What comes next in Bible prophecy? This is a question asked by many. If the rapture is not next, then what can be expected? The Bible gives several things that will happen between now and the rapture. These include great apostasy, the rise of a global government, global persecution, and the unveiling of the antichrist. These are all indicated in Scripture as coming before the rapture.
The first thing to come is apostasy, as many will abandon the Biblical faith. This is clearly happening today, as warned by the Apostles.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
1. Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2. That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4. Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Paul sought out the Thessalonian Christians on the topic of the coming of the Lord, and our gathering together unto Him. This means that he is addressing them on the rapture. He then warns them not to be deceived by those who claim that the second coming is at hand, or passed already. He gives them two signs that must happen before the day of Christ, the second coming and rapture. The first of these is a great falling away, or apostasy.
This apostasy is well underway. The Bible is ignored and ridiculed. Sound doctrine is thrown out the door, and doctrines of devils are welcomed in. The seed of this apostasy was sown in the 1800’s, as Darwin, Marx, Westcott and Hort began to cause many to doubt God’s Word. As people began to doubt the Bible, they rejected it’s authority. This led to rebellion, the “sexual revolution” of the 1960’s and now, proud sinners parading in the streets. Yet many of these rebels claim to be Christians. The Bible was also downplayed as the source of doctrine. Christians were introduced to the easy-believism of the love gospel, which omits any mention of sin or repentance, and the health-wealth-prosperity gospel which says that all Christians should be rich and healthy. The congregations, having been feed half-truths and lies, have rejected the Bible as the final authority, their eyes itching after more heresy. They got it, as men like Joel Osteen “preach” only feel-good self-help fluff, with no mention of Scripture. Meanwhile, Rick Warren and company are corrupting churches into “purpose driven” churches. Purpose Driven is nothing more than an advertising campaign to get people into the churches. Purpose driven follows the first rule of marketing: never offend your potential customers. Thus, no more mention of sin or hell. Also, the tastes of the customers must be fulfilled so that they will continue coming and tithing to the church. Pastors are encouraged to use modern dynamic equivalence or paraphrase Bible translations. Churches are encouraged to replace their choir, piano and organ with a rock style praise band. Purpose driven does not speak of saved and unsaved, but instead churched and unchurched. They are more concerned with a person’s church attendance than their salvation. (Granted, that church attendance should be a priority for any Christian.)
Purposed driven is prevalent in Baptist and other conservative churches. On the Charismatic front, people are barking like dogs, mooing like cows, being “slain in the spirit,” and chasing after charlatans doing signs and wonders. Much of Charismatic practice is unscriptural, including their misuse of tongues. They have thrown away the testimony of the Bible for that of their own spiritual experiences. When confronted with Scripture, they respond “I know what I’ve experienced! The power of God is upon insert charlatan here . Touch not the Lord’s anointed!” These are just a few examples of the apostasy and heresy rampant in the churches today. Eighty percent of Americans call themselves Christians. How many of these really believe the Bible and accept it as the final authority? How many are really saved? How many are in a denomination that tells them that their good works will get them to Heaven?
The Rise of Global Government
In addition to the apostasy, the world government must be established. The passage in 2 Thessalonians tells us that the antichrist must be revealed before the rapture. In order for the antichrist to be revealed, the one world government must be in place. The New World Order will be operational before the antichrist comes to power. He will rise out of this system and take control.
The prophet Daniel described four great world empires through both a personal vision and a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. These kingdoms include Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. The fourth kingdom, Rome, is strong and terrible.
40. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
41. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
43. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
This kingdom would begin strong, but become partly strong, and partly broken. This describes the fall of the Roman Empire. However, Daniel reveals that the Roman Empire will be revived in the last days. In chapter 7, Daniel reports the parallel vision of four beasts, representing four kingdoms, paralleling Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. This revived Roman Empire is described:
Daniel 7:7-8, 19-25
7. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, andstrong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
8. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this hornwere eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
19. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
20. And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
21. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
22. Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
23. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, andbreak it in pieces.
24. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
25. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
This beast is clearly the global empire of the last days, headed by the antichrist. Yet it is linked with Rome through the fourth kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, as shown in the table below.
|Roman Empire (Dan 2)
|Global Government (Dan 7)
|Strong as iron (Dan 2:40)
|Strong exceedingly, iron teeth (Dan 7:7)
|Subdueth all things (Dan 2:40)
|Devours whole earth (Dan 7:23)
|Breaketh in pieces (Dan 2:40)
|Breaketh in pieces (Dan 7:7)
The fourth beast clearly represents the end time, global government, with the antichrist taking control. But the New World Order global government is forever linked with Rome through these passages. It is important to understand this global government because it will be in place before the rise of the antichrist. Since the rapture will not happen until the antichrist is revealed, Christians will be here at that time. The NWO government conquerers the whole earth. It seeks to dominate and control the entire planet. It devours the whole earth (Dan 7:23). It breaks the earth into pieces. It merges nations into ten regions, and sets a ruler over each region. It rules and controls not just with legislation, but with enforcement. It has it’s own military and police force. It has teeth, and it uses them. (In light of this, the current Pope has called for a UN “with teeth.” Al Gore and the G5 nations (Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Mexico) have also recently called for global governance.)
This global government will not be nice to Christians. It will stamp the residue; it will go after the remnant. Jesus warned us that before the end comes, we shall be persecuted in all nations.
6. And 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.
7. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
We are hated of ALL NATIONS just after the beginning of sorrows. This is well ahead of the rapture. This persecution will happen before the rise of the antichrist. This prophecy has yet to be completely fulfilled, but it it is getting very close. The world government will establish ten regions, and place a ruler or king over each. These rulers are the ten horns of Daniel’s forth beast, and the ten horns of Revelation 17 and 18.
The antichrist will arise out of this beast system. The first telling sign of the antichrist will be his negotiation of a major peace treaty. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week…” (Dan 9:27). He will establish this covenant with many nations, promising them peace for seven years. He will come in boasting peace, and by peace he will destroy many. This covenant will be major news worldwide; it will be impossible to ignore. This event will likely be the unveiling of the antichrist, as well as the beginning of the seven year tribulation. However, the antichrist does not fully gain power until the middle of the tribulation. Then, he walks into the rebuilt Jewish temple, orders the sacrifices ceased, and declares himself god. This starts the 3 ½ year “Great” Tribulation.
In conclusion there is much prophecy yet to be fulfilled between now and the rapture. We will first see the rise of global governance, global persecution, and the revelation of the antichrist. The covenant negotiated between the antichrist and many nations makes news worldwide, and ushers in the seven year Tribulation. Thus, the rapture will happen after this time, however, it cannot happen before due to the fact that it comes after the revelation of the antichrist. Regardless, this fact does not rule out pre-tribulation or any other rapture timing theory. Therefore, this shows that we need to be prepared for rough times between now and the rapture. People are not prepared for persecution, because they falsely believe that the rapture will be coming next.