END OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION
Two great events will bring the Tribulation to a close—the War of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ. As the Antichrist leads the armies of the world against Israel with genocidal intent, Jesus Christ will return to earth, accompanied by the armies of heaven.
Jesus will seize the Antichrist and the false prophet and cast them alive into the lake of fire. At the Second Coming, the Old Testament saints and believers who died during the Tribulation will be resurrected.
After the Tribulation, in Matthew 24:29, the second coming of Christ is presented. He describes the signs in the heavens that will indicate that the Son of Man is coming, and finally the gathering of His chosen ones from around the world.
THE WAR OF ARMAGEDDON
The word Armageddon is found only one time in the Bible (Revelation 16:16), yet this one word is probably the most familiar biblical term from end times prophecy.
The word Armageddon is made up of two words in Hebrew: Har (mountain) and Megiddo (a city in the northern part of ancient Israel). The ancient city of Megiddo was built on a hill, and it is therefore called the mountain of Megiddo—Armageddon. The city of Megiddo overlooks a beautiful, large valley known as the Plain of Esdraelon. The armies of the earth will gather here in the last days and face total defeat by the returning King from heaven (Revelation 16:12-16; 19:19-21).
Armageddon is also often equated with the last battle or war on earth, but this is not the case. The last war in history will be the final revolt of Satan in Revelation 20:7-11 called Gog and Magog (not to be confused with the Gog and Magog invasion at the beginning of the tribulation). This war occurs one thousand years after Armageddon.
Armageddon is the climactic war of the Great Tribulation when all the armies of the earth gather to attack Israel and attempt to finally eradicate the Jewish people. They will capture Jerusalem, but then Jesus Christ will return to destroy the invading armies and deliver the faithful Jewish remnant.
The War of Armageddon is the subject of many biblical passages. Here are ten key Scriptures:
- Psalm 2
- Isaiah 34:1-16
- Isaiah 63:1-6
- Joel 3:1-17
- Zechariah 12:1-9
- Zechariah 14:1-15
- Malachi 4:1-5
- Revelation 14:14-20
- Revelation 16:12-16
- Revelation 19:19-21
The most vivid description of the severity and brutality of Armageddon is found in Revelation 14:17-20. The Lord is saying that at Armageddon He is going to throw all the nations into His great winepress and that His intense, blood-splattering judgment will extend throughout Israel from Megiddo to Bozrah.
Some believe they will gather from all over the world to challenge the Antichrist. After all, by the end of the Tribulation, with all God’s judgments pouring forth, the world will be in terrible shape. The nations may view the Antichrist as the source of the trouble and want to destroy him. Others believe that the armies are gathered to finally eradicate the Jewish people. The latter makes more sense because Revelation 16:13-16 indicates that the unclean spirits (demons) that gather the armies together will emanate from Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet. It doesn’t make sense that the Antichrist would gather the armies together to destroy himself.
Phase 1 – The Euphrates River dries up, preparing the way for the kings of the east (Revelation 16:12).
Phase 2 – The Antichrist’s allies assemble (Revelation 16:12-16). The armies assemble to annihilate the Jews once and for all.
Phase 3 – The armies attack Jerusalem, and it falls (Zechariah 14:1-3).
Phase 4 – Jesus Christ returns personally to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).
Phase 5 – Christ and the armies of the Lord destroy the armies gathered against Jerusalem in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:9-17; Zechariah 12:1-9; Zechariah 14:3).
Phase 6 – Christ descends upon Bozrah/Edom—in modern Jordan—to destroy its inhabitants and to deliver the Jewish remnant (Isaiah 34:1-7; 63:1-5; Joel 3:19). Earlier, when the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel and sets up the abomination of desolation, one-third of the Jewish people will flee into the hills and the wilderness, where they will be supernaturally protected by God for 3½ years from the ravages of the Antichrist and Satan (Revelation 12:6, 14). The Scriptures seem to indicate that they will hide in the rock city of Petra in the southern part of modern Jordan (Micah 2:12-13; Daniel 11:41).
Phase 7 – The armies at Armageddon are destroyed (Revelation 16:16; 19:19-21). At Armageddon, the Antichrist will rally the remaining troops to fight against the Lord Jesus and His army (Revelation 19:19). Jesus won’t have to lift a finger. The sword of His word will smite the nations (Revelation 19:15).
First is the great bird supper (Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37; Revelation 19:17-21): carcasses will fill the entire region; the birds of the air will gather to feed on the carnage. Second, the Antichrist and the false prophet will be cast alive into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 19:20). These two pawns of Satan will be the first two occupants of the lake of fire. Thus ends the campaign of Armageddon. There will be no more war on earth for one thousand years.
