The tribulation, the Anti-Christ and the Church
Jesus said as long as your in this world you will have tribulation. As we follow Christ, we were not promised to be taken from or delivered out of the daily tribulations of life. However there is coming a specific time called the great tribulation that is known as the final outcome of mankind. This tribulation we are promised deliverance from. The Jehovah's Witnesses look forward to Armageddon as the determining factor of their being faithful. To others who are Christian who hold the Amillennial view or teach preterism, this event has already taken place in 70 AD. So there is no future tribulation. To an atheist, if true, it is feared, since they must make a decision between God or the Devil or be assigned to everlasting judgment. Biblically it is the signal of the time of the very end before the kingdom of God comes to earth through Christ ruling. It officially begins with the signing of the covenant a false peace treaty (Daniel 9:24-27) which the antichrist initiates, it’s not the rapture that begins the tribulation although they could be simultaneous events. But more likely the tribulation takes place sometime after the rapture. A decree of destruction is issued by God when the covenant is signed with the anti-Christ which begins the tribulation. Rev.5-6 the seven seals are broken by the lamb because of the signing of this covenant with Israel. God sends judgment for people to repent because God is a jealous God. (Rev.6:1).
Before there can be a covenant signed there must be a Jewish state (this covenant is signed with the many not the all, some will go along and some will not). The tribulation begins with the signing of the peace treaty covenant (Jer. 30:7). Ever since the nation Israel was given the land it has been a struggle to keep it. Everyone wants a piece of it. Whoever gains possession of it will be short lived. Isa. 28:14-15 tells us a covenant is made to guarantee security to Israel. But God’s perspective of this covenant is quite the opposite; He calls it a covenant of death and hell. What Israel thought was best for their security will turn out to be their worst nightmare. Vs.15 says because you have made a covenant with death, instead of vs.16 which refers to the covenant God made in Zion. The foundation stone, the cornerstone who Peter calls Christ is rejected. Many of the people will go against the covenant Isaiah writes of that was set in Zion and instead go along with the NEW (false) covenant instituted by the false Messiah.
Isa.28:21-22 calls it Yahweh’s strange work and act a decree of destruction on the whole earth. The tribulation will affect all who live on this planet.
Jer.30:4-7 calls it the time of Jacobs troubles relating to the Jewish people.
Isa.40:1-2, Jer.16:18,17:8 The policy is that Israel always receives double for her sins, because to whom much has been given much will be required
2 Pet 3:3-7 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” Peter writes about scoffers those who willfully forget the judgment that God promised in the past is a promise for the future. With huge floods recently in central America, Honduras, Niguragua over 11,000 people died in this terrible catastrophe. These floods did not come close to covering the smallest mountain. We can understand how real the antediluvian flood was that covered the mountains and no one survived except eight.
Peter goes on and writes in 2:3:10-13 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which (ends with) the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” The day of the Lord is a period of time when God works his sovereign purpose for mankind’s history. It is not a single day but begins with a period of judgments. It begins with the tribulation and ends with the 2nd coming. The new heavens and earth comes at the end of the 1,000 year millennium as the Day of God which brings us into the eternal state.
In 1 Thess.5:1-11 Paul also agrees with Peter on the suddenness of the day vs:2-3 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. Paul writes in 1 Thess. 5: 3 the Day of the Lord will begin when the unsaved claim to have established a state of ‘Peace and safety”. Just when they are convinced that they have finally reached the ultimate goal that mankind for all ages has dreamed of achieving by their own strength, they will experience the very opposite. It will be like labor pains, once a woman with child goes into labor there is no turning back, the birth is imminent. It is a woman’s very first birth pang which comes suddenly and unexpectedly, it is not those later with hard labor birth pangs just before the birth. Paul was teaching that the Day of the Lord will begin with the very first birth pang suddenly as travail an unexpected suddenness with which the Day of the Lord begins, destruction will come. Jer. 30:4-74 “Now these are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah. “For thus says the LORD: ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.” there is a specific group that will be rescued from the judgments.
