by: Bob Fisher (2011) Used by permission.
This guest post explains the character of the Antichrist and why every Christian needs to be aware of this information. I have divided it into two parts. It is a little long, but well worth the time to read it. – Chris
Read part one here
‘DEATH OR DELIVERANCE’
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego had no specific promise of deliverance to cling to. In their mind obedience to God’s law was their primary concern. They were completely set in their minds that they would be obedient to the law of their God even if it meant death in the fiery furnace, yet they also had steadfast faith that their God was able to deliver them if He sovereignly chose to do so. One might comment, they had their priorities correct.When we end-time believers are eventually cast into the fiery furnace of the ‘Great Tribulation’ it could mean martyrdom for some of us. It could also result in deliverance for those who are resolutely obedient to our Lord’s command to endure patiently in the face of adversity, the outcome will be in the sovereign will of God almighty:
“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from (during) the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” Revelation 3:10
Unlike the Hebrew youths, we do have our Lord’s personal promise of protection and deliverance, conditional upon our individual obedience to His instructions to be steadfast in our faith and to endure our afflictions to the very end:
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;  but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13
“Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.  And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace.  Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.  Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.  And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”  “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”  Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire.  And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.  Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!  “Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.”  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.” Daniel 3:19-30
The deliverance from the flames of the burning fiery furnace, was spectacular to say the least. In response to the staunch obedience of the three Hebrews to their God and His law, He sovereignly chose to deliver them out of their afflictions and bonds, right where they were. He did not secretly spirit them away, or hide what He was doing, for He was visually seen by all those watching, walking with them through the fires.
Our Lord Jesus has given us command and instruction to endure patiently in the face of our adversities, and has promised us His personal help and deliverance. Let us therefore examine Revelation 3:10 more closely.
It is realized that not too many can understand the original Greek text, but we include it here for the benefit of anyone interested who can:
- oti ethrhsaV ton logon thV upomonhV mou, kagw se thrhsw ek thV wraV tou peirasmou thV melloushV ercesqai epi thV oikoumenhV olhV peirasai touV katoikountaV epi thV ghV. Revelation 3:10. Nestle-Aland 26th Edtn. Greek Text. Copyright 1983 United Bible Society.
After several sessions of intensive research into each Greek word of this text, and consulting many different English translations, and using every Greek lexicon, concordance and bible word dictionary we could find. We believe the following rendition to be as accurate and complete a translation as can be made.
“Because you have obeyed (kept or observed) my instruction (word, command or bidding) to endure patiently (in the face of adversity), I likewise will protectively guard (watch over) and shield (keep) you from (during, within) the hour of testing (trial, temptation) which shall come upon all the inhabited earth to test (prove out) the dwellers of the earth.” Revelation 3:10
Under no circumstances can this verse be taken as a promise of ‘rapture’ away from the earth prior to the ‘Great Tribulation.’ It is a conditional promise of external preservation, protection or shielding within the present sphere or environment, during the time of testing. The implication being, that the entire company of living Christian believers would be present during this period. The three Hebrew youths were already in the fiery furnace, a ‘type’ of the ‘Great Tribulation,’ before their deliverance came.
Since other Scriptures specifically teach the ‘Great Tribulation’ commences shortly after the mid-way point of Daniel’s 70th. week (Matthew 24:21, Mark 13:19), this is only one indication from the Scriptures that the ‘rapture’ deliverance of the Church cannot be ‘pretribulational.’
This verse conditionally promises protective deliverance to those patiently enduring in the face of their adversities during this period of great tribulation. It would be foolhardy to resort to human speculation and imagine just what situations may develop during ‘antichrist’s’ persecutions, and just how our Lord intends to deliver those He sovereignly chooses to protect. We will leave that as a basis for faith and hope, during the actual events themselves.
There are some who argue that the Greek word ‘ek’ translated ‘from,’ means ‘out of’ or ‘away from’ and thus indicates removal of believers prior to the period of testing.
However, when ‘ek’ is used in combination with the preceding word ‘tereso ek’ it means ‘to keep, to watch over, to protectively guard’ believers within the sphere of danger.’ In no sense does it imply removal from the sphere of danger.
