There are three main texts from which this end times' Bible study lesson has been drawn: Daniel chapters 9-12; Matthew chapter 24; and Revelation chapters 6-18.
The mysterious details of the end times leave many of us in a state of confusion. We've all been there. We all have questions.
The primary question put simply is this, "Why does the entire world need what the Bible calls the Great Tribulation?" Can't Jesus return to earth without all the drama?
But, since it's promised by the Lord, and we believe all of his promises, we ask, "Has the Great Tribulation begun yet? If not, when?"
And then, more detailed questions such as these: "When does the rapture occur? Who's the antichrist? What nations fight in Armageddon?" etc.
The Lord has answers which are found right under our noses. The Bible gives us ample, clear knowledge of the timetable and events of the Great Tribulation. We just have to dig deep, study hard, pray, and listen intently for what He tells us in his prophetic Word.
Do you really want answers to your questions about the future? If so, you'll find God's truth about the Great Tribulation in vivid detail right here.
There are even a few predictions, based upon Scripture and current events, regarding the people, timing, and events of the Great Tribulation. Let's get started.
The Great Tribulation is a seven-year period of tremendous turmoil upon the earth. It's the final seven years prior to the glorious Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which, in turn, begins his millennial reign. Jesus Christ will reign over Israel and all the world from the rebuilt Jerusalem immediately following the Great Tribulation.
The tribulation will wrap up the 2000-year church age. Its end also puts the finishing touches on the designed disciplinary scattering of true Israel. Israel's Great Tribulation will raze Jerusalem and punish those Jews who despise the Chosen One, their Messiah, who was sent by YHWH.
Gentile nations will also be decimated during the Tribulation because they were too harsh in their treatment of Israel (Zechariah 1:15).
The main events of the Great Tribulation period include the unveiling of the Antichrist, incomprehensible natural disasters, fatal diseases, true spiritual warfare fought by spiritual creatures, a massive martyrdom of Christians, the abomination of desolation in Jerusalem's temple, the rapture of the tribulation saints, many wars including Armageddon, the marriage supper of the Lamb, and finally, but not exhaustively, Christ's glorious Second Coming that commences his 1,000 year earthly reign in Jerusalem.
The main reason YHWH, i.e. God the Father, has determined that the Tribulation is a necessary event is that fallen humanity simply continues to refuse to repent and believe in his Son, the promised Messiah, who was sent to pay for the sins of humanity.
Humans are so naturally selfish, stubborn and rebellious that it takes a seven-year period of a literal "hell-on-earth" to get even a few to repent and believe in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 65:1-5).
Fortunately, the Lord wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), so he's patient beyond our wildest imaginations. He's waiting to begin the Great Tribulation for the benefit of the lost souls who require a wake-up call to understand their responsibility to approach him in repentance and belief. But that door is about to slam shut.
Many people, from both the Gentiles and Jews, will eventually come to personally know their Creator and Savior during the Great Tribulation (Acts 2:17-21).
A secondary reason for the Great Tribulation is that sin will be directly dealt with by the Lord. People will experience the terribly real and physically painful wrath of God. Those who refuse to repent and trust their Savior will literally pay a great bodily and spiritual cost for their sins. God's wrath will directly affect sinners in both the here-and-now and in eternal hell. Not a single sin by the rebellious, non-believing souls will be left hidden and unpunished.
The Great Tribulation will be the most intense period in human history, by far. Terms such as frightful, terrifying, dangerous, unbelievable, unprecedented, bloody, and morbid, etc., don't begin to describe this tumultuous period that sees BOTH Satan's and God's wrath rain down upon the earth and its inhabitants.
We're relying upon God's Word to inform us because a mighty angel told the Apostle John, "Worship only God, for the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus" (Revelation 19:10). A clear witness for Jesus is needed to bring people to their knees in repentance and faith.
