Foundations 8: Kingdom Come/Last Things

Foundations 8: Kingdom Come/Last Things

Foundations Lesson 8: Kingdom Come/Last Things

Rapture: The End Begins

What is the Rapture

The Rapture, also referred to as the Blessed Hope is an eschatological event and, in point of fact, is the event that begins the entirety of the End Times. Our official statement is thus: The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church. (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 Romans 8:23 Titus 2:13 1 Corinthians 15:51,52)

 

This is the event where believers who are “alive and remain shall be caught up together…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). We would call this the First Resurrection, where each Christian receives his or her resurrected body, after which they will pass before the Bema Seat and then enter into the joy of their Lord. First to receive their new bodies are those who have died as Christians, and then, those who are “alive and remain.”

 

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (Being asleep, as the Apostle Paul uses here, is a euphemism. He simply means that they have died.)

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

 

(The Second Resurrection occurs at the Great White Throne where the wicked dead and the remaining wicked who are living are resurrected to eternal fire.)

 

Take notice, I am telling you a secret. We shall not all die but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet call. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

 

Is it certain that there will be a Rapture?

Absolutely. All the prophecies related to the First Advent came to pass and so the prophecies related to the Second will happen as well.

 

When Will It Happen?

We cannot know that and anyone who says that they do know is a liar. We do know that the rapture will be instantaneous, in “the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Scripture nowhere encourages us to try to determine the date of Jesus’ return. Rather, we are to “keep watch, because we do not know on which day our Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). We are to “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when we do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:44). In the eschatological Parable of the Talents, we are told by the Lord to “Occupy till I come” but what does that mean? It means that we must be about the work of spreading the message of the Gospel.

 

Exploring the Truth takes the position of a premillennial, pre-tribulational rapture of the church and we have been told that such a position is actually detrimental to the work of the Kingdom; I could not disagree more. If we truly believe that the Rapture of the Church is imminent, it should motivate us greatly. The true work of the Kingdom is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that He is coming soon.

 

The timing of the Rapture has sparked a great debate within Christianity as a whole. Will it occur before, during, or after the tribulation period? Will it occur before the Millennial Kingdom begins, after the Millennial Kingdom ends, or, perhaps, will there be no Millennial Kingdom at all? Since we take the position of a Premillennial, Pretribulational Rapture of the Church, we need to define our terms. The tribulation is a seven-year period that immediately precedes the return of Christ and the establishment of His millennial kingdom, which lasts for 1,000 years. The first 3 ½ years of the tribulation will be a time of peace and cooperation, and the second 3 ½ years of the tribulation will be a time of war and catastrophe. At the midpoint of the tribulation, the Antichrist will proclaim himself god and require worship from all people of the world. Many will bow down and worship the Antichrist, including taking his mark of worldwide registration. Some will refuse to worship the Antichrist and receive his mark, and many will be killed for this act of disobedience. The second half of the tribulation is referred to as the “Great Tribulation.” There will be extraordinary catastrophes all over the world during this period. (For scriptural support, see Revelation 3:10, Matthew 24; Mark 13 and Luke 17).

 

Why do we take this position? In answering this question, it is important that we understand the culture of the day as well as the metaphor in play. In Revelation 19, we see the Marriage Supper of the Lamb referred to. This is noteworthy because it is the metaphor that we are to follow.

 

I had the privilege to sit under a Messianic Jewish Rabbi and he explained this as following the Paleo-Hebraic wedding. Let us look at that metaphor in regard to the Rapture and the rest of the End Times.

 

First, there is the Mohar (the Bride Price or Dowry). In the case of the Church, who is the Bride of Christ, the price was His own precious blood. Next, there is erusin, the betrothal. At the betrothal the woman was legally married, although she still remained in her father’s house. She could not belong to another man unless she was divorced from her betrothed. The wedding meant only that the betrothed woman, accompanied by a colorful procession, was brought from her father’s house to the house of her groom, and the legal tie with him was consummated. This is a beautiful picture of Sovereign Election; we are betrothed to Christ in the moment of our election and we can, legally, belong to no other.

 

The bride and groom would dwell in a place prepared for them by the groom:

John 14:2-3 (NASB)

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

 

Only the father could determine when the dwelling place was ready. Matthew 24:36 (KJV)

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  This would begin a period of separation.

