The Tribulation (Part I)

Last week’s Preacher’s Point talked of Biblical prophecies yet fulfilled. Space only allowed us to reach the start of the Tribulation Period. This seven-year period is the topic of this week’s column.

The Tribulation begins when the Antichrist signs a covenant with many nations concerning the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish people (Daniel 9:27). 

Before we get into the Tribulation’s events, let us look at some of the main characters.

The Antichrist, aka The Beast

There will be nations with Presidents and Kings, but the Antichrist will rule the world. Nearly everyone on earth will worship him (Revelation 13:4,8). He will control the world’s economic system by forcing everyone to receive a mark to buy or sell anything (Revelation 13:16-17). He stops the sacrifices at the Temple (Daniel 9:27). At the midpoint of the Tribulation, he will walk into the Holy of Holies inside the Temple and proclaim himself to be God (Matthew 24:15).

A note about the Temple: for the Antichrist to stop the sacrifices and walk into the Holy of Holies, the Temple must be rebuilt. With some prophecies taking place inside the Temple we know it will stand again one day.

The False Prophet

The False Prophet is a charismatic religious leader who leads the world to worship the Antichrist. He can perform miracles, even calling fire down from heaven (Revelation 13:13). 

The 144,000 + 2

The 144,000 are Jewish missionaries preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ during the Tribulation. Sealed by God, they spread the salvation message around the globe. There is a good indication that they are martyred sometime during the Tribulation (Revelation 7, Revelation 14:1-5).

The “+ 2” are two witnesses that are a cut above the 144,000. These two men are around for the first half of the Tribulation, and the world hates them. Death is the result of anyone attempting to hurt them (Revelation 11:5). They shut off the rain, turn water to blood, and smite the earth with plagues as they please (Revelation 11:6). When the time of their ministry ends, the Antichrist will have the ability to kill them. The world will rejoice over their deaths. People will give gifts to one another as if it is Christmas to celebrate these men’s death. Their dead bodies will lay in the street for three and a half days (Revelation 11:7-10). Then, the entire world will hear and watch as the men stand up; the voice of God tells them to come home, and they float up into heaven (Revelation 11:11-12).

Looking at the time’s characters indicates that no one alive has seen days like this. Long story short, God returns to His Old Testament ways of doing things.

There are twenty-one significant events, some in heaven, most on earth, during the Tribulation, divided into three groups of seven – seals, trumpets, and vials. 

The Seven Seals

1. The rise of the Antichrist (Revelation 6:2).

2. War (Revelation 6:3-4).

3. Famine (Revelation 6:5-6).

4. Widespread death (Revelation 6:7-8).

Some will say that War, Famine, and Death have occurred since the world began. Yes, that is true, but now these things are local, at worst regional. Still, during the Tribulation, the plagues are worldwide.

5. The scene moves to heaven. The martyred stand before the throne and receive information that many more will soon sacrifice their lives for the cause of Christ. 

6. Back on earth, a massive earthquake, the sun turns black from the rising debris, the moon appears as blood, a meteor storm crashes into the world, and everyone on the planet runs for cover. At this point, the world knows that Jesus Christ is behind these events. Revelation 6:15-16, “…every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.”

7. The seventh seal contains the seven trumpets (Revelation 8:1).

The Seven Trumpets

1. Hail mingled with fire, and blood fall from heaven. One-third of trees and grass burn up (Revelation 8:7).

2. A giant meteor falls into the ocean, causing the death of one-third of all sea life and the destruction of one-third of the world’s shipping (Revelation 8:8-9). 

3. Another meteor. This one turns one-third of the freshwater undrinkable (Revelation 8:10-11).

4. The fourth trumpet is interesting. Revelation 8:12, “And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.” 

What makes this interesting is the day not shining for a third part of it. Does this mean the sun is only two-thirds as bright, or does it mean that the earth is spinning faster, causing the days to be only eighteen hours long? Jesus did say that unless “those days should be shortened,” no one would survive (Matthew 24:22; Mark 13:20).

5. The fifth trumpet sees an angel releasing locusts with the power of scorpions from hell onto the world. These locust-scorpions tortures the people of the earth for five months. However, the saved are not touched. The Bible explains that during the days of locusts, people will seek to kill themselves. Still, God will not allow anyone to commit suicide (Revelation 9:1-12).

We are through twelve of the twenty-one judgments, and I am well over my regular word length. Hopefully, we can finish the Tribulation next week.

When one considers the residual effects of these plagues, it is easy to see the worldwide catastrophes that occur as a result. For example – the rioting and thievery that will happen when access to fresh water is diminished.

One last thing – if what you have read already seems horrible, this is only the tip of the iceberg. It will get much, much worse.