Whether you hold a pre-trib, mid-trib, or whatever rapture point of view, 1,923 years ago God gave these last words to believers, so that we would know, understand, and be prepared for the end of our lives or the end of this age—whichever comes first.
The message to the church is clear: we’d best be about the Father’s business. That means praying in the name of Jesus that He would change men’s hearts and spreading the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ—not sitting on our pompous piety, waiting for the trumpet and deliverance from the presence of evil.
God’s first judgment came by water, but the coming and final judgment will be by fire. God still offers mercy, grace, and pardon because of the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, to all who hear, believe, and trust Him for forgiveness.
“From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.” (John 13:19)
1. God’s clock has been ticking almost two-thousand years.
In approximately 95 A.D., God shined His spotlight on the glorified Christ and Jesus gave instructions to the Apostle John to write His final words to the Church—past, present, and future. He promises a particular blessing to those who read, hear, and heed His words, “…for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3). Precious one, the Last Days or End Times, began with the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
In Revelation 1:10-19, we see Jesus walking among the lamp stands, dictating to John His affirmations and reprimands to these seven churches. With this last book, The Word of God was completed. Two of the churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia, received no reprimands. The believers at Smyrna were being tested and crushed, but Jesus encouraged them to be faithful until death and He would give them the crown of life. Believers in Philadelphia had not denied Christ’s name and had kept the word of His perseverance. Jesus promised to keep them from the hour of testing. Those who overcame, He said would become pillars in the temple of God in the New Jerusalem.
I pray you attend a likeness of one of these two churches. But, what if you don’t?
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son…”(Hebrews 1-2a)
2. Some churches will turn away.
The church at Ephesus had done many things right, but they had “…left their first love.” (Revelation 2:4) Jesus is our first and only love. Without His vibrant love alive in us, we might as well close the doors and go home; we’re playing church. Do those visiting your church see the love and power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated in the membership? Those Ephesus believers were instructed to repent and return or their lamp stand would be removed. This same warning applies to churches today.
The church at Pergamum allowed a strangle-hold of false theology. Jesus said they dwelled in the place of Satan’s throne. They tolerated the false teaching of Balaam and were stumbling blocks to those who looked to them for truth. Jesus told them to repent or He would make war with the sword of His mouth. I’m sure the winds of false teachings and slothful, ignorant-of-the-Word church members still try the patience of our Lord.
Both of these churches were given an opportunity to repent and return. Christ’s door of repentance and mercy is still open.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.”(Revelation 2:7)
3. Some churches will tolerate idolatry and immorality.
The church at Thyatira could be anywhere in the U.S.A. They tolerated the woman, Jezebel. This one from Thyatira called herself a prophetess who led God’s bondservants into immorality and eating things sacrificed to idols. I’m sure you’re thinking, we don’t sacrifice things to idols. How about your children, to idols of immorality and unbelief? That could be Hollywood, sports, or anything you deem more important than their education in the Word of God. This church refused to rebuke the woman. But not everyone had succumbed to her teachings: Jesus told them to hold fast until He comes. Our Lord tells of her outcome as well as the outcome of those who followed her—unless they repented. (Revelation 2:18-29)
Jesus told the liberal church at Sardis they were dead. He shouted, “Wake up!” Pay attention and take hold of the things that remain. They were incomplete, but Jesus still gave them the opportunity to repent. And to those who had not soiled their garments, He promised they would walk with Him in white garments…for they are worthy.
Let’s wake up, repent, and return to finish strong before Jesus comes and finds us drowning in Satan’s lies.
“He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father; and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”(Revelation 3:5-6)
4. Some churches will be lukewarm.
The last church type is the spit-it-out-My-mouth, lukewarm, Laodicean church. (Revelation 3:16) They were wealthy and thought they needed nothing. Jesus called them “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17) Jesus said, “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:16) Yet, Jesus even gave this church body the opportunity to repent, to overcome. Amazing.
We must be diligent to search our hearts. Be vigilant to listen, hear, and heed Jesus’ words, lest He comes and finds us lacking.
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.”(Revelation 3:19-20)
5. There will be signs that signal the beginning of the end.
Before He went to the cross, Jesus told us to watch for certain signs which would signal the beginning of the birth pangs: false messiahs, wars and rumors of war, famines, and earthquakes. This birthing is well underway.
He said believers will be delivered to tribulation and killed. Christians will be hated by all nations on account of His name. Today, we witness more world-wide torture and brutal murders of people because of their faith in Jesus than any other time in history. False prophets thrive. Lawlessness increases. Love for others grows cold. We all can give testimony of warning signs exploding around us.
