The Seven Year Tribulation Period

 

By Dr. Ken Matto

 

Another of the great inventions of the prophecy crowd is the belief that there is going to be a special 7 year tribulation period which is also called “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble” which occurs between the rapture of the church and the Millennium.  The Bible plainly teaches that the rapture of the true believers will be on the last day and that the millennium is a representation of the entire New Testament period.  With the Bible openly teaching that the rapture is the last day, then that would exclude any time periods to exist beyond the last day.  With the Bible also teaching that the millennium represents the entire New Testament, then that teaches plainly that there could not possibly be a specific 7 year tribulation period within the confines of that time period.  If so what years would you assign that time period too?

 

The seven year tribulation period is based upon the belief that the believers will be raptured and then a physical Antichrist will come on the scene.  Meanwhile the believers will be judged in Heaven to receive their rewards for faithful service or lack of rewards for unfaithful service.  Then when that judgment is finished, we get to cast all our earned crowns at the feet of Jesus and then proceed to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb where all the believers will join the Lord Jesus for a seven year feast.

 

Meanwhile back on earth the first 3½ years is going to be a peaceful existence under the Antichrist but right in the middle of that 7 years he breaks the peace covenant he made with Israel and then tribulation and affliction begins for the nation of Israel and also the for the tribulation saints.  The second 3½ years culminates with the battle of Armageddon on the plains of Megiddo which precedes the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and then when he returns, he sets up his thousand year reign in Jerusalem.  This Hollywood style teaching has already been used to make several movies about the tribulation period.  We are going to look at some of the teachings regarding the tribulation period to see if prophecy books are correct or incorrect.

 

One of the grave mistakes that prophecy preachers and writers make is that they take all the verses dealing with events and place them into the future.  What should be attributed to the time of the first coming of Christ is normally projected way in the future to some unknown period of time.  We will see very plainly that the whole premise for the idea of a great tribulation period is basically built on the misapplication of two verses and that is Matthew 24:21 and Matthew 24:29, which we will look at further in the chapter.

 

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.  (Matthew 24:21, KJV)

 

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:  (Matthew 24:29, KJV)

 

We will not look at the rapture, millennium, or the Antichrist since I have offered each of these as separate studies instead we will look at some of the tenets of this teaching individually to see if there is such a period of time as the great tribulation or is this just an invention like the other dispensational teachings which has been debunked by the Scriptures.

 

Wrath of God

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:9, KJV)

1 Thessalonians 5:9 has been used by prophecy moguls to claim that there is going to be a pre-trib rapture and the church as we know it will be raptured out before this so-called 7 year tribulation period. It is basically known as “escapist theology.” Their claim is that the wrath spoken of in this verse is their 7 year tribulation period. Once again these prophecy moguls have isolated a verse and built an entire doctrine around their twisted interpretations. If we are going to look at the real understanding of this verse, we must follow the biblical pattern and compare Scripture with Scripture. The meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is found plainly in 1 Thessalonians 1:10.

 

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10, KJV)

 

When we compare both verses they harmonize beautifully and the meanings become very clear without the twisting and sensationalism that comes with Dispensationalism. Notice in both verses, they are speaking of salvation. 5:9 states that we are not appointed to wrath and in the next phrase of that verse we are told that we are to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ. There is not even the slightest intimation that some type of escape from a tribulation period is in view. God has not appointed His Elect to wrath. 1:10 confirms the meaning of the term “wrath” because it mentions the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead and that resurrection assured that all the Elect have been delivered from the wrath to come. That wrath is eternal damnation, not some limited time period here on earth. The believer has been saved from eternal damnation through Christ. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns, then comes Judgment Day.

 

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, {8} In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: {9} Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, KJV)

 

Seven Years

The seven year time period of this tribulation period is also arrived at by making assumptions and poor comparison of verses.

 

Daniel 9:26

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

 

Now following the 62 weeks of Daniel 9:25, we are told that the Messiah will be cut off.  The words “cut off” are used quite copiously in the Old Testament and carries with it the meaning of “death.”  Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.  (Numbers 15:31, KJV)  In Daniel 9:26 we are told that the Messiah will be cut off which means He will be put to death.  “Not for himself” because He was absolutely sinless but He would be cut off for the sins of His people making substitutionary atonement for their sins.  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 (KJV)  These would be known in the New Testament as the “Elect” of God.  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.  (Romans 8:33, KJV)

 

Then we are told that the people of the prince shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.  This is a prophecy looking forward to the time when General Titus and the Roman Army will destroy Jerusalem, the Temple, and Judah from 66 A.D. to about 74 A.D.  The other ten tribes when taken to Assyria in 721 B.C. never returned to the land because there was no need since Messiah came through the lineage of the tribe of Judah.  When it speaks about a flood, it describes the immensity of the final destruction of Judah by the Romans.  Within the time frame of the final siege of Judah by the Romans there would be mass executions.  They hung so many Jews on crosses that they actually ran out of wood plus there was no food or water so over one million Jews died.  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.  (Matthew 23:38, KJV)  The Lord prophesied these desolations in Matthew 23 and 24.

