The End-Time Countdown
“It’s biblical and right to be watching and ready at all times.” —Dad's opening line of the study.
Why say this? The events at the end of this age, culminating with the Second Coming of Christ, will begin suddenly and unexpectedly (I Thessalonians 5:1-5; Malachi 3:1; Mark 13:36; Luke 12:39-40; 21:34-36; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 16:5). “Like a thief in the night,” “at an hour you do not expect.” People of the end times will think they are living in good times. It will be like Sodom and Gomorrah, or like the flood: people are not going be thinking that the end of the world is near (Luke 17:26-30; 21:35).
What should we be doing? The Bible tells us to “watch” (Mark 13:37) and to “count.” Count? Count what? Revelation 13:18 (KJV) says, “Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” The Greek words from which the translators got the phrase ‘the number of a man’ are arithmos gar anthropou. Here are the roots of the English words “arithmetic” and “anthropology.” Gar means “of.” Because they felt that the beast is a man (instead of an empire), translators wrote “the number of a man” when a more accurate translation into English would be “the number of man.”
Now consider that a triple 6 is given. We know that God has given man six days a week to work but claims the seventh day as His—it is holy time. Consider that God gave mankind 6,000 years to govern himself, to go his own way apart from God. God has kept ”hands off” humanity during this period. The events at the end of this age will occur on the Sixth Millennial Day of human history, not the Seventh. The entire Seventh Millennial Day—pictured by the Sabbath—will be holy time. (Consider also that the Day of Trumpets pictures Christ's return and occurs before the Day of Atonement; that the Day of Atonement pictures Satan's banishment and will occur before the Feast of Tabernacles; and that the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the 1,000-year World Tomorrow. The fact that the Days of Trumpets and Atonement are fulfilled before the Feast of Tabernacles indicates that Christ will return, and Satan will be banished, before the 6,000-year period comes to an end—that is, upon the Sixth Millennial Day, not the Seventh.)
Consider also two more important facts:
1) In Daniel 5:26, God “numbered“ the original kingdom of Babylon and "finished it." In other words, God was saying to Babylon, “Your days are numbered!“ 2) In the book of Revelation, God gave a succession of seven seals, seven trumpets and seven last plagues. The sixth seal contains the trumpets, and the sixth trumpet contains the last plagues. These represent a "countdown" toward the final fall of “Babylon the Great“ (Daniel 2:44, Revelation 14:8, 18:1-24). Great Babylon's “days are numbered“ today, just as the original Babylon's were in the time of Daniel. God has given His people a way to understand where they are in Bible prophecy (Revelation 1:1), by "watching" world events and by "counting" the seals, trumpets and last plagues as they progress toward the ultimate fall of Babylon and the Second Coming of Christ.
Therefore we are counting, in finding “the number of man,“ to a “6-6-6.“ If you have understanding, the Bible says, COUNT the number of the beast (to the time of its fall)—and watch. In so doing, we will actually be counting toward the time when this sixth millennium is almost over, when mankind will no longer be allowed to rule over himself, but will be placed under God's holy government. Overthrowing the beast power is overthrowing mankind's rule over himself, apart from God (but in fact under Satan). That time is what we are watching and counting toward.
We need to be alert! We need to be aware! It is not going to be obvious to most people that it’s the end time. The way to know that we’re in the very last days spoken of in Daniel chapter 12 is by knowing what this “6-6-6“ is all about and by knowing what to look for in counting toward it. (See our Day of Trumpets Bible studies for a more detailed explanation of how the seals, trumpets and last plagues lead up to the moment in time symbolized by the number ”6-6-6.”)
We can make a chart of a very likely end-time scenario. But first understand the periods of time, numbered in days, in Daniel 12 and other Scriptures: namely the 1335 days, the 1290 days, and the 1260 days. These are concurrent periods of time, all of which culminate with the Second Coming of Christ. It’s a countdown similar to the way they count to midnight on New Year's Eve in most countries around the world. The first notable period begins 1335 days before the end of the beast power and the return of Christ; the second begins 1290 days before His return, the third 1260 days beforehand.
Our goal in this study is to understand the “6-6-6“ countdown leading to the end of this age. Let’s begin by looking at the 1335 days.
THE 1335 DAYS
In God's reckoning, 3½ years equals 1260 days. The ideal, or prophetic calendar is very simple—one year is composed of 12 months, and each month contains 30 days. One year contains 360 days. (This is the only calendar anyone could come up with from the Bible itself—for more information on this see our Bible study on the Biblical calendar.)
