What is the "Tribulation" period I've heard about?
The most common belief is that the tribulation period is the 70th week(of years) spoken of by Daniel in his prophecy about the 70 weeks.
It is believed that the 69th week has already ended with Jesus' crucifixion (when He was cut off from God the Father), and that the 70th week is yet to come.
Each day of the "week" is believed to be a year.
It has not occurred yet – it's still in the future.
It's called "tribulation" because of all the trials and hardships that the people will have to go through during this time. See Revelation chapters 4-19, Daniel 9.
The whole 7 years is called the Tribulation. Many of the things that happen are told in the book of Revelation up to Revelation 10:1. The 2nd half of the tribulation,
however, is called the "Great Tribulation" or "the Day of the Lord".
The wrath of God is poured out on the earth during the whole 7 years, however, the 2nd half of the Tribulation
period is much worse than the first (Revelation 10:1-Rev. 20).
What is the "Great Tribulation"?
This is the last 3 ½ years of the 7 year tribulation period. It begins with the 7th (last) trumpet blast in Revelation (Rev.9:13-16 & 11:15-19) and is, what some call, the "Day
of the Lord" when the wrath of God is poured out on mankind. Thus it is known as the "Great Tribulation"
What is the rapture?
The rapture is that event when the believers are taken up to meet Jesus in the air or in heaven. This is believed to happen very quickly and is based on I Corinthians
15:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17).
50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the
imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the
trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with
immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."(I
This is when the believers will meet Jesus in the air. He does not set foot on earth at this time.
This (the rapture) is not what is commonly referred to as "the 2nd coming of Jesus".
The 2nd Coming of Christ
The 2nd coming of Christ refers to the time when Jesus comes back to earth again – when He actually sets foot on earth. Prior to this He will come back to rapture the believers up, but at that time He only meets them in the air. Later, He sets foot on earth and that's what is termed the "2nd coming of Christ".
When will the rapture occur?
There are 3 major beliefs for this:
Since no one really knows when the rapture will occur, we reference it to the 7 year tribulation period.
This is the belief that the rapture will occur at some point before the 7-year tribulation period. That is so the church will not have to suffer the wrath of God
poured out during this time.
Often referred to as the pre-trib rapture or pre-trib belief. Sometimes referred to as the PreWrath rapture.
This is by far, the most common viewpoint in America today. It can be traced back to the Plymouth Brethren in 1830, although it didn't really become widespread in America until
the early 1900's. Pre-trib teaches this:
- Since the church is not destined for God's wrath, then the church is raptured prior to the 7 year tribulation period.
- The rapture is considered to be an "any moment" event (before the 7 year period).
- The final 7 year period of the world is called the tribulation.
- The last 3 ½ years are called the Great Tribulation.
- Some believe that the entire 7 year period is considered the wrath of God or the Day of the Lord.
- Some believe that only the last 3 ½ years of the 7 year period is the wrath of God or the Day of the Lord.
- This is a term that was originally used to label the particular idea that Jesus would return 6 months to 1 ½ years before the end of the 7 year Tribulation period.
It has, since, taken the meaning by many to mean the time of the Rapture - before the Wrath of God – or before the Day of the Lord. This
makes things confusing – or, in some ways, easier to understand.
Believes much like the pre-trib belief.
- The Day of the Lord is called the wrath of God.
- The Day of the Lord starts sometime in the second half of the 7 year period.
- Since the Church is not destined for God's wrath, the Rapture of the Church occurs prior to the Day of the Lord - prior to the 2nd half of the 7 year tribulation period.
This is the belief that the rapture will occur during the 7-year tribulation period.
Often referred to as the mid-trib rapture or mid-trib belief.
This view is even more recent than pre-trib, becoming popular in 1941. This view believes:
- The final 7 year period of the world is called the tribulation.
- The last 3 ½ years are called the "Great Tribulation".
- The last 3 ½ years are considered the "wrath of God" or "the Day of the Lord".
- Since the church is not destined for God's wrath, then the church is raptured at the mid-way point - before the Great Tribulation period (before the last 3 1/2 years of the 7-year tribulation period. There are differing views on this, but the belief is that the rapture will happen sometime during the 7 year tribulation
This is the belief that the rapture will occur at the end or after the 7 year tribulation.
Often referred to as the post-trib rapture or the post-trib belief.
Post-trib was by far the most popular opinion during the time of the reformation, but can't be traced to a specific starting point. There are a lot of variations on this view.
The two witnesses that are present during the first half of the Tribulation period (see Revelation 11:1-12)
During the first half of the 7 year Tribulation period the Lord made known His two witnesses. These were 2 people that the Lord gave power to preach the Word of the Lord. He
also gave power to them to defend themselves (and more) if anything was done against them. These 2 witnesses told the people what was going to happen, they prophesied to them, for three and a half years.
Then the Lord allowed them to be killed, but He brought them back to life three and a half days later. He then brought them up to heaven.
After the two witnesses are taken up to heaven the Great Tribulation begins - or the 2nd half of the 7 year tribulation period. This is when things get really bad.
We really are not sure who the two witnesses are because the Bible does not say.
What is the "Millennium" period?
This is the 1000 years referred to in Revelation 20:2-4. (millennium is Latin for 1000)
However, just how and when this 1000 years takes place is understood differently among Christians. There are 3 major positions of belief:
- The 1000 years is a literal time period.
