Many people are familiar with how the Bible begins, with the creation of the world. But how does it end? Does the Bible predict the end of the world? Is there hope for the world or is it all “doom-and-gloom?” There are many different approaches and interpretations of how the Bible ends. From many years of study and teaching classes on this fascinating topic, here’s what I’ve found to be the highlights which are the most clear and evident from the Bible.
The Bible ends in the book of Revelation with Jesus returning as the King and Judge who cleanses the earth from all evil. Jesus’ leadership at the end of this age results in the restoration of God’s original plan for mankind, with a new heaven and a new earth.
The story that the Bible presents is quite the epic tale that offers some unique explanations for the brokenness we experience in this world and what God is doing about it. Let’s look in more detail at this epic strategy of God and His opposition that the Bible presents about the end of this age.
The Bible Ends How It Begins
The Bible begins and ends in a garden. The garden is where God placed man after He created everything. He says it’s “good” (Gen. 1:31). The imagery that’s found in the first part of the Bible is also at the end of the Bible. Genesis, the first book of the Bible, describes how God created the world. The last book of the Bible, Revelation, reveals how God will restore His original plan.
|The First Book of the Bible: Genesis||The Last Book of the Bible: Revelation|
|The Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8)||Garden & the Tree of Life (Rev. 22:2)|
|The Tree of Life (Gen. 2:9)||The Tree of Life (Rev. 22:2)|
|The River (Gen. 2:10)||The River of Life (Rev. 22:1)|
|Creation of Heaven & Earth (Gen. 1:1)||New Heaven & New Earth (Rev. 21:1)|
|The First Marriage (Gen. 2:24-25)||The Final Marriage (Rev. 19:7, 9)|
How does the Bible begin and end? The Bible begins with God’s original plan for mankind to rule as His representatives on the earth (Gen. 1-2). Mankind chooses not to follow God’s plan, resulting in the Fall (Gen. 3). As a result, mankind and the world we live in end up in a state of brokenness – sin and death enter the world. There is sickness, war, poverty, injustice and all sorts of things that cause pain and sadness in the world.
The rest of the Bible is the plan that God sets in motion to restore mankind and the earth to His original plan. God’s plan is to ultimately join heaven and earth together (Eph. 1:9-10). This plan is fulfilled at the end of the Bible when heaven, the spiritual unseen (to us) realm and the earth are joined. The city called New Jerusalem comes down to earth and there is a New Heaven and a New Earth (Rev. 21). There will no longer be any brokenness or death in the world.
The way God makes this is possible is through what happens at the cross where Jesus Christ, the Son of God, dies as a substitute for the sins of mankind (Luke 23). What happened at the cross is the payment for our sin (Rom. 6:23). The cross makes it possible for mankind and for the world we live in to be restored to God’s original design. The Bible now calls people to believe in Jesus Christ who God has sent (John 3:16).
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
Here’s a diagram of the main flow of the Biblical narrative that we’ve looked at so far.
The diagram is from an article where I share a simple overview of the Bible, which I think will be a good compliment to this article. You can find it here: Bible Explained for Beginners (link opens in a new window).
The Bible Ends with the Second Coming of Jesus
Most of the events in the book of Revelation focuses on Jesus’ second coming. Jesus’ first coming is recorded in the Gospels, which are the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Jesus’ first coming was as the Lamb of God to die on the cross for the sins of the world. These events took place around 30 or 33 A.D.
Jesus’ second coming is explained in various places, but with the most detail in the book of Revelation. Jesus’ Second Coming as explained in the book of Revelation has yet to take place. Jesus Himself gave us signs that will accompany His return.
These signs are recorded in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. This is how the Bible predicts the world will end. It’s actually not the end of the world. It’s just the end of this age and the beginning of the next age. The signs in Matthew 24 will come about before Jesus returns to cleanse the earth of evil, and heaven and earth will be joined together and renewed.
The Signs of the End of the Age in Matthew 24
- False Messiahs claiming to be the Christ (Matt. 24:4)
- False prophets (Matt. 24:11) with false miracles that are not from God (Matt. 24:24). Even people who believe in Jesus will be deceived (Matt. 24:24-25).
- The abomination of desolation (Matt. 24:15). An idol will be set up in the temple in Jerusalem (the temple is currently not rebuilt yet).
- Political upheaval: wars and rumors of wars (Matt. 24:6)
- Convulsions of nature: famines, pestilences, earthquakes (Matt. 24:7)
- Persecution of Christians, leading to apostasy, the great falling away: The love of many will grow cold. Many will be offended, leading to betrayal and hatred (Matt. 24:9-13).
- The Good News of the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached will be preached in all the nations (Matt. 24:14).
- Lawlessness and lovelessness (betrayal and cruelty) will abound in society (Mt. 24:12)
- The emergence of the Antichrist’s worldwide worship and economic system related to the abomination of desolation (Mt. 24:15)
- There will be an unprecedented number of deaths (Mt. 24:40-41)
- The great pressures in Jerusalem (Mt. 24:16-20)
The Bible Ends with Jesus’ Leadership as the King & Judge to Cleanse the Earth from All Evil
One of the most common questions is “Why does God allow evil?” Is God able to do anything about it? Does He care? The Bible ends with God finally removing everything that’s evil from the earth. He is able and He cares. The answer is a bit more complicated that – but it is a very satisfactory answer that upholds His justice but also does not violate mankind’s will to choose.
Why did it take God so long before He removes evil from the earth? One reason is that if God were to remove evil from the earth right now, no one would be good enough to earn a place in the new heaven and earth (Rom. 3:23).
In the last book in the Bible, the book of Revelation, there is a person who is referred to as the Beast because of his character and actions. He is referred to as the Antichrist in other places in the Bible. He is empowered by Satan, whose name means Adversary.
