It was the middle of the night when the cry rang out, 'The bridegroom is here! Go out to meet him! " Matt 25:6

The Timeline of the World

How close are we to the end of the age?

I might have called this "A Brief History of Time" but that title is already taken.

Space reserved for a diagram of this timeline and, possibly, a link to a YouTube video presentation

Earth's timeline from beginning to end - as can be deduced from scripture

I'm Michael, at wildolive, and I'd like to share what I have recently been learning in the Bible about God's timeline for the earth. It is possible to find several strands and see how they match up.

This project started with a disappointing housegroup study booklet on the book of Ezekiel that was focussed on drawing lessons for the Christian life, but which neglected the prophecies concerning Judah (apart from the condemnation) We were left with the feeling, "What was all that about." So I did a chapter by chapter, overview; and what emerged very clearly was a timeline of the history of Israel, stretching from around 600 BC(E) into the distant future. More startlingly, the events of chapters 38 and 39 could play out soon, in today's world situation.

If we view other prophets in the same way, we can position their words on the same time scale and see how they interact.

WARNING this page includes controversial and painful ideas that are not justified on this page, to make it easier to read straight through, but these issues are covered on other pages. However, if I am correct, the implications are Urgent!

Particularly concerning the Jews, I don't want to give the impression that I am waiting for Armageddon with great glee to see them get their come-uppance. Nothing could be further from the truth, but if the (Jewish) prophets are saying what they appear to be saying (about Jerusalem being taken) I do not want to be guilty of witholding the alarm that should be sounded.

The History of Planet Earth

We can start at the beginning. In the Hebrew scripture, the very first word, is Beresheet - "in the beginning" giving the book its title. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." God created space and time (or spacetime)

Within three chapters we see the fall and the expulsion of mankind from the perfect garden where they had walked with God

After ten generations, mankind had become so evil and corrupted that God decided to sweep them all away, but he found one righteous man, Noah and told him to build a huge boat to save eight humans and enough animals to be able to repopulate the earth after all other life was wiped out in a worldwide flood.

Noah

The Human Genome project has found that all humanity is descended from one man and one woman about six thousand years ago, and later there was a big bottleneck (near extinction event) corresponding to the great flood (Noah's) that is part of the ancient history of peoples around the globe, who all descended from Noah and his family. Furthermore, the timescale for these genetic events corresponds to the Bible accounts - not to a long evolutionary timescale.

Happily, God promised never to flood the earth again, and gave us the rainbow as his sign of that promise.

At the end of the Christian scriptures we see the new creation, the new Jerusalem and God coming down to live with his purified people. Eternity begins and earth time ends.

So we could draw a line from beresheet to unspecified end point - How long is this timeline ? We don't know from the Bible as important events are not dated. But The Jewish sages said that the world would last seven thousand years.

The Jewish calendar is calculated by numbering of years from Creation, so that our Gregorian 2021 - 2022 is 5781.

The book of Revelation tells us that the last thousand years will be the Reign of Jesus / Yeshua, the Messiah when he rules the world in justice from Jerusalem, and that Satan will spend this time, bound in a dungeon.

So this present age should end at the Jewish year 6000

The big question is, "How far are we from 6000 ?" 6000-5781=219, So we still have some time to spare. Right?

It is not as simple as that because the figure of 5781 does not take into account the unknown duration of the Egyptian slavery

It is believed, from archaeological evidence, that the captivity could have been two hundred and forty years, which is more than our 219 year margin and thus places us within a period of uncertainty, compatible with Jesus' warning against date setting. It is still true that "only the Father knows" the date, but the faithful should sense its closeness.

Perhaps this would be a good time to look at the calculation of Time.

Years

Years are observable approximately by means of the seasons, but with careful measurement we can now time years as 365 and a quarter days. On the Gregorian calendar, we add an extra day to every fourth year to keep in sync with our journeys around the sun. This period was once 360 days, but a close pass (in astronomical terms) of the orbits of Earth and Mars resulted in a transfer of orbital momentum from Earth to Mars, slowing down our speed and lengthening our year.