Thus far in history, the fulfillment of each Holy Day has occurred on the actual day of the sacred year which pictured it: Jesus was slain on the Day of Passover; the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost; Jesus ascended to His father on ‘the morrow after the Sabbath’ during the Days of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of Trumpets is, therefore, very likely the day of the year on which Jesus will return to earth. It falls on the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:24). Exactly 3½ years prior to that time is the first day of the first month of the sacred year (Nisan or Abib). This is the likely beginning of the 1260 days—in whatever calendar year God chooses to begin the final countdown to Christ's return.
Reckoning from the beginning of the 1260 days (prior to Christ's return), you would count backwards 30 days to reach the beginning of the 1290 days—when the abomination of desolation is in place—and then another 45 days to the beginning of the 1335 days. This would be a precise date on the calendar, 75 days prior to the first day of the first month.
The only thing said about the 1335 days is, “blessed is he who reaches it.“ This is apparently the time when God reveals to His people where the place of safety will be. At that point they will have 45 days to go to that place—45 days until the final climactic phase of “the abomination of desolation“ begins (which has been around since false Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire). At that time all people on earth who are not under God's protection will be forced to “worship the beast and its image,“ or else be killed (Revelation 13:15). A World in Confusion
Daniel 12:12; Matt. 24:16-20
In order to watch and be ready, we have to be different from the rest of the world. Care about this. Care about the end of this age and the beginning of a right world based on God’s Laws.
Matthew 24:36-41, 45-51; Matthew 25 (parable of the ten virgins)
Realize this parable pertains to the Church. Be aware of your own spiritual condition. Don’t imitate lackluster, half-hearted people around you. Be sure that you are wise and have oil in your own lamp—read the Bible diligently, pray to God every day. Don’t be afraid that people will criticize you for being too strict or overzealous, your job is to stay close to God! Don’t love this world (1 John 2:15-17)! Don’t long to live in it (Luke 17:32)!
We need to be prepared to get out QUICKLY. Mentally, we have to be ready to get up and leave everything at a moment's notice. It helps to realize that all our things are going to be destroyed anyway when the modern Israelite nations are taken captive by the beast power (see Jeremiah 45). Be ready literally to walk out the front door if it comes to that—trusting God on faith for all your needs. Be willing to ‘lose your life’ now to gain it later. Walk away from your job when the time comes, even though all your workmates will think you are insane. (Remember they won’t think that the times are perilous. You will—because you’ll know what to look for. More on that soon!)
Jerusalem, in reference to the time of the end, is a “Bible code word” for the modern day nations of the House of Israel (lost ten tribes). We could have an entire Bible study on why the fall of Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s time was a sign of what is coming on the USA and British commonwealth nations in the end time. These verses pertain to “the time of Jacob’s trouble“ (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1). Where will the place of safety be, precisely? Jesus’ answer in Luke 17:37 means, “when the time comes, you will know.” (I have no doubt that God will make it clear—probably by sending the two witnesses, who will undoubtedly be rejected by many for being “too strict,” or “old fashioned.” But we hope to recognize them by their true words. I think they’ll tell us.)
So, the beginning of the 1335 days is the time when we must flee, if we're to escape the troubles God intends to send on those who will not repent of their sins.
(On a side note, Mr. HWA once said that if the place of safety is not Petra in Jordan, then the Bible simply does not reveal where it is. Here are some verses to study in this context: Luke 17:37; Matt. 24:28; Dan. 11:40-41; Isaiah 26:20-21; 16:3-4. Note that none of these verses say for sure that “the place of safety is Petra.”)
THE 1290 DAYS
This is when the final climactic phase of “the abomination of desolation” appears. The abomination is a polluted temple—a corrupted version of God's true church. (See our Bible study on The Abomination of Desolation for further information.) When the abomination becomes active once again, in full force as the “official religion“ of the seventh resurrection of the Roman Empire (Revelation 17:8-14), then the true religion will no longer be able to be practiced openly, on penalty of death or torture. False religion will be enforced, as it had been in ancient and medieval times—backed up by the military power of a great political empire—the “beast.“ When we see this sudden end-time recurrence of the “beast power“ and the “great harlot“ riding it, we'll know that there are only 1290 days left until the return of Christ!
We can read about this “abomination of desolation“ in Matthew 24:15; Daniel 8:13-14; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11. The good news is, when it’s all done, the abomination will NEVER return (Revelation 18:21-24)!
