The End of the Age

The End of the Age

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Some think the subject of the end time in the Bible is mainly confined to the New Testament. But beginning in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the Scriptures look beyond our present evil age to the time of the establishing of God’s Kingdom. Old Testament scriptures have much to say about events that take place during the end of this age and the following “world to come.”

In the Garden of Eden, God revealed that a time would come when Satan’s earthly reign and influence would end. To Satan, God said: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed [Jesus Christ]; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15 Genesis 3:15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
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Although Satan was destined to harm the Savior (by instigating His crucifixion), the devil could not prevent Jesus from coming back to life and cannot prevent Jesus from ultimately defeating him.

Paul referred to this prophecy when he wrote to Church members in Rome, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20 Romans 16:20And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
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). It is comforting to know that at Christ’s second coming Satan will at last be vanquished and imprisoned (Revelation 20:1-3 Revelation 20:1-3 [1] And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. [2] And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, [3] And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
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So, from the earliest beginnings of humanity, God revealed there would be an end to this Satan-led world, a definite time for the devil and his forces to be defeated.

Righteous men mentioned in the Old Testament, such as Enoch, knew that God ultimately would intervene to carry out His judgment on earth. “Now Enoch, the seventh [generation] from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:14-15 Jude 1:14-15 [14] And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints, [15] To execute judgment on all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
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After the Flood other faithful men such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob looked beyond the present age to the time when God’s Kingdom would be established. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10 Hebrews 11:8-10 [8] By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went. [9] By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: [10] For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
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The patriarchs knew that God would one day establish His Kingdom. They lived and died confident that He would fulfill His promises and include them in His Kingdom.

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country [God’s Kingdom]. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16 Hebrews 11:13-16 [13] These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. [14] For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. [15] And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from where they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. [16] But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: why God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.
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These men were not imagining or guessing about the future. They were directly inspired by God. As Peter explained, “prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21 2 Peter 1:21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
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We find many prophecies about end-time events in the book of Psalms. Psalm 2 reveals that some nations will oppose the rule of Christ: “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? … I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a ­potter’s vessel’ ” (Psalms 2:1 Psalms 2:1Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
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; Psalms 2:7-9 Psalms 2:7-9 [7] I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to me, You are my Son; this day have I begotten you. [8] Ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. [9] You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
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(Some other passages in Psalms mentioning end-time events are: Psalms 9:5-15 Psalms 9:5-15 [5] You have rebuked the heathen, you have destroyed the wicked, you have put out their name for ever and ever. [6] O you enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and you have destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them. [7] But the LORD shall endure for ever: he has prepared his throne for judgment. [8] And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. [9] The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. [10] And they that know your name will put their trust in you: for you, LORD, have not forsaken them that seek you. [11] Sing praises to the LORD, which dwells in Zion: declare among the people his doings. [12] When he makes inquisition for blood, he remembers them: he forgets not the cry of the humble. [13] Have mercy on me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, you that lift me up from the gates of death: [14] That I may show forth all your praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in your salvation. [15] The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
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; Psalms 10:3-18 Psalms 10:3-18 [3] For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, and blesses the covetous, whom the LORD abhors. [4] The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. [5] His ways are always grievous; your judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffs at them. [6] He has said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity. [7] His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity. [8] He sits in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places does he murder the innocent: his eyes are privately set against the poor. [9] He lies in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lies in wait to catch the poor: he does catch the poor, when he draws him into his net. [10] He crouches, and humbles himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones. [11] He has said in his heart, God has forgotten: he hides his face; he will never see it. [12] Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand: forget not the humble. [13] Why does the wicked scorn God? he has said in his heart, You will not require it. [14] You have seen it; for you behold mischief and spite, to requite it with your hand: the poor commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. [15] Break you the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till you find none. [16] The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land. [17] LORD, you have heard the desire of the humble: you will prepare their heart, you will cause your ear to hear: [18] To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.
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; Psalms 11:1-7 Psalms 11:1-7 [1] In the LORD put I my trust: how say you to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? [2] For, see, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may privately shoot at the upright in heart. [3] If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? [4] The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. [5] The LORD tries the righteous: but the wicked and him that loves violence his soul hates. [6] On the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. [7] For the righteous LORD loves righteousness; his countenance does behold the upright.
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; Psalms 12:3-5 Psalms 12:3-5 [3] The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaks proud things: [4] Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us? [5] For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, said the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffs at him.
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; Psalms 21:8-12 Psalms 21:8-12 [8] Your hand shall find out all your enemies: your right hand shall find out those that hate you. [9] You shall make them as a fiery oven in the time of your anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them. [10] Their fruit shall you destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men. [11] For they intended evil against you: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform. [12] Therefore shall you make them turn their back, when you shall make ready your arrows on your strings against the face of them.
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; Psalms 46:8-10 Psalms 46:8-10 [8] Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he has made in the earth. [9] He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in sunder; he burns the chariot in the fire. [10] Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
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; Psalms 47:1-4 Psalms 47:1-4 [1] O clap your hands, all you people; shout to God with the voice of triumph. [2] For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. [3] He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet. [4] He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.
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; Psalms 75:7-8 Psalms 75:7-8 [7] But God is the judge: he puts down one, and sets up another. [8] For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he pours out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.
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; Psalms 76:7-9 Psalms 76:7-9 [7] You, even you, are to be feared: and who may stand in your sight when once you are angry? [8] You did cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, [9] When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.
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; Psalms 96:10-13 Psalms 96:10-13 [10] Say among the heathen that the LORD reigns: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. [11] Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. [12] Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice [13] Before the LORD: for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.
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; Psalms 97:1-6 Psalms 97:1-6 [1] The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. [2] Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. [3] A fire goes before him, and burns up his enemies round about. [4] His lightning enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. [5] The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. [6] The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.
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; Psalms 98:1-3 Psalms 98:1-3 [1] O sing to the LORD a new song; for he has done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, has gotten him the victory. [2] The LORD has made known his salvation: his righteousness has he openly showed in the sight of the heathen. [3] He has remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
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; Psalms 99:1-5 Psalms 99:1-5 [1] The LORD reigns; let the people tremble: he sits between the cherubim; let the earth be moved. [2] The LORD is great in Zion; and he is high above all the people. [3] Let them praise your great and terrible name; for it is holy. [4] The king’s strength also loves judgment; you do establish equity, you execute judgment and righteousness in Jacob. [5] Exalt you the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.
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; and Psalms 110:1-6 Psalms 110:1-6 [1] The LORD said to my Lord, Sit you at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool. [2] The LORD shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion: rule you in the middle of your enemies. [3] Your people shall be willing in the day of your power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: you have the dew of your youth. [4] The LORD has sworn, and will not repent, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. [5] The Lord at your right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. [6] He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.
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The end time: a theme of the prophets

