In St. Matthew chapter 24 verse 3, the disciples ask Jesus, “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus then answered them in the next 2 chapters. In His answer, He first warns of what things to look for that would signify the beginning of the end. Then He describes a time period of great tribulation, which would trigger His next coming, and finally He goes on to talk about the end of the world.
The signs include wars and rumors of wars; nation rising against nation, famines, pestilences and earthquakes, which are all the beginning of sorrows. Verses 5-8. These are the days of the present in which we live now. Verses 9-14 is a summary from the beginning of sorrows to the actual end of time.
And again, in verses 15-28, He describes a time period of seventy weeks spoken of by Daniel the prophet, which spans “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off:” Daniel 9:25, 26. And he ends with how the eagles will be gathered together for the dead carcasses after Armageddon, verse 28.
So, in the above passage, Jesus is actually describing three different time periods which lead to the end of the world. In the next passage, verse 29, He gets more specific and reverts back to today’s times and warns of what will soon come. The following passage is the next age of time that humanity will face. Since no one actually knows when that time or year or particular day will be, we can suppose it could be from now or within the next 100 years. But for sure, the next time age will surely change over and be a lot different than the way we are living today.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Verses 29-31.
This is what humanity is in store for as the next time age. Right now, we live in the age of the grace of God, i.e., He is giving all humanity an opportunity to know Him and have their souls saved from the time of great tribulation, which is to come. He said that “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Verse 14.
Since the birth and death of Christ, humanity has lived in the grace of God. Before that was the time age of the Law, or the Ten Commandments. Now we have the gift of the Holy Ghost given to us by God’s grace, which helps us keep the Laws. But as other ages, this time age must come to an end in order to fulfill the rest of Bible prophecy and God’s will for humanity.
In the past 2000 plus years, we have seen world wars, famines, pestilence, earthquakes, false Christs’, and many abominations against humanity by other humans. But as Jesus said, “for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be;” verse 21.
The tribulation period will begin with a world incident or natural disaster that will bring devastation, destruction, and human suffering to the world like we have never seen. It will be so devastating that it will cause a blockage of the sun and cause the elements of space such as asteroids and fragments of stars to fall to the earth.
This event could be an asteroid itself slamming into the earth, a nuclear fallout from world war, a great earthquake that sets off unground volcanoes, who knows, but it will bring about a massive amount of fire and searing heat according to the Bible. The aftermath will cause one-third of the earth to become uninhabitable.
“…and the third part of trees was burnt up… and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed… and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters… and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise… And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.” Revelation chapters 8, 9.
With no sun light, life on earth will dry up in a matter of weeks and months. Trees, animals, and humans will die. The water will be tainted and food production will cease. Disease will spread rapidly along with pestilences, new famines and desolation will set in where fruitful grounds once were. Desperation will take hold of humanity and as Jesus said: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Verse 12.
No one actually knows how fast this will happen or how long it will last, but when it happens, it automatically opens the door to the Second Coming of Christ. “and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven.” According to scripture, (St. Matt. 24:30) every eye will see Him and that is when He will gather together all those who are Born Again, to save them from the time period of tribulation.
Other scriptures verify the conditions of the tribulation period; in 2 Peter 3:7,10, which reads: "but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men…But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."
And as the earth and the elements of this world are being burned, the people of God will be transformed at the same time: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 2 Corinthians 15:51, 52.
In other words, when tragedy strikes the earth and humanity, although many people will die, including Born Again believers, their bodies will be changed and not burned like those who are not believers. Believers will die physically because we are all flesh and blood, but our spirits will live on as we take on the likeness of a new body. Believers will become incorruptible and immortal. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:53.
Those left on earth and who live through the devastation of the tribulation will become subject to a new world system of life. This starts the next time age. This age is without God’s grace or the Holy Spirit. It is a time of suffering, despair, and lovelessness. There will still be people who believe in God and Christ, but they are the ones who never actually Born Again. They were deceived by false prophets and doctrine only to believe they were saved but were not, and who took God’s name in vain.
These believers can still reign with God in His kingdom at the end of time, but they must not take the mark of the beast during the tribulation period. They have to have strong enough faith to continue to believe in Jesus while many professors will be persecuted and killed for their acknowledgement of Jesus Christ.
“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes?…These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7: 13, 14.
Many others left on earth, particularly unbelievers, will look to the next world leader or leading country for survival and will soon become desperate enough to submit to their new authority and rules. This is when the next leader will reorganize the world and distribute the mark of the beast so people know who will be chosen to buy and sell goods.
Many believe the mark will be a card or a microchip or something of a technological nature, but if the world is brought to ruins and there is little to no electricity for months or years, the world leaders may have to resort to a more primitive form of a Mark, such as an actual mark, or tattoo or branding on the skin of some sort. It could very well be anything that distinguishes those who can participate in the market of goods and those who cannot.
Again, the world will revert back to an almost primitive state of being whereby people also, will revert back to the same. Murders, robberies of desperation, roaming bands of vigilantes and mobs searching for food and any other lust or pleasure they need. The world will definitely become brutal like no other time in history.
No one knows, nor does the Bible say, how long this period will last. Some interpret the scriptures of Daniel within the seventy weeks of time he spoke of, leaving the last week, equaling 7 years, to the time of the tribulation. However, the scholars who study the time ages never account for the years (weeks) between Christ’s death, and the tribulation age.
Revelation chapters 8 and 9 describes the horrors of the tribulation age, when judgment is taken against people who refuse to repent and worship God and those who worship idols of stone, gold, and wood. They are murderers, idolators, thieves, adulterers and fornicators and all manner of evildoers. People will hide themselves in caves to escape the evil on earth and they will seek for death but will not be able to kill themselves.
As a result of the judgment of evil men and the chaos on earth, the nations will become angry with God and gather together to destroy all who believe in him, all places of worship and anything that resembles religion or worship. Finally, they will gather in the Holy Land to war against the people of God. This is when Christ will return with his bride, the believers of every time age, the Law, grace, and the tribulation, and He will set up a camp and a holy city.
Then time enters another age called the millennium. It is a time of peace because God will imprison Satan, the false prophet and the beast for one thousand years. After the thousand years is finished, he will loose Satan for a short time and Satan will deceive the nations and gather them together for the last battle of Armageddon against God and His people, all believers.
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” Revelation 20:6-9.
“…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38, 39.