 

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)  {16} Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:  {17} Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:  {18} Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. (Matthew 24:15-18, KJV)

 

Matthew 24:15-18 prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem which is also called the holy place. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.  (Psalm 46:4, KJV)   The Roman army marched into Jerusalem or the holy place and made it desolate.  The Christians had fled Jerusalem because they heeded the Lord’s warning found in Matthew 24:15-18 and as a result, no Christians were killed in the siege of Jerusalem.  This was also a historically accurate event as historians of the first century noted that no Christians were killed but over one million Jews were killed by the Romans because they did not believe who Christ was and therefore did not heed His warning.  Countless numbers of Jews were taken to Rome and sold as slaves.

 

Daniel 9:27

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

 

Now the seventieth week stands alone.  Now we have to ask which covenant is in view? Is it the covenant of law or the covenant of grace?   When we look at the term “many” it is associated with the covenant of grace.  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.  Hebrews 9:28 (KJV)  The reason that this week stands out is because it covers the time of creation to the last day.  Seven is the number of completeness or fullness in the Bible.

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8, KJV)

 

The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Revelation 17:8, KJV)

 

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Ephesians 1:4, KJV)

 

In Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 we are shown that the names of the Elect were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world.  Ephesians 1:4 confirms this by stating that the Elect were chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world. 

 

Next we are told “and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,”  When Christ went to the cross it not only was the end for animal and temple sacrifices and offerings, but became the dividing line.  Christ fulfilled the law and all the sacrifices which were contained in the law were looking forward to Christ and His sacrifice.

 

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. (Hebrews 10:9, KJV)

 

In Hebrews 10:9, we are told that Christ came to take away the first covenant and establish the second covenant.  No longer would animal sacrifices ever make a covering for sin.  Christ was the final sacrifice for sins and those who are born again in Him never have to worry about making sacrifices or celebrating feasts again.  The covenant of grace is without works.  Christ going to the cross brought in the period of the New Testament while removing the period of the Old Testament.  The midst of the final week represented that dividing line of covenants.

 

“and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”  Even after the crucifixion of Christ, the Jews remained in rank apostasy and were persecuting the followers of Christ.  70 A.D. brought in the determined end of God’s patience and He finally destroyed them fully until the nation of Judah was nothing but a desert place.  This just didn’t happen but was planned by God because now that the covenant of grace is fully engaged in the world, He is no longer dealing with only one country but all the countries of the world.

 

Now let us look at Matthew 24: 21 & 29.

 

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.  (Matthew 24:21, KJV)

 

In Matthew 24, there are two verses which seem to teaching the same event but when we look closer we will see they are two totally different events at different times.  In Matthew 24, there are two different events spoken about.  In verse 21, the Lord is warning all the Christians that they are to leave Jerusalem when the invading armies start approaching the city.  They heeded his warning and left the city which resulted in no Christian deaths during the siege by Rome.

 

Once the armies of Rome begins to surround the city, then the razing of Jerusalem will begin. Jesus is now telling them that this is going to be a time of great tribulation. In fact, what will transpire in this part of the world was never seen before nor will it be seen after. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. (Mark 13:19, KJV)  One of the reasons that this tribulation is going to be bad is because it is divinely ordered. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. (Mat 22:7, KJV)  God Himself is going to send the army of Rome to completely destroy this city. In fact the destruction of Israel was over an eight year period from 66-74 A.D.  What made this differ from other divine judgments was the fact that prior judgments were made against pagan nations especially as we read in the book of Judges.  This time it was total destruction of the nation of Israel which was supposed to be God’s people through covenant.

Israel was the place where God chose to place His name and where the temple and tabernacle were. Israel was delivered from bondage in Egypt and many times after that God had protected Israel from her enemies. The punishment now was going to fit the crime of their rebellion against God. God gave them the Scriptures, He sent prophets to them, and even His own Son came as the prophesied Messiah but their ways were so evil and corrupt that they killed the prophets and even killed their own Messiah. Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: (1 Th 2:15, KJV)  Even before the time of the actual destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, there was famine, cannibalism, and internal fighting in Jerusalem according to Josephus. The Romans had cut down every tree within a mile of the perimeter of Jerusalem so there would not be any cover for people to escape or to bring in supplies. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, {44} And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. (Luke 19:43-44, KJV)  This is why Jesus told the people that they would have to leave Jerusalem very quickly because the siege was like nothing which ever happened before. There were over a million Jews killed and there were so many of them being crucified that the Romans ran out of wood.  So verse 21 is dealing with the siege of Jerusalem in 66-74 A.D.

