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End times

In eschatology (the study of what the Bible says is going to happen in the end time), there are various interpretations of Scripture. The main three views are related to the millennium: pre-millennialism, amillennialism, and post-millennialism. Within the pre-millennium view there are three interpretations related to the rapture of the church: pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation. Some Christians interpret the Scriptures when it comes to certain time spans as mere symbolic, others believe in literal time spans according to times mentioned in the Bible. The latter is called dispensationalism.

I personally hold the dispensational pre-millennium view with a pre-tribulation rapture of the believers. I believe that the 144000 are the revived babies that Herod killed in Jesus' time of birth. They, and the two witnesses (maybe Moses and Elijah), will evangelize and prophesy during the first half of the tribulation. I believe that God still has a plan for Israel in the future. That is the reason I do not support the replacement theology nor the covenant theology. Below I will describe the events that I believe the future holds. I fully accept other Christians that have a different interpretation of Scripture, because I am convinced that within Christianity there should not be any eschatological divide.

We now live in the so-called time of the dispensation of grace. It began with the New Covenant of Christ's blood (Luke 22:20). This time is also called the "Age of Grace" or the "Church Age", which occurs between the 69th and 70th year-week of Daniel 9:24. The church age starts with first Pentecost (Acts 2) and ends with the rapture of the church. This 70th year-week of Daniel now takes already about 2000 years, which is pure grace. Many scholars estimate that the end times are about to start.
The Bible says a lot about the end times. In the end times God's grace will turn into wrath for those who don't repent. The book of Revelation, a prophesy revealed to the apostle John on the island of Patmos, describes in detail how God's wrath will be. Nearly every book of the Bible contains prophecy regarding the end times. Very specific are the words of Jesus in Matthew 24. In order to get a view on the end times understanding of the book of the prophet Daniel is crucial. It is, however, difficult to give a clear and brief summary of what will happen. A couple of events will mark the end times. The sequence of future events is what many church leaders have divided in the years passed.

In Heaven
Jesus Christ will remove all born-again believers and those who died as born-again believers from the earth in an event known as the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54), in which Jesus will appear in the clouds and will not set foot on earth. They will be taken from the earth in a twinkle of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52) and be brought to heaven, where they will be with Jesus. At the judgment seat of Christ, these believers will be rewarded for good works and faithful service during their time on earth (1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10). In heaven, the wedding feast/supper of the Lamb takes place (Revelation 19:7-10), in which Jesus, the Lamb, is the bridegroom and the raptured church is the bride. This supper takes place right before the second coming, and it is not the same supper as the great supper of God in Rev. 19:17.

On Earth
On earth there will be a 7-year time known as the tribulation. During that time the so-called unholy trinity will rule. This is a time in which the Antichrist (the beast or the lawless one) will first sign a peace covenant with Israel for seven years (Dan. 9:27). Half-way that time of seven years Antichrist will break the covenant. The following 3.5 years of the tribulation on earth is called "the great tribulation" (Revelation 7:14) or "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7) foremost focused on Israel. Antichrist (1 John 2:18), together with the False Prophet, will set up an image of himself (the abomination of desolation) to be worshipped in the Jerusalem temple (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thes. 2:3-10), which has been rebuilt by then. During the first half of the tribulation there will be 144.000 Jews who will evangelize the world, and millions will come to faith, and there will be two witnesses prophesying about God. At the end of the 7-year tribulation on earth, Antichrist will launch a final attack on Jerusalem, culminating in the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16; 20:1-3). At this point in time Jesus Christ will return to earth, also called the second coming (Revelation 19:11-16), with His armies. Jesus Christ will then bind Satan in the Abyss (hell, bottomless pit) for 1000 years. Antichrist and the False Prophet will immediately be banished into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). Jesus will judge the nations as King of kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:11-16) regarding their position and acts towards Israel (Matthew 25:31-46). Then Jesus will rule His earthly kingdom for 1000 years, also called the Millennium Kingdom (Revelation 20:1-6). At the end of the thousand years Satan will be released for a short time and defeated again and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10) for eternity. Christ then judges all unbelievers (Revelation 20:10-15) at the great white throne judgment, casting them all into the lake of fire. Christ will then usher in a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1-8); there will be no more sin, sorrow, nor death. And the New Jerusalem comes down from God, the eternal dwelling place of believers (Revelation 21:9-27). There is no temple in the city, because the Lord God and the Lamb are its temple.

As we look at Revelation, we see that it seems to be all prophecy. In chapters 2 and 3 we see warnings, praises and encouragements to seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (Rev. 1:11). The names of the churches are the names of real churches in Jesus' time. The chapters are part of the Revelation-prophecy. Some scholars think that the messages to these churches are just a report of history. I personally believe that the messages also have a prophetic content that is applicable to us today, when we prepare ourselves for the events to come; just because Rev. 1:19 speaks of "what is now and what will take place later".