The Bible is literally packed full of information regarding the end of this earth as we know it. Whether you choose to believe in God or not, it is a scientific fact that this earth has a shelf-life and will come to an end at some point in the far off future. However, those of us who choose to accept the Word of God as truth know of the future that is in store for this earth and all that is on the earth. To fully attack such a healthy topic as the end of the world according to the Bible would certainly take more than the 5-7 pages I have for this report, so I will only attempt to “skim” the surface of some of the more important and common beliefs and leave the rest for the novelists.
If we look at the Bible in its entirety, we realize that both the old and new testaments are filled with prophecy regarding the end times. Because this class is focused on the new testament, I will attempt to restrain my attention to those books. However, it would be impossible to speak on the topic of the end times without making some mention of old testament prophecies.
As with the entire religion of Christianity, the future of the earth also revolves around the centerpiece of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection on earth. Galations 1:4 states, “Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father,” this was Jesus’ first coming to this earth – there will be another. If we look at the big picture, we can now see the “two trips” that God has laid out for humanity. First, we have Jesus coming to provide the ultimate sacrifice for humanity by dying on the cross for the sins of the world. This is the single most important act in the entire Christian faith. Because of this sacrifice, Jesus provided a link between the lost sinners of the world and God the Father – a gap that had not been closed since Adam sinned in the garden. Through this sacrifice, humanity actually has renewed hope to spend an eternity with God in Heaven.
Well, what exactly is the big plan? When Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden of Eden because of their sin, they ended the perfect relationship that God had created with mankind. God wants terribly to have this perfect relationship back, and the whole of human history has been the struggle to regain this relationship. Satan has been the major nemesis throughout the entire ordeal, and the presence of sin inherent in every human upon birth has continued the rift that began between God and humanity when Adam first sinned. The end of the age also represents the end of this rift as well as the end of the struggle with satan. It can be looked at another way: When God sent Jesus to die on the cross, that was the band-aid for humanity; however, when He returns, it will be the ultimate healing of the human condition.
We should now shift our focus to some of the specific events that are going to take place during the Lord’s return. We have all heard of this word called “Rapture” yet it never occurs in the Bible. How can something occur if it isn’t even mentioned in the Bible? Well, even though the word is not specifically used, the specific events that will take place are spoken of many times throughout the old and new testament. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 says, “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Many people think that we cannot know when the Rapture will take place, but “knoweth” is present tense in Mark 13:32. There Jesus said, “But of that day and that hour KNOWETH no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” It was true that particular day. If was phrased carefully; he did not say we would never know. Jesus continued, “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” What were we to watch for? And what were we to pray for? That we would know when the time is? Just ten verses before that, Jesus said, “but take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you ALL things.”
Will we really know the time and hour of Jesus’ return? I don’t think so. Jesus gave us many things to look out for when the end of days are coming, but we would not know the exact hour of His return. He said He will come as a thief in the night, and the last time I checked, thieves don’t knock on your front door and let you know they are coming in. What does it mean to be “raptured”? Well, as I said, the word is not in the Bible, yet it is a common term used by all Christians who believe in these events. The word simply refers to the return of Jesus to this earth, and all the believers will be caught up with Him in the sky. The dead in Christ will rise first, followed by those still alive when He comes. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 reads, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For 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 firs: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” I think that is a quite vivid picture of the events that will take place when Jesus will return.
Up to this point, I have only spoken of the good things related to the return of Jesus – there are also some very bad things that will transpire. The day of the Lord is not just the day when Jesus comes to save all of His people; it is also the day of Judgment. Joel 1:15 states, “Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.” This is also the point in history when God cleans the entire earth of all sin and sets up His kingdom on earth for 1,000 years. It will be at this time when God judges all of the unbelievers and they receive their eternal destiny in the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15 says, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the d3ead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” I must say, after reading that, I’m glad I’m a believer. It’s sad to think of all the lost souls who simply chose not to believe in God. So as we can see, the day of judgment will not come lightly to those who chose not to believe that God is their Lord and Savior.
So what should we as Christians be on the lookout for? Well, regardless of the timing of the end of the age, we need to be prepared as though it will take place tomorrow. However, there are some signs that give us an idea about what kind of time-frame we are looking at. Israel declared her Independence May 14, 1948. To people that knew Bible prophecy, this was a major signal that the end of this age was near. Eze. 38:8 says, “In the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.” Israel fought her war of Independence, signed armistice agreements, and was finally accepted into the United Nations on May, 11, 1949.
This Sign of the End of the Age was what we were to watch for to enable us to figure out when the end of the age would be. In 1967, Israel fulfilled the Fig Tree Parable in Mathew 24:32-34. In answering the question what would be the sign of his coming and the end of the age, Jesus said, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, this generation (born in 1967) shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
Again, we see that even the end of the world is centered around God’s chosen people – the nation of Israel. Even though His people chose to deny Him when He sent His Son to save them from their sins, they are still His chosen people.
When Israel first became a nation when she came out of Egypt, the males 20 and up were counted. The 19-year-olds were the young. A generation was demonstrated to be 40 years, not only in the wilderness, but in 30 AD, Jesus told the Pharisees that “All these things shall come upon this generation” (Mt. 23:26). They did, in 70 AD, just 40 year later. If we start with 1967 and add 40 years, we come to 2007 for the end of this age. Something to think about anyway.
Well, as I said, I could continue on this topic for quite some time, but I hope I have been able to give a good overall picture of the rapture, judgment, and the fact that we are close to the end of this world and Jesus’ return.