Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chronology of Apocalypse: The First Half of Tribulation

The further we proceed into the prophetic future, the more speculative are my interpretations. Generally, after doing some double checking, I go with whatever strikes "my gut" after reading the descriptions in the text. I am satisfied that I am at least in the ballpark concerning what these things mean. They weren't meant to be all that mysterious after all.

Either just before or just after the Rapture, the Antichrist, as leader of the 10 nations, will seal a treaty between his alliance and Israel. Although the details of the pact are not known at this time, it will have a treaty period of seven years, and it can be inferred that it will allow Israel to rebuild the Temple and attempt to reinstate the OT sacrificial system. This will signal the advent of Daniel's 70th week and the concluding of God's promises to him concerning the people of Israel and Jerusalem. The seventh seal has been broken.

At that time, Enoch and Elijah will begin prophesying in Jerusalem, speaking a message that must be antagonistic toward the world, toward unbelief in Israel, and toward the Antichrist. Though no one in the world appreciates their message, no one can do anything to stop them. While they are prophesying, 144,000 sealed and protected Messianic Jews are present (probably in Israel) having whatever redemptive affect they may have on the Jewish people.

Shortly thereafter, fiery hail will fall upon the earth (probably the aftereffect of the volcanic cataclysm which was the sixth seal) and a third of earth's vegetation will be lost. The first trumpet has sounded.

Then, an asteroid will strike one of earth's oceans, polluting a third of the seas, killing a third of the life therein, and sinking a third of the ships sailing the seas (perhaps as a result of tsunamis). The second trumpet has sounded.

On the heels of that asteroid strike, another will fall, maybe in a lake (like the Great Lakes) or upon land, but definitely not in the ocean, and its aftereffect will be the pollution of a third of the fresh water on Earth. Note: I do not see the megastar presented as the proximate cause of this catastrophe as necessarily an angel, even though specified stars in the Apocalypse generally are. The third trumpet has sounded.

Probably as a result of the ejecta of these asteroid strikes, a third of the light of the sun, moon and stars will be darkened. The fourth trumpet has sounded.

Then a tremendously annoying but not deadly disease will spread throughout the earth. Its tortuous symptoms will last five months. I doubt the inhabitants of the earth will suspect the demonic origin of the epidemic, anymore than they suspect that kind of thing in disease now. The fifth trumpet has sounded and the demons have been loosed upon earth.

Not long afterward (nothing could be since we're only dealing with a total of 3 1/2 years in this entire section), a third of the human race alive at that time will be overcome by what appears to be pyroclastic flows or the volcanic aftereffects of the cataclysm of seal six and/or the asteroids of trumpets two and three. Ground Zero for this event will be the Euphrates River, but the spread of the effect is not detailed (although I speculate it would be easterly toward the populations of India and China). As with trumpet five, I doubt the inhabitants of the earth will suspect the demonic origin of the catastrophe. The sixth trumpet has sounded.

For whatever reason (having undergone what is described above may be reason enough), Egypt will rebel against the Antichrist and his alliance. The Antichrist will lead a response of such cold-blooded, lethal and overwhelming force that the heart of any other potential rebel will find itself without resolve. Whether through biological, chemical, or nuclear means, the wound of Egypt's (one of the seven heads) rebellion is staunched, the Antichrist is strengthened, and the world amazed and awe-struck. Egypt will suffer the aftereffects for a generation into the reign of Christ.

As the Antichrist turns back toward his base in Turkey, he will pass through Israel and stop at Jerusalem. There he kills Enoch and Elijah and leaves their bodies dead in the street, though God raises them back to life and then to heaven. The 144,000 appear to go to heaven with them. A strong earthquake will rock the city, but won't stop the Antichrist from confiscating the Temple, putting an end to Israeli plans to reinstate the OT sacrificial system.

Nothing is left for the inhabitants of earth at that time but the duress of God's wrath.

Yet to Come... the second half of the Tibulation

9 comments:

  1. Hi SLW,

    I'm curious about your view of the 144,000 Messianic Jews. I suppose there are problems with a literal chronology and pretribulationism.

    1. Were those Jews left behind the rapture because they were lost and then suddenly saved after the rapture?
    2. Or were those Jews saved before the rapture and left behind regardless?
    3. Or was there some other scenario?

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  2. Hello JG, great to hear from you.

    They were called servants of God prior to their sealing (Rev 7:3), and we know from the description of them in chapter 14 that they are followers of the Lamb.

    I take it that they were believers in Christ before the rapture and were left behind to serve whatever function that they do in reaching Jews during Daniel's 70th week (they do produce other children--12:17). They are protected from the events occurring during that time (e.g. 9:4) and from the Devil's wrath (12:6), so God did not arbitrarily leave them to fend for themselves in difficult circumstances. Leaving them was not in any way punitive, but functional.

    I find it telling that their location is described in distinctly earthly terms when they are introduced in Chapter 7, but in distinctly heavenly ones when we see them again in Chapter 14. I take this to mean that after their three and a half year mission is complete, they too are raptured when the two witnesses revive and ascend (Chapter 11).

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  3. So you teach mid-trib for 144,000 Messianic Jews.

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  4. JG,
    Pre-trib for the church, mid-trib for the two and the 144,000, post-trib for those refusing the mark.

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  5. I'll be up front that I don't agree with this, but if I did, I'd have the following question. I've Jewish descent and believe in Jesus: How could any descendant of Jacob who devoutly believes in Jesus know if they've a destiny of pre-trib or facing the Antichrist?

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  6. JG,
    I wouldn't think it mattered, one would know when they know. The 144,000 are specially and specifically protected from both the judgments God is bringing to earth (by way of the trumpets), and by the destructive efforts of the Devil. It's not like they are asked to have a "less than" experience than the Gentiles who are raptured. They have a special mission and get a special reward.

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  7. SLW, Fair enough. However, this also feeds into my post-trib leanings and the possibility of the 144,000 representing devout believers in the church regardless of ethnic ancestry.

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  8. JG,
    I kinda thought as much, but it is always nice to talk civilly with someone with a genuinely held different position. :-) The ethnic aspect to my eschatology was truly a hurdle to me when this first started dawning upon me back in the mid-eighties--"there is neither Jew nor Greek...". The more I looked, however, the more it brought all the disparate pieces together into a whole that didn't do injustice to any of the pieces.

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  9. The Book of the Revelation appears to teach the Pre-Trib view. The reader will note that the church - the "bride of Christ - is absent after Chapter 4 and not mentioned again until somewhere around Chapter 14. This is because the church has been "caught up" or "raptured." The intervening chapters all deal with the judgments: the trumpets and seals. The believers - the church - do not experience these judgments because we have been summoned to the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb."

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Any comment in ill taste or not germane to the post may be deleted without warning. I am under no obligation to give anyone an opportunity to call me names or impugn my motives or integrity. If you can't play nice, go somewhere else and play.