 

Now let us attend to Matthew 24:29 and see why it differs from verse 21.  I will also include verses 30 and 31 since they complete the statement.

 

{29} Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:  {30} And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  {31} And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.  (Matthew 24:29-31, KJV)

 

As much as theologians have tried to make this tribulation in verse 29 some type of seven year tribulation, it is pure speculation and cannot be confirmed by Scripture. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. (Rev 11:2 KJV) The forty and two months here are representative of the entire New Testament period which we will look at further in this study. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. (Luke 21:24, KJV)  When Jesus was speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem, He stated that it would be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. The Gospel is still going forth all over this world and non-Jews are being saved and until the last one is saved, the times of the Gentiles will not be fulfilled. If one studies the history of Jerusalem, one will find that it has been destroyed several times and invaded such as in the time of the Crusades.


“The tribulation of those days” is referring to the whole New Testament period. Once the last Gentile is saved somewhere in the world, then the time of tribulation will be over for the believer. This world is the only tribulation a true believer will ever know. It is interesting to note here that it says “immediately after” which means no more time. Yet, theologians try to jam a thousand year millennium into that time frame when the Scripture states “immediately after.”

Then we see the direct signs in the heavens signaling the soon return of Jesus. First, the sun will be darkened just as it was when the Lord was being crucified. Then because the sun will be darkened, the moon will not be able to reflect any light because there won’t be any. The third major sign is that the stars will fall from Heaven. Then the powers of Heaven will be shaken. Not only will the physical universe be collapsing but also the kingdom of Satan will be collapsing too. He right now is in the heavens and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ will spell the end of his kingdom and he will be shaken as he is sent to eternal damnation. Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. (Heb 12:26, KJV)  The word “heavens” is plural meaning that all the heavens as we know of shall be shaken. The first which surrounds earth, the second which is the universe, and the third which is the abode of God because the judgment against sin will be that mighty.

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;  (Luke 21:25, KJV)  Then Luke gives us a little more insight into those days. Not only will the universe be shaken but the nations will be in perplexity which means they see no way out of their dilemma and the sea and the waves roaring. Interesting that “sea” is mentioned as singular because it is not speaking of a singular sea but is speaking about the people of the world. Every person except the believer will be wondering what is happening. Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! {13} The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. (Isa 17:12-13, KJV)

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. When you see these things begin then look up for it is close.  (Luke 21:28, KJV)

 

In verse 29, we know that we are on the right track because it speaks about the Lord’s return and the gathering of the elect and we have already studied that the gathering of the Saints will be on the last day of earth’s history.  In Matthew 24, from verse 1 to 28 it speaks about the impending doom of the earthly Jerusalem, then the rest of the chapter deals with the Lord’s second coming. 

 

And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.  (Matthew 24:2, KJV)

 

Just to make sure we are correctly understanding the time frame, we look at Matthew 24:2 where Jesus tells his disciples that the temple will be destroyed and to confirm he was speaking about the temple, he uses the term “here.”  “There shall not be left here..” So it is definitely speaking about the siege of Jerusalem which took place in 70 A.D.

 

Three and a Half Years

To understand where they get the 3½ years from, we must go back to Daniel. 

 

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:27, KJV)

 

In dispensational theology, they take the last week of Daniel 9:27 and claim that it is talking about 7 years because seven days equals 7 years according to the interpretation.  They arrive at this by claiming that the Antichrist will break the peace covenant he made with Israel right in the middle of the seven year period.  Daniel 9:27 states “in the midst of the week.”  So they claim this will be directly in the middle of the last week of Daniel 9.

 

When the Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross, he became the final sacrifice for sin.  Once he went to the cross and completed his sacrifice, at that time the requirements of the Mosaic Law were fulfilled and no longer would the sacrifices and offerings in the law ever be used to cover sins since Christ was now the sin bearer of his people.  This means that the Mosaic sacrifices and offerings like oblations now ceased because they no longer held any spiritual authority as they did leading up to the time of Christ.

 

So Daniel 9:27 is not talking about some Antichrist but is talking about Christ who caused the offerings to cease since he was now the final offering for sin.  Notice it was considered in the midst of the week.  This means the first 3½ days was pointing to the Old Testament when the sacrifices were valid but the last 3½ days were now pointing to the entire New Testament.  Here are two verses from Revelation to help us understand if we are on the right path.  The key to understanding this is the number 3½.