This personal protection will be forthcoming, dependent on the believer’s willingness to obey Christ’s instruction to endure their afflictions steadfastly. The three Hebrew youths showed their obedience and proclaimed their faith that their God was able to deliver them. We also must adopt a similar attitude and fully trust in our Lord’s promises:
“that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” Hebrews 6:12
“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;” 2 Peter 3:17
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;” Romans 5:3
“Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12
This period of ‘testing’ or ‘proving out’ is referred to by our Lord as an ‘hour.’ This is significant because an ‘hour’ is much shorter than a ‘day,’ a ‘week,’ a ‘year.’ We think the thought He wished to convey is that it will be relatively brief.
“And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.” Daniel 3:27
A fire seven times hotter than normal, so hot it consumed the soldiers who bound and cast them into the flames, did not even leave the smell of smoke on their garments. When God delivers His own faithful ones, He makes a complete and thorough job of it. Hear again what our blessed Lord has promised His own:
“But not a hair of your head shall be lost.  “By your patience (endurance in the face of adversity) possess your souls.” Luke 21:18-19
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.  “They will put you out of the synagogues (places of worship); yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.  “And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.  “But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.” John 16:1-4
“Lift up Your feet to the perpetual desolations. The enemy (‘antichrist’) has damaged everything in the sanctuary.  Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place; They set up their banners for signs.  They seem like men who lift up Axes among the thick trees.  And now they break down its carved work, all at once, With axes and hammers.  They have set fire to Your sanctuary; They have defiled the dwelling place of Your name to the ground.  They said in their hearts, “Let us destroy them altogether.” They have burned up all the meeting places of God in the land.“ Psalm 74:3-8
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:28-31
Our Lord’s call for endurance in the face of adversity must not go unheeded. During ‘antichrist’s’ merciless oppressions and martyrdoms during the ‘Great Tribulation’ many counterfeit Christians, will be forced to recant their bogus faith in order to save their own skins.
Like the Hebrew youths of Daniel’s day, true believers must dig in their heels and resist the very real temptation to save themselves. Our Lord wants us to trust and obey His instructions and confidently resign ourselves to His will for us. Knowing this in advance will help us accept our individual Divinely appointed portion during this period of intense affliction.
The reason why God allows ‘antichrist’ to proceed with his atrocities during the ‘Great Tribulation’ is that, it is a period of ‘trial and testing’ for all men to determine the genuineness of their profession and commitment. That at some future time, at the Great White Throne judgment, men under that final judgment of condemnation will confess:
“Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight–That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.” Psalm 51:4
God is totally just in everything He does, a person’s true saving faith cannot be faked, either a man or woman has this faith and truly believes, or is an impostor, a counterfeit. The decree of the end-time ‘antichrist’ imposing worship of himself under penalty of death for non-compliance, will explicitly seperate out true believers from counterfeit believers.
This ‘man-god’ is absolutely diabolical in his methods of sorting out those who accept and those who oppose his regime. We are told that all men must receive a physical ‘mark’ in their right hands or their foreheads. That this ‘mark’ will indicate the homage, loyalty and allegiance of everyone who receives it. We are further told that it is “the number of a man.”
‘THE ‘MARK’ OF THE ‘BEAST’.’
Modern record-keeping and technology has already reduced us all to being numbered right from the day of our birth. Our ‘social insurance number’ continues with us throughout our lifetime. It is already possible to inscribe this number on a small microchip smaller than a grain of rice, for implantation in the hand or forehead to be read by electronic scanning machines, verifying our personal identity at banks and stores.
Credit card fraud has grown to such an alarming extent, that financial institutions are already demanding some permanent form of personal identification, such as voice printing, finger print mapping, or eye retina scanning. These are all very expensive systems.
However, the implantation with a simple hypodermic type device, of an encapsulated microchip bearing a person’s social insurance number, in the fatty area of the palm or forehead is both cheap and permanent, and cannot be abused. This form of permanent and positive identification is already in current use for household pets and farm livestock.
All these are logical and valid reasons for introducing this form of personal identification. Nobody can be certain, but it would appear likely that one of the first acts of this future totalitarian world dictator would be positive identification of his subjects. A dire warning is contained in Scripture against receiving this ‘mark,’ whatever it may eventually turn out to be:
“Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand,  “he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.  “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”  Here is the patience (endurance in the face of adversity) of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God (godly Jewish remnant) and the faith of Jesus (Christian Church).  Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” Revelation 14:9-13
Verse 13, indicates that some of God’s people, will give their lives in martyrdom by their staunch refusal to accept the ‘mark’ of the ‘beast.’ There is no other purpose for this verse to be present in the text at this chronological point, other than to indicate that their refusal will be the deciding factor in determining their martyrdom at the hands of their wicked and diabolical oppressors.
