Welcome to The Conclusion of a 5 Part Series!

In Part 1 of this series (Intro) we looked at the various views of the Rapture, and introduced The Day of the Lord as our focal point to determine the pertinence of the church in the last days. In Part 2 of this series (The Day of the Lord) we took a somewhat in-depth look at what the Bible has to say about the Day of the Lord. In Part 3 of this series (The Olivet Discourse and the Abomination of Desolation) we looked at Matthew 24 to see what Jesus (the world’s foremost Expert on the end-times) had to say about these things. In Part 4 of this series (The Seven Seals) we identified the timing of The Day of the Lord.

Today, I will be addressing the remaining question posed in Part 1 of this series: “What significance, if any, does the timing of the Day of the Lord have in the life of the believer?” I will also will tie all these things together to reach not only a logical series of events, but also what I perceive to be a compelling conclusion to our initial question: “Should Christians Prepare for the Tribulation?”


Most Christians admit to finding end-time events somewhat confusing. Many even believe that they are unknowable and were never meant for us to understand. But in fact, we are told just the opposite in Revelation 1:1-3:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bondservants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. Revelation 1:1-3

I propose, with a proper understanding of the scriptures, we can know and understand what will befall the Church in the last days. What this requires first though, is to let go of our preconceived ideas and varied end-time doctrine that we’ve been taught over the years; and prayerfully look at the scripture with fresh eyes as the Holy Spirit leads.

And Then the End Will Come

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come”. Matthew 24:14

When reading this scripture, it’s easy to conclude that Jesus is speaking of the actual end of days. In fact, I would say most believe exactly that. But I would suggest that He is not referring to the end of days; rather, to the end of the age. To gain a better perspective, let’s look back at Matthew 24:1-3

Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us: when will these things happen [the temple razed to the ground] and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” Matthew 24:1-3 (emphasis mine)

By their questions, it seems the disciples were under the impression that not only was the end of the age going to happen in their lifetime, but that the destruction of the temple would occur immediately prior to Jesus’ return and the end of the age. Jesus perceived their error and went about answering the more pressing questions about His coming and the end of the age first, then briefly touched upon the destruction of the Temple, which would occur in 70 CE, as recorded in Luke 21:20-24.

A quick note: It’s important to recognize that Jesus’ goal in this discourse was not to be all-inclusive concerning the scope of end-time events; but to answer His disciple’s questions relating specifically to the time of His Coming and the End of the Age. Understanding this, is key to understanding Matthew 24 and by extension, Revelation 6-8.

The End of The Age

The Greek word translated as Age is Aion (Strongs 165), and refers to an age or period of time. It denotes duration or continuance of time[a]. Aion is to be distinguished from kosmos (2889), world, which refers to people. Aion also is to be distinguished from oikoumene (3625), the inhabited earth[b]. Simply stated, the word Age used in this text refers to a particular period of time, not the end of time, or the end of the world, or the end of the inhabited earth.

Dispensationalist would label this the Church Age, or the Age of Grace. I side with the Jewish rendering and refer to it as the Messianic Age or the Age of Messiah. This age begins with the death and resurrection of the Messiah and will conclude at a presently unknown time in God’s eschatological calendar. With this in mind, let’s look back at the disciple’s questions in Matthew 24:3 and Jesus’ answers in verses 4-31:

When will these things happen?

In reply to this question, Jesus gives the disciples much more than they had thought to ask or even expect. In verses 4-28, Jesus begins with the birth pains and explains what these things will entail. They are not given the specific details as to when these things will happen; however, Jesus makes it clear that they relate to the time of the end.

What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?

At first glance, it may appear that the disciples are asking two separate questions; however, their question is one and the same: “What will be the sign?” In verses 29-31, Jesus answers this question:

“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet blast, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” [emphasis mine]

Jesus doesn’t give a vague answer to their specific question, and he leaves no room for misunderstanding. It is no mistake or coincidence that Jesus uses the same verbiage as His disciples. His intent was to answer their question clearly and completely:

The light of His appearance in a sky gone dark, will be the sign of His coming and the End of The Age.

This scene is reiterated in Revelation 6:12-17: “And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became as black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.” According to Jesus in Matthew 24:31, it’s at this point that He sends forth His angels to gather His elect in full view of all the tribes of the earth. Then the earth’s inhabitants cry in terror “to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the sight of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of Their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’”

A Logical Sequence of Events

I believe the evidence we’ve looked at so far conclusively shows that the End of the Age refers to the close of the Messianic Age. Matthew 24:29-31, Revelation 6:12-17, and Joel 2:30-32 all speak of the same event and further confirm that: The sky goes dark and the elect are rescued. Then those who remain mourn the presence of the Lord, because they know that the day of His wrath has come (Revelation 6:17).