When asked what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age? Jesus spoke of a time of deception and “the beginning of sorrows” ( “the beginning of birth pangs”) in Mt. 24:5-8. Both the Day of the Lord and the beginning of birth pangs will start at the same time as the birth pangs of Paul’s teaching. The Day of the Lord will include the beginning of birth pangs referred to by Jesus in Matthew 24. The severe birth pangs of hard labor will take place during the second half of the 70th week known as the Great tribulation, they increase in frequency and intensity. What we are seeing today is a dress rehearsal for the real thing. If your falling for deception now you certainly will not be able to stand when the real thing comes.
Altogether Christ pointed out several events that will occur during the first half of the tribulation. There will be persecution of the saints in a unprecedented scale, this is found in Revelation 6:9-11, it also tells us he overcomes the saints. Today almost 150,000 Christians are killed each year but this will be nothing compared to the slaughter that is coming. The one-world religious system known as Ecclesiastical Babylon will be doing the persecuting and will be responsible for the death of the saints during the first half of the tribulation (Revelation 17:1-6). Much speculation has been on the one who persecutes the saints and mystery Babylon. Dan.9:26 tell us the identity the people of the prince that shall come are those who took the city and destroyed the sanctuary, easily identified as Rome, so we know this ruler will come from the Roman empire. But this does not answer who kills the saints. We find that it was the Roman Empire who relished in the fact of lighting up the countryside with saints tarred and burned. They also entertained themselves with Christians fighting the lions. However Islam has killed many saints, as well as atheists even in our modern times so to identify the group who martyrs the saints is a bit premature. However there is no religion on earth today that is more Antichrist and will use force than Islam, they have never been a friend to the church, and have killed an imprisoned the saints.
It is presented as a fact that Peter and Paul used Babylon as a code word for Rome. The dispute is whether they referred Rome to the Government through Caesar in which they were all under or the literal city which sits on 7 hills. ‘The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits’. It is not insignificant that the Vatican City is centered in Rome, which is actually built on seven hills! However the Mountains are to be interpreted symbolically. Mountains are symbolically used for kingdoms and thrones so they represent something other than literal mountains so it appears to be 7 kings.Vs.10 the 7 mountains relate to 7 kings 5 were fallen in the time of Johns writing one was presently ruling and there was one more to come. If these were literal mountains they would no longer exist.
The first half of the tribulation will be characterized by the rise of many false prophets (Mt.24:11). This is also found in Zechariah 13:2-6. There will be a tremendous rise of sin and iniquity (Mt.24:12) because evil will no longer be restrained (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7).The Jews who resist evil and survive through to the end of the tribulation will be saved. (Matt.24:13, Zech.13:8-9).
The most significant event of the first half of the tribulation will be the worldwide preaching of the Gospel (Matt.24:14) which will be directed by the 144,000 Jews who are spread all over the world.
Revelation 7:1-4 states that 12,000 Jews are selected from each of the twelve tribes adding up to a total of 144,000. They are from the 4 corners of the earth not only Israel. It Is by these Jewish evangelists that God will bring about a world-wide revival in a short time period of 31/2 years. This will accomplish the main goal of the tribulation, salvation before the judgment of the sheep and the goats when Christ comes back. Dan.12:5-7 Daniel asked HOW long shall It be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man Clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever. that It shall be for a time, times, and a half, (31/2 years) and when they have made an end of breaking in pieces the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.
