Jesus in HD 173: Demystifying the End Times, Part 3

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Picture him there, a grizzled, stooped, aged apostle, marooned on an island of rock, confined to a cave.

See him in your mind’s eye, with quill to parchment, writing fast and furiously in a mad dash to record everything that he is now seeing and hearing.

Our old (and at the time of his writing Revelation) very old friend, the beloved apostle John.

Writing, as you will hear in this PODCAST, what sounds like a fantastical tale in specific, yet an all-too-plausible scenario in the abstract. A story that brings to a climax the epic collision that has plagued this planet and every person who has ever trod its blood-soaked soil since the beginning of history.

The climax of the collision of good versus evil.

Here in Revelation, both good and evil are personified.

Here the wellsprings of good and evil are identified by name.

Here this human-history-long all-out war finally, mercifully coming to its end, thankfully with good as the victor, and evil as the loser.

When I mentioned a moment ago that this epic tale sounds fantastical in the specific, understand that we are talking about spirits, angels, demons, devil, Jesus. A unique combination of physical and spiritual forces fighting to the death that sounds like the kind of stuff ready-made for a Hollywood blockbuster.

I wouldn’t blame anyone for rolling their eyes and curving their lips into a smirk that says, You don’t really believe all of this, do you?

Just this week, I was listening to a TED talk (Technology, Entertainment and Design), which brings together elites, the intelligentsia of world, during which a TED talk presenter mercilessly mocked and ridiculed people of faith who believe in things like you will hear when I read to you from Revelation 16.

I will be the first to admit that what we are about to outline in this podcast indeed sounds fantastical – in the specific. But in the abstract, no one can deny that there is operating in our world today two distinct colliding forces: one for good, and one for evil.

About that, nobody laughs.

Whether it’s on the grand scale of someone in a van mowing down innocent pedestrians gathered in the south of France for a Bastille Day celebration. Or as modest as a child throwing a bit of a temper tantrum because he or she doesn’t get what they want.

Let the record show that a good many TED talks are devoted, in one way or another, to just that collision.

It is as though we are caught between two worlds: One of unbridled evil in which people do to people horrifically unimaginable things. While at the same time, others of us try our best each day to surrender to our better angels, as even TED Talk presenters will sometimes call them. And when they do indeed invoke that phrase, our better angels, no one in that elite audience of the world’s intelligentsia laughs. (I guess its OK to invoke the image of angels in the abstract, just not in the specific.)

Well, in this study, we will invoke the image of angels, good and evil, and a whole lot more, and will do so without laughing because this is deadly serious.

Let’s begin by reading Revelation 16:

And the demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon.

Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. And a mighty shout came from the throne in the Temple, saying, “It is finished!”

What is finished?

Well, as we discussed a couple weeks ago, when it comes to the “End Times”, the first event that will set things in motion and change the world entirely will be what we tend to call “The Rapture” – when Jesus will take all of the living, as well as the earth’s dead, believers in Him away from the earth to be with Him in heaven.

 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

The ensuing chaos that will sweep the earth after the Rapture will open the door of opportunity for a world leader to come onto the scene who will promise peace to the world – even between Israel and her Arabic neighbors – in unprecedented fashion. However, this leader will actually be a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, truly a man of lawlessness possessed by Satan, himself. He will be the anti-christ.

He will forge a Middle East peace treaty that will guarantee Israel’s safety and security, even allowing them to rebuild the Temple where the Islamic Dome of the Rock currently stands.

This treaty will state that it will last for seven years, which is significant because from the moment this treaty is made official, a seven-year period begins which the Bible calls The Tribulation.

The first half of this era will be a time of utopia across the planet! The economy will boom. There will be worldwide peace. It will be a glorious time for 3½ years. In fact, it will be assumed that with all the Christians gone from the planet, it must have been their fault that wars, famine and discourse had existed before this era.

But, it will be a mirage.

And it will turn into a horrible nightmare.

You see, half-way through this seven-year period, the anti-christ will defile the very Temple whose rebuilding he negotiated. He will pull back the veil that will separate the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple, sit himself upon the Ark of the Covenant, and proclaim himself as God.

And, as we read in Revelation 13:8, the whole world will worship him as such.

He will also erect a statue of himself and a decree will go out across the world that anyone who refuses to worship his statue will be killed.

This second half of the Tribulation is known as The Great Tribulation, because this will be a time of unprecedented suffering across the globe.

But, while God will have shown remarkable restraint to this point, once the Temple is defiled by what Daniel and Jesus call the “abomination of desolation”, God will no longer be silent. His “bowls” of wrath will pour across the earth, both to punish mankind as well as being a last-ditch effort to convince the people of the world to repent of their rebellion against Him and to turn to Jesus Christ.

