1. Are we living in the apocalypse?
We are closer to the end than ever before. That’s kind of an obvious statement, but even many who don’t believe in the Bible will tell you the world will one day end and that we are getting closer to that time. We don’t know exactly when the time will come, but the Rapture will be the triggering event.
I believe the Church, those who have placed their faith in Jesus as Savior, will be taken up to heaven in the Rapture before the world is thrown into the thick of God’s judgment, or apocalypse. And it’s not until seven years after the Rapture that the Bible describes the return of Jesus and an end to the world as we know it.
But there are signs of the End Times that we can see beginning to manifest today—issues that will only deepen and reoccur more frequently as we get closer to the end. Jesus talks about them in the book of Matthew, chapter 24, but here is a glimpse at what he says:
The Sign of Deception
Many people will claim to be the Savior and to have the answers for a troubled world. People will cry desperately for leaders to deliver them, and they will seek mystics and religious leaders who claim to have deeper knowledge. Jesus tells us He is the only salvation for this world and not to be fooled by counterfeits.
The Sign of Disputes Among Nations
Wars and dissension among people groups will rise. There will be constant talk of conflicts, border skirmishes, race wars, and national battles.
The Sign of Devastation
There will be more and more famine, “earthquakes in various places,” and pestilence, the rise of disease (Matthew 24:7).
The Sign of Deliverance Into the Tribulation
Just before Jesus returns at the Second Coming, there will be an explosion of antagonism toward God’s people. Christians will be persecuted. Many will pay a high price for proclaiming the name of Jesus in our world.
We need only to watch the news to see most of these signs taking place today. The Bible says we can’t know the date or time of the Rapture that will trigger the End Times, but we know when it does happen, these issues will grow exponentially.
2. What are the four horsemen of the apocalypse?
There are many movies and tv shows today that deal with apocalyptic circumstances, and many of us have heard reference to the four horsemen. Hollywood uses the symbol for its own purposes, but the four horsemen are real symbols that can be found in the Bible.
In Revelation 6:1-8 we read of Jesus opening four of the seven seals of judgment to begin the Tribulation period on earth. The first four seals are the horsemen, and each is released from heaven to usher in various judgments on the earth.
“And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.” Revelation 6:2
The rider on the white horse is the Antichrist. He is a representative of Satan who will unite the world under the guise of peace, but later wage open war against God’s people. His white horse is a direct imitation of Jesus’ return later in Revelation (19:11-16). Satan’s purpose has always been to counterfeit the work of Christ, and the same holds true in the Tribulation.
“Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.” Revelation 6:4
The fiery red horseman represents nation rising against nation and individuals fighting each other. It ushers in the war, murder, and bloodshed that characterize the Tribulation.
“So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.’” Revelation 6:5-6
Black is often connected with famine in the Bible. A denarius was the standard daily wage for ancient laborers. In the early days of the Tribulation period, food will be in short supply; so people will have to work all day just to get enough food to eat. Yet the luxuries of the wealthy (“oil and wine”) will remain untouched.
“So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.” Revelation 6:8
Death is the pale rider with Hades (or hell) following behind. They will kill with the sword, hunger, disease, and wild beasts—the four judgments the Lord said He would send in Ezekiel 14:21.
3. What does 666 mean?
During the Tribulation, every living person will be required to be marked with the number 666—the mark of the Beast.
In Revelation 13 we are told the Beast from the earth (the False Prophet) will introduce the mark: “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17).
The False Prophet is the right-hand man to the Antichrist (the Beast from the sea) and introduces the mark to bolster the Antichrist’s one-world rule.
Every person living during the time will be required to take the mark. It will be the only way to function in society. Those who refuse to take it will be forced to go bankrupt or starve.
Revelation 13:18 tells us it is the number of man. We see this affirmed throughout Scripture. In Genesis, man was created on the sixth day. In the Old Testament Law, men were called to work six out of every seven days. A Hebrew could only be held as a slave for a maximum of six years. And after six consecutive years of sowing a field, it was required to lay fallow.
We could sum it up to say the number 666 represents the ultimate in human ingenuity and competence. The Antichrist is the epitome of man’s last attempt at ruling the world before Jesus overrules all those who oppose Him once and for all.
The word used in the passage for the mark is the Greek word charagma. In antiquity, this word was always associated with the Roman emperor. It often contained the emperor’s name, his image, and the year of his reign. It was necessary for buying and selling and was required to be affixed to documents to attest to their validity.
