Revelation 6:1 "Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.”
For the past couple of days we have been journeying our way through the Biblical teaching on the tribulation period. We have noted the Old Testament's presentation as well as Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Through each successive book of the Bible the details and character of this time period become sharper and more detailed. We have noted that both the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul utilize Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks (Daniel 9:23-27) and other prophetic scriptures that speak of Divine judgment on the world. We will briefly survey the tribulation period in Revelation, concluding with a summary of the period in both testaments and a final chart visualizing the period. To God be the glory!
John's teaching on the Tribulation
Revelation 6-19 is undoubtedly the fullest treatment we know of regarding the Tribulation period. As we have witnessed in the scripture, the whole period is future, representing God's prophetic clock for dealing with Israel, executing final judgment on this world and as seen in Paul's writings, destruction of Anti-Christ. Revelation 6-19 unfolds a repetition of this time period in four prophetic visions that together are like transparency slides on top of one another to complete a very detailed picture of the tribulation period:
a. The tribulation will be Christ's theater through which He will conquer the world. This particular depiction of the tribulation period is important because God in His Ultimate Will has ordained that time to prepare Israel to meet her Messiah and pour out judgment on the world. Revelation 6-11
b. Revelation 12 is the introduction to John's next revelatory sequence of the events of the tribulation. The tribulation will be Christ's way of preparing Israel to meet Him. In Revelation 12-14 Satan and his man the anti-Christ will come into view during this period as the instrumental causes of the destruction and rebellion of unbelieving nations during the tribulation period. Like a set of transparency slides, Revelation 12-14 fits on top of the same time frame portrayed in Revelation 6-11.
c. The tribulation (especially the final 3 1/2 years or Great Tribulation) will be the time in which Christ brings an end to Anti-Christ. Revelation 13-14 and to the world system that he is permitted by God to control and wield in Revelation 15-19. Babylon the Great will function in the tribulation as the religious, economic and political web spun out by Satan, the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet of Revelation 12-14. After the half-way point of the tribulation period, the world system will begin to grow hostile toward the Anti-Christ and his regime and a war leading to the battle of Armegeddon will ensue. The only common point between the Anti-Christ and the nations will be their united stand-off against Christ at His return during the future epic battle of Armegeddon. Like a transparency slide once again, Revelation 15-19:10 fits over the previous visions of Revelation 6-11 & 12-14, completing for us the most detailed treatment of the tribulation period in the Bible.
d. The Great Tribulation will be a time in which the evils of man and the Anti-Christ's regime is brought to a close, with Christ's return marking the end of the tribulation -i.e "the day of the Lord". The church will be with Jesus in the marriage supper of the Lamb, protected from wrath and return with her Lord who Himself will fight and defeat the armies of the world in the battle of Armegeddon. All of these events, recorded in Revelation 19:11-21, and preparing the way for what will be Christ's thousand year reign in Revelation 20.
Conclusion on the Old & New Testament's teaching of the Tribulation period
We have covered much ground in these past three blogs. We have seen the following main thoughts about the Tribulation period in our Biblical overview of the period:
Summary of the Old Testament's teaching on the tribulation
1. It will be an unprecedented time of human history, occurring at the end of this age. Being that the Old Testament predicts its uniqueness and unmistakable cosmic occurrences, the likelihood of it referring to a general pattern of tribulation that covers the church age or some other broad period of history is pretty slim.
2. The Tribulation period's purpose is two-fold - to judge the world and prepare Israel to meet her Messiah
3. The Tribulation periods' duration will be seven years. The first half is hardly mentioned, with the overwhelming focus on the events of the latter 3 1/2 years that Jesus calls later on "The Great Tribulation" in light of Daniel's prophecies.4. A Tyrannical ruler will attempt to blaspheme God and lead the whole world astray in outright rebellion again God.
Summary of the New Testament's teaching on the tribulation
As you can see, both Testaments teach essentially the same truths about this period, with the New Testament refining and sharpening the details:
1. It will be a future, seven year period that marks the completion of God's prophetic program for Israel.
2. It will be divided into two equal halves, with the latter half called the "Great Tribulation" and ending in a most intense way called "The day of the Lord", which will occur when Christ returns to earth. The Old Testament, Jesus, Paul and John were all surveyed and found consistent in their testimony about this period.
3. The period of the tribulation period will be a time where God judges the Gentile nations who rejected Him. Other scriptures testify of how Gentiles will be saved during this time as a result of the ministry of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Revelation 7:1-10; 11-19) In addition to the Lord's use of the tribulation period to prepare Israel and pour out wrath, a third purpose will be for Jesus to destroy Anti-Christ and his regime, casting him (and his compatriot "the false prophet") into the lake of fire.
4. God's people in the church ultimately do not have to worry about having to endure God's wrath. The tribulation functions to urge God;s people to live Godly lives right now.
5. For those who evidence no concern about the impending coming tribulation, this truth can expose their false profession and be used of the Spirit of God to grant them repentance whereby they may believe and be saved.
Endnotes & Chart
This chart is derived from the website: middletownbiblechurch.org