Revelation 7:9 to 17 describes “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindred’s, and peoples, and tongues ... who came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (vs. 9, 14). These Tribulation saints, through being martyred will enter the company of their fellow companions in the faith who are already resting “before the throne of God” in heaven (vs. 15). Rev.13:7 we find the beast is able to make war with the saints and overcome them.” This couldn’t be the church saints since no one in the church who has their name written in the book of life would worship him. If this were the Church, the antichrist would destroy the whole church, Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against meaning even death would not win in the end. There would be no blessed hope for the believer-- which is related to Christ coming, but only death and the resurrection after the tribulation. Those who state Israel was present during the judgments on Egypt only prove a pre-tribulationist view. We need to understand the tribulation is specifically for Israel so they will go through it just as some saints who are not part of the church will too also.
The Great Tribulation will begin in the middle of the seven-year period known as the 70th Week of Daniel 9. The evidence for this is found in: Daniel 9:27 which teaches that in the middle of the 70th Week, the Antichrist will begin desolation in association with “the overspreading of abominations.” Jesus referred to this activity of the Antichrist in Matthew 24:15 and Daniel 7: the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place which means he enters into the Temple in Jerusalem.
There have been many “antichrists” who are forerunners of the “Antichrist” himself, 1 John 2:22; 2 John 1:7; they all share in the deception which has been operating since the incarnation, to deny Jesus is God in the flesh .1 John 4:3. However 1 John 2:18, tells us “as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrist’s...” Many antichrists were already present, operating by the “spirit of antichrist” in Johns time, but none of them were the Antichrist who, Paul prophecies will eventually come as the son of Perdition.
There is a different term also used “ false Christs,” Gr. pseudochristos, that are found in Matt. 24:24; Mark 13:22. The false Christ does not deny the existence of Christ but claim that they are Christ. They can claim his authority his anointing as Christ and go around doing miracles. Their ministry is specifically to deceive the elect as well as the false prophets (Mt.24:24).
The Antichrist denies the existence of the true God calling himself plainly, God. The Antichrist , the man of sin who is coming “opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he, as God, sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:4). The Antichrist’s true objective is found in Daniel 11:37 “Neither shall he regard the gods of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall magnify himself above all.” Satan’s objective from the beginning is to be the imitator of God and be accepted in his place (Isa. 14:12-17). With the declaration of deity by the Antichrist, he will execute his first purpose in the program to displace Christ, and install himself instead as lord of the universe and king of Israel and Jerusalem. (The abomination of desolation will be progressive. The ultimate blasphemy which brings in the great tribulation is when the Antichrist will take over the Jewish temple, sit down in the holy of holies, and declare himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-10, Matthew 24:15, 21, 29-31). It would not take much for someone to go in and mock the Jews by saying this, However, this person will really mean it. The word for temple indicates the holy of holies where God himself appeared in the tabernacle. He trespasses into the most sacred place and takes his seat, which is a claim to deity. The second part of the abomination of desolation will be when the 2nd beast will have everyone make an image of the Antichrist and will set one up in the holy of holies (Revelation 13:11-15, Daniel 12:11). What this image is can be anything from a Idol that is given supernatural ability to look alive, to a deception with technology that is a 3D holographic image that has artificial intelligence. Whatever it is it is animated to give the appearance of a living being which will be worshipped. This is what makes it an abomination. Jews were never to bow down to idols only God.
Zech.10:2 For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd. Those who look to idols have no shepherd as well as those who reject the true shepherd. The need for a leader prompts Israel to accept one that comes along that offers them peace by political clout.
A bow down or die decree will be declared which will produce allegiance or repulsion. Israel’s refusal to bow down their former political leader (savior?), will bring them immediately into the last holocaust. An abomination is an image or a person worshipped as God. This is what it was called throughout the Old Testament. When the Israelites worshipped images they were called abominations, and this is an abomination which when it is worshipped, makes people desolate, a destroying image. Because those with the mark worship it and him. Matthew 24:15 with the entrance of the abomination of desolation comes the warning for Jews of Israel to flee the city immediately or suffer the consequences (Mt. 24:16-20). There is one thing through history after the diaspora the Jews have been able to recognize and avoid, the worship or bowing to idols. Just as with the three Hebrew children of Daniel’s day, God’s eyes will be upon Jerusalem’s Jews to see how they react to the Antichrist’s declaration of deity and worship of his image. Israel’s refusal to bow to their former political savoir will usher them immediately into the last holocaust. A anti-semitic extermination unlike any other time in history of which 2/3rds of there people will perish. Zech 13:8-9.
