Prophecy Sign 17: The Great Tribulation
Martyrdom of the Church and Jews
The Church and Israel will have a difficult time during the reign of terror of the Antichrist and the False Prophet. All out spiritual war commences when Satan will be cast out of heaven to this earth. We will be called to remain patient during this 3 ½ year period, which is a relatively short time. We are called to be faithful, keep his commandments and some will have the high privilege of being martyrs as they hold to their testimony of Jesus during the Great Tribulation.
THE GREAT TRIBULATION
REVELATION CHAPTER 6:6-17
THE GREAT TRIBULATION
The Fourth Seal
Donnie's Teaching Notes
We are now at the mid-point of Daniel's 70th Week. This midpoint will be marked by an event called the Abomination of Desolation; Antichrist will literally walk into the rebuilt Jewish Temple and proclaim himself to be God. See chart. Matthew describes the Abomination of Desolation below. This trigger event is the beginning of the Great Tribulation, which is comprised of the breaking of the fourth, fifth, and sixth seals on the Large Scroll. After the Abomination of Desolation occurs, the fourth seal will be broken. The fourth seal is a pale horse and rider, symbolizing disease and death.
Many critical events occur at this point which are not mentioned in Revelation 6, but are clearly referred to in other scriptures. These events include the following: Satan is cast out of heaven to earth (See Rev 12:12); Satan empowers the Antichrist (See Rev 13:12, 2 Thes 2:9); the Abomination of Desolation takes place (See Mt 24:15); Antichrist is revealed as he proclaims himself God in the newly built temple in Jerusalem (See 2 Thes 2:3); Antichrist breaks the covenant with Israel (See Dan 9:24); Mystery Babylon is destroyed (Rev 13:3-4, 8 17:6); Antichrist demands the worship of the world (See Rev 13:3,4); the Mark of the Beast – "666" - is introduced; and the beginning of the persecution of Israel (the woman) and the true church will take place (the rest of her offspring who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus) See Rev 12:17, Dan 12:1, Mt 24:20-23.
Matthew 24:9-15: “Then you (followers of Jesus) will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death (by Antichrist), and you will be hated by all nations because of me (believers will be persecuted for their faith).  At that time many will turn away from the faith (many will lose their faith) and will betray and hate each other,  and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold (Brother will betray brother to death. See Mt 10:21-23),  but he who stands firm to the end will be saved (those who stand with Christ will receive eternal salvation, either in death or through the Rapture).  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.  “So when you see standing in the holy place (the Jewish temple) ‘the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand—” (Daniel refers to the Abomination of Desolation in Daniel 9:24-27. Antichrist has been rising to world domination and is now at the height of his power. When Antichrist - the Abomination - enters the Jewish temple and proclaims himself God, the Great Tribulation will begin. See Daniel 11:31, 12:11. After this, death and martyrdom will follow.)
REVELATION 6: When the Lamb (Jesus) opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature (the fourth Cherubim) say, “Come!” (“Come Forth!”)  I looked, and there before me was a pale (Greek: Sickly Green) horse! Its rider was named Death (We are now at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week. It is at this point that Antichrist’s true character is revealed. Up until this point he has deceived many, beginning his rise to power as a peacemaker. However, after the Abomination of Desolation all pretense will disappear – Antichrist will reveal himself to be a man of Satan who seeks to destroy both Israel and the Church of Jesus Christ. It is at the time of the Great Tribulation that Antichrist’s campaign of death against Israel and believers will begin in earnest) and Hades was following close behind him. (Death or Hades are the only two available choices during the Great Tribulation. Those who refuse to take the mark of the beast will potentially forfeit their physical life = physical death. Those who accept the mark of the beast will definitely forfeit their eternal life = spiritual death, or Hades) They (Death and Hades) were given power over a fourth of the earth (There are two interpretations of this prophecy. The first view argues that widespread death will take the lives of up to 25% of the earth’s population. By today’s population of 6 billion, 1.5 billion would perish. The second view is that the initial sphere of influence of Antichrist will cover 1/4th of the earth, primarily in the Middle East. Daniel 2 and Ezekiel 38 tell us that the final beast’s empire will consist of peoples from modern day Iraq, Iran, Syria, Ethiopia, Libya, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia and Germany. These areas represent about 1/4th of the earth’s landmass) to kill by sword, famine and plague, (The undiluted persecution of the Antichrist now begins. It will be the last and worst wave of anti-Semitic and anti-Christian activity in the history of the world. Many will die due to war, starvation - because they cannot buy food without the mark of the beast - and disease. Note also that “plagues” may refer to modern day biological warfare) and by the wild beasts of the earth. (These are the names given to the Antichrist and the False Prophet in the Book of Revelation. See Rev. 13:2,11. They are beastly in character!)