THE SECOND COMING – REVELATION 19:11-13 MATTHEW 24:27-30
Jesus will return to the earth from the same place He left—the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). He will be accompanied by a great crowd. This crowd will follow in His entourage as He splits the clouds riding on a white stallion. This crowd will be made up of both angels and redeemed human beings. All believers in Christ have a roundtrip ticket. All who have been raptured will return to the earth with Jesus at His second coming, the climax of the Tribulation. (Zechariah 14:5, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, Jude 1:14, Revelation 19:11, 14)
The coming of Christ to earth will fulfill the numerous promises that He will come again (Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 25:31; Acts 1:9-11). Christ Is Coming to defeat the Antichrist and his armies (Revelation 19:19-21). Christ is also coming to regather and restore faithful Israel and to judge the living.
When Christ returns, all the Gentiles who survived the Tribulation will appear before Him. He will determine if they can enter His Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46). This judgment is called the judgment of the “sheep and the goats.”
After the Second Coming (Revelation 19:11-21), one of the next events is the resurrection of Old Testament and Tribulation believers to reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4-6; Daniel 12:1-4).
Lastly, Christ is coming to bind the devil (Revelation 20:1-3) and to establish Himself as King (Revelation 19:16). He will return as King of kings and Lord of lords! He will sit on His glorious throne and reign over the earth (Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 2:44; Matthew 19:28; Luke 1:32-33).
Acts 1:11 says, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (NASB).
His coming will not be hidden but will be visible to all the world. Matthew 24:23-27 describes His coming.
Suddenly As the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 24:27, Revelation 3:3)
Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29)
Gloriously (Matthew 24:30) Jesus will return as King of kings and Lord of lords. Every creature will bow before Him and be subject to His authority (Philippians 2:11).
SEVENTY-FIVE DAYS TO GLORY
There seems to be an interval of time between the second coming of Christ and the official inauguration of the millennial kingdom. Daniel 12:1-3 describes the time of coming Tribulation for Israel and then the resurrection of Old Testament saints. The Tribulation for Israel will last 1,260 days, which is 3½ years (Daniel 12:7). This is the latter half of the seven-year Tribulation. Then, after these great events we read the enigmatic words in Daniel 12:11-12: “From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days!”
The 1,260 days is not too difficult since this time period is frequently set forth in Daniel and Revelation as the final 3½ years of the Tribulation. The 1,290 days is thirty days beyond the end of the Tribulation, and the 1,335 days is another forty-five days beyond that. These time periods describe an interval of time between the end of the Tribulation and Christ’s second coming and the beginning of the Millennium.
While we cannot be certain about everything that will transpire during this time, it is safe to say that during this time period Christ will remove the abomination of desolation, cast the Antichrist and the false prophet into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20), throw Satan into the abyss (Revelation 20:1-3), judge those living on the earth (Matthew 25:31-46), resurrect and reward Old Testament and Tribulation saints (Daniel 12:1-3), and assign responsibilities for the administration of His Kingdom. During this interval, the celebration of the marriage supper will begin on the earth (Revelation 19:7-10), and possibly the construction of the millennial Temple will commence as well (Ezekiel 40–48).
The fact that those who make it to the 1,335 days are blessed means that they have made it to the beginning of the millennial kingdom (Daniel 12:12). They have come through the judgments and are allowed to enter the kingdom.
IMPRISONMENT OF SATAN
Both amillennialists and postmillennialists contend that the binding of Satan occurred at the first coming of Christ and that Satan is bound right now during this present age. They often view the casting of Satan from heaven in Revelation 12:7-9 as parallel with Luke 10:18-19. They point to Mark 3:27 and Matthew 12:25-29 as the fulfillment of the binding of Satan during the earthly ministry of Christ. For them, Satan’s activity and power are restricted during this present age. However, this contradicts the way Satan is pictured in the New Testament. Satan is called “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30), “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), “the commander of the powers in the unseen world” (Ephesians 2:2), and he is “like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil schemes against believers (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11), hinders us (1 Thessalonians 2:18), accuses us (Revelation 12:10), and blinds the minds of the lost (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan is anything but bound today. He is aggressively opposing the work of God. As someone once said, “If Satan is bound today he must have an awfully long chain.” Satan is characterized as the arch-deceiver in the New Testament. Yet, Revelation 20:3 says that when he is bound Satan will “not deceive the nations anymore.” This does not fit the current situation. It demands a later time after the Lord’s coming.
Revelation 20:1-3 is very precise and specific in its description of Satan’s binding. It describes four distinct actions by the angel who binds him. Satan is “laid hold of,” “bound,” “[thrown] into the abyss,” and the abyss is “shut and sealed over him” (NASB). The language is very compelling and clear. Nothing even similar to this happened at the first coming of Christ. But it will happen when Christ returns, after which Christ will reign for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6).
Amillennialists and postmillennialists have a serious problem explaining Satan’s release at the end of the one thousand years, which they take to be the present age. Revelation 20:1-7 specifically mentions “a thousand years” six times. Whenever John mentions a time period that is general or nonspecific, he identifies it as such by phrases like “a little longer” (Revelation 6:11) or “little time” (12:12). Revelation 20:3 says that at the end of the one thousand years Satan will be released for “a little while.”
RESURRECTION IN REVELATION 20:1-6
Premillennialists maintain that the resurrection in Revelation 20:5 refers to physical, bodily resurrection at the end of history. The Millennium must occur after the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.