Bible prophecy predicts that there will be several significant events signaling the End of the Age. These seminal events will occur just prior to the beginning of a period called Daniel’s 70th Week, and they will serve to alert everyone that the final days have come upon the world.
Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 Weeks is an incredible prediction of the Lord’s future dealings with the nation of Israel. The angel Gabriel gave this prophecy to Daniel over 2,500 years ago (Dan. 9:24-27). The word translated “week” in this prophecy is actually the Hebrew word “shabua”, which means a period of 7 days or 7 years. In the context of this prophecy, it means 7 years; thus, according to Daniel, there are 70×7 or 490 years that encompass the entire prophecy. The last 7 year period, called Daniel’s 70th Week, was separated from the prior 69 Weeks due to the rejection of Jesus by the Jews after He revealed himself as the Messiah (see Calculating the Time of Messiah). The 70th Week is predicted to begin in the Last Days with the rise of a global government under the Antichrist and end in the fiery destruction of this world in the Great Tribulation and the Battle of Armageddon.
This section discusses the unique prophecies that will usher the world into those final 7 years. As the chronological chart in this section outlines, the events that precede the rise of the final world empire and Daniel’s 70th Week will occur in the following stages:
1) The great falling away
The Apostle Paul warns us that the Antichrist will not be revealed until there is a precipitous falling away from the faith. This will involve conditions arising in the world where more and more people will deny the faith, while at the same time displaying blatant immorality, lying and cheating, having no conscience, being full of hypocrisy, and they will even be against eating meat. These very conditions are arising to an extreme in our generation, especially over the last few decades.
2) The rise of the 7-headed, 10-horned beast (the revived Roman Empire)
The beast rising out of the sea in Revelation 13:1 is termed the Empire-Beast, and it is predicted to consist of a 10-nation alliance out of the same region over which the Roman Empire originally reigned. At this point, the empire will be characterized as “partly strong and partly broken”, which perfectly correlates with Nebuchadnezzar’s image of the 4th world power—described by Daniel at the end of its reign as having feet and toes of iron mixed with miry clay.
3) The rise of the second beast (the Antichrist)
The beast that arises out of the earth in Revelation 13:11 is the Antichrist, and herein he is termed the Antichrist-Beast to reflect this fact. Paul says that just before the Antichrist is revealed, the Restrainer will be taken out of the way, because He has been inhibiting his rise till now (i.e., the Holy Spirit; 2 Thess. 2:6-8). The Antichrist will become the dynamic leader of the revived Roman Empire. At first, he will arise among the 10 nations of the Empire-Beast as a prominent figure having a “mouth speaking great things”. He is then predicted to be elevated to power over the entire empire during a violent event within the 10-nation alliance, which uproots 3 of the initial 10 leaders or nations. At the end of these events, the Antichrist becomes the undisputed leader of the Empire-Beast.
4) The beast deceives the world (the Antichrist’s ascent to power)
Once the Antichrist-Beast consolidates power over the empire, he will move to become the ruler of the world. He convinces all nations to follow and “wonder after” the Empire-Beast. At this time, he prepares a treaty with all nations, which will last for 7 years (Dan. 9:27).
5) The Jewish Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem
One of the final events signaling the end is the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The exact timing of this event relative to the other events in this section is not known. We only know that it must be built and operational before the mid-point of the final 7 years, because precisely at 30 days before the 3½ year mark, the Antichrist is predicted to stop the sacrifices and go into the rebuilt Temple and declare himself to be God (2 Thess. 2:3-4; Dan. 12:11; Matt. 24:15-21). I’ve placed the rebuilding of the Temple close to the start of the final 7 years, but it could occur earlier or even later during the first half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week.
Through a study of these prophecies, it will become apparent that the seminal events described by them will forcefully thrust the world into the final 7 years of this age with dire consequences. Jesus compared this period to the days of Noah immediately before the flood. People were going about their lives right up until the very moment that Noah entered the ark (Matt. 24:37-39), and then they were trapped in the ensuing floodwaters. Likewise, these terminal prophecies, which are soon to come to pass in our day, will become a warning and another snare for the entire world as they are swept into the final 7 years of this age. And just like in the days of Noah, the people then living will be left with only one ark or life raft to save them from the storms of the end—Jesus Christ. These prophecies will also become the imminent events signaling the End of the Age and the Return of Christ.
Now let’s look at these events in more detail.
