God, we are ready for the rapture. It’s just that simple.

But with that said, let’s examine how the final events in the end times will unfold.

 

3. who are the key players in the end times?

Because Jesus revealed the events of the end times to John in a vision, there are a number of metaphors and word-pictures in the vision to symbolize the things that will happen and the people who will be involved.

For simplicity, let’s identify just a few of the key players:

key players in revelation

• the dragon = satan

• the beast out of the sea = the antichrist

• the beast out of the earth = the false prophet

• the Lamb, the Rider on the white horse, Faithful and True, King of Kings and Lord of Lords = Jesus

 

a. the dragon is satan

Revelation often refers to a dragon. This dragon is clearly identified to be Satan himself:

revelation 20:2

He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

b. the beast out of the sea is the antichrist

In the book of Revelation, one enemy is called the beast out of the sea, or simply, “the beast.” This beast is what we call the antichrist.

The antichrist is a human person who is used and given power by Satan to lead the world away from Christ. The exact identity of the antichrist is not yet known, but the Bible calls him other names as well:

the man of lawlessness

In Second Thessalonians, the antichrist is called the man of lawlessness, or the lawless one.

II thessalonians 2:3-4

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

As we can see, the antichrist will set himself up in God’s temple and will proclaim himself to be God. Obviously, ans as we can see in Revelation, the antichrist will be in a position of great power in order to be able to do these things.

God isn’t worried...

While the idea of the antichrist might be frightening to us, it is not frightening to God. In fact, this antichrist, and even Satan himself, can’t do anything at all unless God permits it. And when the time is right, Jesus will be able to destroy him with the breath of His mouth!

II thessalonians 2:7-8

For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

why people will fall for it

It may seem unbelievable that most of the world will believe that this antichrist is a god to be worshiped, but not when you think about it. How many lies are already believed by most of the world?

Beyond that, for those who are determined to rebel against God, God will send a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie:

II thessalonians 2:9-12

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

That’s right. For those whom God knows will never believe in Him and who are determined to delight in wickedness, God will cause them to believe the lies of the antichrist.

a note about other “antichrists”

While we know that the end times antichrist is called the beast and the lawless one in Scripture, Jesus also warned us of other “antichrists” who live on the earth:

matthew 24:24

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

The word “antichrist,” generally speaking, is anyone who denies Jesus. This includes anyone who claims falsely to be Jesus or God, and anyone who sets himself up against Jesus. Consider these warnings:

I john 2:18-22

Warnings Against Denying the Son

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.

I john 4:1-6

On Denying the Incarnation

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

The idea here is that, more than worrying about the identity of the End Times antichrist, we should be on guard against anyone who denies Christ.

The End Times antichrist has not yet been revealed, so we can’t do much about him yet. But be on guard against the “antichrists” who are here now, already trying to deceive people.

c. the beast out of the earth is the false prophet, a preacher for the beast (the antichrist)

In addition to the beast out of the sea (the antichrist), Revelation speaks of a second beast out of the earth. This beast is the false prophet, who is a preacher of sorts for the antichrist.

revelation 13:11-13

Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people.

This second beast, the beast out of the earth, will be a spokesperson for the antichrist. He will be a false prophet, acting like a preacher, preaching that the antichrist is a god who must be worshiped.

More than that, this false prophet will be given the power to perform great signs and wonders, which he will use to deceive the people into worshiping the antichrist.

4. how will the end unfold?

Many amazing and dreadful things are shown to take place during the end times in Revelation. While this article will not deal with the seals, trumpets, bowls, or other details, we will examine the basic events of God’s final victory.

Things start to reach their conclusion in Revelation chapter 19, when Jesus Himself returns, riding a white horse:

 

a. the return of Jesus

revelation 19:11-18

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

Everything that happens in the book of Revelation up to this point is to prepare the world for this event; the return of Jesus!

Now, in this passage, Jesus has returned, ready for war. And in their deluded minds and hearts, the enemies of God gather their forces to fight against Jesus, foolishly believing that they have a chance to win.

b. the defeat of the beast (the antichrist) and the false prophet

revelation 19:19-21

Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

The beast and the false prophet will be easily captured and thrown alive into the lake of burning sulfur, and the rest of God’s enemies, who have committed to forever following Satan, will be killed.

This is where the antichrist will meet his fate. His story ends here. But Satan himself, the dragon, is not quite finished yet.

 

c. the dragon (satan) is bound and the millennium begins

revelation 20:1-6

The Thousand Years

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

For a full thousand years, Satan himself will be bound and locked away in the abyss, unable to harm or influence anyone.

During this time, those who have been killed during the tribulation because of their faith in Jesus will be raised back to life. They, apparently along with any followers of Jesus who are still alive when He returns, will reign with Jesus for a thousand years as priests of God.

But at the end of that thousand years (sometimes called “The Millennium”), Satan gets one last hurrah.

He will be released and will attempt to make one last attack on God’s Kingdom.

 

d. satan’s last attack

revelation 20:7-8

The Judgment of Satan

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth —Gog and Magog —and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.

