End Time Series #5: First Half of the Tribulation
By Rod Nichols (Rod@RodNichols.com)
In the previous installment, I gave you a quick overview of the seven year tribulation which will follow the rapture. This seven year period is divided into two forty-two month periods, so in this installment and the next you will gain a detailed look at the events that will transpire during each 3-1/2 year time frame. In this installment we will be examining the twenty main events that will occur in the first half of the tribulation:
1. Ten Kingdoms
Daniel 7:23-24 reads: “He gave me this explanation: 'The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.”
Revelation 17:12 says: “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.”
These scriptures, the first a prophetic vision given to Daniel and the second a prophetic vision given to the Apostle John, both describe a time at the beginning of the tribulation when the world will be divided into ten kingdoms. It is likely that after millions of people disappear (the rapture) there will be great confusion and chaos in the world and thus the need for a restructuring of the world governments.
Actually, the basis for these ten kingdoms began after World War 1 when the League of Nations was created. It continued in 1921 with the creation of the Council on Foreign War Relations (CFR), which has consistently promoted a new world order. The CFR was the primary mover in creating the United Nations in 1945. The U.N. is viewed by many bible scholars as the forerunner of the ten kingdoms that will emerge.
However, there are other viewpoints as well. For example, in 1968 a group of elite world leaders met and formed Club Rome. They divided the world up into ten kingdoms, each ruled by a wise and powerful leader and then wrote a world constitution. Others believe that there are powerful secret organizations, such as the Free Masons, Illuminati, Carbonari, Bilderburgs, Rosicrucians, Jesuits, and Knights of Templar, who are involved in the planning of a new world order.
It actually doesn’t matter who creates these ten kingdoms, we know from the scriptures that they will be formed and that after this restructuring of the world, the anti-christ will emerge.
2. The Anti-Christ
Daniel 7:24-25 reads: “The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.” (Note: the saints referred to here are the tribulation saints – those who come to know Christ after the rapture.)
It is clear from this scripture that after the ten kingdoms are established, another king will arise. This will be the man that Paul spoke of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (the man of sin/lawlessness and the son of perdition).
Although there is no clear description of the anti-christ, there are some consistent view points. Keep in mind that these are just the view points of theologians; however they are backed by scripture, so study the scripture references and decide for yourself.
The anti-christ will obviously be a charismatic political leader, as he will unite a chaotic and confused world. Revelation 13:3-4 portrays him as a rider on a white horse. Now, many say that this is Jesus, but it cannot be so, as this rider is the first of the Seal Judgments. The rider has a bow, but no arrows, which means that he will use words rather than force to conquer. We know that he is successful in his conquest, because he is given a crown. Very likely this person will be hailed as a great emancipator, as he brings peace to the world.
The anti-christ will likely be of Jewish decent. Daniel 11:37 says: “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.” The Hebrew word translated as God in this passage is 'elohiym, which is one of the names of Father God (the only supreme and true God). So clearly, this man is from ancestry that believed in God. Also, the anti-christ’s first accomplishment is to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel and it is unlikely that this could be done unless he was Jewish.
It is possible that the anti-christ will be a homosexual. Back to Daniel 11:37, we see that it says that he shall not regard the desire of women. This would seem to fit with the increasing interest and acceptance of homosexuality, which is clearly contrary to God’s design.
The anti-christ will likely have background in the occult and may even be a satanist. Revelation 13:2 says that the dragon (satan) will give the beast (anti-christ) his power, throne, and authority. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 says that the coming of the anti-christ is according to the work of satan.
We know that the anti-christ will be a cunning deceiver. Daniel 8:25 reads: “He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” At the beginning of the tribulation, the anti-christ will lull the people of earth into a false sense of peace and security. He will then use his power to manipulate and control.
3. Seven Year Peace Treaty
Daniel 9:27 (NIV) “He will confirm a covenant with many for one seven.”
