The end time: overview
To secular thinkers the world is a ball in space that, millions of years hence, will die as a matter of course when, for instance, the sun becomes a red giant and swallows up the Earth.
However, to many Christian thinkers the Bible teaches that God is in control of this world and He will bring an end to its present state by events that are known generally as the end time - a time which culminates in the second advent of Christ.
As we shall see, the end time is marked by events well documented in Scripture. This study is an overview of the end time, and thus it refers throughout to other studies which address individual aspects of the end time in detail.
2. Placing the end time in history
End time on Earth
In studies: 'Daniel 7 and Revelation 13: the antichrist beast' and ‘Confirming the identity of the beast' we identify Papal Rome as the end time antichrist, and we see that its power was broken in 1798. Since that time the great truths of Scripture that relate specifically to the end time (which had been hidden by Papal Rome) have been re-discovered.
Thus 1798 marks the start of the end time on Earth
End time in Heaven
In study: ‘The 2300 days prophecy’ we see that the 2300 days prophecy of Daniel 8 takes us to the autumn of 1844 AD, at which time the Sanctuary in Heaven would be cleansed of sin. 1844 AD is the final prophetic date given in scripture - it marks the beginning of the final phase of Christ's redemptive Ministry, as a result of which the redeemed are fitted for God’s eternal Kingdom.
Until 1844 AD, no change had taken place in Heaven. Thus 1844 AD marks the beginning of the end time in Heaven.
A unique time
From 1844 AD the world has been living in a situation unique in the history of the world - a situation which is just prior to the second advent of Christ.
In study: ‘The mark of the beast and the Seal of God’ we see that near the close of the end time the antichrist beast (Papal Rome) will regain its power and impose its will on the whole Earth - those who submit will receive the mark of the beast - those who refuse to submit will receive the Seal of God.
3. Christ and the end time
In Mathew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 Christ discusses the end time with the disciples.
The last days (the final phase of God's dealing with sin) of Earth's history began with the start of the Christian era. However, the end time comes at the very end of the last days.
In this section we discuss Christ's response to the Disciples' question about the end of the world (the end time) and His second coming (Mt 24:3). Thus Christ's reply is addressing our day.
3.1 Signs of the end time
False Christs: Mt 24: 5,23-27; Mk 13:21,22; Lk 21:8
Nation shall rise against nation: Mt 24:7; Lk 21:10
Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes: Mt 24:7; Lk 21:10
Persecutions: Mt 24:9; Lk 21:12
Betrayals: Mt 24:10; Lk 21:16; Mk 13:12
False prophets: Mt 24:11; Mk 13:22
Love shall wax cold: Mt 24:12
Mens’ hearts failing for fear Lk 21:26
These points are largely self explanatory - we can see readily that they describe our day exactly. Many say that these things have always been, which is true, yet Christ Himself teaches them as signs of the end time (now). He must therefore have meant that they will increase in frequency and intensity, which is precisely the case today.
Christ also says that these things are the beginnings of sorrows (Mt 24:8; Mk 13:8). They thus herald the very last of the final events of earth’s history.
The greatest sign: the Gospel preached in all the world: Mt 24:14; Mk 13:10
Today the Gospel commission is, by means of communications technology, being fulfilled in an unprecedented manner. The Gospel now reaches peoples that in the past were impossible to reach by human means.
Today, the Gospel is preached in all the world so that the end can come (Mt 24:14;Mk 13:10).
The most pernicious sign: false christs
A false christ is one who preaches lies mixed with truth. Paul is concerned about such falsehood:
2Co 11:3,4 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Paul here is expressing his fear that the Corinthians will be seduced by a false christ preaching a false gospel. The simple Gospel of Christ Jesus needs no elaboration or embellishment - all who preach anything other then the pure Gospel found in Scripture are false christs.
The danger is far greater today than in the past. False christs have, by means of communications technology, near limitless access to the whole world.
3.2 The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel (Mt 24:15; Mk 13:14)
In these verses we see the ‘Abomination of desolation’ standing where it 'ought not' - in the Holy Place.
The ‘Abomination of desolation’ prophecy is of dual application:
Firstly, Christ was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army in 70 AD. This destruction included the temple itself, in which was the ‘Holy place’ (Mt 24:15) where the presence of God dwelled until the temple veil separating the Holy from the Most Holy was torn from top to bottom at the moment of Christ’s death.
Secondly, the context of these passages is the time of the end. Thus Christ is applying the abomination of desolation to the end time, when God’s faithful people will have to suffer persecution at the hand of the abomination power.
In study: ‘Daniel 8, part 2’,6 we see that the ‘transgression of desolation’ is a power which deceives the whole world in the end time. We identify this power as Papal Rome.
Today we see the Papacy, in the person of the Pope, receiving the adulation of the whole world, claiming (as have all the Popes) to be God on Earth exercising great power and authority (see study: ‘Identifying the antichrist beast’,3.3).
