Prophecies of the Last Days
Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 7 May 2020
Scripture: Unless otherwise indicated Bible translation of quoted versions is by the author of this article. Other Bible versions may be quoted. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions.
Sources: Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found at the end of the article. Citations for Mishnah-Talmud tractates are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); found at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebraic and Jewish nature of Scripture and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Torah (Law), Besekh (New Testament), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ).
Part I: The Last Age
● The Last Days
● Olivet Predictions
● Times of the Gentiles
● Return of Israel
● Restoration of Israel
● Rage Against Israel
● Rebuilding a Jewish Temple
● Revival in Israel
● The Reign of the Anti-Messiah
● The Sign of the Sun and Moon
● The Seven Trumpets
● The Seven Bowls
● The Gathering
● The Resurrection
● The Judgment
Part I: The Last Age
The Last Days
The term "last days" (Heb. b'acharit hay-yamim) is a concept in Jewish literature associated with prophesied events that anticipate the salvation of Israel and judgment of the nations (cf. Isa 2:2; Jer 23:20; 30:24; 49:39; Ezek 38:16; Hos 3:5; Mic 4:1). For the apostles the first advent of Yeshua and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost marked the beginning of the last days (Grk. eschatais hēmerais; Acts 2:17; 2Tim 3:1; Jas 5:3; cf. Heb 1:2; 2Pet 3:3). Properly speaking, the general reference to "last days" may be deemed the "last age." In Hebrew thought historical time was divided into ages (Eccl 1:10; Rom 16:25; 1Cor 2:7; 10:11; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26; Titus 1:2; Heb 1:2; 9:26).
The beginning and end of the ages of the past are not specifically designated in Scripture, but an important feature of the past ages were the covenants that God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Israel, and David. Yeshua and the apostles generally speak of two specific ages – the present age (Heb. olam hazeh; Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Heb. olam haba; Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Heb 6:5). Early Jews and Christians believed that just as there were six days of creation so there will be six thousand years of the earth until the advent of the seventh or Sabbath millennium, the age of the Messiah. This belief is found in the Talmud, Sanhedrin 97a-b and the early Christian writing Epistle of Barnabas XV, as well as writings of the church fathers (Irenaeus, Against Heresies V, 28:3; Julius Africanus, Five Books of Chronography, III; Commodianus, Instructions, 80; and Lactantius, The Divine Institutes, 7:14).
It's very possible that Peter alluded to this belief when he wrote, "with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day" (2Pet 3:8 NASB). The fact that Peter stated his proposition forwards and backwards is significant. The context shows that Peter is answering mockers who dispute the reality of the Second Coming by giving them an overview of history beginning with creation (verse 5) and concluding with the day of judgment (verse 7). These two events are the bookends of earth history. Therefore, it makes sense that Peter's cryptic comment has to do with God's perspective of earth history.
At the beginning of his final week on earth Yeshua's disciples asked him, "what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" Yeshua gave a straightforward answer and provided a list of events that would happen in the future in preparation for his Second Coming. Yeshua's answer is contained in what is called the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:2−25:46; Mark 13:2-36; Luke 21:8-36), because Yeshua provided the instruction while on the Mount of Olives (Matt 24:3). Yeshua's instruction notably does not suggest that he would return secretly, "rapture" Christians out of the world, take them to heaven and wait out a "tribulation period" on earth before his glorious revelation, as advocated in Dispensationalist theology. See my article The Rapture Debate in which I rebut this ill-conceived doctrine.