The Fifth Seal
The fifth seal represents the martyrs of the Antichrist who have been slain because of their fidelity to Jesus Christ and His Word. The Great Tribulation is now in full force and fury!
Matthew 24:21-25:  For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again (the Great Tribulation!).  If those days had not been cut short (by Jesus' return), no one would survive (if the Great Tribulation was not cut short and left to run its course, the damage would be so severe that every believer on the earth would die), but for the sake of the elect (believers) those days will be shortened (Jesus will return for the remaining believers, bringing an abrupt end to the Great Tribulation).  At that time (during the Great Tribulation) if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it.  For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect (the faithful) – If that were possible.  See, I have told you ahead of time. (I am warning you, so be on guard and do not be deceived!).
REVELATION 6: When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar (The first mention of this altar which represents the altar of sacrifice in the temple. Instead of the animals’ blood at the base of the altar, John saw the souls of martyrs who had bled and died for Jesus. These martyrs lives are sacrifices offered to God) the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. (During Daniel’s 70th Week, many overcoming Christians will be martyred, for  refusing to deny the Word of God, and  holding firm to their powerful testimony of Jesus Christ. Antichrist, empowered by Satan, will have “great wrath” against the faithful saints during the Great Tribulation, because he knows his time grows short. See Rev 12:9-11. Remember, this time of Great Tribulation is not the time of God’s avenging wrath, because God has promised He will never pour out His wrath upon His children. See 1 Thes 5:9. Rather, it is the time of the wrath of Satan, who empowers Antichrist to destroy Israel and the Church. Antichrist will relentlessly and aggressively persecute, even martyr, many of God’s people who know and cling to the Word of God. See Rev 12:17. Scripture is filled with warnings to Christ’s Church regarding this time of persecution: Jesus warned persevering believers that they would face a terrible time of persecution, even martyrdom during the Great Tribulation [Mt 24:22]; the prophet Daniel pleaded for believers to be prepared for the Great Tribulation, not only for their own sakes, but for the sake of others as well [See Daniel 11:33, 12:3]. Only those who are wise will be able to see through the counterfeit signs and deception of the Antichrist and the False Prophet. Only those who are prepared will be able to give instruction to others on how to overcome. And we must be overcomers of the persecution and deception of Antichrist! See Rev 2,3)
10 They (the martyred) called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (The martyrs plead with God for His avenging wrath to fall on Antichrist. The fact that they are crying out for God’s vengeance is further evidence that God’s wrath has not yet begun) 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, (a symbol of righteousness) and they were told to wait a little longer, (they are to wait a little longer before God’s wrath and avenging judgment begins) until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed. (God has a set number of those who will be killed as Christian martyrs. These martyrs were told that still more would lose their lives for their belief in Christ. In the face of warfare, famine, persecution, and death, Christians will be called on to stand firmly for what they believe and be willing to “take up Jesus cross” and suffer martyrdom. See Matt 10:38. Jesus is telling the martyrs to wait until the Day of the Lord – the opening of the 7th Seal – for vengeance. Only then will God’s wrath be poured out upon the earth. The Day of the Lord will occur at some point known only to the Father, and will cut short the terrible days of the Great Tribulation and Antichrist’s persecution of believers. See Mt 24:22. The Day of the Lord will occur late within the second 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation.)