 

But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.  (Revelation 11:2, KJV)

 

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.  (Revelation 13:5, KJV)

 

If you notice in both Revelation 11:2 & 13:5, the length of 42 months are prominent.  42 months equals 3½ years if we were to take it literally.  3½ is a symbolic number for the whole New Testament period.  Look at 11:2 and we see that the Gentiles are treading the Holy City for 42 months.

 

What is the holy city?  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  (Revelation 21:2, KJV)  The holy city is the New Jerusalem that people are a part of when they become saved.  In other words, the Holy City is the New Jerusalem which continues to receive Gentiles from all nations around the world.

 

Then in Revelation 13:5, we read about Satan who speaks great things and blasphemies for 42 months.  This means until he is removed into the lake of fire on the last day, he will continue his blasphemies through his people on earth.  So here we have Satan blaspheming during the entire New Testament period until his judgment day.

 

I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  (Revelation 1:9, KJV)

 

Here is an interesting passage.  When John penned the Book of Revelation under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he did so in 95 A.D. under the Emperor Domitian who had one of the most vicious campaigns against Christians.  In fact he was so evil, he was actually removed from power by the Romans themselves.  He already stated way back then, that he was the companion of the believers who were also in tribulation.  The tribulation period of the Saints is from the first coming of Christ to the second and that is what the book of Revelation is all about, it is not about Israel or a physical Antichrist or some Hollywood type script.  If pastors would approach this book properly, it would prepare their people to face affliction and tribulation strongly.

 

Armageddon

If you have seen the movie “Battle of the Bulge” with Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson, then you have already seen how prophecy preachers describe Armageddon.  They see Armageddon as a great military battle between the forces of God and the forces of Satan with Satan losing the battle.  The problem with this scenario is that it may sell books and it makes a good Hollywood script but it is total error and should not be considered as a true biblical interpretation.

 

And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.  (Revelation 16:16, KJV)

 

The word “Armageddon” is a Greek translation of the words “Ir Megiddo,” “the city of Megiddo.”  There is a problem though.  The city of Megiddo was destroyed in 350 B.C and has never been rebuilt.  It had no end time significance.

 

Now we see plainly that based on history, the city of Megiddo no longer exists.  So where do the prophecy preachers get the idea of a military battle on the plains of Megiddo?  Once again the modern versions cause Christians to stray in their belief.  In the Greek text behind the King James Bible the word is “Ἀρμαγεδδών which is translated letter for letter “Armageddon.”  The breathing mark over “A” in the Greek is pointing to the left.  If it was pointing to the right, then it would mean “a hard breathing sound.”  That hard breathing sound would be “h.”

 

In the following manuscripts which underlie the modern versions, the breathing mark is pointing to the right making the word “Harmageddon.”  The word “har” in the Hebrew would be translated hill and is used 485 times in the Hebrew Scriptures with various meanings such as mount or mountain.

 

The term “Harmageddon” is found in the following manuscripts plus about 95 Minuscules. 

 

Aleph 01 - Sinaiticus - Nineteenth Century Counterfeit
A 02 - Alexandrinus - Fifth century

 

Both of these manuscripts are corrupted copies of the true manuscripts from Antioch.  Sinaiticus has now been proven to be a nineteenth century counterfeit written by a man named Constantine Simonides and the Alexandrinus manuscript hailed from Alexandria, Egypt which was the Gnostic capital of Egypt and the surrounding region.

 

Notice the difference in translation:

 

And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.  (Revelation 16:16, KJV)

 

And they gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew Har-magedon.  (Revelation 16:16, ASV)

 

And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon. (Revelation 16:16, NASV)

 

As you can see the 1901 ASV and the 1995 NASV both follow the corrupted and false manuscripts and use the term “Har-mageddon” which means now a physical place is named which is “the hill of Megiddo.”  Now the hill of Megiddo is a false hill otherwise known as a “tell” which overlooks the valley of Jezreel in the northern part of Israel.  It was a place where many battles were fought in ancient times.  The Mediterranean Sea is not far from this place.

 

The prophecy pundits see Armageddon as final battle between the forces of Antichrist and the forces of Jesus.  They also see naval involvement in this final battle since the sea is so close.  So what we see is that the modern versions are the culprits behind this Hollywood scenario creating a false understanding of this verse.  If we are going to understand Armageddon, we must look at Revelation 16:14 &15.

