The End Times Unraveled - Jerry McDermott -
I have often wondered about the various aspects of the Final Days and have thought other Christians might have the same query. Certainly, we have been asked, "Watta ya mean, The End Times?" Perhaps other terms might be more appropriate such as: The Last Days; The Last Generation; The End of the Age; Final Days; Jacob's trouble; Daniel's 70th Week; The End of Days; Armageddon; The Great Tribulation; Pre-Trib Rapture; The Second Coming; or Millennialism. All of these terms involve the science of Eschatology which is a study of the End Times, our topic today.
The Kingdom in the End Times
The biblical forecasts of the End Times being revealed almost every day should be reflected in growing fervor among believers in Christ. Traditionally, such events are strong at first, but fade soon afterward. An example is 911 fervor which soon faded after the first increase in church attendance. The happening is apostasy or the falling away. To avoid confusion, the falling away pertains to those who were never true believers.
"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us" (1 John 2:19).
By contrast, the true believer experiences a lifetime of spiritual growth in their relationship with Jesus.
This nefarious army of devils and demons probably began when Satan and numerous angels were thrown out of heaven. The story is the classic result of pride over reason or good sense as Satan wanted to at least be equal to God. He is described as having everything someone created could have, yet he wanted more. His first scriptural reference is in the Garden of Eden where he is revealed as the master of deception.
While Satan is still practicing his major role in the End Times, Jesus has warned us about his threat: "Take heed that no one deceives you" (Matthew 24:14). This modern deception is the introduction of semi-"Christian" cults and watered-down preaching/teaching in traditional churches, as well as fostering the apostasy, and especially Replacement Theology. In addition, he is blatantly and obviously pushing occult practices as well as the wiccan and pagan temples and ceremonies. The most obvious is the rise of Satanic churches and "Christian" witches, obviously oxymorons. Our Lord summarized this evil empire so well in a prophecy given to me November 10, 2013: "Seek me and my kingdom as another kingdom is being raised to gather you in. Seek only me."
After Christ's second coming and the start of the millennium era, Satan will be imprisoned only to be released 1,000 years later. He will then form a huge army which is divinely defeated by heavenly fire. He will then be deposed forever, joining the Beast and the False Prophet already in the fire pits of Hell after the tribulation. The following are the various areas of "down there":
HELL is the common name for the place for those who are eternally lost.
GHENNA (aka Gehenna) is the permanent dwelling for lost souls and the scriptural name of Hell.
Hades is the temporary holding place where all pre-Resurrection humans were placed after death. It has two sections: one for evildoers (Tartarus) and one for the righteous (Sheol). The comfortable one was known as Abraham's bosom and was visited by Jesus after His death when He brought the righteous to heaven, so it remains empty.
By contrast, the wicked will remain in Hades until their judgment and condemnation to areas of Ghenna. This is an area of constant torment that most people call Hell. It is totally devoid of anything Godlike, especially heavenly goodness. It is also called the second death where eternal separation from God occurs. It is the term for the eternal loneliness by separation from God.
Early Birth Pangs
Jesus proclaimed, "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand" (Mark 3:24). You do not have to look further for an example other than the two American political parties and the recalcitrant Republicans among the Senate and House. The divisional aspect is almost universal and pervades politics as well as American History, anti-Semitism, atheism, and the profound lies against our Constitution and our Judean/Christian founding. This negativity is something we have to live with each day, a pre-Rapture tribulation for believers.
Jesus predicted these things would happen which was related in Matthew Chapter 24. Yes, they had to happen as they are the preliminaries to the Rapture and continue after the Rapture. In addition, Paul gave Timothy a prophetic warning of the end-time culture which is being fulfilled every day in our era (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
At the Last Supper, the apostles had mixed feelings. While they were gathered together to celebrate the feast of Passover, there was sadness. This was due to the recent knowledge that Jesus was due for death by the Roman cross. While Jesus tried to calm their dilemma by revealing that He would return for them to join Him in heaven, they did not understand.
Are we in the same situation of disbelief that we are heavenly bound? Yes, some people are not confident that they have a heavenly future. Others pick apart the Rapture, claiming it is a myth, or scoffing at the probability. The third predicament is the forsaking of the word itself or its translation, thus abandoning this revealed truth altogether.
To eliminate confusion between two major events: in the Rapture we go up (heaven bound); in the Second Coming, we come down after seven years in heaven (earth bound). Jesus has rescued us from the second death by His passion and resurrection. In a like manner, the Rapture rescues us from many potential deaths in the seven-year Tribulation. In neither case do we experience the wrath of God which happens throughout the Tribulation.
While Jesus talked about rescuing His people, it was revealed to Paul by Christ himself that He would summon the living and dead believers to join Him in the clouds. Once gathered there, we would always be with the Lord. Notice the word "always." It does not mean forever in heaven because seven years later at the end of the Tribulation, we will come back to earth with Jesus for the Millennium reign.
The Marriage of the Lamb
This heavenly event takes place in heaven before the Second Coming of the Lord. Paul speaks of the church as the Bride of Christ where Jesus is the bridegroom (Ephesians 5:23-24). The terminology is likened to a Jewish wedding, culminating with the indissoluble unity between the Bride and the Bridegroom.
Marriage Feast of the Lamb
This is the celebration of the marriage of the Lamb and His church. It takes place on earth after the Second Coming. An angel told John to write: "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9).
How can you describe it, for heaven IS truly the HEAVEN! Our Lord knows we are curious, so He described it in Revelation 4:21 and 22:1-6. There is no light in heaven, for the glory of the Lord illuminates it. Perhaps you will see the green rainbow reflecting on the crystalline golden roads (Revelation 4:3). We will sing and adore our Lord with the choir of angels, interact with others, and learn from Jesus.
As far as what gifts we will exh