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A gap, or unexplained period of time, follows the 69th week (Dan. 9:26). Daniel 9:27 references the end-time Antichrist; thus the gap is about 2,000 which anticipates the church age.
1. THE CHURCH AGE (Worshipping – Waiting – Winning) – Before His death and departure, Jesus promised to “build my church” (Matt. 16:18). The church, born on the Day of Pentecost, consists of the twin remnants of Jews and Gentiles who come to trust Christ as their Savior (Eph. 2,3). God’s purpose through the church is to preach, teach, and call out a people for His name. In addition to world evangelization, the church is commissioned to “wait for the Son from heaven” (I Thess. 1:10; Acts 1:8). The church age closes amid rampant apostasy in an environment that is marked by self-obsessed humanists, immortality, violence, and internal unrest (2 Tim. 3:1-6; 2 Thess. 2:3).
2. THE RAPTURE (Going) – God concludes His program for the church before the seven-year Tribulation (the 70th week) begins (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9). The rapture “catches away” the church; then the Antichrist appears on earth (2 Thess. 2:3-9) and the Tribulation begins. Jesus will meet the church in the air to “take you to be with me” (John 14:1-6; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). During the Tribulation, the church is in heaven with Christ. Members receive rewards, and the church becomes Christ’s “bride” and enjoys the “marriage feast of the Lamb.” The church also prepares to return with Him in glory (1 Cor. 3:11-15; Rev. 19:7-9).
3. THE TRIBULATION (Watching) – Daniel’s 70th week (9:27) begins as God officially resumes His program for the Jewish nation. The key purpose of the Tribulation period is to reconcile the nation Israel to the Messiah. The Jewish nation confronts Christ at Armageddon and cries in repentance (Zech. 12:10). Events during the Tribulation include:
Israel exists as a national entity in unbelief (Ezek. 37, 38).
Northern armies invade Israel (Ezek. 38).
The Antichrist appears, first as a political superhero of the West (Dan. 9:27). At the midpoint of the Tribulation, he enters the temple in Jerusalem and declares himself to be God (the abomination of Desolation), demands worship, and refuses his “mark” to all who will not bow down to him. (Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:3,4; Rev. 13). This culminates in Armageddon (Rev. 16:14-16).
Jesus Christ returns with His saints to take His throne and judge the nations (Matt. 24:25; Rev. 19:11-21).
Israel’s national remnant, about one-third of the people, accept their Messiah and experience national reconciliation (Zech. 12:12; 13:8,9; Rom. 11:25-27).
4. THE MILLENNIUM (Ruling) – For 1,000 years, believers “reign with him” in a theocratic kingdom where all of God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants are fulfilled (Deut. 30:1-6; Rev. 20:4-6). During this kingdom, universal peace and justice prevail (Isaiah 11:1-10), and believers from all nations worship at the millennial temple in Jerusalem (Zech. 8:22, 23). Satan’s influence on earth ends, though only temporarily (Rev. 20:1-3).
5. THE FINAL UPRISING – At the end of Christ’s 1,000-year reign, Satan gathers a multitude of unregenerate people to rebel against the King (Rev. 20:7-9). The uprising exposes conclusively the depravity of the human heart. With Christ personally-present, and every opportunity to embrace righteousness, many still rebel against God.
6. GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT – The lost of all ages are judged, not to determine salvation, but the degree of punishment to be borne in the “lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11-15). This will be consistent with the “light” received, and rejected, during their lifetime. Before the Great White Throne, the lost of all ages finally acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ, but too late for deliverance (Phil. 2:10, 11). All human distinctions about power or position are meaningless – the small and the great face their “works” before a holy God and are condemned. Their sentence is eternal, conscious internment in the lake of fire. Satan is also cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).
7. NEW HEAVEN, NEW EARTH (Wondering) – Next, the consummation of all prophecy appears: the new heaven and earth. A firestorm destroys the present planet (2 Peter 3:10), and God creates a new world (Rev. 21:1-5). The saints live in a New Jerusalem (Rev. 21, 22) with many “rooms” prepared by Christ for them (John 14:2,3). Here there is no pain, no death, no curse, no adversary. Above all else, we will be with the Lord, and He will share His glory with us for all the ages to come.