Future Events in Prophecy

What is on the Horizon in Biblical Prophecy?

The Rapture of the Church

The next great event on God’s calendar of prophecy which we can expect is the appearance of Christ in the air, without touching His feet to the earth, when He comes to take all Christians up to Heaven — “…the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This event is known as the Rapture and is described in verses 14-17; also 1 Corinthians 15:51-58. Immediately following the Rapture the Bema Judgment (or the Awards Judgment) occurs.

The Tribulation

The seven years following the Rapture is known as the Great Tribulation. During this tie the terrible judgments and events described in the book of Revelation will transpire. Those who were left behind at the Rapture because they were not saved ill suffer terrible persecution. Judgments from God upon the natural elements of the earth and upon the inhabitants of the earth will be severe during this seven-year period.

Christ’s Return

At the end of this period the Second Coming of Christ will occur. Jesus will touch down upon the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4-8). After touching down on the Mount of Olives, Christ proceeds to Petra and Bozrah, two chief cities in Edom. It is not possible to be dogmatic here, but it would seem he goes on to Edom to gather the hiding Israelite remnant. Accompanied by the holy angels, the church (this includes those who were raptured), and the remnant, Christ marches toward Armageddon (Isaiah 34:6; 63:1).

Satan’s forces (the antichrist and the world’s nations assembled at Armageddon) will be destroyed by Christ (Revelation 19:17-21). Satan will be bound for 1000 years (Revelation 20:1-3).

Old Testament and tribulational saints will be resurrected. It is our view that at the Rapture of the church God will raise only those believers who have been saved from Pentecost to the Rapture. Accordingly, all other believers (Old Testament and tribulational saints) will be resurrected just prior to the Millennium (Revelation 20:4,5). Concerning the Old Testament saints, Jesus, in His heart-of-the-earth descent following His crucifixion, took their souls to Heaven; however, just prior to the Millennium their bodies ill be resurrected.

The Millennium Reign

These events will usher in the 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ known as the Millennium. Christ will personally rule the earth during this glorious period. The inhabitants will be saved Israel, saved Old Testament and tribulation Gentiles, the church, and the elect angels.

The Lord Jesus Christ will, of course, be the King supreme, but there are passages which suggest that he will rule through a vice-regent and that vice-regent will be David (see Jeremiah 30:9; Hosea 3:5). If we take these passages literally, David will once again sit upon the throne in Israel. He will be aided in his rulership by the church (1 Corinthians 6:3); the apostles (Matthew 19:28); Nobles (Jeremiah 30:21); Princes (Isaiah 32:1; Ezekiel 45:8,9), and Judges (Zechariah 3:7; Isaiah 1:26).

Concerning the geography of the Millennium, Palestine will be greatly enlarged and changed (Isaiah 26:15; Obadiah 1:17-21). For the first tie Israel will possess all of the land promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:18-21. A great fertile plain will replace the mountainous terrain. A river will flow east-west from the Mount of Olives into both the Mediterranean and the Dead Seas (see Zechariah 14:4,8,10); Joel 3:18; Ezekiel 47:8,9,12). Jerusalem will become the worship center of the world (Micah 4:1; Isaiah 2:2,3). The city will occupy an elevated site (Zechariah 14:10). The city will be six miles in circumference (Ezekiel 48:35). It will be named “Jehovah-Shammah,” meaning “the Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35); and Jehovah Tsidkenu, meaning “the Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16). Although this city has been called by many titles in the Bible, these two will be the final names for God’s beloved city.

What will the thousand-year reign of Christ be like? The Scriptures teach us that it will be a time of peace, joy, holiness, glory, comfort and justice. Sickness will be removed. There will be a supernatural work of preservation of life through King Jesus. There will be no social, political or religious oppression. There will be labor–the period will not be characterized by idleness, but there will be a perfect economic system. Agriculture, as well as manufacturing, will provide employment. The perfect labor situation will produce economic abundance so there will be no want. There will be an increase of light. There will be a unified language. All the world will unite in the worship of God. God’s presence will be fully recognized and fellowship with God will be experienced to an unprecedented degree.

There will be babies born to the mortal Israelite and Gentile parents who survived the tribulation and entered the Millennium in that state of mortality. These “kingdom kids” will be raised during the Millennium, in a perfect environment. Just as all mortals, they will have the option of accepting or rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Many of them, although their outward acts will be subjected to the existing authority, will only give lip service to the Savior. They will never submit their hearts to the new birth. Outwardly they will conform, but inwardly they will despise. This certainly proves that the Scripture is accurate when it describes the heart as “desperately wicked” and incurably so. Man is totally depraved.

The Release of Satan

Satan will be loosed for a season at the end of Christ’s 1000-year reign. These “kingdom kids” (those who never accept Christ) will make up Satan’s army in his final revolt at the end of the 1000-year reign (Revelation 20:6-9). This army will be devoured by fire from Heaven (v. 9b).

Satan will then be “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). Following this event will be the Great White Throne judgment (described in Matthew 25:41-46 and Revelation 20:11-15). See also Daniel 7:9-10, John 5:22,27; 12:48; Acts 10:40,42; 2 Timothy 4:1, and Psalms 9:17. Only unsaved people will stand before this throne.

The New Heaven and the New Earth are described in Revelation 21. As beautiful and as perfect as the Millennial Age will be, it cannot compare to Heaven, our final abode as Christians.

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:22-27

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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