This enormous army, gathered by Satan, shows us just how evil the hearts of man are! Think about it. After a thousand years of Jesus physically reigning on earth, and with Satan having been locked away for all that time, so much of mankind still wants to rebel and fight against God! How wicked our hearts are without Jesus!

But as this enormous, epic battle sets up, Satan will soon discover that the battle will be anything but glorious for him...

e. satan’s final defeat

revelation 20:9

They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

One sentence. That’s all the Bible tells us about this battle, because it will be over that easily! Satan is no match for God, and after this so-called battle, the only thing that will be left for Satan is his doom.

f. satan’s eternal doom

revelation 20:10

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

And with that, Satan himself will be condemned to everlasting torment in hell.

satan isn’t in charge

Cartoons often depict Satan as being in command of hell, but the truth is that he isn’t. Satan will not in any authority in hell. He will be nothing more than a prisoner there, with no hope of rescue or escape.

g. the dead are judged

After that, everyone who has ever lived and died on earth will be judged. However they died and wherever their remains were scattered, the dead will all be brought before God for judgment.

Here, all will be judged according to what they have done.

revelation 20:11-12

The Judgment of the Dead

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

The trouble is, no one who is judged on the basis of what they have done will be found worthy to enter God’s Kingdom. Romans 3:23 makes this plain:

romans 3:23

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...

But as the very next verse in Romans tells us, there is hope:

romans 3:24

...and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

 

h. the book of life

For those who trust in Jesus and live for Him, they have crossed over from death to life:

john 5:24

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

All those who have crossed over from death to life by trusting in Jesus and living for Him has their names recorded in a very special book. That book is called the Book of Life.

Everyone will be judged and receive justice from God Almighty, the Righteous Judge. But the Book of Life will determine how that justice is carried out. If anyone’s name is not written in the Book of Life, he or she will have to pay the price of death (hell) for their sin.

But, if anyone’s name is written in the Book of Life, God will consider the suffering and death of Jesus as the full payment of death for that person’s sin. Better still, the righteousness of Jesus will be considered as our righteousness! Imagine! We, who are not righteous, will be considered righteous because of Jesus!

 

i. the lake of fire (hell)

As the judgment and justice of God are carried out, everyone who has refused to trust in Jesus and whose names are therefore not written in the Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire, which is hell.

revelation 20:13-15

The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Here, we see that even death itself, along with Hades, will be thrown into the lake of fire.

But sadly, so will many people who have refused to believe in Jesus.

This is a bittersweet time, because God’s justice will be carried out, and everything will end as it should. But many people will face everlasting torment because they refused to put their trust in Jesus.

5. what is hell like?

We’ve seen some descriptions of hell in the verses we’ve just studied, but in addition to that, there are also these verses:

a. a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth

references

Matthew 8:12, 13:42, 13:50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30

Luke 13:28

This weeping and gnashing of teeth indicates great suffering, because hell is separation from God. Just as darkness is what naturally happens when separated from light, hell is the state of being separated to God.

Consider these descriptions of hell:

b. everlasting fire

mark 9:43-48

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [ 44 ] 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [ 46 ] 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where

“‘the worms that eat them do not die,

and the fire is not quenched.’

Here, we see descriptions of hell that include everlasting fire. In addition, we see the idea that worms will be eating the inhabitants of hell.

c. chains of darkness

In addition to that, consider this description:

II peter 2:4

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment...

Here, we see the idea of being chained in darkness added to the description of hell.

d. the rich man and lazarus

Finally, consider this parable told by Jesus, which appears to be an actual account of something that really took place:

luke 16:19-21

The Rich Man and Lazarus

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

First, we see that Lazarus had a difficult life on earth, while the rich man lived in luxury. But because Lazarus had apparently trusted in God, their positions were about to change:

luke 16:22-24

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

Here again, we see that a tormenting fire is associated with hell. Interestingly, the rich man is able to see beyond hell and is able to talk to Abraham:

luke 16:25

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.

Once again, we see that hell is a place of agony. But scariest of all is the fact that there is no escape from this agony:

luke 16:26-28

And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.

Once the rich man is told that there is no escape or relief available to him in hell, he pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his family so that they will not end up in hell. But Abraham’s answer is very plain:

luke 16:29-31

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

This should be a clear warning to us today! Many people want to see great miracles to prove that God is real and that His Word is true, but the fact is, we have been given everything we need to make the right choice already.

We have Moses and the Prophets just like the Biblical people of old had, written down for us in God’s Word. But more than that, we have the entire Bible to tell us to trust in Jesus!

And even more than that, we as believers in Christ have the Holy Spirit! Surely, if anyone doesn’t believe God with all of those resources available, no amount of miracles will change their minds!

 

6. conclusion

While we have only scratched the surface of the issues of the end times here, the most important thing to remember is that Jesus has victory over all of it.

Regardless of whether Christians will suffer in the end times, regardless of who the antichrist turns out to be or what he and the false prophet says or does, and regardless of what Satan tries to do, one thing cannot change.

God wins.

And because of that, we can win too.

Praise Jesus!