According to the best of my understanding of bible prophecy, the following is a rundown of what we all as a world and as individuals have to look forward to.
As I begin to write this on October 31, 2009, the world is in turmoil. The Iraq war is supposedly winding down and the Afghan war is racheting up. Russia and China are dramatically expanding their militaries. Preparations for World War III are being made in the Middle East. Iran and others are vowing to wipe Israel off the map. The world is crawling with false Christs, phoney Christian preachers and apostate Christian cults and Christian in-name-only organizations and new agers and Jesus Christ denying entities and religions of every sort and description. Famine and animal-related diseases are spreading across the globe. Earthquakes are ever-increasing in frequency and magnitude. The seas and the waves are roaring. There are signs in the sun and moon and stars. There is distress of nations, with perplexity. In the light of what Jesus said, this is all quite compelling.
3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (age)?
4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Luke 21:25And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
26Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
27And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
One of these fine days, the 'rapture' is going to happen. This is when all of the truly saved Christians (Jesus knows who they are) from all over the world disappear from the face of the earth and are swept up to be with Jesus Christ in Heaven for seven years.
1 Corinthians 15:51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52In 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.
1 Thessalonians: 4:15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
What will unfold upon the earth in the seven years following the rapture is commonly referred to as the 'Great Tribulation' period and will be the most terrible time in the history of humankind.
Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
Shortly after the rapture, an individual commonly known as the 'Antichrist' will lead a one world government.
Revelation 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
The bible says the antichrist will enter into a covenant with many for one week .
Daniel 9:24Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25Know therefore and understand, that 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.
26And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
27And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
This is commonly understood to mean that the antichrist will usher in a seven year treaty bringing peace to the Middle East. There will be a world religious figure called the 'False Prophet' on the scene at the same time. With the antichrist, he will introduce the 'Mark of the Beast' to the world. This will be a literal mark (possibly an RFID chip or tattoo) in the right hand or forehead that everyone on earth will be required to have in order to buy or sell.
Revelation 13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
The bible says everyone who receives this mark will burn in Hell (the Lake of Fire) forever. 42 months after the Middle East peace treaty is signed, Russian, Iran and their Muslim and Arab allies will invade Israel. It will be a nuclear war. Five sixths of the Russian armed forces will be destroyed and Russia and their allies will lose. China and their Asian allies will represent a 'second wave as they march a 200,000,000 man army across the dry Euphrates river bed up into the Middle East.
Revelation 9:13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 15 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. 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. 18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. 19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
Revelation 16:12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty…16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
It will also be a nuclear conflict. As a result of this move, one third of earth's population dies.
During this seven year 'Great Tribulation' period, God will be pouring out His judgments upon an evil and unrepentant world. These judgments are described in great detail in the book of Revelation:
The 7 Seals (Revelation 6:1 - 8:1)
- the white horse (Antichrist)
- the red horse (war)
- the black horse (famine)
- the pale horse (death)
- souls under the altar (Tribulation martyrs)
- great earthquake
- silence in Heaven
The 7 Trumpets (Revelation 8:2 - 11:19)
- hail and fire mixed with blood
- mountain thrown into the sea
- the star, Wormwood
- a third of the sun, moon & stars struck
- plague of locusts
- release of the 4 angels
- judgments & rewards
The 7 Bowls (Revelation 15 - 16)
- ugly & painful sores
- the sea turns to blood
- rivers & springs turn to blood
- sun scorches people
- Euphrates River dried up
- tremendous earthquake
At the end of the seven years, Jesus will come from Heaven accompanied by all of the Christians (saints) who were raptured to be with Him seven years earlier. Jesus will stand upon the Mount of Olives in Israel and it will split in half under His feet.
Zechariah 14:3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
4And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
5And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
All of the armies of the world, or whatever is left of them will have by this time gathered at the Valley of Megiddo in northern Israel. They will intend to confront Jesus and He will destroy them.
Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
After the armies that were amassed to do battle over Jerusalem are destroyed by Jesus, He will rule the world from Jerusalem for 1000 years. It is at this time that the Antichrist and the False Prophet are cast alive into the Lake of Fire and Satan is relegated to something called 'the bottomless pit'.
Revelation 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
The bible says the Christians will rule and reign over the world with Him during this 1000 year time period. The 'tribulation saints' will rule the world with Christ at this time as well as those who were caught up in the rapture.
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
At the end of the thousand years, Satan is released from the bottomless pit for a short season to tempt the world one last time before he also is cast into the Lake of Fire.
Revelation20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 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.
9 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.
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
At the conclusion of the 1000 years, the bible speaks of a new Heaven and new Earth. I haven't researched this myself, but I have been told that the word for 'new' within this context in the original language indicates renovated as opposed to recreated. A heavenly city which is described in the book of Revelation called New Jerusalem descends at this time as a habitation for the Christians. This is all a bit much for me to comprehend, but that's what it says.
Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
At the end of the 1000 years, there is an event called the 'Great White Throne Judgment'. As best I can understand this, it is when all of those who died lost without faith in Jesus as their Savior get the lowdown on why they are going to suffer everlasting torment in the Lake of Fire.
Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Start of 7 year 'Great Tribulation Period'
New World Order/One World Government
The Antichrist/Endtime World dictator
7 year peace treaty promoted by the Antichrist
Mark of the Beast
Invasion of Israel by Russia, Iran and their allies
China and their allies invade Middle East
21 judgments poured out upon the world by God
All the nations armies gathered in Northern Israel to do battle over Jerusalem
Christ returns from Heaven to the Mount of Olives in Israel
The Antichrist and the False Prophet are cast alive into the Lake of Fire
Satan is bound and relegated to the 'Bottomless Pit'
Christ destroys the gathered armies
Christ rules the world for 1000 years (the Millenium)
Satan is loosed for a short season to test humanity one last time
The 'Great White Throne' Judgment' of the lost
The Heavens and the Earth are 'renovated'
The city of New Jerusalem descends from Heaven
Christ's mandate is renewed and He rules the world from Jerusalem forever