 

At the end of the period of separation the groom would come to take his bride to live with him. The taking of the bride usually took place at night. The groom, best man and other male escorts would leave the groom’s father’s house and conduct a torch light procession to the home of the bride. Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the exact time of his coming. As a result the groom’s arrival would be preceded by a shout. This shout would forewarn the bride to be prepared for the coming of the groom. (The shout of the Archangel in 1 Thessalonians)

 

After the groom received his bride together with her female attendants, the enlarged wedding party would return from the bride’s home to the groom’s father’s house. Upon arrival there the wedding party would find that the wedding guests had assembled already.

 

Shortly after arrival the bride and groom would be escorted by the other members of the wedding party to the bridal chamber (Chuppah). Prior to entering the chamber the bride remained veiled so that no one could see her face. While the groomsmen and bridesmaids would wait outside, the bride and groom would enter the bridal chamber alone. There in the privacy of that place they would enter into physical union for the first time, thereby consummating the marriage that had been covenanted earlier. After the marriage was consummated, the groom would announce the consummation to the other members of the wedding party waiting outside the chamber (John 3:29). These people would pass on the news of the marital union to the wedding guests. Upon receiving this good news the wedding guests would feast and make merry for the next seven days. During the seven days of the wedding festivities, which were sometimes called “the seven days of the Chuppah,” the bride remained hidden in the bridal chamber. At the conclusion of these seven days the groom would bring his bride out of the bridal chamber, now with her veil removed, so that all could see who his bride was.

 

In the same manner as the Jewish bridegroom came to the bride’s home for the purpose of obtaining her through the establishment of a marriage covenant, so Jesus came to earth for the purpose of obtaining the Church through the establishment of a covenant. On the same night in which Jesus made His promise in John 14, He instituted communion (This is the Covenant sign of our betrothal to Him). As He passed the cup of wine to His disciples, He said: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (1 Cor. 11:25). This was His way of saying that He would establish a new covenant through the shedding of His blood on the cross. Parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom paying a price to purchase his bride, Jesus paid a price to purchase His bride, the Church. The price that He paid was His own life blood. It was because of this purchase price that Paul wrote the following to members of the Church: “know ye not that…ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

 

Analogous with the Jewish bride being declared to be sanctified or set apart exclusively for her groom once the marriage covenant was established, the Church has been declared to be sanctified or set apart exclusively for Christ (Eph. 5:25-27; 1Cor. 1:2; 6:11; Heb. 10:10; 13:12).

 

In the same way that a cup of wine served as a symbol of the marriage covenant through which the Jewish groom obtained his bride, so the cup of communion serves as the symbol of the covenant through which Christ has obtained the Church (1 Cor. 11:25).

 

Just as the Jewish groom left the home of his bride and returned to his father’s house after the marriage covenant had been established, so Jesus left the earth, the home of the Church, and returned to His Father’s house in heaven after He had established the new covenant and risen from the dead (John 6:62; 20:17).

Corresponding with the period of separation between the Jewish groom and bride, Christ has remained separate from the Church for over 1900 years. The Church is now living in that period of separation.

 

Parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom preparing living accommodations for his bride in his father’s house during the time of separation, Christ has been preparing living accommodations for the Church in His Father’s house in heaven during His separation from His Bride (John 14:2).

 

In the same manner as the Jewish groom came to take his bride to live with him at the end of the period of separation, so Christ will come to take His Church to live with Him at the end of His period of separation from the Church (John 14:3).

Just as the taking of the Jewish bride was accomplished by a procession of the groom and male escorts from the groom’s father’s house to the home of the bride, so the taking of the Church will be accomplished by a procession of Christ and an angelic escort from Christ’s Father’s house in heaven to the home of the Church (1 Thess. 4:16).

 

Just as the Jewish bride was not knowing the exact time of the groom’s coming for her, the Church does not know the exact time of Christ’s coming for her.

In the same way that the Jewish groom’s arrival was preceded by a shout, so Christ’s arrival to take the Church will be preceded by a shout (1 Thess. 4:16).

Similar to the Jewish bride’s return with the groom to his father’s house after her departure from her home, the Church will return with Christ to His Father’s house in heaven after she is snatched from the earth to meet Him in the air (1 Thess. 4:17; John 14:2-3). What will happen here taught using the Greek word harpazo, which means to catch away. In the connotation of harpazo, it is very similar to being caught by the collar and being drug away. It is then that we will experience the other word related to the Rapture, Paralambano, which is a taking to oneself. The Angelic Host will catch us out of this world (harpazo in Greek, rapturus in Latin and that is where the word rapture comes from) and will deliver us unto Jesus who, being the perfect groom will take us unto himself.

