Since every prophecy that has been fulfilled in the past, was literally fulfilled in every detailed as the Bible recorded the Word of God, we today can have complete confidence in the prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled.
According to the plan and program of God for this earth and man, we are living in the end times, only eight things are yet to happen before this earth's history is closed and eternity is ushered in with new heavens and a new earth.
The first one may occur at any moment for it is undated. Event Number One is the personal return of the Lord of the universe Jesus Christ, from Heaven according to His Promise. Our Saviour Who lived, died, rose and ascended into Heaven more than nineteen hundred years ago.
John 14:1-3 Jesus says:
1. "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
In the last promise in the Bible, Jesus repeats this: Revelation 22:20 - "Surely I come quickly."
The Apostle Paul teaches in I Thessalonians 4:16,17 -
"The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: so shall we ever be with the Lord."
All believers (the dead raised, the living changed) will be taken up out of this world, to meet the Lord in the air. This first event is called the Translation of the Church, or the Rapture.
Event Number Two will immediately follow. It is called the day of Jacob's trouble, God's day of Wrath, or the Great Tribulation. It will be 7 years of the greatest trouble and turmoil the world has ever known. Jesus described it in Matthew 24:21 - "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be."
There will be war, destruction, violence, and famine, earthquakes, and terror; a time so terrible that only the intervention of God will prevent man from completely destroying himself. Jesus said: "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved..." (Matthew 24:22.)
At the end of this tribulation all the nations of the world will be gathered for the battle in the Middle East to attack the land of Israel and destroy the city of Jerusalem. Then Event Number Three takes place at the Battle of Armageddon when these armies will be crushed and defeated by the sudden appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ with His armies of saints, descending from Heaven to the Mount of Olives. This is clearly portrayed in Revelation chapters 6-19.
This public return of Jesus Christ is the Fourth Event, ending man's rebellion.
Revelation 19 describes it (11,14,16):
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True...
And the armies which were in heaven followed him...
And he hath in his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords."
Zechariah also prophesied this event in 14:3,4,9 -
"Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against these nations...
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives...
And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one."
This is the Second Coming of the Lord to be distinguished from the Rapture of the Church to meet the Lord in the air before the Tribulation.
Jesus comes to the earth at the close of the Tribulation to defeat the armies of Satan which had come up against Israel.
Jesus in Matthew 24:29,30 said: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
Event Number Five is the setting up of the Messianic Kingdom upon earth. After the Battle of Armageddon the Devil is cast into the bottomless pit, and Jesus establishes the Millennial or 1,000 year Kingdom of Righteousness. Israel will be the center of the nations with the promises made to Abraham literally fulfilled. The capital of the world will be Jerusalem. Peace and prosperity will be worldwide. Even the animal kingdom will be at peace. All hatred and strife, all want, sickness and disease will be unknown. The Gospel will be preached to all men. The earth will be converted into fruitfulness for all mankind.
The prayer that is so often prayed that Jesus taught His disciples: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," will finally be answered and will last for 1,000 years.
To finally prove the utter depravity of human nature, there will be a brief time of rebellion in spite of all the peace and blessing of that kingdom. Satan is released from the pit and finds great numbers ready to rebel against Christ and His righteous rule. This rebellion will be quickly destroyed and Satan is cast into the lake of fire, forever.
Revelation 20:7-9 describes this Sixth Event:
"And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth...To gather them together to battle...
...And fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them."
Event number Seven will wind up God's program for this world: The Final Judgment of the wicked before the Great White Throne. The righteous dead had been raised at the Rapture and judged according to works for reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Revelation 20:5 tells us: "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished..."
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it...
And I saw the dead...and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
With Number 7, God's Judgments are completed. Only one other even is left. We have considered briefly these seven.
1. The Translation or Rapture of the Church.
2. The Great Tribulation.
3. The Battle of Armageddon.
4. The Second Coming of Christ.
5. The Millennial Kingdom.
6. Satan's Last Rebellion.
7. The Last Judgment.
Event Number 8 is the number of new things - after the Judgment - God will usher in eternity, never-ending perfection.
Revelation 21:1,5 - "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away...
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new..."
Peter speaks of this purifying of the earth by fire, sin will be forever removed from all of creation. We will dwell in communion and fellowship with the saints, and with God in Christ, forever.
Revelation 21:4 - "And God shall wipe away all tears...and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain..."
Truly this must be what Paul thought of as he wrote: "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18.)
Truly it is when we consider the greatness of God and the tremendous plan of the ages that is written in The Holy Scriptures that our daily lives are put into perspective.
We spend a great deal of time thinking of what to have for dinner, making arrangements for our leisure, our entertainment. We work hard to acquire money and the things needed for our security here and now. We are proud of our accomplishments and our possessions, and yet we desire more. And are we content and satisfied? Not often. This is human nature.
And these things can all be good if done in the ways God planned and if kept in their proper relationship to God. This Christ came to show us. Because we are sinners, we could not do what He did, He had to die to pay the price for our sins. His sacrifice was accepted and He was raised to the Right Hand of the Father on High. There He intercedes with the Father for us. He sent the Holy Spirit to give us the strength and power to live in the world and to live unto God.
God's plan is on schedule, the program is on time. We are to be mindful of the things of God and put them in first place in our thoughts. Let us keep in mind the wise council of James the brother of our Lord in his epistle, 4:13-15 -
"13. Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.'
14. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
15. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.' "
The habit of thinking that the next day will be pretty much like the day before is a trap and a lie. Certainly our hope must not lie in this and such selfish worldly concerns.
Our main responsibility is to be faithful to Jesus Christ who holds the universe together and is Lord of the future as well as the present and the past. We must be witnesses to the Gospel of God's Grace and share our faith in what Christ has done for us and our hope in what He is going to do shortly.
Just before His ascension into Heaven to be seated at the right hand of God, Jesus replied to His Apostles' questions about the time of coming events. He said in Acts 1:7-8 -
"It is not for you to know the times or seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
In answering, Jesus doesn't disagree about the event of prophecy the apostles asked about - only the time of that event. It is our responsibility as His people to read about His future plans since they include us. We are to study prophecy and know what God has in store for us and for the world. This is our hope and our warning to others. We are not to set dates and times, and become lazy or lose touch with reality.
The second half of Jesus' reply was a promise, a command, and a prophecy which has been fulfilled. We as believers have inherited the faith which these witnesses spread in the first century. Jesus' words show what our relationship to prophecy should always be - it should, by the Holy Spirit, give us power to be witnesses to Jesus Christ where ever we might be.
Prophecy can break the hold the pleasures of worldly things so easily get upon us. It can bring before us the majesty, wisdom, power, wrath, and love of God - the unsearchable richness of our Redemption. But this should not lead to idle speculation and wasting of time with theories and date-setting. It should lead our hearts to pray earnestly without ceasing with the Apostle John in Revelation 22:20 - "Even so, come Lord Jesus."
And in the meanwhile, get to work in spreading the Gospel - When you have so many opportunities to speak a word of faith; pray to God that He will give you boldness to speak by the power of the Holy Spirit that they may be saved. Let us all go together, with not one missing.
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. View more lessons at his Bible Study Lessons page.