The End Times may be a terrifying thought for most people. In the Book of Revelations, the last book of the Bible, it was prophesied that the world we know will eventually come to an end. It is indeed scary to think of. Imagine seeing great floods that will wash away everything, balls of fire falling from the sky, extreme earthquakes, and other catastrophes that mankind had yet to experience. However, all of these are not enough to end the world, but all of it will happen to signal the end of it. In this article, we will discuss the signs of the End Times that were revealed in the Bible. And what we, Christians, should do and can do about it.
Since the immemorial days, talk about signs of the end times has been rampant. Multitudes of predictions about the end of the world were made from different countries and sects of society. Every year, new predictions about the apocalypse seem to sprout out of nowhere. Most were based on Abrahamic religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. While others have based their guesses on what they perceive as “scientific methods”. One of those who claimed to have predicted the exact date of the end of times was Harold Camping, a Christian radio host back in the ’90s, and the well-known Nostradamus. His statements were believed because of two reasons; their faith to the one who declared it and the “viable reasons” behind it.
Deuteronomy 18:22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.
However, all of these predictions have one thing in common. They were all wrong. None of these predictions happened at the date that was forecasted— fortunately. These failed attempts to guess the end of the world cast shadow of doubts about whether what was written in the Bible about the end of time is true. Because of false prophets who claimed to be of God, even the credibility of the Bible has been questioned. Interestingly, blasphemers such as these proclaimers were predicted by the Bible and warned us not to believe in them.
The Truth About the End of Times
Misleading beliefs will either instill constant fear or desensitize people of the idea about the apocalypse. And that is not what God wants. When the Messiah came into this world more than 2000 years ago, the time and date of His birth were not written in the Bible. And although the prophets had foreseen His coming, God did not let them know the exact details of it. The Bible did not state any date about the first coming of Christ nor of His second coming. Hence, those who declare such information are not prophets of God. They were people sent by the enemy of God to cause confusion about His words. And we should be careful not to fall for it.
In spite of the fact that the Bible never gives exact details, it gives signs. Just like how the north star led the wise men to where baby Jesus was, signs of the end times will let us know when it is coming.
Nowadays, diseases such as coronavirus have dominated all aspects of our livelihood. Everything changed since this pandemic happened. Because of this pandemic, some people of faith and even the non-believers think that the end of the world is indeed near. Other phenomenons such as frequent earthquakes and natural disasters also added as a trigger to this belief.
These “signs” that have appeared make it seem like the apocalypse is near. But all those failed attempts to predict it in the past had these impressions as well. So how can we know if the time is already at hand and we are reading the signs right? If you are starting to worry, then read what the Bible says about it.
Revelations to John
The Book of Revelation derived its name from the Koine Greek text “apokalypsis”— meaning “unveiling” or “revelation. Contrary to popular belief, it does not directly translate as “the end of the world”. It is far from the scary and bizarre images that provoke fear. The real goal of this book is not to instill any negative emotion, but to “reveal” things that will help to enlighten us. The unveiling of these prophecies aims to inform Christians of that era, which the book was addressed to, and the present Christians today, of the things that are yet to come. With this wisdom, they will be steadfast in faith and continue to live by the words of God.
As intriguing as the content of this book is, the identity of the author is still a mystery. Most believe that it was written by the famous “John the Baptist” who was, technically, the cousin of Jesus. But some analysis retracts from this belief. Comparing the gospel and the letters of John to The Revelations, some Biblical scholars concluded that the writing style of these two texts is different. The striking difference leads them to the conclusion that the author of the last book of the New Testament is another “John”. This other John was said to be a Messianic Jewish prophet in the early century who traveled to teach the Gospel.
This final book of the Christian Bible was written in a manner that is recognizable by the assumed readers of the writer. It contains symbols and events that are taken from the different parts of the scriptures. The apocalypse or the revelations that were disclosed to the prophets of the New Testament is directly connected to what is revealed in this last book and will help us decode it.
The 3 Sets of 7 Divine Judgments
To understand the Book of Revelation, one must be fully equipped with the knowledge and context from the whole Bible. Although this book pretty much addresses Christians of later generations, it is a “letter” that was meant for the early churches. These early churches were learned in the Gospel from the Old Testament to the New. That is why John assumed that the symbols he used can be interpreted the way he intended them to be—anchored by the teachings of the whole Bible. And here is one example:
Number 7 has been mentioned all over the Book of Revelations. First, John wrote this letter to the seven ancient churches. And inside this letter states about the 7 seven spirits who are before the throne of God and the seven seals that lock the scroll He was holding. Also, when John saw the vision of Jesus reigning the world, He was standing among seven burning lampstands. The signs of the end times also include seven angels with the last plagues. To top it all, it was said that the final 7 seven golden bowls will come out from the seventh trumpet inside the seventh seal. Besides these seven examples, other sevens were also mentioned. What do these seven mean?