 

 

In the same manner as the Jewish wedding party found wedding guests assembled in the groom’s father’s house when they arrived, so Christ and the Church will find the souls of Old Testament saints assembled in heaven when they arrive. These souls will serve as the wedding guests. What a glorious event that will be!! The saints of old gathered together to witness the joining of the Prince of Heaven to His bride, can you even imagine and she is presented to Him in a robe of fine linen, white and pure and, in final glorification, the Bride reflects the radiant majesty of Jesus Christ?!

 

Parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom and bride entering into physical union after their arrival at the groom’s father’s house, thereby consummating the marriage that had been covenanted earlier, Christ and the Church will experience spiritual union after their arrival at His Father’s house in heaven, thereby consummating their relationship that had been covenanted earlier.

 

Corresponding with the Jewish bride remaining hidden in the bridal chamber for a period of seven days after arrival at the groom’s father’s house, the Church will remain hidden for a period of seven after arrival at Christ’s Father’s house in heaven. While the seven year Tribulation Period is taking place on the earth, the Church will be in heaven totally hidden from the sight of those living on the earth.

Just as the Jewish groom brought his bride out of the bridal chamber at the conclusion of the seven days with her veil removed, so that all could see who his bride was, so Christ will bring His Church out of heaven in His Second Coming at the conclusion of the seven year Tribulation Period in full view of all who are alive, so that all can see who the true church is (Col. 3:4).

 

Beloved, can you see the majesty of this event? The ultimate groom is coming for His bride. The Crown Prince of Heaven, adorned in majesty, wearing glory for His garments is coming to take His bride home. We, the Church are that Bride and we are about to enter into the “7 days of the Chuppa” but for those left behind, they will be a time of terrible tribulation, on year for each day of the Marriage Supper…

 

There is a tremendous amount of information that yet needs to be unpacked. We will develop these concepts more as we go through the lessons on the Tribulation, The Millennium, and the End of Days.

 

In reality, the main debate on the Rapture is not what it’s nature is, but when it will occur in relation to the tribulation. To summarize, the pre-tribulation view is that the rapture will happen before the tribulation period, and this is the position that we take; the mid-tribulation view is that the rapture will occur half-way through the tribulation period; and the post-tribulation view is that the rapture will occur at the end of the tribulation period.

 

To repeat: Exploring the Truth, officially, takes the position of a Pre-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

 

Does the Timing Matter for Believers in Jesus Christ?

The pre-tribulation rapture is a wonderful hope for believers in Jesus Christ, which is why the Apostle tells us to comfort one another with those words.

 

That being said, when the Rapture actually happens is, to a point, ancillary. The key to our position in Christ, and to securing our home-going, is that we are justified by faith in Christ because of grace.

 

Tribulation: The Wrath to Come

 

The Biblical Basis for The Tribulation

Does the Bible teach that there will be a Great Tribulation (also called the Time of Jacob’s trouble? Does it teach that there will be an actual person who we know as the Antichrist? In short, Yes.

 

What are the Tribulation and Great Tribulation (gotquestions.org)

The Tribulation is a future time period when the Lord will accomplish at least two aspects of His plan: 1) He will complete His discipline of the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24), and 2) He will judge the unbelieving, godless inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 6 – 18). The length of the Tribulation is seven years. This is determined by an understanding of the seventy weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27; also see the article on the Tribulation). The Great Tribulation is the last half of the Tribulation period, three and one-half years in length. It is distinguished from the Tribulation period because the Beast, or Antichrist, will be revealed, and the wrath of God will greatly intensify during this time. Thus, it is important at this point to emphasize that the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation are not synonymous terms. Within eschatology (the study of future things), the Tribulation refers to the full seven-year period while the “Great Tribulation” refers to the second half of the Tribulation.

 

It is Christ Himself who used the phrase “Great Tribulation” with reference to the last half of the Tribulation. In Matthew 24:21, Jesus says, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.” In this verse Jesus is referring to the event of Matthew 24:15, which describes the revealing of the abomination of desolation, the man also known as the Antichrist. Also, Jesus in Matthew 24:29-30 states, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days . . . the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” In this passage, Jesus defines the Great Tribulation (v.21) as beginning with the revealing of the abomination of desolation (v.15) and ending with Christ’s second coming (v.30).

 

Other passages that refer to the Great Tribulation are Daniel 12:1b, which says, “And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time.” It seems that Jesus was quoting this verse when He spoke the words recorded in Matthew 24:21. Also referring to the Great Tribulation is Jeremiah 30:7, “Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.” The phrase “Jacob’s distress” refers to the nation of Israel, which will experience persecution and natural disasters such as have never before been seen.