Yeshua likened the events and conditions of the last days until his Second Coming to the pain of giving birth (Matt 24:8; cf. Isa 26:17-21). Paul echoed this same viewpoint,
"22 For we know that the whole creation groans together and suffers birth pains until now— 23 and not only creation, but even ourselves. We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Ruach, groan inwardly as we eagerly wait for adoption—the redemption of our body." (Rom 8:22-23 TLV)
"2 For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. 3 When they are saying, 'Shalom and safety,' sudden destruction comes upon them like a woman having birth pains in the womb—there is no way they will escape." (1Th 5:2-3 TLV)
The point for the apostles was that they were not going to witness the glorious Second Coming and their experiences in the world would be just the beginning of the earth's "labor" as well as the pattern for the centuries to come. The Bible reader will note that many of the events Yeshua prophesied have occurred repeatedly over the last two thousand years. Prophecy in Scripture often has a dual nature. That is, there is an immediate fulfillment and then a distant fulfillment. So, the following prophesied events have come to pass since AD 70, but will also especially mark the end of the age.
The order of events prophesied by Yeshua is not meant to convey a strict sequential chronology nor is a specific period of time allocated to each event and between events. Many of these events are concurrent. See my commentary on the Olivet Discourse for an explanation of each of these prophesied events: Matthew 24; Mark 13. In addition, some these events correspond to the first five of the seven seals described in Revelation Chapter Six.
● False messiahs (Matt 24:5, 24).
● Wars between nations (Matt 24:6-7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:10; Rev 6:3-4).
● Famines (Matt 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11; Rev 6:5-6).
● Earthquakes (Matt 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11).
● Plagues and pestilence (Luke 21:11; Rev 6:7-8).
● Noise and surge of the sea, i.e., hurricanes, typhoons, and tsunamis (Luke 21:25).
● Persecution of Yeshua followers (Matt 24:9; Mark 13:9; Rev 6:9-11).
● Backsliding and betrayal (Matt 24:10; Mark 13:12; Luke 21:16).
● False prophets (Matt 24:11; Mark 13:22).
● Rejection of God's moral standards (Matt 24:12; 2Th 2:3-6).
● Proclamation of the good news of the Kingdom of God to all nations (Matt 24:14; Mark 13:10).
Times of the Gentiles
"For there will be great distress upon the Land and wrath to this people; 24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until which time the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled." (Luke 21:23-24)
Yeshua marked the beginning of the "birth pains" with the destruction of the Jerusalem temple (Matt 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 21:6). Luke's version of the Olivet Discourse adds important information that the city would be surrounded by a foreign army (Luke 21:20) followed by a great slaughter and the dispersion of Jewish residents from the Land into the Diaspora, i.e., the lands outside of Israel. Yeshua referred to the time of the dispersion as the "Times of the Gentiles" in that Israel would cease to exist as a political entity and Gentiles would have complete control of Jerusalem. The prophecy envisions this time as lasting for a specific duration with a definite end to Gentile dominance.
The "times of the Gentiles" began properly in AD 70 when the Romans ended the war that began in 66 and destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple. (See Josephus, Wars of the Jews VI, 9:3, for his narrative of this horrific event). The humiliating defeat effectively brought the Jewish nation to an end. The Romans permitted Jews to continue living in Jerusalem after 70, but in the wake of the Second Rebellion under the false messiah Simon Bar-Kosiba all Jews were expelled in 135 and the land was named "Palestine." The rule of Rome continued until 324, followed by the Byzantine Empire headquartered in Constantinople until 614 and the Persians governed briefly until 629.
Afterwards with the rise of Islam various Muslim groups exercised authority over Palestine, first ruling from Damascus, then Baghdad and then Cairo. In 1096 so-called "Christian" Crusaders came to Syria and Palestine "to reclaim it from the infidels" and in 1098 gained control of Jerusalem. In 1187 the Crusaders were driven out by the Kurdish Arabs. Warfare between Crusaders and Muslim Arabs continued until 1244, with dominion being established by Egyptians in 1250. The Ottoman Turks conquered the Land in 1517, and their rule lasted for 400 years until they were defeated by British forces in World War I. In 1923 the League of Nations assigned Britain the administration of Palestine (known as the British Mandate), which lasted until 1948, when the United Nations permitted the State of Israel to be established.
