Saturday, July 17, 2021

A Study of Prophecy - The Great Tribulation Introduction

Names for the Great Tribulation

The most common name for the Tribulation period is "The Day of the Lord", occurring 28 times in the NIV. In addition, there are a number of other names for this time period mentioned in scripture.

The Time of Jacob's Trouble - Jer 30:7

The Seventieth Week - Dan 9:27

Jehovah's Strange Act and Jehovah's Strange Work - Isa 28:21

See Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps of the Messiah, 2018, Page 174 for a comprehensive list.

Purpose for the Great Tribulation

Make an End of Wickedness and the Wicked Ones

Daniel tells us that one of the primary reasons for the Tribulation is to "finish the transgression", "put an end to sin" and "bring in everlasting righteousness". To "finish the transgression" means that God will put an end to the rebellion against Him, and to "put an end to sin" means that God will end man's failure to obey Him. This will result in "everlasting righteousness". It is not God's intent that sin and unrighteousness go on forever, but He has a definite plan to deal with and put an end to it within a defined period of time.

Dan 9:24 "Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

Isaiah had also spoken of this period of time, and the intent of God to do away with sin. In vs. 9 he states God's intent to "destroy the sinners" during that "cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger".

Isa 13:9 See, the day of the LORD is coming --a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger-- to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.

In vs. 19:20 Isaiah writes that during this period of time, the Tribulation, it is God's intent to do away with rebellion so that it falls, never to rise again.

Isa 24:19-20 The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is violently shaken. (20) The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls--never to rise again.

Bring About a World Wide Revival

The intent of God through the Tribulation is not just to put and end to sin and wickedness, but to bring upon the world a great revival with the people of the world turning to Him. In Rev 7 we see the means and the results that bring about this great revival.

The means God uses to bring about this revival are the 144,000 Jewish evangelists. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum points out that there is a certain logic to using Jews to evangelize the world. They are already spread throughout the world, and so know the customs and language of the nations they are living in. This reduces the educational needs to bring a missionary up to speed. The only thing that Jewish evangelist at that time will need is regarding the New Testament and the gospel.

Rev 7:1-4 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. (2) Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: (3) "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." (4) Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

This sending of the 144,000 throughout the world to evangelize the people will result in the fulfillment of this passage:

Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The results of this evangelistic effort on the part of the 144,000 is a multitude of Tribulation saints, Jews and Gentiles, that could not be counted. This is the great revival.

Rev 7:9-17 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (10) And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (11) All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, (12) saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!" (13) Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?" (14) I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (15) Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. (16) 'Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,' nor any scorching heat. (17) For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; 'he will lead them to springs of living water.' 'And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'"

The 144,000 have pleased God, and earn special rewards.

Rev 14:1-5 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. (2) And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. (3) And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (4) These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (5) No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.

It should be noted that this revival takes place in the Tribulation period. It does not take place before the Rapture, or before the arrival of the AntiChrist. As the church, this is not something that we will live through, since we are Raptured before all this occurs.

To Break the Power of the Holy People

The "Holy People" specifically is the unbelieving Nation of Israel. National Israel as a whole are either Orthodox or secular, both of which deny their Messiah. They are firmly set against Jesus as Messiah, it is a stronghold. One of the purposes for the Tribulation is to pressure Israel as a nation to the point where their resistance is broken down, and they are able to see Jesus for who He is, their Messiah.

Dan 12:5-7 Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. (6) One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?" (7) The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed."

The method that God will use to break the stronghold on Israel is through reign with His mighty hand and outstretched arm and the outpoured wrath of the Tribulation.

Eze 20:33-38 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will reign over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. (34) I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered--with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. (35) I will bring you into the wilderness of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. (36) As I judged your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign LORD. (37) I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. (38) I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

In order for the Tribulation to come to an end, and Jesus to return and establish the Millennial Kingdom, Israel must cry out for their Messiah, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord".

