An Overview of Christian End Times Interpretations


Wallace (Shaun) Shaunfield ©1/23/2011


It is the mark of an educated mind to be able

 to entertain a thought without accepting it.

Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE)



In the book, My God, Your God? I discussed what a believer might expect from God. One reward was that we would have eternal life with God in Heaven. However, I did not elaborate on how that transition from this life on earth to that in Heaven would occur. This brief overview may be viewed as the missing chapter on that subject. This topic is typically referred to as End Times, End Time, End of Days or the End of the Age. Be aware that End Times does not mean the end of time literally, but rather an end to the current time on earth and then the beginning of time eternal. The Bible devotes much to this subject.

However, the End Times is typically only rarely or never discussed in the mainline protestant denominations. While I could not find an official explanation, I believe there are numerous reasons:

  • Within Christianity, there are many different interpretations of the End Times. How do you know which interpretation to use?
  • In addition the End Times is a lengthy story that doesn’t lend itself to sermons as typically presented in church services. Understanding requires an in-depth and lengthy study.
  • Another reason that the subject is that the subject is very symbolic and often bizarre. God has been relatively quiet for the past 2000 years and now with the End Times He makes Himself know in a dramatic way and all this may seem too farfetched to be true. Then some think the story is too speculative.
  • And with such a difference in style of End Times scripture from other scripture, one must ask the question, is it true literally or otherwise? One might ask is this part of the Bible the true word of God?


I should point out that many evangelical churches spend a major portion of time on End Times.

Let us look at these possible reasons for avoiding discussing the End Time. First of all why are there different interpretations? I Believe the answer may be in Daniel 12:4, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” –KJV. There is no doubt that secular knowledge is increasing at a very rapid rate and I believe theological knowledge is also increasing. It shows up in two ways: 1) increased secular knowledge as in archeology which confirms Biblical accounts and 2) better interpretation of the scripture. However, if this knowledge is increasing it means our understanding of the Bible must be incomplete and with that situation it is normal to have variations of interpretations.

The End Times subject itself is long and does not lend itself to being told in a short story. But that is not reason to avoid the subject.

Is the End Times story true? Approximately 25% of the Bible is prophecy and much of that deals with End Times. There are about 2000 prophecies in the Bible and about half have come to pass and all are true. Only God could have known the future 1000 to 2000 years into the future. Next, if God inspired the words of the scripture then He must have had a hand in the selection of the books to be included in the Bible. Surely, He did not leave that up to us humans. Therefore, you can be confident that the book of Revelation and the other prophecies are there because God intended them to be there. Obviously God want us to be informed about the future. Furthermore, the purpose is made clear in Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”

Next, let us look at why End Times prophecy is different from other scripture. Up until now we had strong evidence of God but could not prove His existence scientifically. It required faith to believe. God has been very patient with His children, but now the time has come for the end of the current age. God is to make it clear without any doubt He is God and there is no other. End Times is a God-sized event, larger than the Super Bowl and Olympic Games rolled into one and then multiplied by 1000. It is how God intends to gather His children to His side and banish all others into eternal separation from God. How could you expect it to be anything other than the grand and elaborate event described in End Times prophecies? And it is a wonderful and exciting time for Christians but just the opposite for non-believers.

Hopefully, this discussion will provide you with an overview and basic understanding of the numerous interpretations and could be a starting point if you decide on further study. One other point to keep in mind is that belief in any one interpretation is not required for your salvation. What is important is that you know Christ is returning and that you have accepted Christ. I would have to say that even though I have done extensive study on the subject of End Times I do not have a firm belief in any one interpretation.  The signs of the times do suggest that we are beginning the End Times and there are certain signs which if they do occur will help me decide which interpretation to believe. The Bible is very clear in that we do not know when the End Time will be. The main thing is that I am ready, as we all should be

The Book of Revelation

The book of Revelation is the primary book for End Times. Revelation is the only book in the Bible which identifies itself as a prophecy, although many other books contain prophecies.   Why should anyone read or study Revelation? End Times is one of the most important subjects in the Bible. Revelation describes the major events of the End Times and the second coming of Jesus and His victory over Satan and the nonbelievers. Revelation and other related prophecies have a reputation of being a doomsday story. While there are periods of tribulation and persecution, the story is good news for those who have accepted Christ and it should be viewed as such. For the non-believer the End Times prophecies are a doomsday story.