One seven is interpreted as seven years, so this will be a seven year treaty. Most theologians interpret this as a peace treaty with Israel, however it could also be a treaty with the world leaders.
4. Jewish Temple Rebuilt and Sacrifice Restored.
The anti-christ will allow the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and animal sacrifice will be restored. It has been reported that there are Jewish factions already making plans for rebuilding the temple and re-instating animal sacrifice. Now, the Bible does not say that these things will happen, however in the last part of Daniel 9:27 it says that the anti-christ will set up an abomination (more on this in the next installment) on a wing of the temple. Right now the temple does not exist, which means it must be rebuilt. Also, it says that half way through the tribulation, the anti-christ will put and end to sacrifice and offerings, which means they must first be restored.
5. World War
Revelation 6:3-4 reads: “When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, ‘Come!’ Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.” This is the second of the seal judgments and also known as the second horseman of the apocalypse.
If we combine this scripture with Daniel 7:24, it appears that three of the kings will rise up against the anti-christ and launch war. The anti-christ will subdue (kill) the three kings and put down the uprising, but it will devastate the world.
6. Inflation and Famine
Revelation 6:5-6 says: “When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
Likely due to the war, goods will be scarce and very expensive. The basic foods of life will be so expensive that the average person will have difficulty affording them.
Revelation 6:7-8 “When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.”
A quarter of the earth’s population will be killed during the war or after. Many will die of starvation and plagues. As for the “wild beasts,” we don’t know if this literally refers to wild beasts that turn against man or if it refers to evil men. However, clearly this is a bad time for mankind.
8. One World Government
Out of the chaos of war, the anti-christ will set up a world government, housed in the middle east and will establish himself as the ruler. Technology such as satellite television and the internet will enable him to communicate with people throughout the world. He will likely promise food, housing, and work which will make him even more popular and acceptable as the world ruler.
9. One World Religion
With all the Christians gone, the anti-christ will bring together all remaining religions under one master religion. Today’s secular humanism and the new age movement are probably forerunners of this new religion.
Revelation 17:4-6 describes Babylon (the new economic system) and the new religion. “The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.”
The anti-christ will re-establish the “Babylonian Cult,” out of which the Roman Catholic Church was born. In his book Dispensational Truth, Dr. Clarence Larkin gives strong evidence that this new religion will be heavily based in the remnant of the Catholic Church. Dr. Tim LaHaye supports this view in great detail in his book Revelation Unveiled.
It appears that this religion will initially have some power over the ten kings and even the anti-christ, as in Revelation 17:16 it says that they hate the prostitute and bring her to ruin, which would likely happen during the second half of the tribulation.
10. Two Super Witnesses
Revelation 11:3-6 “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.”
God sends two prophets to witness primarily to the Jews who are still looking for the Messiah. Many a theologian has made attempts at identifying these two witnesses. Most believe that one of them will be Elijah, because Malachi 4:5-6 foretells of his return. Also, because he was the only prophet who commanded heavenly fire and these new witnesses will have command of heavenly fire. Also, God took him alive.
The second is more of a mystery. Some believe it will be Moses, because God used him to turn the waters to blood and he was a great witness to the Jewish people. Others believe that it will be Enoch, since he is the only other person taken by God alive. Based on Hebrews 9:27 “man is destined to die once and after that face judgment,” Elijah and Enoch are the only two who could be brought back to earth to die for the first time. However, only God knows who they will be. All we need to know is that God loves mankind so much that he will do whatever it takes to keep people from going to Hell.
11. Second Beast / False Prophet
Revelation 13:11-14 “Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.”
John the Baptist was anointed by God to show the way to Jesus, the Messiah. This second beast will, through deceit and miraculous signs, show the way to the anti-christ.
12. 144,000 Jewish Converts
Revelation 7:3-4 “ ‘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.”
