What happens at the End of the Age?
Is this the same as the End of the World?
About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation in the midst of much clamour and opposition.Sir Isaac Newton 1642-1727
The following summarizes literal prophetic interpretation – which aligns with reality!
Biblical Events at the End of the Age
Jewish ‘End of Days’ view HERE
TerminologySome ask “What will happen at the end of the world?” Jesus’ disciples asked a similar question:
What will happen at the end of the age? (Matthew 24:3)According to common (futuristic) prophetic interpretation, the ‘end of the age’ and ‘the end of the world’ are separated in time by some 1,000 years. We are currently nearing the end of approximately 6,000 years of human government and the start of 1,000 years of peace on the earth – the Millennial Age when Christ rules the earth. It is only after this that the end of the world, the physical destruction of the present earth, occurs. The ‘last days’ is often taken to span from the time of the apostles (the gifting of the Holy Spirit) to the Second Coming of Christ.
World-wide Gospel ProclamationThe Christian gospel message – reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ – will be preached worldwide just before the end of the age. This is happening now! The Bible is available in whole or in part to some 98% of the world’s population in a language in which they are fluent, and modern communications enables this message to be heard by over 99% of the world’s eight billion people if they have the technology.
Increase in Knowledge and TravelThere will be rapid increase in knowledge and travel (Daniel 12:4). In just 100 years man has advanced rapidly in science, medicine, communications, astronomy and travel. We now understand how the trillions of cells in our bodies are controlled by a beautiful double helix molecule called DNA. And we can now hop on one of the 100,000 commercial flights each day and travel round the world in 24 hours!
Apostasy and Spiritual DarknessAlthough the gospel is preached worldwide, there will be a general falling away from biblical truth, a falling from the light of the gospel into deep spiritual darkness (Isaiah 60:2). The world will be deceived by the rise of a powerful false church that heads this end-time spiritual darkness. There will also be false prophets and cults that deceive people.
LawlessnessThere will be increasing lawlessness (Matthew 24:12). This reflects a lack of love between people and spans from local disputes, to political corruption, to greedy bankers, to religious persecution, to international terrorism. It will culminate in the brief reign of the end time ‘lawless one’ (2 Thessalonians 2:8), a world dictator. Love between people will grow cold (Matthew 24:12) as they depart from the unseen spiritual laws of life as revealed in the Bible.
Persecution of ChristiansThere will be increasing persecution of those who choose to follow Christ (Matthew 24:9). We see this today in subtle form from western governments, but especially from those who mistakenly think they are doing God’s will (John 16:2) – as in Islamic persecution of Christians in the 10/40 window. Christianity is now the world’s most persecuted faith.
The Emergence of IsraelGod’s chosen people, Israel, will be drawn back to the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. Already, the population of Israel has grown from 0.5m in 1900 to 8.7m in 2020 – an amazing 1700%. After years of being scattered amongst the nations, national Israel will become prosperous as God once more blesses His people and makes them a key witness of Himself amongst the nations. But Israel will become the vortex of world attention and activity as nations rage against her:
Middle East WarsThe Arab-Israeli tension will soon erupt into another middle east war, probably involving mainly Islamic nations. According to prophecy, the attacking nations will be defeated by the God of Israel. Eventually, at the end of this age, all nations will come up against Israel in a place called Armageddon (Revelation 16:16), but again they will be defeated.
The Removal of the ChurchThe true end time church will be miraculously removed from the earth to meet Christ ‘in the air’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Believers past and present will be raised with immortal bodies to be with God forever, whilst the false, apostate church will remain in a spiritually dark world. This will probably happen just before the worst seven years the world has ever known.
World GovernmentMany world leaders have called for a ‘New World Order’ (NWO) or a World Government, and this is currently being formed through organisations like the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the Club of Rome, the Illuminati, NATO and the WCC. Bible prophecy suggests that this ruthless world government will be a form of revived Roman Empire based in Europe and headed by a world dictator (Revelation 13:1) and the Antichrist (Revelation 13:11).
Persecution of IsraelThe end time world dictator will sign a 7-year peace treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27). This is the last time the nations seek a ‘roadmap to peace’ in the Middle East. But midway through this 7-year period he will break the treaty and start severe persecution of the Jewish people. It will be terminated by the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the age.
Electronic IDIndividuals will be increasingly controlled by governments, particularly in developed nations. This will be via electronic ID and cashless trading. Extensive computer networks and large databases make it easy for governments to monitor and control individuals. There is now just a short technological step to the ultimate electronic ID and it’s forced imposition upon individuals (Rev 13:16-17).
Extreme WeatherThere will be extreme weather events (Luke 21:25) such as severe heat and drought, severe storms, torrential rain, large hail and heavy snow. Reuters and large insurance companies confirm that such extreme weather events are increasing globally. These, together with cosmic disturbances (Luke 21:11, Revelation 6:12) and possible asteroid impact (Revelation 8:8) are part of God’s judgement on the rebellious nations (Revelation 16).