Once the 1290 days have begun, the “safe period to flee” will be past. If you’re not in the place of safety by then, you'll be in the Great Tribulation (Revelation 13:16-17). You'll be stuck under the authority of the beast and its false religion at that point. The ”mark of the beast”—Sunday keeping and pagan holiday observance—will be enforced. It will become law. If you’re not out from under its sway—in safety—you’ll have to do what Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego did. You’ll have to go up against end-time Babylon. You'll need to resist the false religion, perhaps to the death, in such a situation. [Better to be worthy of God's protection—to be spared, so this horrible situation won't strike you (Revelation 3:10; Luke 21:36; I Thessalonians 5:9)! Mr. Armstrong once wrote in this context, ”The time to get off of a sinking ship is before it sinks!”]
Again, after the beginning of the 1290 days, no one will be able to practice true Christianity openly. The only ”permissible” religion will be false Christianity. (Atheism will not be an option either.) At this time you won’t be able to buy a plane ticket (e.g., to get to safety) without having ”the mark of the beast.” The “woman” of Revelation 17 (official religion of the Roman Empire) will “ride the beast” again. The ”beast” itself (final resurrection of the Roman Empire) will be in full power over the earth (Revelation 9:1-12; 13:1-10; 17:1-18.). This will be like medieval history all over again. Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies, and the Great Tribulation will begin in 30 days.
THE 1260 DAYS
The Bible speaks of 1260 days, 42 months and 3½ years. These all represent the same period of time on God's calendar. All refer to the second half of the seventieth week of Daniel’s ”seventy weeks prophecy.” (By the way, it is during that last week when God's Holy Day Plan begins to be fulfilled, from Passover through the Day of Trumpets!) In prophetic reckoning, that special ”week of years” was interrupted (went into ”hibernation”) at the death of Christ and does not resume until God’s direct, divine intervention in the affairs of the earth (the start of the Great Tribulation). This “week“ culminates with the return of Christ!
Note these four things which are going to happen during this time:
FIRST: the Great Tribulation will come (Matthew 24:21). Daniel 12:1-2 sums up Mr. Armstrong's book “The United States and Britain in Prophecy” by stating simply that there will come a time of trouble on modern Israel which will end with its restoration and the resurrection of the Saints (these events will occur at Christ's Second Coming). Unfortunately, we must first expect the USA and British commonwealth nations to experience the time of trouble spoken of in verse 1. Daniel 12:7; 8:23-24 show that this will be a time even more horrific than World War II. A Nazi-like power will dominate the entire Western Hemisphere! Zechariah 13:7-9; Ezekiel 5:1-6, 9, 12 and other Scriptures describe this time of trouble.
Ezekiel 5:4 is an incredibly important verse because it is the key to understanding why the book of Ezekiel was written. It shows (by stating that the message is for the House of Israel) that what happened to Jerusalem 2,500 years ago was only a sign—of what is yet to occur at the end of this age—in our time just ahead! It will come upon the whole house of Israel—all 12 tribes. It will be a time when God purges the rebels out of Israel (Ezekiel 20:33-38). [Remember that all twelve tribes of Israel will be restored in the World Tomorrow (Ezekiel 48, Matthew 19:28, Luke 1:33, 22:30, Revelation 7:4-8, 14, 21:12, 14); the Great Tribulation will be upon them all (Ezek. 5:4, 9) in order to purify them and make them fit to become part of the first generation of God's new world (Zephanih 3:11-13, Jeremiah 50:20, Malachi 3:2-6).]
The SECOND thing to occur: the two witnesses will appear on the world scene—with God-given powers (Revelation 11:1-6).
The THIRD item of note is that part of the “Church of God community”—meaning selected brethren from, most likely, all of the groups which exist today, and definitely all of those who have the Holy Spirit alive and functioning within them—will now be firmly located in a place of safety. Who will go to this place? The answer is only those who have “passed their final exams” and are therefore not in need of the great humbling experience that is the Great Tribulation—these are people who have demonstrated to God's satisfaction that they will not sacrifice His true religion for anything else. Have you passed your exams? Are you keeping God’s Word faithfully (Revelation 3:8, 10)? Or have you slipped from the truth into a watered-down Laodicean version of what God had originally given the Church? Let's hope not—if so, get yourself “back on track,“ for there is still time!
