Doesn't Jesus' second advent back to earth take place after the Bowl Judgments rather than before them?


Email Received:

On your 70th Week Calendar, I think you have Jesus' physical return correct, but you have the Bowl Judgments after His return. It seems to me that Jesus returns JUST before Armageddon, which would put it at the end of the Bowl Judgments, not before they begin.


Ted's Response:

It sounds like you might be referring to my Brief Chronology of Revelation chart, where I show the Battle of Armageddon taking place 30 days after the return of Jesus back to earth. I also show Revelation 15 & 16, which describe the seven last plagues or Bowl Judgments, occurring during that 30-day period after Jesus' return and leading up to the Battle of Armageddon.

Your observation is shared by many, if not by most, other Christians. Before I provide you with an explanation of my proposed sequence, let me just point out that if a foundational assumption about anything is incorrect, then everything built on top of that foundation is unstable and is at risk of collapsing.

A foundational tenet that has been assumed to be true by most Christians throughout the ages is that the Battle of Armageddon will take place, or at least will begin, immediately upon Jesus' second advent (bodily descent) to earth. At the same time, most (including myself) would agree that Revelation 11:15-17 is a depiction of Jesus' second advent, in association with the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet, at which time He will begin to rule and reign on the earth.

Next, let's skip to the Seventh Bowl Judgment (Revelation 16:16,17,19,21). If we look at the gathering of the kings to Armageddon, we see that this is when the Seventh Bowl is poured outófull of God's fury and including gigantic hailstonesóupon those who have gathered. These are components of the Battle of Armageddon, which most have assumed will occur directly upon Jesus' return to earth.

Yet there seems to be a "disconnect" here. Many who believe that Jesus will return just prior to the Battle of Armageddon also feel compelled to build upon this (faulty) foundation the notion that the Seventh Trumpet Judgment and the Seventh Bowl Judgment must be the same judgment. From there, many will even extrapolate and make a further (invalid) assumption that the seven Seals are the same as the seven Trumpets, which are the same as the seven Bowls, allegedly viewed from "different perspectives."

However, my section comparisons of Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls explains how this is not the case. In fact, the seven Seals will be opened, then the seven Trumpets will be blown (ending with the return of Jesus back to earth to rule and reign), and finally the seven Bowls will be poured outóall in sequential order. Since I am convinced that this is the proper order of events (as described in my Chronology of Revelation commentary), then I also am convinced that it is after the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet (when Jesus will return to earth) that the Bowl Judgments will be poured out, ending with the Battle of Armageddon, 30 days after Jesus' return (explained later).

One might ask, then, "Is there any type of destruction of God's and Israel's enemies that will take place immediately upon Jesus' second advent?" I feel quite certain that there is, and I believe that this will be Jesus' massacre of the Gog/Magog armies in the huge bloodbath that will ensue, upon His return, when He is treading the winepress of God's wrath (Isaiah 63:2,3; Joel 3:12,13; Revelation 14:19,20, 19:15).

Many have made another (faulty) foundational assumption that the Gog/Magog invasion, and the subsequent destruction of these hordes by God, will take place at or near the beginning of the final seven years (the 70th Week). I absolutely disagree with this assertion and feel confident, for several reasons, that this mass slaughter will happen at the end of that seven-year period.

I will give you a couple of important examples why I believe this. Firstly, virtually everybody agrees that Revelation 19:11-16 shows Jesus returning to earth at His second advent. Then the next thing described by John to happen is this:

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great." (Revelation 19:17,18)
Compare this with what Ezekiel described will happen after the Gog/Magog massacre:
On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. ... Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: "Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth.... At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind," declares the Sovereign LORD." (Ezekiel 39:4,17,18,20)
Due to the many similarities, I believe that these are parallel passages. Those who are trampled in the winepress will be the hordes of Gog/Magog, causing Jesus' robe to be spattered with blood (Isaiah 63:1-3; Revelation 19:13).

Furthermore, Jesus' robe is seen to be stained with blood (Revelation 19:13) before the beast (Antichrist) and his armies are gathered together to make war against Jesus, the Rider on a white horse, and against His army (19:19) dressed in fine white linen (19:14). This is because the beast and his armies will be destroyed later, at the Battle of Armageddon, and same birds and animals that have feasted on the dead Gog/Magog hordes also will feast on the dead armies of the Antichrist.

Secondly, the hordes of Gog and Magog will come expressly against Israel (Ezekiel 38:16,22, 39:2). On the other hand, the Antichrist and his armies will conspire to come specifically against the Son of God and the Lamb, Jesus (Psalm 2:1-7; Revelation 17:14), who already will be sitting on His throne as King in Jerusalem.

Thirdly, consider another passage written by Ezekiel:
I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God. (Ezekiel 39:21,22)
It will be only upon Jesus' second advent to earth, to destroy Israel's enemies (that is, the Gog/Magog hordes attacking them), that the house of Israel unquestionably and incontrovertibly will know that He is their God. Among His people Israel (not among the nations of the world), His name no longer will be profaned (Ezekiel 39:7). These things must happen at the very end of the final seven years, not at the beginning or at any other time.

Incidentally, there are some who have come to the conclusion that the destruction of Gog and his hordes and the obliteration of the Antichrist and his armies will be the same battle and, thus, that Gog and the Antichrist must be the same person. I absolutely disagree with this, as explained in another email response here: How do you know that Gog and the Antichrist will not be the same person?

So, to continue, Jesus will return to earth at Bozrah (Isaiah 63:1), not directly to the Mount of Olives, as many incorrectly have assumed. On His way to Jerusalem, He will be slashing and cutting down the hordes of Gog/Magog, who will have attacked Israel and ransacked Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2,3). On that day, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives (14:4), and He will become King over the whole earth (14:9). Many of the hordes will have gathered in the Valley of Jehosephat, between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, where they will be crushed in the winepress of God's wrath (Joel 3:12,13).

While He is sitting as King in Jerusalem, the Bowl Judgments will be poured out, in particular upon those who have taken the mark of the beast and worshiped his image (Revelation 16:2) and upon the throne of the beast and his kingdom (16:10). As a result, the beast and his kings will become enraged at the Lamb, Jesus, which is why they will gather at Armageddon (16:16), conspiring to come against Him (17:14) and get rid of Him. This is exactly what Psalm 2:1-12 is talking about. But Jesus will destroy them all at the Battle of Armageddon, which will be associated with the pouring out of the Seventh Bowl.

By the way, I have heard it asserted that the Antichrist and his armies will gather in the plains of Megiddo, before Jesus even has returned to earth, because somehow they will know He is coming. They will stand there looking up and shaking their fists at the sky, in anticipation of His descent, challenging Him to come down and fight with them. In my opinion, this scenario borders on the absurd.

I believe that the period of time from the day of Jesus' second advent to the day of the Battle of Armageddon will be 30 days. (This will account for the 1,260 days + 30 days = 1,290 days of Daniel 12:11.) During these 30 days, Israel (who will be exempt from the Bowl Judgments because they no longer will profane God's name) will mourn for their Messiah, Whom they pierced (Zechariah 12:10), just as Israel mourned for Moses and Aaron for 30 days after they died (Numbers 20:28,29; Deuteronomy 34:5-8). More details are in my 30 days section.

A detailed explanation differentiating between the Winepress of Gog/Magog and the Battle of Armageddon can be found in my Final Battles commentary. Other related questions, along with my responses, can be found in the Final Battles: Winepress of Gog/Magog vs. Battle of Armageddon portion of my Bible Question Emails and Ted's Responses page.


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