The Tribulation

Revelation – The Tribulation

 

Cal Poulsen

Scripture Insights

10-14-14

After the Rapture of the Body of Christ we find God turning His attention to the Nation of Israel. Specifically we see the events of (Daniel 9:26-27) being played out in history.  The Tribulation, which is the last seven years of history, as we know it has begun.

Daniel 9:26 

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

Daniel 9:27 

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Out of the 490 years that had been determined on the Nation of Israel, 483 of those years ended at the Crucifixion of Christ. That left seven more years to make the prophecy complete. It is called the seven years of the Tribulation.

The Book of Revelation is all about the events concerning the Tribulation.   It is the unfolding of this final seven years of God dealing with the human race in general, but the Nation of Israel in particular.

The opening event of this final seven years is the appearance of the antichrist. He will negotiate and then sign a peace treaty with the Nation of Israel. He will come on the scene as a tremendous political manipulator and will be a charismatic type individual. He will be able to walk into any kind of summit meeting and command attention. They will listen to him, and, consequently, he will bring himself to a place of having the power of making a peace treaty with Israel.

The opening of the seven years will not only reveal the antichrist, but also his letting the Nation of Israel resume their Temple worship, with their animal sacrifices, and other Law related rituals. Even as we speak, the Nation of Israel has everything ready to resume Temple worship. But they don't have the place where the Temple must be built. The Temple Mount now is occupied by the Mosque of Omar or better known as the “Dome on the Rock.” 

Only a Sovereign God can make this Jewish Holy place ready when the time comes. But we do know that Israel will have Temple worship for the first three and one half years, all with the approval of this man the antichrist. So today, this is Israel's anticipation, that they will have their Messiah and their Temple worship. But remember, Israel is looking for their Messiah to come the first time, because they didn’t recognize that Jesus Christ was the Messiah during His first Advent.  The apostle Peter was the only Apostle who knew the true identity of Jesus the Christ.

Matthew 16:15 

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

Matthew 16:16 

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Matthew 16:17 

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

The people may have had various opinions and ideas about Jesus’ identity, but Jesus was concerned about what his chosen twelve believed about him. So he asked them, “Who do you say I am?” Peter, often the one to speak up when the others might be silent, declared what he had come to understand, “You are the Messiah, (Daniel 6:25-26) the Son of the living God.” In his declaration, Peter proclaimed Jesus to be the promised King and Deliverer. This is the core of the gospel message. 

The disciples, however, still needed further understanding. Although it certainly had already crossed their minds that Jesus might be the Messiah, they still needed to learn about their role as agents of the promised Messiah and their role in his Kingdom. They did not yet fully understand the kind of King Jesus would be. Peter, and indeed all Israel, expected the Messiah to be a conqueror-liberator who would free the nation from Rome. Yet Jesus would be a totally different kind of liberator, for he would conquer sin and death and free people from sin’s grasp.

All of the disciples may have had glimmers of understanding about who Jesus was, but Jesus perceived the depth of Peter’s confession of faith. Thus Jesus called him blessed, meaning especially favored by God’s gracious approval. Peter is pictured as the focus of divine revelation. No human being had showed Peter the truth he had just spoken (Matthew 16:16); instead, Jesus’ Father in heaven had revealed it to him. Then, as now, true understanding of whom Jesus is and the ability to confess that fact does not come from our human nature or will, but from God alone. You can see from this verse that the apostle Peter had a special revelation from God.  There is no scriptural assurance that the other eleven apostles shared in this belief or not.  Scripture is silent on this subject only confirming that they the eleven, needed additional insight.

In (Daniel 9:25-26) we find the term Messiah referring to Jesus Christ.  These are the only two verses in the Old Testament verifying that Christ is the long awaited Messiah or anointed one, the expected deliverer of the Jewish people.

Daniel 9:26 

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:

In this verse the statement “Messiah be cut off,” confirms the crucifixion of Christ.

At the opening of the Tribulation, there will be the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3). We studied how these two will be on the streets of Jerusalem. They will begin a witness of the Jehovah God to the Nation of Israel.

Then comes the sealing of the 144,000 Jews who will come on the scene (Revelation 7:3-8).  They will not be preaching the “Gospel of Grace,” Faith in the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ for salvation, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  That is the message to the Gentiles based on the dispensation of grace given to us by Jesus Christ through the apostle Paul.      