Theologians are split on whether the 144,000 is a literal number or just represents a large number. However, they agree that these are Jewish converts, probably in response to the two super witnesses. These converts will take over the witnessing. Imagine having 144,000 (or a large number) of Apostle Paul’s? That’s what it will be like.
13. Great Soul Harvest
Revelation 7:9-17 “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes–who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ Therefore, ‘they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ ”
A great many people will come to know Jesus during the tribulation. These will be known as the tribulation saints and will be honored by God for their perseverance through this most difficult time.
14. Great Earthquake
Revelation 6:12-14 “I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.”
This earthquake will be so massive it will move mountains and islands.
15. Volcanic Eruptions
Revelation 6:12 “. . . The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red . . .”
Volcanic ash will be so widespread that it will literally blacken the sun and cause the moon to look red.
16. Meteorites or Small Asteroids Hit Earth.
Revelation 6:13 “. . . and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.”
At this point, we are about 21 months into the first half of the tribulation and there is a half hour of silence in heaven, prior to the beginning of the Trumpet Judgments (seventh seal, Rev. 8:1).
17. Trumpet Judgments.
Next are the seven trumpet judgments:
One = Hail, fire, and blood rain down on earth burning 1/3 of the trees and grass. (Rev. 8:7)
Two = Fiery meteorites or asteroids hit the oceans destroying 1/3 of the sea life and ships. (Rev. 8:8)
Three = Massive asteroid (wormwood = bitterness) hits the earth and turns 1/3 of the rivers and sprints (drinking water) bitter and deadly. (Rev. 8:10-11)
Four = God strikes the sun and 1/3 of its light and heat are eliminated. Also, 1/3 of the light from the moon and stars is eliminated, making the world a darker and colder place.
Five = Demonic locust-like creatures come out of the abyss and are given the power to sting those not marked by God. They are tortured for five months and will want to die, but will not.
Six = Four fallen angels (demons) will lead 200 million demonic horsemen to kill another third of the population.
Seven = lightening, rumblings from heaven, thunder, earthquakes and hailstorms.
18. Two Super Witnesses Killed
Revelation 11:7-10 “Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.”
The witnesses have completed their earthly task and God’s protection is removed, allowing the anti-christ to kill them. It appears that the execution will be covered by the anti-christ’s version of CNN, so that the whole world can witness it. Apparently they must keep cameras on the two dead bodies, as people gloat over them. But after three and a half days, God resurrects them (Rev. 7:11-12).
19. Severe Earthquake
Revelation 11:13 “At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.” Apparently there are still some with soft hearts, as many give glory to God.
20. Anti-christ Wounded with a Sword and Dies.
Revelation 13:3-5 “One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal
wound . . .”
There are two prevailing theories. The first is that the anti-christ will be assassinated and later resurrected to replicate Jesus’ death and resurrection. The second theory is that the anti-christ fakes his own death and resurrection. More on this in the next installment.
This is the end of the first half of the tribulation. Obviously you don’t want to be there, so if you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, do so now. Acknowledge that you are a sinner and ask Him to forgive your sins. Then commit to follow Him the rest of your life. If you do this with your heart (not your head), then you are saved and have been born again. Your spirit has been revived and connected to God through the Holy Spirit who now lives in you, as your guide. If you just prayed this prayer, find a good Bible-teaching, Holy Spirit filled church to attend and where you can serve. Begin reading and meditating over the Bible every day. Talk to God, in prayer, every day as well. Also, it would be a good idea to find a mentor – someone who is solidly walking with Jesus and knows the Bible well.
Now, you probably have friends and relatives who have not accepted Jesus. Use the information in this installment to show them what they would face, if the rapture were to occur during their lifetime. Worse, if they were to die now, they would be judged for their sins, found guilty and sentenced to go to Hell (the place God created for the fallen angels). God does not want any of His children to end up in Hell, but it is our choice. Help those you know make the right choice.
In the next installment we’ll discuss the thirteen main events of the second half of the tribulation.
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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