The Tribulation (Part II)
Two weeks ago, we started looking at future events according to Biblical prophecy. Last week, the main topic was the coming Tribulation Period. We made it through the fifth trumpet.
There are twenty-one judgments divided into three sections – seals, trumpets, and vials. This week we will start with the sixth trumpet.
The sixth trumpet releases “four angels” from the Euphrates River. It will take one year, one month, one day, and one hour for these angels “to slay the third part of men.” These angels use an army of 200,000,000 horsemen to accomplish their task. Whether these horsemen are an actual human army of two-hundred million or demon-like creatures is debatable, but does it matter? They are coming. After describing this trumpet, the Bible takes an extra effort to note that people still refuse to repent (Revelation 9:13-21).
Not all the judgments mention the number of deaths, but since this one does, we should look at the carnage. Today, the population of the earth is slightly over 8 billion. We will use that as a starting point. The fourth seal kills 25% – down to 6 billion. This sixth trumpet we just discussed brings another 2 billion deaths. The population is down to a maximum of 4 billion. As a reminder of last week, several events mention death but do not give a number or percentage. Half or more of the world’s population may be killed, and there is still a year or so before the Tribulation ends.
The seventh trumpet causes events in heaven and earth. In heaven, the trumpet announces that Christ has taken ownership of the world’s kingdoms. On earth, there are “lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail” (Revelation 11:15-19).
The Seven Vials
1) Anyone that has received the “mark of the beast” will have sores all over their bodies, giving excruciating pain (Revelation 16:2).
2) Everything in the oceans dies (Revelation 16:3). Imagine the residual effects as billions of small and large sea creatures float to the surface and wash to shore. The places we consider paradise will turn into stink and death.
3) The freshwater turns to blood (Revelation 16:4-7). More dead fish. No drinking water. A natural result of this is mass chaos. People will panic in a hurry.
4) Immense heat (Revelation 16:8-9). No water and scorching temperatures bring mass heat exhaustion, and dehydration will lead people into hysteria and death. These are temperatures the world has never seen. I think they will be below the boiling point, but how much below? Again, with this plague, the Bible points out that no one repents.
5) Darkness, as the world has never experienced (Revelation 16:10-11). The pain from the sores from the first vial continues. With no water to soothe the blisters, the heat also not making anything any better, now thick darkness, the human race is at its wit’s end. People cannot help one another because everyone is in the same boat.
6) The Euphrates River dries up (Revelation 16:12-16). The dry riverbed allows the armies of the world to march to Armageddon.
7) The most tremendous earthquake in history. Jerusalem splits into three parts: the world’s cities fall; every island moves, the mountains crumble, and one-hundred-pound hailstones fall from the sky (Revelation 16:17-21).
That is the end of the plagues, but one major event will end the Tribulation Period. The most significant event in human history – The return of Jesus Christ.
Jesus returns at the battle of Armageddon. A major misnomer about Armageddon is that the world’s armies are there to fight against each other. You know, the classical good guys versus bad guys. Just like a Hollywood western – the white hats will take on and defeat the outlaws in black hats.
The Bible is clear: the world’s armies are not there to fight each other but to fight Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:19, “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.”
No one knows the day or the hour of the rapture, but the second coming is different. We know when the Tribulation starts (Daniel 9:27) and how long it will last (seven years). Therefore, the world will then have a good idea of the timing of His return.
Last week, we saw that by the time of the sixth seal, the world knows Jesus Christ is sending the plagues. With the words of the 144,000, the two witnesses, and others, the world will know of His soon return. The pride and arrogance of the human race will follow the Antichrist to Armageddon, believing they can defeat the God of all creation.
Christ does not lift a hand to them, He only needs to speak, and the armies die. The Antichrist and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:11-21).
The Tribulation is over, but there is much more to come. Next week we will look at earth’s final one thousand years, the final judgment, and eternity.
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com