The 144,000 will be preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, that Jesus, John the Baptist, and the twelve preached that the King is coming. Repent and be baptized. The term “Kingdom of Heaven,” is found 32 times only in the book of Matthew.  Like John the Baptist, Jesus also proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.  After John the Baptist was imprisoned Jesus began preaching that the “kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 4:17 

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The Kingdom of Heaven on earth is what all Jews are waiting for.  It will be heaven on earth.  This of course is only possible when Christ returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Luke 23:2, Revelation 19:16).  This will certainly be good news for that period of history. The 144,000 will preach this message all over the world (Matthew 24:14) and then the end will come.

Shortly after the Tribulation begins, the Russian confederation (Ezekiel 38:2) will invade Israel. God will destroy them on the hills of Israel, so that will be a quick removal of those nations as enemies of Israel. This is not the battle of Armageddon. When the seals are removed, we find that one-fourth of the human race will be destroyed. By the time we come to the mid-point of the Tribulation, we find that the two witnesses will be killed and their bodies will lie on a street in Jerusalem for three and one half days.

Revelation 11:6 

These (2 witnesses) have power to shut heaven that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

Revelation 11:7  

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

Revelation 11:8 

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

Then they will be resurrected and the whole world will see them ascend back to Heaven.  This will be a time of great fear among the people.

Revelation 11:11 

And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

Revelation 11:12 

And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

Then at the mid-point of the Tribulation, the antichrist will come into the Temple in Jerusalem, and make war on the Jews. He will defile the Temple and set himself up as God, and force the Jew to worship him. Consequently, they will come under the horrible persecution of this man. Also at the mid-point, we find that Satan is cast down from Heaven for the final time.

Revelation 12:9 

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

This is the first expansion on the pictures described in (Revelation 12:1-6). What John saw next fills in more detail of what was described in (Revelation 12:7-9) regarding Satan’s expulsion from heaven.

Revelation 12:7 

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Revelation 12:8 

And prevailed not (the dragon-Satan); neither was their place found any more in heaven.

Revelation 12:9 

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Satan’s expulsion from heaven began as a war in heaven between Michael and the angels of God and the dragon (Satan) and his angels. Michael is a high-ranking angel, called an archangel. Throughout Jewish literature, Michael is named as the one who comes to the aid of God’s people. He was seen as one of their protectors (Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; Jude 1:9). Notice that the battle here was not between God and Satan or between Christ and Satan but between Michael and Satan. Warfare raged, and the dragon lost the battle. The Bible is silent on the type of warfare that was waged.  As a result, Satan and his minions were forced out of heaven. Having lost their place, they are already vanquished foes. Satan was thrown down to the earth, and he went about his work of deceiving the whole world.  This is his final revolt before his destruction (Revelation 20:10).

Revelation 20:10 

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Here, the great dragon is identified as the ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan. The Devil is not a symbol or legend; he is very real. The Devil, God’s enemy, constantly tries to hinder God’s work, but he is limited by God’s power and can do only what he is permitted to do (Job 1:6–2:6). The name Satan means “accuser” (Revelation 12:10). He actively looks for people to accuse and attack (1 Peter 5:8-9). Satan likes to pursue believers who are vulnerable in their faith, who are spiritually weak, or who are isolated from other believers (1 Peter 5:8).

1 Peter 5:8 

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Satan has already been defeated because of Christ’s death on the cross (Revelation 12:10-12). Even though God permits the Devil to do his work in this world, God is still in control. And Jesus has complete power over Satan; he defeated Satan when he died and rose again. One day Satan will be bound forever, never again to do his evil work (Revelation 20:10).

Satan fell to the earth with “all his angels,” referring to demons. As the enemies of God, they work against God’s people. Satan is not omnipresent. He cannot be everywhere at once, so his demons work for him. Demons are fallen angels, sinful spiritual beings who have Satan as their leader (Matthew 25:41; Luke 11:15). Revelation highlights three evil powers that will oppose God’s people during the end times: Satan, pictured as a dragon (Revelation 12:9); the beast, better known as the antichrist (Revelation 13:1-10); and the false prophet (Revelation 13:11; Revelation 16:13). Demons serve as agents of this evil trinity. They seduce people, and will establish the notorious kingdom of Babylon, and will lead a worldwide offensive against God’s people (Revelation 16:1-14).

Satan knows his time is short.  Just three and one-half years.  So now not only must the earth endure the wrath of Satan, but also in the Scriptures, they must endure the Wrath of God. That is going to be a double-barreled unloading upon this planet. On one hand, from the satanic forces, and on the other from a righteous God. You and I as human beings can't comprehend what these last years will be like. Remember what Jesus said in (Matthew 24:21-22).