Mat 23:37-39 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (38) Look, your house is left to you desolate. (39) For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

When Israel's powerful rebellion is broken down, they will mourn:

Zec 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

General Description of the Great Tribulation

The Little Apocalypse of Isaiah

To introduce the subject of the Tribulation, there are numerous passages that speak about it's nature. Keeping in mind the purposes for the Tribulation, to put an end to sin and rebellion, break the power of Israel's rejection of Messiah, and to bring about a world wide revival, let's look at what it will take to accomplish this.

It seems important to remember that the severity of the Tribulation period serves to illustrate the depth of rebellion on the part of Israel and the world. It seems that the Tribulation is only as severe as it is because Israel and the people refuse to budge until enough has happened to break them down.

Isaiah's description in Isaiah 24 resembles parts of the Revelation.

Isa 24:1-13 See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants-- (2) it will be the same for priest as for people, for the master as for his servant, for the mistress as for her servant, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. (3) The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The LORD has spoken this word. (4) The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. (5) The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. (6) Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left. (7) The new wine dries up and the vine withers; all the merrymakers groan. (8) The joyful timbrels are stilled, the noise of the revelers has stopped, the joyful harp is silent. (9) No longer do they drink wine with a song; the beer is bitter to its drinkers. (10) The ruined city lies desolate; the entrance to every house is barred. (11) In the streets they cry out for wine; all joy turns to gloom, all joyful sounds are banished from the earth. (12) The city is left in ruins, its gate is battered to pieces. (13) So will it be on the earth and among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, or as when gleanings are left after the grape harvest.

The judgments described above cause the earth to stagger.

Isa 24:19-20 The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is violently shaken. (20) The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls--never to rise again.

While the judgments are ongoing, the righteous in the Tribulation await the sinless and righteous results sought by the Tribulation period.

Isa 26:8-10 Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. (9) My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. (10) But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the LORD.

Those righteous individuals in the Tribulation are protected by God as the judgments are poured out.

Isa 26:20-21 Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. (21) See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed on it; the earth will conceal its slain no longer.

The Day of the Lord Passages

The term "Day of the Lord" is the most common term for the Tribulation. It represents the 7 years between the confirmation of the covenant of peace and the second coming of Messiah. Some may include the Millennium in "the day of the Lord", but this is not likely because all of the passage that speak of the day of the Lord speak of it negatively with great destruction. See Isa 13:6-9, Jer 30:4-8, Eze 7:19, Eze 30:3, Joel 1:15, Joel 2:1-2, Joel 2:11, Joel 3:14-16, Amos 5:18-20, Zep 1:14-15, Zep 2:1-3, Zec 14:1-2, Mal 4:5, 1Th 5:1-3, 2Th 2:1-2 and 2Pe 3:10.

The following passages are not an all inclusive list of passages speaking of the Day of the Lord, but these deal with the effect of the Tribulation on the whole world. Passages dealing with Israel will be dealt with later in this study.

In this passage, Isaiah depicts the terror of the day of the Lord when "He rises to shake the earth". It is a time when people are fleeing to caves and holes in the ground.

Isa 2:12-22 The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), (13) for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, (14) for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, (15) for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, (16) for every trading ship and every stately vessel. (17) The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day, (18) and the idols will totally disappear. (19) People will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from the fearful presence of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. (20) In that day people will throw away to the moles and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship. (21) They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from the fearful presence of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. (22) Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?

In this passage Isaiah shows the the purpose of the Lord to "destroy sinners" and "punish the world". He will "put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and humble the pride of the ruthless". The words "I will make people scarcer that pure gold" are sobering. The "earth will shake from it's place".

Many of these details match with what is shown in the Revelation. If only people would turn to the Lord instead of remaining in rebellion.

Isa 13:6-16 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. (7) Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. (8) Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. (9) See, the day of the LORD is coming --a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger-- to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. (10) The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. (11) I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. (12) I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. (13) Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the LORD Almighty, in the day of his burning anger. (14) Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep without a shepherd, they will all return to their own people, they will flee to their native land. (15) Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. (16) Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated.