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. (Matthew 24:21)

As a response, the anti-christ will amass the world’s army and attempt, once and for all, to overthrow Jesus Christ and His heavenly armies. The staging area for this great, final battle is known today as the Jezreel Valley, which lies right at the base of the Hill of Megiddo, which translates to Hebrew as Armageddon.

The greatest battle of all time will take place in this valley. And when it is over, God will pronounce from His throne in the Temple, “It is finished”.

Human history as we have known it will be finished. The battle between good and evil that we have lived within since Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden will be finished. And one more thing will be finished as well: God’s patience.

He has been, and remains today, remarkably patient. He is waiting, hoping that just one more… then one more… then one more… person chooses to abandon their selfish desires and follow Him.

Again and again they tested God’s patience
    and provoked the Holy One of Israel. (Psalm 78:41)

That happened in the days that Asaph wrote this Psalm. It continues to happen today. And it will happen during those coming years of Tribulation.

Paul put it this way in Romans 2:4,

do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But, at the end of the Tribulation, God’s patience will run out, and Jesus will return.

So, to review, here are the first four “pieces” of history pertaining to what is known as the “End Times”:

  1. The Rapture
  2. The rise of the anti-christ, who will unite the world politically, economically, militarily, and religiously.
  3. The Tribulation
  4. The Great Tribulation

The next “piece” will be the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Jesus will literally, physically come back to earth. Touching his feet to the ground of the Mount of Olives in Israel.

(Keep in mind, this will not likely happen exactly seven years after the Rapture, but seven years after the peace treaty is made, therefore it will likely be a bit more than seven years after the Rapture)

The point being that the Rapture (Christians being taken up to Jesus) and Jesus’ second coming are two distinct and separate events, taking place over seven years apart from one another.

Here’s the kicker: This time, Jesus will not come back as the sacrificial Lamb of God, but as the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah, who will thwart all of Satan’s attacks!

John writes of this glorious moment in Revelation 19:11-16

I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war on rebellious nations.

…And the armies in heaven, dressed in fine linen, dazzling white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now from His mouth comes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike down the nations.

Did you get that? There won’t even be a shot fired! Jesus will merely speak and the forces of hell will be defeated. And…

And He Himself will rule the nations with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.   And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.christcomingwithhisarmyofsaints

We won’t simply be there to see this event, but we will be a part of it as participants!

And, upon Jesus’ second coming, several things will happen in rapid succession:

The Beast (the anti-christ) and his False Prophet will be captured and cast into the lake of fire, originally intended only for Satan and his demons.

A great moment of God’s justice, love and mercy will come next as the souls of the people who lived and died during the Tribulation will stand before Jesus Christ. The books will be opened, the evidence of their lives will be brought forth, and they – those who chose to follow the anti-christ – will be found guilty as charged. But, the Book of Life will also be opened. In one, last-ditch effort filled with hope, God will give the opportunity for these people to choose an eternity with Him. But, alas, as John wrote:

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

The third thing that will happen in the wake of Jesus’ second coming is that Satan will be bound for 1,000 years and Jesus will rule the earth from Jerusalem for that glorious millennium.

This brings us to the sixth “piece” of the puzzle of the End Times: the Millennium, a glorious 1,000 year period that will be characterized by a number of things:

  • The ultimate fulfillment of both the Abrahamic (Genesis 12) and Davidic (2 Samuel 7) Covenants.
  • The entire world will worship the one true God!
  • There will be genuine worldwide peace.
  • Righteousness will reign throughout the earth and praise and worship will spontaneously break out!
  • The curse will be removed. It will be a global Garden of Eden.
  • The land will be bountiful – there will be no poverty, hunger, nor homelessness.
  • The glorious Messianic prophesy of Isaiah 9:2 will be fulfilled!

The people who walk in darkness
    will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
    a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
    and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest
    and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of their slavery
    and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
    just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
The boots of the warrior
    and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
    They will be fuel for the fire.

For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
    will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
    for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
    will make this happen!

And then, upon the conclusion of Jesus’ 1,000-year reign upon this earth, we will immediately transition from the earth-centered Millennium, to the Eternal State, which is heaven-and-earth centered. It will happen here AND there in heaven.

So, as we demystify the End Times, we have:

  1. The Rapture
  2. The rise of the anti-christ, who will unite the world politically, economically, militarily, and religiously.
  3. The Tribulation
  4. The Great Tribulation
  5. The Second Coming of Christ
  6. The Millennium
  7. The Eternal State

As the Eternal State begins, Satan will be released from the Abyss and he will launch one final gasp – one last murmur of protest. It’s as if God will give even the devil one last chance. Yet, as John saw in his prophetic vision and recorded for our benefit:

Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

That’s what will happen to them.

This is what will happen to us:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”And he also said, “It is finished! (Revelation 21:1-6)

God, Himself, will live with us forever.

Come, Lord Jesus!

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