Similar powerful language is used by New Testament writers. Peter, for example, reminds readers of the earlier prophecies and of the global deluge of Noah's day as proof that God can and will intervene again in the affairs of mankind:
"I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this "coming" he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.' But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:2-7 NIV)
False prophets have been misapplying biblical end times prophecies since the time in the first century when the New Testament was still being written. Sincere Christians, too, have often 'jumped the gun' by asserting that Christ's return was imminent or had already occurred secretly or invisibly. The Apostle Paul had to warn:
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except 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 worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2 Thess. 2:1-4 KJV)
Yes the end-times prophecies are many and complex. Unbelievers simply dismiss them as the ravings of madmen or religious fanatics. Some modern cultic commentators who have written or preached about these prophecies have presented themselves as the "channel of communication
from God" or as "gods spokesman" or as "God's mouthpiece" giving them special authority or power to discern and give an authoritative explanation of these words. Christians who have studied these prophecies at great length are more humble, but many still feel certain about the conclusions that they have reached. I am less certain that we can or will fully understand these events before they take place.
I believe that God had all of these things written in the Bible so that we can have confidence that his Kingdom will triumph. The details are provided, not so that we would have advance knowledge of all that will take place, but rather that we would know that God knows and understands all the details ahead of time. So the prophecies are intended to inspire in us trust and confidence in God. Our role is not to argue among ourselves over the details, but rather to trust and obey.
Much debate has taken place among Christians as to when we can expect to be "raptured." The "rapture" refers to believers being caught away to meet the Lord in the air at his second coming: "...the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." (1 Thess. 4:16:17 KJV)
Different views on this have held sway at different epochs in the history of the Christian church. Throughout much of the Christian era the viewpoint that prevailed was that the Church would remain on earth and would pass through the coming tribulation, only to be raptured at the triumphant conclusion. Today, however, the prevalent view is that believers will be caught away to join the Lord in heaven before the end times events get really rough here on earth. But there are several schools of thought on this matter, even now; they go by such names as "pre-tribulation" (abbreviated "pre-trib"), "post-tribulation" ("post-trib") and "mid-tribulation" ("mid-trib"), depending on whether the theory places the rapture of believers ahead of a period of worldwide trouble, at the end of that period, or in the middle of it.
According to the eschatology prevailing in evangelical churches today, the end times prophecies can be sorted out to reveal a scenario roughly like this: An individual anti-Christ will rise in the Middle