The Seven Keys to History Conclusion
Editor’s Note: This concludes the series on The Seven Keys to History, which began in the May/June 2012 issue of Israel My Glory.
A correct perspective on world history provides a proper framework for living and prevents us from being easily deceived or led astray. One day, life as we know it will cease. Through Jesus, God will bring His plan for this planet to fruition. This truth brings us to the seventh and final key to understanding history: consummation.
The Rapture of the Church
The next event on God’s calendar is the Rapture of the church. The Rapture brings the Church Age to an end and introduces the next phase of God’s program: the Millennial (Messianic) Kingdom. If you are a born-again believer and the Rapture were to occur today, you would be changed in an instant, meet Jesus in the air, and be with Him in glory.
At the Rapture, everyone who has trusted Jesus as Savior since Pentecost (Acts 2) will be caught up to be with Him in the air (1 Th. 4:16–17). The Church Age will end, and the 70th week of Daniel will begin, as God resumes His program for the nations and Israel.
The 70th Week of Daniel
The term 70th week of Daniel comes from the revelation the Jewish prophet Daniel received in Babylon (Dan. 9:24–27). The prophet Jeremiah referred to the same period as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), and Jesus called it “great tribulation” (Mt. 24:21).
All these designations refer to the Tribulation, seven years that will be dominated by the Antichrist. With the Tribulation, God begins to consummate His plan for humanity. When this terrible period is over, the world will finally know true and lasting peace.
Earth will enter the 70th week of Daniel when the Antichrist, “the man of sin,” is revealed (2 Th. 2:3). The 70th week will end “the times of the Gentiles,” which began when God gave Judah’s King Jehoiakim into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand (605 B.C.) and Nebuchadnezzar subsequently destroyed Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C. (Lk. 21:24; cf. Ezek. 30:3). God demoted Israel from prominence in the days of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and reduced the nation to servitude and insignificance for failing to remain faithful to Him. The 70th week will conclude Gentile world domination.
According to Daniel 9:27, in the middle of the 70th week (after three and a half years), the Antichrist will break a covenant he made earlier with Israel and seek to destroy the Jewish people:
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.
Jesus referred to this teaching: “When you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet,” then run for the hills; “for then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Mt. 24:15, 21).
Revelation 6—18 elaborates on both teachings. Three sets of divine judgments (seals, trumpets, bowls) will be sent to Earth. At the beginning of the 70th week, Jesus breaks the first seal, summoning the first of the four horsemen of the apocalypse: the Antichrist, the rider on the white horse (Rev. 6:2). The seal judgments destroy 25 percent of the world’s population (v. 8).
Then 144,000 Jewish men are sealed (apparently as evangelists for the Kingdom of God), 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel (7:4–8). They are supernaturally protected through the first half of the 70th week (we see them on Mount Zion in heaven in Revelation 14:1–5), as they work to bring about Israel’s reconciliation to the Messiah.
The trumpet judgments follow as God increases the intensity of His wrath (chaps. 8—9). These judgments destroy another 25 percent of Earth’s population (9:18), fitting with both Daniel’s and Jesus’ prophecies (Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24).
In Revelation 11—13, we reach the midpoint of the 70th week. The Antichrist’s covenant with Israel is broken: “But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months” (11:2).
God sends “two witnesses” (v. 3) to replace the 144,000 for a testimony during the second half of the 70th week. The “dragon” (Satan) goes after the Jewish people, trying to destroy them (12:3–17). However, they are protected at that point. The Bible says the wings of a great eagle were given to them, and they flee into the wilderness where God protects them for “a time and times and half a time” (42 months; v. 14).
Then the bowl judgments are poured out, destroying an unspecified percentage of Earth’s population (chaps. 15—16). God’s wrath is intensified again on the Gentile nations. Yet He preserves and protects the Jewish people, drawing them away from the Antichrist who is trying to destroy them. In Revelation 17, God judges the major economic and political systems of the world, represented by a woman and the city of Babylon.
The Return of the King
The wedding of the Lamb takes place in heaven with Christ and His raptured church (19:7–9). Finally, Jesus returns. With Him come the armies of heaven, including the Church Age saints. In our glorified, resurrected, transformed bodies, we will return with Jesus as He comes to defeat the Antichrist, rescue the Jewish people, and assume His Kingdom on Earth:
And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet….These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse (19:19–21).
The “beast” is the Antichrist (13:1–10). He and his false prophet (vv. 11–18) are thrown alive into the Lake of Fire. There is no additional judgment for them. This is the fulfillment of Daniel 9:27: “And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.” The Antichrist who makes desolate will be utterly destroyed.
The kings and the Gentile armies will perish “with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:21). Satan is bound and imprisoned for 1,000 years—the entire duration of the Messianic Kingdom:
He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while (20:2–3).
The Reign of the King
Jesus will come in the clouds of heaven (Mt. 24:29–31). He will descend to Earth physically and visibly and take His throne as King of the earth. No longer will He be the meek and mild Lamb He was in His First Coming. He will be the Lion of Judah who judges, wages war (Rev. 19:11), and rules with a rod of iron.
What began in Genesis 3 is brought to an end in Revelation 20. Jesus returns to bring order and righteousness and to reign on the throne of His father, King David of Israel (Lk. 1:32).
The Millennial Kingdom is primarily a Jewish kingdom. It is a Jewish King who is returning. His throne will be in the Jewish city of Jerusalem, and a Jewish Temple will be built. After the thousand years, Satan will be released and lead a final rebellion. Then he, too, will be thrown into the Lake of Fire; and the Kingdom will move into eternity.
Church Age believers will not be Kingdom citizens. Rather, we will reign with Christ (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:4, 6). That is Jesus’ calling for His church. God’s calling for the Jewish people is to occupy the land promised to them forever and to “possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (Dan. 7:18). No longer will they be persecuted and oppressed, for Israel will be the head of all nations; and their Messiah will rule the world.