Rev 9:20-21 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood--idols that cannot see or hear or walk. (21) Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Rev 16:17-21 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, "It is done!" (18) Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. (19) The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. (20) Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. (21) From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

Ezekiel reveals the effects of the day of the Lord on the Middle East nations, especially Egypt. It is a "time of doom for the nations".

Eze 30:1-9 The word of the LORD came to me: (2) "Son of man, prophesy and say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "'Wail and say, "Alas for that day!" (3) For the day is near, the day of the LORD is near-- a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations. (4) A sword will come against Egypt, and anguish will come upon Cush. When the slain fall in Egypt, her wealth will be carried away and her foundations torn down. (5) Cush and Libya, Lydia and all Arabia, Kub and the people of the covenant land will fall by the sword along with Egypt. (6) "'This is what the LORD says: "'The allies of Egypt will fall and her proud strength will fail. From Migdol to Aswan they will fall by the sword within her, declares the Sovereign LORD. (7) "'They will be desolate among desolate lands, and their cities will lie among ruined cities. (8) Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I set fire to Egypt and all her helpers are crushed. (9) "'On that day messengers will go out from me in ships to frighten Cush out of her complacency. Anguish will take hold of them on the day of Egypt's doom, for it is sure to come.

Joel shows how the day of the Lord will effect crops and food. It will be a time of famine.

Joel 1:15-20 Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. (16) Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes-- joy and gladness from the house of our God? (17) The seeds are shriveled beneath the clods. The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up. (18) How the cattle moan! The herds mill about because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep are suffering. (19) To you, LORD, I call, for fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. (20) Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness.

Obadiah shows the effect on the land of Edom, which is present day Southern Jordan. "The day of the Lord is near for all nations"! "There will be no survivors from Esau".

Oba 1:10-20 Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever. (11) On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them. (12) You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble. (13) You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor gloat over them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster. (14) You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble. (15) "The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head. (16) Just as you drank on my holy hill, so all the nations will drink continually; they will drink and drink and be as if they had never been. (17) But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and Jacob will possess his inheritance. (18) Jacob will be a fire and Joseph a flame; Esau will be stubble, and they will set him on fire and destroy him. There will be no survivors from Esau." The LORD has spoken. (19) People from the Negev will occupy the mountains of Esau, and people from the foothills will possess the land of the Philistines. They will occupy the fields of Ephraim and Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead. (20) This company of Israelite exiles who are in Canaan will possess the land as far as Zarephath; the exiles from Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the towns of the Negev.

Zephaniah also speaks of a day of darkness and distress. He also mentions one of the purposes of the Tribulation, that of dealing with sin. This dark day is upon them "because they have sinned".

Zep 1:14-18 The great day of the LORD is near-- near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the LORD is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry. (15) That day will be a day of wrath-- a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness-- (16) a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. (17) "I will bring such distress on all people that they will grope about like those who are blind, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like dung. (18) Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD's wrath." In the fire of his jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth.

Peter describes the time as a "time of destruction by fire". The cause of this fire is described in the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments.

2Pe 3:10-12 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. (11) Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives (12) as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

A Study of Prophecy - Other Pre-Tribulational Events


In this section we will look at the scripture regarding the following:

  1. The Bema Judgment

  2. The Marriage of the Lamb

  3. The Throne of God

  4. The Lamb and the Seven Sealed Scroll

The Bema Judgment

Luke records the words of Jesus, indicating that the Tribulation period will come upon us suddenly, like a trap, and therefore we should all be prepared to escape it. We should be prepared to "stand before the Son of Man".

Luk 21:34-36 "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. (35) For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. (36) Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

The reason that we are to stand before the Son of Man is to give an account of our works. This is a rewards ceremony for those who are already believers, the church, which has just been brought to where Jesus is (Joh 14:1-3), and therefore is not the basis for salvation.

Rom 14:10-12 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. (11) It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'" (12) So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Rev 22:12 "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.

This accounting of our works is for the purpose of determining our rewards. The basis is not the quantity of works, but the quality.

