So what is the tribulation and what happens during it? I think the best way to describe it is to look and expound on the scriptures in Revelation. There are 3 stages of the tribulation, with each stage having 7 different occurrences: first are the 7 seals, second the 7 trumpets, and finally 7 bowls of judgment. Why so many seven’s? The number 7 means completeness in the Bible.
The progression of the tribulation begins in the 5th chapter of Revelations where there are 7 seals that need to be opened. I do believe that the seals being opened, the trumpets being blown, and the bowls being poured will be in the spiritual realm, not something we will be aware of as they are happening. John, the writer of Revelation, wept in the 4th verse because there was no one who was worthy to open the seals. But then it was told to him that there was somebody that was worthy, and that was Jesus. Chapter 6 begins with the Lamb opening the first of the seven seals. This is how things will progress:
1st Seal: The antichrist appears. He comes riding a white horse, just like Jesus will (Jesus also rides a white horse when He comes back for the final battle. We’ll study later how the antichrist imitates Jesus in other ways also). He is given a crown, which makes him able to rule over others. He also has a bow, without an arrow mentioned, and is set on conquering. So since there are no arrows, it signifies that he will be conquering by peaceful methods.
2nd Seal: Wars will happen between nations. Peace will be taken from the earth.
3rd Seal: There will be worldwide famine and starvation. Food will be scarce, so therefore prices will be very high.
4th Seal: ¼ of earth will die either by the sword, famine, plague or by wild beast.
5th Seal: There will be people being martyred for proclaiming the word of God.
6th Seal: There will be a great earthquake. The sun will turn black and there will be a blood moon. The sky is going to “recede like a scroll”. Mountains and islands will be found in different locations than where they originally inhabited. People, from the richest to the poorest, will cry out in terror while hiding in caves and praying to die. People will realize then that the day of wrath of the Lamb has come!
After the 6th seal 4 angels will be given power to harm the land and sea (Rev. 7:2), but they are told to wait until 144,000 Jews have received the seal of the living God on their foreheads. These are 12 tribes of Israel, dating back to Jacob’s sons. Each tribe will have 12,000 people sealed. There is one tribe missing though, the tribe of Dan, and is speculated by some to be because of the sin in that tribe, but no one knows for sure. To replace Dan, Joseph’s son Manasseh is listed.
Also, at this time there will already be saints in heaven that have come out of the tribulation (Revelation 7:7). Revelation 20:4 reveals that beheading will be the method of execution during the tribulation. Sound familiar? I don’t think that I had ever heard of a beheading of someone in my lifetime until the past year or so. Now it’s on the news often these days that the radical Muslims are participating in these horrid events.
7th Seal: After the seal is opened in chapter 8 of Revelation, there is a silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then 7 trumpets are given to 7 angels. There will be a storm and earthquake during this period.
Then comes the trumpets, all blown by angels. Trumpets 1-6 are in chapters 8 and 9.
1st trumpet: It brings hail and fire mixed with blood. 1/3 of the earth will be burned up which includes the trees and grass.
2nd trumpet: Something like a large mountain is thrown into the sea (verse 8). This turns the 1/3 of the sea into blood, 1/3 of all sea life dies, and 1/3 of the ships are destroyed. Can you imagine the stench with so much sea life death?
3rd trumpet: A star named Wormwood falls from the sky and turns 1/3 of the river and springs bitter. Now when John was inspired to write this text, there was no conception among humanity that anything could fall from the heaven and produce bitter waters. But today, according to the following website, Nasa has acknowledged that there are many nearby asteroids and comets that could do this:
It is now known that comets contain a cyanogen gas that when it mixes with water it forms hydrogen cyanide and will have a bitter taste and causes death. This notion was unheard of in John’s day. They had no way of knowing about the gases and the fact that bitter water would be the result of a “star” falling from the sky, except through the inspiration of God. This is just one of many points to make doubting people consider that maybe, just maybe, the Bible is God inspired.
And the fact that so many scientific matters baffles the daylight out of the most knowledgeable scientist, is just another testimony of the wonders of God. We live in a very progressive age,with many new developments being discovered daily, but there still continues to be “mysteries” and there will always be because we are not God. Only he knows all the mysteries that the heavens hold. Take a look at the following website to be made aware how even the most knowledgeable scientist are still in a state of confusion concerning things not being as they seem like they should, with no logical explanation for them.
The comet named Comet Hartley 2 puzzles researchers due to the size and purity of the outbursts of Cyanide. In the outburst all rationality says that dust should be a part of it but it is all gas. And the article goes on to say : “We have never seen this kind of activity in a comet before. The amount of gas suggests a global event—but how could such an event occur without dust? It’s a mystery”. So, the expert researcher has admitted that the comet could cause a global event? Interesting!!! Of course he goes on to say in effect, “Don’t worry, it couldn’t harm the earth”. But I believe that it could possibly do just that. Maybe it will be another “mystery”. Not saying for sure that Wormwood will be comet but it sure seems to be pointing that way
4th trumpet: 1/3 of the sun, moon and stars are darkened. 1/3 of the day will be without light and 1/3 of night also. Then a warning is sounded to the inhabitants of the earth about the next 3 trumpet blasts to be sounded. These will be 3 “woes”.
