The Tribulation


“It is believed that John and Mary [the mother of Jesus] came to Ephesus and that John became the leader of the Church at Ephesus. Eventually, he was captured in a persecution campaign by the Roman Emperor Domitian and was ultimately banished to Patmos (Revelation 1:9-10) in 95 AD” (Source: Google Summary).

While on the Island of Patmos, John has a visual of the risen Christ and the details of what is in the Book of Revelation.

In the Book, the Tribulation covering seven years is presented in chapters six through nineteen.

The timing of events revealed is essential to understand Revelation’s structure. In the first chapter, Jesus gave John the order of His revelation. “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this” (Rev. 1:19, NKJV).

The first three chapters relate to The Church, and beginning with the fourth chapter, John is taken to heaven for events around the Throne of God. Note: This is the beginning of “things which will take place after this.”

The last three chapters cover the return of Jesus to the Mount of Olives, the Battle of Armageddon, the act of placing the Antichrist and False Prophet into the lake of fire in hell, the confinement of Satan and his demons to the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him; renovation of war-torn earth; setting of the Millennial Kingdom on earth; and Eternity.

An understanding of this Book has been progressive over the Church Age. The early Church believed the Tribulation would be part of the Church Age. For many years, many thought the Tribulation occurred with the early persecution of the Church under the Roman Empire.

They did not see Israel as part of the Tribulation as The Church believed that God had rejected Israel and nullified the Old Testament promises – because the Jews rejected their Messiah and crucified Him. Many of the early church writers spiritualized Old Testament prophecies. Therefore, the history of understanding the Book of Revelation has evolved over the years.

There is still a difference of opinion among church groups.

As background for the study of the Tribulation, I will summarize all the chapters of Revelation below. This will give you an overview of the entire book. Only chapters four through nineteen will be detailed later.

All the tribulation verses relate to the seven seal judgments of God. The seventh seal judgment opens and presents seven trumpet judgments. The seventh trumpet judgment opens and shows the seven bowl judgments. In each judgment, God’s fury becomes more intense and destructive.

Some interlude chapters add background and details to the individual judgments. They are mixed into the sequence of the chapters. You may have one or more judgments and then one or more interlude chapters. We will explain this as we move forward.

The Book of Revelation is not always in chronological sequence – especially the interlude chapters. This has made it different to divide the Tribulation into two parts – the first three and one-half years and the last three and one-half years. It also makes it difficult to get a clear mental picture of the entire Book.

I am also aware that readers of this forum have different levels of understanding of the materials. Therefore, some of the writings will appear to be redundant. If you understand what is being detailed, then scan and move on. I will use sub-modules to explain some of the details so as not to clutter the flow of the main themes.

For those who would like to review the background I have presented, please click “The Tribulation – Setting the Stage.” This will take you to a sub-module for background information and bring you back.

I will build the presentation using outlines until I do the detailed chapter commentaries. We must keep the outlines in mind as we study the details, or we will quickly become confused and lost.

Summary of the chapters of Revelation

Note: this narrative is only a summary of highlights of each chapter. We will discuss the details in the commentary section.

Note: the first three chapters were events related to the glorified Christ and the churches at the time John had his vision – “things which you have seen, and the things which are.”

Chapter One – The Appearance of the Glorified Christ to the Apostle John. Jesus instructed John on how to interpret what he was seeing and would be seeing. He was told to write what he saw and experienced.

Chapter Two – Letters to the Churches at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira. These letters have personal messages to the churches of Asia, warnings to all churches, and seem symbolic of the state of churches at a specific time during Church history.

Chapter Three – Letters to the Churches at Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. The same messages continue.

Note: In the remaining chapters, we have events related to the Last Days. At this time, the Church will have been raptured (See I Thess. 4:13-18 and I Thess. 5:1-11.) John moved to heaven in chapter four to observe the events of the tribulation and end of time events.

Chapter Four – The scene shifts to heaven and the Throne of God. John is invited to view events from heaven, and a description is given of the Throne Room and those around the Throne. All events of the Tribulation will be directed from the Throne.

Chapter Five – The book of seals is presented, and Christ is the only one worthy to open it. There is universal worship of Jesus, the Creator and Savior of mankind.