The Great Tribulation is all about Jesus, friends. Our lives should be all about Jesus, too. Satan's New World Order and Christ's coming Kingdom are advancing on us quickly, so let's turn our eyes to the world's one true Messiah, Yeshua, and his Father, YHWH, the Lord God Almighty. No other name under heaven can save you from this frightening time period; but even more importantly, you can be saved from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; John 5:24). How much clearer can it be said?
Our main text, Revelation chapters 6-19, chronologically lays out the timetable of events for the Great Tribulation. Embracing Revelation's chronology greatly helps you to biblically understand this heavily prophecied time period. Don't let the Book of Revelation frustrate you and turn you away, but keep diligently studying God's Word, and he'll give you the answers.
Matthew 24 and Daniel chapters 9-12 perfectly coincide with the larger Revelation passage. Additionally, the Apostle Paul adds key insight to the period, as well, in his 1st & 2nd Thessalonians' letters.
Let's begin learning about the events that have earned the biblical name "The Great Tribulation," shall we?
God gives us the signs of the times to help warn us about the forthcoming Tribulation era. Therefore, we'll start with certain signs that MUST occur before the seven-year Great Tribulation officially begins:
So, with these events needed before the tribulation starts and at least one already in place, when can we expect it to start? Our prediction here, based on extensive research, is that the Great Tribulation could start between 2016 and 2026. Shocked? You're encouraged to watch videos or learn from other websites, while there's still time, about the many biblical reasons for this predicted ten-year period.
Let's now take a look at what humanity, including Christians, will experience during the first half of the Great Tribulation period.
If you're looking for the rapture to happen immediately before the Tribulation, you're probably mistaken. If you believe the Battle of Armageddon will start the Tribulation, you're definitely in need of a refresher course on end times.
God's Word gives a timeline of events that shows us the order in which the critical events of the Tribulation will occur. We'll use Revelation chapters 6-19 to learn the timeline; but first, listen to who made it possible for us to be given this wonderful information.
Jesus Christ opened the scroll upon which God wrote the news of the Tribulation. He's the only one found worthy to open the Seven Seals of Judgment precisely because He is the victorious Redeemer of mankind (Revelation 5:1-14). Without Jesus Christ, the seals of the prophetic End Times Scroll aren't broken, and we don't know the future (Revelation 1:1-3). Thank you, Jesus.
The Great Tribulation officially begins inside the city of Jerusalem with the anticipated villain who people have been trying to identify for thousands of years - the Antichrist.
The stroke of the Antichrist's pen on the signature line of a seven-year peace treaty officially begins the Tribulation (Daniel 9:27). People from around the world have been clamoring for peace for decades and they'll finally get their wish.
Once the Tribulation has biblically been declared official, the following noted seal-breaking events take place. Jesus Christ takes a literal hands-on approach throughout the tribulation once the first seal is broken.
Is this any wonder to us? It shouldn't be, because Jesus warned earlier that the world will hate us since they first hated him (John 15:18-19). Why would we get a "free pass" and somehow avoid persecution through any type of pre-tribulation rapture? Expect persecution, dear Christian, because it's been repeatedly prophecied in God's Word (e.g. Luke 21:16-17).
Revelation 7 reveals two great scenes that have taken shape during the first half of the Great Tribulation. First, the first-fruits of the Jews to believe in Christ are revealed (Revelation 7:1-8). They're God's 144,000 elect men from true, full-blooded Jewish heritage, who are redeemed by Yeshua the Messiah (Revelation 14:1-5). These witnesses are sealed by God so that they'll remain unharmed, and they'll proclaim his Word of personal salvation to the lost sheep of Israel.
Secondly, a great crowd is revealed in heaven (Revelation 7:9-12). These are the millions of Christian martyrs who suffered torture and death during the first half of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:13-17). You and I could very well be part of this blessed group of martyrs. Be strong and courageous when persecution arrives at your door, friends.