 

Considering the information Christ gave us in Matthew 24:15-30, it is easy to conclude that the beginning of the Great Tribulation has much to do with the abomination of desolation, an action of the Antichrist. In Daniel 9:26-27, we find that this man will make a “covenant” (a peace pact) with the world for seven years (one “week”; again, see the article on the Tribulation). Halfway through the seven-year period—”in the middle of the week”—we are told this man will break the covenant he made, stopping sacrifice and grain offering, which specifically refers to his actions in the rebuilt temple of the future. Revelation 13:1-10 gives even more detail concerning the Beast’s actions, and just as important, it also verifies the length of time he will be in power. Revelation 13:5 says he will be in power for 42 months, which is three and one-half years, the length of the Great Tribulation.

 

Revelation offers us the most information about the Great Tribulation. From Revelation 13 when the Beast is revealed until Christ returns in Revelation 19, we are given a picture of God’s wrath on the earth because of unbelief and rebellion (Revelation 16-18). It is also a picture of how God disciplines and at the same time protects His people Israel (Revelation 14:1-5) until He keeps His promise to Israel by establishing an earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).

 

The first mention of the Tribulation in the Bible is found in Deuteronomy 4:27-30. Before the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses warned them that if they were unfaithful to God, they would be scattered among the nations. He then prophesied that “in the latter days” they would come under “distress,” and the result would be their “return to the Lord.”

 

Centuries later, Jeremiah used the same terminology when he referred to the Tribulation. He called it “the time of Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Similarly, Daniel called it “the time of trouble,” and he prophesied it would be the worst period of trouble in the history of the Jewish people (Daniel 12:1). Malachi stated it would be a time of refining for the Jews, as when silver is purified by fire (Malachi 3:1-4). And Zechariah used the same imagery when he prophesied that two-thirds of the Jewish people will perish during this time. Of the remnant remaining, he wrote, “I [the Lord] will bring the third part through the fire [and] refine them as silver is refined…” (Zechariah 13:8-9). Incidentally, it is this remnant that prompts us to teach that all of Israel will be saved.

 

All Israel Will Be Saved During the Tribulation

That all Israel will be saved is a logical possibility that we can readily draw from the text.

 

In two of the sets of judgments, we see the unmitigated death and destruction that the Holy God allows to be unleashed on a Christ Rejecting world. What we do not see, in Revelation, is how many of those who are killed are part of Israel and as a consequence we do not know how many Israelites are left alive to be saved. We can, then, infer that the salvation of Israel is logically possible. As to probability, bear with me…

 

SEALS

Rev.6:3-2nd Seal: Wars on earth

Rev.6:7-4th Seal: Death released. 1/4 of the worlds population to die by plagues, disease, and beasts of the earth

Rev.6:9-5th Seal: Persecution and mass killing of God’s people worldwide

Rev.6:12-6th Seal: Massive earthquake wrath of God.

 

TRUMPETS

Rev.9:13-6th Trumpet: demons released and 200 million army kills 1/3 of the world’s population.

 

Some points from the Revelation Teaching Series by another of my mentors

“shall be saved” …salvation by faith in Jesus Christ vs works

  • Genesis 15:6
  • Habakkuk 2:4
  • Romans 4:9 – 5:1
  • Romans 9:24-26
  • Galatians 3:16-29

 

“all Israel”

  • Romans 2:25-29
  • Romans 9:6b
  • Romans 9:27
  • Ezekiel 20:5, 8, 13, 16-17, 33-44
    1. When will God rule over Israel…when will God be Israel’s King?
    2. When will Israel pollute His name no more?
    3. When will Israel be sanctified before the Gentile nations?
    4. When will Israel know that Jesus Christ is Lord?
    5. When will Israel loathe themselves and their tawdry history?
    6. When will the Lord purge Israel of the rebels/unbelievers?
    7. During the 70th Week of Daniel (Dan 9:24)

 

  • Ezekiel 36:16-31
  • Zechariah 13:8-9
  • Romans 11:25-29

 

“all Israel” are those who believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, their King and Savior

 

 

Dr. MacArthur points out that “all Israel” means all of those members of the nation of Israel that survive the Time of Jacob’s Trouble/Great Tribulation.

Romans 11:17- only some branches are broken off, so a believing remnant are being preserved unto/until salvation.