4. What is the Battle of Armageddon?
The Battle of Armageddon marks the triumphant ending of the Tribulation period. It is the final battle between the forces of evil and good, with Jesus as the victor.
Six major powers are involved in the final campaign: the revived Roman Empire, the northern confederation (Russia and her allies), the kings of the East (Asia), the kings of the South (Africa), the Lord and His armies, and the nation of Israel.
Israel will be at the center of the conflict. The Bible tells us that when the nations that are gathered together against Jerusalem see the Lord’s armies coming (the angels and believers who were raptured into heaven), they will forget about each other and band together to fight against the Lord.
They will, of course, be of no opposition. The Lord Jesus comes to battle in all His power and majesty as the King of the universe. Revelation 19 describes His appearance when He returns to earth: “His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.… Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.… He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:12-16).
He slays the nation with the sword as His armies stand together watching. In one dramatic moment, He throws the Antichrist and the False Prophet into the lake of fire and the Battle of Armageddon is complete.
The final resulting bloodshed, according to Revelation 14:20, will spread over a 200-mile area (approximately the size of Israel) and reach a depth of four feet (the height of a horse’s bridle). “All the birds” will be “filled” with the flesh of the battlefield (Revelation 19:21) and it will take seven months to bury the dead and seven years to rid the earth of all the weapons which gathered by the nations (Ezekiel 39:8-16).
The Battle of Armageddon is really not much of a battle but a last stand against evil. Good will win. Jesus will conquer without sustaining any losses. The nations and all powers of evil will be no opposition for His strength. The bloody battlefields will be the remains of all those who rejected Him.
5. What happens at the Great White Throne Judgment?
The Great White Throne Judgment is the final judgment of all those who have rejected Christ.
Jesus will sit on His great white throne and every unsaved person—the spiritually “dead” who have rejected Him—will stand before Him. Their bodies will be summoned from the grave and from the sea to accept their final judgment.
Jesus will read from the “books” of judgment which hold record of each one’s life. Scripture tells us that every person’s words, actions, and thoughts, no matter how secret or insignificant they appear in the moment, will be exposed and brought to account. Those who placed their trust in Jesus and accepted Him as Savior will not be present. The righteousness of Jesus has cleansed them and justified them before God.
People “small and great” will be represented (Revelation 20:11-15). Many people who did seemingly good things on earth and were admired by their peers will be there—even many who held offices in the church and were thought to be Christians.
The Bible says that “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” and the Great White Throne Judgment is the final assurance of that. Matthew 7:22-23 says, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
After each one stands trial, and their name is not found in the Book of Life, they will be cast into the lake of fire, the final and forever hell.
Is your name written in the Book of Life? Have you placed your trust in Jesus and accepted the eternal salvation He openly offers to you? If you haven’t, I urge you to make the decision today!
6. Is the Antichrist alive today?
The Antichrist could be alive today. But we can’t know for sure because he hasn’t been revealed to the world. The Bible says that the Antichrist will not be revealed until after the Rapture, when the Holy Spirit is no longer restraining the work of evil on earth (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). He will be revealed in his adulthood, ready and prepared to take leadership. Since the Rapture could happen at any time, he could be alive today.
While we don’t know who he is, and can’t know, we do know about him: He is the incarnation of Satan. He is the great deceiver. He will present himself not just against Christ but instead of Christ. Second Thessalonians 2:4 describes him as one “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” He is the great counterfeiter.
We know that the Antichrist will be a charismatic leader who will be able to sway the masses with his speaking ability. Daniel 7 says that he will have “a mouth speaking pompous words” (verse 8). “He shall speak great words against the most High” (verse 25, KJV). “And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” (Revelation 13:5). The Antichrist will be noted in his career for wonderful eloquence and will be able to capture the attention and admiration of the world. Because of his ability as an orator, he will stand in front of the world’s people and unite them into a one-world government.
In all of this, God remains in ultimate control. He will send a strong delusion into the minds of the people to believe the lies of the Antichrist, “that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). Revelation 13:7 says that “it was granted to [the Antichrist] to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” The Antichrist will come in great power, but only in the power that God allows him. And he will only be revealed after believers are taken into heaven at the Rapture.
7. Will everyone hear the Gospel before Jesus returns?
Now, this can be a tricky question. Yes, everyone will have the chance to hear the Gospel before Jesus returns to earth in the Second Coming, but there is no biblical evidence that everyone will hear it before the Rapture of the Church occurs. When Matthew 24:14 says the “gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world” before the end comes, it is referring to the Gospel being preached during the Tribulation period—which answers another frequently-asked question…
8. Is there a second chance at salvation after the Rapture?
Yes, there will be a multitude of people living during the Tribulation who choose to believe in Jesus and are saved. Most of these new believers will be martyred for their faith because of the intense earthly judgment taking place. Revelation 7:9-14 portrays these new believers accumulating in heaven after the Rapture:
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” … Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
How will these people discover the truth of the Gospel after the Rapture?
