Seven Things You Have To Know To Understand End Times Prophecy
This Weekís Feature Article by Jack Kelley
With all the killer storms, earthquakes, wars and disease
dominating our news, itís not surprising that people are
becoming more interested in End Times Prophecy. Even
non-believers are wondering if the end is near. What is
surprising is how little most Christians actually know about
prophecy, especially since by some accounts it comprises nearly
40% of the Bibleís content, more than any other topic.
With few exceptions seminaries donít teach it, so preachers
donít preach it. And therefore Christians donít learn it. In all
my years as a denominational Christian, I never once heard a
message explaining the importance of prophecy to a believerís
walk with the Lord. And yet the Bible devotes more space to End
Times Prophecy than it does to all the teachings of Jesus.
When Christians are asked why they donít study prophecy more
seriously the most common reasons given are 1) because it scares
them, and 2) because it confuses them. Both responses are borne
out of a lack of understanding. For the believer, prophecy is
neither scary nor confusing but the key to understanding Godís
plan for man.
The purpose of this series is to provide a solid foundation for
further study. When the foundation of a building is stable and
solid, the entire building is stronger, able to withstand
powerful forces that would otherwise weaken or even topple it.
So it is when the foundation of our study is solid. Powerful
arguments from scoffers and unbelievers cannot shake us or
weaken our faith. Letís get started.
Seven Things You Have To Know
There are seven pieces of information that are essential to
understanding End Times Prophecy. These seven things are the
building blocks for the strong foundation we want.
They are, 1) The Sequence of Major End Time Events,
2) The Destiny of the Three Components of Humanity, 3) The
Purpose and Length of the Great Tribulation, 4) The Purpose of
the Rapture, 5) The Conditions Surrounding the 2nd Coming, 6)
The Purpose and Length of the Millennium, and 7) Eternity.
Once youíve learned them, these seven things will help you avoid
the mistakes that have thrown others off the track. Call it
perspective or overview or whatever you want, this combination
of facts will give you the ability to put all the prophetic
verses in the Bible into their proper context. Letís get
1) The Sequence Of Major End Times Events
First is knowing what happens and when. The study of prophecy
gets really confusing if you donít know the sequence in which
major End Times events will occur. Actually their order is very
logical, and once you learn it, youíll wonder why you didnít see
it before. The best way to figure it out is to perform what the
business world sometimes calls a back scheduling exercise. It
involves going to the very end of a process and identifying the
final outcome. Then you list all the things that have to happen
to produce that outcome. Then you put them in reverse order,
backing into the present. Itís simpler than it sounds, and much
simpler in prophecy than in business because there are many
fewer events to organize. Weíll list the major events first,
then weíll organize them.
Almost everyone knows about the 2nd Coming and Eternity, and
many also have heard of the Rapture of the Church and the
Great Tribulation. But thereís also the Millennial
Kingdom, Danielís 70th Week, and the Battles of Ezekiel 38-39,
Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17; a total of nine major events yet to
come. Now letís organize them, beginning with the final outcome
and working back toward the beginning. As it is with most
lists, the order in which some events will occur is obvious
while others are less so, and at first some donít seem to fit
any place at all. Weíll order the obvious ones first.
What Are We Waiting For?
We all think of Eternity as the final outcome, and so starting
at the end means we begin there. But the last major event
described in any detail in the Bible is the Kingdom Age or
Millennium. Itís the Lordís 1000 year reign on Earth,
which is distinguished from and precedes Eternity. The very last
chapter of Revelation describes trees on either side of the
River of Life bearing a different fruit every month. That means
time still exists, and Eternity by definition is the absence of
time. Weíll talk more about that later. For now letís just say
that Eternity canít happen till the Millennium is over.
The Millennium obviously canít begin till after the Second
Coming, because thatís when the Lord returns to establish it.
And according to Matt.
24:29-30 the Second Coming wonít happen till the end of the
Great Tribulation. And that canít happen till the anti-Christ
stands in the Temple in Israel declaring himself to be God. (2
Thes. 2:4) Thatís the event Jesus warned Israel to look for
as the Great Tribulationís opening salvo. He called it ďThe
Abomination of DesolationĒ in
Matt. 24:15-21. Daniel
9:27 indicates it will happen in the middle of the last
seven year period, which scholars call Danielís 70th Week.
But the Abomination canít happen until thereís a Temple. There
hasnít been a Temple in Israel since 70AD and there wonít be one
until the Jews officially decide they need one. They wonít
need one until God reinstates their Old Covenant relationship
because the Templeís only purpose is to worship Him according to
Old Covenant requirements.
This will signal the beginning of Danielís 70th week. The
70th Week canít begin until the Battle of
Ezekiel 38-39 is won
because God will use that battle to awaken Israel and reinstate
His covenant with them. In
Romans 11:25 Paul
said Israel has been hardened in part until the full number of
Gentiles has come in, a reference to the rapture of the Church,
after which Israel will be saved. That means the rapture
has to happen before the Battle of
You Got That?
So far when we put the Sequence of Major Events in its proper
order, it looks like this:
The Rapture of the Church,
The Battle of Ezekiel 38,
Danielís 70th week begins,
The Great Tribulation,
The 2nd Coming,
To those who read Scripture as itís written, only two of the
events in this sequence so far are subject to debate as to
timing. These are the Rapture of the Church and the Battle of
Ezekiel 38, the
first two on our list. Theyíre the ones I said are less obvious.
So lets find out why they have to be where Iíve placed them in
the sequence. Maintaining our back schedule mentality, weíll
begin with Ezekielís battle and work back to the Rapture.
