Tribulation

A. INTRODUCTION

(Some portions of Scripture applicable to this period are the following: Dan 2; 7; 9:24-27; Eze 38-39; 1The 4-5; 2The 2; Matt 24:3-31; Book of Revelation).

The previous three study guides dealt with the Bride’s departure and what will subsequently happen to her in heaven.

But what will be happening down below on earth during that period and how important is it for us to know the details?

The period in question is primarily of importance to the unredeemed multitudes that remain behind at the rapture. Since the aim of this series of study guides is to provide solid, basic teaching for the preparation of the Bride for the rapture, we will not be dealing in detail with occurrences during this period following the rapture. We will only provide a framework of events as seen by some leading Christian theologians.

Those that are stirred by the Spirit to delve deeper, should do so by all means. Acquire material written by esteemed Bible students, take time at it and depend on the Holy Spirit to guide you. Keep focused on the Lord Jesus. It is an exerting but fascinating study.  

B. THE SEVEN YEARS OF TRIBULATION

(Symbolized by a week of 7 days where each day signifies one year, Dan 9:27).

1. Onset

  • Commences immediately, or soon after the rapture.
  • Is divided into two periods of 3½ years each. Midpoint will be when the anti-Christ breaks his covenant at mid-week (Dan 9:27).
  • The second portion is known as the great tribulation (Rev 7:14).
  • It will be the darkest time this world has ever known.

2. Nation groupings during the tribulation

The prophet Daniel provides the clearest picture of the successive nations that would rule the earth, as from then on and leading up to the tribulation. The last two lines are added to depict how the rule of the anti-Christ and of Christ follows on.

Empire Dan 2: statue Dan 7: beast
Babylon Head of gold Lion
Medo-Persia Chest and arms of silver Bear
Greece Belly and thighs of bronze Leopard
Rome I(Historical Rome) Legs of iron Terrible beast
Rome II(Future, final Roman Em-pire) Feet and  10 toes of iron and clay Ten horns
Anti-Christ Little horn
Christ’s Kingdom The Stone come loose, crushing the image Son of Man receives the Kingdom

(Based on Mark Hitchcock’s book, The End, published by Tyndale House.)

Rome II: The 10 toes of Daniel’s prophecy have never existed and probably bears on a group of ten nations that will be a revived Roman Empire, symbolized by the ten toes of Dan 2 and the ten horns in Dan 7. So, let us then get to nation groupings that will exist during the tribulation.

  • Firstly, a central ten nation European confederacy led by the anti-Christ will dominate.
  • Secondly, a northern confederacy led by Russia and including some North-African countries (Eze 38-39). The following nations may be part of it (Mark Hitchcock, supra, pg 299):
Ancient name Modern nation
Rosh (Rashu, Rasapu, Ros and Rus) Russia
Magog (Scythians) Centr Asia & possibly Afghanistan
Meshech (Muschki and Kusku) Turkey
Tubal (Tubalu) Turkey
Persia Iran
Ethiopia (Cush) Sudan
Libya (Put or Phut) Libya
Gomer (Cimmerians) Turkey
Beth-togarma (Til-garamu or Tegarma) Turkey
  • Thirdly, an Eastern group that will, as the name indicates, consist of several Eastern countries.

3. The anti-Christ

  • His name and position
    • He is called anti-Christ 4 times (1 and 2John).
    • His name signifies that His main characteristic will be his opposing of Christ.
    • His strategy will include the setting up of himself as Christ, that is, pretending to be Christ (2The 2:4).
    • He is also known as “The man of sin,” (2Thes 2:3) and “The lawless one (2Thes 2:8).”
  • His origin and power
    • He will arise from the sea, that is from the nations and is signified by the small horn in Dan 7:8.
    • From which ranks of humanity will he come? There is much speculation. My personal feeling is that he will be from the ranks of Islam. Why? That was where the lineage of Abraham first split into a godly and ungodly line that exists till today.

When God was in the process of raising up a nation for Himself through Abraham, Ishmael was born of the flesh. Abraham was later commanded by God to send him away so that he would not inherit what was due to Isaac, the son of faith.

Ishmael never “died” to this day. He lives through his descendants and they are not a nation but an ideology, a religion infiltrating every country of the world. They are set on gaining world dominance. Ishmael has not given up. He was the first-born and is convinced that this world and its peoples rightly belong to him.

He will be empowered by satan, be his front man, his embodiment, just as Christ came as God in the flesh.

  • His rise
    • He will be alive but unknown just before the rapture.
    • He will be held back by the Holy Sprit operating in and through the Church of Christ (2The 2:6).
    • He will emerge soon after the rapture.
    • Circumstances just after the rapture of God’s people will favour him (see later).
    • He will be a dynamic, commanding, charming, intelligent, faith inspiring person (2Cor 11:14).
    • He will lead one of the three prominent nations, then all ten (Dan 7:8).
    • He will be wounded as if mortally (Rev 13:3).
    • He will recover from his apparently mortal sword wound.
    • His astounding recovery will catapult him into the position of overall world leader (Dan 7:8).
    • Nobody will then dare make war against him (Rev 13:4).
  • His rule
    • At the outset he will masquerade as a man of peace.
    • He will conclude a peace treaty between the group of ten nations and many others, including Israel. That will bring an end to the tension in the Middle East because of the ongoing conflict between Israel and its neighbours (Dan 9:27).
    • Israel will then be allowed to offer sacrifices, probably in a rebuilt temple.
    • After 3½ years his mask will come off and he will show his true colours.
    • This second period of 3½ years is known as the great tribulation.
    • He will then break his covenant with Israel, leaving them in an unprepared and vulnerable position for attacks by other nations (Dan 9:27).
    • He will desecrate Israel’s temple by entering into the Holiest of Holies, bring an end to the ongoing sacrifices to God (Dan 9:27) and, assisted by the false prophet have an image set up there which all will have to worship (Dan 12:11 and Rev 13:15).
    • He will henceforth rule with satanic brutality.
    • His vengeance will mainly be directed at the people of God, those that had accepted Jesus as Saviour after the rapture. He will receive authority to make war with the saints for forty-two months and to overcome them (Rev 13:5).
    • He will boldly blaspheme the Name of God (Rev 13:5).
    • He will also exercise authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. (Rev 13:7).
    • His police and army will rule the world with an iron fist.