Although prophecies relating to the end time are only occasionally found in the early books of the Old Testament, they are a major theme of the prophets who wrote several centuries later. Peter explains that these prophets were “searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ [the time of His first coming], and the glory that should follow [His second coming]” (1 Peter 1:11 1 Peter 1:11Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
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Isaiah is a prime example of how often God spoke about end-time conditions and the coming Kingdom Jesus Christ would establish at His return. This period is also frequently referred to as “the day of the Lord,” “the latter days,” “the last days” or simply “that day.” Here are a few examples that show this recurring theme in Isaiah:

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’

“For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people. They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:2-4 Isaiah 2:2-4 [2] And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. [3] And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. [4] And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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“Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up—and it shall be brought low … They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily” (Isaiah 2:10-12 Isaiah 2:10-12 [10] Enter into the rock, and hide you in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. [11] The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. [12] For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be on every one that is proud and lofty, and on every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
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; Isaiah 2:19 Isaiah 2:19And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he rises to shake terribly the earth.
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“In that day the Branch of the Lord [Jesus Christ] shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped. And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 4:2-3 Isaiah 4:2-3 [2] In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. [3] And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remains in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:
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“There shall come forth a Rod [Jesus Christ] from the stem of Jesse [father of King David], and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him … He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked … And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His ­resting place shall be glorious” (Isaiah 11:1-4 Isaiah 11:1-4 [1] And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: [2] And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; [3] And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: [4] But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
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; Isaiah 11:10 Isaiah 11:10And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
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“Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate, and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. ‘I will punish the world for its evil …Therefore I will shake the heavens and the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts’ ” (Isaiah 13:9-13 Isaiah 13:9-13 [9] Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. [10] For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. [11] And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. [12] I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. [13] Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.
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Literally dozens more such prophecies appear in the book of Isaiah and almost as many in the books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. These men prophesied of the terrible days that would precede the coming of the Messiah as King of Kings.

Other prophets speak explicitly of the end times

Virtually all 12 of the books known as the Minor Prophets have something to say about the end time. Joel and Zechariah are examples.

