We are on the brink of some fantastic events associated with Jesus Christ's second advent. Everyone senses that dramatic change is in the air but only true born-again Christians who see the Bible as literally God's Word know what is about to happen.
Many people have a problem taking the Bible literally because prophetic events are so incredible. But these scoffers conveniently ignore that incredible acts of God have happened in the not-so-distant past (2 Peter 3:3-7). These people don't really know God as the Almighty Being He is who is outside the confines of time and can even accurately present and preserve His prophetic Word using His error-prone creation.
The following is a chronological summary of end time events based on my own studies. While I've attempted to take as literal a view as possible, any study of future events from the Bible's prophetic passages is subject to some intrepretation so I'll try not to be too dogmatic if you disagree with me.
Jesus Christ's first advent was to demonstrate the unmeasurable grace of God. He has been building and reigning over His Church Kingdom since He came to shed His blood for us on the cross (Colossians 1:13). But there will come a time when He will appear to His own and call us into His presence at the rapture (or catching-up) of the Church. The dead in Christ will rise first then living Christians will be translated into immortal bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 & 1 Corinthians 15:51-55).
There are no prophetic events that have to precede the rapture, it can happen at any time (1 Thessalonians 5:2). The rapture is the next major event which happens prior to a terrible 7 year period of time the second half of which Jesus called the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) directly preceding His second coming. We know that the rapture occurs before to the 7 year Tribulation because the Antichrist can not apppear until that which "restrains" him is "taken out of the way" (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The restrainer of evil in the wold today is the Holy Spirit who indwells the Church. So, when the Church is removed, the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way and the Antichrist is revealed.
We know that the rapture is near because of the many things which must be in place for the Tribulation to happen such as technology which will make so many of the prophetic events appear more as acts of men rather than acts of God (part of the "strong delusion" God sends them - 2 Thessalonians 2:11). But the most powerful sign of the coming Tribulation is the Hebrew people being brought back to their land to reestablish Israel as a nation (Ezekiel 37, Hosea 3:4-5). Jesus said that the generation who witnesses this will be the one that will see His return (Matthew 24:34).
Ezekiel 38 & 39 describes an invasion of Israel by a coalation of countries led by Russia. Ezekiel 38:8 sets the general time-frame: "In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate."
I've heard Bible scholars explain why Magog is Russia but it is clear to me from Ezekiel 38:15 & 39:2, all you have to do is look at a world map to see which nation's capitol is to the "far north" of Israel. The Russian invasion is not necessarily part of the Tribulation and so could happen prior to the rapture. But I believe it occurs just prior to the Tribulation because of the reference to Israel using their weapons as fuel for 7 years in Ezekiel 39:9. The only reason I can see for this 7 year period being mentioned is to relate it to the 7 year Tribulation.
Another reason I put the Magog Invasion prior to the Tribulation is that this world crisis would provide the Antichrist with an ideal opportunity to step in and solve the Mideast problem. He will be head of a shaky coalation of western nations and will no-doubt take credit for the destruction of Russian forces to put him on the path to become the world ruler (Revelation 13:6). His key achievement which will set the countdown clock for the physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth is the confirmation of a 7-year peace treaty for Israel (Daniel 9:27) which includes permission to build a temple in Jerusalem.
The first half of the Tribulation will be a time of relative prosperity and peace for Israel but it will be a terrible time for the world at large. The Antichrist will focus on consolidating his power as world ruler and engaging in his hobby of persecuting those who chose to follow Christ causing over a fourth of the world's population to die from wars and hunger (Revelation 6). Revelation 6:12-17 indicates that nuclear weapons will be used in these wars. The aftermath of the Tribulation wars cause a third of the earth's vegetation to be burned up, a third of the salt and fresh waters to be poisoned, and a great cloud of radioactive dust to cover a third of the earth killing another third of mankind (Revelation 8-9).
The middle of the Tribulation will be marked with the Antichrist stopping the Hebrew sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple and declaring himself god (Matthew 24:15, Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 11:36). This will officially begin the Antichrist's persecution of Jews and cause Israel to flee to the wilderness where they are supernaturally protected by the Lord (Revelation 12:14). God pours out His wrath on the earth in the form of painful sores, poisoning of all the water, great heat, darkness, more warfare, and a great worldwide earthquake (Revelation 16). Then Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords returns to the earth in great glory accompanied by the armies of heaven (Revelation 19:11-16). The armies of the Antichrist are destroyed by Jesus at Armageddon (Revelation 19:17-21).
The Church will be in heaven with Jesus during all the Tribulation events on the earth. Immediately after the rapture, believers will be judged for their works to determine degrees of eternal reward (2 Corinthians 5:10). Believers are not judged for their sins, this was settled at the cross (John 5:24, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13, Isaiah 53:5-6). War breaks out in heaven at the mid-point of the Tribulation between God's angels led by Michael and the fallen angels led by Satan who end up being cast out of heaven to the earth (Revelation 12:7-12). There is a great supper to celebrate the marriage of Jesus with His Bride, the Church (Revelation 19:7-9). Then we'll saddle-up on white horses to accompany Jesus in the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation19:14).
Jesus will lock up Satan then establish His kingdom on earth where He fulfills His promises to Israel making them the leading nation in the world (Isaiah 60-62). Jesus will rule for 1000 years (Revelation 20:4) from Jerusalem (Isaiah 24:23, Zechariah 14:9). The Church will govern the nations in the name of the Lord (Daniel 7:27, 2 Timothy 2:12 Revelation2:26-27, 5:10). The nations will for the first time experience peace on earth (Isaiah 2:4, 11:9). Creation will be freed from the curse of man's sin and restored to its original beauty, balance, and peace (Romans 8:18-23). But with all this going for them, the decendants of those who Jesus spared after Armageddon will stage one more futile rebellion when Satan is set free at the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ (Revelation 20:7-10).
Jesus then judges all who died in rebellion and unbelief throughout time. They too are given eternal bodies but are condemned to the lake of fire where they'll be in torment forever (Revelation 20:11-15). God will renovate heaven and earth by fire (2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 21:1) and His faithful will live with Him in a spectacular New Jerusalem forever (Revelation 20:9-27). The Bible doesn't tell us much about what we'll be doing but, knowing my Lord, we will not be bored!
If you're not certain you have a reservation in the New Jerusalem, you can rectify this right now. Just put your trust in Jesus and commit your life to Him. "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).