Where We’ve Come
In the first chronological chart, The Sign Posts of History, the overall map of Biblical time was outlined. This began with the creation of the universe and ended with the formation of the New Heavens and the New Earth. In that high-level outline, it wasn’t possible to show much detail concerning the Last Days; thus, it only marked the Second Coming and the start of the Kingdom Age as part of the major events signaling the end. Then, in the next section, a second time chart outlined the recent fulfillment of prophecies as they related to the nation of Israel in the Last Days. This included such events as the rebirth of Israel and the numerous wars that the Jews would fight as the world moved further into the Last Days. These prophetic fulfillments have had earthshaking consequences for our generation. Principally, these events signaling the end warn us that the Return of Christ is drawing near, and that it is vitally important to believe in Jesus and turn away from sin before God’s judgment falls upon the Earth.
Approaching the End
From the prophecies regarding the final world empire (see the New World Order), it is apparent that there are several events that must occur before the Empire-Beast consolidates its power around the Antichrist. The prophecies indicate that Daniel’s 70th Week does not actually begin until after the Antichrist has appeared and then risen to power over the empire. Only after he consolidates power over the 10-nation alliance does he make a treaty establishing a one-world government, which is signed by many nations. Enacting that treaty, or covenant as the Bible calls it, is the key event which begins the final 7-year period before the Return of Christ (Dan. 9:27). It is possible that this treaty will also include a peace agreement involving Israel and its Middle Eastern adversaries, because Russia’s attack on Israel at the start of the Great Tribulation is prophesied to occur against a Jewish nation then said to be living in peace (Ezek. 38:8).
Therefore, it is apparent based upon these prophecies (and others that we will consider in Revelation chapters 13 and 17) that there are several preliminary events which must occur before the final 7-year period begins. These events serve to prepare the way for the full establishment of the Antichrist’s kingdom. It is during this period that the world will become ensnared by the allure of the Antichrist and the wonder and power of the Empire-Beast.
It is also predicted that God will send strong delusion throughout the world so that the people who did not believe in the love and truth of Christ will be enticed to fall for the deception of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:11). This is extremely important, because all those who get entrapped and become followers of the Antichrist and his empire will suffer the wrath of God poured out without mixture in the final days (Rev. 14:9-12).
The Great Falling Away
One of the most overlooked events signaling the end is contained in prophecies that will occur just before the rise of the final world empire and the Antichrist. This event is the great falling away from the faith, as predicted by Paul to occur in the End Times. He tells us in 2 Thessalonians that the man of sin will not be revealed until there is a falling away from the truth of Christ. He wrote down this prophecy because many Christians at Thessalonica had believed that the end was at hand and the Antichrist was about to arise. Some even believed that the Roman Emperor was the Antichrist. This was due to the extensive persecutions that Christians endured as they lived in the Roman Empire during the First Century. In response, this is what Paul said to the Thessalonians:
Let no man deceive you by any means, for that Day shall not come, unless there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,
who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sitteth as God in the temple of God, showing himself to be God.
2 Thess. 2:3-4
Paul indicated that there will be an apostasy or a falling away from the truth before the Antichrist could arise. It is as if the decrease in the number of believers following the truth of Christ weighed against the increase in those that reject Jesus finally tip the scales so far toward evil and false teachings that it will prime the world to receive the deception of the Antichrist.
Paul also predicts in 1 Timothy some of the traits that will become prevalent as a result of this falling away:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
1 Timothy 4:1-3
Paul goes on to predict in 2 Timothy that the world at the end will be characterized by all manner of bad and immoral behavior. These evil traits will become prevalent at the same time that there is a great falling away from the Christian faith:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,
treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,
always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:1-7
Compare the world today with the conditions that Paul said would arise at the end. We can see the great falling away occurring daily in society, online, and in the news. Even in the western world where Christianity was once strong, now attacks against the truth and against the followers of Christ are growing daily. Christians are often viewed as purveyors of “hate speech” for expressing the truth in Christ, or they are attacked for refusing to openly support sinful lifestyles.
In the US, forces have arisen that are blatantly antichrist and against all that is godly. They are constantly persecuting Christians through protests, boycotts, posting vicious comments online, or even filing court actions against those who dare to stand up for Christian principles. Those opposing God frequently sue businesses, governmental agencies, or individuals to punish them for espousing Christian principles or for displaying Christian symbols. The goal of the antichrists is to entirely remove the presence of God from society and persecute anyone who dares to follow Christ.