Revelation 10:7 gives us valuable insight about the critical 7th trumpet blast, "When the seventh angel blows his trumpet, God's mysterious plan will be fulfilled. It will happen just as he announced it to his servants the prophets." God's "mysterious plan" features the indwelling Holy Spirit that saves the souls of his chosen ones, forming his beloved Bride, the Church. All of his elect ones at this point in time will begin to gather together with him in Heaven. Christ's True Church, his Bride, will soon be permanently established.
The successive pre-wrath rapture(s) of Christ's Church may very well begin at this point of the Great Tribulation.
One major reason the pre-wrath raptures are favored over the other views is that all believers, at this point in the Tribulation, may be invited to Christ's Coronation.
At Christ's Coronation, his 24 elders fall down and worship and thank Him because He's taken His great power and begun to reign! They say, "And the nations were enraged, and your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth" (Revelation 11:15-19). Those who "destroy the earth" are the power-hungry madmen who created and ran the satanic New World Order.
Jesus Christ NOW officially begins his universal reign, promised to him by his Father (Revelation 11:15). However, he remains in heaven for awhile longer (Acts 3:21) for a very specific reason. Let's find out why.
The events that the previous section described were in-part the conglomerative results of the natural order of things. Sin has consequences, and God removed much of his mercy during the first 3 1/2 years of the Great Tribulation. God allowed mankind to frolic in their sin and experience the fruits of their activities. He also allowed the temporary god of this cursed world, Satan, the ability to unleash his murderous rage upon the world. Satan wants nothing more than lost people to die and forego any opportunity of eternal life with Christ.
Up to this point, God's real believers from around the world have been persecuted to death by order of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:7). No rapture saved their physical bodies from the Beast's "ethnic cleansing" of the earth of Christians (Revelation 13:10). Christians have painfully experienced the first half of the Great Tribulation just like the rest of the world, in fact, worse than the rest of the world (Luke 21:34-35).
The world is now primed and ready for the Time of Jacob's Trouble, of which no time in history has ever closely resembled. This 3 1/2 year period will experience the fiery wrath of a fierce, holy, omnipotent Creator God. Nothing will stand in the way of his furious indignation.
God hates sin, and those who revel in it will experience the very real, very horrifying, very painful results of their sinful lifestyles. Six-thousand years of pent-up righteous anger are about to be unleashed on those souls who happen to be living during this dreadful period (Hebrews 12:28-29).
Speaking of sin, the worst of the worst is about to happen. To date, the most atrocious sin in humanity's inglorious history was Judas' betrayal of Jesus Christ. As egregious as that sin was, it's about to be equaled in God's Holy City of Jerusalem.
The mid-point of the Tribulation arrives when the Antichrist's abomination of desecration occurs in the Temple (Daniel 9:26-27; Mark 13:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Revelation 13:5; 13:14-15).
The abomination of desecration features the world-ruling Antichrist unlawfully entering the Jerusalem Temple, sitting in the Holy Place, and calling himself God.
Satan is allowed to deceive humanity at this point, by performing great miracles through the Antichrist (Revelation 13:2-5).
He demands worship from all the people who the False Prophet deceived into taking the Mark of the Beast. The False Prophet sets up a statue of the Beast inside the Temple, as well, which apparently comes to life, and demands that everyone on the earth receive the Mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:14-15).
The Mark of the Beast somehow equates to the name or number of the antichrist, 666 (Revelation 13:16-18).
The mark is required for everyone who wishes to buy and sell in the world's economy, and without it suffering and death are most certain. Many Christians now, i.e. currently, are worried about the Mark of the Beast, but, the mystery mark won't be required until soon after the midpoint of the Tribulation, becoming mandatory for all who want to function in the global economy.
Those who take the mark will experience God's fury (Revelation 14:9-11). Christians are to resist all attempts that force the Mark of the Beast upon them.
Jesus issued a warning for those who are still alive and living in Jerusalem at the time of the Abomination of Desolation, "Reader, pay attention! Those in Judea must flee to the hills... For there will be greater anguish in those days than at any time since God created the world. And it will never be so great again!" (Mark 13:14-20).