A Global Financial CrashAs part of God’s judgement of the nations, there will be a sudden global financial crash and collapse of the world trading system (Revelation 18). The world economy is based upon highly-interconnected global supply chains which are vulnerable to even a single major shock – such as a major bank failure or a cyber attack. Contagion could then spread rapidly through the tightly-linked global financial network. Note that global government debt is rapidly increasing.
The End of the AgeJesus Christ will return to this earth at the very end of the present age. He will destroy the final form of corrupt world government (Daniel 2:35) and usher in a peaceful age, the Millennium. He will reign from Jerusalem as ‘King over all the earth’ (Zechariah 14:9).
The End of the WorldAfter some 1,000 years, at the end of the Millennial reign of Christ, the earth and the biblical ‘heavens’ (2 Peter 3:7,10) will be physically destroyed by extreme heat. This is the literal ‘end of the world’. Some scientists expect that, at some point in the future, the sun will expand to become a red giant and burn up the solar system, including earth.
Where will YOU be?
Jewish View of the End of the Age
Hebrew End Time Dating
The concept of an end to the present age was readily accepted by Jesus (Mat 24:3). It is also embedded in Hebrew belief, which claims that we are now very near the end of the age. Consider our Gregorian (or civil) calendar year 2012 AD; this corresponds to the Jewish calendar year, link 5772 – dated from Adam and the Creation c4000 BC (see also ‘A Young Earth’, link). Correcting for dating error, link in the OT and for the difference between lunar years (Jewish calendar) and solar years (Gregorian calendar) we should add some 240 years to 5772 over a rough 6,000 year period, giving 6012. In other words, some believe 2012 AD actually corresponds to Jewish year 6012.
Clearly, this is an approximate calculation! But the significant point is that when the Jewish calendar approaches 6000, Jews believe from the Talmud, link (a collection of Jewish laws and traditions) that the world as we know it will end. Jews believe human government will last just 6,000 years and after that they expect Mashiach, link – a great political and military leader descended from King David (Jeremiah 23:5). Christians believe it is Jesus Christ who returns at this time. Thereafter, many Jews and Christians believe that the earth will experience a ‘Sabbatical Millennium’ – a new time epoch. Clearly, whatever the exact dating, the world is very close to the end of this age.
Jewish eschatology refers to the ‘End of Days‘ rather than to the End of the Age. And, as in the belief of millennial Christians, this is not seen as the ‘End of the World’ – there will be a period of world peace after the End of Days. Similarly, as in Christian eschatology, the roots of Jewish eschatology are found in the major prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah, but also in Deuteronomy, Micah and Joel, see Jewish Encyclopedia.
Jewish eschatology and Rabbinical Teaching
Let’s summarise the main teachings of Jewish eschatology, link, link, link, link. The teaching is often similar to Christian eschatology, although there are some major differences. So to aid comparison of viewpoints, where there is good agreement with Christian eschatological teaching there will be a high score out of ten. A low score suggests wide divergence of views.
- The Ingathering of the Exiles: God will draw His own people back to their own land, implying the reunion of the twelve tribes. This gathering of the exiles, “ḳibbuẓgaliyyot”, Encyclopedia, is the great event preparatory to the reign of the Messiah [9/10: certainly, this is firm biblical end-time teaching and has been a reality across the world since the end of the 19th century]
- Time Epochs: Between the ‘End of Days’ and the ‘End of the World’ there will be a world peace. This is the ‘Messianic era’ [9/10: The prophet Isaiah gives much detail here]
- Timing: The Messiah can come at any moment, and it all depends on our actions. God is ready when we are [7/10: Since Jesus said no man knows of the exact time of His return, only the Father, it seems His return is more determined by God rather than by man. That said; Jesus said the gospel will be preached (by men) in all the world – and then the end will come (Matthew 24), implying His coming depends to some degree upon man. The Christian view is that the true Messiah (Christ) returns to terminate the End of Days era]
- A Godless World: The world will become increasingly godless and suffer many woes including social unrest and financial chaos. There will be a valueless society in which religion will be chided. Some Rabbinical thinking sees this as a result of the world’s rejection of a Messiah who came “humble and riding upon a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9), link [9/10: mainstream Christian teaching sees the world’s woes as a result of the widespread rejection of Christ]
- A World in Turmoil: According to the Talmud, as the Messianic era approaches, the world will experience greater and greater turmoil: Vast economic fluctuations, social rebellion, and widespread despair. The whole world appears as in a state of rebellion before its downfall. According to the Midrash, “One third of the world’s woes will come in the generation preceding the Messiah”, link [9/10: The seals, trumpets and bowls of Revelation fills in the horrendous details]
- World Epochs: the idea of four world-empires succeeding one another and represented by the four metals (Daniel 2 and 7) seems to rest upon an ancient tradition which goes back to Babylonia. [8/10: even if not formal Jewish eschatology, this is a fundamental concept of some Christian end-time teaching]