‘THE DIVINE INTERVENTION OF GOD
IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN’
Prophecy does not leave us in the dark regarding how God finally intends to deliver His own people. Those who will be ‘delivered’ are all members of the universal Church of Jesus Christ, regardless of whatever human ‘denominations’ they may subscribe to. Nobody who is a true believer, will be forgotten or excluded. How can we know for certain that we really are members of this select body?
For many centuries now, the world has had the witness and testimony of the true Church of God. Preaching the gospel of personal salvation through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Of His sacrifice and substitutionary death on the cross of Calvary, on behalf of once lost sinners, such as ourselves. Under conviction of God’s Holy Spirit, the day came in our personal experience, when we could no longer bear the intense burden of our own sins. We came to Him in humble repentance and confession of those sins, we resolved with His help to turn from them, and by exercise of our faith and trust we received His forgiveness, and the precious gift of salvation and eternal life by claiming Him as our Savior and Lord.
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:11-13
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.“ John 3:36
The promises of His forgiveness and eternal salvation are contained within the pages of the Word of God. This same book reveals through its prophetic portions, God’s plans for the deliverance by ‘rapture’ of His Church during the end-time events we discussed earlier. We also mentioned the fact these events will occur in chronological sequence, according to God’s own divine timetable.
There will come a threshold point in the ruthless and barbaric slaughter, and merciless oppression of Jews and Christians during the ‘Great Tribulation,’ that God will contain His wrath and anger no longer.
For centuries He has lovingly and patiently endured man’s sin and lawlessness, man’s inhumanity towards other men, violence, rape, murder, sorcery, immorality, idolatry and godlessness. He has patiently endured all of man’s iniquities with great grace, longsuffering, love, mercy and forgiveness. He has always been receptive to those willing to repent and turn from their sins and wickedness:
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.“ Proverbs 28:13
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Pet. 3:9
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,  “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
When the monstrous oppressions and martyrdoms of the ‘Great Tribulation’ reach their zenith, and it appears that ‘antichrist’ is succeeding in his purposes. The God of Heaven will contain Himself no longer, and the pent-up flood of His retributive wrath, anger and judgment will burst forth. His first act of deliberate intervention will be to disturb and shake the powers of the universe, so that everyone will become alerted to the fact that something very profound is about to happen:
“For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land;’” Haggai 2:6
“The earth quakes before them, The heavens tremble; The sun and moon grow dark, And the stars diminish their brightness.  The LORD gives voice before His army, For His camp is very great; For strong is the One who executes (fulfills) His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; Who can endure it?” Joel 2:10-11
“But in those days, after that tribulation (Great Tribulation), the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;  “the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” Mark 13:24-25
“Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the LORD of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger.“ Isaiah 13:13
“The earth is violently broken, The earth is split open, The earth is shaken exceedingly.  The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, And shall totter like a hut; Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, And it will fall, and not rise again.” Isaiah 24:19-20
God sovereignly intends to fulfill His own words exactly as His spokesmen the prophets have recorded it, literally and fully. Before the terrified eyes of the godless mass of humanity, this havoc in the heavens, this cosmic chaos, with its resultant devastating global killer earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, and other violent upheavals of nature, all on an immense planetary scale, will bring a sudden and swift end to the ‘Great Tribulation.’ It will instantly change men’s immediate interest and activities from persecution of others to preservation for themselves. The apostle John saw the response of men in general when these world-wide catastrophes are initiated by God’s actions:
“I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.  And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.  Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.  And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,  and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?“ Revelation 6:12-17
We cannot begin to imagine the sheer magnitude of this awesome event, as our earth rolls over on its axis, or is dislodged from its orbit. Many fractures or faults in its crust will break or shift, to release immeasurable energy and devastation upon the cities of men. The great clouds of smoke, dust and volcanic ash thrown up into the atmosphere, will become so great as to blot out all light from the sun and the moon. As the planet wobbles, topples or rolls over on its axis, the stars will appear to fall into the earth near the horizon.