At this point, likely on the very same day, the Bible teaches that there will be a transition from grace to judgment and wrath[c]. I believe it’s possible (though I am not dogmatic about it) that this transition will be marked by the 30 minutes of silence in heaven recorded in Revelation 8:1, just prior to the sounding of the seven trumpets. The first of which, will initiate what the Bible refers to as The Day of the Lord or The Wrath of God.

With this in mind, let’s revisit and update our Timeline from Part 4 of this series, then see if we can answer our remaining questions from Part 1.

  1. Seal One: Rider on the White Horse (Rev 6:1-2)
    • Antichrist on the Scene:
      • Commencement of the 70th Week
      • Confirms a Covenant with Israel – Dan 9:27
  2. Seal Two: War (Rev 6:3-4)
    • Beginning of Birth Pains:
      • Wars, Rumors of Wars, Civil Unrest – Matt 24:4-8
  3. Seal Three: Famine (Rev 6:5-6)
    • Beginning of Birth Pains:
      • Earthquakes, Famines, Plagues – Matt 24:4-8, Luke 21:11
  4. Seal Four: Death (Rev 6:7-8)
    • The Abomination of Desolation
    • The Great Tribulation Begins
      • Death, Martyrdom, Falling Away – Dan 9:27, Matt 24:9-28
  5. Seal Five: Martyrs (Rev 6:9-11)
    • Martyrs
    • The Great Tribulation Continues
      • Martyrs in Heaven – Matt 24:9-28
  6. Seal Six: Terror (Rev 6:1-17)
    • The End of the Age
      • Earthly and Cosmic Disturbances – Joel 2:31, Matt 24:29, Rev 6:12-13
      • Sign of the Son of Man appears in the Sky – Matt 24:27,30
      • Gathering of the Elect from the Four Winds – Matt 24:31
  7. Seal Seven: Trumpets (Rev 8)
    • The Day of the Lord Begins
      • Seven Trumpets of Judgment – Rev 8, 9, 11:15-19
      • Seven Bowls of Wrath – Rev 16

Back to our original questions

What significance, if any, does the timing of the Day of the Lord have in the life of the believer?

The scriptures tell us that God’s elect will not suffer His wrath and that we will be rescued before that day (Daniel 12:1, Joel 2:30-32, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). For that reason alone, the timing of Day of the Lord is very significant to the believer; therefore, it behooves us to know and understand when this event actually begins.

Should Christians prepare for the Tribulation?

The timeline above has been built entirely upon what the scriptures say about the period of time scripturally known as, Daniel’s 70th Week. I have not inserted my opinion about the sequence of these events; rather, I have allowed scripture to interpret itself on these matters.

When we compare scripture with scripture, we can determine the sequence of events much more clearly than if we piecemeal scripture passages on their own. And when we place this scripture into a timeline, as I have done, I believe it becomes evident that 1) Our Lord will be faithful to rescue His elect from the wrath to come, and 2) His elect will be gathered immediately before the Day of the Lord begins, but after the Great Tribulation (Seals 4 & 5).

I realize that this concept may be terrifying to some. Others may not believe it and will therefore disregard the warning. However, when we consider the vast amount of information we’ve been given throughout the scriptures about the end of days, it’s obvious that the Lord not only wants us to know what’s going to happen but He also wants us to spiritually prepare for these things. We do ourselves and our loved ones no good, to ignore these warnings. Even if we are not the generation to see these things come to pass, the Bible is clear: Christians should continually be prepared; not only for daily tribulation, but even the Great Tribulation.

Conclusion

The sheer volume of scripture related to this subject is primarily the reason for disagreements among those who study eschatology. For every person with an opinion, there seems to be a scripture to support it. However, we know that God’s timeline and sequence of events is set and will not vary. Therefore, it becomes our duty and responsibility as students of the Bible, to seek out that which is most likely to harmonize and accommodate all of the relevant scripture passages[d]; while also being careful to make room for the fact that God has chosen to keep some things sealed until the proper time (Revelation 10:4, Daniel 12:9).

Based upon the whole of scripture presented throughout this study, as well as many other related passages from the Bible, I believe the position I am presenting is the most likely scenario leading up to and including the End of the Age. I realize some will disagree with me, and that’s alright; I respect differing opinions and I hope for the same from you. None of us will ever get this completely right this side of eternity, and there’s a lot that can be learned from constructive criticism respectfully presented (Proverbs 27:17). 

And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show His bondservants the things which must soon take place. And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” Revelation 22:6-7,10

Footnotes:
a. Greek lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary plus others; this is keyed to the large Kittel and the “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.” These files are public domain.
b. The Complete WordStudy Dictionary New Testament. Edited by Spiros Zodhiates Th.D. 1992.
c. Genesis 7:11-17, Genesis 19:22-25, Revelation 6:17
d. The Sign. Robert Van Kampen. 1992. Preface, pg xix

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org

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