As it is written in Revelation, the signs of the end times show from each seventh comes the next seven—each has the matching final judgment. This can be interpreted that these sevens will occur between the resurrection of Jesus and His second coming. Before we interpret these seven, we must remember that 7 was first mentioned in the first book of the Bible—Genesis. It is the span of time that God completed His works. Hence, the declaration of the 7th day as the Sabbath in the Old Testament.
The First 4 Seals
Now, going back to the scroll with the seven seals seen by John, was also interestingly mentioned to the Prophet Daniel in the Old Testament (Daniel 12:4). John narrated that when the angel asked who can open the seals, there was none found. Nobody in the heavens or the earth can open it so, the angel wept. However, one of the elders, who were before the throne of God told him not to cry as the “Lion of Judah” from the root of David will come to open it. This Lion was also mentioned in Genesis 49:9 and Isaiah 11:1. Both from the Old Testaments.
This Lion was seen by John alongside God the father in the image of a slain lamb. The Lion and the Lamb, which signifies Jesus, then open the first 4 seals of the scroll. John saw four horsemen, which was mentioned in the book of Zechariah. These 4 horsemen signify war, plague, famine, and death. These 4 horrible signs will be poured out on the earth in the last days.
Opening the First Seal
John described the first horseman who came out of the first seal as white. As we all know, “white” is the symbol of peace. Its rider is suggested to be Christ for white means victory. However, because “The Lamb” noted to be Jesus Christ is the one opening the seals, the one riding on the white horse cannot be Jesus, so His Second Coming would be after the seventh seal is opened (Revelation 9:11). He is referred to as the “Lamb of God”, and is the only one worthy to do open the seven seals for He paid the price to restore humanity with His own blood.
Interestingly, some have claimed that this first white horse represents the Antichrist. The white horse that this Antichrist rides on was white, portrays how he camouflages himself as an agent of peace and good things. Being empowered by the beast, it was predicted that he will deceive many.
Additionally, as we go through the other three seals, we will notice that they all bring bad things to the earth. Hence, it is safe to believe that the first horse is the same. The Bible states that the other three seals relate to God’s judgment and destruction, so the first seal opened, though of a white horse, cannot be ridden by Christ. It is said that the four horsemen in the four seals have the authority to conquer. Though the word “conquer” has been a good attributed to Jesus as He conquered death 2,000 years ago, the word connotes a different meaning when used in a different context.
The Second Seal
This seal bore a red horse. The color red signifies bloodshed and war. Additionally, red is also associated with sin; which is also used to signify another form of sin in Revelation 17:3. It is the total opposite of the first horse yet they aim to do the same; to bring chaos in the world and to make people turn against God. The Bible says that this red horse and its rider will take peace from the earth. Making wars and conflict break. Nations will stand against each other and there will be rumors of war. And all this chaos will cause people to panic. Paranoia will make them prioritize saving themselves from harm. Hence, leading to selfishness to the extent of bloodshed and destroying others.
Satan thrives in chaos. It is his absolute delight to see people who were meant to be the image of God to turn against each other. That is why he clouds the minds and hearts of all people. Leaders will lose faith and trust, leading to news of wars. Despite all this, the Bible tells us not to be alarmed nor be too comfortable, for there is more to come. Instead, we should be vigilant so we will not be fooled by the devil’s works. We should also be observant of things that will come and hold on to our faith tighter.
The Third Seal Opened
The black horse brought by the third seal will bring famine in all lands, but not to all people. If we read Revelation 6:5, we can infer that it implies scarcity. Wheat and barley symbolize the basic needs of people. Both are measured carefully and are sold at high prices. Interestingly, oil and wine are commanded not to be harmed (Revelation 6:6). “Harm” here can mean two things. It can mean not to touch the oil and wine as it is not affordable to most, or maybe not to mind the price of these luxurious commodities. Other Bible enthusiasts interpret this as a scarcity amidst prosperity.
First world countries now are rich with food, having the potential to feed the entire planet. Hence it is hard to imagine a famine extensive enough to thrust the earth into a global crisis. Yet the Black Horse of the third seal of describes just such a horrifying scene (Matthew 24:7). At that time, food shortages will cause inflation in food prices making the already scarce food harder to afford.