“then shall be great tribulation, not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Mt. 24:21)., At the end, the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy the world will be broken and devastated. Terrible judgments of God that will be poured out on those who continue in evil rejecting Christ during the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy. To make an end of wickedness and wicked ones Isaiah 13:9, Isaiah 24:71-20 . This is the time when God judges the earth and pours out His wrath on a Christ rejecting world and to turn Israel back to their maker. To break the power (will) of the Holy People, as Daniel 12:5-7 states which is to bring about Israel’s national salvation which Paul in Rom.11:25-27 applies to the future … “That blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved. “The deliverer will come out of Zion and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob, for this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (Paul is quoting Isa. 59:20).
When the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 The early Christians understood the prophecy by Jesus that warned of the time when Roman armies surrounded the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 67 they acted promptly on it. They fled from Jerusalem and went to Pela where over 100,000 who obeyed Christ did not die. While Jerusalem was taken by the armies of Titus over 1 million Jews died. The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was a type, a partial fulfillment for the destruction that is coming upon the city and the whole world before the return of Christ
In the same manner, at the cross we see the Jewish people were given a choice by Pilate, “whom shall I release unto you, Jesus or Barabbas”, and the people cried out “release Barabbas and crucify Jesus”. Because the Jews made this choice of trading Jesus for Barabbas. The real meaning is even prophetic Bar-abbas is 2 words, which means bar = son, Abba = Father. Its been said Barrabas’ first name was Jesus so his full name was Jesus son of the father, a counterfeit of the real one. It is this one the people cried for to be released. If they couldn’t recognize the real messiah when he was in front of them they certainly will do better when the false one comes.
God will allow the devil in the last days to bring his counterfeit the Antichrist for a short period of time, seven years (Daniel’s seventieth week) to come into power over the whole world. He will make a false covenant with the Jewish people who will be mesmerized by this wonderful person, and will think that here at last is one who cares for them, they will look to him as their political Messiah. When Israel is at peace so will be the world, peace and safety at last, or so it seems! He will enter the Temple that likely through his treaty was built. He then will claim himself that he his God and to be worshipped by the Jewish people and the whole world. He will convince them by his power through lying signs and miracles.
It is this act of the abomination of desolation which will signal that the worst half of the tribulation has begun.
That this is a literal temple is clear from the text, and has been understood as such by even the earliest Christians: (Irenaeus, late 2nd century) wrote, “But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom”
However, there is a spiritual counterpart to this also. The true temple is our body the Holy Spirit indwells us just a he did in the tabernacle. He, Satan (the Antichrist) while in the body will say His self is God. Hinduism as well as the new age Movement has been prepared people for this as they teach that we are all God. Many in other religions teach this in some form such as Mormonism. So this is not such a radical concept any longer.
In Revelation 13: “And they worshiped the dragon who gave power unto the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him? ... 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” (Rev. 13:4, 8). The final conflict for man will be decided by each of our choices.
The man of sin is truly The Antichrist. He will copy whatever he can of Jesus. Many people look to a line of royalty for his genealogy. But Jesus came through a line which included non royalty. He was born to unknowns who were poor and from an obscure place; he may very well copy this too. Both he and Jesus have a coming (2 Thess.2:1 and 2:9), a revealing (2 Thess.1:7 and 2:3), a gospel (a false gospel--the lie) (2 Thess.2:9-11); each claim exclusive worship (2:4) and both will operate in the supernatural (2:9). Clearly, as Satan’s duplicate of the true Messiah he will copy everything he possibly can. God himself will make it clear that he is not the Messiah when the real one comes back and destroys him. For now Satan continues to pull the wool over peoples eyes.
