What Does the Bible Say About the End Times?
First of all, when we say “end times,” this refers to the period of time that precedes the second coming of Jesus—and the end of this sinful world before it’s recreated into the new earth. And several passages of Scripture provide us with clues and guidelines to help us recognize when these times are near, what kinds of things we can expect, and what it might mean for our daily lives and priorities.
Additionally, the Bible as a whole gives us a spiritual framework that helps us discern what’s really happening in the world around us—and why.
But the best part is, God doesn’t want us to be afraid. He wants us to be informed and prepared, trusting in Him. After all, He promised that He “will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:8, ESV).
So let’s look at the parts of the Bible that specifically address these “end times.” By the end of this page, you’ll know:
- What the “end times” are
- When the end times will happen
- The signs of the end times
- Events that relate to the end times
- What we can do with this knowledge
The Bible says we have no reason to fear the last days of the earth as long as we trust in and follow Jesus Christ. And the more we learn about it, the more we can see why things have to happen the way they do. And the more excited we can become as we anticipate Jesus’ return.
Let’s start our study by fleshing out the definitions.
What are the “end times”?
You might have heard the “end times” referenced in various movies and books. There are so many powerful stories about what’s commonly called the “apocalypse,” “armageddon,” or just “the end of the world.”
Many of these theories portray this as a cataclysmic doomsday event that wipes out the world’s population with no hope of survival. Sometimes it has to do with worldwide disease or famine, or maybe it’s something unavoidable like an asteroid headed for earth.
But what does the Bible say?
When the Bible talks about “end times,” or the “last days,” it’s not referring to one singular catastrophic event, but rather a chain of global events that will lead up to the finale of this world’s history—when Jesus returns (John 14:3; Acts 1:11; Hebrews 9:28; Revelation 1:7).
Up until then, humanity keeps on progressing and advancing, and we see more and more of what ultimately happens when people trust in themselves and not God (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Here are highlights:
- Signs, such as natural disasters and some specified events, will signal that the end of the age is near (Matthew 24:3-28; Mark 13:3-21; Luke 21:7-19).
- As prophesied in Daniel 12:1, there will be “a time of trouble, such as never was…” (NKJV). It’ll be worldwide turmoil, but by this time, Jesus is just about to return.
- Humanity will ultimately be given a choice when a corrupt religious power demands worship that is contrary to the Bible (Revelation 13).
- Believers in Jesus will be persecuted (Matthew 24:9-12; Mark 13:9-13). But God promises to be with them (Jeremiah 33:16; John 16:33).
- Meanwhile, God knows the hearts of everyone, everywhere, at every time. But at this point, when every human has made their decision, He finalizes His judgment—of who truly wants to live eternally with Him, and who does not (John 3:19; Revelation 11:10-12).
- Jesus returns to earth at the Second Coming (John 5:28-30; Jude 14, 15).
- This is also when the first judgment is proclaimed, and those who have chosen God will be resurrected (John 5:24, 25), and all His believers will be gathered up to Him (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
- The wicked, or those alive at that time who have rejected Jesus, will fall dead from the brightness of His presence (2 Thessalonians 1:1-7, 9; 2:8).
- The Millennium—God’s followers spend 1000 years with Him in heaven.
- Then God will come back to earth to enact His judgment on those who rejected Him and His sacrifice. Sin, evil, and anything that clings to it, will be destroyed once and for all.
- Then the earth will be made new! Jesus’ “dwelling is with humanity” (Revelation 21:3 NKJV), as it will be for the rest of eternity (Revelation 21).
So, looking at these end-time events as a whole, we see that disasters and difficulties are indeed part of the last days. But they’re not the focus.
The mere mention of the end times isn’t meant to inspire fear and guilt, but to show how God’s goodness will overpower all of evil.
We study the end times so we can recognize the powerful God we serve.
We study them to help us take our spiritual lives seriously.
We study them to remind us of the hope we have in Christ’s soon return.
And Jesus promised that when He comes back He will end pain, suffering, and sin for good.
Just imagine that.
A world where no one cries. A world where no one dies. A world where no one suffers or worries or feels alone.
That’s definitely something to look forward to.
When will the end times happen?
It’s important to note that no one knows exactly when all the events of the end times will happen.