This happened in the eighth century BC/BCE, during the reign of Hezekiah - remember the sun going back ten steps (on the sundial) so this was when the length of the year changed from 360 days to 365.  The ancient sundial of Ahaz had 720 steps, and went back 10.  10 parts in 720 is the same as 5 in 360.  This will become important when we look at Daniel's prophecy of very precise periods of time. Sir Robert Anderson worked out this time span, taking into account our slowed orbit, and proved Daniel's timeline to have been fulfilled, spot on. More of that later.

Days

Days can easily be defined from sunset to sunset (The Hebrew day - yom is measured this way) This is not as complicated as it would be at higher latitudes where the length of days varies drastically with the seasons.

Months - calendar(s)

Months, in our chaotic Roman / Gregorian calendar of 12 months have an arbitrary number of days and pagan names. But the Hebrew calendar is based on the phases of the moon, so each month is accurately defined without fancy instruments, by observing the first appearance of the new moon. The fact that neither 365 and a quarter nor 360 is divisible by 28 is taken care of, in Torah, by starting the year from the observation of a certain state of ripening of the barley harvest in Judea. If it had not reached that state at the New Moon, the last month was run again. The modern day, official, Jewish calendar is calculated and works by adding this month nine times in every thirteen years. The Islamic calendar is also lunar, but applies no correction factor, so the feasts, such as Ramadan move slowly around the solar year.

Weeks

Weeks are not determined by any orbital observation, but were decreed by God when He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, commanding that we do the same. So a week is measured by counting seven days.

So Seven became very significant in Bible chronology, and numerology, Israel was given seven Moedim (Appointed times) These seven Moedim can be seen as prophetic of Messiah's ministry of redemption, and the events so far completed occurred on the appropriate day. For example, Yeshua died on Passover and the blood from his flayed back was splashed on the cross so our guilt could be passed over.

Shavuot/Weeks (after counting seven weeks from passover) is celebrated by the Jews as the time when the Torah/Law was given on Sinai; and the Holy Spirit was given on shavuot.

Sukkot/Tabernacles, is for remembering how God made the newly formed people, the Israelites, dwell in shacks or booths after they came out of Israel. But Sukkot comprises Trumpets, the day of Atonement and Ingathering. Sukkot is a Harvest festival, but it looks forward to the final ingathering from all the nations.

The timeline of God's olive tree - from Abraham to ??

So, now we can add another strand. I will call it the olive tree line, taking the name from Paul's letter to the Gentile church, pleading for a proper perspective on their position, and that of the Jews, in God's plan.

Abraham / Abraham Avienu (Our father Abraham) was the foundation of God's plan for world salvation through a family of trusting faith.

This can be taken as the start point of Paul's olive tree picture of God nurturing this faith project.

Abraham was the father of Yitzhak and he was the father of Yaakov, whom God renamed Israel.

Israel had twelve sons, including Judah / Y'hudah (meaning praise) It is from Judah that the tribes of Israel became known as the Jews. So this body of people chosen for this purpose (to be God's olive tree) is Am Israel the people Israel.

Remember that Avraham was blessed and promised that he would be father of nations (of faith) This was fulfilled when Gentiles, who Paul likened to wild olive shoots, could be grafted in with Israel. And it was through the descendent of Judah, the promised Messiah that this plan opened out to include the Goyim/Gentiles - the non Jewish people who would believe.

We will come back to this line as we do not know its end point

The latter part of this grafting timeline is a period of time in which God is creating his "one new man" that we might call "the church age" that ends when " .... the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" ( Paul ) - meaning these times will come to an end and God will return his focus to Israel.

This is the event for which we have no date, as yet.

Jesus' " times of the Gentiles" ends at the same time but may have started in the time of Daniel, with Nevukatnezar's statue dream in which God's focus shifted to the coming empires - but then to the rock

Other prophets gave timelines, particularly those roughly contemporary with the Babylonian exile

We all know the up and down nature of Israel's relationship with God, often leading us to look down on the Jews while failing to notice the logs in our own eyes; and and failing to take into account that we have the advantage of the Holy Spirit having been poured out on every believer. However, this history is captured, warts and all, for us to learn about Sin and Righteousness, trust, forgiveness and redemption. The Babylon exile was the scenario for so much of God's demonstration and explanation of his purposes and it is captured in the books of the prophets.