For now, Satan and the man of sin are being restrained; the principle of their working has been and is now present (the mystery of lawlessness is already at work), yet the Holy Spirit Himself restrains their full revelation, It is the restrainer that holds back the revelation of the Man of Sin today until God removes the restraining power out of the way, which is the Holy Spirit who resides in Christian believers, the Church. His ministry is to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, the church is to be salt in the world. None of this will be respected when he is removed. (Peter says mockers will come, saying there is no sin or judgment) lawlessness will be practiced and even promoted. The restrainer has to be part of the Godhead since only God would be powerful enough to restrain Satan the most powerful creature in the universe and his kingdom. No angel or person or system can do this. The activity of the Holy Spirit has always been to counter sin. The Spirit is God’s righteous emissary who restrains the lawlessness for this evil age.
God the Holy Spirit cannot be “taken out of the way” because He is omnipresent. There is only one way to reconcile this apparent contradiction, and that is with the rapture of the church. For the Old Testament believers The Holy Spirit mostly came upon them. He was with them but could also leave. David prayed, “take not thy Holy Spirit from me” (Ps. 51:11). The apostle John tells us that the Holy Ghost was not yet given as a permanent indwelling until Jesus was glorified. (Jn. 7:39). At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given to indwell believers, never to leave them. It is this presence of God the Holy Spirit within His church which prevents the Anti-Christ from being revealed and which must be removed at the Rapture and not until then.
It is His indwelling presence in believers residing on the earth holds back the floodgates of evil, it is the church that has the standards, we are the salt and light of truth because we have the source and life of these qualities. As long as the Church is upon the earth, the unveiling of the Antichrist will be held back. As soon as the Church is taken out of the way, nothing will stand in the way of the Antichrist. Satan has full sway and the man of sin be revealed. He’ll then take over the governments of the world. Christ makes a parallel with the wickedness of Noah’s day with the people being blind to their impending destruction. Life went on as usual, just as it will until the Tribulation; judgments will come upon the people today.
Just as the Church began abruptly at Pentecost with the Spirit coming as a rushing wind it will terminate abruptly at the parousia, the rapture. As the body of Christ both alive and dead are taken into Gods custody away to heaven. The Spirit’s ministry will revert back to what he did for believers during the Old Testament period. This is not to say that God will be without a witness during the tribulation or that the Spirit will be inactive at that time. His ministry will be to bring to faith in Christ those in the tribulation, but they will not be part of the body of Christ-the church, they will be tribulation saints, another group of believers. The Spirit’s activity will no longer be resident as present, indwelling believers or convicting the world of sin. The Holy Spirit is taken out of the way, but not removed from the world during the Great Tribulation; many are saved, and sealed, (Revelation 7:3-4; 9, 14; 14:1-5); which can’t happen without the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit continues his ministry in the world in the tribulation but there is no longer a corporate body of believers knit into one living organism. There is instead a return to Old Testament type judgments and the fulfillment of national promises to Israel for preparation of the Millennium. Jesus gives us the promise that the gates of hell will not prevail over the Church. Yet we read in Rev. 13:7 it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. But these should not be mistaken as the Church which is already taken into the bridal chambers. While it appears he overcomes them in Rev. 12:11 it tells us they actually overcome him even by their death , “by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony and they did not love their lives unto death.”
2 Thess.2 has the clearest teaching in the New Testament on the anti-Christ and day of the Lord. It does not absolutely say that Antichrist must appear before the Rapture. There are two revealings of the man of sin, one will be to the Church prior to the other revealing to the world (halfway through when he declares himself to be God). One gives people time to choose, the other will not. Paul gives only one qualification: he states that the apostasy must come first. The question we need to ask is, where is the apostasy? Which is the falling away from the faith that saves. Since that comes before the tribulation and it takes place in the Church, shouldn’t this be THE SIGN of how close it all is.