The nations of the earth are in a season of acceleration towards both the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the greatest hour of pressure in world history. Isaiah made it clear that both darkness and the glory of God will increase to unprecedented levels together in the generation that Jesus returns.
For the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples [the nations]; but the Lord shall rise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you. (Isaiah 60:2 MEV)
Yes, a time of deep darkness is coming, yet at the same time, the glory of God will be seen upon His people in an unprecedented measure. In essence, Haggai prophesied the same thing, declaring that the Lord will shake heaven and earth, the sea, and all the nations. In context to this global shaking, multitudes will come to Jesus, who will be seen as “the Desire of All Nations.”
For thus says the Lord of hosts: . . . “I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations [Jesus].” (Haggai 2:6–7)
In other words, the greatest harvest of souls is coming in context to the end-time shaking of the nations. This shaking will be like a “perfect storm,” affecting many areas of life—financial, political, societal, spiritual, military, and more. It is in this context that God’s glory will be seen and magnified in the nations.
I do not ask anyone to accept my views of what the Scripture teaches on the end times unless they can clearly see them with their own eyes in their own Bible—in other words: be a Berean (Acts 17:10–11). My understanding of the end times is not complete. I deeply value learning from other ministries. I embrace a view that differs from the popular view that the Church may be raptured at any time and, thus, will miss the great revival and the pressures that will occur during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:9, 14). I honor the godliness and biblical scholarship of many who hold this view, but I see it as a mistake that will leave multitudes of God’s people spiritually unprepared when negative events escalate more in the end times.
Five Reasons to Value Studying the End Times
1. There Will Be Unique Dynamics
The generation of Jesus’ return will have very unique dynamics—there is only one generation that will see both the greatest revival and the greatest pressure in all history occurring on earth at the same time. These two great extremes will come together in one timeframe. Yes, the dynamics on the earth will be totally unique due to an unprecedented increase of good and evil—nobody has ever walked that path before. No other generation has had to navigate these two extremes. This will create a situation in which many will be afraid and confused, searching for answers. That is one reason why the Lord put more information in the Bible about that one generation.
2. There Are Biblical Reasons—Seen in 150 Chapters with an End-Time Focus
By far the most described generation in Scripture is the generation that will be alive when Jesus returns. In fact, the events occurring in the generation in which Jesus returns are the main focus in over 150 chapters in the Bible. (Find the complete list on Google or YouTube: The 150 Chapters of the Bible on the End Times). To get a perspective on how important these 150+ chapters are, consider that there are 89 chapters in the four Gospels that focus on Jesus’ first coming to accomplish salvation. In contrast to these 89 chapters, almost twice as many chapters (150) in the Bible focus on events or trends that will occur in the generation that Jesus returns to rule the earth openly.
God’s people easily receive the good news about a coming great revival. The challenge lies in interpreting the unprecedented pressures that will occur at that time without being afraid or offended by the many negative things happening. Therefore, God’s people must understand the biblical narrative related to the coming pressures, or they will be left, by default, to embrace a secular narrative. Ideas have consequences. The problem with the secular narrative of the end times is that it is based on many wrong ideas leading to many wrong conclusions. Some present ideas about the end times that are overly optimistic; they refuse to acknowledge what the Bible says about the coming negative events and pressures. Others go to the other extreme and present views that are overly pessimistic. Only by embracing the biblical narrative of the end times will God’s people be able to process the pressures in a way that will help them to grow in love and peace with steadfast faith in Jesus’ excellent leadership.
Far too many in the Body of Christ in the nations are almost totally unaware of the biblical narrative contained in these 150 Bible chapters. Understanding the biblical narrative includes more than knowing a few general ideas about the end times, such as the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, and the rapture. The Scripture has much more to say about what will happen in that generation and why. People will respond according to the narrative they embrace. Those who don’t understand the biblical narrative or storyline of unfolding events will be much more vulnerable to be overcome with fear and even to being offended at God. As pressures increase, many will be greatly perplexed about where things are going if they are unaware of the biblical narrative of the end times. To them it will seem like the “train of history” is veering off the tracks, and it will feel as though no one really knows where things are going or why.
