What will happen to believers during the end times? This question, I believe, can only be answered after one has put together a complete Biblical picture of the end times. My brother challenged me to do this in the late 1980’s. What resulted was “A Chronology of the End Times” which parallels the main Biblical accounts to determine the order of events. After doing this, I discovered the view which I had arrived at was called “Classic Premillennialism” which has been held by Christians since the earliest centuries.
To piece together what happens
to Christians during the end times, I have compiled the Biblical clues
in each of the time periods. These periods follow “A Chronology of
the End Times.”
During this time period of terrible distress on earth, there is a great martyrdom described in Revelation 6:9-11:
and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
From the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,
and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?”
I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them.
“They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;
for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
The onslaught of plagues continues during this period as described in Revelation 8-9:12. This ends the “first woe.” We notice in Revelation 9:4 that only the unsealed are harmed which supports the view that only the 144,000 “sealed” Christians remain on earth:
The Great Tribulation (two 3½ year periods)
The plagues during the “Great Tribulation” are far more severe than those during “the beginning of birth pangs.” God’s two witnesses preach His gospel and the Anti-Christ becomes a prominent figure during this time. Those who come to believe are persecuted (Rev 13:7-10):
All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
If anyone has an ear, let him hear.
If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.
And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!
The Day of the Lord
This period encompasses both the resurrection of believers and the Battle of Armageddon. Six of the seven bowls of wrath are poured out and in Revelation 16:15 which describes the gathering for the Battle of Armageddon there is an interesting aside:
and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer;
While this is not necessarily a popular view, I believe it is consistent with the Biblical picture as a whole of the end times.