So you say you’re a good person, you believe in God, you live your life with respect for others, and you enjoy the pleasures of life. Yet you wonder, is this all there is?
As you watch TV, you notice current events, movies, and lifestyles that promote violence, sex, and pleasure, while music, movies, and commercials advertise the pleasures of man’s flesh, which lead to the decay of our society due to media corruption. It makes you think, what is this world coming to?
As a minister and Bible teacher, I often get asked the same questions: Is the end near? Is the earth going to be wiped out? Why would a God of love do this to man? On the other hand, I hear people saying, “I do not think God would destroy the earth,” “I believe that good people will go to heaven,” and “I think there are many ways to heaven, and being a good person is all that counts. After all, Jesus says believe in Him and you will be saved.” These are all questions and answers that we will be addressing in this series.
When asked about the End Times, I first start with the past. In other words, when talking about a future subject you must first show credibility in reference to something that has already taken place. I usually start with history, past events that have taken place and can be found recorded in libraries, encyclopedias, newspapers, media, and, of course, the Bible. Once we have a sense that what God said would happen has actually happened, then End Times prophecies are more tangible and acceptable. For further information on this topic, please read our book
History and the Bible.
Let’s start with a synopsis of the End Times. According to the Bible’s prophecy, the next prophetic event will be the Body of Christ (Christians) being removed from the earth. This is referred to as the Rapture of the Church. After the Rapture happens, then a world leader will emerge for a seven-year period, bringing peace to the earth. He will confirm a treaty between Israel and Palestine and order the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. According to the Book of Daniel, this world leader will come from European descent. The Bible says that this world leader will be a charismatic man who brings about economic prosperity, and the world will embrace him. He will set up a one-world government, as well as a one-world religion (with the help of a partner or sidekick), and will also issue in a cashless society. The Bible says that there will be an assassination attempt made on his life, and he will lose his right eye and the use of his right arm (Zech. 11:17). He will make a miraculous recovery, and the world will marvel over him (Rev. 13:14). After three and a half years he will walk into the temple in Jerusalem and demand to be worshiped (this is known as the abomination of desolation, Daniel 9:27). At this time the wrath of God will be poured out upon the earth, for a final period of three and a half years (completing a total of seven years), bringing earthquakes, famines, pestilence and wars. At the end of this seven-year period, the nations of the earth will march for battle, which will take place in the Valley of Megiddo (also known as Armageddon, Revelation 16:16) in Israel. Then The Lord Himself will come down with His Church (the Christians) and wipe out the armies of the world. After this, there will be what is known as the millennium reign of Christ, where Christ rules on the earth with His Saints (or believers) for 1,000 years. After 1,000 years comes the final judgment.
“Wow,” you say, “pretty heavy!” To really get a grasp of this, as mentioned earlier, you need to realize that everything that God has predicted has happened. Therefore, since our Lord has been 100 percent accurate thus far, End Times prophecies will be right on as well. You really must stop and think past the things of this world and look at Creation, the universe, and beyond, to understand what our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, is capable of.

In Genesis 1:1–19, the Bible states that the Lord spoke into existence the heavens and the earth, and in fact, Isaiah 40:12 refers to God measuring the universe with the span of His hand. What we have to realize is that we as humans can only comprehend a three-dimensional world, whereas God is outside our time domain and can do things that we are not capable of understanding. Psalm 19:1 states, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (KJV). In other words, look up into the sky and see the sun, moon, and stars declare the awesome power of our Lord. It is also interesting to note that with modern-day technology (NASA, satellites, etc.) we seem to discover more and more about our universe, which just shows us how great our God really is.
The Bible states that God knows everything from beginning to end. To better understand this, let’s use the analogy of a street parade. We, as viewers standing at a particular corner, can only witness the parade as it passes by, whereas God sees everything from start to finish, all at one time, like a newscaster or emcee would see the parade from a blimp or helicopter.
Let’s get back to the Rapture of the Church. “The Rapture of the Church,” you say, “what is that? The word
rapture is not even in my Bible.” Well, in a sense you’re right. The word rapture is not in the English Bible; however, you can find it in the Latin Vulgate as the word rapturous, from which we get our English word rapture. In the original Greek, the word is harpzois, which means “snatched away” (taken by force), which is also paraphrased as “caught up” in English. We are not sure how this will happen—either we Christians will leave our bodies or our bodies will be taken away—but what we do know is that the Bible says we will be caught up (harpzois) in the clouds to meet the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17). In other words, there is a generation that will never die. I would imagine that if our bodies are physically taken, then the world will attribute this event to aliens. First Corinthians 15:51–53 states, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed…in the twinkling of an eye…this mortal must put on immortality.” The Bible says that we will get our new bodies and meet the Lord in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17). From my knowledge of Scripture, it seems to me that since heaven is out of this world (2 Cor. 12:2), perhaps as an astronaut puts on a suit to enter space we shall put on our new bodies to be with the Lord in Paradise.
So your next question is, “When will this happen?” The answer is,
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt. 24:36). However, Jesus states in Luke 21:28, “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Some of the signs the Bible prophesies are Israel becoming a nation (Ezek. 37), Israel becoming like the garden of Eden and producing fruit for the world (Ezek. 36), Europe joining forces and becoming a nation (Book of Daniel), and the world entering into a cashless society (Rev. 13:16–17).
Jesus also stated
, “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26). In the days of Noah, man was corrupt, filled with evil, and had no fear of God. Noah preached repentance for 120 years as he built his ark. People looked at Noah as if he were crazy, for in those days it had never rained before, and the earth was covered with a light mist (Gen. 2:5–6). Can you imagine how crazy it would look and sound to see a man building a huge ship and saying that a flood was coming? No one believed Noah, yet the flood did come.

