(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise stated.)
FOCUS: Jesus’ timeline for the end of the age
KEY SCRIPTURES: Matthew 24:1-31; Mark 13:1-27; Luke 21:5-28; Revelation 6:1-17, 7:9-14
PROPHECY PARALLELS IN THE GOSPELS:
An amazing similarity exists within the accounts by Matthew, Mark and Luke of Jesus’ “end of the age” scenario. In response to Jesus’ prediction that the temple complex, primarily rebuilt by Herod, would be destroyed, His disciples asked, “When will these things happen?” And Jesus gave them a basic timeline:
1. The second temple, rebuilt on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, would be completely destroyed: “… not one stone will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” THIS PROPHECY WAS LITERALLY FULFILLED IN 70 A.D., when the Roman armies of Titus assaulted Jerusalem and burned down all the temple buildings. They pried apart every stone — just as Jesus foretold — to collect the gold leaf that melted from the roof. In 1968, excavations of the site uncovered large stones that had been literally “thrown down” by the invaders!
2. Jesus called the second block of time “the beginning of birth pains,” and He predicted that the following would occur:
— false teachers and false Christs would appear and deceive many
— wars and rumors of wars
— nations and kingdoms would rise up against each other
— famines, earthquakes, and pestilences in various places
— fearful events and great signs from heaven
HISTORICALLY VERIFIABLE EVENTS THAT PARALLEL THESE PREDICTIONS have been documented throughout recorded history, following the 70 A.D. destruction of the second temple and continuing through TODAY’S INTERNATIONAL NEWS REPORTS!
3. Jesus said, “AT THAT TIME” there would be increased persecution “to the point of death” for His faithful followers. And as “birthpains” increased, the following would happen:
— people would abandon their faith
— false prophets would deceive many people
— wickedness would increase
— parents, brothers, relatives and friends would betray each other
— THOSE WHO STAND FIRM WOULD BE SAVED
— the gospel would be preached in the whole world to ALL nations
4. Jesus refers to a specific event spoken of through the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:27) approximately 500 years before Jesus’ birth:
“So when you see standing in the holy place [“on a wing of the temple”] THE ABOMINATION THAT CAUSES DESOLATION … then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains … for then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again.” The good news for believers is that this season of suffering will be “cut short.”
No specific historical time period is given by either Daniel or Jesus concerning WHEN this will happen. BUT Daniel gives us a clue: A coming ruler will confirm a seven-year covenant “with many.” And somewhere in the middle of those seven years, THE ABOMINATION THAT CAUSES DESOLATION WILL BE SET UP ON A WING OF THE TEMPLE.
For this prophecy to be fulfilled, the temple MUST BE REBUILT on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem!
5. Jesus ends His timeline with TWO INCREDIBLE SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS:
“IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE DISTRESS OF THOSE DAYS ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; all the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
“AT THAT TIME the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. AND HE WILL SEND HIS ANGELS WITH A LOUD TRUMPET CALL, AND THEY WILL GATHER HIS ELECT FROM THE FOUR WINDS, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31).
So according to Jesus — as documented by Matthew, Mark and Luke — this is the time sequence leading up to THE GATHERING OF HIS ELECT:
— The destruction of the second temple (fulfilled in 70 A.D.)
— Tribulation throughout the world (“birth pains”)
— Increased tribulation for the followers of Christ
— The confirmation of a seven-year covenant “with many”
— The rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem (at some point)
— Approximately 3 1/2 years after the covenant has been signed, a ruler will desecrate the temple by setting up an “abomination that causes desolation.” And unprecedented “distress” will begin.
— IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE DISTRESS OF THOSE DAYS:
~ A “sign” signaling the coming of the Son of Man (Jesus) will appear in the sky.
~ ALL THE NATIONS of the earth will mourn as they witness Jesus’ coming.
~ There will be A LOUD TRUMPET CALL.
~ ANGELS WILL GATHER “HIS ELECT” FROM EVERY CORNER OF THE EARTH AND HEAVENS!
