What will happen in the end times?
There’s a lot written in the Bible about the end times and it can be confusing to try to follow along with everything. Here we have summarized references from all over the Bible in order to give a better picture of the events that will take place in the end times.
The breaking of the seven seals
“And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.” Revelation 5:1. The breaking of each seal signifies an increase in war, famine, natural disasters, etc. on the earth. We can read a full account of the seven seals in Revelation 6-8.
The breaking of the seals is the first stage in the Great Tribulation, a time of turmoil and distress that signify the end times.
The rapture of the Bride
The rapture is the name given to the occasion when Jesus calls His bride home. We do not know exactly when the rapture will happen. Only God knows that. (Matthew 24:36) A clear description of the rapture is given in these verses from 1 Thessalonians.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
This event is not the same as the second coming of Jesus, which takes place at the end of the Great Tribulation.
The marriage of the Lamb
The marriage of the Lamb is the wedding feast in heaven between Jesus and His bride.
“‘Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.’” Revelation 19:7-9.
There is not much written about the marriage of the Lamb in the Bible but we can infer that the marriage of the Lamb takes place between the rapture, and the second coming of Christ, right before the Millennium.
The blowing of the seven trumpets
After the bride has been raptured and the harlot has been cast down comes the second stage of the Great Tribulation. This stage consists of seven angels blowing seven trumpets in heaven. Each trumpet blown brings a new plague onto the earth. Details about this time can be found in Revelation 8-11.
This stage also sees the rise of the Antichrist and the Beast, a confederacy of world leaders and governments that blaspheme God and worship themselves. You can read more about the beast and the Antichrist in Revelation 13.
Once the final trumpet is blown then all of the secondfruits will have been harvested (given their lives as martyrs.) Satan will be thrown out of heaven and down to the earth. (Revelation 12:9) Then God will be ready to pour out His wrath and judgment over the earth.
The emptying of the seven bowls
The third and final stage of the Great Tribulation is the emptying of seven bowls of wrath over the earth. Now God has taken up both the firstfruits and the secondfruits. Those who are left on the earth are Satan, the Antichrist, the beast, and all those who follow them. Those who have chosen to follow Satan up until now will be beyond repentance. They will experience God’s judgment.
Each bowl brings new plagues and tribulation to the earth. A full account of this can be found in Revelation 16. During this time the nation of Israel will be the only stable and safe country. God’s promises to Israel still hold fast. Because of this the Antichrist will gather all of his forces and move to make war on Jerusalem. In Israel’s time of greatest need Jesus will come back with the armies of heaven to liberate the earth and begin a time of peace, the Millennium.
The second coming of Jesus
At the end of the Great Tribulation, when all the nations are gathered to make war on Jerusalem, Jesus will come back with His bride. This is what is known as “the second coming of Jesus Christ” when He returns with His bride to defeat the Antichrist, the beast, and their followers. (Revelation 17:14)
“Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.” Zechariah 14:3-4. See also Revelation 19:11-16.
After the battle Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:1-3) Jesus will cast the Antichrist and the beast into the lake of fire. Those who followed them will be killed with the sword of God’s Word. (Revelation 19:19-21) Now Christ along with the saints will reign for 1000 years. (Revelation 20:4) This is called the Millennium.
The Millennium is the name given to the thousand years’ kingdom of peace when Jesus will rule over the whole earth from Jerusalem.
It will be a truly amazing time on earth. Read Isaiah 65:20-25 for a fuller description of the wonder and harmony that will characterize this time. The entire earth will be ruled by Christ, His bride and the martyrs. (Revelation 20:4)
At the end of the Millennium Satan will be loosed from his chains for a short time, though it is unclear exactly how long this time is. He will then gather an army from all over the earth and they will surround Jerusalem again. God will then send fire down from heaven to devour them. The devil will finally be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the Beast and the Antichrist are, and they will be tormented there forever. (Revelation 20:7-10)
This will happen at the end of the Millennium and will be the last event before the Final Judgment takes place.
The Last Judgment
The Final Judgment takes place at the end of the Millennium, after Satan’s last rebellion. This judgment will be for all those who have not experienced God’s judgment already.
Everyone who has died will now be resurrected and together with the living will be judged before God’s great white throne according to their works in their time here on earth. Books are opened which contain all the details of what everyone has done in their life. Another book is opened called the Book of Life. (Revelation 20:11-12)
Those who have shown patient continuance in doing good will receive glory, honour and peace. All who practiced unrighteousness, in any of its forms, and remain unrepentant, will earn God’s wrath and righteous judgment, regardless of who they are or their religious background. God is a righteous God. (Romans 1:27-2:16) All whose name is not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 21:8)
When God makes everything new, that includes even a new heaven and a new earth, because both the old heaven and the old earth have been tainted by sin. Even heaven was blemished by Satan when he tried to exalt himself above God.
In God’s new creation, every consequence of sin from the first creation – sorrow, pain and death will be no more. Fellowship between God and man will be restored, as well as fellowship between people. Jesus will reign from Jerusalem with His bride, and from them the glory of God will illuminate the new earth.
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God …And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them … And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” Revelation 21:1-5.
You might also be interested in our theme page about Overcoming sin.