God inspired Joel to describe the great destruction that would take place during the Day of the Lord: “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand. A day of darkness and gloominess … The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?” (Joel 2:1-11 Joel 2:1-11 [1] Blow you the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD comes, for it is near at hand; [2] A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread on the mountains: a great people and a strong; there has not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. [3] A fire devours before them; and behind them a flame burns: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yes, and nothing shall escape them. [4] The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. [5] Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. [6] Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. [7] They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: [8] Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall on the sword, they shall not be wounded. [9] They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run on the wall, they shall climb up on the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. [10] The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: [11] And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executes his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
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Zechariah adds: “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem … 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 … And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—’The Lord is one,’ and His name one” (Zechariah 14:1-9 Zechariah 14:1-9 [1] Behold, the day of the LORD comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the middle of you. [2] For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. [3] Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. [4] And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. [5] And you shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal: yes, you shall flee, like as you fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with you. [6] And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: [7] But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. [8] And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. [9] And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
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The theme of the end time and the Kingdom of God figures so prominently in the books of the prophets that Peter told the Jews they should believe in Christ because of this testimony. Peter admonished them: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21 Acts 3:19-21 [19] Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. [20] And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached to you: [21] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
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The end time in the New Testament

Jesus’ longest prophecy about the end time is found in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 in what is commonly called the Olivet Prophecy. On this occasion, during the week leading up to His crucifixion, Jesus and His disciples left the temple grounds and climbed the Mount of Olives (or Mount Olivet) to enjoy a spectacular view of the city and the temple gleaming with its white stones and sparkling gold ­ornamentation. “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be ­fulfilled?’” (Mark 13:3-4 Mark 13:3-4 [3] And as he sat on the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, [4] Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
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Christ then revealed to them the conditions on earth leading up to His return. He said it would be a time of increasing troubles and turmoil. He warned that during this time mankind would have the capacity to annihilate human life from the face of the earth. “It will be a time of great distress, such as there has never been before since the beginning of the world, and will never be again. If that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive; but for the sake of God’s chosen it will be cut short” (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 [21] For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. [22] And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
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Mighty as the Roman Empire was in those days, its legions didn’t come close to having the armaments to wipe mankind from the face of the earth. This condition would only become a real possibility in the 20th century with the development and deployment of weapons of mass destruction—nuclear, chemical and biological—in a worldwide arsenal with the capacity to kill every man, woman and child many times over.

Signs of an approaching end

Jesus described in a brief outline form the conditions that would indicate the end time was nearing. He warned His disciples: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5 Matthew 24:4-5 [4] And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you. [5] For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
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, KJV).

Jesus first prophesied it would be common to use His name to win over followers. This suggests that many outwardly Christian churches, denominations and organizations would exist at the time of the end, and many would be deceived into believing their leaders represented Christ. Yet the Church that truly follows Christ would be faithfully obeying God’s Word and His commandments. Jesus warned, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21 Matthew 7:21Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×
).

Next He described political, military and environmental trends before His second coming. “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6-8 Matthew 24:6-8 [6] And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. [7] For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. [8] All these are the beginning of sorrows.
American King James Version×
).

An analogy of labor pains

Many assume the constant reports of wars, violence, uprisings, famine, epidemics, earthquakes and natural disasters in our headlines are sure signs we are in the end time. Certainly Jesus Christ and other biblical prophets made it clear such tragedies will shake the earth as the time of the end approaches.

But Jesus Christ Himself explained that these factors, by themselves, do not reveal we are in the end time, because there would be many such catastrophes before He returns. These tragedies, Jesus said, set the stage for the greater turmoil and sorrow of the end time. Horrifying and deadly as they are, these disasters are only “the beginning of sorrows.” The worst is yet to come.

The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible translates Christ’s words in Matthew 24:8 Matthew 24:8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
American King James Version×
as “all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.” Jesus was using an analogy of a woman in labor. As The Bible Knowledge Commentary explains: “These things, Jesus said, will be the beginning of birth pains. As a pregnant woman’s birth pains indicate that her child will soon be born, so these universal conflicts and catastrophes will mean the end of this interadvent Age is near” (1997, comment on Matthew 24:8 Matthew 24:8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
American King James Version×
).

So Christ was not referring to the periodic catastrophes such as wars, famines, disease epidemics and earthquakes that occasionally strike, but to a unique time when such events would steadily worsen. Just as labor contractions get stronger and closer together before birth, so would these events markedly increase in frequency and intensity before Christ’s return.

We should consider three important questions when analyzing whether events are the signs of the end time Jesus Christ described. First, could they simply be part of the normal ebb and flow of disasters people have experienced throughout history? Second, are all the signs Jesus mentioned in place? Third, is there solid evidence the prophesied trends and conditions are inexorably increasing and intensifying?