One other key attributes of Revelation is that it is not written in a chronological manner. There are flashbacks and some elements are repeated. For those that like a step-by-step description of the End Times some imagination will be required and this is the source of some of the variation in interpretation.

Revelation is written as apocalyptic literature, a style of writing popular during the first century which reveals parallels between heaven and earth, humans and God, life in today’s world and in the future.  The word apocalypse means a disclosure, unveiling or revelation. This style is not common in today’s literature and as such is sometimes difficult to understand. I think that understanding is related to our attitude going into a study of Revelation. Because of the reputation of being difficult our attitude is one of little confidence. I submit that with a positive attitude you will understand more that you might have thought.

You should also keep in mind that Revelation was written as Jesus speaking through John. The message in the first three chapters is written to the seven churches in Asia Minor (what is now Turkey). That message is straightforward and there is general consensus on the message. It was written in a period of intense persecution of believers in the early church and yet it still has significance today’s environment. There are three ways to view the first three chapters of Revelation:

  • A message to the seven churches in the first century
  • A message to the church universal for all  times
  • Application to the individual believer today

Chapters 4 through 22 look to the future and this is where we see much symbolism and the variations in interpretation. I will not go into detail on Revelation here but instead refer you to several books on the subject. One book I would recommend for mainline denomination study of Revelation is Breaking the Codeby Bruce Metzger. Metzger was a leading New Testament scholar before his death in 2002. For an evangelical approach to Revelation I recommend The Book of Revelation Revealed by Hilton Sutton.

Many scholars believe the author of Revelation was John the “beloved disciple” of Christ while others believe it was another John. There are good arguments for both sides of the argument but the fact is that all we really know for sure is that the author identified himself four times as “John”.

The time of the writing of Revelation has similar uncertainty, but it is generally believed to have been written in the last part of the first century at a time when either Nero or Domitian was emperor in Rome. Most seem to favor Domitian which would place the time of writing around A.D. 96.

Other End Times Books

It is important to note that Revelation is only part of the End Times story and to have a complete picture other books of the Bible must be included. Following Revelation, the next most important book on the End Times subject is the Old Testament book of Daniel followed by Ezekiel and Zechariah. In addition, the New Testament books of Mathew, Mark, Luke and 1Thessalonians contain key passages on End Times. It is a subject addressed by many of the authors of the Bible and all of these prophecies complement each other. I will point out specific verses in following paragraphs.

The Difficulty of End Times Study

Most of my life as a development Engineer was looking to the future. However, when I wrote the book, My God, Your God? I found myself mostly in the past and looking at history. Now that the book is finished I have made time to become a futurist again and look at End Times. I expected the study of End Times to be difficult because of the general attitude people had about the subject. What I found was that the primary books, Revelation and Daniel, were full of symbolism. However, I then thought that would still be understandable with a proper commentary to explain the real meaning of the various passages.  Then I discovered there were many different interpretations of the symbolism, so it was difficult after all. As time went on, I soon realized that the differences of opinion about End Times are probably the most debated subject in the Bible. While the End Times is neglected by many people others have invested many brain cell-hours in the subject and have strong opinions on the subject. There is a fair amount of consensus about the events that will occur (although not totally) with the majority of debate about when each of the events will occur. There are many different events so there is much room for the various interpretations. It is interesting that the proponents of each viewpoint are very sincere and use scripture to support their position. Many times the same scripture is used to verify their different positions, obviously with a different interpretation.

