This is an excellent question, my dear friend, and one that many are asking these days as we witness all the violence, diseases, earthquakes, fires, and the like in this sin-sick world around us. As I’m not certain how much of the chronology of “the end times” that you are aware of, I pray you’ll forgive me if I provide more (or less) detail than what you are wanting. Let’s begin by defining our terms. By “the end times,” I assume you are speaking of the 7 years of tribulation that are spoken of in the book of Daniel (see Daniel 9:2; and verses 24-27 in particular). In verse 27, we see the 70th week (the final week of judgment being poured out on the earth) foretold by Daniel (7 years in all), which is often called the Tribulation Period, and the last 3 and a half years of this period are often called “the Great Tribulation. During this time, God will pour out his righteous judgments on Israel in particular, and indeed, on the unbelieving nations in the world. It is this period of time that most refer to as “the End Times,” and the final 3 and a half years, the Great Tribulation years, are by far the most severe judgments of the whole 7 years. This period of time ends with the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and in glory, with His saints, to “fight against the nations” and to defeat the Beast  and the Antichrist, and to remove all that are ungodly from the earth.

Once the enemies are put away, then the Lord Jesus will return to Jerusalem and mount the throne of David where He will rule Israel and all the world in perfect justice and righteousness for 1,000 years. In that day, Israel will be restored to its proper place, and the faithful remnant of Israel, those who will accept Christ as their King and Lord, will worship the Lord with their whole heart, and will dwell in the land in peace and prosperity, and the godly of the nations will come to worship the Lord in Jerusalem. If you’d like to read more about the Great Tribulation period, you might see Daniel 9:27; Daniel 7:25; 12:7, 11; Revelation 11:2, 3; 12:14; 13:5.  As to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, you might consider Joel 2:31 (the Great Day of the Lord); Zechariah 14:3,4; Malachi 3:1,2;  Acts 1:11; Revelation 19 and 20; Psalms 2; Psalms 24;  Psalms 37, and many other Scriptures. I might mention that The Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples of the end times and of His return to the earth in power and glory in Luke 21 and also in Matthew 24. His discussion of the events before His second coming to the earth are described here with special reference to Israel in those last days, and I believe these portions will help set the chronology of events for you.

But, now I want to tell you about something wonderful that happens right before the Tribulation, and if you are a born again Christian, these Scriptural truths will apply to and be of tremendous comfort to you. To the extent that world events today might be unsettling even for the saints, I believe that we must recognize in all faith that God has the issues of this world firmly in His control. This is a fact that we Christians can bank on, but it does require the eyes of faith. So, as we watch world events unfold before our eyes, we need not be fretting, but only believe that our Lord’s sovereign will is being done and will be accomplished.  Indeed, I believe that what we are seeing these days in our world is not the tribulation period at all, but rather only the events and shadows leading up to the judgment coming upon the earth. This is, I believe the answer to your question…Are we living in the End Times? No, but the signs all around show us that the end times are very soon to come upon this world. Should we Christians today dread the coming judgments of the end times? No. I believe that the Lord Jesus never intended His children (true believers) to go through any judgment for our sins, because all of those for all time were taken care of at the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:24; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:1). Furthermore, in Revelation 3:10, we read, “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth”.

Then, in 1 Thessalonians 5: 9 we read, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ…”. These last verses should afford much comfort to Christians today that we will already be in heaven, and thus not experience the woes of the actual Tribulation, which will be many times worse than anything we are now witnessing. You might want to look also at 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–13. As to the rapture, we read in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and 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: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” Thus, I believe that the Tribulation Period followed by the second coming of the Lord to the earth will not occur until after the church is removed from the earth via the rapture of the believers. The Rapture refers to what I believe is the first step of the second coming of Christ. The term “Rapture” refers to this catching up of the saints of earth, both the living and the dead, when our Lord Jesus will come to the clouds to take His children, born again Christians, home to be with Him forever.

So, are you saved? I pray it be so; remember Ephesians 2:8,9, John 3:16; Romans 10:9, and Acts 16:31. I’m praying for you!  (SF)  (527.1)