1Co 3:11-15 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, (13) their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. (14) If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. (15) If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved--even though only as one escaping through the flames.

The evaluation of works is based on:

  1. The extent to which our ministry and lives follow the Word of God.

  2. The extent to which we have been faithful stewards of all God has given us.

  3. Our motives.

We are encouraged to work for rewards.

Mat 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Mat 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (20) But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luk 12:31-34 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (32) "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (33) Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. (34) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luk 14:13-14 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, (14) and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

1Ti 6:18-19 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (19) In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

1Jn 2:28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

Some rewards take the form of crowns.

1Co 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

1Th 2:19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

2Ti 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Jas 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

1Pe 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Rev 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor's crown.

Rev 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

Some rewards take the form of authority and rulership. This authority and rulership is for the duration of the Millennial Kingdom. In the Eternal State, all believers will be equal.

Mat 25:19-21 "After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. (20) The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.' (21) "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

Luk 19:11-27 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. (12) He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. (13) So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.' (14) "But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.' (15) "He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. (16) "The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' (17) "'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.'

The timing of this judgment is somewhere between the Rapture and the second coming. When Jesus returns to earth, His "holy ones and saints" are with Him, and already rewarded, so the judgment has to have occurred before His second coming with the saints.

Rev 19:8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's holy people.)

Rev 19:14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.

The Marriage of the Lamb

The Jewish Wedding

To fully grasp the eschatology of the Church and the Marriage of the Lamb, it is helpful to understand the ancient Jewish wedding. Jewish weddings were arranged marriages with an elaborate ritual.


The process of the wedding started off with the father of the groom establishing a marriage covenant with the father of the bride. This was called the "betrothal". This involved making arrangements for the wedding, and paying the bride price. The age this arrangement occurred varied, from when the bride and groom were young children, to a year before the wedding. Many times the groom and bride would not meet until the day of the wedding.

Once the marriage covenant was agreed to, the bride would then be set aside, or sanctified.

The groom would go to live in his fathers house, and there he would prepare a room addition for he and his bride to live in. This preparation is why the bride would be betrothed a year before the actual wedding. During this time, the groom is absent from the bride, and the length of time he would be gone is deliberately indeterminate, the bride does not know when he will return. His return is imminent.

In the meantime, the bride would prepare for the groom's return.

Surprise Gathering to Fetch the Bride

The groom's father is the one who determined when the groom would return to fetch his bride. This would ensure that the groom finished preparing a place for himself and his bride.

When the groom did return to fetch his bride, and since the bride did not know when he was coming, it would typically be preceded by a shout, which would warn the bride that the groom was coming.

The groom, best man, and a few attendants would leave the fathers house and proceed to the brides home to fetch her. The story of the 10 Virgins would apply at this point as well, as they were a part of the group of attendants.

The Wedding

The wedding takes place, and the bride and groom consummate their union, after which, they come out of the bridal chamber and announce it to the members of the wedding party. The wedding party would then announce it to the wedding feast guests.

Only a few people are invited to the wedding itself, but many are invited to the wedding feast afterwards.

The Wedding Feast

The wedding supper typically lasts up to 7 days (Jdg 14:12). In addition to the wedding party, a large number of guests are also invited to the wedding feast.

Jdg 14:12 "Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to them. "If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.

The Lamb's Wedding

In the wedding of the Lamb, Jesus, to the church, there are parallels evident to the Jewish wedding.


Eph 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (26) to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, (27) and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

In the Jewish wedding, the father of the groom negotiated a price for the bride. In the Lamb's wedding, God the Father paid the price for the bride by sending His son Jesus to redeem the bride.

In the Jewish wedding, some extended period of time would pass between the time the father paid the price, and the groom went to fetch the bride. During this time the groom is preparing a place for them. In the Lamb's wedding, it has been an extended period of time since the Father paid the price. The bride has been waiting some 2000 years for the groom to come fetch His bride.

Surprise Gathering to Fetch the Bride

1Th 4:13-18 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. (14) For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (15) According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. (16) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (18) Therefore encourage one another with these words.