In the Olivet Discourse Yeshua provided a list of specific events that would "immediately" precede his glorious coming in the clouds. Confirmation of these prophesied events may be found in Paul's letters to the congregation in Thessalonica and the book of Revelation written by the apostle John. In examining parallel texts in Revelation I recommend accepting John's straightforward narrative of his experience while "in the Spirit" and the interpretations that are offered in his narrative. Many commentators treat all or most of Revelation as symbolic, often allowing imagination to override reason, sometimes even ignoring what the text and the context actually say. There is no reason not to take Revelation in a literal straightforward manner.
While all these events occur before the Second Coming, the exact order of the events, the duration of the events and the amount of time between events is not explained. Developing a strict sequential timeline is simply not possible. It is enough that the events have been prophesied, so disciples need to be alert (Luke 21:36). See my commentary on the Olivet Discourse for an explanation of each of these prophesied events: Matthew 24; Mark 13. See also my commentary on Daniel 7.
Return of Israel
"4 Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the heavens, from there ADONAI your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. 5 ADONAI your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, and you will possess it; and He will do you good and multiply you more than your fathers." (Deut 30:4-5 TLV)
God promised the land of Canaan to be a permanent possession of Abraham and his blood descendants through Isaac. No passage anywhere in the Bible revokes this divine right (Gen 12:7; 15:18; 17:8; 26:3-5; 28:10-15; 35:9-12; Ex 32:13; cf. Rom 9:4-5; 11:1; 2Cor 1:20). In the covenant God made with Israel after the exodus from Egypt He warned that eventually rebellion against His covenant would result in His covenant people being expelled from the Land and sent into exile (Deut 28:49-53, 64-65). The warning was fulfilled in 606 BC by the Babylonian invasion and for seventy years the people of Israel and Judah were in captivity (Jer 23:11-12; Dan 9:2). Yet, God also promised to bring His people back to the Land from their exile (Jer 24:6; 29:10), which was fulfilled in 536 BC.
There were also prophecies about the people of Israel being dispersed to the ends of the earth and a "second return" from those locations (Isa 11:11-12; 43:6; 49:8-12, 22; 51:11; Jer 16:14-16; 23:3-6; Ezek 28:25-26; 36:24-25; 37:12; 38:8, 12; Hos 3:5; Zech 8:7-8; 10:8-10). Ezekiel had seen the restoration of Israel by virtue of the vision of dry bones coming to life (Ezek 37:1-10). Afterwards he was informed that the nation of Israel would be resurrected and the people of Israel brought back into the Land (Ezek 37:14). Moreover, the two former kingdoms of Israel and Judah would be reunited, so there would be one people (Ezek 37:18).
The prophecies of a return of Jews to their Land from all the countries of their dispersion are not recorded in the Bible as being fulfilled. During the Roman period there was considerable emigration of Jews from Babylon and Persia to the west, sometimes voluntary and sometimes forced, but not to the land of Israel (Tarn & Griffith 219). Josephus reported toward the end of the first century that "the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers" (Antiquities of the Jews, XI, 5:2). The Talmud records Rabbinical debates as to whether the tribes in the Diaspora would ever return to Judea (Sanhedrin 110b).
Restoration of Israel
"Lord, shall you be restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?" 7 But, he said to them, "It is not of yours to know times or seasons which the Father has appointed by His own authority." (Acts 1:6-7)
The apostles clearly expected to see the Jewish people return from the four corners of the earth and be established as an independent nation. Yeshua's reply to their question implied that the prophesied return still lay a considerable time into the future. When Yeshua's prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and dispersion of the Jews was fulfilled, God's promise seemed to be negated. Christianity certainly took that view and adopted the belief that it was the new Israel. Thus, what happened to ethnic Israel was no longer of any consequence in God’s plan. The return of the Jews to their homeland was not even considered to be possible, let alone necessary. However, the Second Coming is actually contingent on the fulfillment of this prophecy, because Yeshua returns to Israel to establish his millennial reign (Ezek 37:27; Zech 14:4; cf. Acts 1:11; Rev 20:9).
