What Does the Bible Say Will Happen in the End Times?
Sadly, the Bible predicts a downward spiral of catastrophes, human sin, and religious apostasy before Christ returns. Paul writes, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. . . . Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:1, 13). The world will continue to reject God, His Word, and His people.
Some day in the future – a day no one knows – God will end the Church Age which began in the first century on Pentecost (cf. Acts 2) with an event known as the Rapture. At that time, God removes all believers in Christ from the earth in preparation for His final judgments. Of the Rapture, Paul says, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:14–18).
The erosion of peace and increase of turmoil that precedes the Rapture will reach epic proportions when untold numbers of people disappear from the earth. Such an event will cause panic and demands for a strong leader who will have answers to all the world’s problems. Preparation for this leader has been in progress for some time, as historian Arnold Toynbee has noted, “By forcing on mankind more and more lethal weapons, and at the same time making the world more and more interdependent economically, technology has brought mankind to such a degree of distress that we are ripe for the deifying of any new Caesar who might succeed in giving the world unity and peace.” Out of a revived Roman Empire, one that is organized in a European ten-constituency fashion (cf. Daniel 7:24; Revelation 13:1), the Antichrist will arise and sign a covenant with the nation of Israel, which will officially begin God’s prophetic seven-year countdown to Christ’s second coming (cf. Daniel 9:27).
For three and a half years, the Antichrist will reign over the earth and promise peace, but it is a false peace which will entrap the people of the earth. The Bible says, “While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Wars, earthquakes, and famines will escalate (cf. Matthew 24:7) until the end of the Antichrist’s 3.5-year reign, when he will enter a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and proclaim himself to be God and demand worship (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:15). It is at that point that the true God responds to the challenge. For another 3.5 years, a Great Tribulation will occur, such as has never before been seen. Jesus predicted, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (Matthew 24:21–22).
Untold loss of life and destruction of the earth will occur during the Great Tribulation. Also, large numbers will come to faith in Christ, yet many will do so at cost of their lives. God will still be in control as He gathers the unbelieving armies of the world in order to judge them. Of this event, the prophet Joel wrote, “I will gather all the nations And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people” (Joel 3:2). John records the battle this way: “And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon [Satan] and out of the mouth of the beast [the Antichrist] and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. . . . And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon” (Revelation 16:13–16).
At this point, the Messiah Jesus will return, destroy His enemies, and claim the world, which is rightfully His. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’ Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in mid-heaven, ‘Come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.’ And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:11–21).