Daniel

Daniel 606 - 534 BC/BCE was the most time specific and precise.

We meet Daniel in the Babylon court, as an exiled prince of Israel who remained faithful to God but still rose to high government responsibility - in successive empires.

The first big prophecy was his interpretation of the King's dream of the statue made of metals progressively less worthy from the head of gold downwards.

The period between Daniel and Jesus (the difference between the Times of the Gentiles and the Church Age ) is called by some, "the silent years" But the statue revelation laid out with incredible accuracy, the rise and fall of empires that was to take place during that time, and looked toward the rise of the Kingdom of God.

Seventy weeks - of years

While the statue prophecy was not timestamped, the seventy weeks prophecy that Daniel received later in his career is very time specific.

This word was about seventy weeks of years. It started when the decree was issued by Cyrus to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and ran for 69 weeks of years until the Messiah would be/was cut off. Sir Robert Anderson calculated the timescale for these known dates and proved their absolute accuracy (including accounting for the lengthening of earth years, mentioned earlier.) However, the last week of years has yet to happen, as if the clock had been halted or the pause button has been pressed. So when will this seven years happen? It appears in the book of Revelation. Apokalipsis in Greek meaning unveiling.

So, for our timeline, we could Draw 70 weeks (of years) line on strip of paper, and after cuting off the last week line it up between the decree and the death of Jesus. The last week can be kept to match the seven years in Revelation.

Ezekiel 596 to 574 BC/BCE

Chapter by Chapter we get this outline

1-3 Ezekiel was a priest / cohen) and was living in exile in rural Babylon (100 miles south of the capital where Daniel was) - Receives vision of the Glory of God, who speaks to him and commissions him to speak to the exiles, a message of Sin and Righteousness

4&5 Ezekiel acting out the siege of Jerusalem, the third and final siege and the destruction of Jerusalem

6-9 Prophecy against the Mountains of Israel - Judea and Samaria The remnant (still in Jerusalem after the first two exiles ) are to be scattered for their disgusting practices - Vision of man who takes him to Jerusalem to see what they are doing in the sanctuary (the priests in the Temple !) Idol worship ! Men commanded to go through the city and mark the righteous (sighing over the state of Israel.) Then kill the rest.

10-11 Visions of the Glory of YHVH leaving the Temple then continuing to move east until it disappears over the Mount of Olives

12 Ezekiel digging through the wall , visual aid, of preparing for exile

13 Speaking against the false prophets who were saying that God was not going to let the Babylonians finish off destroying Jerusalem

14 The elders try to consult Ezekiel (insincerely ?) But their idols are in the way.

15-16 &23 The uselessness of Israel, Pictured as being found as a newborn - nurtured until grown and beautiful - then becoming a whore.

17-22 & 30 Parable of the eagle and the cedar - Punishment for trying to get rescue from Egypt. Sour Grapes discussion - Lament for the leaders of Israel - Judge "the city drenched with blood"

24 The day the final siege began. Ezekiel's beloved wife dies but he must not mourn - picture for destruction of Jerusalem

25-32 & 35 Focus turns to surrounding nations and their sinful treatment of God's land/people Amon - Edom - the Philistines, Tyre / Tzor (City (Island) state - Lament for king of Tyre, but includes lament over the principality behind him - Satan. Humbling of proud Egypt and their Pharaoh , the end of Egypt as a superpower) - They always let down Israel - Pharaoh's descent to Sheol, and the rulers of nations he will meet there. Condemning Mount Seir (east of Jordan river - and all of Edom ( Esau) ) who were boasting over the downfall of Israel

33 The Watchman passage - his responsibility

34 God's words against the shepherds of Israel

The story shifts to the future redemption of Israel.

36 Promises to Mountains of Israel - surrounding nations will be shamed but Israel will possess the Mountains of Israel "I will take you (Am Israel) (the Jews) from among the nations" where they were scattered. AFTER THAT - "I will put a heart of flesh - Holy Spirit?) in you. SO THAT the nations around will know.

37 The Dry Bones chapter. clearly states that "These bones are the whole house of Israel" Then the two sticks in his hand - Israel / Judah (tribes) reunited (This is happening Today) Into the future - near future ?

38&39 The Gog Magog War - Horde brought against Israel by God putting hooks in their jaws WHY? So the Goyim / Gentile nations will know YHVH is GOD.

40-41 (dated 14 days after Jerusalem was struck)

41 Hand of YHVH on Ezekiel - takes him to the New Temple being measured.

43&44 Vision of the Glory returning to this new temple from the East. Ezekiel to tell Israel this so they will be ashamed

45 Dividing the land among the tribes (with holy slice for Temple etc)

46-47 Temple worship and sacrifice restored Water flowing from the Temple to the East - getting deeper and broader and bringing fertility - and eventually, life to the Dead Sea. Four sided city with twelve gates, named for Patriarchs - will be Named Yehovah Shamah YEHOVAH is there.

Jeremiah 628 - 588BC

Jerimiah Prophesied the same events, but from his place in the thick of it all, in Jerusalem. His prophecy follows the same scope, from God's word against Israel - the fulfilment of the exile prophesied, but on through return to a new covenant and beyond

Zechariah 520 - 510 BC

Zechariah also speaks (later) of the end times, very dramatically.

The nations will come against Zion and enter the city BUT Messiah will come with his holy ones and his feet will stand on the mount of olives. God will destroy the invading horde, having summoned the birds to gorge themselves on the slain horde.

THEN God will turn his focus back onto Israel (The end of the "Times of the Gentiles" that Jesus spoke of)

God will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer and will open a spring for cleansing, and the Jews will look upon him whom they pierced and mourn - They will realise that they missed Messiah's first coming but now they can repent and be healed and restored. (This is why it is ridiculous when people say Israel is just a political accident or that God replaced Israel with the Gentile church - or that the church is "the new Israel."

Isaiah

Isaiah spoke earlier, during the reigns of several kings. He includes several shorter versions of the overall story, but as if seen from a greater distance.

Notice how these words, like other prophecies, do not separate the Messiah's coming to suffer from his triumphant return. So we should not be too critical of John the Baptist and all the Jews who were disappointed that Jesus did not defeat the Roman occupiers

Hoshea, Amos and Yoel spoke in parallel - running up to the Messianic age.

Then there are prophecies in the New Testament that add to the grand timeline. Perhaps these could be threads to stretch to end time events

Jesus

Jesus answered his disciples about when the end will come in his teaching on the Mount of Olives, looking over Jerusalem. As usual he focussed on what mattered rather than trivial matters like dates, but he did speak clearly about trends and events that will precede his coming again, that will be visible to all, unlike his first coming. Notice too that Jesus did not rebuke his disciples for asking if he would restore the Kingdom to Israel; He just told them that the timing was not for them to know.

Jesus also spoke of an angel with a shofar/trumpet who will gather the chosen from the whole earth - in terms of one being taken and another being left. And he gave us the parable of the ten bridesmaids, five of whom missed out because they were not ready.

Angels

Angels at Jesus' ascension from the Mount of Olives told the disciples that he will return in the same manner they saw him go. (Note the connection to Zechariah - same place)

Paul (Saul)

Paul's major contribution to the timeline, was made in the context of reassuring the believers about their future security.

1Co 15:51  Look, I will tell you a secret—not all of us will die! But we will all be changed.  It will take but a moment, the blink of an eye, at the final shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised to live forever, and we too will be changed.

1Th 4:15  When we say this, we base it on the Lord's own word: we who remain alive when the Lord comes will certainly not take precedence over those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God's shofar; those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord.

This being "caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (Greek word Harpadzo) is called by many, the Rapture but, like Jesus, Paul is not giving a chronological message. The message is to be alert and ready for a surprise and not a shock. Opinions on when this RAPTURE will occur are split between the pre-tribulation rapture and the post tribulation rapture, as both readings are possible. It will make a huge difference to the Christians living at the time, whether they go to meet Jesus in the air before or after the Tribulation, but its placing does not seriously affect the timeline.

In 2 Thess 2 Paul explains about the antichrist, who we meet later, in Revelation.

