You often hear the expressions “it’s the end of the world” or “the world is coming to an end” when a startling event or series of events take place. Some may not be aware that the Bible literally talks about “the end of the world”. There’s a lot of misconceptions about the “end of the world” so I thought it would be a good idea to write an article about the “end of the world”. Therefore, I will attempt to provide an understanding of “the end of the world” that is consistent with the Bible in this article.
We can learn a lot about what the “the end of the world” will exactly entail by examining Matthew 24. The chapter records a lecture given by Christ on Mount Olives about the future that is commonly known as the “Olivet Discourse”. The Disciples of Christ asked Christ to provide a sign about two things: (1) His coming, (2) and of the end of the world”.
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3)
The request to reveal “the sign” about two events indicates that these events are related or connected: the coming of Christ is connected/related to the end of the world.
Christ complied with His disciples’ request to provide insight about what events will transpire before His coming and the end of the world. Christ indicated that there will be a lot of startling events in the world including wars, rumors of wars, famine, earthquakes, pestilence, false messiahs etc.
“(5) For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (6) And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (7) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (8) All these are the beginning of sorrows.“ (Matthew 24:5-8)
Christ added that people would be hated for His name’s sake worldwide. The most challenging time that people will face this difficulty will be during the great tribulation, which is described in Matthew 24:15-22. Christ mentioned twice in Matthew 24:9-22 that people will eventually be saved. Matthew 24:13 indicates that people who endure to the end (of the world) will be saved.
“(9) Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. (10) And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. (11) And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. (12) And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (13) But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved…(22) And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.“ (Matthew 24:9-12, 22)
The time period when the elect will be saved shall mark the beginning of the end of the world because the elect will have endured to the end. Matthew 24:29-31 indicates that the elect will be saved immediately after the end of the great tribulation.
“(29) Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (30) And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (31) And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:29-31)
Thus, the end of the world will begin after the end of the great tribulation.
Christ indicated that the end of the world will bring the separation of the good from the wicked and the punishment of the wicked.
“(38) The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wickedone; (39) The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. (40) As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. (41) The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (42) And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (43) Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:38-43)
“(47) Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: (48) Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. (49) So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, (50) And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:47-50)
Christ provided another landmark to help us identify when the end of the world will come. Christ said that the end (of the world) will come after the “gospel of the kingdom” is preached to all the nations.
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14)
Many believe the preaching of the “gospel of the kingdom” to all the world is simply the preaching of the Gospel of Christ to a worldwide audience. However, Revelation 14:6-7 records the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to the world, and its message is different than the gospel of Christ. The gospel of the kingdom is actually a message warning the inhabitants of the world to fear God and give Him glory because the time of judgment is approaching:
“(6) And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, (7) Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:6-7)
I hope this article clears up any misconceptions about the end of the world. The end of the world cannot come until after the conclusion of the great tribulation and the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom. The end of the world will be associated with the coming of Christ, the separation of the good from the wicked, and the punishment of the wicked.
To read more about the separation of good from the wicked, please see my article on Luke 17:37, one of the most important, yet overlooked verses in all Bible prophecy.