According to my studies on End Times, Revelation 4:1 starts out with the Greek word metatosa, which means “after these things.” We would then ask, after what things? Prior to this word metatosa are chapters 2 and 3, which talk about the seven churches. These seven churches represent Church history and speak of the past and present churches of our time. So, as you read on, you have the Church being caught up (harposos). This is when we feel the Rapture of the

Church will occur. After this, we have chapters 4 and 5 that take place in heaven, where we Christians are worshipping together as Christ’s Bride, preparing for the wedding supper feast. It is interesting to note that when Christ comes back for His Church, He will meet us halfway, in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17), and then bring us to His Father’s home for a seven-year period. Then we shall return with Him, and He will introduce His Bride (the Church) to the world.
If this seems strange to you, then it would help if you understood Jewish tradition. In those days when a Jewish boy was engaged, he would go back to his father’s home to prepare a house for him and his new wife. The custom was that the son would get his father’s inheritance, and, therefore, he would build and live on his father’s estate. The father would watch and inspect as the son would build, and finally, upon his approval of the new house, the father would send his son to get his bride. In the meantime, the bride had picked her bridesmaids, and they were watching the progress of the house. When they saw that it was almost finished, they let the bride know, and they watched for the coming of the groom. (Jesus tells a parable about this in Matthew 25—the ten virgins.) When they saw the bridegroom coming, the bride went to meet him. They had a marriage ceremony and a honeymoon for seven days and then were introduced to their guests as husband and wife.
In John 14:2, Christ states that in His Father’s house there are many mansions, and He would go and prepare a place for us. When God is ready and has gathered His people (the fulfillment of the Gentiles—Romans 11:25), then God will send his Son Jesus Christ to meet us (the Church) in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17). From there, we will enjoy the marriage supper of the Lamb for a seven-year period and then come back with Christ, so that Christ can introduce his Bride to the world. Meanwhile, during this seven-year period, there will be peace on earth issued in by the new world leader for three and a half years, and then the wrath of God will be poured out upon the earth for the remaining three and a half years (completing the seven-year period). You have to remember that our God is a loving God, and He has not appointed the Christians to endure the Great Tribulation that will be poured out upon the earth, but He will save us from that great hour of Tribulation. Revelation 3:10 states
, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial [or tribulation] which shall come upon the whole world” (NKJV). Luke 21:36 states, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass” (NKJV).

As a side note for those who are familiar with the Bible, please keep in mind that events in the New Testament can also be found in the Old Testament. The Rapture is a good example of this. We all know of Noah and the flood. Now, if you recall, Noah was saved or protected from the flood by God. Noah was a representation of the 144,000 Jews found in Revelation 7 that go through the Tribulation yet are protected by Christ. However, Noah’s predecessor, Enoch, walked with the Lord and then was no more, for God took him away (Gen. 5:24). Enoch was a representation of the Church (defining the Church as someone who walks with Christ or is Christlike) who was raptured or caught up. Another example of the Rapture can be found in Daniel, chapter 3. In this chapter we read about King Nebuchadnezzar, who demanded that all of the people bow down to his statue or they would be cast into a furnace. As we read on, we find that all of the people bowed down except for three young Hebrew boys: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. These three Hebrew boys were then cast into a furnace that was heated up seven times hotter than normal ( representing the seven years of tribulation). We then read that one like the Son of Man was walking in the furnace with them (Dan. 3:25). The Hebrew boys are another representation of the 144,000 Jews that the Lord will protect during the Tribulation (Rev. 7:4), yet the interesting thing about this story is, where was Daniel? It is his book, and he is not