Matthew 24:21 

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Matthew 24:22 

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

This will be a time of greater horror. More than anything the world has ever seen or will ever see again. Great suffering is in store for God’s people throughout the years ahead. The Jewish historian Josephus recorded that when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and devastated Judea, one hundred thousand Jews were taken prisoner and another 1.1 million died by slaughter and starvation. Jesus’ words also point ultimately to the final period of tribulation at the end of the age because nothing like it had ever been seen or would ever be seen again. Yet the great suffering is tempered by a great promise of hope for true believers.

The persecution will be so severe that those days had to be shortened. That is, if they did not have a specific ending time, the entire human race would be destroyed. This refers to physical survival as opposed to (Matthew 24:13), spiritual survival. The time would be cut short for the sake of God’s chosen ones so that the destruction will not wipe out God’s people and thus their mission. God is ultimately in charge of history and will not allow evil to exceed the bounds he has set.

Having now consummated these seven years, Christ will return at His Second Coming, and destroy the remaining armies at Jerusalem in the battle of Armageddon. As a result of the curse being lifted, and the defeat of Satan, the earth will be renewed which God will accomplish in short order, making it ready for the Kingdom.

Christ will then set up His Kingdom on earth and it will be glorious. The earth will be brought back like it was in the Garden of Eden. Now comes the thousand-year reign and rule with Him upon this earth. We must remind ourselves that the Kingdom has been spoken of and prophesied about all the way through the Old Testament.  But it isn't until we get to Revelation that we have a time frame attached to it of a thousand years.

Revelation 20:4 

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

This is a literal thousand years and should be interpreted as such.  Without this fact the King, Jesus, would have no kingdom to rule over.  The apostles would have no thrones to sit on as they reign with Christ.  Remember what Jesus said to Peter the apostle when asked what they would receive for giving up everything.  Christ’s answer was an affirmation to the thousand-year reign. 

Matthew 19:27 

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

Matthew 19:28 

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Old Testament speaks of it as being forever and eternal yet Revelation speaks of a thousand years. The reason the first part of it must be limited for a thousand years is this.  As a result of the events of the Tribulation, most of the world's population is going to lose their lives. Most of those who have become believers as a result of the preaching of the 144,000 will have been martyred, and they will be resurrected with the Old Testament saints at a later time.

By the time we come to the end of the seven years, (Isaiah 24:6), "There will be few men left." However, there will be survivors. Some of who have heard the message and believed will be mostly Gentiles who will become the body of people representing the Gentile nations who will repopulate the earth during this thousand-year rule. The rest who survive will be lost. We then find these two groups standing before God as the Kingdom is set up in (Matthew 25:32-46). They are noted as sheep and goats. One group, the sheep, will inherit the Kingdom. The other group, the goats, will go into everlasting punishment.

We will also have another flesh and blood group that will go into the Kingdom, and that is the remnant of Israel. We saw that they went down into the mountains Southeast of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:16), at the mid-point of the Tribulation.

Matthew 24:16 

Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

God will feed, clothe, and protect them there for the final three and one-half years. Most will go out in unbelief, but will believe when they see Christ at His Second Coming. They will be the Jewish people who go into this Kingdom to repopulate it for the Nation of Israel.

Coming into the Kingdom with Christ ruling and reigning as King, we have the Gentile believers, and the believers from the remnant of Israel. These two flesh and blood groups will be responsible to repopulate the whole world. There will be a tremendous population explosion. The curse is lifted, so there will be no pain in childbirth, and these children that are born will live the entire thousand years. There will be no sin, and Satan will have been locked up (Revelation 20:2) these 1,000 years. It will be like the Garden of Eden, but on a worldwide basis.

The children coming from these believers, though they are born with the old sin nature, do not have a tempter to exploit it, since Satan is locked up during that time. However, keep in mind that they have been living under the rule of the King. Also, these children have not had to make a choice for, or against God, as you and I and the rest of the believers had to make. So we find at the end of the thousand years that Satan must be released (Revelation 20:7) just for a little season. This will be a time of testing for the children as they are now adults. They will have to exercise their free will even as we did.

Revelation 20:7 

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

So Satan is brought back for the sole purpose of giving these new generations of children that choice to choose between Christ and Satan. Satan is given the opportunity to present his options to these children. Because the Kingdom has been so glorious, who could want anything different? Remember, Eve had it that good, but gave into Satan’s ploy.  It’s possible that the same thing will happen here. After they have made their choice, and when some try to come against God, He will destroy them with fire.

That then will be the end of time, as we know it. After all that has happened, it's time for the Great White Throne judgment, where all the lost will be resurrected out of hell to be judged by Christ, and then sent to their final doom in the lake of fire.

 

Your questions and comments are always appreciated.

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