Jesus is coming soon - a brief overview of Bible prophecy

The book of Revelation has special interest due to its prophetic nature dealing with the end of the age, the return of Jesus Christ, judgement to come and heaven and hell. Unfortunately it is part of God's word which is evidently not well understood since there are considerable differences in interpretation between different Christian writers and teachers. It is certainly true that the language in Revelation sometimes uses symbols and analogies to refer to entities or subjects but these pictures can be understood with some thought and reference to other Scriptures. The teaching of Jesus especially in Matthew 24 and the parallel passages in Mark 13 and Luke 21 (known as the "Olivet Discourse"), must also be harmonised with any comments on Revelation. Similarly also with the prophecies in Daniel 9-12.

The universal Christian view is that Jesus is coming back in power and glory as King, he will be the judge, and the redeemed will enter a new earth and new heaven whilst there will be eternal punishment in hell for God's enemies. The differences in interpretation seem to largely arise due to different opinions as to whether God intends to have a period of time with Jesus reigning physically as Man and God on this earth before the eternal new creation. The view taken on this fundamental factor tends to determine the view taken on the rapture; the various judgements and tribulations described in Revelation; the extent and timing of these judgements; whether God still has purposes for Israel; and of course the 1000 years golden age of Revelation chapter 20. Or in other words, exactly how will the Lord's prayer, "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven", be answered? How can any Christian not truly yearn in their heart for Jesus to reign as King on earth in righteousness over all the peoples on earth?

There are many more knowledgeable, trained and wise expositors than us, so what can we do? Just read Revelation. It was written for ordinary people, and can be understood especially in overview level if not in all the details, resulting in great benefit to one's faith. The approach we take here is to take it as literally and chronologically as possible, bearing in mind the use of symbolic language where it is clearly not God's intention to specifically reveal the identity of the subject to which reference is made. Perhaps this approach has flaws and if so we pray that God will overrule, correcting us, and ensuring no-one is in any way harmed by the comments made.

Many Christians don't believe in a future specific time of tribulation. But to do so, implies that God will destroy evil, his enemies and unbelievers in a moment at his return. Perhaps God is more gracious than they think? He will take 7 years to execute his judgement and wrath. This will give people a last chance to choose either to repent or to react in anger against God. Many will repent but it will not be easy because there will be great persecution and much political and social pressure to rebel against God's judgments. For those who do repent and are not killed, God will receive them into a time of rest and peace on earth before they are resurrected. This is known as the millennium. It is the golden age that all the Old Testament prophets foresaw.

Matthew 23:37-39

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her! How often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house (i.e. The Temple) is left to you desolate. For I tell you, (i.e. Leaders of Israel) you will not see me from now on, until you (i.e. Future Leaders of Israel) say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' "

Philippians 3:20-21

For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working by which he is able even to subject all things to himself.

2 Peter 3:13-14

But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for these things, be diligent to be found in peace, without defect and blameless in his sight.

Revelation 22:12-13

Behold, I come quickly. My reward is with me, to repay to each man according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Summary of Bible Prophecy from Revelation and the teaching of Jesus:

1. Revelation Overall Framework

  1. CHAPTER 1: THE RISEN CHRIST
    John is commissioned to write down the revelation of Christ and sees a vision of Christ.

  2. CHAPTERS 2-3: THE CHURCH AGE
    The Church is in view and Jesus writes letters to seven churches.

  3. CHAPTERS 4-5: THE THRONE ROOM OF HEAVEN
    Jesus, the Lamb and the Lion, is in charge and worshipped by the saints.

  4. CHAPTERS 6-18: TRIBULATIONS ON EARTH FOR 7 YEARS
    A time of many terrible judgements and great evil.

  5. CHAPTER 19: THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
    The second coming of Jesus brings to an end the period of Tribulation.

  6. CHAPTER 20v.1-6: JESUS TAKES THE THRONE OF DAVID
    Jesus reigns on earth and this is known as the Millennium, or Golden Age.

  7. CHAPTER 20v.7-15: FINAL JUDGEMENT
    Jesus judges all unbelievers before the Great White Throne and they are sent to eternal punishment.

  8. CHAPTERS 21-22: THE ETERNAL STATE
    The present heaven and earth are destroyed and a new heaven and earth created.

2. Revelation in Some More Detail

The following list is an attempt to go through Revelation Chapters 4-22 summarizing the key points: