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Timeline Details

Timeline Details

High Level Timeline Overview

The prophetic timeline consists of four major chronological periods:

1) The Church age (approximately 2000 years)

2) The Tribulation (seven years, perhaps longer depending on transition times)

3) Jesus' millennial reign (1000 years)

4) Eternity: new heavens and new earth (immeasurable thousands of years)

The shortest of these four periods is the tribulation, which lasts only seven-years but is so full of prophetic events that it contains four subdivisions:

  • Transition period of uncertain duration starting with the rapture
  • Tribulation period (first three and a half years)
  • Mid-tribulation (a short transition period
  • Great tribulation (last three and a half years)

The next shortest period, Jesus' millennial reign, also has short transition periods. The first is an entry transition and starts at the end of the great tribulation and continues through several judgments until the normal daily operation of the millennial reign is setup. A final transition occurs between the millennial reign and eternity as the present heavens and earth vanish and final judgments are pronounced. The following figure shows the chronological layout of these four major periods and their subdivisions.

Overlaying this chronology are Revelation's seven major themes: preparation; redemption, coronation, decision, subjugation, dominion, and perfection. The first theme, preparation, includes the complete church age and is a time of preparation for Jesus' return. Its distinguishing characteristics are the propagation of the gospel of Christ, a time of Jewish distress, the preparation of the world for the fulfillment of tribulation prophecies, Jesus' preparation for the arrival of His bride with her bridal party, and Jesus' return. The earth's redemption theme follows the preparation theme and is the time when Jesus redeems the earth by breaking each of the seven seals on the mysterious book (Revelation 6-8). The coronation theme with its seven trumpet judgments (Revelation 8-11) follows the earth's redemption theme. Each trumpet leads up to Jesus' coronation as King of Kings and Lords of Lords, which occurs after the last of the seven trumpets is blown. His coronation ushers in the most tumultuous period the world ever endures: the periods covered by the decision and subjugation themes. During this time, the earth's remaining inhabitants must decide whether they will serve God as seven vial judgments bring all people and dominions into subjugation under Jesus' ruling authority. Jesus' return starts the transition into the dominion theme featuring Jesus' thousand-year reign the whole earth. A transition period consisting of the destruction of the existing creation and humanity's final judgments leads into Revelation's final theme, perfection. The perfection theme brings everlasting, perfect creations that are free from sin and its effects.

  • Seven Churches

    Revelation chapters 1-3 introduce 7 churches and Jesus describes their character, actions, and rewards in separate letters to each. Only with the perspective of history is it possible to discern their significance: they provide a broad outline of church history.

  • Israel during the Preparation Phase
  • Preparation to Redemption Transition

    Transition to the Redemption Phase: the Rapture and more

    Primary References: Revelation 4-5

    The church age climaxes with the much anticipated rapture. At that moment, Jesus takes all Christians to heaven while those left behind face the terror and uncertainty of the tribulation. This transition period ends when Jesus starts opening the earth's title deed. Between the rapture and Jesus opening the title, the righteous receive their first judgment, there is an incredible worship scene before God's throne, and a search is made for someone qualified to open the title.

    These articles explore the the events of this period by starting with an overview of the world's wickedness before proceeding onto the rapture and the subsequent pre-tribulation events in heaven.

  • Redemption Phase Details

    Redemption Phase Overview


    Primary References: Revelation 6:1-8:6

    The redemption phase covers the seal judgments in Revelation. As Jesus breaks each of the redemption theme's first four seals, He reveals a different horse and rider of the infamous four horsemen of the apocalypse. Each rider traverses the earth from its principle cities to its extreme outposts. Starting in the tribulation's earliest moments, these horsemen continue riding and afflicting the world with their plagues presumably until Jesus' return.

    The first of these horsemen rides a white horse, has the implements of war without any visible ammunition, imitates the Son of God, and sets out to subdue the world. Known by many names including the beast, the son of perdition, and the antichrist, this horseman's name has a numerical value of 666. The rider's first act (and one of the few recorded in this period) is the confirmation, or strengthening, of a peace treaty with Israel (also called a treaty with death) and, specifically with Israel's religious leaders and the children of Ephraim. Israel now believes that peace and safety have finally arrived but the Bible sounds its warning: sudden destruction is coming. At roughly the same time the first horseman starts riding, two men with the power of the Old Testament prophets Elijah and Moses start witnessing against him. They reveal the plan of God, perform all sorts of miracles, and are a thorn in his side until he destroys them 3 ½ years later just prior to Jesus' heavenly coronation.

    The second seal's horseman rides a red horse, carries a great sword, and brings war. The third seal's horseman rides a black horse, carries a set of balances, and brings famine. The fourth seal's horseman, the last of the apocalypse, rides a pale horse and kills the wicked. The combined efforts of these four horsemen take a tremendous toll on the earth's inhabitants. By the end of the great tribulation, they will have destroyed 25% of the world's population or 1.6 billion people (based on current estimates of a 6.4 billion people world population).

    While the fourth horseman destroys the wicked, the first horseman destroys the earth's righteous who Jesus introduces when He breaks the book's fifth seal. These people are not Christians (who are safely in heaven) but are new converts who reject the antichrist. Throughout the seven-year tribulation, the antichrist wages an escalating war against both God and His people. This seal reveals just the first of the martyred saints; their deaths continue at least until the Lamb's marriage supper and probably until Jesus' return. When martyred, they arrive in heaven and receive robes washed in Jesus' blood.

    The sixth seal brings a series of horrendous earthly catastrophes including: a great earthquake moving islands and mountains moved out their places, a substantial reduction of the sun and moon's light, things falling to the earth, and the sky rippling like a scroll. The situation becomes so terrifying that people flee into mountains and rocks for safety from God's wrath. The likely reason for these catastrophes is an invasion of Israel by a northern and southern alliance led by Gog and the armies of the nation containing Magog's descendants (see Genesis 10:2).

    Before Jesus breaks the last seal, angels seal 144,000 Jews with the mark of God, protecting them from the remaining judgments. Twelve thousand come from each of twelve tribes of Israel, except Dan. Jesus then breaks the seventh and last seal, exposing the formerly sealed book. Before the first trumpet is blown, an angel thrusts a censor filled with the prayers of the saints down to the earth. Earthquakes, lightning, voices, and thunders afflict the earth and those on it. Probably now, just before the start of the trumpet judgments (certainly sometime early in the tribulation), the antichrist stops the daily sacrifice according to Daniel's prophecies.

  • Coronation Details

    Coronation Phase Overview

    Primary References: Revelation 8:8-11:2


    Revelation's second theme, Coronation, consists of seven trumpet judgments. The last three of these judgments are so horrific they are known as the "Three Great Woes" due to the angels' pronouncements on them. Many mysteries are introduced in this period including a Might Angel and His deeds, a mysterious massive army, a demonic army released from the bottomless pit, the dragon, the dragon's war in heaven, and a pregnant woman. Though this period is marked by many incredible events, the penultimate event is Jesus' coronation at the sounding of the seventh trumpet. The actions of the Mighty Angel and two witnesses lay the ground work for it and many decision phase events, such as the war in heaven, are the direct consequence of it.

    The coronation theme's seven trumpet judgments begins with a storm of hail and fire mixed with blood (a volcano?) that destroys a third of all plant life on the earth. A second trumpet causes a great burning mountain (meteorite?) to fall into the sea and it destroys a third of the salt-water creatures and shipping. The third trumpet brings a great star down from heaven (chemical warfare?) and it turns a third of the fresh waters bitter (turned into wormwood). The fourth trumpet darkens a third of the stars, moon, and sun and is perhaps a direct result of the first three trumpets.

    The last three trumpets bring the three great woes of Revelation, one woe for each trumpet. The first woe judgment releases diabolical beasts from the bottomless pit. Day and night for five months, these beasts torment those without the seal of God. The sixth trumpet brings the second woe as four fallen angels are released from the confines of the Euphrates River. These angels lead and drive a 200 million-man army that eventually destroys a third of humanity. Between the effects of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and sixth trumpet judgments, half the world's population dies (around 3.2 billion people at today's estimated population of 6.4 billion). After this, God checks for the first of three times to see if He can end the judgments; but finds that even these first two woe judgments have had no affect.

    Prior to the last woe'strumpet judgment, a Mighty Angel comes to earth with a little book of royal decrees. With one foot on dry land and one on the waters, He cries out and seven thunders speak but their decrees are unrecorded and remain a mystery. The Mighty Angel then swears an oath on the highest authority possible, God Almighty, and promises that there will be no delay in finishing the mysteries of God.