The obvious question is since this is all in the Bible, and therefore the word of God, why is it so complicated and seemingly difficult to understand? I believe there might be five reasons:

  1. First of all, in the first century Rome was very oppressive and references in Revelation about Rome are coded so that those in Rome would not know they were often the subject of the book.
  2. Much of the prophecy is about future battles between God and Satan. Why would you want to have your battle plan clearly explained for the enemy?  In Daniel 12:10, “…None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” So maybe if we try hard enough we will be wise enough to understand.  All the key battles are against Israel and given the recent attempts to defeat them should make any aggressor think twice before waging war with the “underdog”, Israel. Although the subject might seem complicated, I believe you will gain a fair understanding of Revelation and End Times events.
  3. It is well know that we humans have a fascination about anything in the future, and what could be more important than how we will spend eternity. God also knows we love a challenge and God has provided us with one. I am sure He finds many of our interpretations humorous and entertaining. Surely, He knew we humans would come up with the many different interpretations. Maybe it doesn’t matter that there are numerous interpretations.
  4. The fourth reason for the difficulty related to reason number three. We all understand that no one except the Father knows when Jesus will return and although not stated it might also be that we are not suppose to know how the End Times will play out as well.
  5. In Daniel it is stated the knowledge will increase. Maybe our knowledge has not yet increased to the point where it will be clear as to the sequence of events of the End Time.
  6. The End Times story is too farfetched to be taken seriously.


The Importance of End Times Study

The most important fact in all of the discussion about End Times is that there is consensus and essentially no debate on the final outcome of the saga:

  • Christ is returning
  • He will defeat the evil ones
  • Those saved will spend eternity in Heaven with God and those not saved will spend eternity separated from God
  • Furthermore we should be prepared for the return of Christ at any time.  Why would you not live your life any other way? A good test is to assume you just found out that End Times is starting right now, this very moment.  Is everything you did for the past day or week or month an indication that you were ready for the end? Or is there anything you would have done different knowing the end was now? I would like to repeat a thought I presented in the book: “After we have come to Christ we should continuously try to be Holy and follow God’s commands. As it turns out, living the Holy life as God wishes for us is not an unpleasant task; rather it is a glorious, peaceful and a joyous way.” Is that not being ready for the return of Christ?

In the following paragraphs I will present the most significant viewpoints on how the End Times will unfold. It will for you to decide which one you believe if you feel it is even important to do so.  When the study is finished, you should have a basic understanding of the various viewpoints and that will remove some of the mystery from the subject. Then if later one or two viewpoints are appealing you can study them further and decide what your beliefs might be.

One final thought is that the study of End Times prophecy should be a very positive experience assuming you are one of the saved but just the opposite is you are not.

Jews and Israel

Because Israel and its people play such an important role in the End Times I feel a review of their history is important for this study.  From Genesis 12:2, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing“.  From Deuteronomy 7:6, “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”  God formed Israel as His chosen people and blessed them at the time of Abraham, 3500 years ago. However, many Jewish people were dispersed from Israel over the past 2000 years. It was prophesized 10 different times in the Bible that the Hebrew people would be brought back to rebuild Israel. One example is found in Ezekiel 37:21-22 (KJV) “And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.”  The other nine prophecies are:

  • Amos 9:14-15
  • Ezekiel 37:10-14
  • Isaiah 66:7-8
  • Jeremiah 16:14-15
  • Ezekiel 4:3-6
  • Ezekiel 34:13
  • Jeremiah 31:10
  • Leviticus 26:3, 7-8
  • Deuteronomy 30:3-5


On May 14, 1948 the prophecies were fulfilled as the State of Israel was proclaimed by David Ben-Gurion.

The Jews have a unique history in that they are a people who have maintained their identity since their formation by Abraham. They have done this in spite of persecution, countless exiles, enslavements and the holocaust of WW2 where one third of their population was executed. This longevity and identity of a people is unlike that of any other people.

The total number of Jews is very small considering their importance on the world scene. There are about 14 million worldwide with 5.4 million living in Israel, 5.3 million in the U.S. and 1.5 million in Europe.

