Sometime after the Rapture (which is when the believers are caught up to meet Christ in the air), scripture tells us there will be time of concentrated trouble for the nation of Israel. It will be of seven years duration and it will affect not only Israel but all the world. Itís called the Tribulation. Jesus spoke of this time in Matthew 24:21-22: "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. (22) And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short."
A man, who is under Satanís total control and will be called the Antichrist, will be the head of a federation of 10 countries. He will make his appearance at the beginning of the Tribulation Period and make a peace treaty with Israel.
This will be 7 years before the Lord Jesus Christ comes back on this earth to establish His Kingdom and His earthly reign for a thousand years.
After the treaty is in force for 3 1/2 years, the Antichrist will break it and the tragedy and the terror spoken of in Daniel 9:27 will begin.
Chapters 6 through 19 of Revelation give a very graphic description of the Tribulation Period. God's judgment will be poured out on an unbelieving and wicked world in horrible ways. This is recorded in the seven seal judgments, then in the seven trumpet judgments, and last of all in the seven vials judgments. Several of these judgments may overlap and be going on at the same time but apparently itís not the will of God to reveal to us the exact time in which each of these judgments will occur.
Bible scholars generally do agree that the seven seal judgments will come in the first 3-1/2 years of the Tribulation and the seven trumpets will likely come somewhere in the midst of the seven year period and that the vial judgments will come near the end of the tribulation.
In Revelation 6 Christ is seen seated on a throne and holding in His hands a scroll that is written on both sides. It is rolled up and sealed.
The apostle John was inspired by the Lord to write this book of Revelation. In it, he tells how the Lord Jesus Christ opens this seven sealed scroll that contains the first series of Seven Seal judgments that God will pour out upon the earth.
Revelation 6:1-2. "And I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, "Come." And I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him; and he went out conquering, and to conquer."
The first judgment on the earth will be the fact that Christ allows a man to appear on earth who will pose as a "savior of the world." He will be the Antichrist. He appears riding on a white horse, carrying a bow but no arrows. This indicates that he is supposedly coming on a peace mission and people throughout the world will be tired of war and will be wanting peace at almost any price.
He wonít be known to those living at this time as the Antichrist and we donít actually know which ten countries will be cooperating with him. However, the Antichrist will be looked on with great admiration and trust by many nations.
This is described quite fully in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2.
He will use his great authority and power in an attempt to settle the Arab-Israeli land dispute and will side with Israel in backing her claim to the land of Palestine against the nations mentioned in Scripture as the powers from the north.
The northern confederacy of nations will back the Arab's claim to Palestine and this will eventuate into the war described in Ezekiel 38 and 39.
God hasnít seen fit to reveal all of the details on how these things will all come to pass, but rest assured, they will come to pass.
The opening of the second seal is recorded in Revelation 6:3-4. "And when He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come. And another, a red horse went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men should slay one another; and a great sword was given to him."
The rider who appears on the red horse will attempt to take Israel by force. No details are given but some think this will be an army from Russia with her allies that will attempt to march into Israel and take it by force.
When this great army attempts to take possession of the land, no battle, as such, will be fought. But God will intervene and cause great earthquakes and disasters which will confuse the invading forces so much that "every man's sword shall be against his brother" (Ezekiel 38: 18-22 and Ezekiel 39:2-4).
Revelation 6:5. "And when He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." And I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand."
The third seal which is broken reveals a Black Horse with a rider holding a pair of scales. This indicates there will be a famine during the first part of the Tribulation.
Revelation 6:7-8. "And when He broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come." And I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name "Death"; and Hades was following with him. And authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth."
The rider of the first horse, the white horse, is the Antichrist whose identity is unknown.
The rider on the second horse, a red horse, will take peace from the earth as described in the breaking of the second seal.
The rider on the third horse, the black horse, will cause famine over all the world.
The fourth seal, which is the ashen, or pale horse, and itís rider is called "Death." He will kill one fourth of the world population with warfare, famine, disease and wild animals.
This gives us a picture of what the worldwide suffering will be like in the first 3-1/2 years of the Tribulation period when the world will experience itís worst time in history.
1 Billion people will die through various judgments during this Tribulation Period if we go on the basis of our present population. If this should mean that one fourth of the worldís land mass would suffer this way, the death toll could be much higher.
Revelation 6:9. "And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained."
According to scripture, there will be many who will accept Christ as their personal Savior during the first 3-1/2 year Tribulation Period. When the fifth seal is opened, persecution of Christians will result in thousands of Christian martyrs, killed for their Christian testimony. They will be blamed as the cause for Godís judgment on the earth and will be martyred as scapegoats because of Godís awful judgments.
Now we come to some catastrophic changes to the earth, recorded in Revelation 6:12-16. "And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb."