There is power in knowledge. I have good news! Since the Lord can accurately foretell the details of His end-time plan, we know that He has power over them and is able to use them redemptively for the good of His people. He can overrule the negative events causing them to work for the good of His people (Romans 8:28). Since Jesus has total control and deeply loves His people, we are in His good hands. We can stand in faith, filled with peace and thriving in love. Only those who interpret what is happening from God’s point of view will be equipped to respond with such faith and confidence.
3. There Are Prophetic Reasons—Seen in the Biblical Signs of the Times
The Lord was gracious to give His people prophetic information about the generation of His appearing referred to as “signs of the times.” The biblical signs of the times include events and trends that are predicted by Jesus, the apostles, or the Old Testament prophets—these signs will alert God’s people (who are alive in the generation of Jesus’ return) of His soon return.
In Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, Jesus identified 22 signs of that time. Now, for the first time in history, most of these signs are increasing and making global headline news. When all the signs accelerate at the same time, then God’s people are “to know” they are living in the generation of Christ’s return. In fact, Jesus actually commanded one generation to know that His return was near. This command was for the generation living when all 22 signs prophesied in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 occur.
So you also, when you see all these things, know that it [Jesus’ return] is near—at the doors! . . . This generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. (Matthew 24:33–34)
The first mention of “all these things” (Matthew 24:33) refers to the signs of the times before and during the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:5–28). The second mention of “all these things” (Matthew 24:34) refers to what occurs after the Great Tribulation, at the time of Jesus’ return in the sky (Matthew 24:29–31). It is possible that there are people alive on the earth today who will see His return. No one knows how long that final generation will be, but the Lord indicated that a generation may last up to 100 years (Genesis 15:13–16).
4. Scripture Promises Increased Understanding in the End-Time Church
Jeremiah prophesied that the Lord would give His people “perfect,” or mature, understanding of His end-time judgments against the Antichrist’s empire. In other words, He will raise up people who will gain mature understanding of His end-time plans as set forth in the Scripture.
The anger of the Lord [His end-time judgments] will not turn back until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly. (Jeremiah 23:20; emphasis added)
We can only have a mature understanding as we honor, relate to, and learn from one another across the different streams in the Body of Christ. No one group will have it all. But together, the Body of Christ can gain a mature understanding. I believe that only in the collective wisdom of the Body of Christ across the nations can we have a full understanding of the end times. We need each other to grow in understanding.
Daniel prophesied a promise of the Lord to raise up “people of understanding” who will help many others to understand the biblical narrative related to the end times. This promise is available to all believers. He emphasized that “many” will be hungry for answers from God’s Word.
And those of the people who understand [end-time messengers] shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall [be martyred] by sword and flame, by captivity, . . . to refine them, purify them . . . until the time of the end. (Daniel 11:33–35; emphasis added)
This passage had a partial fulfillment in the days of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–163 BC), but the complete fulfillment will come in the end times. The promise to be “one of the people of understanding” is available to any believer in Jesus who will search out what He says in the Scriptures. Notice that Daniel prophesied that “many,” or multitudes, will be hungry for answers from God’s Word about the end times from “the people of understanding.” In other words, the Lord’s messengers will make the biblical narrative known in diverse ways to many in the Body of Christ and to the uninstructed millions of unbelievers who will be desperate to gain understanding.
This information is to be used evangelistically in a way that may surprise us. Unbelievers are interested in knowing what the Bible says about the end times. By growing in understanding, we can be a part of the solution instead of adding to the confusion of those who embrace the secular narrative and are overcome with fear, offense, lust, or deception. We don’t have to be confused. By having a robust biblical picture of the unique dynamics of the end times, God’s people will be equipped to have the right expectations and interpretations of various negative events. By understanding the biblical narrative, God’s people will have the tools to process escalating pressures in a way that will help them thrive spiritually and grow in love.
