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What Happens Next
According to Scripture, these are the next five events on the prophetic timeline
“What’s going to happen next?” That’s one of the questions I get asked on a regular basis, especially when people find out I love to study, write and speak about the end times. The Bible doesn’t offer precise, day-to-day details of a timeline—for instance, it doesn’t tell us when the Russian invasion of Ukraine will end or specifically when the Antichrist will come to power.
But it does give us a broad timeline of the five major events of the end times, starting with the Rapture of the Church. These events are clearly described in Scripture, and I believe we will see this timeline come into focus very soon.
Here is God’s agenda for the future:
1. The Rapture and Resurrection of the Dead in Christ
This two-part move of God is the next major prophetic event that will happen in our world. In fact, the evidence is clear to me that it could happen at any moment, including potentially while you are reading these words! All the signs point to the return of Christ in the very near future.
The Rapture will be accompanied by the Resurrection of the righteous dead—those who have passed away in relationship to Jesus. Scripture speaks of the Rapture and Resurrection as separate events, but they will happen so closely together that I am including them as a single point in the timeline.
God will raise the righteous dead first, and a split second later, Jesus will gather living believers into His presence. Paul describes this in 1 Thessalonians:
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.—1 Thessalonians 4:15–18
All of us—those who are living and our dead brothers and sisters in Christ—will have a grand reunion together with the Lord in the air. This event will set the rest of the timeline into motion.
2. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb and Glorious Return of Jesus
After raising the dead in Christ and gathering living believers in the Rapture, Jesus will marry His raptured and resurrected believers as His glorious bride. This will be celebrated with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
This heavenly celebration will last for seven years, correlating to the period of the Tribulation on earth. This will be the worst time on earth in human history but a time of rejoicing for us in heaven.
The apostle John writes about the end of the Marriage Supper in the Book of Revelation:
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.—Revelation 19:6-8
Later in that passage, John describes Jesus judging and making war on the earth accompanied by “the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen” (Revelation 19:14). That’s His Bride, riding along with Him after the Marriage Supper of the Lamb comes to a close. This is a different kind of return. The Rapture will be a private event between Jesus and His Church, but this will be public. Every eye will see Him. There will be no doubt that He has returned. It will be dramatic and worldwide.
The world will have been marching against Jerusalem at the end of the Tribulation, but then Jesus will ride in—with His armies at His side—at the battle of Armageddon. He will cast the false prophet and the Antichrist into hell, and we will be there to see it happen.
3. The Millennial Rule
After the glorious return of Jesus, the apostle John had a vision of what would happen next, detailed in Revelation 20:1-10. He says the Antichrist and false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire, and Satan (“the dragon, that serpent of old”) will be locked in chains and sealed in the bottomless pit. Neither Satan’s power nor his words will be able to escape.
Meanwhile, believing martyrs who were killed during the Tribulation will become part of the family of believers who will rule with Christ, reigning with Jesus as kings for a thousand years. We will reign with Him, too. John refers to us as “the saints” or “priests of God.”
No one will become saved after this point, because the Age of Grace, which we are living in now, will be over.
Believers, along with Jesus, will then help impose the will of God on the earth. Jesus will be King and we will be His regents over all the survivors of the Tribulation. He will give us total authority—and we will need it, because the unbelievers left on earth still won’t submit to Jesus, nor will they recognize our authority. They will want to kill us!
These people will have hardened their hearts and continue to hate Jesus Christ. As a punishment for their sin, they will be forced to live 1,000 years under the direct rule of Christ and His saints. We will be in our glorified eternal bodies. We will know everything because we have direct access to the King of all kings. When these people stand against us, we will rule them by force. They will hate it, but God won’t allow them to die until they have served their time under His rule.
After the thousand years, Satan will be released, and he and these reprobates with unchanged hearts will try to rebel against Jesus and the saints, marching on the Holy City. It won’t go well for them.
4. The Great White Throne Judgment
After this will come judgment for those in rebellion against God. The judgment of believers will have already occurred, and the righteousness of Jesus will have covered our sins and presented us blameless before God the Father.
But this judgment—the Great White Throne Judgment—is for those who are evil. After Satan is cast into the lake of fire for all eternity, those who were deceived by him will also spend eternity in hell:
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.—Revelation 20:11–15
At this point, God will be finished with this earth as we know it. The final event on the timeline is His creation of something new.
5. The New Heaven and New Earth
Eventually, God will make all things new. John described this at the end of his vision in the Book of Revelation:
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” —Revelation 21:1-5
I can’t wait until this moment. If you long for every tear to be wiped away, for death to disappear, for the end of sorrow, then understand this: It is coming. If you know Jesus, this reality is in your future. God designed us to rule with him as priests and kings, with the authority given to the beautiful Bride of Christ.
Maybe you are looking at what you see in the world right now, just as I am. We see evil and immorality all around us. We pray for God to intervene, and sometimes He does. Other times, He gives us the grace to endure it. The only true answer to the world’s problems is the authority of Jesus Christ. Nothing else will give us peace, healing, and freedom.
Here is the good news: it’s coming! It is going to happen.
My new book, Look Up! Awaiting the Rapture and Our Final Redemption, releases next week. You can pre-order it here.