Through His clarion voice of prophecy, God has forewarned humankind of this future global calamity. He has called mankind to repentance and acknowledgment of His exalted position as the eternal Creator, Savior and Preserver of all men. Pointing all men everywhere to the only ‘Way of Salvation’ that is acceptable to Him. Through faith and trust in the sacrifice and atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. The true Messiah!
For those who are yet ‘unsaved’ and still in their sins, when God the Father openly steps back into the affairs of men, it will soon become a day of retribution and righteous judgment, the ‘Day of the Lord.’ But for those who are already ‘saved,’ who are genuine ‘born-again’ children of God it will be a day of deliverance and rejoicing! God has foreknown each of His saints, they are His own special people. Thus now, in His second act of intervention, He sends His own Son the Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior to rescue and deliver His own elect saints from ‘antichrist’s tyrannical oppressions and persecutions:
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;  “the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.  “And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect (by ‘rapture’) from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.” Mark 13:24-27
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise (be resurrected) first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (harpazo) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thess. 4:16-17
We should note that the word or term ‘rapture’ is not found in English language Bibles, thus it may be helpful to give a brief description of the word, and its origin and generally accepted meaning. The English word ‘rapture‘ is derived from the Latin word ‘rapere.‘ This word was previously used by the translators of the ‘Latin Vulgate Bible,’ to translate the Greek word ‘harpazo,‘ (pronounced ‘harp-ad-zo,‘) as in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and means, ‘to seize, to snatch away, to catch away, to carry off by force.’
‘JOHN’S VISION OF THE
The holy angels of God, who accompany Christ at His ‘parousia’ (coming with continuing presence), will be instrumental in transporting all true believers into His blessed presence, when they are sent forth at His command. They will assemble and bring them all, both the changed ‘living’ and the resurrected ‘dead’ believers (1 Cor. 15:52), into the glorious presence of the Father and the Lamb, and thus we will all be gathered, to stand in His glorious presence and surround His heavenly throne:
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,  saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”  Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”  And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.  “They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat;  “for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:9-17
The seer John, was now shown in perfect chronological sequence, the final great redeemed ‘Body of Christ,’ the ‘General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn’ (Hebrews 12:22-24) as we are to be gathered out by ‘rapture’ at the ‘consummation of the age,’ the ‘time of the end,’ the ‘time of the harvest.’ (Matthew 13:37-43)
John was able to discern that they were all wearing the garments of salvation, white robes, and carrying palm branches. Festively gathering around the One, who by His own shed blood has redeemed them all. Singing their praises and thanksgiving to God and to the Lamb for granting them forgiveness and salvation.
Does this not stir your soul into a sense of great anticipation and longing? If it does, you can be fully assured you are truly ‘saved.’ God the Holy Spirit resident within you creates these intense inner feelings. However, if your attitude is one of total indifference, and lacks any emotional response, you may equally well judge yourself to be ‘unsaved.’ Because no true child of God contemplating this personal face to face meeting with Jesus our blessed, loving Lord, the Captain of our Salvation, could be so unmoved, indifferent and apathetic about this future prospect. The apostle Paul described this inward witness of God’s Spirit this way:
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:15-17
We would like to go over and repeat the chronology of these events again, in order there will be no misunderstanding of the Scriptural teaching concerning these vital issues.
God’s deliberate intervention in the affairs of mankind, will be accomplished by Divinely ordained cosmic upheaval in the heavens, causing massive devastating earthquakes globally, and a great resultant universal darkness.
Next, the appearance of the ‘Shekina Glory’ of Christ’s bodily presence, the ‘sign of His coming’ as He returns in clouds and great glory to the air (sky). Then the gathering out of His resurrected and glorified Church as our Lord Jesus sends His angels to rescue and deliver His own people from ‘antichrist’s’ oppression and tyrannies.
Then follows a relatively short period of ‘trumpet’ and ‘bowl’ judgments known as the ‘Day of the Lord,’ to be concluded by Christ’s triumphant return with the armies of heaven to defeat the world armies of ‘antichrist’ at the bloody campaign of Armaggedon, and finally the establishment of His Everlasting Kingdom.