“Now concerning that day or hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven nor the Son—but only the Father” (Mark 13:32. CSB).
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only (Matthew 24:36, NKJV).
These verses in particular refer to the second coming of Christ. The Bible doesn’t list an exact time for Jesus’ coming because only God the Father knows when Jesus will arrive. There’s so much going on behind the scenes that only God sees, so only He knows when the time is right.
But even though the Bible doesn’t state the exact time these things will start happening, we are told a few things about the timing.
Let’s first look at Matthew 24, which has a lengthy description of the end times by Jesus Himself, after His disciples asked, “what is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3, CSB).
Here’s what He had to say:
“As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. This is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be.
“Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.
But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. This is why you are also to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:37-44, CSB).
So what does that tell us?
The end times will be…
- Both “near” and “soon.” It may seem like it’s been a while since Jesus made this statement, but it’s important to remember that time is different for God, since His perspective sees all of history as a whole (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20; 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:8-9).
- It will follow certain signs. Before the flood, God gave the people a warning. He had Noah build a boat and preach to them. Today we have signs that warn us of Jesus’ soon coming (more on that in the next section).
Even though we don’t know the exact date of Jesus’ coming, it’s important we be ready for it.
The Bible tells us time and time again that we can’t afford to ignore the signs of Jesus’ coming:
“Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:33, ESV).
“It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake (Mark 13:34-37, ESV).
It’s important to be ready now because there won’t be a second chance to repent and turn to God. Once Jesus comes, our eternal fates will have already been decided.
Even so, our decision for Christ should not be made out of fear. We shouldn’t follow Him out of a desire to avoid hellfire.
We should follow Him because we truly love Him, and want to honor Him for the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.
That’s not to say our Christian walk won’t be difficult, but God promises to help us follow Him (Isaiah 41:10). After all, God wants us all to be ready. That’s why He’s included so much information in the Bible about how we can live like Him and what the end times will be like.
And while He doesn’t give us an exact day, He does give us multiple signs of His coming.
What are the signs of the end times?
The closer we get to the end of time, the more intense these signs will become (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
Here are the signs Jesus specified:
- Increase in natural disasters (Luke 21:11; Matthew 24:7)
- Increase in crime (Matthew 24:12; 2 Timothy 3:13)
- Increase in understanding of Bible truth and prophecy (Daniel 12:4; Isaiah 11:9)
- Increase in conflicts and wars (Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:7-8)
- Increase in immorality (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24:12; 2 Peter 3:3)
- Increase in abnormal weather patterns and astronomical activity (Luke 21:25; Acts 2:20)
- False prophets and false messiahs (Mark 13:5-6; Matthew 24:24; 2 Peter 2)
Some of them have even started happening already.
Earthquakes and hurricanes have raged over the planet. Constant conflict is waged between nations. Many are suffering, while others take advantage of their suffering.
But when learning about these signs, it’s important to remember that God takes no pleasure in the suffering of humanity—not even the suffering of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11).
These signs are also symptoms of a world well into a “Great Controversy” between good and evil. As things get more intense, that just helps us know that Jesus is coming soon. And by the time Christ returns, everyone will have fully made their decision to follow Him or not.
God wants as many people to be saved as possible, which is why He’s given us so much time to decide. He’s given us years upon years of human history to learn from—in which the only true advancement is that we find new ways to repeat that history. But God wants it to be as clear as possible what we are truly choosing between.
He’s also determined to end our suffering as soon as possible— which means that once everyone’s choices are made, sin must be destroyed.
Of course, there are a lot of events that must take place between then and now. But seeing so many of these signs are fulfilled or being fulfilled, it’s not difficult to see how Jesus is indeed “coming soon” (Revelation 22:7, ESV).
What events take place during the last days?
End-time events don’t happen all at once. Instead, there will be a chain or progression of events leading up to the coming of Jesus and the end of the world.
Most information on the end times can be found in the book of Revelation and the book of Daniel. Some of these events seem complicated—especially because so many of them relate to complex historical events and use tricky symbolic language. Some of the events from these end times prophecies even overlap each other, which can make it challenging to map out a definitive timeline.
So if you ever feel intimidated by the study of Bible prophecy, you’re not alone.
