As the swirling vortex of events coming together as the end of this age of grace approaches, the matter of how they fit together is indeed a mystery. However, there are some clues that seem to help show the possible order of their happening.
We are dependent on the foreknowledge of God and His Word revealed to even have an idea about these end times. It brings to mind that proverb that says, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10), a proverb worth thoughtful attention and more so in these days.
The order of events could possibly be in this manner:
- Falling away from faith and lawfulness;
- Social and economic conditions despite rising lawlessness prevailing;
- Taking away of the One who restrains;
- Revealing of the lawless one;
- Confirmation of a covenant of peace for Israel;
- Israel utters relief with “Peace and safety” exclamation;
- Gog-Magog invasion of Israel;
- Israel is deceived that Antichrist is the Messiah;
- Temple is rebuilt;
- Antichrist reveals his real person halfway through the seven-year covenant and shuts down Jewish temple worship, declaring himself God and demanding that all people worship him as God.
Let’s discuss these events more fully from Scripture and current events, attempting to relate them properly to each other and their visible evidence in the world.
The first one, “the falling away,” is directly stated in 2 Thessalonians 2:3: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition. It is not just a turning away from the faith, but a broader impact of total lawlessness is the meaning. Law and order are blatantly rejected, and injustice is the rule of the day. Isaiah 5:20 describes it well: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness.”
The highest leader of the world’s superpower, the United States of America, has openly and avidly promoted sexual perversion as an honorable way of life and demands the nation to legalize its equality with moral people. Even the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, has voted with the majority to rule that there can be no discrimination against any sexual immorality for any reason. It causes one to wonder how close we are to the likeness of Sodom when Lot was removed from that city’s judgment.
The second event is the favorable condition of social and economic life even though truth and morality are being rejected. Luke 17:26-30 describes that condition when the Son of Man appears: “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”
You can look at the accounts of Noah in Genesis 6:5 and of Lot in Genesis 18-19 and know that they were extremely evil and immoral to their depths. How could they be so seemingly party-minded in the midst of such abounding evil? It is spelled out in 1 Corinthians 15:32b, where the world’s conclusion is total hopelessness: “…If the dead do not rise, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” This is the sad picture of those who deny the existence of God. Truly it is so that “the fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God'” (Psalm 14:1).
Third in the list is that great event of the “snatching out” from the world that restraining entity which has been standing in the way of, yet waning, increasing approach of lawlessness and evil. It is told in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 as a preface to the revealing of that lawless one:
“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”
Other Scriptures tell us that believers have the indwelling Spirit of God, and where He is, so are we, the born-again believers. So it cannot be argued that this “taking the Restrainer out of the way of the lawless one” is not that body of Christ, the believing church. Details of that action are told in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, briefly:
“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.”
It is an interesting truth that the Apostle Paul, who recorded this truth, will be among those whom we join in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (along with many other saints from ages past).
This departure of the only authority that can hold back evil by powerful displays of righteousness is God’s plan for the ultimate destruction of the Antichrist when he is thrown alive into the lake of fire to burn forever and ever, as noted at the end of Revelation 19.
The fourth event in this possible order is the revealing of that lawless one, the Antichrist. He appears on the scene, having somehow acquired tremendous authority from the nations, as he “confirms a covenant with many.” It will be in the United Nations, most likely. Will he have become the UN Secretary-General, or will he have been given that authority after the millions of believers are suddenly absent from the world, and he is tagged as the one whom those left behind choose to trust? He will not be an obscure person having had no public exposure, but one who aspires to the position, no doubt.
When Jesus begins to preview the seven years of tribulation and authorizes the various acts of tribulation in Revelation 6, He leads off with the appearance of a man on a white horse, bearing a bow but with no arrows. He is “conquering and will continue to conquer,” thus projecting his actions during the coming seven years. Daniel 9:26-27 tells us of this man’s link to the old Roman Empire, which rises again to become the seventh head of the Beast. This one on the white horse is truly revealed when he shuts down the temple worship and continues on to totally captivate the top place in this New World Order as the lone eighth head of the Beast, as Revelation 17 sums up his tenure.
That fifth action listed is the confirmation of a covenant told in Daniel 9:27. How formal this will be is not told, nor how the Antichrist will come into such authority, but as mentioned in the context above, it suggests that he is not some obscure person who suddenly shows up. Is he the one whom Henry Kissinger declared, “He has been primed to lead us into a New World Order,” after the 2008 election? At any rate, believers will not see his revealing, for he won’t appear until the “falling away” is completed and the saints are “snatched up.”
Sixth in the list is that utterance of relief after the covenant is confirmed for seven years: “Peace and safety,” as Paul reported in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Who has been longing for peace for these many years after May 14, 1948? Israel, of course. When that happened, immediately the Islamic opposition began a running warfare to try to “wipe them off the face of the earth” (Psalm 83).
That seventh event is the Gog-Magog invasion of Israel, as described in Ezekiel 38-39. Gog has his back turned from the Middle East, Ezekiel says, in humility and shame, apparently. But then, he sees an opportunity when it appears Israel is as a city without walls, that is, without defenses. As long as America was able to defend Israel, Gog (Russia) would not attack. Now, America’s new “leadership” is no threat to the invasion. It will certainly be so after the Rapture of the church, for the United States will really be unable to defend Israel then. Russia’s back was turned away when the Soviet Union fell apart and failure shamed them before the world, at least in their own eyes, I am sure.
It will be a very short war, as Ezekiel tells it. But it will eliminate the Russian threat and the Islamic opposition to the Antichrist’s forward march to his own demise, as told in Revelation 19. Also, this seems to fit here because Israel then has “peace” and is unwary of the enemy.
The next two events, 8th and 9th, are actually not separate. The eighth, Israel is deceived by the Antichrist’s favorable attention to their desires, and it makes them think he must be the Messiah, for he now has approved the construction of the new temple, that ninth item of end-time conclusion. Jews have been ready with materials to rebuild and operate the temple just as their orthodoxy calls for it.
The tenth event has a climatic effect upon the whole scenario, for this is when the deceiver, the Antichrist, makes known his true person and shuts down the temple worship, declaring himself God, even standing in the holy place and demanding the people’s worship. This is that “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Daniel in Daniel 9:27. That reference says it will happen halfway through the seven years of “Jacob’s trouble,” so named at Jeremiah 30:7.
This is authorized by Jesus when He opens that sixth seal, previewing that last half of the tribulation, starting at Revelation 13. In this phase of the end-time, the false prophet is introduced, and the mark of the beast is instituted to be taken or suffer death.
The ministry of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists will have won many to the Messiah during that first half of the seven years, and these are those shown standing before the Lord, souls in white robes from all tribes, peoples and nations. They will not have taken the mark of the Beast. No believers of the church age will be there, but they will be with the Lord, having been resurrected when He took away the One who restrained the evil until it was that person’s time.
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