The restoration of Israel as a nation was truly miraculous. I recommend viewing the film The Miracle of Israel. Jewish presence in the region had actually persisted to a certain extent over the centuries. During the 19th century, an awakening among Jews led to the establishment of the Zionist movement, which advocated restoration of the Jewish homeland, followed by waves of Jewish migration to the Land that continued well into the first four decades of the 20th century. In 1917 the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, which announced support for the establishment in Palestine of a "national home for the Jewish people." The holocaust during World War II and the refusal of nations to take Jewish refugees resulted in an increased number of Jews fleeing to the holy land. Strife developed between British and Jewish sides in Palestine prompting Britain to seek relief from its administrative responsibility.
In November of 1947 the United Nations adopted a plan recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, an internationalized Jerusalem and allowance for increased immigration of Jews. The plan was accepted by Jewish leaders, but rejected by Arab leaders, and civil war ensued. The following year on 14 May, Britain terminated its administration of Palestine and David Ben Gurion proclaimed the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael ("the Land of Israel"), to be known as the State of Israel. Military forces of four Arab countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria) immediately attacked Israel. After six months of warfare Israel had gained the victory and conquered some of the territory that had been included in the proposed Arab state, including the modern part of Jerusalem.
Rage Against Israel
Yeshua's prediction of wars certainly included the land of Israel, as it was historically the scene of significant battles between the great empires of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, and then wars between Christianity and Islam. After Israel was established as a nation, wars continued because Islamic countries refused to recognize Israel as a political state. Ever since 1948 Israel has been the target of acts of violence by Arab guerrillas Egypt, Syria and Jordan and then by the terrorist organizations Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
Israel has also had to defend itself against aggression in two major wars. In June 1967 war broke out between Israel and Arab neighbors of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The nations of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, and others also contributed troops and arms to the Arab coalition. The war lasted all of six days and at the end Israel had gained control of the Old City of Jerusalem (which includes the Temple site and Western Wall) from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, and Sinai and Gaza from Egypt.
Six years later Israel was again attacked by a coalition of Arab countries led by Egypt and Syria. The war began on Yom Kippur of 1973 and lasted twenty days. The Arab states sought to recapture lands lost to the Israelis in the Six-Day War. When the war ended there had been no significant territorial changes. Since 1973 there has been three periods of armed conflict between Israel and Lebanon (1982; 1985-2000; and 2006). In addition, there have been repeated uprisings by Palestinians in Gaza instigated by Hamas and military incursions into Gaza by the Israeli military in summer of 2006, January 2008 to December 2009, 2012 and again in 2014.
A significant prophecy of an invasion of Israel was given by Ezekiel. Israel will be attacked by a coalition of seven nations, four of which were located in present-day Turkey, and including present-day Iran (Ezek 38:2-6). According to Ezekiel the invasion will occur in the "latter years" (38:8) and the "last days" (38:16), which designates the period of history occurring before the Days of the Messiah or the age to come. Israel during this time is described as "a people gathered from many nations" (38:8), reflecting the reestablishment of Israel as an independent state, "living in unwalled villages" (38:11), in contrast to ancient times when towns relied on a wall for defense against attack, "enjoying prosperity" (38:12) and "living securely" (38:8, 14).
All of the conditions mentioned as existing in Israel at the time of the invasion reflect modern times. The invaders will be completely destroyed (39:1-6) and the cleanup of the battlefields will last seven years (39:9). Seven months will be required for burying the dead to cleanse the land (39:12-16). None of the previous wars between Israel and her neighbors nor attacks against Israel by terrorist organizations have fulfilled the prophecy given by Ezekiel. The stage is being set for invasion with the constant warmongering rhetoric coming out of Tehran and the posturing of Turkey to assert its influence over the entire Middle East.