Mark Twain visited the area of Israel in 1867, and published his impressions in Innocents Abroad.  He described a desolate country – devoid of both vegetation and human population. Since the reformation of Israel in 1948 they have turned the barren desert land into an oasis and they are now a major exporter of food crops. This was prophesied in Isaiah 27:6, In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.”   Their accomplishments in other areas are equally phenomenal. Israel has only 0.2% of the world population but they have:

  • 27% of Noble physics laureates
  • 51% of the Pulitzer prizes for non-fiction
  • 21% of Ivy League enrollment
  • 38% of the most philanthropic donors
  • 26% of Kennedy Center honorees
  • 37% of Oscars for Best Director
  • 31% of medicine laureates
  • The second rank behind the U.S. in the number of companies on the Nasdaq
  •  As much venture capital as France and Germany combined
  • More high-tech start-ups per capita than any other nation on earth
  • The highest civilian research and development spending per capita


Prior to the formation of the state of Israel, the Jewish population in Jerusalem outnumbered the Muslims. Starting in 1844 the Jewish population was 7120 versus 5000 for the Muslim. In 1996 the Jews numbered 421,000 to the Muslim of 166,000. And history shows that Jews occupied Jerusalem since before the time of Christ, well before Islam was formed. The whole Middle East region had been under the Turkish Ottoman Empire for 400 years until 1917. Turkey had been on the losing side of WWI and control of the area was turned over to the French and British. The French mandate included the northern part of the region including the territory of Lebanon and Syria. The British Mandate included the southern and eastern part of the region. The countries of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan did not even exist. The residents had been predominately Arab subjects of the Ottoman Empire. Most had migrated to the area during the previous 30 years, attracted by jobs created by the Jews who were building and farming. At that time the Jewish population of the total Middle East was around 100,000 out a total population of 600,000. Earl Author Balfour supported the formation of a Jewish state and in 1917 the Balfour Declaration was issued in a letter to Lord Rosthschild stating the proposal for a national homeland for the Jewish people. The British in spite of the Balfour Declaration formed the countries of Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, totally ignoring the promise to the Jews. In 1937 the Peel commission issued a report that did away with the Balfour Declaration and recommended the Jews be confined to a tiny state along a sliver of land along the Mediterranean coast.  The British did not keep this agreement either except the part which restricted the migration of Jews into the region to 12,000 per year (1939-1943). This meant that many Jews were doomed under the control of the Nazis preventing the saving of millions of Jewish lives. The reason for the behavior of the British against the Jews is blamed on numerous reasons:

  • Anti-Semitism
  • A romantic/patronizing fascination of the Arab
  • The belief that they had a better chance in obtaining newly discovered oil from the Arabs
  • The fact that there were more Arabs living in the total area.

During much of this period there was open conflict between the Jews and the Arabs. Even then the Arabs did not want any Jews in any part of the land. The British, weary of the conflict, wanted out of the control of the area and turned the matter over to the UN who decided to end the British Mandate and to divide the remaining area of between the Jews and Arabs. The Jews got the area which was predominately Jewish and the Arabs got the area which was predominately Arabic. This partition plan was voted on at the UN on November 29, 1947. The measure carried even though most of the Arab nations voted no. The British reluctantly voted yes, but announced they would not cooperate with the execution of the plan. The British on May 14, 1948 at 4:00 p.m. lowered their flag for the last time and immediately the Jews raised their own and Israel declared itself a state. Israel was soon recognized by numerous member states of the UN.

Since their formation in 1948 the Arabs have declared war on Israel five times and each time Israel prevailed and gained territory in spite of being grossly outnumbered. The most memorable of these wars include:

  • War of Independence – There had been an ongoing conflict between the Jews and the Arabs and when Israel declared itself a state they were attacked by the Arab states and the war lasted until July 1949. Although Israel gained significant area they lost control of Jerusalem. How Israel stood up to such a large force is a miracle.
  •  Six-Day War – (June 1967) Israel was attacked by Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Not only did Israel prevail but they also regained control of Jerusalem. However, they did allow the Muslims to maintain control of the Temple Mount.

Immediately after the Six Day War Israel offered to return the captured territories to the Arab countries in return for peace treaties with them. In August 1967 the Arab League rejected the offer. In 1979 Egypt did sign a peace treaty with Israel and did receive back the captured territory. Anwar Sadat who accepted the Israel offer was assassinated in 1981 because of his involvement. In 2000 the Palestinian Authority lead by Yassar Arafat rejected the offer by Israel to return all lands from the 1967 war and the creation of a Palestinian State on that territory in return for a peace treaty. Will there ever be peace between Israel and the Arab states? I d not believe so for at least two reasons: 1) The Quran states that Muslims should kill the Jews (it also says they should respect tem but that is ignored), 2) Muslims believe that once Muslims hold a territory it forever belongs to them. The Arabs have stated they will not be happy until all Jews are removed from the land. The Muslim claim to Jerusalem is based on lies and deceit. It is interesting to note that Jerusalem or Zion is mentioned over 900 times in the Bible and zero times in the Quran.