What must be stressed is, that during the first half of the seven years of Daniel’s 70th. week, and right up until the moment when the ‘Great Tribulation’ is deliberately interrupted by God, the wrath of man supported and abetted by the wrath of Satan, are the only causative factors for all the events recorded under the first five seals of Rev. 6:
The retributive ‘anger and wrath of God’ (the Trumpet and Bowl judgments) do not begin until after the Church has been snatched away to a place of safety with the Lord, at the end of the sixth seal of Rev. 6 and before the seventh seal of Rev.8.
God’s ‘Day of the Lord’ wrath commences with the opening of the seventh seal of Revelation 8: – The Trumpet Judgments.
This chronology is very important in our understanding of the end-times. ‘Antichrist’ will be time-limited in his activities. Following his pride-motivated act of self-deification and desecration of the Jewish temple, occurring at the mid-point of Daniel’s 70th. week, he will be granted a period of 42 months to continue on as world dictator. (Rev 13:5)
This period is the second half of Daniel’s 70th. week. However his activities of martyrdom and persecution of God’s people, both Jewish and Christian, become so severe as to demand God’s personal intervention and decisive action to bring it to an end.
‘THE DELIVERANCE OF THE
CHURCH BY ‘RAPTURE.’
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.  “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.“ Matthew 24:21-22
This Divine intervention by God, already discussed will quite effectively terminate ‘antichrist’s’ oppressions, he will now have other problems to concern him, including his own survival. The subsequent removal of believers by ‘rapture’ at the ‘parousia’ (coming with continuing bodily presence) of our Lord Jesus Christ, will effectively remove them forever from ‘antichrist’s’’ clutches.
It should be noted at this point, that end-time believers will be well aware of the ‘Times and Seasons’ as indicated by the parable of the fig tree in the Olivet sermon:
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.  “So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near–at the doors!  “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.“ Matthew 24:32-36
However, even at the height of ‘antichrist’s’ persecutions, we believers will not know the exact ‘Day or Hour’ that God will intervene to help and deliver us. This will require from us all, the most explicit and demanding faith and trust in the Lord, and His precious promises.
Regrettably, there are many believers who believe they will be spirited away to glory on beds of ease, before any of ‘antichrist’s’ activities commence. Beloved, Scripture contains no such self-assuring promises. The three Hebrew youths were delivered from the fiery furnace when they were actually in it. Daniel was delivered from the mouths of the lions while he was actually in their den. The deliverance of these men came as a result of their steadfast, unwavering faith, trust and obedience to God:
“that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience (endurance in the face of adversity) inherit the promises.” Hebrews 6:12
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;” Romans 5:3
The promises that believers may strenuously grasp and cling to, are those which promise deliverance from the out-pouring of God’s retributive ‘Day of the Lord’ wrath and judgment:
“and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers (will deliver) us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:10
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Romans 5:8-9
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation (deliverance) through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Thessalonians 5:9
The moment our blessed Lord appears in clouds and great glory, and sends His angels to gather us to Himself, will consummate the complete fulfillment of these blessed promises.
‘THE ROD OF MINE ANGER’
We must however add a cautionary note, in that we must recognize the difference between the wrath of man, instigated by ‘antichrist,’ and the wrath of God. Believers have been promised deliverance from the wrath of God, but not the wrath of men. This is very important when studying end-time events.
There are a few instances in the Word of God, where God has actually used the wrath of man to chastise His own people, who have gotten out of line. Historically the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities of Israel were used by God for this very purpose.
The persecutions of ‘antichrist’ during the ‘Great Tribulation’ are no exception. God uses ‘antichrist’ as a means to chastise His unbelieving people the nation of Israel, for their apostasy and sinful unbelief as they re-gather themselves from their world-wide dispersion: or ‘diaspora’.
“For indeed I will raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are cut off, nor seek the young, nor heal those that are broken, nor feed those that still stand. But he will eat the flesh of the fat and tear their hooves in pieces.  “Woe to the worthless shepherd, Who leaves the flock! A sword shall be against his arm And against his right eye; His arm shall completely wither, And his right eye shall be totally blinded.” Zechariah 11:16-17
There is nothing worse than government leaders who fail in their appointed tasks, They are ‘worthless shepherds!’
“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, Against the Man who is My Companion,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered; Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.  And it shall come to pass in all the land,” Says the LORD, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, But one third shall be left in it:  I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God’.” Zechariah 13:7-9
“Those who do wickedly against the covenant he (antichrist) shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.  “And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.  “Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue.  “And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.” Daniel 11:32-35
“Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.” Daniel 12:10
‘THE ‘DAY OF THE LORD’ JUDGMENTS.’