John and his Revelation given on on his island of exile

The book of Revelation is a book that divides opinions, depending partly on preconceived denominational ideas but probably mostly because it contains so many prophecies that have their roots in Old Testament prophets, that many do not take seriously.

Sometimes pictorial language is used to describe the indescribable and some of the language is coded because the Christians were under persecution from the Roman empire while some passages are more literal.

Also, the timing of different passages vary.

The writing might appear rushed, but John had to write down all the revelations as he saw and heard them.

Revelation is not weird, out of the blue stuff but a rounding off of a unified story of God and His world using established images, patterns and ideas. Revelation contains over five hundred references or allusions to the Old Testament / the Jewish scriptures. That is, 278 of the 404 verses in the book contain one or more allusions - equating to 68.8%

Jesus' Revelation to John starts with warnings or commendations to seven churches in Asia Minor, but obviously speaking to churches through the church age. Some have tried to say they represent seven ages of the whole church, but a little thought reveals that churches fitting the seven types can be identified in different parts of the world at any given time.

Revelation moves on to events yet to be - when the end of end times events begin. Notably, John's revelation starts in the same way as Ezekiel's did, with a view of YHVH in all his glory, before moving on to describe the punishments that He will pour out on the rebellious inhabitants of the earth.

Against Revelation we can pin on the last week from Daniel's seventy weeks prophecy, that was held on "PAUSE" after Jesus died. In it we see the antichrist, who makes a seven year covenant with Israel that enables the third temple to be built only to have him desecrate it half way through this time.

This period is described as the great Tribulation and also, elsewhere, as the time of Jacob's Trouble. This would appear to be the time after the church age, when God returns his attention to Israel and his promises of chastisement followed by salvation and restoration.

The big question, that I don't plan to answer emphatically, is whether the event often referred to as the RAPTURE in which all Christ's followers are "caught up in the clouds" Greek Harpadso to meet Jesus, occurs before or after the great tribulation.

Will we be whisked away before all these curses fall on the earth or will we still be here to go through it all?

After pondering this for years, I have come round to reading the rapture happening before the Tribulation begins - indeed, triggering the rise of evil as the Christians have gone, taking the Holy Spirit with them, giving free rein tothe forces of evil.

Sequence of Revelation ?

Ahead of us is this seven year great tribulation coming on the world, There will be the "Gog, Magaog War" when Israel is invaded and overpowered. Jesus will return and destroy the horde that was attacking Israel Then he will set up his thousand year reign over the survivors on the earth with his followers

So where is the "YOU ARE HERE" point, and can we see signs of the times warning us as we approach the crunch point ?

This Gog, Magog force that attacks Israel, looking at Bible era maps is Iran and Turkey and Afghanistan.

Iran, under its Islamic theocratic regime is blatantly seeking nuclear weapons with which to wipe Israel off the map

Turkey, once the centre of the Ottoman Empire but then a secular western style democracy, has, under Reycip Erdowan, become an Islamic state seeking dominance in the Muslim world, effectively rebuilding the Ottoman Empire as a Caliphate.

Russia used to be included and such an alliance suddenly seemed possible when the three nations held a summit meeting. However, only a few areas in the extreme south of the former Soviet Union fitted the Magog location

But now, the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban gives a more likely Gog-Magog grouping, as ancient Khorosan includes parts of Iran and Afghanistan and Islamic eschatology has the Mahdi army marching on Jerusalem from Khorosan.

The Arab Gulf States represented by Sheba and Ddan are not participants but challenge Gog Magog "Have you come to take spoil." Where it once seemed obvious that the final confrontation would be between Israel and the Arabs, we have recently seen Arab nations seeing common cause with Israel as they are threatened by Iran's pursuit of hegemony in the shiite world.

If this Gog-Magog invasion is imminent, when would that place our times on the big timeline ?

We know that this war will be brought to an end by the coming of Messiah (the return of Jesus) ending the seven year tribulation and beginning his thousand year reign.

So Jesus' return is not closer than seven years from now. But what an awful seven years that will be. But if Jesus' return is separate from the event he spoke of everybody when everybody will be taken by surprise (one taken and another left) ? Wouldn't this "Rapture" fix the date of his second coming?

