Understanding the truth about what really happens during the last 7 years of this age
There are 7 years that are left on the prophetic clock, as spoken of in Daniel chapter nine, which have been called “the 7 years of tribulation” by many. This terminology truly means different things to different people. To this author, it is truly 7 years set aside by the Lord but not 7 simple years of tribulation or wrath, but rather a combination. It will be 3 ½ years of great tribulation followed by 3 ½ years of God's wrath with the rapture happening in the middle. But for most pre-tribulationists, they call it the 7 years of tribulation and then say that the rapture has to be at the very beginning because “God does not pour out His wrath on His children” so that what they are really saying is that the last week of years or what is commonly called “the 7 years of tribulation” is really “7 years of God's wrath.” Which is not true, in that it is not 7 years of God's wrath!
It is conceivable that to be on the receiving end of God's wrath is tribulation. However, in no way is “tribulation” only or always a result of God's wrath. The biblical definition of “tribulation” according to Strong’s comes from the word “thlipsis” and means pressured, afflicted (-tion), anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation or trouble. “Tribulation” is not restricted to believers or non-believers. However, God’s wrath really is for the “sons of disobedience” (non-believers).
For anyone to say that this “last week of years” is “completely a time of God's wrath” is erroneous. It is beyond the shadow of doubt that these 7 years are divided into two vastly different segments. The 1st half will have Christians present and living through great tribulation just as Jesus foretold, followed by the rapture. The 2nd half will be when God's wrath will be poured out upon the wicked, just as John foretold of in the book of Revelation. This will be clearly shown. Seven years minus the terms of Antichrist and Two Witnesses, which are both for 42 months (3½ years), leaves a remainder of 3 ½ years left for the trumpets and bowls of Gods wrath and will conclude with the Battle of Armageddon.
Let's look at what the Bible has to say. First, the two points most of us agree on:
1.There is a “last week of years,” being the last 7 years of this age.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
So does this mean that Christians never suffer?
Not at all, in fact, all true Christians face some measure of suffering and persecution for their faith.
2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
Jesus, the Son of God Himself, was falsely accused, viciously beaten and crucified. Paul the apostle said of himself being: “in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (2 Corinthians 11:23b-27). The disciple James, was one of the first martyrs of the early church; additionally, the apostle Stephen, was also an early martyr who was stoned to death. Almost all of the first eleven true disciples were killed for their faith. From the very beginning, Christians have suffered and died for the love and name of Jesus. Christians have been tortured, imprisoned, enslaved, persecuted, burned alive, fed to lions and alligators, boiled, beheaded and even crucified.
So, while Christians are saved from the wrath of God, thanks to Jesus taking our place at Calvary, there are times when Christians suffer and are persecuted, even to death for their faith.
What else do we know for certain about this last 7 years, according to God's Word?
We know there are certain elements of this time period that must be fulfilled and in God's order. The Lord gives us information in various places but it is our job to learn whatever He has to reveal to us.
Here are some facts:
There are 7 seals (which are not God's wrath), 7 trumpets and 7 bowls (which are part of God's wrath) and all are intrinsic to the final 7 years of this age.
The very first seal of the 7 seals, reveals that the Antichrist is “given” a bow, a crown representing authority and instructions to conquer.
Revelation 6:1-2 Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see." And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
What will the evil one do with his authority? He will blaspheme God and everything about Him. The enemy will go out conquering globally.
Revelation 13:4-7 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. (42 months is 3½ years)
Revelation 11:2 “But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.”
The Antichrist will also make war with the saints and eventually overcome us. This process will take 42 months. While the enemy will be allowed his time, it will not be without the presence of God’s two anointed ones.
Revelation 11:3 “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth”
Revelation 11:7 When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.
Revelation 11:11-12 Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.
Not only will the Two Witnesses be raised from the dead after 3 ½ days, but they will be called up to heaven. It is at this time, that the rapture will also happen.
At the 5th seal, everyone will be forced to worship the beast or be sought out to be killed just prior to the rapture. The presence of the Two Witnesses will be restraining the enemy to some measure but once they are killed, the most intense tribulation will begin. Only by the grace of God could anyone escape and except the Lord shorten the time, none would make it.
Mark 13:19-20 "For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.”
How do we know what happens to the lost after the rapture?
Those that will worship the beast and his image and take his mark will have to drink the wine of the wrath of God which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.
Revelation 13:15-17 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Revelation 14:9-10a Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.”
Those left after the rapture will be the lost, who will have chosen evil and rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ, sent through His Word, His people and even the Two Witnesses. There will be 144,000 Jews left after the rapture (12,000 from each tribe) who will not be considered lost. These remnant Jews will be sealed for their protection for the last 3 ½ years.
Four angels will be held back while the Lord seals the 144,000 Jews.
Revelation 7:1-4 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried 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, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:
All 7 seals are for the first half of the 7 years and conclude at the rapture in the middle or middle plus 3 ½ days.