It seems that then, those who can afford oil and wine take advantage of selling wheat and barley. While the commoners are trying hard to make ends meet, the rich are showering themselves with luxurious things. The rich will get richer while the poor will continuously starve. And as we all know, only 7% in this world are rich. So, the opening of the third seal indicates a period of severe famine worse than any throughout human history.
The Pale Horse From the Fourth Seal
From the fourth seal will come the pale horse, which the Bible says that its rider is named “death”. Whether this name is symbolical or not, it just means one thing. It will surely bring death that was predicted to wipe out one-fourth of the earth (Matthew 24:9 – 10). Additionally, pale is normally what the skin color of a dead person looks like. It is written that Hades will be riding up behind the Pale Horse, given the power to bring famine, plague, and war.
Some Biblical scholars believe that the fourth seal will bring gruesome wars, plagues, and famines. Others concluded that the fourth seal was unraveled when the world experienced great wars and plagues that killed millions of people. Although it is agreed that we do not know when this will happen, the fourth seal is surely the result of the first three seals before it.
Martyrs of the Fifth Seal
When the fifth seal is opened by the Lamb, John said that he saw an altar with souls under it. These souls are said to be the martyrs for the word of God. They are those who have been persecuted because of their faith in Christ. These Christians died for the Lord and have accepted the wrongdoings the world has done to them. The prophets, Christ’s disciples, and others who bore witness to the truthfulness of the word of God are included under the altar. Despite what happened to them, they did not take their revenge on those who wronged them. Because they knew that one day, God will avenge all their sacrifices.
John saw these souls crying out to God, asking Him when would judgment day be, the day in which He would redeem justice for them. In response, they were handed white robes and were told to wait a little more. Why? Because there are Christians that are yet to be killed because of their faith. There are still Christians that will suffer because of their refusal to swear allegiance to the devil and his cronies. These people will remain loyal to the word of God that the world will want their demise.
This fifth seal informs us that if we choose to obey God, our lives will not be easy. The devil will be reigning the world and those who go in contrary to his works will surely die. But the pain that we will suffer in the hands of this wicked world is said to be incomparable to the joy when we reunite with God. All the pain and suffering that we will bear for our faith will see the light of justice on judgment day.
Catastrophes that Come With the Sixth Seal
This is the point where those events that the movies and other works of fiction portrayed will come to life. Once the Lamb opens the sixth seal, catastrophic events, such as earthquakes and floods will take place. Even the mountains and the islands will vanish from their respective places. But it does not end with that. The heavens will bear the signs of the end times too. The sun will darken, proven to be possible through various studies by scientists. And the moon will turn as red as blood. As we all know, a slight change in the moon and sun brings great changes to the earth. These great changes are enough to bring the worst calamities that the world has yet to see.
Yet, there is more to come. The Bible mentions that even the stars will fall from heaven like how the fruits of a fig tree fall when it is shaken by a great wind. These things are horrible enough to imagine. And when the day comes for it to happen, even the great men, who seemed to be capable of doing anything, but had sinned against God, will tremble. They will hide to get away from the wrath of God and will even wish for the rocks to fall on them so that they can be hidden. Yet no one can escape. All of creation is subject to their Creator. No one can hide from God.
The Great Tribulation and The Seal of God
After the sixth seal is opened calamities will pour into the world. However, John saw four angels holding the four winds of the earth, stopping and preventing them from blowing. And so there will be no wind blowing against the sea nor any tree. This is to give way for the seal of God to be marked on the foreheads of His people. The mark is not one of the signs of the end times or of tribulations, but it is the sign telling us that there is more to come. This mark is different than that of the mark of the Devil (Revelations 13:16) for it separates followers of Christ and followers of Satan. Moreover, the seal given to the people of God is their protection from the tortures that will come to earth.
John gave an exact number of people that were sealed; 12,000 people from each tribe of Israel: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. Together, there will be a total of 144,000 servants of God (12 x 12 x 1000) symbolizing completeness. And then, a great multitude of people from every nation will be sealed to be protected from what the Bible called “the great tribulation” (the Rapture).