A tipping point could be the annexation of the so-called West Bank (Judea and Samaria) into the State of Israel, or Israel taking full control of the Temple mount or Israel sanctioning the building of a temple for Jewish worship. See my article The Invasion of Israel.
Rebuilding a Jewish Temple
Various prophecies seem to imply that a temple will be built by Israelis in Jerusalem in the latter years. Yeshua predicted the abomination of desolation would be standing in a holy place (Matt 24:15). Paul said that the man of lawlessness (a name for the Anti-Messiah) will take his seat in the temple of God and displaying himself as a god (2Thess 2:3-4). John was shown a temple in Jerusalem that is coincidental with the ministry of the two witnesses (Rev 11:1-3). The temple called "The House, the Holy, the Third" is a sacred desire in Orthodox Judaism. Various organizations in Israel are devoted to the rebuilding project.
Christian Bible scholars are divided over whether there will be a third temple. We should note that none of the prophecies mentioned above represent God's desire for a third temple. See my article Will There Be a Rebuilt Temple?
Revival in Israel
Malachi predicted that Elijah, who had been taken to heaven without dying (2Kgs 2:11), would return before the terrible Day of ADONAI (Mal 4:5). Elijah will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and children to their fathers. Yeshua said that this prophecy had been fulfilled in one sense by the ministry of Yochanan the Immerser (Matt 11:14), but that the prophecy would be fulfilled in a literal sense (Matt 17:11). In the visions of the future given to John the apostle, he saw two witnesses (Rev 11:3-7). The two men will prophesy for three and half years and perform signs and wonders very similar to Elijah, so it makes sense that one of the witnesses will be Elijah. The witnesses will call Israelis to repentance and preparation for their Messiah. The two witnesses will be killed by the beast when he rises from the abyss.
The Reign of the Anti-Messiah
"And the end of it [the sanctuary] with a flood and until the end of war desolations are determined. 27 And he will make strong a covenant with many for one week [7 years], but in the middle of the week he will cause an end to sacrifice and offering; and on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate; and until a complete destruction, and which is determined and poured out on the one making desolate." (Dan 9:26-27)
"Therefore when you should see the Abomination of Desolation having been spoken of by Daniel, standing in a holy place, the one reading let him understand." (Matt 24:15). Mark's version has the abomination "standing where it should not" (Mark 13:14).
After the initial list of predictions in the Olivet Discourse Yeshua then transitions to the final events of the present age that occur before his Second Coming.
● Abomination of Desolation. Yeshua affirmed that the prophecy of Daniel (9:27; 12:11) of an abomination in a holy place would come to pass. The following instruction flee suggests the event occurs in Judea.
● Beast. The one who causes the abomination in Judea, the Anti-Messiah, is apparently known as the beast in the book of Revelation. The beast is mentioned 37 times and represents both an individual and a governing body. He comes up from the abyss (Rev 13:1-6) and exercises global authority for 42 months. During his reign the beast requires the masses to worship him and receive a mark of 666 to express their loyalty. See my article The Coming Anti-Messiah.
● Great Tribulation. While Yeshua warned his followers to expect persecution as a normal occurrence, he also informed them of a time of oppression unparalleled in history that would follow after the revelation of the abomination of desolation (Matt 24:21). Scripture depicts the great tribulation as the beast waging war against the "holy ones" (Dan 7:21; Rev 13:7). He will seek to "change times and law" (Dan 7:25). Christians and Jews will be regarded as enemies of the State and loyalty to the God of the Bible will be severely tested. The great tribulation lasts three and a half years. Millions will suffer economic privation, imprisonment, and execution. The faithful martyrs who overcame the Evil One are seen by John in heaven praising God and waving palm branches (Rev 7:9-14), and later holding harps and singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb (Rev 15:2-3).
