What Bible prophecies give signs of the end times? Richard Ames explains visions in Revelation and Joel regarding the end of the age, including four horsemen of the Apocalypse, trumpet plagues, and the seven seals.
[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
Are we nearing Armageddon and the end of the world? What does your Bible reveal?
You probably own a Bible. I challenge you to read one of its most revealing books for the future, the book of Revelation. Of all the books ever written, this is one you must read.
How many books have been published?
PCWorld stated the following: “For those who have ever wondered how many different books are out there in the world, Google has an answer for you: 129,864,880, according to Leonid Taycher, a Google software engineer who works on the Google Books project” (“Google: 129 Million Different Books Have Been Published,” PCWorld.org, August 6, 2010).
Many spend a lifetime reading books and resource material for knowledge, education, training, and even for entertainment. But the Holy Bible is the one book in the world that reveals the great mysteries and purpose of life! And the book of Revelation reveals a soon-coming judgment day called the Day of the Lord. What is this mysterious Day of the Lord?
What are the major prophetic events that will soon shock the world? You need to know the prophecy of Revelation and the Day of the Lord.
The book of Revelation in your Bible describes an awesome event that will shock the whole world. That event is revealed in more than 30 prophecies in your Bible. It’s called the Day of the Lord. The prophetic Day of the Lord will affect all nations and all peoples on earth. And it will affect you and your family if you are alive to see it.
Just what is the Day of the Lord?
Is it a day of the week? How long will it last? How will it affect every nation and person on earth? What significance will it have in the flow of Bible prophecy?
The book of Revelation introduces the Day of the Lord with dramatic cosmic disturbances. “The stars of heaven” fall to the earth. The sun becomes black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon becomes like blood. There is a great earthquake. And as it tells us in Revelation 6:14, “every mountain and island was moved out of its place.” The prophetic Day of the Lord will prepare all nations on earth for the greatest and most encouraging event in modern history, the return of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
My friends, you need to understand this dramatic and mysterious time period that will affect every human being on earth! Just what IS the Day of the Lord?
More than 30 prophecies in your Bible refer to the Day of the Lord, much more than we can cover on this short program. The Day of the Lord is a major prophetic event that looms on the horizon. Just what is it? And how does it fit into the framework of Bible Prophecy? If you have your Bible, turn to the Apocalypse, or the Book of Revelation, chapter one.
The Apostle John writes in Revelation 1:10,
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet.”
John is not speaking of a day of the week, as some commentators believe. John is speaking of the major prophetic period of time described in the rest of the book as the prophetic Day of the Lord. John is not referring to Sunday as the Lord’s Day. If John were doing that, he would have referred to Sunday “as the first day” of the week as he did in the Gospel of John.
Jesus Himself said He was Lord of the Sabbath, as it tells us in Mark 2:28! And He was not speaking of Sunday. Listen carefully!
The expression “Lord’s Day” here in Revelation is plainly referring to the theme of the whole book, the prophetic Day of the Lord, culminating in the return of Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! In chapter five, we read about a scroll sealed with seven seals. Jesus, the Revelator, opens the seals to the book. We read the description of those seals in Revelation the sixth chapter.
The first four seals are known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The first horse, the white horse and its rider represent false religions, false Christs. Jesus Himself points out the sequence of these end-time events in the Olivet Prophecy in Matthew 24. We’ve explained this convergence in previous programs.
The second seal reveals a horseman riding a red horse with the power to take peace from the earth.
The third seal presents a rider on a black horse representing the scarcity of food and resulting famine.
The fourth seal shows a rider on a pale horse whose rider is named Death and Hades.
These four horsemen have a combined power over one fourth of the earth to kill major populations. Jesus also spoke of the pestilence that normally follows on the heels of famine. Then Christ opens the fifth seal in Revelation 6:9:
“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.”
Here is described the martyrdom of saints, true Christians.
In the first century, the Emperor Nero violently persecuted Christians and put them to death. This fifth seal also predicts a major end-time persecution of saints. Then Jesus opens the sixth seal, revealing the heavenly signs that will shock people all over the earth. Revelation 6:12,
“I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place” (Revelation 6:12–14).
Almighty God will get the attention of rebellious humans through these earthquakes and heavenly signs. The Creator God tells us in Hebrews 12:26,
“Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”
The cosmic disturbances and earthquakes introduce the Day of Judgement on all nations. Jesus Christ will judge the nations during the Day of the Lord, a year that will be “the great day of His [Christ’s] wrath” (Revelation 6:17). The Day of the Lord is the time when Almighty God will intervene powerfully in world affairs. He will judge rebellious nations, and as we’ll see, He will even let the nations actively attempt to destroy one another in world conflict.
Your Bible reveals what will happen during the Day of the Lord.
Again, if you have your Bible, turn to the book of Joel. Joel is near the end of the Old Testament. It’s the second of the so-called Minor Prophets. Turn to Joel the second chapter. Here’s a prophecy for our generation. Joel 2:1,
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations.”
The trumpet is used to sound an alarm—to help people prepare for major battles, or as described here, an invading army! The prophet Joel warns of a unique time in all history. Again, Joel 2:2,
“… A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations.”
The following verses describe terrible destruction, a scorched earth policy—everything is left desolate. Joel 2:3,
“A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them.”
Humanity will also see incredible disruption of the heavens as well as total destruction on the land. Joel 2:10,
“The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The LORD gives voice before his army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?”