The end time Holy Place (Mt 24:15)
Anciently, God dwelled in the earthly Temple, the then Holy Place, which was destroyed in AD 70. The temple has never been rebuilt. Thus the end time Holy Place (in which the abomination stands) cannot be a physical place.
The Holy Place is wherever God dwells
Since the Cross, the Covenant of Grace is written in the heart (2Co 3:3), and the Kingdom of God is within you (Lk 17:21). Furthermore, we see that Christ dwells in the heart (Ep 3:17). Thus God dwells in each true believer.
God's pure Church - His dwelling place
God's uncorrupted end-time church is composed of all those who faithfully follow Christ - those in whose hearts Christ dwells.
Thus the end time 'Holy Place' (God's dwelling place) is God's pure church, which is composed of the 'pure in heart' (Mt 5:8).
Furthermore, God’s true Church is scattered throughout the Christian world - every denomination has its true-hearted believers, though some, for now, are misled by apostate leaders.
The abomination in the end time Holy Place
The end time ‘abomination of desolation’ (the apostate church: Papal Rome) 'stands' amongst the churches attempting to usurp God’s dwelling place (His true, pure Church) by means of false doctrine - especially with respect to Christ's final Atonement.
Before the second advent of Christ however, the true-hearted who are at present misled will be guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth (Jn 16:13) - they will then forsake error and make their stand for God.
3.3 As in the days of Noah Mt 24:37-39
Christ taught that the end time will be as it was in the days of Noah, when wickedness was so great (Ge 6:5) that God had to destroy all the wicked - their probation had ended (the days of Noah are addressed further in study: 'The end of human probation',2). Only the righteous few who believed God (Noah and his family), escaped.
Thus we will see the same at the end - the wicked will be destroyed (see study: ‘The end of sin and sinners’), with only the righteous in Christ escaping to eternal life (see study: ‘The cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary’).
4. The extent of Satan’s deceit
We are told that since his defeat at the Cross, the Devil, Satan, goes about as a roaring lion seeking to devour whom he can (1Pe 5:8). Satan has great anger because he knows his time is short (Re 12:12) - the shorter Satan’s time becomes, the greater is his rage and the more powerful are his deceptions (though Satan is restricted to what God permits).
Christ warned that Satan’s end time deceptions will be so great that, if possible, he would deceive God’s very elect (Mt 24:24; Mk 13:22). However, the elect are so grounded in the Word of God that they cannot be deceived.
4.1 Satan’s end time trinity
Re 16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
The unclean spirits come out of the dragon (Satan, Re 20:2), the beast (the Papacy, see section 2), and the false prophet (see section 4.2). Thus the unclean spirits stand for all the errors that have been introduced over centuries so that Christianity today bears little resemblance to the Christianity of the disciples and the early persecuted church.
Doctrinal errors introduced by the Papacy and adopted by Protestantism have obscured the true light contained in scripture.
Chief amongst these errors:
The Roman Catholic mass (the heart of Roman Catholic practice) in which the priest, when he elevates the bread and the wine, claims to change them into the actual body and blood of Christ (this known as transubstantiation). When the bread is broken and the wine is poured they sacrifice Christ anew, negating Christ’s once-for-all Atonement (Ro 6:10; He 9:28;10:10-14).
Meddling with Christ's Atonement is both sacrilege (abusing what is sacred) and blasphemy (claiming the power that belongs only to God) - the most serious error that can be committed.
Sunday sacredness: the Papacy has replaced God’s Seventh Day Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment with Sunday (First-day) sacredness - a day which has no basis in Scripture, and which is almost universally adopted by Protestants (see studies: ‘First day (Sunday) in Scripture’ and ‘The Mark of the Beast and the Seal of God’).
The doctrine of the immortal soul: the belief that the soul exists separately within the body, and when the body dies the soul continues to live, even though scripture teaches plainly that the soul dies (Eze 18:4,20). Satan’s original lie “you shall not surely die” (Ge 3:4) is thus perpetuated.
This has led to spiritualism today, in which evil angels masquerade as the dead, appearing to grieving relatives in the form of dead loved ones - deceiving those not grounded in Scripture (see study: ‘Death and the state of the dead‘).
Allied to this error is the doctrine of an ever-burning hell, which is a most pernicious misrepresentation of God's character (see study: 'Hell - the true meaning').
4.2 The false prophet
In Re 16:13 above, we see that the false prophet is classed along with the dragon (Satan) and the beast (Papal Rome), and thus teaches the same lies.
A false prophet is one that teaches false doctrine. The false doctrines of Papal Rome are adopted by Apostate Protestantism, which has given itself wholly over to the Papacy, propagating her false doctrines throughout the world.
Apostate Protestantism is the driving religious and increasingly political force in the world's most powerful nation: America, where it is agitating for the amalgamation of church and state.
