Life in the Tribulation


Now we're going to look at life in the tribulation. We have been identifying major movements and personalities on the prophetic scene: power blocs that are going to appear; leaders that are going to appear; and, movements which will appear, but all of these have to be viewed within the context of daily life right here on earth. So it is interesting to stop and to look into the prophetic Scriptures of the Bible, and ask ourselves what it is going to be like when the church has been removed. Everybody who is a Christian has been removed off the face of this earth, and everybody left on the face of the earth is an unbeliever. What will it be like to walk down the streets? What will it be like to go home at night? What will it be like to go to work? What will it be like to go on a vacation? What will it be like to go to the store to buy things? How will your bank account be affected? What kind of movies will they have? The best will be call X-rated, and then they'll go down from there probably. What will life be like in the tribulation period?

The church is going to be taken out. We don't know when, but the Lord is going to come down from the air, and we believers are going to be caught up to meet Him. At that point there begins a period of history which the Bible predicts as lasting for seven years. This period was revealed to the prophet Daniel when he was given a timetable for Jewish history. God revealed to Daniel how long he was going to deal with Daniel's people, the Jewish people. Daniel 9:24 declares that God was going to deal with the Jews for another 490 years, and then God's dealings with Israel as a nation would be at an end. This period, we are told, began with a decree which was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus in 445 B.C. This king in the Media Persian Empire gave the order to go back and to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. You read about this in Nehemiah 2:5-8. From the going forth of this decree which was in the year 445 B.C. onward for 490 years, God was going to deal with the Jewish people. Then He would be complete in all that He had to do with him.

Well history fulfilled 483 years. Then we come to the termination with the death of Christ, even as Daniel predicted. Daniel said at the end of 69 weeks of years, the Messiah would be cut off. In other words, at the end of 483 years, something dramatic would happen that the Messiah would be cut off from that which was His rightful claim. Instead of coming to Israel and becoming her king and setting up the Davidic Kingdom upon this earth; and, instead of Jesus Christ moving into Jerusalem and assuming the throne of David, He would be cut off from all those things. And the prophetic clock consequently would stop ticking, and God would not be dealing with the Jewish people any longer. Instead there was interspersed, after this, a period which has now almost been 2,000 years called the church age. This is something that was never revealed in the Old Testament in which God is calling out from Jews and gentiles alike a bride for His Son Jesus Christ. He is now forming the body of Christ who will someday become His bride.

Well what happened to the final seven years? Was the prophet mistaken? Did he get wrong information? No, because God's prophecies are always fulfilled in detail. We know that someplace along the line, the Jewish people must have seven more years of specific dealing from God relative to them as a nation. Now, of course, they had to come back to the land of Palestine and become a nation before He could do that. They also had to possess the city of Jerusalem entirely before that seven years could again be fulfilled. A third thing is they had to have the site of their temple back, and they had to be able to rebuild their temple. Two of these things have already been fulfilled: the Jew is now a nation; and the Jew has all the city of Jerusalem. When the rapture (which means the catching up) takes place, when all the Christians, those in the graves and those living, are caught up to meet the Lord, then this period of seven years which was not fulfilled in the 490 years predicted for Jewish history, will begin to be fulfilled. So the prophetic clock starts ticking.

The Tribulation Period

Now we're told something about this seven-year period as to how it's set up. We're told that it is called, for one thing, the tribulation period. The word tribulation is used in two ways. It is used in Scripture in a technical and a non-technical sense. When it is used of the trial and the suffering of believers, as in John 16:33, it's a non-technical sense. Believers everywhere through all the ages experience tribulation. But it is used as a technical word also, as in Matthew 24:21 where it is referring to this seven-year period of Daniel's timetable. The tribulation is a specific period in history. This whole period is divided into two parts. We're told that each part has three-and-a-half years in it. Daniel 9:27 and Revelation 11:3 tell you each is divided into three-and-a-half years. Sometimes it lists it in years; sometimes in months; sometimes in days; and, sometimes in an expression like "time, times, and a half time."

The last half has a special meaning, the second three-and-a-half years. The whole thing is called the tribulation, but this last half is called the great tribulation because it is in the last three-and-a-half years that the intensity of the wrath of God is poured out upon humanity who's been left behind on the earth after the rapture of the church. It has other names. Jeremiah 20:7 calls it "the time of Jacob's trouble" because it will be the time of the Jews' greatest suffering. Isaiah 26:20 calls it the time of indignation because it is the outpouring of the wrath of God against unrighteousness. Daniel 12:1 gives it the general term "a time of trouble." It'll be different than anything that humanity has ever experienced because it will be worldwide. Everyone will be aware that it is taking place. It will contain events of such momentous nature that people will believe that the world is coming to an end. During this seven-year period, people everywhere will expect any day for this to be the end.

In Zephaniah 1:12-18, you can read a description of the tribulation period. The prophet in this context is speaking about "the day of the Lord." This is a technical term. "The day of the Lord" begins at the beginning of the tribulation, and after the tribulation is over, God enters a 1,000-year period called the millennium when His Son is ruling upon the throne of David here on earth. It will be the earth's golden age with Jesus Christ, from Jerusalem directing and governing the whole earth. The millennium and the tribulation together form "the day of the Lord." At the end of the 1,000 years, the day of the Lord comes to an end. So there is a part of the day of the Lord which is a judgment portion, and then there is a part which is a blessing portion. Zephaniah, in his prophecy, was talking about the judgment portion, the portion of the tribulation. In that discussion, you can read, in Zephaniah 1:12-18, a description of what this portion of the day of the Lord will be like.

Pre-Tribulation Rapture

In the New Testament, Matthew 24:4-31 also are a description of the whole tribulation period. Versus 4-14 cover the first half; versus 15-20 mark a major event in the middle; and then, versus 21-31 are the second half, the last three-and-a-half years. There are many references to the tribulation period in the book of the Revelation. Major portions of that book describe in detail what life is going to be like in the tribulation. The church, of course, has been removed before this begins. Here at Berean Memorial Church, we describe our theological position as being pre-millennial and pre-tribulation rapture. Pre-tribulation rapture means that we believe that the church will be taken out of the world before the tribulation begins.

There are some believers who believe in what is called mid-tribulation rapture, that the Christians are going to be taken out at the midpoint of the tribulation. Click to continue reading the full article.

Dr. John E. Danish, 1971

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