Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Revelation 12:17
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” Matthew 24: 21-22
The Bible is telling us a story, God’s story. Some people can read the Bible for years and never really grasp what this story is. Part of it is because we want to make it our story, and latch onto verses that encourage us, just reading random verses and missing the big picture. The big story is that God made us, we sinned, He sent Jesus to die for our sin, and we must come to Jesus by faith to receive forgiveness and eternal life. One day Jesus is coming back to judge the world and to set up a real kingdom.
25-30% of the Bible contains prophecy about this time when Jesus comes back, but yet people skip over it. They say it will all pan out in the end, or that it’s not an essential and focus on other things. If God spent so much time talking about it, He must want us to know how things will end. Many Christians hold to a view of the end times that includes us getting ‘raptured’ out of the seven years of prophetic events. I struggle to find that as I take a look at the prophetic passages and match them up with each other.
Others say that the events written about in Revelation have already taken place in history. They use a symbolic interpretation to determine who the beast, or oppressive world leader, has been and what the mark of the beast would stand for. There are a couple of things that I would point to in sticking to the face value interpretive principal.
One is that the events written about in Revelation coincide with Old Testament prophetic writings, as well as Matthew 24 and 2 Thessalonians 2, to name two New Testament passages. They point to the ‘end of the age,’ or the end of ‘this generation.’ Matthew 24 culminates with Jesus’ return in the clouds, which hasn’t happened yet. The other is that there are many near/far prophecies in the Old Testament that had a fulfillment in the people of that time’s near future, but also a secondary fulfillment related either to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection or to the time when He will return.
Getting back to the great tribulation and Satan’s fury poured out on Christians, according to Matthew 24:21, the great tribulation starts just after the Abomination of Desolation. And in Matthew 24:29-30 we find that it ends with Jesus’ return: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened…and then will appear in Heaven the sign of the Son of Man…and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven with great power and great glory.”
As mentioned in previous devotions, this tribulation is a product of Satan’s wrath. Revelation 12:12 states, “For the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” When the sixth seal is opened, God’s wrath comes to the earth, as Rev. 6:16-17 states, “…calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” We don’t know the length of time of this great tribulation, but Matt. 24:22 indicates that the time is cut short for the sake of the elect.
What will happen in the short period of intense tribulation? ‘The Beast,’ or the Antichrist will exercise power, according to Revelation 13:5-7, “The beast…was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months (3 ½ years). It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming His name and His dwelling, that is, those who dwell in Heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them.”
It is during this time period that the beast will demand for everyone to worship him and to slay those who don’t. A mark will be required on the right hand or the forehead, “So that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.” Rev. 13:17.
There will be false christs and false prophets that can perform great signs and wonders, so much so that even the elect may be deceived, according to Matthew 24:24. Don’t be deceived by them. Stick to the Bible and its enduring message. Remember that Israel will be hidden away ‘in the wilderness’ by God. Revelation 12:6 says, “and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1260 days.” With the Jewish calendar having 360 days, 1260 days is equal to 3 ½ years.
Why do we need to know about this time of great tribulation? Because the Christians that are on the earth at this time will experience the fury of Satan. He will make war on the Christians and slay those who don’t comply with his demands. Revelation 13:10 says it well, “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” We need to know about the possibility of this happening so that we will stand, even if it means death for the sake of Jesus.
Just like you would prepare your children if they were to go to the doctor to get shots, God prepares us. In John 16:4 Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.” Along with needing to stand strong, we also need to understand that if we are on the earth during this time that God has a purpose for us. Rather than hiding out or cowering in fear, we need to be ready to stand in faith and do what it is that God has for us.