Seventh Seal and a Short Silence
We mentioned above that the number 7 is very symbolical in the Bible and plays a major role in the signs of the end times. First mentioned as the day when the Lord rested after creating the universe. The seventh seal will be reminiscent of it. It will bring silence to the heavens for about half an hour (Revelation 8:3 – 4). It is like a pause of all from all of the chaos for another series of it. At this time, silence should be taken like any other time there’s silence; a time of prayer and seeking God. We are to honor God, have trust and strength in Him (Isaiah 30:15). With the opening of the Seventh Seal, the seven trumpet judgments will then be revealed.
The sounding Of The 7 Trumpets And The Golden Censer
After the 7 seals are the 7 trumpets. When the seventh seal was broken, the seven trumpets were given to the seven angels of God. Here, we can conclude that the trumpets are symbolical. Just as how trumpets had been used to announce the arrival of someone important, they will be sounded to let people know that the Messiah is coming into the world for the second time. Thunders, flashes of lightning, and earthquakes will be heard and seen in the world after an angel throws a censer filled with incense and prayers to God down to earth. The smoke from the censer represents believer’s prayers ascending to God, and the throwing of the censor down to heart represents the judgment of God for those who were persecuted (Revelation 8:5).
As the seven trumpets sound, John witnessed terrifying events that will occur as God’s wrath pour to the disobedient and rebellious mankind.
The Sound of the First Trumpet
In the Old Testament, God wiped the earth of all creations except for Noah, his family, and two of every creature in the ark. Sin causes the extinction of all living creatures on the face of the earth. The rain poured for 42 days, flooded the world, and killed everyone. That one move got everything done, it killed all that was outside the ark. But unlike what happened in the Old Testament, which God also promised not to happen again with the sign of a rainbow, the seven trumpets will cause death to all creatures but in a slow manner. It will torture people to the point that they will wish for death.
John saw that the first trumpet will bring hail and fire mixed with blood which will affect the land. This will burn a third of the greens of the earth; the trees, the grass, and other crops on the land. When it happens, famine is inevitable— although not mentioned directly. More than 80% of our world’s food depends on agriculture. And as we all know, plants are at the top of our food chain/cycle. And without them, animals and humans will both starve.
The Second Trumpet
After the land, the seas will be next. After the angel sounded the second trumpet, an object that was described as mountainous will be thrown into the earth’s ocean— destroying a third of the ships in it. The object will also kill one-third of the creatures of the sea and their blood will turn one-third of the ocean to become blood as well. With the food source from the land and seas dwindled, we can just imagine how much famine and death it will cause.
The Third Trumpet
Food supplies will get lesser and lesser and the third trumpet will scarce the water supply as well. Revelation 8:10- 11 foretells that a great star from the heaven that resembles a blazing torch will fall and will affect one-third of the rivers and springs. This star, named Wormwood, will make these sources of water bitter and those who drink it will die. This ultimately stands for the bitterness of God’s judgment.
The Fourth Trumpet
After the signs on the land and the waters, signs will appear on the heavens as the fourth trumpet sounds. The heavenly bodies, the sun, the moon, and the stars, will darken by one-third. And because of it the day and night will be darker than usual as the heavenly bodies darken. The land, the waters, and even the heavens fell under destruction after the sound of the four trumpets. It simply shows how everything falls under the dominion of our Almighty God. All have been made because of His powers and all will be washed away according to His will.
John also saw an eagle warning the world of the terrors yet to come, similar to that of the vulture in Habakkuk 1:8. It is said that this warning separate s the believers and unbelievers, for the last three trumpets would only affect unbelievers “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!” (Revelation 8:13).
The Fifth Trumpet
Everything is far from over. When the fifth trumpet sounded, the bottomless pit was opened. The smoke from this pit darkened the sun and warrior-like locusts came out of it— and their appearances have been vividly described. They have faces that look like a human, with woman-like hair, and gold crowns on top of their heads. And as if prepared for a battle, John saw that they had breastplates like those of warriors. Their wings produce loud noises—implying that the wings are huge and their scorpion-like tails and stingers complete the description of these beasts.
These creatures are under the command of their king who’s called “Abaddon” in Hebrew and “Apollyon” in Greek, meaning “The Destroyer”. These locusts are commanded to only torture the people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. With their gnashing teeth like a lion’s, these locusts will torture mankind for five months but they will not kill them. Yet, because of all the pain and suffering, people will want to die but they cannot.
The Sixth Trumpet
A third of mankind is destined to die at the sound of the sixth trumpet and four angels were released for the job. Horses with heads like lions will pour smoke, fire, and sulfur, which their riders also wear on their breastplates, out of their mouths. These “three plagues”, as the Bible called, will kill mankind. But after all of these plagues, those who were not killed did not repent.