Many well-meaning people have erred when interpreting dramatic world events as sure signs of the end time—only to see them fail to develop as anticipated and pass quietly into history. Had they exercised a little more caution, they could have seen that not everything Jesus spoke about was in place at that time. We can see that in hindsight.

Today, more than ever in history, we can see most aspects of the signs Jesus Christ gave present in our world. Yet a few crucial signs of the “time of the end” are still missing. The puzzle remains a little short of some essential pieces.

Other signs mark that time

Jesus foretold other signs that will mark that increasingly threatening time. He said a ruthless persecution against God’s people—this time on a worldwide scale—will again emerge: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, betray one another, and hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:9-13 Matthew 24:9-13 [9] Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. [10] And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. [11] And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. [12] And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. [13] But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.
American King James Version×
).

As conditions worsen, frightened people will grow even more fearful and betray each other. In a growing climate of lawlessness and hostility, people will abandon each other and God and His instruction. The devil, having been cast down to the earth and knowing his time is short ­(Revelation 12:12-17 Revelation 12:12-17 [12] Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time. [13] And when the dragon saw that he was cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. [14] And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. [15] And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. [16] And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. [17] And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
), will try to disrupt God’s plans.

Satan will inspire his followers to take control of God’s holy city, Jerusalem. “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains … For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved …” (Matthew 24:15-16 Matthew 24:15-16 [15] When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:) [16] Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
American King James Version×
; Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 [21] For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. [22] And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×
; compare Revelation 11:2 Revelation 11:2But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
American King James Version×
).

Jerusalem has fallen to outside forces before—including the Romans, Arabs and Turks. Jesus foretold that foreign forces will again gain control in a period of unparalleled global crisis. This same period will see the instigation of a war that, if God were not to intervene, would eventually destroy human life from the planet.

Religious and heavenly signs

Jesus continued with other signs that would mark the end time. He revealed that religious leaders will use Satan’s deceptive powers to perform miracles and persuade the world to do their bidding. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:23-24 Matthew 24:23-24 [23] Then if any man shall say to you, See, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. [24] For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
American King James Version×
).

To counteract this deception, Christ foretold, His gospel would be faithfully preached to all nations as the end time nears: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
American King James Version×
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Later, during the final 3 1 ⁄ 2-year period, He will use two of His servants as mighty witnesses for the truth, giving them miraculous powers. “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days [3 1 ⁄ 2 years] … These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire” (Revelation 11:3-6 Revelation 11:3-6 [3] And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth. [4] These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. [5] And if any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. [6] These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
American King James Version×
).

Other dramatic events will mark these final days. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29 Matthew 24:29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
American King James Version×
).

After these astounding events, said Jesus, He will return to earth in power and majesty. “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30 Matthew 24:30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
American King James Version×
).

The analogy of the budding fig tree

Before concluding, Jesus gave yet another analogy to help us understand that not all catastrophes—wars, famines, plagues or earthquakes—will indicate His imminent return. He compares our observation of the events leading to the end-time crisis to viewing the budding of a fig tree and recognizing that the coming of summer is near.

He said: “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” (Matthew 24:32-33 Matthew 24:32-33 [32] Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: [33] So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
American King James Version×
). Notice that all these things must be present for the analogy to be valid.

Speaking to those who will see “all these things” develop, Jesus continues: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:34-35 Matthew 24:34-35 [34] Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. [35] Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
American King James Version×
).

As in nature, a false spring can occur. Sometimes the weather warms and seems ready for spring, with some trees even blooming, then a sudden frost does great damage. Similarly, many troubling world events in the past can be viewed as false springs.

For example, for the first time in history the 20th century saw the eruption of world wars. These two devastating world wars caused untold grief and brought death to tens of millions. Yet these wars eventually ended and the world returned to an uneasy truce and relative peace. The occurrence of terribly destructive wars alone is not proof the end time has arrived.

Similarly, history has seen periodic moral swings from abject degradation to stern morality and back again. Such happened in the apostle Paul’s day, in the Roman Empire, in the days of the Islamic Empire, in the Renaissance and in our day.

Paul described the deteriorating moral and spiritual values that would permeate the last days: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 2 Timothy 3:1-5 [1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
American King James Version×
).

Again, the key to determining whether a moral downswing—including the modern one—is part of the moral degradation spoken of by the apostles and prophets is whether the trends steadily increase or ultimately diminish. If they continue intensifying, and are accompanied by the other end-time signs Jesus Christ and the prophets predicted, then the final events may be just around the corner.

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