The first seal is the beginning of the rise of the Antichrist when he is given his authority (Revelation 6:1-2), followed by 6 more.The last 2 seals are the rapture. So by this we can be sure that the seven seals are for the first 3½ years ending with the 7th being the rapture (Revelation 8:1).
The 5th seal pertains to the martyrdom of Christians.
Revelation 6:9-11 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
The 6th and 7th seals clearly show the rapture and correlate with Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-27 and Luke 21:25-28.
Revelation 6:12-17 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
Revelation 8:1 “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
The silence in heaven will happen when the Lord, along with His angels and those in heaven already, come for the rapture. However it will get very loud when Jesus returns to heaven with all the angels and saints!
Revelation 7:9-17 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 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 dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Revelation 19:1-9 After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her." Again they said, "Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!" And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, "Amen! Alleluia!" Then a voice came from the throne, saying, "Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!" And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”
There are verses Matthew, Mark and Luke that are totally harmonious with the 6th and 7th seals being the rapture. The 6th seal will be the atmosphere of the earth giving way to the Lord coming in His glory and the 7th seal will be silence in heaven because of all that happens at the rapture.
Matthew 24:29-31 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Mark 13:24-27 "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.”
Luke 21:25-28 "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."(If Christians were not present, who would be being gathered and getting their redemption?)
Matthew 25:31-32 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.”
How do the 7 trumpets and 7 bowls of God's judgment and wrath relate to the 7 years?
The 7 trumpets and 7 bowls start after the rapture.
Revelation 8:2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
Revelation 8:4-5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.
The plagues of judgmentthat will follow the trumpets sounding are as follows:At the 1st trumpet, hail and fire mingled with blood are cast upon the earth resulting in 1/3rd of the trees and all grass being burned up. At the 2nd trumpet, something like a great mountain of fire will be cast down into the sea and 1/3rd of the seas will become like blood, 1/3rd of the living creatures of the seas will die, and the destruction of 1/3rd of all ships. At the 3rd trumpet, a great star called Wormwood will be cast upon 1/3rd of the rivers and the springs of water which will result in 1/3rd of the earth’s water becoming like bitter, wormwood and the deaths of many. At the 4th trumpet, the sun, moon and stars will be struck with darkness bringing 1/3rd less light to the day and night. At the 5th trumpet, demons like locusts will be loosed out of the bottomless pit to sting and torture people for 5 months but no one will be able to die yet. At the 6th trumpet, 4 special angels will be loosed to empower a 200 million man army to wipe out 1/3rd of mankind. And lastly, at the 7th trumpet, the lost will meet their final destruction (condensed from Revelation 8, 9 and 11).
The 7 bowls are called “the bowls of the wrath of God.”
Revelation 16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth."
The plagues from the bowls being poured out, are as follows: With the 1st bowl, foul and loathsome sores will come upon everyone who will have taken the mark of the beast and those who will have worshiped his image. With the 2nd bowl, the seas will turn to coagulated blood and all the living creatures of the sea will die. The 3rd bowl will completely affect all rivers and springs by turning them to blood for retribution of the blood they shed. With the 4th bowl, an angel will pour his bowl on the sun and men will literally get scorched with tremendous heat. The 5th bowl will be poured upon the beast's throne and kingdom, and darkness will come. People will be in so much pain that they will gnaw their tongues. The 6th bowl will cause what is left of the Euphrates river to dry up and help make the way for the kings from the east to go to Armageddon and lastly, with the 7th bowl all will be completed, including the judgment of the wicked.
While we do not have all the answers, the basics are clear as you can see by the chart below and you can read more about in detail of the various aspects on this website. Even if one were to still consider the last 7 years of this age, all tribulation, it would be closer to being correct than to say it is 7 years of wrath. The Lord's wrath really is for the wicked only and will only come upon them, after His children are raptured up and the 144,000 Jews are sealed. At the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon, all of the evil people who are still left alive, will be eradicated (Revelation 14:17-20, 19:21). All that has been prophesied of by the Lord (what we do and do not understand) will happen.
Closing thoughts help expose pre-tribulationism: If the rapture would happen at the beginning of the 7 years and the Holy Spirit be removed and people continue to be saved as pre-trib purports, then how can they explain people being saved without the conviction and leadership of the Holy Spirit and then being alive while God’s wrath is being poured out? Answer: Bad theology does not hold water. And the rapture will happen in the middle, preceded by 3 ½ years of tribulation and followed by 3 ½ years of God’s wrath.
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6
While we do believe in a mid tribulation rapture, we are not saying we know the day or the hour. The Lord makes it very clear that no one but the Father knows that. While we do believe it is at or near the middle of the last 7 years of this age, the Lord says that He has to cut the time short for the elect's sake in Matthew 24:22 and who knows the amount of time that will be?