Given this short recent history of Israel, can there be any doubt that they are blessed by God? One final item to note is based on Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”. Now consider that in 1917 at the time the British Mandate was initiated the British Empire was still worldwide and vast. The controlled about 25% of the world. However, by 1948 after the British has treated the Jews the way they did, their empire has shrunk to just Britain and Ireland. Is this not a prophecy fulfilled?  Given this is true, then the Arabs have no chance of success in the future and the End Times. And is this not a lesson for all other nations in their relations with Israel?

Looking to the future of Israel in the End Times shows some fascinating facts. The Bible states that the Antichrist in the midpoint of the Tribulation will desecrate the temple, Daniel 9:27, He will confirm a covenant with many for one seven. In the middle of the ‘seven he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. For this to happen there must be a new temple in Jerusalem. Does this mean that the temple will be rebuilt? Scripture suggest this is true.

Approaches to the study of Revelation

It is generally accepted there are four approaches to interpreting the book of Revelation. They are: (1) the Preterist interpretation, (2) the Historicist interpretation, (3) the Idealist/Spiritual interpretation and (4) the Futurist interpretation. An interesting book which presents this approach is: REVEATION, Four Views, A parallel Commentary, edited by Steve Gregg.

  1. The Preterist interpretation of the book of Revelation holds that most of the prophecies of Revelation have already been fulfilled and were done so shortly after presentation by John. While they may have been futuristic to John they are historic to us. Full Preterist believes all prophecy was fulfilled in the first century (A.D.70) including the return of Christ and the spiritual resurrection of believers. Partial Preterist believe in a future second coming of Christ.
  2. The Historicist interpretation of Revelation holds that Revelation is a history of events in the life of the church from the first century to the end of time. They see in the symbolism of the book to include such events such as the invasions of Rome, the rise of the Roman Catholic Church and the emergence of Islam. With the rise of dispensationalism in the 19thcentury conservative Protestants generally abandoned Historicism in favor of Futurism.
  3. The Idealist/Spiritual interpretation of Revelation hold that Revelation is not a historical document or future prophecy, but instead is a drama about the timeless truth between good and evil, Satan and God and the saints and the antichrist elements of the world. The ultimate message is that good will overcome evil.
  4. The Futurist interpretation of Revelation holds that the majority of the prophecies has not yet been fulfilled and is to be fulfilled in the future. Most futurist believe that all events after chapter four will come true in a relatively short period before the return of Jesus including the  rapture of the church and a seven year period of tribulation (persecution). I would point out that the Futurist position uses prophecies from all books of the Bible to create their prophecy. The other approaches often neglect prophecies in the other books.  I would also note that this interpretation is the most popular realizing that popularity is not an indication of truth.

I should point out that there are other interpretations of Revelation including some that combine parts of the above four interpretations. In addition there are totally different interpretations. In this brief introduction of End Times, space does not permit further discussion.

Key Events of End Times

Next let us look at the key events which occur during the End Times. These events are presented in various books containing prophecies of the End Times. No one book has all the events so that to get a complete picture you must draw from the many different books. And then some conjecture is required to determine where and how they fit.  I will present them in the order of the most popular interpretation of the End Times. Not all interpretations of the End Times include all of these events.