This Antichrist will be a world leader who will bring about a one-world government, called Babylon, with one economic system, and set up a one-world religion that requires everyone to comply (Rev. 17-18). It will look like peace and safety is finally achieved for the world, but this Antichrist will turn out to be the embodiment of evil and oppose God and His plan.
When God finally removes evil from the earth, it will be a takeover of all the nations and kingdoms on the earth. For the first time in all of history, the full wrath of God will be displayed on the Antichrist and his armies (Rev. 11:15).
The Bible Ends with the Book of Revelation
The Bible is a collection of 66 books divided into Old and New Testaments.
The Book of Revelation is at the end of the Bible. Revelation brings together all the major themes of the entire Bible and comes to a fitting conclusion. The word revelation means revealing or unveiling.
The book of Revelation is the unveiling of the leadership of Jesus Christ at the end of this age to restore God’s original plan for mankind and the earth.
The central scene in the book of Revelation is the throne room of God in chapters 4 and 5. God is seated on His throne with a scroll in His hand, but no one is worthy to open the scroll or look inside (Rev. 5:4-10). God has His plans for the world in this scroll but no one is able to open it and act on it.
Jesus walks into this throne room scene, portrayed as the Lamb that was slain. He is the substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He takes the scroll and opens it. He is the only person in history who is worthy because He lived a sinless life as the Son of God and laid down His life and can bring people into God’s Kingdom (Rev. 5:9-10).
The rest of the book of Revelation is what happens as Jesus opens the scroll. There are 7 seals that keep the scroll closed securely. These are opened one by one. These are followed by 7 trumpet blasts. Lastly, there are 7 bowls of wrath. Each one gets more severe and serves as a warning for people on the earth to prepare for Jesus’ return.
These judgments are released as warnings to the city of Babylon and the Antichrist. Each judgment brings devastation to the Antichrist and his infrastructure. The judgments conclude with the bowls of wrath that are poured out on the Antichrist and his armies who will gather to attack Jesus one last time.
People are given many opportunities over and over again in the book of Revelation to turn to God. Many turn and believe in God. Those who follow the Antichrist grow more hardened and declare war on God (Rev. 17:14).
Mankind has tried for centuries to bring about peace on the earth. Every effort ultimately falls short. We have more education, technology, social networking, and resources available to us than ever before in history, but we’re not able to bring about world peace and return to God’s original plan for mankind and the world.
People try to bring about what they want in their own way. World leaders will go to the extent of forcing others through government and economic policies to get peace on the earth. It will result in a false peace that can only be maintained through severe manipulation by the strictest dictator in the history of the world, the Antichrist.
The best that man is able to produce is summarized as the city of Babylon in the book of Revelation (Rev. 18:10). The only way to sustain this false unity is through the controlling leadership of the Antichrist. Jesus comes to ultimately judge the city of Babylon, the Antichrist and all who follow him.
The Bible Ends with Jesus as the Bridegroom Who Is Coming for His Bride
One recurring theme in the Bible is that of God as a Bridegroom. An epic would not be complete without romance. At first, it can seem somewhat foreign to think in terms of romance and marriage when thinking about God. Yet, the Biblical view of marriage is that human marriage reflects Jesus and His church (Eph. 5:31-33).
God who created mankind also created marriage (Gen. 2:24). Marriage points to the ultimate reality of Jesus pursuing His church. Marriage on earth is a gift from God to know Him better.
The book of Revelation portrays Jesus as this Bridegroom who is coming for His Bride – His people, and His city (Rev. 19:6-10; Rev. 21:2). Jesus has been betrothed to His Bride, but the marriage has not been consummated yet. Now, the Bridegroom is coming for His Bride and He will remove all evil that gets in the way. The Bible ends in Revelation 21-22 with the joining of heaven and earth.
The book of Revelation ends in the last chapter with these 2 final verses (Rev. 22:20-21).
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.Rev. 22:20-21
Jesus reassures His people that He will return. The response of His Bride, His people, is “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20). There is a Bride, the people of God, who are longing for Jesus’ return to cleanse the world of evil, to replace the evil kingdoms of the world with His Kingdom, and to restore God’s original design for mankind and the earth.
The final verse (Rev. 22:21) concludes with a blessing that the grace of Jesus would be with everyone. With all that will take place on the earth before His return, we will need God’s help, mercy, and wisdom to navigate and thrive.
The Bible Ends with Hope & an Invitation
According to the Book of Revelation, there will be two groups of people at the end of this age. There will be the Bride that is looking to Jesus’ return as the only solution to the brokenness of this world. There will be others who will mourn when Jesus returns. They will not like Him and what He represents. Many will declare war on Jesus. Eventually, they will mourn when they see Jesus returning with the clouds. The events at the end of the Bible are meant to be an invitation to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.Rev. 1:7
To those who have put their faith in Jesus, the book of Revelation gives hope and courage. God is in total control and will not desert His people. The period right before Jesus returns will be very turbulent (Matt. 24:21), but God is preparing His people so that they will long for His return and partner with Him rather than be offended at Him.
In the end, it will be worth it to have trusted in Him. He will wipe away every tear and make all things new (Rev. 21:4-5).
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”Rev. 21:4-5
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|If you found this article to be helpful, here are a few that I think you’ll enjoy.|
Thy Kingdom Come – What It Means & How to Pray It. It’s from the prayer that taught His disciples. It explores the powerful prayer which summarizes the entire Bible.
Difference Between Old and New Testament: With Simple Charts (link opens in a new window). In it, I share another chart that gives an overview of the Bible. It’ll be a good compliment to this article.
If you want to read the Bible for an effective overview, I’d recommend focusing on just 15 books first. I share those in What Is the Best Order to Read the Bible for Beginners? It gets to the essence of the Bible’s main message.