The rise of social media has dramatically amplified the overall anti-Christian character of society. Self-gratification (“lovers of self”) through the posting of comments, selfies, or vlogs on popular social media sites has grown to the point where people are obsessively preoccupied with presenting their image and opinions online. The need to express their views in a superior light while simultaneously cutting down or attempting to destroy anyone with differing points of view has grown to an extreme. As a result, they slander and libel to destroy their perceived enemies, while always endeavoring to build themselves up. This behavior is further supported through social media comments or “likes” of many like-minded people who also rage against all that is good and godly.
As the world turns farther away from God, it is getting primed for the rise of the final world empire and its leader, the Antichrist, “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sitteth as God in the temple of God, showing himself to be God” (2 Thess. 2:4).
Rise of the Empire-Beast
One of the most important developments that will occur before the final 7 years begins is the rise of the 7-headed, 10-horned Empire-Beast that will spawn the Antichrist (see the sections on the New World Order and Rev. 13:1-2 for additional information). The Bible says that the final world empire will first arise as a consolidation of 10 nations having 10 separate leaders (Dan. 7:7; Rev. 17:12). Although it doesn’t tell us how long this loose consolidation of 10 nations will exist before its leader is revealed, we know that it will have the “partly strong, partly broken” character that Daniel describes (Dan. 2:40-43). It also must arise before it becomes unified into a single, powerful kingdom that takes over the world.
As we consider the events predicted in the Bible for this period and referenced in the chronological chart, it is likely that all of the events prior to Daniel’s 70th Week could take place within a time period consisting of as little as several years. Unfortunately, we are not given the dates for these events nor the length of time they will take to be fulfilled, so the timing between these events is unknown. However, the relative order of events related to the rise of the empire and the Antichrist is known from prophecy.
From key parts of Bible prophecy and the knowledge gained from our current perspective in time, we know that the final 10-nation alliance must arise out of the former Roman Empire (Rev. 17:8, 10-11), and it must do so to form the Empire-Beast before the rise of the Antichrist (Rev. 13:1-10 compared to Rev. 13:11-18). These important facts are what many people miss in Revelation 13. The first beast rising out of the sea is not the Antichrist, as many have believed. Neither does the symbolism in that part of the chapter refer to a man. Instead, it represents the “dreadful and terrible” Empire-Beast that Daniel foresaw as the 4th kingdom that would arise in his future near the End of the Age (Dan. 7:7-8).
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth. It devoured, and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it; and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Therefore, the beast out of the sea in Revelation 13 and the 4th beast in Daniel 7 are identical. The first beast of Revelation 13 represents the revived Roman Empire arising as a 10-nation alliance and not merely depicting a singular person or leader. See the sections on The Dreadful and Terrible Beast and The Beast with Seven Heads and Ten Horns for more detailed information.
Over the last 60 years, the world has witnessed attempts to bring Europe together economically and politically, but these efforts have been met with only partial success and too often they have been characterized by discord or division among the nations. This discord is represented by the iron feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that were seen as being mixed with miry clay. The iron is the strength of the empire and the clay is its division or weakness.
Although the European Union (EU) was founded on a document called the Treaty of Rome (which reflects their desire to recreate the past empire), today it still doesn’t consist of a discrete 10-nation alliance. An earlier iteration of the EU, called the European Economic Community (EEC), was briefly at 10 nations in the early 1980s with the entry of Greece, but it quickly expanded beyond that number. In its current manifestation, the EU now stands at 28 nations.
The current EU is also extremely divided between globalists who want to expand the power of the union and nationalists who want to dissolve or limit the union. The Brexit movement in the United Kingdom, which seeks a British exit from the EU, is a case in point for the growing divisiveness. If the UK succeeds in exiting the union (as a result of passing the Brexit referendum in June, 2016), then it will mark the first time the community has shrunk in size since its inception.
Despite these divisive forces, however, in the near future, the Empire-Beast of Daniel and Revelation will devolve from its current state and reorganize as the 7-Head, 10-Horn dreadful and terrible monster that will eventually consume the world under the Antichrist. At this point, when that first manifestation of the final world empire arises as a 10-nation union, we will know that the primary events signaling the end are beginning to be fulfilled, and that the world is about to enter the final 7 years of this age.
Thus, although we can’t predict the exact future dates or even the amount of time in-between these prophesied events that are yet future, we are still able to uncover the primary events signaling the end and the relative order that they will occur to a very high degree of certainty. These conclusions are illustrated within the chronological outline at the beginning of this section.
Rise of the Antichrist-Beast
After the rise of the Empire-Beast out of the sea of nations, as seen in Revelation 13:1-10, there will subsequently arise another beast out of the earth, which herein is called the Antichrist-Beast (Rev. 13:11-18). The second beast is not an empire, but a man who is prophesied to become the leader of the empire.