  • Rebirth of Israel – This historic event occurred in May 14, 1948 as prophesied 10 times in the Bible. This is the reason that many now think that the end is near.
  • Language of Israel– Hebrew has been restored as the language of Israel as prophesized in Zephaniah 3:9, “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord.” Hebrew is one of the oldest languages in the world. It is also one of the newest. Or to be more accurate, it lived for thousands of years, it (mostly) died for thousands of years, and for the last, less than 200 years, it has lived and breathed once again. Israel is the only nation that lost its language and then revived it.
  • Battle of Gog and Magog – Prophecy is that a major attack on Israel by Magog (thought to be Russia) and various Islamic countries. In the prophecy, God intervenes supernaturally and Israel is saved. Ezekiel 38, 18 This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign LORD. 19 In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. 20 The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. 21 I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign LORD. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. 22 I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. 23 And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”  Notice that not only does God save His chosen people but He also makes His name known. The time of this battle is not clearly identified but is believed by many to occur prior to the Tribulation while others believe it occurs in the first half of the Tribulation. Grant Jeffery presents a scenario in which Israel will soon attack and disable Iran’s nuclear facilities, which will then bring about the Battle of Gog and Magog. It should be noted that while God and Magog are presented in Revelation 20:7-8, some believe that the same names are used the reference is to different people and events. (
  • Rapture – Different people have said the Rapture is not in the Bible and was just made up. While it is true the word Rapture is not in the Bible, the event is in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “ For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”  I would point out that the word Trinity also is not in the Bible but clearly is part of Christine doctrine. If you do not like this way you are to be brought to Heaven how would you better orchestrate the event? Then you must also ask, is this event description just a metaphor?


The first known theological use of the word “rapture” in print occurs with the Scofield Reference Bible of 1909. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture interpretation gained momentum during the early 1900’s and then accelerated in 1957 by a book published by John Walvoord, a theologian at Dallas Theological Seminary. Some use these recent dates to discredit the theory, but if Daniel is right about knowledge increasing, then we should expect to see some new knowledge and not just depend of ancient text. You cannot use a contemporary date as a basis to discount a theological point.

  • Rebuilding of the Jewish temple – Since there are references to the temple in the Tribulation it is implied that the temple must be rebuild prior to or early during the Tribulation. The Jewish Sanhedrin is both a judicial and administrative body. In 425 CE the Sanhedrin was made illegal by the Roman government and was disbanded. Starting in 1135 CE there have been numerous but unsuccessful attempts to reestablish the Sanhedrin. In October 2004, a group of rabbis representing the various groups in Israel made a claim to reestablish the Sanhedrin. While this Sanhedrin is not recognized by the Israeli government this 71 member body has continued and appears to be gaining some acceptance. Another organization, The Temple institute was founded in 1987 and has a goal of rebuilding the Holy Temple. They have collected $27 million to that end and reportedly have completed the recreation of all the furniture and sacred vessels necessary for resuming worship in the temple. Rumor has it that the Arc of the Covenant has been brought from Ethiopia and is now in Israel. There is also consensus that the proper location of the Holy Temple is north of the Dome of the Rock and that both can coexist on the Temple Mount. Grant Jeffrey believes that with the supernatural events of the Battle of God and Magog, two things will happen: 1) the secular Jews in Israel will again accept God and 2) the Arabs will recognize the strength of the Jewish God and not oppose the rebuilding of the Holy Temple.

With the rebuilding of the Temple it is expected that blood sacrifices would resume. The Antichrist is prophesized to stop them in the Great Tribulation. The problem is that Jesus shed his blood as the ultimate sacrifice and further blood sacrifice was not required. Would God allow the Jews to resume bold sacrifices event thought they do not yet accept Jesus?

  • Tribulation –A future seven-year period when God will finalize His judgment of the non-believers and will occur before the second coming of Jesus. It is marked by the Antichrist entering into a covenant with Israel and gaining rule over the world. It is believed to be the last of week Daniel‘s prophecy of seventy weeks (each day of the week represents a year, hence the last week was seven years). Scripture references include: Matthew 24:21-29, Mark 13:24, Daniel 9:24-27,
  • Great Tribulation – The second half of the seven year Tribulation and is marked by the Antichrist breaking the covenant with Israel and bringing much wrath on the world. Scripture references include: Matthew 24:21, Revelation 7:14.
  • Armageddon – A great war provoked by the Antichrist at the end of the Tribulation at a place called Armageddon. God’s wrath and anger are imposed on mankind at this time and God is triumphant over the Antichrist. Scripture references include Revelation16:16.
  • Second coming of Christ – Christ returns following the Tribulation
  • Millennium – A 1000 year period of peace following Armageddon and ruled by Christ.