● Sealing of Israel. The sealing of 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel as servants of God (Rev 7:4-8) occurs before the final wrath on the earth. The total number of 144,000 is not code symbolism for the Church. Rather the 144,000 are faithful Israelite disciples of Yeshua whom God chooses to protect from the threat of the beast (Rev 12:6, 13-16; 14:1-5).
● Angelic Proclamation of the Good News (Rev 14:6-7). An angel appears on earth and proclaims a message of salvation calling every nation to repentance. The angel warns the population of God's wrath that will come. This event likely occurs toward the end of the beast's reign after all the leaders of the Body of Messiah have been martyred.
● Destruction of Babylon the Great by the beast (Rev 14:8; 17:15-18; 18:1-9). Babylon is not to be confused with the beast. Babylon is described as a city on seven hills and in the first century Babylon was a euphemism for Rome (1Pet 5:13).
The Sign of the Sun and Moon
"Then immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." (Matt 24:29)
"12 And I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and there came a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood. 13 and the stars of heaven fell to the earth." (Rev 6:12-13)
Yeshua predicted four significant events to occur in the heavens, conflating the prophecies of three Hebrew prophets (Isa 13:10, Ezek 32:7, and Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15). The sequence of the Yeshua's listing could suggest a time interval between the events or all four could occur at the same time, probably the latter. Most of the prophecies speak of the sun as being darkened, whereas in Revelation the sun is depicted as being black like sackcloth. There is no contradiction; Revelation is simply more specific in description. The condition of the sun being darkened alludes to a solar eclipse.
In addition, the moon, which only reflects light, will also be darkened. Joel and Revelation add the detail of the moon looking like blood, which again does not contradict Yeshua's prediction that the moon "will not give its light." The reddish appearance of the moon could allude to a "blood moon" a natural phenomenon that occurs during a total lunar eclipse, or be the result of a volcanic eruption. Simultaneous solar and lunar eclipses are impossible by definition, but a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse can occur in the same month. Indeed, the next time a solar eclipse is followed by a lunar eclipse two weeks later is 2029.
In terms of sequence the darkening of the sun and moon occurs "before" the Day of the LORD (Joel 2:31; Acts 2:20), and after the great tribulation (Matt 24:29). The duration of time between the heavenly events and the Day of the LORD is not given. The importance of this sign, especially in conjunction with the testimony of the two witness, is that it will cause Israelite tribes in the land to repent (Matt 24:30) and wicked leaders of the earth to tremble with fear (Rev 6:15-17).
Seven archangels blow trumpets that announce God's punishment on followers of the beast. The trumpet punishments strongly resemble the story of the plagues on Egypt in the time of Moses (Exodus, Chapters 7−11) and occur over a five to sixth month period (Rev 9:5). The last three trumpets are characterized as "woes," which conveys the overwhelming emotional impact of each catastrophe (Rev 8:13; 9:12; 11:14). The pronouncement of woe occurs especially in the Tanakh in branding the consequences for sinful behavior and announcements of judgment, whether on Israel or on enemies of Israel.
A goal of the trumpet punishments may be to bring the wicked to repentance, since the narrative makes a point of saying that the wicked did not repent (Rev 9:20-21). However, the trauma inflicted by the trumpet announcements could also be viewed as retributive vengeance for the war of the beast against followers of Yeshua and an answer to the petition of the fifth seal martyrs for justice.
● First trumpet (8:7). Hail and fire mingled with blood is thrown to the earth, burning up a third of the vegetation on the earth.
● Second trumpet (8:8-9). With the sounding of the second trumpet, something described as "a great mountain burning with fire" plunges into the sea and turns a third of the oceans to blood. Soon after, a third of all sea life and a third of all ships will be destroyed. The "burning" indicates the explosion of a volcano and the mountain is rated as "great" because of the size of the mountain and the amount of material ejected in the eruption.
● Third trumpet (8:10-11). A great burning object from the heavens called Wormwood falls to the earth, poisoning a third of the planet's freshwater sources. The description fits the characteristics of a comet. People will die from drinking the water.