4. The false prophet

    • He will come from the land, or soil which God separated from the sea, setting it apart as the habitat for man (Rev 13:11).
    • A prophet speaks for God but this unholy prophet will speak for the dragon, the devil and for his earthly ruler, anti-Christ.
    • Anti-Christ will be the arm and hand ruling the nations and the false prophet will be the mouth supporting him doctrinally. They will operate in unison much like Moses and Aron did.
    • From which ranks will the false prophet come? There have been many false prophets, both during Old- and New Testament times. They came from the ranks of those that were supposed to be spokesmen for God, spiritual leaders of God’s people, but had forsaken Him for fame and wealth, like Balaam.

So we can assume that he will be from an apostate church that will have worldwide influence and be able to draw together followers from most worldly religions, uniting them in a satanic inspired denomination which will work hand in hand with the anti-Christ and his one-world government. I can think of only one present day denomination answering to those specifications but will refrain from naming it.

    • He will perform great signs, even making fire fall from heaven as Elijah did in the sight of people (Rev 13:13).
    • He will cause one and all to be given marks on their right hands, or on their foreheads to publicly acknowledge anti-Christ as their God.
    • No one will be able to buy or to sell, unless he has that mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name(Rev 13:16,17).

This number is 666. Six is the number of man, being created on the sixth day. Three is the number for the Trinity. So, the three sixes is the sign of the godman usurping God’s place. The second and third sixes will also refer to the other two personalities of the unholy unity namely satan and the false prophet (Rev 13:18).

5. Evangelism during the tribulation

  • From the day of creation of our universe, God had in mind to raise up a people for Himself, a Bride for His Son and He has never given up on it or even paused for a period. During the tribulation He will continue to do so. Hard times have often been the most fruitful opportunities for evangelism.
  • Although the Bride of Christ will have left and her voice no longer heard, the Holy spirit will still be at work in the hearts of people, contending with them, pleading with them, reminding them of the words and testimony of loved ones and friends.
  • There will also remain masses of books and electronic records of spiritual teaching. Above all, man’s best advisor, the Bible, will also be available, even those in which texts had been underlined and notes made by spouses, parents, grandparents and friends. No doubt the anti-Christ will later ban and order them to be destroyed, but some will be spared and read.
  • The rapture itself will have had an enormous impact on those that had heard the Gospel but refused or postponed accepting Jesus as Saviour.
  • There also will be two mighty prophets of God speaking on His behalf. Although their message will not be the Gospel of salvation, but rather the pronouncing of judgment, they will nevertheless be an indisputable sign that God is alive and in control during satan’s last fury.

Who will they be? Like John the Baptist’s ministry, their ministries will resemble that of some OT prophets, possibly that of Moses and Elijah since they were prophets that had been closely connected with the deliverance of God’s people from satanic oppression by means of supernatural signs and wonders. They were also with Jesus on the mountain, conversing on His crucifixion and ascension. So, these two witnesses will resemble their ministries, but they will not be the resurrected prophets of old (Rev 11:1-12).

  • The result of it all will be a massive turning to Jesus.
  • Vast numbers of newly born-again children of God will refuse to take the mark of the beast and will be persecuted and martyred. They will be swept away by the angels and brought to the Throne of God. There they will join the heavenly hosts in praising their Saviour. Hallelujah!

One of the elders answered, saying to me, These who are arrayed in the white robes, who are they, and from where did they come?” I told him, My lord, you know. He said to me, These are those who came out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lambs blood. Rev 7:13,14. 

6. The Gog and Magog war against Israel

  • Russia and its confederates, mentioned earlier, will unite against Israel.
  • This will take place towards the end of the first half of the tribulation, though others place it at the end of the tribulation.
  • The reason for the attack is not clear, but could be an indirect blow at the anti-Christ confederacy that will be in covenant with God’s nation. It could also be an anti-Semitic sentiment or simply the lust after land, wealth and power.
  • Israel will have no chance against this mighty army, but God’s anger will be stirred up and He will intervene and destroy their army. This is vividly described in Eze 38:1 to 39:24. In so doing, God will use an earthquake, hail, diseases and infighting amongst the participating nations. The quantity of weaponry remaining on the battlefield will be so huge that Israel will use them for seven years to make “fire” This might mean that they will largely benefit financially by the war they had no need to fight.

By this war, God will show to Israel, but also to all the other nations that He is still in control and that the time of Israel’s punishment for their rejection of Him, has come to an end (Do read the two mentioned chapters.)

7. The Last 3 1/2 Years

One would think that after such a terrible defeat in which the hand of God was clearly seen, the devil would acknowledge that he is no match for God Allmighty and would retreat from this world. But this will not be. The last 3 1/2 years of of the tribulation will be known for his all-out effort to gain the final victory.  Therefor, as said before, this period is known as the Great Tribulation (Rev 7:14) during which those that refuse the mark of the beast will suffer immensely.  

Then, at last, the end of the seven years of satan’s rule will dawn and the time will have come for the next event in God’s timeline which is the second coming of Christ and His 1000 years of peaceful reign on earth.

The tribulation might therefor be seen as the birth pangs preceding the birthing again of the Garden of Eden.

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