PROPHECY PARALLELS IN REVELATION:
Although the first three gospel writers recorded Jesus’ end of the age timeline, John is conspicuously silent. But when we compare Revelation 6 through 7 with the details documented in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, an amazing pattern appears as the Lamb (Jesus) opens six “seals” — unleashing “birthpains” and “the wrath of the Lamb” upon the earth:
Seal #1: The rider of the white horse represents DECEIT and CONQUEST (according to prophecy scholars).
Jesus foretold that deceivers would come, claiming the power and glory of Christ.
Seal #2: The rider of the red horse symbolizes WAR and BLOODSHED.
Jesus foretold “wars and rumors of wars” and conflict between nations and kingdoms.
Seal #3: The rider of the black horse releases ECONOMIC INSTABILITY and FAMINE.
Jesus foretold famines, pestilence, and earthquakes in various places.
Seal #4: The rider of the pale horse is named DEATH, and he is “given power over a fourth of the earth to kill” with the sword, famine, plague, and the wild beasts of the earth.
Jesus foretold that events would take place on earth which would result in death.
Seal #5: The Lamb reveals a place of honor for the souls of His martyred servants — under the altar of God!
Jesus foretold that His faithful witnesses would be hated by all the nations, persecuted and put to death.
ALL of these prophecies have been fulfilled in historically verifiable ways during the years following Jesus’ death and resurrection! And they continue to be fulfilled TODAY.
THE SIXTH SEAL releases a sign in the sky, strikingly similar to the one Jesus described to His disciples, which will signal the Son of Man’s appearance “with power and great glory.” AT THAT TIME, “He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and THEY WILL GATHER HIS ELECT from the four winds” (Matthew 24:30-31).
Notice the similarities in the following scriptures:
Isaiah 13:9-10 — “See, THE DAY OF THE LORD is coming — a cruel day, with WRATH AND FIERCE ANGER — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.”
Isaiah 34:2-4 — “THE LORD IS ANGRY with all the nations; HIS WRATH IS UPON ALL THEIR ARMIES. He will totally destroy them, He will give them over to slaughter…. All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.”
Joel 2:29-32 — “Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I WILL SHOW WONDERS IN THE HEAVENS and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of THE GREAT AND DREADFUL DAY OF THE LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion [the Temple Mount] and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors whom the Lord calls.”
Matthew 24:29 — [Jesus speaking] “IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE DISTRESS OF THOSE DAYS ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ “
Revelation 6:12-17 — [John speaking] “I watched as He [the Lamb, Jesus] opened THE SIXTH SEAL. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then THE KINGS OF THE EARTH, THE PRINCES, THE GENERALS, THE RICH, THE MIGHTY, and every slave and every free man HID IN CAVES and among the rocks of the mountains. THEY CALLED TO THE MOUNTAINS AND THE ROCKS, ‘Fall on us and HIDE US from the face of Him who sits on the thrown and from the wrath of the Lamb. FOR THE GREAT DAY OF THEIR WRATH HAS COME and who can stand?’ ”
Matthew 24:30 — “AT THAT TIME the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH WILL MOURN. THEY WILL SEE THE SON OF MAN [Jesus] coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.”
PROPHECY CONNECTIONS REVEAL THE SIGNS THAT WILL SIGNAL THE RAPTURE OF THE ELECT:
“IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE DISTRESS OF THOSE DAYS … They will see the sign of the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. AND HE WILL SEND HIS ANGELS WITH ALOUD TRUMPET CALL, AND THEY WILL GATHER HIS ELECT FROM THE FOUR WINDS, from one end of the heavens to the other. Now learn this LESSON FROM THE FIG TREE: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. EVEN SO, WHEN YOU SEE ALL THESE THINGS, you know know that it [or, He] is near, right at the door.” — Jesus (Matthew 24:29-33)
[John speaking] “After this I SAW FOUR ANGELS STANDING AT THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH, HOLDING BACK THE FOUR WINDS OF THE EARTH … After this I looked and THERE BEFORE ME WAS A GREAT MULTITUDE THAT NO ONE COULD COUNT from every nation, tribe, people and language, STANDING BEFORE THE THRONE AND IN FRONT OF THE LAMB. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands…. ‘These are they who have come out of THE GREAT TRIBULATION; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’… And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ ” (Revelation 7:1-17).
