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The Tribulation


If you were to write a letter to those heading into the Tribulation. WHAT would you say?

God has done that.


Background

  • The prophet Jeremiah

  • The prophet Isaiah

They were telling people of what was to come and warning people to repent and to get right with God.


What was ahead for Jeremiah was the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple

586 B.C.


What was ahead for Isaiah was the same with the focus on the 70 years of exile. Much of his letter was written to an audience who would live a 100 yrs AFTER Isaiah.


Speaking to Christian groups, I have asked them to write a letter to those heading into the Tribulation and what I have discovered is that many Christians don’t have a clear understanding of this future time.


What lies ahead?


1st of all, the Tribulation is a 7 year period that will be broken in 2 halves of 3 1/2 years each.


To begin the Tribulation period…


The anti-christ will come upon the world scene on a platform of peace. Well, if he is going to use peace as his introduction this means there must be chaos. What kind of chaos?


Hold that thought...In Revelation 5, John is allowed to see into heaven, into the throne room of heaven. We sing songs of how worthy Jesus is… why do we do that? … isn’t it obvious that

Jesus is worthy?


Revelation 5

1 “Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”


A scroll - sealed with seven seals - I call this the deed to the earth – God is about to bring judgment upon the earth.


Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” Jesus AND ONLY JESUS. WHY ONLY Jesus?


Rev 5:9 “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain,

and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”


In writing that letter, we must make sure people understand ONLY Jesus can take the deed to the earth and break the seals of judgment. The judgments are revealed in 3 series of 7 Seals - Trumpets - Bowls.

In writing this letter – we must tell them that there will be 4 horses and horsemen.


The Seals


John says “I watched” and “I heard” which again makes him an eyewitness to these events as

they unfolded.


6:1

“I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. There before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest."


The rider on this white horse is NOT Jesus.

  • Christ will come on a white horse at the end of the Tribulation NOT at the beginning.

  • Christ will have a sword NOT a bow.

  • Christ will have a royal crown NOT a victor’s crown.

The Old Testament significance of the rider having a “bow” takes us back to Nimrod in Genesis who becomes the father of false religion.

Genesis 10:8-9

6:3


"When the Lamb opened the second seal another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that men should slay one another; and he was given a great sword.”


Here this rider symbolizes the fresh spilled blood from the battlefield. This rider had the power

“to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other”. He carries a large sword and

like the first rider these abilities were given to him by God. God is in control of the battlefield as well. This rider symbolizes warfare sent out to take peace from the earth. The Greek word for “sword” here is not the large two-edged sword (1:16) but the dagger used in battle in

hand-to-hand combat.


6:5


"When he opened the third seal, a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand."


The first rider had a bow, the second a sword. This one is holding a pair of scales. The desire to conquer leads to warfare. Warfare leads to famine and starvation. Invading armies would take the grain and other food of conquered cities leaving the people destitute. This third rider is “famine”. This rider carries scales because the weight of food was critically important. In times of starvation every kernel of grain counts. Two kinds of common foods are mentioned, grain and oil as well as wine.


The Old Testament significance of scales goes back to Leviticus 19.


Leviticus 19:35-36

6:7


"When the Lamb opened the fourth seal 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."


The pale horse was a gray-green color which is the color of a human corpse, the color of death. Once again John’s attention is not on the horse but on the rider. John was so certain of who this rider was that he named him death. Wherever the rider’s conquests, warfare, and famine go, death follows. Another uniqueness to this rider is that he had a companion, probably following on foot versus being seated on the back of the same horse. The companion was named hades. This does not refer to hell but to the grave. In the ancient Greek, hades was the god of the underworld. We should remember that Jesus holds the keys to death and hades meaning as horrible as they are, they are still limited in their power.

4 horses

1st rider wanted to conquer – not by war – by peace. Peace will be temporary and counterfeit.


2nd rider is red and wants to take peace from the earth – this is war.

3rd rider is famine.

1st rider had a bow; 2nd rider had a sword.

The desire to conquer leads to war, war leads to famine.

War and famine lead to the 4th seal which is death. How much death? 1/4th of the world (that’s over a billion people).


Think about that.

The world has never seen anything like this.

As Jeremiah warned – as Isaiah warned – we need to warn people of what lies ahead if they do not get right with the Lord.


6:9, 11

The 5th seal

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. Then each of them was given a white robe."


These are martyrs – those who refused to denounce their faith. They became believers during the Tribulation period. How do we know that?


Revelation 7:13-15

“one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from? 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."

The 5th seal is the midpoint of the Tribulation. The 1st 5 seals take 3 ½ years. I believe there will be more Christian martyrs in this 3 ½ year period then all of history put together. They cry out from under the altar. In the Old Testament the blood of the sacrifice was poured out in the altar.


10 "They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.”


  • More will come to faith

  • More will pay the price

The 6th seal

6:12


"There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth."


In the Old Testament, an earthquake represented the Divine presence of God.

  • Moses on Mt Sinai

  • Elijah was fleeing from jezebel (1 Kings 19)

  • Paul & Silas in prison (Acts 16)


How do people respond to the 6th seal?


6:15-17

15 "Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”


This is not a response of repentance. This reaction is one of fear and panic.

  • Kings & Princes = Political leaders

  • Generals = military leaders

  • Rich & Mighty = Business leaders

NO ONE WILL BE EXEMPT FROM GOD’S JUDGMENT.


This is why it’s important for people to understand the love of the Lord. A proper response is one of repentance – not fear and panic.


God will be faithful in allowing people to witness who He is.

Rev 7

3 “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.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel."


This is how God has acted throughout history.


  • When God sent the flood upon the earth – He separated Noah and his family.

  • When He destroyed Jericho He protected Rahab and her household.

  • When God destroyed Sodom he protected Lot and his daughters.

  • Israel survived Egypt and Pharaoh because of God’s protection.

  • In this time of judgment He will protect these 144,000.


Isaiah 57:1

“the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.”


8:1

The 7th seal

“When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”


  • No worship

  • Silence

Why silence? It honors God’s power & might. Silence is the only proper response to what God is about to do?


We have to understand the magnitude of what is about to happen.


The last 3 ½ years of the 7 years Tribulation is called the Great Tribulation

It will be a time like never before.

The Trumpets Judgments – do not follow the seals they are PART of the seals


  • Trumpets are significant in the Old Testament.

  • They summoned the congregation of Israel (Num. 10:2)

  • They sound the alarm of war (Num. 10:9; 2 Chron. 13:12; Ezek. 33:3)

  • They announced the start of religious feasts (Num. 10:10; Ps. 81:3)

  • They proclaimed news (1 Sam. 13:3)

  • They announced a king (1 Kings 1:34, 39).

  • Here they announce the Day of the Lord.


The trumpet judgments are the beginning of the literal plagues that are to come upon the earth.

  • When the 1st trumpet sounded one third of the land was destroyed.

  • When the 2nd trumpet is sounded one third of the sea is destroyed.

  • When the 3rd trumpet is sounded a great star falls from the sky.

  • When the 4th trumpet is sounded 1/3 of the sun, of the moon, and of the stars, turned dark.


God is dismantling nature – the land, sea and sky.


WHY?


To bring people to repentance!


When the 5th trumpet is sounded and is not directed at nature but at people. Locust torture people for 5 months.


9:13 - When the 6th trumpet is sounded and 1/3 of the population killed by plagues, combined with the 4th seal, this means HALF of the world’s population WILL NOT SURVIVE THIS 7 YEAR PERIOD.


Rev 11:15 7th Trumpet - Great hailstorm from heaven

All is set for the seven angels with the seven bowls of God’s wrath. These angels stand inside the now-open temple, ready to step forward and bring the final judgments on earth .


Rev 16 – The Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath

Bowl # 1 Boils

Bowl # 2 Seas turn to blood

Bowl # 3 Rivers turn to blood

Bowl # 4 Sun scorches with fire

Bowl # 5 Darkness

Bowl # 6 Euphrates dries up

Bowl # 7 Great earthquake and 100 lb Hail


The bowl judgments are similar to the trumpet judgments. Four of the first five bowls, like the first four trumpets affect the earth, the sea, the fresh water and the sky. The bowls affect humanity directly. However the trumpet and the bowl judgments differ in three ways.

  • The trumpet judgments were partial; the bowl judgments are complete.

  • The trumpet judgments still offer a chance for repentance; the bowl

  • judgments do not.

  • The trumpet judgments indirectly attack mankind; the bowl judgments

  • directly attack mankind.

So if you were to write a letter to those who will experience the time know

as the Tribulation, what would you say?

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