Throughout the prophetic Scriptures there is foretold a coming event, of such dimension and so devastating in its effect, that we even shudder and tremble to think about it. In our narrative, we have now come to this great and awesome event, ‘The Day of the Lord’ judgments, the day when God will vent His pent-up wrath, and pour out the wine of His retributive anger and indignation, full measure and undiluted upon wicked, sinful, rebellious, and disobedient men.
In a previous section we saw the true Church snatched away to the safety and security of our Lord’s blessed presence. For these true believers the battle is now over, for these redeemed saints the trials and tribulations of this present life are now ended. Their full eternal salvation is now completed. From this point on they will be with Him, to serve and worship Him eternally. They have been saved forever, from the penalty, the power, and now finally the presence, of their former sins.
But upon earth, God still has much unfinished work to accomplish. Consequently a great hush fall’s over all creation in silent anticipation and expectation of God’s pending actions:
“Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; For the day of the LORD is at hand, For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests.” Zephaniah 1:7
“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.  And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets… So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.” Revelation 8:1-2, 6
Godless men who have openly scoffed at spiritual realities, who have ridiculed and scorned others who confess faith in Christ openly and boldly, and who express beliefs in religious and moral values. Those atheists and agnostics who have blatantly denied the existence of God and adamantly refuse to acknowledge Him as the Creator and Sustainer of the material universe, must now be prepared to meet Him face to face in judgment.
Thus it will be, that as the seven trumpets of God’s judgments are blown, and the seven bowls of God’s wrath are poured out, the judgments of God will be administered in wave after wave of calamity and affliction, with ever increasing severity. Yet we are told, that even though subjected to all this intense suffering and torment, men will still adamantly refuse to repent of their personal sins and choose to continue in their wicked and godless practices:
“But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.  And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries (drug abuse) or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelation 9:20-21
“And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.” Revelation 16:9
“They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.” Revelation 16:11
Even though suffering these great outpourings of God’s wrath and anger, men are so completely bound to their sins, and deaf to the voice of their conscience, blinded to the truth about God, and under the total control of the ‘evil one,’ they stubbornly continue in their wicked, rebellious, and disobedient attitudes.
Since most of these early judgments affect the environment. Men will probably be devising all manner of scientific and technical explanations for what is happening to the universe and to their world, steadfastly refusing to acknowledge that their ills have really befallen them at the hands of an angry Creator.
‘THE CAMPAIGN OF ‘ARMAGGEDDON’ AND
THE RETURN OF CHRIST IN GLORY.’
The Church has now been raptured away to its place of safety with the Lord, the godly Jewish remnant have hidden themselves away in the Judean wilderness (Revelation 12:14-16). Universal darkness prevails. During these catastrophic upheavals, the entire planet has been devastated by massive earthquakes. Exacting environmental judgments from God have been unleashed against the world of ungodly men.
Yet despite all of these precise disastrous judgments, men nevertheless decline to repent of their sins, amend their ways and acknowledge the true God of all creation. The rebellion and deception of the ‘unholy trinity,’ Satan, ‘antichrist’ and the false prophet, are still not at an end.
In their corrupt thinking, they may perhaps prevent the coming King from physically returning to the earth, to claim the Kingdom which is His by Divine decree, the following Scripture passages, give us insight into this Divinely decided issue:
“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.  Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.“ Daniel 7:13-14
“But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his (antichrist’s) dominion, To consume and destroy it forever.  Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His (Messiah’s) kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.“ Daniel 7:26-27
“Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,  “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.”  He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision.  Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure:  “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”  “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.  Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.'”  Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.“ Psalm 2
Satan and his fallen angels, have already been defeated and expelled from heaven during his war with Michael (Revelation 12:7-12). Now they intend to continue this conflict on earth. Satan together with his human cohorts ‘antichrist’ and the ‘false prophet,’ will use every deceptive means at their disposal to enlist the assistance of godless unbelieving humanity in a final futile attempt to prevent the inevitable from happening.
“Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.  And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.  For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.  “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”  And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.“ Revelation 16:12-16
Now they desperately gather the allied armies of the world together for the blood-drenched campaign of Armaggeddon. Because of his utterly ruthless, merciless and barbaric persecution of Jews and Christians however, ‘antichrist’ will be opposed by some nations earnestly seeking his removal from office. These will respond to his atrocities by dispatching great armies to Israel for a military showdown with him. The plain of Megiddo in north-central Israel, about 40 miles north of Jerusalem, will become the staging area for these vast armies prior to any actual conflict or fighting, which will eventually take place near and within the city of Jerusalem itself.
“Therefore wait for Me,” says the LORD, “Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations To My assembly of kingdoms, To pour on them My indignation, All my fierce anger; All the earth shall be devoured With the fire of My jealousy.” Zephaniah 3:8
When the warfare actually begins Zechariah informs us:
“Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst.  For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.  Then the LORD will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle.  And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.  Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee As you fled from the earthquake In the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, And all the saints with Him (You).  It shall come to pass in that day That there will be no light; The lights will diminish.  It shall be one day Which is known to the LORD–Neither day nor night. But at evening time it shall happen That it will be light.” Zechariah 14:1-7
“And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, Their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, And their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths.  It shall come to pass in that day That a great panic from the LORD will be among them. Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbor, And raise his hand against his neighbor’s hand;” Zechariah 14:12-13
We do not want to read into Scripture any human speculation, but the descriptive language used by the prophet, sounds remarkably akin to the effects of tactical nuclear weapons, which may be used in this future conflict.
When the battle is at its height, an event occurs that is so astounding and awe-inspiring, the mere sight produces absolute terror in the heart of every man on the battlefield. The sky above them splits apart, and ‘rolls up like a scroll,’ and a mighty heavenly army led by a ‘red-robed Rider,’ astride a white horse, starts to descend upon the warring armies below.
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.  His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.  He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.  And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.  Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.  Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God,  “that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” Revelation 19:11-18
‘THE DOOM OF THE ‘BEAST,’
THE ‘FALSE PROPHET,’ AND SATAN.’
“since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,  and to give you who are troubled rest, with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,  in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,  when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8
“And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.  Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.  And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” Revelation 19:19-21
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.  He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;  and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.” Revelation 20:1-3
‘THE ARRIVAL AND
MANIFESTATION OF MESSIAH.’
As the smoke of battle clears away, and the victorious heavenly army continues its journey towards the Holy city of God, it is hard to describe the unspeakable joy and spirit of rejoicing which will ensue, as this great triumphal procession makes its way from the Judean wilderness towards Jerusalem.
Many thousands of the sealed, faithful Jewish remnant, together with their surviving Jewish brethren will emerge from their hiding places to greet their long-awaited Messiah. They will hasten to join with this great exultant throng as it makes its way triumphantly towards Mount Zion, the city of Jerusalem.
One can almost hear the joyous shouts of greeting and songs of deliverance from the multitudes, as the Jewish nation celebrates the arrival of their long awaited Messiah! One we already know as our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
“Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:9
“Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, And I will praise the LORD.  This is the gate of the LORD, Through which the righteous shall enter.  I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation.  The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.  This was the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.  This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.  Save now (Hosanna), I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.  God is the LORD, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.  You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You.  Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 118:19-29
The great ‘eastern’ gate of the temple mount, closed and sealed for many centuries, is now unsealed and flung open wide to greet and admit their triumphant King of glory, the ‘Shekina Glory’ of the Divine Presence has returned at last to the temple of God. The throne of David, will soon be re-occupied by, great David’s greater Son. (Isaiah 9:7)
“Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.  Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.” Psalm 24:7-10
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10
“In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” Zechariah 13:1
“The LORD their God will save them in that day, As the flock of His people. For they shall be like the jewels of a crown, Lifted like a banner over His land--” Zechariah 9:16
‘THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS’
At this judgment, the nations will be examined to determine their eligibility for entrance into Christ’s millennial kingdom. It will be on the basis of their past attitudes towards Israel, and Jews during the recent ‘Great Tribulation’ but may be even more far reaching than this:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  ‘I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  ‘When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  ‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:  ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;  ‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’  “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46
‘THE KINGDOM ESTABLISHED’
“And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be–“The LORD is one,” And His name one.” Zechariah. 14:9
“Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:14
“until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.” Daniel 7:22
“Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” Daniel. 7:27
“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.  The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.  His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;  But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.  Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.  “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.  The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.  They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:1-9