● Fourth trumpet (8:12). A third of the light that shines from the Sun, moon, and stars becomes dark from the celestial bodies being "struck." This catastrophe causes complete darkness for a third of the day, even through night hours.
● Fifth trumpet (8:13; 9:1-11). A personified star falls from the heavens possessing a key to open the bottomless pit, which releases smoke and heat as from a great furnace, polluting the air and blocking the sunlight. Then, from out of the bottomless pit come a horde of demonic creatures commanded by their prince, Abaddon, to torment anyone who does not have the seal of God on their forehead. The creatures are allowed to remain for five months, but they are not allowed to kill anyone. These demonic creatures could be the fallen angels kept bound in Hades (2Pet 2:4; Jude 1:6).
● Sixth trumpet (9:13-21). At the sounding of the sixth trumpet four fallen angels are released from their bonds in the "great river Euphrates". They command a force of two-hundred million mounted troops riding horse-like creatures that blow fire, smoke, and sulfur from their mouths. This enormous army spreads over the earth and kills a third of all mankind.
● Seventh Trumpet (11:15). The seventh trumpet announces the anticipation of the reign of the Messiah, which will put an end to evil on the earth.
"15 And the seventh angel sounded his trumpet; and loud voices happened in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah; and He will reign into the ages of the ages. … 18 And the nations were angered, and Your wrath came, and the time of the dead to be judged, and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets and to the holy ones and those fearing Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who are destroying the earth." (Rev 11:15, 18)
Every time period has a last day and the last day of the present age in the Tanakh is referred to as the Day of the LORD. See my article for an explanation the biblical usage of this expression. In the Tanakh the last day has a primarily negative meaning, that of judgment against the nations. Yeshua also spoke of the last day, first as a day of resurrection (John 6:39) and then as a day of judgment (John 12:48).
Seven Bowls of Wrath (Rev 16:1-21)
"And I saw another sign in heaven, great and wonderful, seven angels having seven plagues, the last, because in them the wrath of God is completed." (Rev 15:1)
"And I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, 'Go and pour the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the earth.'" (Rev 16:1).
The second declaration in the Seventh Trumpet is the execution of wrath on the enemies of God (11:18). The same seven angels who blew the seven trumpets of retribution now pour out God’s wrath using special bowls (16:1-21). The narrative does not indicate any time lapse between the bowls. The first five bowl judgments, which imitate the plagues on ancient Egypt, are directed at people with the mark of the beast. The sixth bowl brings destruction on the military and economic power of the beast's kingdom.
● First Bowl (16:2). This bowl inflicts malignant sores on people with the mark of the beast.
● Second Bowl (16:3). This bowl causes the sea to become like blood and all sea life died.
● Third Bowl (16:4-7). This bowl changes fresh water sources into blood.
● Fourth Bowl (16:8-9). This bowl causes the sun to scorch people.
● Fifth Bowl (16:10-11). This bowl causes the capital of the beast to be enveloped in darkness and people afflicted with pain.
● Sixth Bowl (16:12-14, 16). This bowl dries up the Euphrates River to prepare for the kings of the east, and demonic spirits go forth to gather the beast's army from all nations to Har-Magedon for the final great battle against the Messiah and his angelic army (19:11-21).
● Seventh Bowl (16:17-21). The final bowl causes a planetary shift of tectonic plates and volcanic eruptions resulting in destruction of cities all over the earth. The major earthquakes will occur in countries bounded by the "ring of fire" in the Pacific Ocean, as well as cities sitting on major fault systems on every continent.
Resurrection is the blessed hope of all believers (Titus 2:13). Scripture affirms that there will be not one resurrection but two, which was first declared in Daniel 12:2, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt" (NASB). Yeshua said, "Marvel not at this, for an hour comes, in which all those in the graves will hear his voice, 29 and will come forth; those having done the good to a resurrection of life; and those having done the bad, to a resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28-29). Paul was just as emphatic when he said, "there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked" (Acts 24:15 NASB).