An important key to the answer is the 144,000 Israelites (Revelation 7:4). These 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, are chosen and sealed before Christ sends judgment. They are given the power and protection of the Holy Spirit in order to preach the Gospel during this time. They will be fearless because they have the promise of God’s protection—no one will be able to harm them. When their job is complete, they will be taken to heaven.
If that weren’t enough, Revelation also mentions two people that God empowers to be His witnesses for nearly three-and-a-half years of the Tribulation (Revelation 11:3). Then, after the 144,000 are taken into heaven, an angel will proclaim the Gospel “to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water’” (Revelation 14:6-7). This bold preaching of both angels and men is a great testament to the strength of God’s character, that He is both gracious and filled with justice. When His judgment is on display, His mercy is just as real and present.
The Gospel will be preached during the Tribulation and multitudes will be saved. But don’t put off accepting Christ with the excuse of second chances. I urge you, if you haven’t already, to surrender your life to Jesus today and discover the abundant life He has for you today and for eternity.
9. What is the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming?
This is one of the biggest misconceptions I hear with prophecy. The Rapture and the Second Coming are often confused, but they are two distinct events on God’s prophecy timeline.
First, the Rapture is when Christ comes back and takes every Christian that is still on this earth and resurrects all of those who have died and takes them to heaven with Him. Paul is talking about the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 where he writes: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
The Rapture is God’s protection of His saints from the Tribulation—the seven years of judgment that will then be poured out on earth. There are some who argue the Tribulation period will begin before the Rapture. However, the Bible says that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), and I believe the Church will not experience the judgment that God has planned for that time.
Finally, at the end of the seven years, the Bible says Jesus comes back. This is His Second Coming. This time He comes to earth not as a humble child but as the powerful and glorious King of the universe, surrounded by all of His saints. He will gain victory at Armageddon and establish His kingdom on earth.
At the Rapture, Jesus comes for His saints. At the Second Coming He comes with His saints.
At the Rapture Jesus doesn’t come all the way to earth. At the Second Coming, His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives and He will reign on earth.
At the Rapture, Jesus comes with a blessing for His saints. At the Second Coming He brings judgment for those who have rejected Him.
The Rapture can happen at any moment, but we know the Second Coming happens seven years later.
10. Will believers today be on earth for the Millennial Kingdom?
Not only will believers today be on earth for the Millennial Kingdom—they will rule with Jesus!
After the Tribulation, believers who were raptured will join the angels as the armies of Jesus and return with Him to earth: “The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:14, NIV). Jesus will gain victory at Armageddon and believers will be given authority to reign with Him for 1,000 years. There are several passages throughout Scripture that point to the believer’s role in the kingdom:
“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 14-15
“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” 1 Corinthians 6:2
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6
Believers today are rulers in the making. God is preparing them not only for heaven but for administrating a thousand years of peace on this earth. During this time, God will establish the first truly righteous leadership we can trust. He will never make one mistake. He will always make the right decision. He will be the righteous King.
11. Will God destroy the earth?
Pop culture leads us to believe the world will one day be destroyed in a giant apocalyptic explosion and the earth will be completely destroyed. But God is not going to destroy the earth, He is going to purify it.
Second Peter 3:10-12 says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up…. The heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?”
It’s clear how this passage can lead us to believe in the apocalyptic explosion theory. But when we look at the original Greek, the word we’ve translated “burned up” more accurately conveys the idea of being uncovered, or laid open. God is not going to burn the earth down to a heap of ashes, He’s going to refine every element and atom all the way down to the earth’s core. He’s going to completely renovate the earth to a quality we haven’t experienced. The beauty we enjoy in creation today is barely a taste of the vibrancy we will experience when God is finished purifying it.
Again, in Revelation 21:1 it says, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”
God is not creating a whole new earth from scratch like He did in Genesis. He’s renovating His creation and removing all the evidences of sin, decay, and disease. The earth will not be new in quantity but in quality—perfectly refurbished to its core.
Then the New Jerusalem—the city of heaven we hear so much about with streets of gold and pearly gates—that city will come out of the clouds, and there all believers will reside with God for eternity.
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:2-4