There are several references in the Bible to a seven year period, known as the Tribulation, when there will be severe trouble on earth, just prior to the second coming of Jesus.  For example:

There will be great distress, unequalled again.  If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened (Matthew 24:21-22).

Jesus spoke these words to his disciples when they asked him what the signs of the end of the age would be.

Past or future?

Some Bible scholars believe that the events Jesus spoke of related to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD.  Certainly much of what he predicted came to pass then.  Thousands of Jews died trying to defend their city and many fled to avoid the horrors the Romans were inflicting.  Christians were also violently persecuted.

However, whilst Jesus may have been warning his disciples about the Roman persecution, not all the signs he specified took place then.  We believe that prophecy can have more than one fulfilment and whilst there was a partial fulfilment then, Jesus was mostly speaking about the Tribulation which will occur at the very end of this present age, when the Antichrist will be ruling the earth and there will be distressing circumstances unparalleled in the history of the world.  These will be signs that Jesus’ return is imminent.

Pre-trib or post-trib?

Christians who agree that the Tribulation is a future event disagree over the issue of when in the course of events the Tribulation takes place.  There are some who think the Tribulation will happen after Jesus’ second coming and all the Christians are with him in heaven.  Those who hold this view are known as pre-Tribulationists.

Here at Christian Spectrum, many of us however believe the scriptures indicate that we (the church) will face the Tribulation, and at the end of three and a half years of the Antichrist’s tyranny, when things are at their worst, Jesus will return and intervene.  Every eye will see him and the Jews will recognise him as their Messiah.  He will set up his Kingdom on earth, ruling and reigning from Jerusalem for 1,000 years (the Millennial reign).  Our theological position, then, is Post-Tribulation and Pre-Millennial.

The day of the Lord

The period of the Tribulation, according to prophecies about it in Daniel, will be split into two distinct parts.  The second part, the last three and a half years before Jesus’ return, are referred to in the Bible as the Day of the Lord.  There are more than 100 references to it in the scriptures, for example:

For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it? (Joel 2:11).

I will send you Elijah . . . before . . . the great and dreadful day of the Lord (Mal 4:5).

Four areas of pressure

Being forewarned is to be forearmed.  We’re grateful that God has told us ahead of time what to expect, how to recognise it when it comes and how to respond.

The earth will be shaken like never before when the judgements are meted out.  John’s Revelation gives us the components of this season.  There will be pressure on earth in several different ways:

i    The full strength of God’s wrath (Rev 14:10) will be poured out on those who rebel against him, as indicated by the seven seals (Rev 6), the seven trumpets (Rev 8) and the seven bowls Rev 16).  These will all have local, national and international impacts.

ii   The full strength of Satan’s rage will be released against God’s people, resulting in fierce persecution (Rev 12:12, Dan 7:21,25, Rev 13).

iii  The full strength of sin will be seen as evil people rage against each other (Rev 9:21, Dan 8:23).  There will be escalating outbreaks of lawlessness, terrorism, murder, etc.

iv   Severe natural disasters will take place as creation groans (Rom 8:22), including earthquakes, storms, tsunamis, etc.

Two waves of death

The scripture also indicates that there will be two waves of death in the world during this period, the first killing a quarter of the entire population (Rev 6:8), the other taking another third (Rev 9:15).  If, as we believe, the time is very soon, we can estimate that 4 billion people will die (based on the world’s population today being around 8 billion).

Revival and salvation

The Tribulation will be a terrible time on earth, so why will God allow it to take place? The scriptures show us that God’s people are purified through adversity.

And some of the wise (i.e. those open to the Spirit of God) will stumble (i.e. be martyred), so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end (Dan 11:35).

Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked.  None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand (Dan 12:10).

Despite fierce opposition, we anticipate a revival when a ‘multitude which no-one could number from all nations’ will come to faith in Jesus Christ (see Rev7:9,14).  The prayer of Jesus for his disciples (the church), ‘that they may be one’ will finally be answered (John 17).  The apostle Paul foresaw the salvation of the Jews occurring during this time as well (Rom 11:12-15, 25-26), as Christians stand with them during the persecution which will be unleashed.

Challenge to our faith

Tribulation and adversity forces us to ask ourselves why we’re staying true to our Lord Jesus.  God’s judgements, because they’ll affect us all, will remove all the props we've grown used to leaning on, and we’ll know how much we really love Jesus and how much we trust him.  For many so-called believers the cost will be too great and they will fall away from their faith and become offended at God.

The principle of judgement

With regard to the coming judgements, someone has said:

God uses the least severe means to reach the greatest number of people at the deepest level of love without violating anyone’s free will in training rulers of the earth.

The Antichrist

In Revelation 13 we read about the Antichrist.  He’s the final world leader who’s responsible for the war against God and the persecution of believers.  The scriptures indicate that he will be the most evil, cruel tyrant who has ever lived, who will use demonic miracles to deceive people, political power to kill anyone who resists, and economic oppression to control the nations.  He’s referred to as the ‘Beast’ more than 30 times in the book of Revelation.

Turning point

We’re told that the turning point in the Antichrist’s strategy will come when he miraculously recovers from a fatal head wound, attracting the attention of the whole world.  He will be raised by his own power and brag that he did it, and that Jesus was an imposter.  His apparent death and resurrection will induce millions to worship him, and in addition, he’ll have a demonically inspired statue (image or idol) which will seem to talk, breathe and make laws.

The mark of the Beast

In order to identify those who will or won’t worship him, a mark will be put on people’s right hand or forehead.  People will be free to choose whether or not they have this mark, but it will be illegal not to have it, and those who refuse will not be able to shop for even the necessities of life.

The false prophet

We’re also told of a false prophet, an accomplice to the Antichrist, whose job it is to coerce all people on earth to worship Satan and the Antichrist.  He will deceive the nations by performing demonically inspired miracles, using the power of the statue of Antichrist, and using the mark of the Beast in global economics. 

Abomination of Desolation

The atrocities of Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ IV in 167 BC are only a shadow of the Abomination of Desolation which will feature in the Tribulation.  In the middle of the seven year period of the Tribulation, with the greatest power base in history (the result of a 10 nation alliance of political, military and economic power) the Antichrist will choose his moment to declare himself to be God.  He will set up his image (the abomination) in the Temple in Jerusalem, sparking the Antichrist’s persecution of everyone who refuses to worship him, and God’s judgements on everyone who chooses to worship the Antichrist.  See Dan 8:13, 9:26; Matt 24:15; 2 Thess 2:3-4).

The end of the Tribulation

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.  They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands . . . they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years (Rev 20:4,6).

The ultimate event in the Tribulation is Jesus’ second coming to establish his Millennial Kingdom (See Rev 19:11-21; Zech 14; 1 Thess 4-5).  The scriptures indicate that he will physically appear in the sky to all the peoples of the earth when he returns as he promised.  He will rule over all the kings of the earth and establish his Kingdom, where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10).

Millennial Kingdom

In complete contrast to the Tribulation years, Jesus’ 1,000 year reign, known as the Millennial Kingdom, will be characterised by perfect righteousness and continual peace.  Every sphere of life will be impacted – education, agriculture, industry, environment, etc.  The turmoil and darkness of the preceding years will pale into insignificance when the light of the glory of the Kingdom of God fills the earth.

There are several references in the Bible to a seven year period, known as the Tribulation, when there will be severe trouble on earth, just prior to the second coming of Jesus

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