Revelation 12:6, 13-14; Daniel 7:25; 12:7; I Thessalonians 5:1-9
There will be a 3½ year period when the Saints are protected from persecution. The end-time trouble on the world is NOT for truly faithful members of God's true Church, who have spent their lives overcoming Satan and the world, and growing in Godly character. This trouble is intended, first, for Israel to come to national repentance—later, for Gentiles to be humbled—all in preparation for the World Tomorrow, which will be filled with nations of holy people who obey God's Laws (Isaiah 2:1-5; 4:3; 60:21; 65:17-25). The Seventh Millennial Day
Now, as to the place of safety being “real,” as some are in doubt of this fact: simply look at Revelation 3:10 and I Thessalonians 5:5-9 again. These passages say that if you are “of the day” (meaning that you walk in the light of God’s commandments) you don’t need the correction of the Great Tribulation. If you have allowed God to use your life to train and correct you—to rid you of your character flaws—then you don’t have to go through the Great Tribulation. You’re already ”awake!” God's Protection
Obviously the point here is to be ”awake” (Revelation 16:15)! Don’t drift off, don’t get drowsy, don’t lull to sleep thinking you’re basically okay—especially now when there is a tendency to say, “Well, I’ve resisted Satan’s best shot—what happened in WCG in 1995. There’s nothing left to do but coast on into the World Tomorrow.” Many people feel this way—that Satan’s best try failed—but nothing could be further from the truth! Be awake now, time is shorter than ever before. Now is the most critical time in human history to stay on top of things, because Satan knows how to be subtle as well as how to be overt. His attacks on the true Church today are of the subtle variety, you could say he is sneaking in through the back door. So be wise, be awake, have oil in your lamp—stay close to God. And then you’ll be protected! Luke 21:36 says you can be counted worthy to escape. The place of safety is for those who will have already passed their “final exams.”
We must keep oil in our lamps. This means we must “stir up the gift that is in us” (II Timothy 1:6). We need to study the Bible and pray daily. Only God can give us the Holy Spirit. The wise virgins stayed close to God all along. When the door is shut, it will be better to be in the place of safety. This parable highlights the difference between the Laodiceans who need to go through the Tribulation, and the Philadelphians who’ve held fast and are already close to God (Revelation 3:11).
Mr. Armstrong said this is a direct prophecy of God's people being delivered from the Great Tribulation. They won't have to go through it. This is a very real promise! If you have been close to God all along, God 100% guarantees to save you from the Great Tribulation. (God delivers us “through” many of our trials, as when Daniel was put into the lions’ den. Psalm 91, however, is a promise to be delivered “from” certain trials—to be kept totally out of them. “No evil will come near you.”)
This passage warns us to seek God before it’s too late to be spared from such tribulation. At some point in time God will decide that ”this is it.” He will know who is ready and who is not—and that’s the “door shutting.” You can ask Him and He will prepare you (Luke 21:36). But you must really want it and do what it takes to merit such protection. You'll need to prove to God that you are above peer pressure—that you do the right thing no matter what.
The FOURTH occurrence during this 1260 day period is the fifth trumpet: Revelation 9:1-12 and 17:10-14 describe the rise of the beast power (which will be used as God's ”spanking stick” against the nations of modern Israel, as in Isaiah 10 and Jeremiah 50-51). Could it be talking about nerve gas or bio-chemical weapons? Possibly. Regardless, this seems to be what the first five months of the Great Tribulation will be like. The beast “shall ascend out of the bottomless pit“—it will appear on the world scene with terror. It will be the final resurrection of the Roman Empire. And this will be only the beginning of the real time of trouble.
Thankfully, there is good news in all of this. There will be only 3½ years of this horrendous time. After that—the earth will become as described in Genesis 1:31, when God saw that everything was ”very good” at the end of the sixth day of creation. God is taking six ”millennial” or 1,000-year ”days” to restore the earth (Acts 3:21; Isaiah 65:17-25). After the work of clearing away Satan's destructive influence has been accomplished (Matthew 3:12; 13:38-42; II Peter 3:10-12)—after the Days of Trumpets and Atonement have been fulfilled—everything on earth will be “very good” at the end of the Sixth Millennial Day. Mankind will have become “at one“ with God, and “at peace“ with one another; Jesus and the resurrected Saints will have been fully installed into their positions of world government; Satan and the demons will have been removed—and the very best time of history will begin, history done God’s Way.
This Bible study was given by Matthew Kalliman on 12/5/09