John saw in his visions how these people continued doing things that God loathes. They continued worshiping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood. Pagan gods who can not talk nor walk are glorified rather than praising the real God. Works of evil such as murder, sorceries, theft, and sexual immorality were still pursued by humans.
The Voice of The Seven Thunders
Throughout his vision, John was never forbidden to write until he heard the voices of the seven thunders until an angel from heaven, dressed in a cloud with a rainbow upon his head, face as bright as the sun, and feet as pillars of fire came down. The angel set his right foot on the sea and his left foot to the land while he was holding a little scroll. When he spoke, the seven thunders uttered their voices. A voice from Heaven then commanded John to take the scroll that the angel was holding. Similar to Ezekiel in the Old Testament (Ezekie1 3:1), the angel handed the scroll to him, he told John to eat it up. John “ate” the scroll that tasted sweet in his mouth but made his stomach bitter. And after that, the voice told him to prophesy all over the world.
The scroll that was eaten by John is often interpreted as a symbol of the word of God. These words tasted sweet in his mouth as it is the Gospel of Truth but it will not make any profit. Hence, the statement that it will make his belly bitter. We can relate it to us as well. Because choosing to declare the words of God may not make us rich but telling it to the world will be the honey of our soul that will feed it.
The Appearance Of 2 Witnesses
Now, this is where it will get tricky. John saw that there will appear two witnesses that will prophesy the Words of God. They will perform miracles and will have the power to control and seal the heaven. The authority to cast plagues (which they will often) is also given to these two And the moment that they finished their testimonies, The Beast will kill them. Their bodies will be laid in the streets and people will celebrate as they see them both as their tormentor.
So why is it tricky? Because the false prophets will also exhibit these characteristics. They will also perform miracles and exhibit great signs. Which is why it was said that they will deceive even the wisest men. So how will we know if they are the witnesses that the Bible speak of? We will know for sure when they overcome the grave. The Spirit of God will enter their bodies after three and a half days and they will rise again. Because demons and false prophets might show fake signs and miracles but only God has the power over the grave.
As we mentioned above, the number 7 is significant in the Bible. It symbolizes completeness and God’s perfection. This explains why 7 has been used a lot of times both in the Old and the New Testament. The antichrist will take the number of the beast, which is number 6. Man was made on the 6th day of creation that it is why “6” also signifies man and his imperfections. Therefore, 6 is an imperfect number and 666 is the perfect imperfection which symbolizes the beast.
And because he feigns goodness, many will come to join him. The Bible described this antichrist as a very powerful man who makes the leaders and the kings of the earth bow down to him. Some argue that his “power” means a religious power that dominates the earth while others believe that it is political and economical power. But it is safe to assume that this antichrist will execute his powers in all aspects.
As his power dominates the world, he will require everyone to get his mark, the 666. Many will be deceived and follow him while others will comply due to the consequences for those who will not. It was said that no one will be able to buy nor sell if one does not possess the mark of the beast. In other words, you will not be able to live comfortably. And those who refuse to be a part of his colony will be persecuted.
How Can We Escape?
Like how the Jews escaped the slain of all the firstborns, we are saved by the blood of the lamb. At the beginning of Revelation, John saw the slain lamb who will have the authority to open the seals. This lamb is none other than Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Through Him, we will obtain salvation. By following His words and His teachings, we will be one of those who will be given the seal of God. That seal will be our protection from the tribulations that will plague the earth. And we can expect an eternal life of joy and peace with God in His Kingdom in heaven.
The Book of Revelation might seem like a book of predictions about destructions and horrible things but there is more to it than that. In the beginning, God created the dry land to be a safe dwelling place amidst the seas. The destructions that will come will give way to the land where we can dwell safely with God. It is a safe place free from sin, pain, and death. After the end of the sinful world, the people of God will then live with Him for eternity.
There are two other reasons why this book was placed as the last book of the Bible. First, it should be read last, for it is the end of time, so the end of a book. People who have not yet understood the Bible are amused and fascinated by the content that the Book of Revelation has. It makes a good plot of a movie, a subject of a book, or fun to be the subject of talks. But the judgment day is not as trivial as any fiction out there. It is a fact and a foretold future that will decide the fate of our eternity. It is the final part. And to get to the final part, we should read first the beginning.
Christians can rest in the hope that when Jesus comes again, He will restore all things and make them right. That the Faithful and True will ride upon His white horse, and conquer death, famine, disease, and every pestilent thing.