But the very good news is—God hasn’t asked us to decipher every timeline or predict exactly which world power will occupy which role in the prophecy narrative, etc.. He’s only asked us to get ready.
But to help establish a general frame of reference, here’s a list that summarizes key events of the end times.
1) The seven trumpets (Revelation 8-11). The seven trumpets in Revelation each represent a specific time God has intervened throughout history to answer His people’s cry for deliverance from oppression. The seventh trumpet announces God’s promise to deliver His people from evil once and for all. The Bible uses the symbol of a trumpet to communicate that a king is coming with judgment for his people (Exodus 19:17; 1 Kings 1:34). In this case, the seventh trumpet announces the final judgment and Christ’s soon coming.
2) The three angel’s messages (Revelation 14:6-12). A message is proclaimed by three angels in Revelation.
a) The first angel calls humanity to worship the Creator, and to make a decision to follow Him as soon as the investigative judgment has begun.
b) The second angel announces that Babylon—which represents a corrupt religious system—has fallen.
c) The third angel warns that anyone who follows the beast—a fitting symbol for this corrupt religious system—will be among the destroyed. However, those that follow the commandments of God will be among the saved. Overall, this message calls for God’s people to decide who they will worship—God or humanity/self.
- Investigative judgment (Daniel 8:13-14; 7:9-10). The Investigative Judgment is taking place now in the heavenly sanctuary, as Jesus blots out the sins of the forgiven from the records in Heaven so the forgiven can be saved (Acts 3:19; Revelation 3:5). This work was foreshadowed in the work of the high priests on the Day of Atonement (Hebrews 9:1-14). He will continue this work, until He finishes judging the dead and the living and returns to earth.
- Fall of Babylon (Revelation 18:1-3). Babylon represents a corrupt religious power in the last days. This religious power is known by different names in the New Testament, including the beast, the harlot, the little horn, and so on. While Babylon was a literal historical nation, it is also symbolic of a corrupt religious power. The symbolic harlot named Babylon subsequently represents a church that has gone astray. She represents a church that appears righteous but inwardly rejects Christian principles, going so far as to persecute the righteous (Revelation 17:1-18). This message predicts that this power will eventually fall.
- Seal of God vs. mark of the beast (Revelation 14:9-12). The Bible explains that this fallen church will attempt to “change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25). This means they will likely use political and/or legal sway to counteract God’s commandments. And the only law in the commandments that involves time is the fourth commandment to observe the seventh day Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11). Once everyone has decided who they follow, every person will be counted as having either the mark of the beast (unrighteous) or the seal of God (righteous). These marks and seals are a way of explaining the permanence of choosing to reject or accept God. The reason Revelation 13:16 mentions it being on foreheads and hands likely refers to a person’s thoughts (forehead) and actions (hands).
3) The latter rain comes with “another angel” (Revelation 18:1-3). After the third angel’s message, another angel (which is also called the fourth angel) reiterates the prior angels’ message to leave Babylon. This reiteration suggests that the message will come in stronger force as one last warning to humanity. As the righteous are proclaiming this message, the Holy Spirit will empower them to witness to the world (Acts 1:8). This event is referred to as the fall of the latter rain, where the Holy Spirit “rains” down on God’s people.
4) Close of probation (Revelation 15:1-8). The close of probation refers to the completion of Jesus’ work in the Investigative Judgment. From that point on, everyone—including the people living when Jesus comes back—will be marked for salvation or destruction. There will be no redemption at this point. The Bible even tells us that the righteous will be kept righteous, and the wicked will remain wicked (Revelation 22:11-12). The process is also known as “sealing.” Once God’s people are sealed, the four angels at the four corners are told they may release the plagues upon the earth.
5) The seven last plagues (Revelation 15-16:20). The seven last plagues fall during what is commonly called the “time of trouble” or the “great tribulation.” They are also mentioned in Revelation 16 as the 7 bowls of God’s wrath. The unrighteous will receive the consequence of choosing to hold onto their life of sin, which causes them to receive the seven plagues. The righteous will still be on earth at this time, and they’ll be persecuted by the wicked, but they’ll be spared from the plagues (Matthew 24:9). The Bible adds that this time will be short, as God is merciful (Matthew 24:22).