mentioned. We know that he was a godly man and that he would not have bowed down to the image, so therefore he was taken out—raptured, if you will. Another illustration of the Rapture can be found in Genesis, chapter 19, when Lot was spared from God’s wrath on Sodom and Gomorrah. The angel of the Lord took his hand and snatched him out of the city. It is interesting that the word for “snatched” in the Hebrew is translated as “taken by force.” In the New Testament, we have Paul, who was caught up into the third heaven and had a view of Paradise that was too awesome to describe (2 Corinthians 12:2–4). As a side note, Bible scholars believe that this incident occurred when Paul was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19). Another model of the Rapture occurs in Revelation 4:1–2 when John is told to “Come up hither” (KJV), and he sees the throne of God. So as you can see, the Rapture of the Church has been modeled throughout Scripture.
Still have a hard time believing that an event known as the Rapture will occur? When the disciples asked Jesus about the End Times, Jesus said,
“Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come” (Mark 13:33). Additionally, we are told, “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left” (Matt. 24:40–41). Christ said, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming,” then added, “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:42–44). First Thessalonians 5:2–4 says concerning the End Times, “The day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief.” Second Peter 3:10 also states, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (NKJV).
Throughout the New Testament,
“the coming of Christ” is mentioned five or six times. It is comforting to know that our Lord is long-suffering and does not wish for us to perish but that we should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). In other words, the Lord is waiting to gather in His Church. He is waiting for the fullness of the Gentiles to give their lives to Him, and then He will send His Son to gather us together. The Holy Spirit is convicting people of their sins, and Christians are spreading the gospel so that the world will know God’s plan. In Revelation 1:1, when some versions talk about these things taking place quickly, the word quickly in Greek means “soon or suddenly,” meaning that once the Lord is ready it will happen like a domino effect (all at once, one event after another).
The Bible was written so that we would not be ignorant of things to come. We need to live our lives in anticipation that our Lord and Savior will come at any time. Jesus says,
“Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13, KJV). What Christ means is for us to go about His Father’s business and be ready for His return.
In 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2, the Bible says that before the lawless one can come to power (referring to the Antichrist), the Church (the body of Christ) must be removed (raptured). Once this happens, there will be looting and rioting in the streets. To give you a modern-day viewpoint, imagine hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world disappearing! This would cause world chaos, and cities would be in a panic. (Just think a few years back to the L.A. riots; the city was uncontrollable.) This would set up the perfect scenario for a world leader to come to power and bring peace to the world.

So, you still have a hard time believing this? Well, it is interesting that the Bible describes all of these events with so much detail. As stated earlier, before I talk about the future, I must first talk about the past and how God’s predictions have happened. Each day we see more and more of God’s plans coming to pass. In 1970 if I had talked to you about a cashless society, you would have said that I was crazy and that there was no way that we would ever do away with cash as currency. Yet today you can see how the world is gearing up to go in that direction, as predicted in Revelation 13:16–17.
A friend of mine has an old Bible that was printed in 1820. Every time I see this Bible, it brings glory to my heart. This old Bible was printed almost 200 years ago, and since then we have seen many of God’s words come to pass. There is no other book in the world that has accurately predicted the future 100 percent of the time. I am not asking you to understand the Rapture; I am simply asking you to believe that it will happen, according to Scripture. Our job as Christians (the word
Christian means to be Christlike) is to tell people about our awesome Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His plan for the future. Just think, you wake up one morning and turn on the news, and you hear that millions of people have vanished. Would you then believe? Some people might believe; yet others will fall for this world’s media corruption and believe this world’s lie. You have to remember that even as Christ walked the earth, there were people who saw miracles and still did not believe. Even the disciples themselves doubted our Lord at times. Judas—being compelled by the power of Satan—denounced our Lord and was cast into hell.
So the question is, what will you do with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Will you receive Him or reject Him? The Bible says that you are either for Him or against Him. In Matthew 10:32–33, Jesus says,
“Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.” Then he adds, “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” Do you want to live life without the hope of eternity in Paradise? To be a child of God, you need to repent of your sins, ask Christ to come into your life and take residence in your heart, and have Him fill you with His Holy Spirit. In Revelation 3:20, Christ says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is a gentleman—He will not force Himself into your life, yet He will gracefully be there to accept you when you are ready.
May the peace and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you.

In Christ,

John Michael Mendola