In the Jewish wedding, at some indeterminate time, the groom will finally fetch his bride. In the Lamb's wedding, the Rapture is the fetching of the bride, the church. Jesus will come in the air, and take her to where He is, where He has been preparing a place for the bride. As in the Jewish wedding, only the Father knows when this will occur.

The Wedding

As in the Jewish wedding, where the wedding between the bride and groom occurs with a small party, so it will be with the Lamb's wedding.

Rev 19:6-8 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. (7) Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. (8) Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's holy people.)

There are a few points to consider here.

First, the bride has been sanctified. Being set aside, she has prepared for the coming of the groom.

Second, it is clear that the Bema Judgment has already occurred at this point, since the bride mentioned in Rev 19 has already been determined to have righteous acts, and as a result, she is dressed in "fine linen, bright and clean". In order for that determination to have been made, a judgment had to have taken place already. So we can determine that the wedding takes place after the Rapture, and after the Bema Judgment.

Third, the wedding takes place before the 2nd coming of Christ to the earth. In Rev 19:14-15 we read of those returning with Jesus riding on white horses, and again dressed in the "fine linen, white and clean". This shows that the wedding will take place after the Bema Judgment and before the 2nd coming.

Rev 19:14-15 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (15) Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.

The Wedding Feast

After the Jewish wedding, there is a feast. While the wedding itself is attended by a small party, the feast includes many guests. So it is with the Lamb's wedding feast. Some points to note regarding the feast are:

First, the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation, and involves only the church in heaven and a small party of angel attendants.

Second, at the end of the tribulation the Old Testament and Tribulation saints will have been resurrected. These are the "friends of the Bridegroom". As resurrected saints, they will be present and able to attend the wedding feast, this will consist of a much larger party. This party, the "Wedding Feast" will take place on earth at the start of the Millennial Kingdom.

The Wedding Feast

Isa 25:6-8 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-- the best of meats and the finest of wines. (7) On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; (8) he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people's disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

Rev 19:9 Then the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" And he added, "These are the true words of God."

Resurrection of OT Saints

Isa 26:19 But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise-- let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy-- your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.

Dan 12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Resurrection of Tribulation Saints

Rev 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Some of the parables describe the Lamb's wedding including the Parable of the 10 Virgins, which we covered earlier, and the Parable of the Wedding Feast.

In this parable, we recall that the Kingdom was previously offered to Israel, and Israel's leaders rejected this Kingdom offer. These are those in the parable that refused their Messiah and His Kingdom offer.

The destruction and burning of the murderers and the city actually happened in 70AD. Prophetically, this looks forward to the Tribulation period.

Those in the streets who are invited consist of both sinners and saints.

The person without the wedding clothes was to be thrown out. At that time, the only requirement was that the clothes be clean. This represents the "fine linen", or the "righteous acts".

Mat 22:1-14 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: (2) "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. (3) He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. (4) "Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' (5) "But they paid no attention and went off--one to his field, another to his business. (6) The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. (7) The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. (8) "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. (9) So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' (10) So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. (11) "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. (12) He asked, 'How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?' The man was speechless. (13) "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (14) "For many are invited, but few are chosen."

The Throne of God

The Throne Room

John is given a vision of events occurring in the throne room of God in heaven. God is about to show him the "things that must take place after this". John is "in the spirit", meaning he is experiencing a vision.

Rev 4:2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.

"things that must take place after this" pertains to after the seven churches in Rev 2-3. The ordering of these visions John saw may itself indicate a pre-tribulational Rapture, as the events Paul is about to be shown occur after the vision pertaining to the seven churches, however, this is inconclusive.

Rev 1:19 "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

What John sees is God the Father on His throne, and around His are 24 other thrones. Seated on the 24 thrones are 24 elders. The 24 elders are described as dressed in white and wearing crowns of gold.

Rev 4:3-4 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. (4) Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.

The 24 Elders

The identity of the 24 elders is the subject of much debate, as scripture does not explicitly state who they are. Some say they are representatives of the church, others say they are celestial beings. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum lists several characteristics that provide clues through which we can deduce who they are.