The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world, then the end shall come.
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken…but when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”(Luke 21:25-28)
6. An enemy will come to conquer.
John saw Jesus standing in the middle of the lamp stands and was told: “Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.” (Revelation 1:19) John is taken, in the Spirit, to and from heaven and earth to see those things.
In Revelation 5, John shows us the Living God on His throne, surrounded by the elders, the four living creatures. The Lamb, the Lion from the Tribe of Judah, takes the scroll with the seals. The heavenly choir sings. Jesus breaks the first seal. A rider with a bow and a crown, on a white horse, goes out to conquer. (Revelation 6:1-2)
Daniel tells about a prince who will arise, one who is insolent and skilled in intrigue, mighty in power, who will destroy the holy people. Could this insolent prince of Daniel be the rider on the white horse—the Antichrist? (Daniel 9:24-27)
If you’re a believer, don’t worry. God, at the appointed time, will send Jesus to rapture us out of His great wrath. But we’d best be workers who need not be ashamed at His coming.
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.”(1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
7. There will be two witnesses.
After all this rebellion and hatred, God still offers opportunity for those left behind to come to their senses and repent. Scripture tells us, “He is not willing for any to perish.” (2 Peter 3:9) He will send two witnesses to proclaim the gospel message for any who would believe, for 1,260 days.
In the midst of chaos, these witnesses will have amazing power from God. You can read about these evangelists in Revelation 11:3-6. When their testimony is finished, the beast from the abyss will kill them. They will lay dead in the streets of Jerusalem for three days while people celebrate. It will go viral—around the world, however; great fear will fall upon those watching as God’s breath comes into them and they stand and a voice from heaven will command them, “Come up here.”(Revelation 11:11-12) And like Jesus, they will go into the heavens in a cloud. For the first time in history, it may be possible to watch these events in real-time.
In that hour, another great earthquake will rattle Jerusalem. One-tenth of the city will fall and 7,000 people will be killed.
So, who will these witnesses be? Perhaps Elijah and Moses.
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4:5)
8. There will be an unholy trinity.
John and Daniel each tell about the arrival of a charismatic leader on the world’s stage. A man who promises to bring nations of the world into a peaceful, one-world religious, governmental, and financial system. But he’s an impostor—a tool of Satan. Let’s call him beast #1—a human man who will become indwelt by Satan. Daniel talks about a covenant of peace this leader will sign with Israel allowing them to rebuild their temple, even to resume the Jewish sacrifices.
To affirm the man’s power, he receives a deadly head wound, and lays dead for three days, then through powers granted by the devil, he comes back to life and the world worships him as god.
This son of Satan is the long-expected Antichrist, the one to whom God granted permission to rule the earth for forty-two months. He will bring with him beast #2, the false prophet, who will be the Antichrist’s worship leader whose main purpose is to cause the world to worship beast #1. Revelation 16 introduces us to the brains behind Beast #1 and #2—the dragon of old—Satan.
“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”(2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
9. Some will have the mark of the beast.
“And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon…”
Revelation 12: 7-17 tells us about a war. Take a moment to read this, straight from the Word. Allow me to add that even though Satan knows what’s coming, he’s still a sore loser.
Satan’s time is short. It’s his last opportunity to destroy God’s chosen, Israel, and all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Revelation 13, all hell breaks out on earth! Beast #2 is given authority to construct an image and to breathe life into this idol. Everyone on planet earth who wants to buy and sell must worship the image and beast #1 and must have inscribed on their right hand or in their forehead the number 666 or the name of the beast.
Revelation 14:9-10 states the fate of those who worship the beast, his image, and take the mark: “he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”
“Another angel came out of the temple, crying out…Put in your sickle and reap, because the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe. And He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth; and the earth was reaped” (Revelation 14:15-16)
10. The enemy will be defeated and Christ will reign.
“And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.”(Revelation 19:11) And the armies with Him are dressed in white linen—that’s us folks! And we’re on white horses following King Jesus.
“And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron…”(Revelation 19:15) The beast, kings of earth, and their armies will be ready to fight. Suddenly, angels of the Lord God Almighty will seize the beast and the false prophet and throw them alive into the lake of fire. The rest of the armies will be killed by the sword of King Jesus. Another angel will come down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a great chain. He will grab and bind Satan, throwing him into the abyss until the thousand years are complete.
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“And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus…those who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark…and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4 NAS)