5th trumpet: This is the 1st “woe” (9:12) There will be a demonic invasion of locusts on the earth that are given power like scorpions, including a horrible sting coming from the tail. They are released from the abyss, which is another word for hell (9:2-3). I wonder if there sting will be part of the punishment in hell along with the fire. They are not allowed to harm the grass, plants, or trees. They will be only able to attack the ones that do not have the seal of God on their forehead. They won’t be able to kill anyone but will be able to torture people for 5 months. During this time, people will want to die, but there will be no death. The locusts are going to look like horses, but the faces are going to resemble human. They will be able to fly.
6th trumpet: 2nd woe- 1/3 of mankind will be killed by three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur. But even after all this, mankind does not repent. They continue to worship demons, money, and idols that cannot see or walk. They continue in their sexual immorality and the magic arts.
The two witnesses are mentioned between the 6th and 7th trumpet (Rev 11:1-14). I will expound more on them later, maybe in another post.
Also the “mystery” that I discussed under the pre-wrath theory in a previous post happens here. Refer to that post if you would like more information.
7th trumpet: After this trumpet there will be a celebration in heaven. The angels and all other heavenly beings will be aware that the end is very near and that justice is fixing to be done. This is one of the facts that lead me to think that maybe the bowls of God’s wrath being poured out will be a very short period.
Then comes the 7 bowls that are filled with the wrath of God (15:7)
1st bowl: At one point during the 2nd half of the tribulation, considered the great tribulation, the antichrist will require all to take the number 666 on their forehead to be able to buy food and also they would be required to worship his image. For all those that did take the 666 mark, the 1st bowl of God’s wrath contains ugly, painful sores.
2nd bowl: Whereas before only 1/3 of the seas turned to blood and 1/3 of the living things within it died, now the whole sea will turn into blood and everything in it will die.
3rd bowl: Same concept with this bowl with the rivers and springs. They’ll become blood. This is because the people left had killed God’s saints and prophets so now they are given blood to drink. (16:6). In all probability, this will happen in the last week before Christ returns. It’s a known fact that people cannot live more than a week without water and that’s when the weather is cool. A more typical estimate is 3 to 4 days. And the time is cut even shorter when intense heat that is about to follow is involved. 65% of the human body is made up of water. It’s lost very quickly when the heat increases which is fixing to happen with the 4th bowl.
4th bowl: The sun will become much hotter. So hot that it will be scorching people. People will realize that God has control over these things but will STILL refuse to repent and glorify Him. I wonder if they’ll be thinking, like I’ve heard people say today, “If God is like that, I don’t want to have anything to do with Him.” That is amazing because if they realize that He is in control, they should also realize that He will have control at the end too. It’s hard for me to fathom that after they see His great power that all people just don’t fall down and worship Him. It’s so to their detriment that they don’t! The hard headiness and blinders that Satan can instill in people is just to mind boggling to even try to comprehend!
5th bowl: The beasts’ kingdom will be thrown into total darkness. Men will continue to curse God because they will be in a lot of pain from the sores on their bodies. They will still refuse to repent.
6th: This is getting even more exciting now! The great Euphrates River will dry up to prepare the way for the armies coming from the east. This river has always been a hindrance to any type of military movement. It seems to be the dividing line between 2 different types of people. Then 3 evil spirits of demons will appear that will resemble frogs. They perform miracles and they gather kings of the world to do battle at a place called Armageddon (16:12-14). Jesus states that He will be coming “like a thief” and informs those that are left to keep their clothes on.
7th bowl: A loud voice comes out of the temple saying, “It is done!” There will be lightening, thunder and the worst earthquake that there ever was. Cities will totally collapse. Even islands and mountains disappear and will not be able to be found. Hail weighing 100 lbs. falls from the sky. This makes people curse God. And again, it still amazes me that with each of these curses, the people DO realize who is in control but STILL refuses to repent and turn to Him! They are just caught up in their own selves, not wanting to admit that they are weak while He is strong. They are going to hold to this stance to the end.
The heavens will open and the most magnificent sight that ever was seen will appear coming out of the sky on a white horse. I get chills when I think of this. The man who was scorn, beaten, humiliated and crucified will now come in all His strength and power that has always been a part of Him, even during His time on earth. The armies of heaven follow Him and are dressed in white linen. His robe will have been dipped in blood. When He opens His mouth a sharp sword will come out and strike down the ones against Him. Zechariah 14: 1-9 tells us that He will stand on Mt. Olives and it will be split and form a great valley. There will be no daytime or night time. On this day there will only be one LORD. He will be victorious! He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! The beast and the false prophet will be captured and thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
So this ends the Great tribulation period with our Lord being victorious over all the nations! Hallelujah!
(As always, feel free to comment or ask questions below).