They are clothed in "white garments". White garments throughout the Revelation indicate salvation. Angels and celestial beings would not require salvation, since they were not lost to begin with

Rev 3:4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.

Rev 3:5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.

Rev 3:18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Rev 6:11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.

Rev 7:9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Rev 7:13 Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?"

Rev 7:14 I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Rev 19:14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.

These elders are wearing "crowns". These crowns are not the crowns of royalty, but the crowns of reward. Greek "stephanos", the same type of crowns we will be rewarded at the Bema Judgment.

The title "elders" is a clue as well. The term is never used in scripture of angels or celestial beings. It is a term used of humans in positions of authority in either the church or the synagogue.

The image of 24 elders is not without precedent in the Old Testament scripture. In 1 Chronicles 24, David divides the tribe of Levi into 24 courses to represent the whole. So it would seem that these 24 elders in God's throne room would represent the church as a whole. This is another indicator of a pre-tribulational Rapture, since the Tribulation has not yet started at the time John is observing the elders already in heaven.

The above clues certainly seem to provide an indication of who these 24 elders are, but again, scripture is not explicit, and so we can't be dogmatic about their identity.

The Holy Spirit

Also in the Throne room, we find the Holy Spirit.

Rev 4:5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.

The "seven spirits" are representative of the seven attributes of the Holy Spirit.

Isa 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD--

The Four Living Creatures

Also in the Throne room, there are "four living creatures", each with 6 wings, crying "Holy, Holy Holy" without ever stopping.

Rev 4:6 Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.

Rev 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,' who was, and is, and is to come."

From Isaiah, we learn that these creatures are called "seraphim"

Isa 6:1-3 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. (2) Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. (3) And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."

Each of the four seraphim has a different characteristic.

Rev 4:7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.

The Continual Worship

All are engaged in continual worship before the throne of God:

The Four Living Creatures

Rev 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,' who was, and is, and is to come."

The 24 Elders

Rev 4:10-11 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

The Seven Sealed Scroll

The Seven Sealed Scroll

The seven sealed scroll is the prelude to the start of the Tribulation period. The prelude is a period of calm at the start of the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments.

Rev 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.

The Search For One Worthy to Open the Scroll

A search is made for someone worthy to open the scroll. No mortal being can be counted worthy. John's weeping appears to be due to the possibility that evil and wickedness could go on and on for some time if no one is found to open the scrolls and begin the judgment of Israel and the world. The opening of the scroll will begin the time of judgment and will determine the judgment evil and wickedness has finally arrived.

Rev 5:2-4 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" (3) But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. (4) I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.

Jesus is the Worthy One

A worthy person has been found. Jesus takes the scroll from the Father.

Jesus is pictured as he was and will be for both of His comings. He came first as a lamb led to the slaughter.

Isa 53:7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

Joh 1:35-36 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. (36) When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"

Jesus in His second coming will be as a lion, of the tribe of Judah. Judah was like a lions cub, and from Judah would come the Messiah.

Gen 49:9-10 You are a lion's cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness--who dares to rouse him? (10) The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

Jesus in His second coming is also referred to as the "Root of David".

Isa 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

Isa 11:10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.

Jer 23:5 "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.

Jer 33:15 "'In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land.

Rom 15:12 And again, Isaiah says, "The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope."

When speaking of a lamb "as if it had been slain", John is speaking of Jesus' death and resurrection. The message here is that supreme sacrifice has lead to supreme power, and as such, Jesus is able to take the scroll from the Father. When Jesus takes the scroll from the father a transference of power and authority is moved to Jesus to reveal the future and bring about judgment.

Rev 5:5-7 Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." (6) Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (7) He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.

All Worship to Jesus

Upon Jesus taking the scroll, and the impending start of judgment, all of heaven breaks out in praise and worship to the Lamb that was slain.

Rev 5:8-14 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people. (9) And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. (10) You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." (11) Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. (12) In a loud voice they were saying: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (13) Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" (14) The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.