Such is America's power and influence it can promote the doctrines of the Papacy everywhere. Thus America, by means of apostate Protestantism, is the false prophet.
America in fact features prominently in end time prophecy, and is discussed in study: 'The Mark of the Beast and the Seal of God'. In that study America's role as the false prophet is examined at length.
4.3 Unbelief and scoffing
2Pe 3:3-5 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
Such is Satan’s success that the Bible, in the eyes of the world, has been relegated to just one religious myth amongst many. The theory of evolution openly denies God’s creative power, even reducing God Himself, in the eyes of many, to the status of a mythical being.
Science ‘falsely so called’ (1Ti 6:20) has led the world to scoff at the idea of sin, repentance, and salvation - a great triumph for Satan.
5. Final events prefigured
The events in the end time constitute God’s final acts in His dealing with sin. The final events are typified in the seven feasts of the Hebrew ecclesiastical year (see study: ‘The seven feasts of the Hebrew ecclesiastical year’).
The seven feasts paint a portrait of the stages of salvation. The final feast but one, the Day of Atonement, represents God’s final act of judgement, the eradication of sin, and the restoration of Israel (see study: ‘The Day of Atonement’).
All the nation of Israel were to gather to participate in the Day of Atonement, in which the High Priest entered once a year into the Most Holy in the earthly Sanctuary to make atonement. If any did not participate their sin was not eradicated, and they were excluded from Israel.
The Day of Atonement was preceded by the Feast of Trumpets, which was God’s call to repentance before His final act of judgement and restoration. The Day of Atonement was succeeded by the Feast of Tabernacles, a time of rejoicing.
The final events in the end time follow these three steps: God’s final call to the world, the eradication of the sin of the redeemed resulting in their restoration to God, and finally a time of rejoicing when Jesus comes the second time.
God’s final call
God is not content to let the end of all things come upon mankind unawares. He has given ample warning in prophecy, and He has given a special end time call in Revelation 14, which takes the form of three angels’ messages to the world.
Such is the importance of these messages that they are addressed in detail in the study: ‘The three angel’s messages’.
6. God’s final people
In the end time, God has his faithful people whom scripture calls the Remnant.
6.1 The Remnant
Re 12:17 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.
Re 19:10 … worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
The dragon is Satan (Re 12:9). The woman is the pure faithful church (Re 12:1,5,6; 2Co 11:2)
The seed: in scripture ‘seed’ refers to descendants. For instance, we see in Ge 17:9 that Abraham’s seed are the succeeding generations who remain faithful to God’s promise to Abraham, i.e. Righteousness by Faith (see study: ‘Righteousness restored’).
Thus the seed of the woman (God’s true church) are those who remain faithful and obedient to God’s Word, rejecting the errors that have entered mainstream Christianity.
In addition, God’s end-time Remnant are those who have the Spirit of Prophecy.
The Spirit of Prophecy
The importance of the Spirit of Prophecy is indicated by it being 'the testimony of Jesus' (Re 12:17 above). Prophecy is thus Christ communicating His will and His instruction to His people, and also His people testifying of Him.
Prophesying in scripture is as much about expounding events and teaching as it is about declaring the future:
1Co 14:31 For ye may all prophesy [Strong’s G4396, foretell, speak under divine inspiration] one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
In the end time the spirit of prophecy is all about teaching and comforting with the news that Jesus is soon to return - there are no long-term future events to declare.
God has opened up scripture to those who earnestly seek truth and understanding. Thus the remnant are those who proclaim Scripture truth in the midst of universal apostasy, to bring comfort to those who are perplexed and confused by the times.
6.2 Delivering God’s warning to the world
The remnant are tasked by God, above all, to warn the world to make ready for the imminent second coming of Jesus.
All those who know the end time truth are held responsible by Heaven for delivering God’s final warning to the world. If any, knowing the truth, fail to do so and sinners perish, the blood of those sinners is on the hands of those who should have warned them (Eze 3:18,20; 33:6,8).
Simply believing the truth is not sufficient, we must act upon that belief. Staying silent when the truth should be declared is a form of deception, perpetuating unbelief.
Those who remain silent through fear of ridicule are rebelling against God.
6.3 God’s warning and appeal to the unfaithful
As we have seen, God has His faithful people in the end time. However, amongst those who profess faith are many who are false professors because they have not forsaken the world and are backslidden.
God urges such to repent and return to the pure truth of scripture. In Revelation chapter 3 the message to the Laodicean church contains God’s warning to false professors, and also His solution to the problem. This is discussed in detail in study: ‘The message to Laodicea’.
This study has presented an overview of the important signs and events of the end time.
We have seen how Satan is making his final intense efforts to deceive the whole world.
We have also seen the responsibility of God’s people - to warn the world that very soon Jesus is coming again.
This study has set the scene for other studies which address aspects of the end time in detail.