Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The World During the Tribulation


The World During the Tribulation

Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. (Revelation 1:3 AKJV)

We obediently study the book of Revelation, even if we may not understand all that is written within. We thank you Lord for blessing us as we do this, granting us wisdom about when it is at hand.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9 ESV)

We have established that the words of our Lord confirm that there will be a seven-year period of time of great tribulation. Jesus referenced the prophecy of Daniel before this statement, which ties these two events together.

Daniel’s Week

“After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. (Daniel 9:26 ESV)

And he shall enter into a strong and firm covenant with the many for one week [seven years]. And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and offering to cease [for the remaining three and one-half years]; and upon the wing or pinnacle of abominations [shall come] one who makes desolate, until the full determined end is poured out on the desolator. (Daniel 9:27 AMPC)

God’s Anointed One (Jesus) has been killed, and to the Jewish nation it appeared that nothing changed. Now a prince will arise. The “he” in this verse is speaking about that prince, or the AntiChrist. In scripture, sometimes prophecy is given in days, which actually represent years. We should look to other scriptures in the Bible to verify this:

For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days… (Ezekiel 4:5 AKJV)

It is clear that sometimes, when God is speaking, days actually correspond to years, especially when it is connected to sin. This is spoken by the prophet, Ezekiel, so prophecies may have days represented as years.

From our prior studies, some other very important facts we should consider when we examine the Book of Daniel 9 about the seven year agreement:

  • This is spoken to Israel about their future, so it is centered around events for their country.
  • A seven year agreement initiated by Satan’s man will include many countries. 
  • It will allow sacrifices and offerings to be performed in a temple of God.
  • In the middle of the seven year treaty, the sacrifices cease and the AntiChrist comes in full force.

This seven-year time period is divided into two segments of three and a half years. When we see three and a half years mentioned in Revelation we can connect these prophetic events and learn more about what will happen during that time. The actual prophecy about the tribulation week begins after the seventh trumpet begins to sound. John is instructed to speak a fresh prophecy:

And I went to the angel, and said to him, Give me the little book. And he said to me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make your belly bitter, but it shall be in your mouth sweet as honey. (Revelation 10:9 AKJV)

We should let the Bible interpret the Bible as often as we can. When a prophet is given something to eat that is sweet as honey and then bitter, it has a specific meaning:

And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. (Ezekiel 3:3 ESV)

Prophecies are sweet as honey when the prophet receives them. After Ezekiel prophesied about God sending harsh judgment upon people who were hard-hearted and rebelling against God’s ways, then we see this:

So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me. (Ezekiel 3:14 AKJV)

We see the same pattern with John, the author of the Book of Revelation. The book is sweet as honey in his mouth, and then it is bitter after it is swallowed. This means that what is coming forth is because God’s people have continued in rebellion against His ways and are hard-hearted. 

And he said to me, You must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. (Revelation 10:11 AJKV)

Christianity has spread across the world, so some of the prophecies will affect all nations. This is a pattern in Revelation. We see a scene, then we see how it came about. It will affect three different people groups.

  1. The world - Revelation 11
  2. Israel - Revelation 12
  3. Satan and his army - Revelation 13

At this time, we will look at Revelation 11 and the prophecies about all nations and peoples.

The World

And there was given me a reed like to a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. (Revelation 11:1-2 AJKV)

This gives the time when this prophecy will begin. Most scholars agree that when John wrote this prophecy, it was after the temple had been destroyed in 70 AD and it has not been rebuilt since that time. We can look for a new temple to be built and for sacrifices to be made in it before the rest of this prophecy begins to unfold. The courtyard belongs to the Gentiles or nations outside of Israel. Because Gentiles are mentioned, what comes next relates to the entire world, not just Israel:

And I will grant the power of prophecy to My two witnesses for 1,260 days (42 months; three and one-half years), dressed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3 AMPC)

These two individuals will have a specific job to perform and will be specifically empowered by the Lord to accomplish His will. Dressed in sackcloth metaphorically represents a state of mourning. In other words, what they say will bring much sadness. The time frame, 1260 days, indicates it will occur during the first three and a half years of the tribulation. The description of these two is very interesting:

These [witnesses] are the two olive trees and the two lampstands which stand before the Lord of the Earth. (Revelation 11:4 AMPC)

To understand this, we will need to look for the same symbolism in other places in the Bible. In the Book of Revelation and in the rest of scripture, God doesn't use a metaphor to describe a metaphor. If the two witnesses were metaphors for people groups, the book of Revelation would now be telling us what those metaphors mean, like it does with the beast rising out of the ocean. Instead we see a metaphor being used as a description. 

Will these be two actual people or nations? Another prophet in the Old Testament visited the throne room of God and said something similar:

“...What are these two olive trees on the right side of the candlestick and on the left side thereof?” And I answered again, and said to him, “What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?”... Then said he, “These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:11-12 & 14 AKJV)

The Hebrew word ben (ban) is translated “ones” and can be translated “people” but has never been translated “peoples” as in two groups of people. Trees are people, olive trees are used to represent God’s people. Gentile Christians are “wild olive trees grafted in.” This means that the two witnesses will not necessarily be Jewish by birth. A lamp gives light: these two will bring revelation from God. Oil is the anointing of God which will flow from the two witnesses. 

