End Time Series #4: Tribulation Overview
By Rod Nichols (Rod@RodNichols.com)
In the last installment we discussed the rapture; the removing of the church from the earth. Sometime after the rapture, a period of tribulation will begin. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 24:21 (NKJV) "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be." The prophet Daniel also spoke of it in Daniel 12:1 (NIV) "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then."
Why is it necessary to have a tribulation?
1. To fulfill the prophesied hardening and punishment of Israel, because of her rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.
"He said, "Go and tell this people: 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." Then I said, 'For how long, O Lord?' And he answered: 'Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land."
"Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: 'Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?'
"For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 'He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them.' Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him." (John 12:37-41)
"What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written:
'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.' And David says: 'May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.'" (Romans 11:7-10)
2. To produce a messianic revival among the Jewish people scattered throughout the world.
"And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them." (Deuteronomy 4:27-31)
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."
"After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 'Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.' Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel." (Revelation 7:1-4)
3. To convince the nation of Israel of their need for Jesus, the Messiah.
"I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered-with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. 35 I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. 36 As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign LORD . 37 I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. 38 I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD." (Ezekiel 20:31-34)
"The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' I said, 'O Sovereign LORD , you alone know.'
Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!" (Ezek 37:1-4)
4. To end the time of the Gentiles and their domination of the Jewish people.
"I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in." (Romans 11:25)
5. To purge the earth of wicked people in order to establish the messianic kingdom in righteousness.
"See, the day of the LORD is coming -a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger- to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it." (Isaiah 13:9)
How long is the tribulation?
The tribulation is a seven year period following the rapture:
Daniel 9:24-26 “"Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 25 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.”
“Seventy sevens” is interpreted as 70 seven year periods or 490 years.
First 483 years started when Nehemiah received approval to rebuild the wall and ended at the crucifixion of the Christ.
The last seven years is a prophetic time in the future that is called the Tribulation.
What will happen during the tribulation?
In the next two installments I will cover all the major events in detail, so in this installment I'm just going to give you the highlights:
1. Ten kingdoms - due to the chaos caused by the rapture and great unrest in the world, the earth will be transformed into 10 kingdoms with ten leaders.
2. The anti-christ will arise from the world political scene.
3. The anti-christ will negotiate a 7 year peace treaty with Israel. Part of the agreement will be to rebuild the temple and re-instate animal sacrifices.
4. World War 3 - three of the world leaders will rise up against the anti-christ and the war of all wars will erupt.
5. Inflation, famine, plagues - the war will destroy the economic system and there will be so many dead bodies that plagues will sweep through the world cause more deaths than at any other time of history.
6. One world government and religion - the anti-christ will manipulate the remaining leaders into a world government and will call for all religions to unite.
7. Two super witnesses - God will send two prophets who will speak the word of God for 3-1/2 years causing a great revival among the Jews.
8. False prophet - 2nd in command to the anti-christ. Will perform many miracles and give credit to the anti-christ.
9. Great soul harvest - a massive number of people will accept Jesus.
10. Great earthquake - so massive it will move the mountains and islands.
11. Volcanic eruptions - the ash will blacken the sun and cause the moon to appear red.
12. Meteorites or small asteroids hit earth.
13. Six trumpet judgments.
14. Two super witnesses are killed by the anti-christ and resurrected by God 3-1/2 days later.
15. Another severe earthquake.
16. Anti-christ is either fatally wounded or stages his own assassination.
17. God cuts off Satan (from access to heaven) and binds him to earth.
18. The anti-christ breaks the treaty with Israel and proclaims himself to be god.
19. The false prophet builds a statue of the anti-christ and requires everyone to bow down and worship or die.
20. God provides a safe place in the desert for His chosen people (Jews) and supernaturally protects them for the balance of the tribulation.
21. The anti-christ rebuilds Babylon and a thriving new economic system.
22. False prophet requires people to take the mark of the anti-christ or die.
23. God sends three angels to give people final warnings.
24. Final soul harvest.
25. Seven bowl judgments.
26. Jesus finally returns to earth with a heavenly army to destroy evil.
27. Battle of Armageddon.
28. Anti-christ and false prophet captured and thrown into the lake of fire.
29. Satan captured and bound for 1000 years.
Jesus spoke of the terrible tribulation in Matthew 24:21-22 (NIV) "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. 22If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened."
Clearly you and anyone you love will not want to be there for the tribulation. Thank God that He did not intend us for wrath and will spare us through the rapture of the church. However, those who don't know Jesus will not be spared. Over the next couple weeks, I will be discussing the first and second halves of the tribulation in great and sometimes gory detail. If you have people in your life who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord, pass these messages on to them, so they can be aware of what is in store for them. Then continue praying that the Holy Spirit will lead them to Jesus.
Rod Nichols is an Associate Pastor at Truth and Grace Foursquare Church in Tacoma, WA. He is also a published author and accomplished public speaker and teacher. Rod’s latest articles and books can be found at www.RodNichols.com. Rod is married with five children. He and his wife Karen live in beautiful Washington State. Rod is available as a freelance writer. If you'd like to hire him, e-mail Rod@RodNichols.com.
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