Immediately before this can happen, however, the Apostle Paul says that the Restrainer must be taken out of the way (2 Thess. 2:6-8). Up to this point, the Restrainer has been inhibiting the Antichrist’s rise, which Satan desperately wants to occur. It is obvious from the prophecy that the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit, who prevents the Antichrist’s coming until the proper time that God ordains. Once the Restrainer is removed, Satan immediately goes to work to bring the Antichrist to power.
Paul tells us that the rise of the Antichrist will be accompanied by power, signs, and lying wonders from Satan (2 Thess. 2:9). When he first appears, both Daniel and John say that he will be a mouth speaking great things and will blaspheme God (Rev. 13:5-6; Dan. 7:8, 24-25; 11:36-39). John says that the Antichrist will also appear to be like a lamb with 2 horns (like the Lamb of God, but false), but he will speak like a dragon (with the false and lying words of Satan) (Rev. 13:11).
When the Antichrist initially arises, he will not be a leader of one of the 10 nations of the Empire-Beast, but in the words of Daniel, he will be a “little horn” rising from among the 10 (Dan. 7:8). During this period when he is speaking great things, he will gain worldwide attention and prominence, so much so that he will quickly rise to the most influential voice in the empire if not the world.
At the time of the Antichrist’s rise to fame, both Daniel and John predict a major upheaval will occur within the Empire-Beast. Daniel says that 3 of the 10 horns (or nations) will be forcefully uprooted (Dan. 7:8, 24-25). In reflecting on these events, John says in Revelation that one of the Empire-Beast’s heads will appear to be “wounded to death” (Rev. 13:3; Dan. 7:8), indicating a possible fatal blow to the empire. However, this violent uprooting will, instead of destroying the empire, unexpectedly bring forth its stronger unification directly under the man of sin.
Since it will be the Antichrist himself who conquers or causes the uprooting of these nations, this event must occur very close to the beginning of the final 7 years—perhaps only within a matter of months prior to his complete consolidation of the empire. In fact, the Apostle John indicates that immediately after this upheaval, the Antichrist will receive the sworn allegiance of each of the original 10 nations making up the alliance (Rev. 13:3-4, 11-12; 17:11-13, 17). All 10 nations of the Empire-Beast (and their leaders) will then give their total power and authority to the Antichrist. At this point, John says that “he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him” (Rev. 13:12). In other words, he rises to absolute control over the empire.
The Beast Deceives the World
The rise of the Antichrist to the undisputed leadership of the Empire-Beast will bring him to the brink of world domination. Through these events and the Antichrist’s superior leadership and rhetorical skills, he will quickly convince the world to not only follow him, but “wonder after” and even worship the Empire-Beast and its leader (Rev. 13:3-4). His radical ideas to change the world (Dan. 7:25), which will temporarily bring a period of euphoric peace and unity (Dan. 8:25), will be met with strong support and enthusiasm by all those who do not follow Christ.
At the same time, the media will be wildly touting the Antichrist’s words, actions, and persona. The mainstream broadcast and cable news networks as well as the online news and social media sites will shout with excitement and enthusiasm over everything Antichrist. He will be everywhere online 24/7, and every news story will be positive and supportive. Governments of the world will quickly voice their approval of the Antichrist’s leadership over the Empire-Beast and publicly state their support of his globalist agenda. His charisma, which will be backed by Satan himself, will rapidly capture the attention of the entire world.
The only voices of dissent will be those who have faith in Jesus and who know the lies and deceit of the Antichrist. They will cry out how Bible prophecies had foretold his rise and warned of his deception. The followers of Christ will use the truth of prophecy to bring many to faith in Jesus and convince them to turn away from the Antichrist and the world. For this reason, Christians will begin to suffer persecution, because they will be found fighting against the supposed greatest leader the world has ever known. However, through the testimony of the prophets and the power of Christ, the faithful and elect will bring many to salvation, but they will also bring upon themselves the hatred of the world for daring to oppose the Antichrist.
Just before the start of Daniel’s 70th Week, the Antichrist will convince the world to create the first one-world government under his leadership. The leaders of all nations will voice their approval, and it will be decided that the Antichrist will serve an initial 7-year term as President. At that time, the global treaty for the Antichrist’s rule will be drawn up. However, at the exact moment it is signed and enacted, the world will be trapped in a period of judgment as they enter the final 7 years of this age, which will end in Christ’s Return.
Next: The First Half of Daniel’s 70th Week (coming soon)