ďAnd I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations
shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I
have laid on them. The house of Israel shall know that I am the
LORD their God, from that day forward.
Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, because I
sent them into exile among the nations and then assembled them
into their own land. I will leave none of them remaining among
the nations anymore. And I will not hide my face anymore from
them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel,
declares the Lord GOD.Ē
(Ezek 39:21-22, 28-29)
The Lord has declared in no uncertain terms that Heís going to
use Ezekielís battle to spiritually awaken His people and call
them to Israel from all over the world. This will result in the
re-instatement of their Old Covenant relationship, reviving
Danielís long dormant ď70-WeeksĒ prophecy for its final seven
years and requiring that a Temple be constructed. Without one
thereís no way for them to keep His covenant.
This was proven once before in history during the Babylonian
captivity. When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the 1st Temple, Israel
ceased to exist. But as soon as Cyrus the Persian defeated
Babylon and freed the Jews, they returned to Israel and began
building a Temple before they did anything else. Without a
Temple thereís no sacrifice for sin, and without that sacrifice,
Jews cannot approach God.
Both the Old and New Testaments refer to a Temple in Israel at
the End of the Age. The only reason for a Temple is to perform
Old Covenant ordinances. But building one today would cause such
an uproar that no one in his right mind would consider it.
Only a unified demand from the people of Israel accompanied by
quiet acceptance from their Moslem neighbors would make the
construction of a Temple even thinkable. Sound impossible?
Ezekielís battle results in both a Jewish nation re-awakened to
the presence of God in their national life and an utterly
defeated Moslem attack force in no position to resist. The
perfect conditions will finally exist to start building. For
these reasons, Ezekielís battle has to take place on the
threshold of Danielís 70th week. Now why does the Rapture of the
Church have to precede Ezekielís battle?
Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand
this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon
Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.(Romans
Reborn first in unbelief (Ezek.
37:8) the Bible tells us Israel will remain partially
estranged from God until the gentile Church reaches its full
complement (predetermined number) and arrives at its
destination. (The Greek word translated ďfullnessĒ in
Romans 11:25 was a
nautical term often used to describe the full complement of crew
and cargo necessary to accomplish a shipís mission. The ship
couldnít sail till those requirements were met. The one
translated ďcome inĒ means to arrive at a designated place.)
Then the veil will be pulled back as God reveals Himself to them
again. As we saw above, He will use Ezekielís battle to begin
this by renewing the Old Covenant with them, later transitioning
Israel from the Old Covenant to the New toward the end of the
Great Tribulation (Zech
12:10). Remember, if they didnít go back to the Old
covenant first, they wouldnít need a Temple. Heís picking them
up where they left off.
After they finished speaking, James replied, ďBrothers, listen
to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to
take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of
the prophets agree, just as it is written,
ĎAfter this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David
that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore
it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the
Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes
these things known from of old.í
It was about 20 years after the cross. The controversy of the
day was whether Gentiles had to become Jews before they could
become Christians. And if not, what would become of Israel? In
effect, the Lordís brother James explained to the Apostles and
others present at the Council of Jerusalem that Israel was being
temporarily set aside while God focused on the Church. After He
had taken this ďpeople for His nameĒ (Christians) from among the
Gentiles he would return and rebuild His Temple. The Greek words
translated taken mean to carry something away or remove it from
its place, so the passage implies that He would take the Church
somewhere and then come back to rebuild the Temple, restore
Israel, and give whatís left of mankind one final chance to seek
These three Bible prophecies make it clear that as the End of
the Age approaches, God will begin preparing Israel to be His
once more. But He wonít be exclusively focused on them until He
has finished building the Church and has taken us to our
appointed place. And where is that?
In my Fatherís house are
many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going
there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a
place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that
you also may be where I am. (John
14:2-3) (He didnít promise to come back to be with us here
where we are, but to take us there, where He is.) After
that He would see to Israelís reawakening and the construction
of their Temple.
Throughout Scripture, the Lord seems to be involved with either
Israel or the Church, but never both at the same time. James
bears this out in his pronouncement regarding the Church in
Acts 15. All the
leaders of the early church now knew that once God had
accomplished His goals with the church, He would turn again to
Israel, and that would signal the end of the Church Age.
There are two critical points to remember here. The first
is that the Church didnít end the Age of Law, but only
interrupted it 7 years short of its scheduled completion.
Those seven years, called the 70th Week of Daniel, have to be
fulfilled to complete the Old Covenant. And the second is that
the Old and New covenants, as practiced in Israel and the
Church, are theologically incompatible, and therefore the two
can only be on Earth at the same time while Israel is out of
covenant. For Israel to return to the Lord, the Church has to be
For this reason, the rebirth of Israel in 1948 and the
reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 are seen as the most
important signs of all that the End of the Age is upon us.
Also, there are two events we havenít put into the sequence yet,
and thatís because they arenít easy to locate there. These
are the battles of Psalm
83 and Isaiah 17.
When Israel wins these two battles all their next door enemies
will be defeated and theyíll enter into a brief period of peace
that sets the stage for Ezekielís Battle (Ezekiel
38:11). Theyíre called battles instead of wars which
means theyíll be of short duration and can happen within a
fairly short span of time. They can come either before or
after the Rapture but do have to happen before the Battle
of Ezekiel 38 takes
The Sequence of Major Events is only the first of ďSeven Things
You Have To Know To Understand End Times Prophecy.Ē Next time
weíll cover The Destiny of the Three Components of Humanity,
The Purpose and Length of the Great Tribulation, and The Purpose
of the Rapture. 07-09-11