When will the RAPTURE occur ?

If the pre-tribulation position is correct, the believers will all disappear as Jesus described, while those who do not believe will be left in chaos, as envisaged in the "Left Behind" books. Not everybody in church will be taken and there will be much anguish or bafflement. Those left behind will experience all the plagues of Revelation and suffer under the the antichrist who will arise to world domination and persecute the Christians.

We see these tribulation martyrs under the altar in Heaven, suggesting that people left behind will get a second chance to believe.

God will return his focus to saving Israel, when the Jews call to him to save them. As Jesus said to Jerusalem, "You will not see me again until you say, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD"" This involves recognising that Messiah is Yeshua from Nazareth.

So there are three possibilities for us all.

1 Repent and believe in Jesus' good news now and meet Jesus in the clouds on a date we can't know, but for which Jesus told his followers to be prepared.

2 Get left behind and then repent and believe during the tribulation and likely get to heaven by means of martyrdom. Option 2 will be closed to everybody who accepts the mark of the beast during this time.

3 Continue to reject God's offer of salvation and curse God through all the plagues of His fury, then see Jesus coming in all his glory, and face judgment and the lake of fire at the end of the Millennium.

The other major position, the Post Tribulation Rapture, is that Jesus' return in the clouds coincides with believers meeting him in the air (the Rapture). This obviously means that believers and unbelievers will all go through the tribulation, apparently making Jesus' return predictable , as seven years after the start of the tribulation or three and a half years after the Abomination.

In this case, options one and two are merged with repentance still being possible as the tribulation bites. Option three remains the same - continue to reject God and suffer the eternal consequences.

Which is right ?

Getting raptured before things get really nasty is clearly to be preferred and it is easy to see that the removal of all the Christians who are carrying the Holy Spirit will tip the balance of the world towards the rise of evil and the Antichrist. It also fits better with Jesus' followers being snatched away unannounced - as long as this is not seen as Jesus' return - meaning two second comings.

Critics of the pre-tribulation position have called it escapology (rather than eschatology - the theology of end times events) They also, reasonably, say that by giving us the book of Revelation, God was giving us a preparation for the suffering that is coming. They point out that it would be better to be prepared to suffer and be pleasantly surprised to escape it than to not be prepared and then find ourselves in the thick of the suffering. This position also argues, "Why would God go to the trouble of giving us all that detail if we are not going to be there."

But even if all the believers are whisked away, those who realise their mistake on finding themselves left behind will find the book of Revelation absolutely crucial.

Also we need to remember that, while we in the west are not suffering tribulation, the church has suffered tribulation in many times and places. Revelation gives assurance that ultimately, Jesus wins, evil is punished and righteousness is rewarded.

SO ?

Get right with God while there is time - you may have less than you think.

What about the Jews in the tribulation ?

I would suggest that the catching away of Jesus' / Yeshua's Gentile AND Jewish followers will be the end of the "church age" and the time when God turns his focus back to Israel.

This work, when God "pours out the spirit of grace and supplication" (Zechariah 12:10) on the Jews - and "All Israel shall be saved" (Rom 11:26), will obviously take a period of time and this may correspond to "the time of Jacob's trouble" and would correspond to the alarming prophecies of Jerusalem being taken before Messiah comes to save them.

What about the Jews still not in Israel? I hope the diaspora Jews heed God's call to return rather than disappearing from the scene so close to the coming of their Messiah to stand on the Mount of Olives.

A few leftover thoughts / questions.

As the camera cuts back and forth in Revelation, we see the woes pronounced in Heaven and poured out on the people of the earth. Can they still repent, or do they just further harden their hearts? They don't appear to repent.

Will the woes include punishments on the nations that have harmed Israel, as prophesied by Ezekiel and the others? Although many of them were fulfilled long ago - are there still scores to be settled ?

Where is America in this conflict? Absent. In 2020/21 America is back-pedalling on Trump administration's support for Israel to empty words masking anti Israel policies. and friendly intentions towards Iran.

The horde for this pivotal battle is not the Arabs, as we have come to expect. (Iran and Turkey are Muslim but not Arab)

Updated 24/11/21

Click the banner below to go to the site map and choose another page