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water… (Psalm 1:3 AKJV)

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. (Psalm 52:8 AKJV)

 There is a scripture that describes a group of people as a tree:

For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree.. (Romans 11:24 AKJV)

A single olive tree is used to represent God’s people. Gentile Christians are from a “wild olive tree whose branches are grafted in.” There is only one olive tree that represents God’s people, not two.

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5 ESV)

Jesus is the root of the new olive tree. All who are Christians are grafted into Him. Our Lord said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” There is only one people group related to the word  “tree” and Jesus is the root, the vine into which we are all grafted into. 

Examining All the Scripture

How can we be sure that it is actually two people and not the two groups that have just been mentioned? We must examine every part of what is said and only if every item is plausible can we have a reliable theory.

 And if anyone attempts to injure them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their enemies; if anyone should attempt to harm them, thus he is doomed to be slain. (Revelation 11:5 AMPC)

Fire pouring from their mouths is metaphorical, the meaning is seen through the prophet Jeremiah:

Is not My word like fire [that consumes all that cannot endure the test]? says the Lord... (Jeremiah 23:29 AMPC)

This shows that a consuming fire represents words from God with His power that destroys those who cannot pass the test of holding to His ways. Their attackers will receive the harm that they intended for the two witnesses.

When the Lamb broke open the fifth seal, I saw at the foot of the altar the souls of those whose lives had been sacrificed for [adhering to] the Word of God and for the testimony they had borne. They cried in a loud voice, O [Sovereign] Lord, holy and true, how long now before You will sit in judgment and avenge our blood upon those who dwell on the Earth? (Revelation 6:9-10 AMPC)

We know that Christians will be murdered for the testimony of Jesus during this three and a half year period as stated by the breaking of the fifth seal. If the two witnesses are all Jews and Christians who have supernatural protection, it would not be possible for them to be martyred. 

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (Revelation 11:7 AKJV)

Two “witnesses” are sent to “give testimony.” Both of these are terms used in a court of law. People groups could do this, that is true. However, what does scripture say about giving testimony? 

One witness shall not prevail against a man for any crime or any wrong in connection with any sin he commits; only on the testimony of two or three witnesses shall a charge be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15 AMPC)

 The Tribulation is preparing for God’s wrath to be poured out. Wrath is judgment. It is necessary for two people to give testimony before God brings judgment. 

God has never sent an entire people group to give testimony. Often He sends a prophet to declare His word and the sin being committed. When disciples were sent out by Jesus, He sent them out in groups of two for this purpose. 

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. (Revelation 11:8-9 AKJV)

These two will be killed in Jerusalem where Jesus died, helping us to further identify them when the time comes. Daniel’s prophecy of one week is divided into two parts each containing 3.5 days. The two witnesses are given a job for the first three and a half days of that week. It is reasonable to expect that the two witnesses who have vexed the AntiChrist are put on display for the second half of the week, which is actually three and a half years. 

Two people can lay dead in the street as people refuse to bury them. There are over two billion Christians on the planet, Jerusalem has 1.2 million people. There is no way that more than 20 times that amount of human bodies would fit into Jerusalem. It is literally impossible. How could the AntCchrist gather every Christian and Jew from all over the world into a single city to kill them? 

When we look at all the scriptures involved, it is clear that the two witnesses are actually two individual people, not Jewish and Gentile Christians. As we continue to look at scripture, we will see some attributes which may help us recognize them. 

These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the Earth with all plagues, as often as they will. (Revelation 11:6 AKJV)

The actions of these two individuals will be seen throughout the world:

  1. They can prophecy a drought during the 3.5 years they are prophesying
  2. They can turn water into blood
  3. They can declare plagues on the earth

 If we are watching, when these actions begin occurring, we will know the tribulation week has begun. When you see two people who have been prophesying harshley, hunted and killed by someone in power, you should know that half of the Tribulation week has passed.

And they that dwell on the Earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelled on the Earth. (Revelation 11:10 AKJV)

As Christians, we are citizens of Heaven. The world and those who claim only the Earth as their home will rejoice when these two people die. Identifying a pair who is giving harsh prophecies and is more hated than Trump should be easy. 

And after three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell on them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from Heaven saying to them, Come up here. And they ascended up to Heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (Revelation 11:11-12 AKJV)

The world will think they have victory and gloat for 3.5 years. However, when they are seen rising from the dead after three and a half years, the world will know the fate that these two have prophesied will come to pass. It will cause a great amount of fear. When these two are resurrected from the dead, we will see two important events occur:

And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of Heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe comes quickly. (Revelation 11:13-14 AKJV)

An earthquake occurs in Jerusalem and the “second woe” is passed and the third woe is coming. The woes are trumpets five, six, and seven which we will discuss later and the timing of them will confirm the three and a half year interpretation. The earthquake also is tied to other events that will be discussed in the future.

For now, we can see that the world will witness prophecies, plagues, and drought declared by two anointed prophets of God. The placement of these events on the week of Daniel will give us something to watch for in the future and help us place other events as we continue discussing the Book of revelation.

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