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The Coming Tribulation

by Stephen Davey

If you ask the average person about national security, world peace attempts, natural resources, or the global pandemic, you will hear everything but optimism. There is an uneasiness that is felt by nearly everyone today. 

We have watched rogue nations acquire sophisticated weapons that threaten the balance of world powers. Diplomacy efforts in the Middle East and other regions of conflict are attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable. Many leaders and experts are concerned about the earth running out of natural resources, and others are focused on the dangers of climate change. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, infectious diseases remain the leading cause of death worldwide and the third leading cause of death in the United States. In addition to new viruses like COVID-19, diseases once thought to be obsolete have reemerged as a global threat, including an antibiotic-resistant form of tuberculosis. 

While I’m not an expert on any of our modern crises, there is one thing I can tell you with certainty: what we are experiencing today is nothing compared to the global crisis that will hit this planet in the future. 

There is a coming period known as the tribulation. The apostle John recorded the most amazing and horrifying events that will occur on the earth during that time. 

It all begins in Revelation 6:1, where John writes, “Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals.” The opening of this first seal signals the beginning of the tribulation. This is the hour of testing that will impact the whole human race and, in fact, the 

entire universe. 

I would summarize the tribulation as a time of unparalleled human suffering, demonic boldness, cosmic disturbance, Jewish awakening, gospel preaching, and global crises—more than the world has ever witnessed. 

If you were to place the tribulation into a categorical heading, it would be “The Wrath of God Revealed.” For a period of seven years, the earth will stagger under the weight of God’s wrath. 

When you read the book of Revelation, the first five chapters reveal the sovereignty of Christ in His church. The next section reveals the severity of Christ in His wrath, or chastisement. One author describes the tribulation as “hell on earth” for seven years. 

In reference to end-time events, we use the term tribulation for the entire seven-year period. The second half of the tribulation is called the great tribulation. That’s the term Jesus used in Matthew 24:21 to describe the final three and a half years of this period. 

Some have espoused the belief that the rapture will occur sometime during the tribulation but before the great tribulation begins, designating this the pre-wrath rapture. However, the very term pre-wrath rapture exposes one of the primary flaws with the view, since the wrath of God is certainly experienced during the first half of the tribulation as well. 

Jesus referred to these first three and a half years as labor pains (Matthew 24:8). Try telling a woman as she begins labor that she is not really feeling anything painful! 

Also, I do not know how to view the four horsemen of Revelation 6 as anything other than expressions of God’s terrifying wrath, which will result in horrifying conditions on the planet during the first half of the tribulation.

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