5. There Are Four Pastoral Challenges That Will Escalate in the End-Time Church
There are also pastoral reasons we should pay attention to these 150 chapters of the Bible. I identify four negative responses Jesus warned the end-time church to be prepared to overcome. Again, I emphasize that people must understand the biblical narrative of what will happen, or they will be left, by default, to embrace a secular narrative of the increasing pressures, making them more vulnerable to be overcome by fear, offense, lust, and deception. Jesus highlighted four issues that will challenge many in the end times.
I use the acronym FOLD to help me to remember these four pastoral challenges: fear, offense, lust, and deception.
Fear: Jesus warned that men’s hearts will be overcome with fear in the end times if they are not properly equipped in the Word and walking in the Spirit. This warning applies to both believers and unbelievers. People who are overcome with fear are far more vulnerable to make terrible decisions. Jesus prophesied that people will be overcome with fear.
Men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things. (Luke 21:26)
Offense: Many will be offended at God and one another in context to the escalating pressures in the end times. Some will be offended at Jesus’ leadership because they grew up being taught that things were mostly going to get better or that Jesus would rapture them before the trouble increased too much. Thus, many will be offended at God, even questioning Jesus’ leadership and whether the Bible is true. People who are offended at the Lord cannot respond to Him with wholehearted love and strong faith.
And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. (Matthew 24:10)
Lust: Jesus warned His people not to allow their hearts to be weighed down with carousing and drunkenness. The word for “carousing” speaks of self-indulgence, with the main idea being immorality. Often people who are overwhelmed by fear, anxiety, depression, or offense seek to find temporary relief from their stress in drunkenness, drugs, and immorality. In other words, they “self-medicate” with lust in seeking some relief from their fear and pain. The explosion of immorality in our culture will intensify even more as new cutting-edge technology provides multitudes with intense new ways to engage in internet pornography. Imagine how intense the pornified culture will be in the next few decades with holograms, virtual reality, augmented reality, and state-of-the-art robotics with “skin” that feels human.
But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing [lust, immorality, etc.], drunkenness [lust], . . . and that Day [Jesus’ return] come on you unexpectedly. (Luke 21: 34)
Deception: Jesus prophesied the enemy will use many false prophets for his deceptive purposes. Do not think of false prophets only as cult leaders and crazy eccentric people with bizarre religious ideas. There will surely be some people like that who will deceive others. But I believe some of the most dangerous false prophets will be popular social commentators and media personalities who are dignified, good-looking, cool, caring, intelligent, and well-spoken. They will use dynamic and creative social media platforms to communicate to multitudes. They will promote a false narrative regarding what is happening—a deceptive narrative that will oppose the biblical narrative of what is unfolding across the nations.
The social commentators will be very persuasive in their call for new values and perspectives on social, sexual, and financial issues—issues currently escalating quickly in the social conversation of many nations and identified as key topics in the cultural wars. They will come across as logical and loving to many who listen to them. They will seek to “rescue” people from old-fashioned biblical values and perspectives. The enemy is raising up even more popular new voices to spearhead counterfeit justice and mercy movements. They will use the biblical terms—justice, unity, and love—but not in the same way that the Bible defines them. These false voices will lead many people away from Jesus, the God of the Bible.
Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. (Matthew 24:11)
The combination of escalating fear, offense, lust, and deception will result in some believers falling away. Scripture prophesies that some will fall away from their faith in the end times (1 Timothy 4:1–2; 2 Timothy 3:1–7; 4:3–5; Hebrews 6:4–6; 10:26–31, 39; 2 Peter 2:1–3, 20–22; 3:17). The end-time falling away will be one of the most tragic realities in history. People who become fearful or offended are more vulnerable to drift away from their faith because they are not able to make sense of the increasing troubles in the world.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. (1 Timothy 4:1; emphasis added)
Paul presented the end-time falling away to be as obvious and significant as the appearing of the Antichrist (the man of sin) as a prominent political leader on the world stage.
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [Jesus’ return] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin [Antichrist] is revealed [on the world stage]. (2 Thessalonians 2:3; emphasis added)
The Lord has graciously given His people a significant amount of biblical information as part of His zeal to prepare them to walk in love and victory even amid the greatest pressures in all history, which will occur in the generation that Jesus returns. With love and confidence, we cry, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.”