The Tribulation – Setting the Stage

In the beginning, God created man and gave him dominion over the earth. When Adam sinned, he gave Satan control by a power of attorney. Later, during the reign of the infamous Nimrod, Satan began to organize the nations more effectively. Events that took place at the tower of Babel clearly show that Satan was in control of the people who would become the future nations. The word “Babylon,” which means the same as “Babel,” has become a Scriptural symbol for Satan’s evil kingdom.

When the apostle Paul wrote the book of Ephesians, he stated that Satan was well-organized and had a hierarchy of servants. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12, NKJV).

In the book of Daniel, he was praying for understanding; God sent the angel Gabriel to minister to him. Gabriel told Daniel that he would have been there sooner, but he was slow in coming because the prince of the kingdom of Persia had hindered him for twenty-one days (Dan. 10:13b). This prince was one of Satan’s lieutenants and seemed to be ruler over the nation, Persia. Satan may have assigned demonic leaders to each country on earth.

When Satan tempted Jesus, he offered to give Jesus the nations. “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matt. 4:8-10, NKJV).

From these verses, we see that Satan had control over the kingdoms of the world. Although defeated at the cross, He still controls the world’s kingdoms. But his time is short. This is the story of the Tribulation.

In the book of Daniel, we have reports of visions, which are more fully revealed in the book of Revelation. In the second chapter, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that Daniel interpreted for him. Daniel told him that he had dreamed of a great image with a head of gold, its chest and arms of silver, and its belly and thighs of bronze. It had legs of iron and feet partly mixed with iron and partly of clay.

“You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Dan 2:34-35, NKJV).

Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he represented the head of gold, that the silver represented an inferior kingdom, which would follow, and that the bronze represented a third kingdom, which would rule over all the earth. “And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. ‘Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragil” (Dan. 2:40-42, NKJV).

History has shown these kingdoms to have been Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greece, Rome, and a revived Roman Empire. We may be seeing the revived Roman Empire being rebuilt as the European Common Market.

Daniel continues with the interpretation. “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure” (Dan 2:44-45, NKJV).

In the seventh chapter of Daniel, Daniel also had a vision. In Dan 7:2, Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’ After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it (Dan 7:2-6, NKJV).

Some believe the first three beasts represent Babylon, Medo-Persian, and Greece. Others think they represent the modern nations of England, Russia and an alliance of Islamic states from Africa and the Middle Eastern Arabic states.

After these three beasts, Daniel saw another beast. “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words” (Dan 7:7-8, NKJV).

The horns represent power and kingdoms. Ten kingdoms that will control the whole world will come out of this beast. The little horn, which comes from among the ten kingdoms, is the world leader called the Antichrist.

Daniel continues, “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed”(Dan 7:11-14, NKJV).

In the seventeen chapter of Revelation, we are given a symbolic imagery of the kingdoms that the Antichrist will reign over during the tribulation period. Although Scripture is focusing on the destruction of his kingdom, we now have a better view of the first three and one-half years of The Tribulation.

We have in view two images of Babylon (called Mystery Babylon) – one is mystical, and one is authentic. John writes. “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So, he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (Rev 17:1-3, NKJV).

Let us now focus on the beast that the harlot sits upon. The implication is that the beast controls the harlot. The beast, the Antichrist, sits on many waters. Revelation 17:15 tells us that the waters are “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.”

The Antichrist obtains his power from the masses that desire a one-world government. The beast has seven heads. John continues to tell us their meaning. “Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition” (Rev 17:9-11, NKJV).

Some writers tell us that the seven heads represent Rome. However, the angel’s interpretation says that they are seven sequential kings or kingdoms, and the beast is the eighth, which comes out of the seventh kingdom.

Some writers have interpreted this vision as being the six emperors of Rome with the seventh being the head of the revived European Common Union. The Bible clearly states that the beast will be the eighth and will come out of the seventh. Others see these seven kingdoms as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Revised Roman Empire. The beast’s ten horns represent the ten kingdoms of the world that will be under his control.

We will look at the abominations later, but now we see that the Antichrist enters into a peace treaty with Israel, and then breaks it after three and one-half years. Near the end of Daniel chapter twelve, Daniel wanted to know more about the events to come.

However, God had other plans. “Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished. Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, ‘My lord, what shall be the end of these things?’ And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Dan 12:7-9, NKJV).

In the first chapter of Revelation, the Glorified Christ appeared to John and told him to write about “what was,” “what is,” and “what will be.” Beginning with the fourth chapter of Revelation, John is taken up into heaven to witness the things that Daniel was not allowed to see. Those details, which were sealed for Daniel, are now revealed to John. Beginning with the fifth chapter, God begins to execute His plan for the final destruction of Satan’s evil empire.

Details for the above will be given in the detailed commentaries. It is important that you understand the background and outlines before we begin looking at the details of the Tribulation.

You should now return to the chapter outlines of Revelation.

Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

To return to the previous menu click the windows backspace arrow in the upper left corner. To return to the site menu click; return to site.

Now just click on the following to study the details of the Great Tribulation: