End Times - Putting the Pieces in Place
Chapter 5: The Great Tribulation
Revelation 13:15-16 (NKJV) He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,
In chapter 24 of Matthew, Jesus described the Great Tribulation. He said it will be a time of deception with false christs and false prophets (Mat. 24:4-5,11,23-24). It will also be a time when believers will be persecuted severely and hated (Mat. 24:9-11). Lawlessness will increase. As a result, many people’s love for the Lord will grow cold, leading them to fall away from the faith (Mat. 24:12-13). Satan will do his best to deceive people during the Great Tribulation and will empower the Beast to persecute and deceive people. There will be many false signs and wonders which will be used in an attempt to deceive the elect (i.e. Christians—the chosen ones of God) (Mat. 24: 24).
This time of great tribulation will be characterized by greatly increased demonic activity led by the one called the Antichrist or the Beast. The word antichrist is found in only four Scripture verses and refers to one of many antichrists in the world (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; and 2 John 7). It refers to an individual or spirit who is against Christ or one who denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22).
During the time of the Great Tribulation there will be one particular individual who will attempt to take the place of Jesus as King on this earth. This individual is called the man of lawlessness (2 Thes. 2:3-10) and the Beast (Rev. 13:1, 4, 12-14). As the antichrist of all antichrists, the Beast is the Antichrist. According to chapter 13 in Revelation, the Beast and his forces will be the major cause of persecution during the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation will begin when the Beast sets up the Abomination of Desolation.
The important thing to understand is that the Great Tribulation is a time of intense persecution and trouble instigated by the Beast and his forces. The ultimate source of the trouble is Satan (Rev. 13:2, 4). A major purpose of the persecutions and trouble is to cause people to fall away from the Lord Jesus. (Rev. 13:4, 17). It will be an intensification of Satan’s continuing efforts to kill, steal, and destroy (Jn. 10:10). God is not the cause of any of the persecutions arising during the Great Tribulation.
The Beast will be assisted by the False Prophet. The False Prophet will make an image of the Beast (Rev. 13:14). To deceive people into worshipping the Beast and his image, the False Prophet will perform signs and miracles and even cause the image to come to life. He will even be able to call down fire from heaven (i.e., the sky) (Rev. 13:13). This is something that Satan’s servants could not do in the past (1 Kings 18:22-29). Anyone who refuses to worship the Beast or his image will be killed (Rev. 13:15).
Many people will be killed during the Great Tribulation. This includes some of those who belong to God (Dan. 11:32-35; Rev. 13:8). However, those who know God and understand what is going on will oppose the Beast and teach others the truth (Dan. 11:32-33). Some protection will be provided by God for at least some of His people (Dan. 11:34; Rev. 12: 6, 13-17). However, many will pay the ultimate price in their service to God (Dan. 11:35). Historically, Christianity is always purified and strengthened by persecution (Dan. 12:10).
The reign of the Beast (and thus the length of the Great Tribulation) is limited to 3½ years. At the end of the Great Tribulation, the reign of the Beast will be brought to a sudden end by the return of Jesus (Mat. 24:29-31; 2 Thes. 2:8). At that time, Jesus will gather His people from the earth (i.e., the Rapture, Mat. 24:31). The Beast, False Prophet, and those who followed them will be left on the earth to suffer during the seven plagues of the Wrath of God that follow the Great Tribulation.
As in the past, the intensity of persecution will probably vary with geographic areas. For example, during the first century, Christians in Rome suffered greater persecution than those in more remote areas. Persecution during the Great Tribulation will probably be the most severe in those locations most tightly controlled by the Beast. Persecution will probably be less severe in areas where the Beast has less control. Possibly that is why Jesus said to leave the cities (Mat. 24:15-21).
It is also probable that the persecution will increase as the Great Tribulation progresses and the Beast’s influence spreads. Those Christians who are physically near the Abomination of Desolation when it is established will have to flee immediately (Mat. 24:15-16). Those who are in other parts of the world may have a little more time to react to the Beast’s actions. However, intense persecution may begin immediately after the Abomination of Desolation in all regions—so Christians must always be alert and ready to take necessary action.
God will provide some form of supernatural protection for some of His people (Rev. 12:6,13-17; Dan. 11:34). This protection may be that described in Psalm 91. The length of the Great Tribulation has also been shortened for the benefit of Christians (Mat. 24:21-22). However, not all of God’s people are protected from the persecutions during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 12:17; 13:7). No matter what comes against you, be assured that nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Jesus (Rom. 8:35-39; Heb. 13:5-6; Mat. 28:20).
The term great tribulation is used in only three Scriptures (Mat. 24:21, Rev. 2:22, and 7:14). In Matthew 24:21, Jesus warns that "there will be a great tribulation." In Revelation 2:22 there is a warning that those who commit fornication with "Jezebel" will be cast "into great tribulation." In Revelation 7:9-14 the great multitude from all nations who are standing before the throne of God are those who have come "out of the great tribulation."
The Greek word for tribulation (Strong’s #2347 q l i y i V , thlipsis) means pressure, either literally or figuratively. This word has been translated in various Bible passages as affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, and trouble. From the meaning of the word it is evident that the Great Tribulation will be a time of great persecution, affliction, and trouble.
Significance of the Great Tribulation:
The Great Tribulation is a time when Satan will do his worst to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). For people of the world, it will seem to be a time of victory against God and against those who serve him.
Source of the Great Tribulation:
Satan is the source of the Great Tribulation. Primarily, he uses the Beast (the Antichrist) as his instrument of deception and destruction (Rev. 13:2-4). God is not the cause of the Great Tribulation. (However, God may release authority for Satan to do his worst in a similar manner to that described in Job 1:8-12 and 2:3-6. This may be alluded to in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8, Revelation 6:1-8, Revelation 13:5-8, Matthew 24:21-22, and Daniel 8:12-13.)
Length of the Great Tribulation:
The Great Tribulation lasts 3½ years. This 3½ year length is specified as 42 months, 1260 days, and as a time, times, and half a time.
Events Prior to the Great Tribulation:
Immediately prior to the start of the Great Tribulation, the Abomination of Desolation will be set up. Jesus instructs Christians that the Abomination of Desolation is the primary indication that the Great Tribulation has started (Mat. 24:15, 21).
Events of the Great Tribulation:
The Great Tribulation is primarily characterized by the reign of the Beast. It will be a time of intense persecution of all people, especially those who belong to God. All that is evil will be unleashed in one last dying effort to strike out at God and the people He loves. People cannot buy or sell in the Beast controlled markets without obtaining the mark of the Beast (i.e., 666, Rev. 13:16-18).
God During the Great Tribulation:
God will send a strong delusion upon those that do not love the truth causing them to believe the lies of Satan and the Beast (2 Thes. 2:9-12). God will be caring for His people as always, even though many will be martyred for their faith (Dan. 11:33-35). He will provide a place of protection in the wilderness for those who heed Jesus’ instructions to flee from the cities (Rev. 12:6, 13-16; Mat 24:15-21). At the end of the Great Tribulation, Jesus will return to cut off the persecutions by gathering His people from the earth (Mat. 24:21-22, 29-31; 2 Thes. 1:6-8; 2 Thes. 2:8).
Christians During the Great Tribulation:
The people who know their God will strongly oppose the Beast and do great exploits (Dan. 11:32). Some Christians will be killed during the Great Tribulation (Dan. 11:33-35). However, many will flee to the protection of the place in the wilderness that God has prepared for them (Rev. 12:6, 13-16).
Satan During the Great Tribulation:
Satan (the dragon) will give the Antichrist (the Beast) great authority during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 13:4-5).
Beast During the Great Tribulation:
The Beast will exalt himself and claim to be God (Dan. 11:36; 2 Thes. 2:4). He will blaspheme the true God (Rev. 13:6). He will also make war with the people of God (Rev. 13:7).
Non-Christians During the Great Tribulation:
Non-Christians will be corrupted with the Beast’s flatteries and be deceived (Dan. 11:32; Rev. 13:14). They will join with him in his persecution of those who desire to serve the true God (Dan. 11:32; Rev. 13:14). These people will be awed by the power of the Beast and Satan and will worship both of them (Rev. 13:3-4). All people who do not belong to God will worship the Beast (Rev. 13:8).
Events Following the Great Tribulation:
At the end of the Great Tribulation, certain signs will be seen in the sun, moon, and stars. Jesus will return to gather the Christians (i.e., the Rapture) and the Wrath of God will be poured out on the Beast and those who served him. (See Mat. 24:29-31 and Rev. 6:12-17.)
Scripture references for the Great Tribulation:
Mat. 24:4-5, 9-24, 29-31; Mark 13:14-20; 2 Thes. 2:3-12; 1 Jn. 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 Jn. 7; Rev. 7:14; Rev. 12:6, 13-17; Rev. 13:1-18; Dan. 7:25; Dan. 8:11-14; Dan. 11:28-36; Dan. 12:6-7, 11-12
Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. NKJV indicates quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. KJV indicates quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible. Numbers associated with Greek (italic) or Hebrew (upright) words refer to the corresponding words in the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, by James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D.
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God bless you.
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