When the Sixth Seal is broken, there will be great physical changes occurring on the earth.
Between the breaking of the Sixth Seal and the Seventh Seal we see a time interval when 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes will be "sealed" with a seal from God on their forehead.
Revelation 7:2-3. "And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads."
This is not to be confused with the mark of the beast (Antichrist) which he will put on the hands or foreheads of the unbelievers.
This seal will be the mark of God and will identify them as God's chosen witnesses during the Tribulation Period. Neither Antichrist nor Satan will be able to stop them from witnessing to their faith in Christ. Their Jewish identity, as far as the present is concerned, is lost. But God will know who they are, even where they are, scattered among the nations. And He will send them out to witness to all the world during the Tribulation Period.
Revelation 7:4. "And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:"
As a result of their ministry, and the ministry of God's two witnesses of Revelation 11, a great multitude from every nation, kindred and tongue will get saved. (Revelation 7:9).
Revelation 8:1. And when He broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour."
When the seventh seal is broken, it seems that the anticipation of the awful judgment that is about to fall on the earth causes everyone in heaven, even the angels, to become silent for half an hour before they are able to make a sound or resume their duties.
The seventh seal apparently ends the first 3-1/2 years of the Tribulation Period and the second 3-1/2 years is ushered in with the sounding of the Seven Trumpets.
The period just described will have its moments of comparative calm in which there is an era of peace and the unsuspecting Jews will look up with great admiration to their "savior," the Antichrist, who has protected them and preserved their land.
However, this time of relative peace is short-lived and great terror and destruction awaits those who still remain on the earth during the second half of the Tribulation.
Israel's false security will soon will end and terror and tragedy will come in it's place. The Antichrist has fulfilled his promises in bringing peace to the land. He has been successful in protecting the Jews from invading armies. What can possibly come next? Like the TV commercials always say, ďbut wait, thereís more!Ē Seven Trumpets are going to sound, each one with a promise of more catastrophic events. The Great Tribulation Period will usher itself in with a horrible period of destruction and death like the world has never before seen.
Revelation 8:7. "And the first angel sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burnt up, and a third of the trees were burnt up, and all the green grass was burnt up."
Hail and fire mixed with blood? What a mess that will be. And a third of all the soil scorched and a third of all the trees on the earth will be burned up and all the green grass will be burned up. This is God's judgment upon nature. God is cursing the earth because this is where man has practiced his rejection of God.
Revelation 8:8-9. "And the second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood; and a third of the creatures, which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed."
When the second angel blows his trumpet, what appears to be a huge burning mountain is thrown into the sea. There are some that believe that this refers to a huge meteor falling from the sky. When this does occur, a third of all the ships will be destroyed and those on the ships will undoubtedly perish, a third of the sea will be turned to blood and a third of all sea life will be killed.
Revelation 8:10-11. "And the third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and a third of the waters became wormwood; and many men died from the waters because they were made bitter."
Here we see an unusual phenomenon. A flaming star, called Wormwood, will fall from heaven and cause a third of the worldís water supply to be poison. This could also be a meteor. Since it poisons a third of all water on the earth, many people will drink the water and die.
Revelation 8:12. "And the fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were smitten, so that a third of them might be darkened and the day might not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way."
With the blowing of the fourth trumpet the sun, moon, and stars will be damaged in such a way that one third of the sun and the moon and the stars are darkened day and night.
When Christ told of the things that would come in the last half of the Tribulation Period, He said this: Luke 21:25. "And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves." These are the very prophecies that havenít yet occurred but which certainly will.
Things like this are going to make men faint from fear as will the things that are still to come. They can know what comes next if they will read Godís Word. It's all recorded in the Bible.
But as terrible as all this is, the Lord warns that when the next three trumpets sound they will bring even greater wrath on those remaining on earth. Scripture calls the last three trumpet judgments, numbers 5, 6, and 7, "Woes."
We will interrupt this message at this point and will take it up further in the next message.
There is a more important message in the scriptures for you if you havenít yet taken Jesus Christ as your Savior.
All the terrible things written here will affect you if Christ comes for the believers and you are left behind because you are not saved. There is no good reason that should happen. Christ died on the cross for your sins, and if you will confess to God that you are a sinner and accept the forgiveness for your sins that Jesus paid for with His blood, you will be saved. If you refuse or neglect to do this, you will spend eternity in torments worse than those foretold here.
You may not understand why or how God can save you from eternity in hell. God has not asked us to understand it, just to believe that you are a sinner and that Christ died for you sins. Proverbs 3:5-6. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will direct your paths."
Trust in the Lord and acknowledge Him as your Lord and Savior and your path will lead straight to heaven.