    Mid-tribulation transitional events close the tribulation and open the great tribulation. They are momentous and set the stage for the horrendous activities of the great tribulation. Figure 7 gives mid-tribulation details. Many of these start or end during the middle of the seven-year tribulation and have the same duration:

    • Two witnesses prophesy for 1260 days (Revelation 11:3) [ends]
    • Courtyard of the gentiles and Jerusalem downtrodden for 42 months (Revelation 11:2) [starts]
    • Orderly evacuation of the Jews: protected for 1260 days (Revelation 12:6) [starts]
    • Emergency evacuation of the Jews: protected for 3 ½ years (Revelation 12:14) [starts]
    • The beast rules for 42 months (Revelation 13:5) [starts]
  • Decision Details

    Decision Phase Overview

    Primary References: Revelation 11:18-14:20

    The Decision phase is a period where people’s hearts are tested to separate the tares (the wicked) from the wheat (the righteous). This phase starts just after Jesus’ coronation and ends when the wheat (the righteous) is safely in heaven. Key to this separation process are the actions of the unholy trinity (the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet) who implement systems of worship and commerce requiring total obedience to the beast.

    This period starts with the saints receiving their riches reward. Afterwards, wise Jews flee to a wilderness place prepared for them. As they flee, Satan and his legions attacked God’s hosts in heaven to prevent Jesus’ assumption of power. Michael and his angels intervene and defeat Satan and exile him and his army to earth where they remain for the remainder of the great tribulation. Satan’s arrival on earth increases the urgency of the Jew’s fleeing who start an emergency airlift. In his anger, Satan attempted to destroy the Jews in the wilderness but God responded by sealing the place and dissipating the floodwaters.

    Following this, the beast (the antichrist) ascends to power and introduces the false prophet to the world scene. Now this unholy trinity shares power and acts with one mind to ensnare people’s souls and lead the world in open rebellion against God. To this end, the false prophet call fire down from heaven, erects an image of the beast, gives life to the image, enacts laws requiring its worship, and creates an oppressive monetary system, the mark of the beast to control people’s financial transactions. The image is Daniel’s abomination of desolation and wise Jews living outside the sealed place flee to the mountains.

    The image of the beast, its worship, and the beast’s mark form the basis of the decision phase of the timeline. Now, three angels preach to everyone worldwide. Two of three angels (the first and last) declare to everyone on earth their need to decide whether to serve God or Satan. The second angel declares God’s judgment on Babylon and her final fall. While people’s decisions continue throughout the great tribulation, the decision phase of the narrative ends with the wheat and tare harvest followed by an angel tossing the tares into God’s winepress of wrath. People’s moment of truth has come: no longer could they defer their decisions. Rejection of Satan and the beast carries an almost certain death sentence while rejection of God carries the certainty of the lake of fire’s second death.

  • Subjugation Details

    Subjugation Phase Details

    Primary References: Revelation 15:1-20:3


    The last judgments, the seven vials of God’s wrath, now start and are likely retribution for the suffering of the tribulation and great tribulation saints. Regardless of their motivation, their effect is the subjugation of all people on earth under Jesus’ authority. These judgments start as angels bring the vials out of God’s heavenly temple. An ominous mood now sets in throughout heaven as smoke from the glory of God fills this temple until these judgments are over and people can once again enter the temple. The Seven vial judgments are:

    1. Noisome and grievous sores on those with the mark of the beast

    2. Salt waters become blood and every living soul dies

    3. Fresh waters become blood

    4. The sun scorches men with its heat

    5. The capital and kingdom of the beast are filled with darkness

    6. The Armies of all nations are gathered to Armageddon

    7. The battle of Armageddon

    As He did after the sixth seal, God looks to see if the people on earth are repentant. This time He checks after the angels pour both the fourth and fifth vials. These are the last two times He checks during the seven-year tribulation and each time He finds the same thing – humanity is not repentant and loses their opportunity to end their suffering. The angel’s pouring of the sixth vial seals humanity’s fate, dries up the Euphrates River (preparing the path for the Kings of the East), and causes three demonic spirits, from the mouths of each member of the unholy trinity, to call all the nations to Armageddon to prepare for war against Israel. The arrival of the world’s armies is the second event where Jesus warned the Jews to flee to the mountains. All remaining in Jerusalem after this will face the brunt of the wrath of Armageddon’s invaders.

    The main battlefield is the valley Megiddo, or Jezreel. Also known as the valley of decision, this is the same valley where the last king of Judah was defeated and the reign of David’s lineage ended. Now it sees the reign of David’s lineage restart with Jesus. This war is so exceptional that it ends idol worship, abolishes people’s dependence on wealth, and destroys all the land of Israel through thunder, earthquake, great noise, storm, tempest, and flames of fire. The ravages of the war are so great that Israel reels like a drunkard but not due to the effects of alcohol. Two thirds of Israel’s Jews die in the seven-year tribulation, mostly as the result of this battle. Jerusalem falls and the invaders carry its citizens away into captivity, rape its women, and spoil the city while the battle rages just outside.