- Jesus' 2nd coming is before or at the beginning of the 1000 years
- Jesus will reign for the 1000 years
- At the end of the 1000 years, Satan will finally be defeated (by Jesus) and removed,
- The 1000 years is a symbolic time period
- It began with Christ's ascension
- It will end with His 2nd coming.
- The Millennium is the reign of Christ in the hearts of believers and in His church, or it is another way of referring to the church age.
- The 1000 years is a literal time period of peace on earth that is ushered in by the church
- At the end of the 1000 years, Satan will be unleashed
- Then Christ will return to defeat Satan and reign forever
- So - Christ's 2nd coming will not occur at the end or, or after the 1000 year period.
The 70th Week of Daniel
See Daniel 9:24-27 and the notes on Daniel 9.
Without getting way into it, the 70th week refers to the last "week" referred to by Daniel in his prophecy from the Lord about the end times. 69 of the weeks have already occurred, but they stopped with Christ's crucifixion. There is 1 more "week" to go.
These are "weeks" of years. In other words, there is 1 year for each day of the week, or 7 years to be accomplished for the 70th week.
The 70th week is called the "tribulation".
The Great Tribulation is the 2nd half of the 7 year tribulation period.
What is the "Abomination of Desolation"?
We talked about this in Daniel 9:27+ and this happens during the middle of the 7 year tribulation period.
It is believed that at the beginning of the 7 year period (Daniel's 70th "week"), the anti-christ makes a peace treaty (modern day words) with Israel (based on Daniel 9:27)(this is a sign that the beginning of the 7 year period has begun). During the "week" (7 years) he breaks the peace treaty and (it is assumed) sets himself up as God in the temple (Matt. 24:15, Mark 13:`14). This is what many believe to be the end times "Abomination of Desolation". It looks like this is at about the 3 ½ year mark. (Daniel 9:27, 11:31 & 12:11)
What is "The Day of the Lord"?
The Day of the Lord refers to judgment by God. It is in the Bible many places.
The Day of the Lord, as it refers to end time prophecy, is when He says "It is enough". This is the final judgment of God.
The Day of the Lord will be when God judges the entire world for sin. There are many passages that speak of this day. The Day of the Lord is awful. It is a time of judgment. A
time of darkness. A time of fire. A time of humbling for man. It is God's Day. It is the wrath of God.
So it is the later part of the 7 year tribulation period (after the last trumpet -
I Corinthians 15:51-52 and Revelation 11:15)
We can see when the Day of the Lord is to begin because the two witnesses are killed, come back to life again and are taken up to heaven.
What is the antichrist
The spirit of antichrist has been present, at least, since the New Testament was written because they speak of it.
Antichrist means against Christ or an opposition Christ, a rival Christ The word is only used by the apostle John.
Referring to false teachers, he says (I John 1:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7) "Even now are there many antichrists".
The name has been applied to the "little horn" of the "king of fierce countenance" (Daniel 7:24,25; 8:23-25)
It has been applied also to the "false Christs" spoken of by our Lord (Matthew 24:5,23,24)
To the "man of sin" described by Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4,8-10)
And to the "beast from the sea" (Revelation 13:1; 17:1-18)
The antichrist (as it relates to end-times) is a specific person who has given himself over completely to Satan.
- He tries to deceive the whole world.
- He comes into play before the 7 year tribulation period.
- He is the one who makes the peace treaty with Israel. Or, at any rate, he is the one who works out the treaty for a 7 year peace treaty based on Daniel 9:27.
- In the middle of the 7 year period, he will cause the sacrifice to cease. In other words, they can no longer sacrifice to the Lord. This is probably the same time he sets himself
up in the temple (2 Thessalonians 2:4) This also means that they have to have the temple to begin the 7 year peace treaty, or at least they have it completed and in operation by the time the antichrist
takes over.. At the present time, the temple is not built.
- But what we're talking about here is an actual person filled with the spirit of Satan. He will also have much power (Rev. 13:5).
This temple will be constructed shortly before or during the first half of the Tribulation, maybe by the Antichrist. It is mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 as the site for the
abomination of desolation mentioned by Daniel the prophet (Daniel 9:2) and Jesus (Matt. 24:15).
The First Resurrection
The First Resurrection is only for those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ as their savior. It can also be called the Resurrection of Life. (John 5:29) and
seems to be in two parts.
Those who suffer and die for their faith in Jesus Christ during the "Tribulation" period will be resurrected and given new bodies. They will refuse to take the "mark" of the
beast and worship him so they will be killed. At the end of the "tribulation" period when Jesus comes back to rule, they will be resurrected to reign with Him for the 1000 year Millennium period. It
may be that those persons who will be caught up in the "rapture" will also reign with Jesus. These will also be believers.
After the Millennium period the rest of those who put their faith in Jesus throughout history will be resurrected.
Those who have not put their trust in Jesus by the end of the tribulation period will still not be resurrected – until the Second Resurrection.
The Second Resurrection
This is the resurrection of all those who did not put their trust in Jesus Christ. Thus this it also called the "Resurrection of damnation". (John 5:29)
This occurs sometime after the end of the 1000 year Millennium period.
The First Death
This is when our physical body dies – the body we now have. This is something we all, most likely, will have to go through.
The Second Death
The second death when death and hell (and those in them) are thrown into the "lake of fire" that burns with fire and brimstone. This is for those who didn't trust Jesus –
the fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars. (Revelation 20:13-14) (Revelation 21:8)