The Left Behind series is one of the most popular religious book series in recent history and gives credence to the belief in a secret rapture, which is not supported by the Bible. (For more information on this subject download or order our free pamphlet, The Rapture Versus the Bible.)
The outline of end-time prophecies does not include a secret rapture. Jesus Christ’s return will be obvious, preceded by heavenly signs, a global earthquake, worldwide volcanic activity and angels sounding trumpets with supernatural piercing blasts. Christ will not sneak back to this earth. He will return in great, shining glory and well-deserved honor.
Jesus Himself said of His return, “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
Jesus Christ gave an overview of end-time prophecy shortly before His crucifixion, describing the major events occurring before the end of this age which are recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. This description corresponds exactly with the seals of the book of Revelation.
The first seal: (Revelation 6:2, corresponding to Matthew 24:4-5) signifies the emergence, spread and domination of a false Christianity, which began shortly after Jesus’ resurrection and the beginning of the New Testament Church. This false Christianity is a religious mixture derived partly from the Bible and partly from non-biblical beliefs and traditions originating in ancient pagan religion.
The second seal: (Revelation 6:3-4; Matthew 24:6-7) reveals there will be “wars and rumors of wars” that would continue to the end and escalate into a final bloodbath that will take the lives of no less than a third of mankind (Revelation 9:15-16).
The third seal: (Revelation 6:5-6: Matthew 24:7) shows the earth will suffer from major famines, starvation and hunger. While there have always been famines, as time goes on they will grow worse and worse. Famines often follow hard on the heels of war.
The fourth seal: (Revelation 6:7-8 and corresponding to the next sign in Matthew 24:7) reveals the world will be plagued by deadly diseases and terrible disasters. Widespread pandemics will decimate large populations, as the bubonic plague did in the 14th century, when it killed a third of the population of Europe, Russia, China and cities on associated trade routes.
The fifth seal: (Revelation 6:9-11; Matthew 24:9-12) represents the persecution and martyrdom of God’s faithful servants. As Jesus Himself said, “A servant is not greater than his master, if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Paul similarly wrote, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
The sixth seal: (Revelation 6:12-17; Matthew 24:29) describe terrifying signs in the sky—the sun and the moon darkened—and what appear to be meteor strikes on the earth. This introduces the time of God’s wrath (Revelation 11:18; 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1; 19:15), what Scripture also calls “the day of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 5:2; Malachi 4:5) and leads directly into Jesus Christ’s climactic second coming.
The seventh seal: is divided into seven “trumpets,” which describe further events leading up to Jesus Christ’s return. These events, which are not described in the Olivet Prophecy, are sometimes referred to as “the seven trumpet plagues.” Revelation 8 and 9 describe the events to occur during the first six trumpets.
The purpose of prophecy is to help people evaluate their personal conduct in light of God’s Word— before the prophesied circumstances come to pass. Prophecy shows God pleads with those who resist Him and that He will reward those who honor Him.