In Yeshua's revelation to John two resurrections occur, the first before the millennial reign of the Messiah and the second after the millennium (Rev 20:4-6). This later revelation to John demonstrates that when Yeshua spoke of two groups being resurrected he did not mean the two resurrections occurred simultaneously. Moreover, the resurrection of life will occur on the last day of the present age (John 6:39-40).
While the declarations of the Seventh Trumpet say nothing about resurrection it is implied in the action of rewarding the saints. Paul provided the revelation that the resurrection of God's people occurs in the time period of the "last trumpet" (1Cor 15:50-52; cf. 1Th 4:16). There are in fact two resurrections, the first occurring before the beginning of the millennial reign of Yeshua and the second after the millennium. The first resurrection is only for God's people (Rev 20:4). See my article The Mystery of the Resurrection.
As with the resurrection the Second Coming of the Messiah is a solemn promise (Matt 16:27; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; Titus 2:13). The Second Coming is also not specifically mentioned in the announcement of the Seventh Trumpet. However, the predictions by Yeshua and Paul of the Second Coming mention it being accomplished at the sound of a great trumpet (Matt 24:31; 1Th 4:16). The actions of judging and rewarding in the Seventh Trumpet also presume the return of Yeshua. When Yeshua returns he will bring with him all the saints of heaven who have been resurrected (Matt 24:31; Mark 13:27; 1Th 4:14). The return of Yeshua with an angelic army also spells doom for the beast and his army which will have been gathered at Har-Magedon (Rev 19:11-21).
The third declaration in the Seventh Trumpet is the judgment of the dead (11:18). There are two events of judgment, the first of the living being conducted by the Messiah upon his return (Matt 25:31-32; Rom 14:10; 2Cor 5:10), and the second being conducted by the Father after the millennium of those who had not participated in the first resurrection (Rev 20:11-15). Judgment of the nations by the Messiah is of the living who survived the bowl judgments, since the unredeemed dead are not resurrected until after the millennium.
The Reward of the Saints
The fourth declaration in the Seventh Trumpet is the reward of God's people. The reward is coincidental with the judgment, which are illustrated in the "gathering" parables of field, fish and flock where the good and bad are taken at the same time and treated as their actions deserve (Matt 4:12; 13:24-30, 47-50; 25:31-46). The beneficiaries of God's reward are described in five categories, which indicate that the redeemed, while differentiated, have the same qualities. The reward is eternal life and an inheritance in the Kingdom of God (Matt 25:34; John 5:24).
Yeshua told his disciples what to expect to prevent being deceived by false prophets (Matt 24:25). There are plenty of people who engage in "news exegesis" and attempt to associate various contemporary events to biblical prophecies, most of which are totally false and only succeed in producing anxiety. Disciples should remember that anyone who makes a prediction that does not come to pass is a false prophet (Deut 18:22). There have been many false prophets in the world who have attempted to establish themselves as authorities for the Body of Messiah (2Pet 2:1; 1Jn 4:1). Disciples should test the spirits and judge modern prophecies by what Scripture actually says.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Tarn & Griffith: Sir William Tarn and G.T. Griffith, Hellenistic Civilization. 3rd Edition. Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd., 1952.
Jonathan Bernis, A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days. Chosen Books, 2013.
Robert H. Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation: A Biblical Examination of Posttribulationism. Zondervan Pub. House, 1973.
Bob Gundry, First the Antichrist. Baker Books, 1997.
Dave Hunt, A Woman Ridges the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days, Harvest House Publishers, 1994.
Dan Juster & Keith Intrater, Israel, the Church, and the Last Days. Destiny Image Publishers, 2003.
George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1956.
Derek Leman, The World to Come: A Portal to Heaven on Earth. Lederer Books, 2008.
J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy. Baker Books, 1973.
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