Outline of Interpretations with respect to the return of Christ and the Millennium

Next, we look at yet another way to outline the prophecies of Revelation. These have to do with the time of Christ return with respect to the millennium. These fit in the beliefs that the prophetic events fit into a sequence of events. There are three different views. The millennium is the 1000 year (also interpreted as a very long time) period of universal peace following the battle of Armageddon in which Christ defeats the evil forces.

  1. Premillennialists believe that Christ will return prior to the millennium.
  2. Postmillennialists believe that Christ return at the end of the millennium.
  3. Amillennialists believe it is not a period of 1000 years but rather a long period of time spanning the time between the first coming of Christ and the second coming of Christ. Generally, during this time persecution of Christians will increase until Christ returns and believers are raptured to meet Christ in the air. Then all will return to earth and the Day of Judgment will occur.
  4. No Millennialist believes the book of Revelation has no value in today’s world and was written to help the resolve of early Christians withstand the persecution by the Romans.
  5. Pan-millennialism was stated as a joke but as in all good jokes there is an element of truth. They believe that no one can know the future, but that everything will all pan out in the long run according to God’s will and God’s own time table.


Outline of Interpretations with respect to the Rapture and the Tribulation

For those who believe in the rapture and the tribulation there are four more ways to outline the timing of the Rapture with respect to the Tribulation. I would point out that all in this group are Premillennialists.

  1. Pre-Tribulation Rapture – This is the most popular of all the interpretations and was the interpretation in the very popular Left Behind series of books. It is a step-by-step series of End Times events that is favored by most Evangelical groups.
  2. Mid-Tribulation Rapture – Here the Rapture occurs 42 months or half way through the rapture. Up until that time the Antichrist brings peace to the world and then events take a turn for the worse.
  3. Pre-Wrath Revelation – Here the Rapture occurs sometime in the second half of the Tribulation. Those saved experience the wrath of the Antichrist but are raptured before the wrath of God begins, therefore the name.
  4. Post-Tribulation Rapture – The interpretation hold that the saved experience the full horrors of the entire Tribulation and are raptured at the end of the Tribulation. This is one of the least popular interpretations.


I would point out that the proponents of each seem to have a reasonable position based on numerous scripture references. However, I also found many arguments which describe fatal flaws of each interpretation. If you are interested the internet is full of arguments for and against each interpretation. I do not have sufficient Biblical experience to be an adequate judge in this ongoing argument. Maybe what I said earlier in that we are not supposed to know the details of the End Times events is true after all.

Summary of the most popular interpretations

As I have stated before, popularity does not indicate truth. The truth may not be known until the End Times arrive, but it is still interesting to see what a large segment of Christians believe. You might even be one who believes in one of the examples discussed. All of the above four examples are Premillennialists and are characterized by specific chronological steps from beginning to end. That also would place the examples in the Futurist approach.  I will say that this approach does appeal to me from my technical, analytical mind. I do believe that the End Times will unfold in a series of specific events. It is totally acceptable if your belief is in any of the other combinations of interpretation. The consequence of being wrong, whatever you believe, is not significant. What is important is that you have accepted Christ, understand and believe that Christ will return, He will defeat evil, the saved will join Christ in Heaven. However, keep in mind that we do not know when these events will take place.

  • Pre-Tribulation Rapture– This concept of a pre-tribulation rapture was first stated by Baptist Morgan Edwards in an essay published in 1788. John Nelson Darby, considered the father of dispensationalism, adopted the pre-tribulation rapture concept in 1827.

Dispensationalism is a protestant, evangelical theology which states that through a series of chronologically successive periods in history, God relates to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants. Each of the periods are called dispensations with the word originating in the King James Version. The most obvious dispensations are that of the Old Testament and that of the New Testament. There can be as many as seven dispensations. There are other tenants in dispensationalism that I will not go into here.  Note that all dispensationalists are pretribulationist but not all pretribulationist are dispensationalist. I do believe that God had different approaches in dealing with mankind throughout the ages but I do not consider myself a dispensationalist.