Luke 21:20-24 shares an additional warning, "And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. For those will be days of God’s vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. For there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end."
Believe it or not, all of the terrors that have happened up to this point are child's play compared to what's about to transpire in the final 3 1/2 years of the Great Tribulation.
The seventh seal inaugurated the seven trumpets, and now the seventh trumpet signals the beginning of the seven bowls of God's wrath. The 24 elders say, "It's time to destroy all who have caused destruction on the earth" (Revelation 11:18). Christ's enemies take note, because all of the following terrors are specifically for you.
You'll notice that there will be few souls being saved through this period of history - God's grace and mercy will be scarce.
We believe the rapture of God's remaining saints occurs, or possibly continues, soon after the seventh trumpet blast. The Lord rescues those whom He loves before they have to experience the fury of His wrath about to be poured out upon the earth and its people. See our rapture study here. Here is another pre-wrath rapture point of view, and another here.
Then there appear seven angels, having seven last plagues, poured out from seven bowls, which complete the wrath of God (Revelation 15:1,7). The angels are told to pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath onto the earth (Revelation 16:1).
The numbers of humanity continue to rapidly decline upon the earth, as each global plague wipes out more and more life. Satan's mysterious Babylonian Empire continues to crumble into ruins (Revelation 18).
Something intriguing strikes one's imagination while reading about future events. It's the unrelenting, rebellious resolve inside a hateful human heart.
Christ's chief human enemies, the global elite, just experienced exactly what they've been doing to their fellow humans for decades - manipulation, suppression, and persecution. God repaid them tenfold during the tribulation for what they did to the rest of humanity for centuries.
The elite trusted money and luxury, but God took it away. They trusted good health but the Lord gave them permanent diseases. They trusted in secure homes which the Lord shook into ruins. They trusted false religions and dumb idols which God humiliated with his furious onslaught. They relied on empowering wealth to dominate the world, but Christ squashed their banks full of paper money under his feet.
The amazing thing is that his enemies, that is, those enemies who remain alive at the time of Armageddon, only reach the end of this tribulation period with more anger and more hatred towards God.
They steadfastly refuse to repent. Unbelievable.
While God pours out his wrath on the worldwide Babylonian system, real Israelites from around the world continue to gather in Israel, where God protects many of them from harm. He's saving them individually and building their knowledge of his Word.
False Israelites, the tares amongst the wheat, also gather in Jerusalem, but for a different purpose: They're unknowingly gathering for a slaughter that the Lord has prepared.
Jerusalem gets decimated during the latter stages of the Tribulation (Luke 21:20), while the Gentile nations suffer collateral damage as God wages war against Mystery Babylon - Satan's system of sin.
As the days of the Tribulation march on, Babylon is destroyed and rendered powerless, but Satan's foul spirits did their job and influenced the remaining world leaders to attack Israel. The leaders readied their armies, crossed the dry Euphrates River bed, and congregated in Armageddon. Satan gathered all of his international leaders to prepare them to demolish the city he despises - Jerusalem. The Antichrist and his False Prophet were there, too. Revelation says the kings, commanders, and mighty warriors were with them, fully armed and ready for the battle of the ages - Armageddon.
Most people believe this will be the War of Wars - the mother of all wars. But, really, the Bible describes it anticlimatically. World War III was discussed above, and that's what could be considered the mother of all wars. But Armageddon won't be much of a battle at all, for several reasons. First of all, the Beast (i.e. Antichrist) and False Prophet are quickly captured, probably by Michael the Archangel, and thrown into Hades. Then, immediately afterwards, Jesus Christ, sitting atop his white horse, personally kills every single remaining rebellious enemy with a sword. One sword. Christ's Sword.
Armageddon turns out to be a NO CONTEST.
For the ultimate indignation, scavenger birds gorge themselves on the flesh and meat of the slaughtered leaders and warriors.
Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and their "warriors" are ALL humiliated, once and for all time, at Armageddon. These hateful creatures will later all be judged and sentenced to eternal hell, the lake of fire, where their souls will burn forever.