And God continues to describe His judgment in Joel 3:12–16:
“Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, The vats overflow—for their wickedness is great.” Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness. The LORD also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
Almighty God will intervene in human affairs in a dramatic way. There will be major wars during the time God executes judgment on the nations. Simply stated, the Day of the Lord is the time of God’s intervention in world affairs.
Not only will there be destruction from military weapons, there will also be incredible ecological devastation. When God brings punishments upon rebellious nations in the future Day of the Lord, He’ll call upon the nations to humble themselves and repent! Of course, we don’t need to wait until then! As conditions worsen on the world scene, we all need to pray and cry out to God—and make sure we’re on God’s side.
Where does the Day of the Lord fit in the scheme of end-time prophecy? Let’s notice the biblical framework and the prophetic sequence of events.
There are three major periods of time or events we need to look at. They are referred to as the Great Tribulation, heavenly signs, and the Day of the Lord. It’s important to understand the correct order.
Jesus spoke of the climax of the age in Matthew 24:21,
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”
This unique time in all history, the Great Tribulation, is also the time of Jacob’s trouble as pointed out in Jeremiah 30:7,
“Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.”
Notice the sequence of events as Jesus stated them in Matthew 24:29:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
The first major event is the Great Tribulation, followed by Heavenly Signs. The Day of the Lord, the third event, leads to the Second Coming of Christ. The second chapter of Joel confirms that the Day of the Lord follows after the Heavenly signs. Joel 2:30,
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.”
So we see the sequence of events. #1 is the Great Tribulation; #2 is Heavenly Signs (or the 6th Seal of Revelation); and #3 is the Day of the Lord (or the 7th Seal of Revelation).
Just how long is this Day of the Lord?
As many students of Bible prophecy know, there is the year-for-a-day principle in prophecy. Remember when the twelve spies of ancient Israel under the leadership of Joshua searched out the Promised Land?
Turn to Numbers 14:34,
“According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.”
Notice also in Isaiah 34:8,
“For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion.”
Here again, God’s punishment, the day of the Lord’s vengeance is equated to one year. This is the year-long time pictured by the seventh seal. It consists of seven trumpet plagues. These trumpet plagues are described in the 8th and 9th chapters of Revelation.
Turn in your Bible to Revelation 8:1,
“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.”
How long is the Day of the Lord? The Day of the Lord in one sense, is the year preceding the return of Christ! It’s a significant part of God’s plan, something all Christians should know! The trumpets give us warning—they announce seven plagues or judgments!
As you read through chapter 8, you’ll notice that, as the first four angels sound their trumpets, there is great ecological devastation all over the earth. There are earthquakes; vast areas of vegetation are burned up; a third of all sea life dies; water sources are poisoned. The heavens are darkened.
The last three trumpet plagues are called woes. The word “woe” is an exclamation of grief! Revelation 8:13,
“And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!’”
The first woe or the 5th trumpet plague is described in chapter nine. The 5th angel sounds a trumpet that begins a military action that lasts 5 months. The second woe, or the 6th trumpet plague is pictured with symbols of horses and horsemen. Here we see an intense military counter-attack. Revelation 9:12,
“One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things. Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’”
An army of 200 million drives west across the Euphrates River and destroys one third of the earth’s population! This phase of World War III will kill billions of humans!
Yes, Jesus said that unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved—otherwise, all life on earth would be destroyed.
Next we hear the sound of the seventh trumpet. For Christians, the sounding of the seventh trumpet is good news because it announces the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth and the return of Jesus Christ. We all need to be preparing for that time! Revelation 11:15,
“Then the seventh angel sounded: and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’”
The seventh trumpet announces the good news of Christ’s takeover of world governments. But the seventh trumpet is also called the third woe!
Why? Because it also signals the seven last plagues! You can read the description of these plagues in the 16th chapter of Revelation. They include plagues of painful sores on those who have worshiped the Beast power and its image. They include even more poisonous rivers and seas to the extent that “every living creature in the sea died,” as it states in Revelation 16:3. The sun becomes hotter resulting in extreme heat waves that torment those who will not repent of their sins!
In northern Israel, on the plain of Jezreel, will be gathered massive military power and might! These armies will actually fight against the commander of Heaven’s armies, Jesus Christ. Turn to Revelation 19 in your Bible. Revelation 19:11, the apostle John writes,
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS
AND LORD OF LORDS.”
When Christ returns to this earth, He will conquer all his enemies. He will conquer the nations and their powerful armies that fight against Him at His coming. The Day of the Lord will bring God’s judgment on the nations.
As we’ve seen, in one sense the Day of the Lord is the year preceding the return of Christ. In another sense, it continues on through the millennium and on out to eternity. And the Apostle Peter exhorts us to be in a spiritual state of readiness. God in His great love for us has revealed the future to His servants. The Apostle John writes in Revelation chapter 22, the last chapter in the Bible,
“Then he said to me, ‘these words are faithful and true.’ And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. ‘Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book’” (Revelation 22:6–7).
We must be alert to the Day of the Lord, a sobering period of judgment on the nations. Beyond that lies tomorrow’s world, a wonderful time with beauty, prosperity, and restoration under the rulership of Christ.
May God speed that day!
Thank you for watching!
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Your Bible describes a mysterious time called the "Day of the Lord." What will it mean for you and your family? The answer will become vitally important in the years ahead, as we approach the prophesied end of this age. This powerful CD will help you understand the Day of the Lord as you never have before!