6) Jesus’ second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). When the seven plagues are over, Jesus will come to take His followers back to heaven. It will be a worldwide event that every living person will witness (Revelation 1:7). It will be an incredibly powerful and moving sight.
- The living wicked are destroyed (Revelation 6: 15-17). Jesus’ coming is so glorious, that the living wicked cannot withstand His presence. In fact, the Bible says they’d rather die than endure Jesus’ presence. And so, they will be destroyed when Jesus comes.
- The righteous dead are resurrected (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The Bible says that when Jesus comes, the righteous dead will be resurrected and taken up to heaven (just as Jesus was when He ascended). After that, the righteous that lived through the time of trouble will be caught up to heaven with them.
7) The millennium (Revelation 20:1-14). The righteous will be taken to heaven where they will spend the next millennium (1000 years). This time will be spent enjoying newfound peace and joy in Christ and all the splendor heaven has to offer. In this time Satan is confined to the earth without anyone to torment, living with the knowledge of his soon destruction. Meanwhile, the righteous are given the task of looking over God’s records of judgment, so they can clearly see what was behind His merciful and just judgment of humanity. We’ll learn why everything happened the way it did.
8) The final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). After the thousand years, the righteous will go from living in heaven, to living on the earth. Jesus will bring the righteous back to earth to live in a beautiful city called the New Jerusalem. But in order for the righteous to live peaceably, He must destroy the evil that remains on the earth.
- The final destruction (Revelation 20:13). In order for sin to be completely destroyed, the wicked must be resurrected to receive the pronouncement of their final judgment. They’ll be resurrected in the same manner as the believers at the first resurrection, but they won’t be receiving new bodies or eternal life. Instead they’ll receive what’s called the “second death,” and they will be destroyed along with Satan and his angels. They will be burned up with holy fire until they are completely gone.
- The end of sin (Revelation 20: 14-15). The hellfire will also serve to cleanse the earth of its curse. There will be no more sin or suffering. God will use this opportunity to make the earth more beautiful than ever before.
9) The new earth (Revelation 21-22: 1-5). With the old earth destroyed, God will make a new earth. The Bible says it’ll be like how Eden originally was. There will be no dangerous weather or thorny plants. Everything will be beautiful and nothing will die. Plants and animals will reclaim their former beauty from before the Fall. Jesus will also bring the New Jerusalem down to earth where the righteous and Jesus will reside together forever.
The next end-time event we can expect is the fulfillment of the third angel’s message. Every day we draw closer to seeing laws being manipulated or changed, and ultimately they will challenge our allegiance to God.
As things progress, we’ll face many difficult situations. But we don’t have to fear. God has promised to protect and lead us through all that we face.
All we have to do is surrender to Jesus day by day and He will do the work of guiding us, cleansing us, and preparing us for heaven.
And as we build up our relationship with Jesus, we’ll also be preparing ourselves for the trouble to come in the last days.
What can we do with this knowledge?
Above all, it’s important to keep in mind that this information is intended to prepare, not scare. In fact, it’s ultimately meant to give us hope!
Just think about it this way: We prepare for all sorts of accidents or disasters in life. Practicing fire drills, building tornado shelters, setting burglar alarms, compiling survival kits…
But when you rehearse during a fire drill, the fire drill itself isn’t supposed to frighten you. You are aware that it’s just practice for an emergency.
The end-time warnings we get from Bible prophecy work the same way. God doesn’t want us to be caught off guard. He wants to save as many people as possible. But to do that, He has to tell us what to expect and what to do. And it’s our job to be prepared.
We’re not meant to prepare for the end by living in bunkers, either. We’re to spend this time growing in our understanding of Scripture and our relationships with God and others. Day by day the Holy Spirit will help us become more like Jesus. And when the time comes, we’ll have the confidence to put our trust in God’s plan.
We can rely on Him to see us through the challenging times ahead. Jesus even told us that if we’re being persecuted for our faith in Him, He’ll be guiding us the whole time:
“So when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say, but say whatever is given to you at that time, for it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11, CSB, emphasis added).
And we have no reason to be anxious or fearful as long as we trust in Jesus. In fact, we have the great hope of His soon coming!
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