After THE ELECT are safely transported to the throne of God, the Lamb (Jesus Christ) will open THE SEVENTH SEAL:
[John speaking] “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour…. Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it upon the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (Rev. 7:1).
There is one more Prophecy Connection that, I believe, seals the deal on whether this rapture sequence truly reveals the timing — apart from “the day or the hour” — of when “the sign of Jesus’ coming” will be revealed. Notice THE SOUNDING OF THE TRUMPET in the following prophecies:
Joel 2:1-6a –“BLOW THE TRUMPET in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, FOR THE DAY OF THE LORD IS COMING…. a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor will ever be in ages to come…. At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale.”
Zephaniah 1:14-18a — “THE GREAT DAY OF THE LORD is near … That day will be a day of wrath … A DAY OF TRUMPET and battle cry … I will bring distress on the people…because they have sinned against the Lord…. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them ON THE DAY OF THE LORD’S WRATH.”
Zechariah 9:14-16 — “Then THE LORD WILL APPEAR OVER THEM; His arrow will flash like lightning. THE SOVEREIGN LORD WILL SOUND THE TRUMPET; He will march in the storms of the south and the Lord Almighty will shield them…. The Lord their God will save them on that day as the flock of His people.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 — [Paul speaking] “We do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope. We believe that Jesus dies and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him…. 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 [THE ELECT, gathered from “one end of the heavens to the other”]. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together [THE ELECT, gathered “from the four winds” … “at the four corners of the earth”] with Him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air [THE RAPTURE]. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words!”
Revelation 7:1, 9-10 — [John speaking] “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds of the earth … and there before me was A GREAT MULTITUDE THAT NO ONE COULD COUNT, FROM EVERY NATION, TRIBE, PEOPLE AND LANGUAGE, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb … And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.'”
THE BOTTOM LINE: In my humble opinion, THE TRUMPET IS THE KEY that ties together all the prophecies which foretell the second coming of Jesus to “gather His elect.” And the words of the elder whom John spoke with — recorded in Revelation 7:13-15 — confirm that THE ELECT WILL BE GATHERED FROM OUT OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION.
So how can YOU be ready for that event?
1. With a sincere heart, ask Jesus to forgive all the things that you’ve done in your life that He does not approve of — a.k.a “sin.”
2. Accept His forgiveness and prepare to move on with your life. Because Jesus WILL BEGIN WORKING to cleanse you and change you from the inside out. Realize that other people may or may not sense the change, BUT YOU WILL RECEIVE ASSURANCE that Jesus is working in you!
3. Begin reading your Bible, so that God can start communicating with you through His written Word. I suggest you start with John’s version of what happened leading up to Jesus’ death on a cross, beginning in John 8:12. Continue to read and underline verses that seem to stand out to you. Read Jesus’ testimony about WHO HE CLAIMS TO BE. Read about the man whom Jesus healed of physical and spiritual blindness, and pray that your eyes would be opened to TRUTH. Continue reading about the death and resurrection of one of Jesus’ closest friends. Read about the plot to kill the Son of God, who also called Himself “the Son of Man” because He could identify with the struggle with being human. As you read about Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, burial and resurrection, remember that John documented his eye-witness account of what happened!
4. Make time to pray. Set aside some quiet time each day to praise your Lord Jesus and to thank Him for shedding His blood to make YOU right with your holy Father God. Pray for courage and wisdom to discern truth in the midst of troubling events in our world. Ask God for physical and spiritual protection for yourself and your loved ones. Thank Him for promising eternal life to those who stand firm in their faith!
5. Understand that you are not alone! Believers all over the world are struggling with the powers of darkness in spiritual realms during these last days before Jesus’ appearing. If you need encouragement, please write to me in the comment section provided below.
Standing with you in Christ Jesus,