The Sixth Seal
The sixth seal is the prophetic sign that will be visible to the entire world and will proclaim that the end of the world is imminent. This sign of the end of the age is specifically a sign of hope for Jesus’ disciples, to let them know that God’s judgment, phase one, is at hand. The sixth seal consists of at least six unparalleled cosmic disturbances, indicating that the final period of Daniel’s 70th week - the Day of the Lord (God’s Wrath) - is about to begin. These cosmic disturbances are as follows: (1) Great Earthquake; (2) Solar Eclipse; (3) Red Moon; (4) Stars Fall from the Sky; (5) Sky Splits Apart; and (6) Mountains and Islands are destroyed.
Matthew 24:27-29  For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (everyone will see it).  Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. (One vulture circling overhead does not mean much, but a gathering of vultures means that a dead body is nearby. Likewise, one sign of the end may not be significant, but when many of these signs occur, the death of the age and the second coming is near.)
 Immediately after the distress of those days “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”
REVELATION 6: I watched as he (Jesus) opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake (The first sign of the imminent wrath of God – a violent and devastating earthquake. The worst earthquakes in the history of the world will plague the earth throughout Daniel’s 70th week. See Rev 8:5, 11:13,19 16:18.) The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair (The second sign – some type of solar eclipse, causing the sun to go dark for a period of time, or natural effects from ash) the whole moon turned blood red, (The third sign – moon goes dark blood in color and does not give its light)  and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. (The fourth sign – the stars no longer shine and it will appear as if the stars are falling from the sky. Joel 3:15 says the stars will lose their brightness. Before Jesus returns, the natural light sources will be turned off, plunging the earth into total darkness – perhaps even all electricity will give out at this time.)  The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, (The fifth sign – the sky itself will roll up like a scroll, perhaps ‘opening a window’ into the spiritual dimension, causing severe panic) and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (The sixth sign – Due to the earthquake, all the mountains and islands will be moved from their places. This cosmic disturbance is so severe that the entire planet may be knocked off its axis and out of its orbit. Isaiah wrote that “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.” See Isaiah 24:20)
Note that there is complete consistency in the Bible as to WHEN these signs will occur; the cosmic disturbances will occur immediately “after” the Great Tribulation, but “before “the great and terrible Day of the Lord begins.
Matthew 24:29: Immediately after the distress of those days (the Great Tribulation) 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' (Cosmic Disturbances)
Joel 2:31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood (Cosmic Disturbances) before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (The Day of the Lord)
This cosmic disturbance is the last prophetic sign that immediately precedes the Rapture of the Church. Believers who are alive on Earth at this time and have survived the ongoing, relentless onslaught of Antichrist, will be longing for this key cosmic sign. Why? Because when this sign appears, the persecution of God’s elect by Antichrist will be “cut short” or terminated by the Rapture. Believers will have great joy and expectancy knowing that when these cosmic disturbances occur, our “redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28
REVELATION 6: Then (immediately following the cosmic disturbances) the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. (The response of all unbelievers, no matter their position, will be to panic run to the mountains and hide. Isaiah wrote that “they shall go into the caves of the rocks, and into the holes of the earth, for the fear of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when he arises to shake the earth.” See Isa 2:19-21.)  They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne (God the Father) and from the wrath of the Lamb!” (Once the sixth seal is opened and the cosmic disturbances begin, everyone will recognize that the Wrath of the Lamb is about to commence.)
The Day of God’s Wrath is About to Begin
REVELATION 6: For the great day of their (God the Father and God the Son) wrath has come, (The Day of the Lord is on the verge of breaking forth; it is “imminent” and about to begin. Interestingly, the first time the word “wrath” occurs in the Book of Revelation is when John describes the opening of the 6th seal. Although the wrath of God is a major topic in the Book of Revelation, it is restricted to the trumpet and bowl judgments and is never used in connection with the first six seals, which represents the wrath of man and Satan, respectively. While the Bible clearly demonstrates that the church is exempt from the Wrath of God, (See 1 Thess 5:1-11) it is equally clear that we are not exempt from the affliction of Antichrist and the first six seals! The church is going to endure “the beginning of the birth pangs” and “the Great Tribulation” but will be delivered from God’s wrath or the Day of the Lord) and who can stand? (Unbelievers will be seeking hiding places in the mountains and caves to avoid His anticipated wrath.)