    This time also sees Mystery Babylon’s destruction at the hands of the same leaders who empowered the antichrist. This is Babylon’s second fall and this time God leaves her forever desolate and unoccupied. Only wild animals will occupy her hills from this day forward. For millennia, she seduced nations, destroyed saints, and killed the apostles. With Mystery Babylon’s fall the last discernible earthly milestone before Jesus’ return has past. However, in heaven there remains, the Lamb’s wedding and marriage supper, remain.

    When the wedding celebrations die down, people on earth are dying in huge numbers and without God’s direct and immediate intervention, nothing on earth will survive. While in heaven, Jesus and His armies assemble and ready themselves for battle. Though all heaven’s hosts wear pure white and sit astride pure white horses, Jesus’ glory stands alone as He finally appears in all of His royal majesty. Jesus and His hosts are now ready to return to earth, put an end to the war, occupy the land, and set up Jesus’ righteous millennial reign. All that remains is for the Jews to cry out for the Messiah to rescue them.

    On earth, it is only when all hope is lost that the Jews finally cry for God’s salvation and the Messiah’s appearance. When He hears their cry, Jesus returns and starts the transition from the great tribulation into His millennial reign (see Figure 9). As Jesus approaches the earth, an angel prepares the way by calling all fowls and beasts to the supper of God that is served in the valley of Megiddo. Then, everyone on earth witnesses Jesus returning in the clouds in great glory and power and immediately, the antichrist, the kings, and their armies turn to fight against Jesus and His armies. First, Jesus throws the antichrist and the false prophet into the lake of fire where they remain its sole residents for a thousand years. Then Jesus fights these enemies while He sends His armies out to fulfill their sole directive, occupation. Jesus alone wins this victory and its praise as He demolishes the enemy’s armies. His enemy’s blood now freely flows and turns Jesus’ pure white clothing to crimson red. The best efforts of His enemies prove fruitless as their weapons do not hurt or even slow Jesus or His armies.

    When the fighting ends, an angel binds and casts Satan into the bottomless pit. The bottomless pit that previously held the antichrist and many fallen angels now incarcerates Satan throughout Jesus’ millennial reign. After Satan no longer presents any danger to the Jews, Jesus goes to the wilderness, unseals the prepared place, and brings those Jews back to Jerusalem without even pausing long enough to change His clothing.

  • Dominion Details

    Dominion Phase Overview

    Primary References: Revelation 20:4-9


    The tribulation in general and specifically, the battle of Armageddon leaves governments in chaos and all critical infrastructure in dysfunctional ruins. Into this power vacuum, Jesus immediately starts installing His new government. As suggested by Daniel 12:11-12 and Daniel 8:14, this process requires approximately one year (see the last entry of Table 22, blessings for those waiting to the end). During this hectic transition, Jesus squashes any remaining resistance to His government, judges people and nations, brings all Jews back to Israel, divides and partitions the land of Israel, and establishes new governments for every nation on earth. Historically, transitional periods have lasted many years (e.g., in Germany and Japan after World War II) but the situation is desperate so mercifully, Jesus acts quickly

    After this transition, Jesus and His saints govern the earth and bring about a time of unparalleled prosperity. During this time, Jesus establishes the capital of the world in Jerusalem where at first, He rules from a throne in the tabernacle of David (Isaiah 16:5) but He later moves it to Jerusalem’s final temple after its completion. For the next thousand years the world experiences nothing but peace and prosperity until God opens the bottomless pit and releases Satan to once again stir up dissent and one final rebellion, which serves to once again separate the righteous and wicked.

  • Perfection Details

    Perfection Phase Overview

    Primary References: Revelation 20:10-22

    God now replaces the destroyed creation with a new glorious creation. It consists of the new heaven, new earth and New Jerusalem and virtually everything known about these new places comes from Revelation 21-22. They are places of indescribable, incomprehensible beauty and value. Precious jewels and pure transparent gold form key building materials for major parts of New Jerusalem including its foundation and streets. The city of New Jerusalem is a perfect cube with 1400-mile sides. The glory of God continuously fills it with light and it is a true twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week city where the light never goes out and is the center of all worship activities. The River of Life flows freely from the dual throne of God the Father and the Son. Everyone entering the city is able to enjoy the river’s healing properties. Along the river of life’s banks grows the Tree of Life, which yields twelve types of fruits twelve times a year. Outside the city is the lake of fire, a constant reminder of the consequences of sin. The prophecies of the Bible end here with the righteous in the new creation joyfully spending eternity with God and the wicked suffering forever in the lake of fire.

    Each of the following chapters provides detailed investigations of the different prophetic periods. Starting with the church age and continuing through eternity, they expand on many of this chapter’s missing details and provide background to many of this chapter’s interpretations.