Let us now look at the specific events which will occur under the Pre-Tribulation Rapture interpretation:

  1. Rebirth of Israel – Happened in 1948
  2. Battle of God and Magog
  3. The Rapture takes place.
  4. One world government is formed starting with the European Union and NATO
  5. One world church is created
  6. First 3 1/2 Years of the Tribulation begins.
  7. The Antichrist takes control of the one world government
  8. The Antichrist brings about a peace treaty with Israel
  9. The Rise of Antichrist and the False Prophet

10.  The Third Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem

11.  The Rise of Babylon (possibly Rome)

12.  The appearance of the two witnesses and the rise of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists

13.  Great Tribulation (second 3 ½ years) begins

14.  The antichrist breaks the peace treaty with Israel

15.  The Mark of the Beast begins.

16.  Antichrist defiles the temple and proclaims himself God

17.  Death and Resurrection of the Two Witnesses will be witnessed by the entire world, now possible with today’s technology

18.  The death and resurrection of Antichrist

19.  The Jewish Remnant flees to the desert.

20.  The Seven Seal Judgments

21.  The Seven Trumpet Judgments

22.  Destruction of the One World Church

23.  7 Bowl Judgments

24.  Martyrdom of Jews and Believers

25.  Babylon (center of world government, probably Rome) is destroyed

26.  Antichrist summons the world’s armies to Armageddon

27.  Return of Jesus Christ in Glory

28.  Battle of Armageddon

29.  Antichrist and the False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire

30.   Satan is bound for 1,000 years

31.   Resurrection of Tribulation martyrs

32.  End of the 7-year Tribulation – Christ establishes His 1,000 year kingdom.

33.   Satan is released after 1,000 years.

34.   Final Battle (some say this is where the Battle of Gog and Magog occurs).

35.   Satan, Death, and Hell are cast into the Lake of Fire.

36.   Great White Throne Judgment (Final Judgment).

37.   New heaven and earth. Eternity begins.

Note that there can be some different interpretation of the order of these events. The main problem with this interpretation is that the U.S. is not mentioned in the Bible and also is too powerful as is to be included in the one world government. This means that the statue of the U.S. is hypothesized to decrease and that could happen by one or several of various events. The possible scenarios include:

  • Another oil crisis
  • Economic failure and bankruptcy
  • A terrorist nuclear attack on a major city weakening our position
  • The rapture which would remove a majority of people for the country reducing our capability.


You will notice there are more events than I discussed earlier. Most are self explanatory and the others will be found in a search for Pre-Tribulation Rapture on the internet.

The leading proponents of this interpretation include: Grant Jeffery, Hal Lindsey, John Hagee, Ed Hindson, Hilton Sutton, Tim LaHayeand David Cerullo. Many have websites and weekly TV programs and have authored numerous books Lahaye’s Left Behind series of novels have sold millions. These authors today strongly believe we are in the End Times based on current world events.

  • Pre-Wrath Tribulation Rapture– This interpretation was formally named and publicized by Marvin Rosenthal in his book The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church, published in 1990. It is essentially the same as the pretribulation Rapture except that the rapture is moved to sometime in the second half of the tribulation. Christians are to experience the wrath of the Antichrist but are raptured before the wrath of God begins which they have been promised deliverance/salvation from. I was favoring the Pre-Tribulation Rapture until I read the book, The Rapture Question Answered,by Robert Van Kampen, 1997. Van Kampen makes a very good case for this interpretation. However, now I am not sure.



When I started this study I fully expected to arrive at a specific position. Generally, the authors I read did not identify their viewpoint in the terms I have just reviewed. They just assume they are correct in their presentation. I had read a group of books by popular authors without realizing their pretribulation position or the fact that other options did exist. And the more I learned, the more I realized I did not have a strong feeling about any one position. If I had to choose I probably would consider either the pretribulation or the prewrath position. However, if I see certain events starting to occur I would be strongly influenced by that interpretation. For example, Grant Jeffery believes the battle of Gog and Magog will occur before the Rapture. If that really happens then I would be inclined to go with the pretribulation interpretation.

I do believe that the important thing I learned is that the end result is very clear and without debate –  Christ will return and we must be ready at all times. That surely must be what God intended. Maybe as Daniel says about knowledge increasing, we do not yet but one day will have ability to clearly understand the truth.  That assumes the End Times do not happen before, which if it does we will experience the events in real time.

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