 

{14} For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.  {15} Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.  {16} And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.  (Revelation 16:14-16, KJV)

 

The first part of verse 14 explains exactly what the unclean spirits are. These are the spirits of devils and by means of miracles, they go out and deceive not only the populations of the world, but also incites the leaders of the nations around the entire world. It is through the political governments that Christianity has either been curtailed or endorsed. In this verse we are seeing that because of the nature of these miracles as being unclean, this will be a worldwide crusade against true Christianity. There will be no nation that will not attempt some type of persecution for the purpose of silencing the Gospel. God will be using this time of persecution as the precursor for the great battle of God Almighty which will be Armageddon, the final battle between God and Satan. While the war will be waged in the spiritual realm, it will also be waged here on earth by the followers of the beast. The kings of the earth here are linked also to the kings of the east in verse 12. And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. {21} Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. {22} For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-22 KJV)  Luke 21:20-22 calls these the days of vengeance when Satan will try to enact vengeance upon the body of Christ but instead God will bring vengeance upon the kingdom of Satan for its persecution of the true believers.

 

Right on the heels of the gathering of the armies in verse 14, we read this interjection which the Lord Jesus Christ makes. Here He is warning the world and assuring the believers that He will return to earth and those who are truly saved will be watching for Him but to the rest of the world, He will come as a thief in the night which means His return to them will be unexpected. In the Bible, walking naked (Vs 15) means that a person has no savior to cover their sins.

The interjection of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is keeping in harmony with the other two judgment visions of John. (Chapters 4-7 & 8-11) In each case the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is mentioned. Here there is no difference because the battle of Armageddon is not a physical battle but the final spiritual battle between God and Satan where the forces of Satan are destroyed along with the earth which is to be made a new.

 

Notice the language of Revelation 16:17:

 

And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.  (Revelation 16:17, KJV)

 

The Lord Jesus Christ from the throne is saying it is done which means the end of mankind has come and it is time for Judgment day.  The following verses in Revelation 16 are verses denoting judgment, which is also the final judgment since there is no place that anyone can hide from the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.  (Revelation 16:20, KJV)

 

All the islands and mountains were no longer found which means the verse is speaking of total judgment.  If the mountains are no longer found, then how could there be a battle on the hill of Megiddo?  Armageddon is the final battle between God and Satan which we know otherwise as Judgment Day.  It is not a physical battle but a spiritual battle which ends in the doom of Satan.  And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.  (Revelation 20:10, KJV)  At that point Satan is no longer a threat to the believer, the days of temptation and evil are done.

 

Just as an addition, there is one verse in Revelation which is used to try and justify a special period of tribulation and it is Revelation 7:14:

 

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  (Revelation 7:14, KJV)

 

In the Greek text, right before the word “tribulation” appears there is a “the.”  What the pundits do is take that “the” and place it in the text making it appear as if their seven year tribulation period is legitimate.

 

And I say unto him, My lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they that come of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  (Revelation 7:14, ASV)

 

And I said to him, My lord, *thou* knowest. And he said to me, These are they who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  (Revelation 7:14, Darby)

 

I told him, "My lord, you know." He said to me, "These are those who came out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb's blood.  (Revelation 7:14, WEB)

 

and I have said to him, `Sir, thou hast known;' and he said to me, `These are those who are coming out of the great tribulation, and they did wash their robes, and they made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb;  (Revelation 7:14, YLT)

 

John is told that these have come out of great tribulation. Tribulation has always been part of the believer’s life, from the time of Abel who was murdered by Cain up to the last day. From the time of the cross to the last day, there is going to be tribulation which will be both spiritual and physical. The 20th century had more Christian martyrs than any other century in history. As we progress toward the last day, the spiritual attacks on the true Gospel will intensify. These attacks will tend to either neutralize or degrade the true Gospel until it will be impossible to find any true Bible teaching. Alongside will come physical persecution of the Christians and that is escalating every day, especially in Islamic and Communist countries where Christians are killed without conscience. We read in Revelation 6:11 that there were yet many more who are going to die for the sake of the Gospel. We are not told in this verse if John is speaking of the entire multitude which he saw before the throne or if he is seeing a select group who were martyred for the Kingdom in the final days. It would seem that John in this verse was speaking of a specific group of martyrs which would go to glory in the final days right before the return of Christ as we read that a certain number had to be killed and that these should rest until that happens and then the end will come.  The word “the” before “great tribulation” does not change the fact that tribulation and affliction has been present in the church and the lives of individual believers.  The tribulation period for the church will be from the first coming of Christ to the last day and then the church will go to its eternal rest from any and all attacks by the kingdom of Satan owing to the fact that he and his followers are now separated eternally from the believers, never to rise again.

 

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