- Gog-Magog: During the End of Days, Israel will be attacked resulting in cataclysmic war. This is taken to involve Gog of the land of Magog (Ezekiel 38,39). This fierce attack upon Israel in the mountains near Jerusalem will suffer a terrible and crushing defeat. The warfare against Gog and Magog forms the indispensable prelude to the Messianic era. [9/10: This war humiliates the invaders (mainly Islamic nations) and may or may not be identified with the ‘all nation’ war in Zechariah 14]
- A war between good and evil: the Gog-Magog war is seen as the ultimate war between good and evil, with evil ‘eliminated’. So some see Gog and Magog as mere symbols of the powers of evil and that this eschatological war is to be viewed as waged on a transcendental plane, link. [5/10: The Bible implies this ‘ultimate war’ – a man-God war – is real and likely to be the ‘all nation’ war in Zechariah 14:2, Revelation 16:14-16, 19:17-21. It is an attack on Jerusalem]
- War on Israel results in captivity of the Jews (as suggested in Zechariah 14), but then the Messiah comes to gather the remaining Jews and establish his reign over the nations from a rebuilt Temple [9/10: Christian eschatology sees Christ as returning to defeat an ‘all nation’ attack (Zechariah 14)]
- The Warrior King: In order to fulfil the designs of God for Israel and the whole race of man that he is to appear as the triumphant warrior-king to subjugate the nations, to lead in the war against Gog and Magog, to annihilate all the powers of wickedness and idolatry, cleanse the Holy Land and city from all heathen elements, build the new house of the Lord “pure and holy,” and become the Redeemer of Israel, link [9/10: this is in close alignment with the view of Christians who study end times and who love Israel]
- Resurrection of the Dead: The Hebrew Bible contains frequent reference to the resurrection of the dead, and the book of Daniel promises literal resurrection to the Jews, in concrete detail. Daniel’s promise of resurrection was intended only for the most righteous because the afterlife was a place for the virtuous individuals to be rewarded and the sinful individuals to receive eternal punishment, link. Some of the apocalyptic writings speak of two resurrections: the first only of the just, at the beginning of the Messianic millennium; the second of the wicked, at the final Day of the Lord, which is for the wicked a “second death.”[7/10: Christian theology is in broad agreement here in that only the righteous (through Christ) will be rewarded and the unrighteous will suffer eternal punishment]
- The House of David: The belief in a Messiah descended from the Davidic line is a universal tenet of faith in Judaism. In the End of Days Jews look for the mashiach (the anointed one) – a great human and political leader like King David. [1/10: Here Jewish eschatology differs fundamentally with Christian eschatology. The Christian gospels claim Jesus descends from the Davidic line and thus is the legitimate Hebrew Messiah. But He is both human and divine (Isaiah 9:6-7) ]
- The Days of the Messiah (“yemot ha-Mashiaḥ”), Jewish Encyclopedia (also seen as the advent of the Messiah) see the reign of the descendant of David find their fulfilment. God restores the House of David and the Temple in Jerusalem. The Messiah causes the people to seek the Lord and, as “the Son of God,” causes the nations to worship Him. But these days are merely the necessary preparatory stage to the kingdom of God which lasts forever. Jewish theology always insisted on drawing a sharp line between the Messianic days and the final days of God’s sole kingdom. [8/10: Millennial Christians see the Millennial reign of Christ as being followed by the ‘End of the World’ and a new heaven and earth where God dwells with man. But, crucially, Christians see this as the second advent of Christ]
- Duration of the Messiah’s reign: could be 40, 70, 365, or 400 years, or 1,000, 2,000, 4,000, or 7,000 years, link [2/10: The book of Revelation mentions a 1,000 year duration six times].
- Peace: A time of peace and blessing. The Messiah’s reign will be a time of conversion of the heathen world to monotheism, and nations will bring tributes to the Messiah. Both earth and man will be blessed with wondrous fertility and vigour. All physical ailments and defects will be healed [9/10: Christian eschatology concurs]
- Judgement and a New Heaven: The Messianic kingdom, being at best of mere earthly splendour, could not form the end, and so the Great Judgment is placed at its close and following the Resurrection. So after the Messianic reign there will be the great eternal judgment, to be followed by a new heaven with the celestial powers. Books in which all sins are written down will be opened and all the secret thoughts of men will then be brought to light [9/10: Revelation 20 places the Great White Throne judgement of the dead after the 1,000 year reign of Christ]
In Summary: Jewish understanding of the End of Days (End of the Age) is generally in broad agreement with Christian eschatology.
The major divergence of views occurs around the person of the coming Messiah. Jewish eschatology sees the advent of the Messiah as a human King over all the earth. They believe:
“The final Messiah will be a normal human being, born of human parents. The Messiah will be mortal. He will eventually die and bequeath his kingdom to his son or his successor”
In contrast, Christian eschatology sees the coming Messiah as the second advent of Christ, (the same Messiah who the Jews crucified) who will be LORD and King over all the earth (Zechariah 14:9).