 

Additional from Dr. MacArthur

Before all Israel is saved, its unbelieving, ungodly members will be separated out by God’s inerrant hand of judgment. Ezekiel makes that truth vividly clear:

 

“As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. And I shall bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; and I shall bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I shall enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,” declares the Lord God. “And I shall make you pass under the rod, and I shall bring you into the bond of the covenant; and I shall purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I shall bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezek. 20:33–38, emphasis added; cf. Dan. 12:10; Zech. 13:8–9)

 

Those who hear the preaching of the 144,000 (Rev. 7:1–8; 14:1–5), of other converts (7:9), of the two witnesses (11:3–13), and of the angel (14:6), and thus safely pass under God’s rod of judgment will then comprise all Israel, which—in fulfillment of God’s sovereign and irrevocable promise—will be completely a nation of believers who are ready for the kingdom of the Messiah Jesus.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jer. 31:31–34; cf. 32:38)

 

God’s control of history is irrefutable evidence of His sovereignty. And as surely as He cut off unbelieving Israel from His tree of salvation, just as surely will He graft believing Israel back in—a nation completely restored and completely saved.

 

Most importantly, the reason why, at some point, the entirety of Israel looks upon Him whom they pierced, mourns, and turns to Christ is the fact that God does not change

 

Malachi 3:6

I, the Lord, do not change

 

Hosea 2:14-20

14“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness,

and speak tenderly to her. 15And there I will give her her vineyards

and make the Valley of Achore a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

 

1 Samuel 15:29

29 “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind”

 

Psalm 102:12 & 25-28

12 But Thou, O LORD dost abide forever; And Thy name to all generations. . . 25 Of old Thou didst found the earth; And the heavens are the work of Thy hands. 26 Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. 27 But Thou art the same, And Thy years will not come to an end. 28 The children of Thy servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before Thee”

 

 

The Scope of Tribulation

The House of Israel will not be the only ones to suffer during this period of unparalleled trouble. The Bible makes it clear that all the nations of the world will experience catastrophic calamities.

 

Isaiah calls it “a day of reckoning” for all the nations of the world (Isaiah 2:10-17). Zephaniah says “all the earth will be devoured in the fire of God’s jealousy” (Zephaniah 1:18). The Psalmist Asaph put it this way: “A cup is in the hand of the Lord, and the wine foams… surely, all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs” (Psalm 75:8).

 

How long will this be?

The prophet Daniel defined the length of the Tribulation. He said God would accomplish all His purposes for the Jewish people during a period of 70 weeks of years (490 years). Sixty-nine of those weeks of years (483 years) would lead up to the death of the Messiah. The final week of years would occur at the end of the age, right before the return of the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27). This concluding week of years (7 years) corresponds to the Tribulation for, as Daniel put it, it will mark the time when “the prince who is to come” will “make desolate” — a reference to the Antichrist.

 

The timing established by Daniel is confirmed in the book of Revelation where the Tribulation is divided into two periods of 3 1/2 years each (Revelation 11:3,7 and 13:5). The dividing point between the two halves of the Tribulation will occur when the Antichrist reveals himself by entering the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, stopping the sacrifices, and declaring himself to be god (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; and Revelation 13:5-6).

 

When does this happen?

When will this terrible period begin? The Bible says in general terms that it will start after the Jews have been re-gathered and have been re-established in their homeland and in their sacred city of Jerusalem.

 

Specifically, the Bible says it will begin at a time when all the world comes together against Israel over the issue of who will control the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3). Of course, this means that, currently, we are on the very threshold of the Tribulation today as we witness the United Nations, the European Union, the Vatican, and the Arab nations demanding that the Jews surrender their sovereignty over Jerusalem. Ultimately, this will not happen as God Himself will rise up to defend Israel, His beloved.

 

The specific event that will mark the seven year count down of the Tribulation will be the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and her Arab enemies — a treaty that will allow the Jews to rebuild their Temple (Daniel 9:27).

 

The Nature

The unparalleled horror of the Tribulation is spelled out in detail in both Tanakh and the New Testament. Isaiah wrote that it will be a day of “terror of the Lord” when “the pride of men will be abased” (Isaiah 2:10,17,19). Zephaniah proclaimed that it will be a “day of wrath,” “a day of trouble and distress,” and “a day of destruction and desolation” (Zephaniah 1:15). Men will stumble around like they are blind and “their blood will be poured out like dust” (Zephaniah 1:17).

 

This dismal picture is echoed in the New Testament. Jesus said it will be a time of tribulation “such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall” (Matthew 24:21). In fact, Jesus said it will be so terrible that if it were not stopped at the end of seven years, it would result in the destruction of all life (Matthew 24:22). The Apostle John states that the chaos will be so great that the leaders of the world will crawl into caves and cry out for the rocks of the mountains to fall upon them (Revelation 6:15-16).

 

 

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