Chapter Six – Christ opens the first six seals: (1) Rider on a white horse, (2) Rider on a red horse, (3) Rider on a black horse, (4) Rider on a pale horse, (5) Prayers of the martyred saints and (6) God pouring out his wrath on the people. The first five seals reflect the actions of the Antichrist and the chaos he creates on Earth. Beginning with the sixth seal, God will pour His wrath on the earth. This action by God has resulted in most prophecy scholars believing that the fifth seal ends the first three and half years and the sixth seal begins the second half of the tribulation known as the “Great Tribulation.” Others believe that the second half of the tribulation begins with the seventh trumpet judgment. We will discuss this in the chapter commentary.

Chapter Seven – This chapter is parenthetical and serves as an interlude between the sixth and the seventh seals. It covers the sealing of a remnant of Israel, and many redeemed Gentiles. God then turns to a remnant of the Jews to lead evangelistic activities during the Tribulation.

Chapter Eight – This chapter presents the seventh seal, which introduces the seven trumpet judgments. The first four trumpet judgments are presented: (1) burning trees, (2) seas become blood, (3) fresh water becomes bitter, (4) the sun, moon and stars are smitten.

Chapter Nine – This chapter describes the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments. The fifth trumpet judgment begins with a star falling – who is Satan. He will be given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. Locusts will come out of the Abyss and will be given power like that of scorpions. The sixth trumpet judgment begins with the release of two hundred million mounted troops who will kill many of the people.

Chapter Ten – This chapter is also parenthetical and is an interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgments. This chapter has a vision of John eating a little book that an angel gave him. This is symbolic of feeding upon the word of God.

Chapter Eleven – The first part of this chapter is an interlude. This interlude covers (1) the date for the ending of “The Times of the Gentiles,” (2) the duration of the prophesying of the two witnesses, and (3) the doom of the second woe–great earthquake. This chapter also presents the seventh trumpet judgment, opening the seven bowls judgments.

Chapter Twelve – This chapter is parenthetical and is an interlude chapter. It covers six great performers during the tribulation. They are (1) the woman, (2) the red dragon, (3) the child of the woman, (4) Michael, the Archangel, warring with the Dragon, (5) the Dragon persecuting the woman, and (6) the remnant of Israel. The stage is being set for the final act – the destruction of Satan’s kingdom. During this time, the Antichrist will turn against Israel, and Israel will suffer great persecution during the last three and one-half years. Much of this chapter is symbolic and has been misinterpreted in the past.

Chapter Thirteen – This chapter serves as an interlude chapter. It presents the beast (the antichrist) of the sea – political and religious Babylon. Here, we will see the final days of the rule of the Antichrist – intense and can be confusing. Much of it is symbolic; we will detail it in the commentary.

Chapter Fourteen – This is also an interlude chapter. It focuses on the events leading to the end of the Great Tribulation. It covers (1) a picture of the Lamb with the 144,000, (2) a proclamation of the everlasting gospel, (2) an angel’s announcements, and (3) the harvest judgments. The final verses are a preview of Armageddon.

Chapter Fifteen – This chapter covers the preparation for the seven bowl judgments of the wrath that God to be poured out from heaven.

Chapter Sixteen – This chapter presents the seven bowl judgments. They are: (1) sores fall upon the men who have the mark of the beast, (2) the sea will become blood and every living creature in the sea dies, (3) rivers and springs will become blood, (4) men will be scorched with fire, (5) the earth will be filled with darkness, and people will gnaw their tongues because of the pain, (6) the waters of the river Euphrates will dry up and (7) there will be a great earthquake and hail from heaven.

Chapter Seventeen – Religious Babylon, representing the great apostate church, will be destroyed.

Chapter Eighteen – The great political kingdom of Babylon is destroyed.

Chapter Nineteen – Marriage of the Lamb and the Return of Christ in Judgment.

Chapter Twenty – The Millennial Kingdom of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment.

Chapters Twenty-one and Twenty-two – Entrance into Eternity. A new heaven and a new earth.

Detail Commentaries of the Tribulation

Note: These commentaries are being written and will be available later. Come by in January.