An Article from Pastor Paul Boutan
2020 has caused many of us to think about the end times. I recently received a question that asked when do the end times start? Well, the answer to that question is somewhat complicated. I will be wrestling with this issue from a Pre-Tribulational and Pre-Millennial perspective.
On the one hand you can say the "end times" started after Jesus rose from the grave and ascended back up to heaven. Because ever since then, we've been waiting for His return. Likewise, there are no prophecies that have to be fulfilled before the church can be raptured and removed from the earth.
However, on the other hand, we also need to have a biblical timeline of the end times
First: Jesus died on the cross, rose again after three days, and ascended to heaven which initiated His return. When Jesus ascended back to heaven the disciples saw Him being lifted up in a cloud. Then Acts 1:10-11 says, “And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.” Therefore, ever since Jesus left the earth, we’ve been waiting for Him to return.
Second: The Church (we who are Christians) will be raptured (removed from the earth and brought to heaven for the marriage of the Lamb REV 19)
Third: Some time AFTER the rapture the 7 Year Tribulation period will START. The Tribulation begins with the Anti-Christ signing a 7year peace treaty with the Nation of Israel (Daniel 9:24-27). It's important to realize that the Anti-Christ DOES NOT come into power until AFTER the church is raptured (2Thess 2:3-10). Once he signs that 7year peace treaty the 7year Tribulation period begins. The first 3 1/2 years God is pouring judgment on the earth, but the Anti-Christ seems like a great friend of Israel during that time. But during the second portion of 3 1/2 years the Anti-Christ reveals his true colors and starts attacking the Nation of Israel (Dan 7:25, Dan 12:7, Rev 12:14).
Fourth: At the end of the 7year Tribulation period Jesus returns from heaven to the earth with His Bride otherwise known as the church or those of us who are Christians that were raptured and had spent the last 7 years in Heaven with Jesus. Then Jesus returns, destroys the Anti-Christ and his allies, then sets up His own kingdom for 1,000years (REV 20)
So the very next thing to happen on the end times calendar is the rapture of the church. As Christians we don't need to worry about trying to identify who the Anti-Christ might be or what the mark of the beast might be. As Christians we are to keep our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2, Titus 2:13).
It's important to understand that the Tribulation period and the 7year reign of the Anti-Christ CANNOT occur until AFTER the Church is raptured.
If you have a question you would like for me to answer, send it to FlockNote and perhaps I can address it in a future article.