Take a moment to read the incredibly descriptive biblical account of these events in and around Jerusalem at the time of Armageddon: Zechariah 12:1-14:21.
Mystery Babylon has now been wiped off the face of the earth (Revelation 18:1-24; Micah 5:10-15). Satan's earthly rule is over and he's chained in hell, unable to tempt and unable to conspire against Christ.
Real Jews, i.e. Messiah-loving Jews, then return to populate and rebuild Jerusalem and Israel. There isn't much but rubble remaining by the end of the Great Tribulation; but, the Lord will be on hand to personally direct the Jews to rebuild his chosen country and holy city, Jerusalem. Christ will supply everything needed to re-establish Jerusalem as the most beautiful, most holy city on all the earth (Micah 4:1-2).
Jesus Christ will reign over the entire world for 1,000 years from his throne in Jerusalem (Revelation 20:4-6).
The Millennium will find Israel living at peace with God and living under the direct authority of their Messiah, King Yeshua. The Gentile world will be governed by the saints who lived and died for Christ. The Gentiles who survived the Great Tribulation will also populate the world during the 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ. Everyone will live under God's new theocracy, which is the only TRUE, PERFECT, LASTING political system. All political systems familiar to us were nothing but corrupted substitutions for a perfect theocracy instilled and governed by God and his saints.
Do YOU want to rule with Christ on earth during his 1,000 year reign? If so, then give your life to Him now: Sinner's Prayer.
Satan will be released towards the end of the millennium, but only for a brief moment, which includes a war that ends in his permanent defeat. Immediately after that last war comes the permanent destruction of all lost souls at the Great White Throne Judgment.
This study taught us that God had many reasons for the Great Tribulation.
Mostly, God ordained the Great Tribulation in order to destroy Satan's Babylonian system.
It's been a mysterious kingdom, featuring sin hidden as success and pleasure, which tricked most of humanity, but its time had run its course. People who are awake to spiritual matters know that the world's political, military, religious, banking, corporate, and medical systems are leading to Satan's New World Order very quickly.
The Tribulation seeks to turn people's eyes to Jesus, and those souls who turn from death to life will be saved. Those who refuse will eventually be crushed by the terrors of the Tribulation. The Gentile nations will also be wiped out in this punishment.
Another reason for the tribulation is that Jerusalem had been trampled down by the Gentiles for thousands of years and it was time for the Lord to end that period. Jerusalem and its intended inhabitants, the Jews, were punished for rejecting God, his law, and mostly his Son, Yeshua. Not only did they reject him, but they murdered him. Therefore, God laid waste to Jerusalem and its Temple, and he also scattered true Israelites around the world, in order to live amongst the Gentiles.
Israel deserved God's punishment, but the punishment concluded after this Time of Jacob's Trouble. God remained faithful to his promise of Israel becoming his chosen nation to govern the world.
In summary, Israel's Great Tribulation, aka The Time of Jacob's Trouble, wiped out Jerusalem, preparing it for a total rebuilding led by their Messiah, Yeshua and his true Israelites.
Christians are commanded to pray for Jerusalem, so let's conclude with this prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, It seems you've been silent over the centuries. Show us all, Lord, that you actively reign over the entire world. Show us that you won't allow sin any longer. Show us exactly who is in charge. Mystery Babylon is hardly a mystery any longer, Lord, as they are being exposed on a daily basis. Keep waking up people to the lies, deceit, and fraud of Satan and the systems that form the New World Order. Expose them, Lord, and show those who were once fooled, that you'll accept them by faith alone. Father, may you have mercy upon the deceived of the world. Show them the way. Open and soften their hearts, so they can know you and forego the awful wrath that is coming soon. Finally, we pray for Jerusalem, your holy city. We pray that it's prepared for your conquest. Show the Jews that they're chosen, that they're specially honored to receive your Son as Savior and King. Have mercy on us all, Lord. Amen.