There is God-ordained order to Bible prophecy. Although we don’t know the precise timing of all prophetic events, we can know the general schedule and why things are happening. Some people avoid studying prophecy because they think it is too frightening or difficult to understand. However, God gave us the Bible so we can read and understand what will happen in the future.
The following chronology will be helpful in showing the order in which prophetic events will occur. Parts of it are flexible. (For example, the Ezekiel 38 invasion of Israel could occur before or after the rapture. Even before the rapture, we could see preliminary signs pointing to future events.)
With this chronology, we get a picture of God’s prophetic agenda in the last days. A precise timeline is difficult, but we can get a fairly clear idea of the main events yet to come. Notice that the first six events have already happened, and we are experiencing the seventh and eighth now:
1. God promised 490 years of His prophetic dealings with Israel and the Jewish people (Dan. 9:24).
2. God promised the Messiah would come 483 years after the command to rebuild Jerusalem (Dan. 9:25–26).
3. The command to rebuild Jerusalem was issued by King Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:7–8).
4. Exactly 483 years later, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt of a donkey, allowing public worship of Him as Messiah for the first time. Jesus was executed, rose from the dead and sent the Holy Spirit upon His disciples.
5. The world entered the church age, the mystery parenthetical age (Matt. 16:16).
6. Israel was regathered when Jews migrated from the nations to their ancient land. For the end-time prophecies to be fulfilled, Israel had to be a nation again. That happened May 14, 1948. The last days have begun! (See Is. 66:8; Jer. 31:8; Ezek. 20:34.)
7. Preliminary signs pointing to the coming final shabua intensify (Luke 21:11, 25, 28).
8. Apostasy, deception, false prophets, lawlessness and hypocrisy accelerate (Matt. 24:4, 23–26; 2 Thess. 2:3; 2 Tim. 4:3)
9. Terrorist groups are dealt a severe blow, probably by Israeli defense forces (Ps. 83).
10. A serious crisis unfolds in southwestern Iran (Jer. 49).
11. Damascus, Syria, is destroyed (Isa. 17).
12. Israel is invaded by Russia and Islamic allies, but God performs miracles on Israel’s behalf (Ezek. 38–39). Bible commentators differ on the timing. It may happen before or after the rapture.
13. The bride of Christ, the church, is caught away. Nobody except the Father knows when this event will happen. It is typically referred to as the rapture (1 Cor. 15:51–55; 1 Thess. 4:13–18). This could happen without any advance notice and may happen before numbers 9–12 in this chronology.
14. The church is in heaven (Rev. 4:1 -19:14).
15. There is a resurgence of the Roman Empire (Dan. 2:41–43; 7:24; Rev. 12:3; 13:1; 17:3).
16. The United States dramatically weakens as a new multi-region federation in Europe mounts after a time of European chaos (Dan. 7:7; Rev. 17:3, 7, 12).
17. The meteoric rise of a popular and magnetic but satanic world leader occurs (2 Thess. 2:7–12; 1 John 2:18).
18. A peace treaty (covenant) is established, signed and confirmed between Israel, Muslim nations, and other nations (Dan. 9:27).
19. The first half of time known as The Tribulation (the final shabua) begins (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21).
20. The Jewish temple is erected in Jerusalem (Rev. 11:1–2).
21. A total of 144,000 Jewish converts emerge as impressive evangelists for Jesus Christ (Rev. 7:4–8; 14:1).
22. Judgments on Earth begin to intensify (Rev. 6–19).
23. World religions accelerate into apostasy, blending into a “harlot” religion (Rev. 17:1).
24. Anti-Semitism reaches a peak beyond anything in the past. During Hitler’s genocidal rampage, one out of every three Jews perished. Under the antichrist system, two out of every three will die (Dan. 7:21; Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:27; Ezek. 22:19–21; Zech. 13:8–9).
25. The Antichrist and his public relations man (a powerful and global religious leader) introduce a new economic society involving a “mark” on the right hand or forehead rather than cash (Rev. 13:16–18).
26. The Antichrist moves his image into the Temple and claims to be God. His religious promoter is “allowed to give breath to the image.” From this exact point, there will be 42 months until Christ’s visible return (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:13–15).
27. Two supernatural prophets arise in Jerusalem (Rev. 11:3–12).
28. The second half of The Tribulation begins with increased disasters, calamities and judgments pouring out rapidly. Death camps are established for those who disagree with The Antichrist (Rev. 13–19). Based on today’s population, approximately 3.7 billion will die from war, hunger, persecution, epidemics and geophysical changes during the final 42 months.
29. The battles at Armageddon take place (Joel 3:1–3, 9–16; Zech.14:1–4, 12; Rev. 16:12–16; 19:11–21).
30. Christ returns and is visible to the world. This is the Second Coming (Zech. 14:3, 5, 12; Rev. 19:11-16, 19).
31. The nations are judged by Christ. The Antichrist and his false prophet/promoter are thrown into the lake of fire, along with all who took their mark of loyalty (Jer. 23:5; Matt. 25:31-32; Rev.19–20)
32. Satan is bound for 1000 years (Rev. 20:1–3).
33. The millennial kingdom is established on Earth for precisely 1000 years, with Jesus Himself ruling from Jerusalem (Is. 2:2–4; 11:6–9; 65:20–22; Zech. 8:22–23; Rev. 20:4–6).
34. Satan is loosed for a final short season after the thousand years to test those humans not resurrected and their descendants who remained on the earth after Christ returned. A final rebellion will ensue (Rev. 20:7–10).
35. The second resurrection (for the damned) takes place after the thousand years, when those in Hades (hell’s holding place) reunite with their bodies and are raised to attend the great white throne judgment. All Christ-rejecters will be declared guilty and banished forever (Rev. 20:11–15).
36. A new heaven and new earth with new Jerusalem as the capital city are established forever (Rev. 21:1–27).
Dr. Dave Williams served for over 30 years as pastor of Mount Hope Church in Lansing, Michigan, with over 500 outreach ministries around the world. During his tenure, Mount Hope Church gave over $40,000,000 to world and local missions. His leadership training course, The Art of Pacesetting Leadership, is credited with catapulting one church from 226 to over 4,000. Another church went from 8 to over 1,000. His all-time best-selling book, The New Life: The Start of Something Wonderful, is a practical, step-by-step guide to help new believers become established in their Christian walk and has sold over 2.5 million copies. On May 2, 2017, Charisma House will release his latest book, Hope in the Last Days. Dave now focuses on helping young ministers whenever he has an opportunity.