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The massive loss of life due to warfare and the resulting famines and disease epidemics is followed by the great tribulation.

The Fifth Seal – The Great Tribulation

Revelation 6:9-11 (NIV): "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.  They 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?  Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow-
servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed."

Here symbolically pictured at the altar in God's temple are the saints of God who had been martyred in His service throughout history and had stuck to God's ways and had not denied Him when persecuted.  They are waiting for God's judgment in the Day of the Lord on those who hate Him and His servants.  But they are told to wait a little longer because another martyrdom of God's faithful servants is just about to take place.

The details about this martyrdom during the great tribulation were provided by Jesus Christ in His discussion with His disciples about His second coming.  In Matthew 24 also it follows in time sequence after deception through false religion, war, famines and pestilences, just like the first four seals.

Matthew 24:9-12 (NKJV): "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.  And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.  Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.  And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold."

Further in Matthew 24:15-16, 21 (NKJV) Jesus echoed Daniel's prophecy: "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those that be in Judea flee to the mountains...For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be."

Clearly this martyrdom of the members of God's Church takes place during the Great Tribulation.  The sixth seal leaves no doubt about the time sequence of the Great Tribulation.  The events of the sixth seal come immediately after the events of the fifth seal.  Revelation 6:12-17 (NKJV): "I watched as he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake....For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

The 'great day of His wrath' is also identified in many prophecies as 'the Day of the Lord' or the Lord's Day.  It is the last one year of the three-and-a-half year long Great Tribulation.  So the fifth seal is definitely talking about the Great Tribulation that follows the world war of the first four seals.

Prophecies about the Great Tribulation

The book of Revelation puts the Great Tribulation in time sequence as just explained.  It does not provide any further details about the Great Tribulation except for the last one year known as the Day of the Lord.  Revelation 1:10 ("I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day...") shows that the book of Revelation is mainly about the Day of the Lord.  So we would expect details about the first two-and-a-half years of the great tribulation to be sketchy in
Revelation.  However, the prophets in the Old Testament and the apostles in the New Testament have provided us ample details so that we can get a clear picture of the events leading up the Great Tribulation and during it.

First of all, the Great Tribulation is of three-and-a-half years' duration.  This is revealed in Daniel 12:1, 6-7,11 (NKJV): "At that time Michael [the archangel] shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.  And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book...Verses 6-7: "And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?"  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...Verse 11: "And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days."  The extra thirty days here include the 30 days of final war in which Israel is defeated and enslaved.

In prophecy, 'time' represents one year, 'times' represents two years and 'half-a-time' represents half-year.  So time, times and half-a-time represents a three-and-half year duration.  The three-and-a-half year duration is also confirmed by Revelation 11:1-2(NKJV): "Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod.  And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God...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 shall tread the holy city [Jerusalem] underfoot for forty-two months."

Forty-two months here represent the three-and-a-half years of the great tribulation when Jerusalem is taken over completely by non-Jewish people.  Since the 42 months equal 1260 days, it means that each month is taken to be of 30 days duration in God’s calendar.

The fact that the Day of the Lord is of one year duration is derived from the 'day-for-a-year' principle in Numbers 14:34 (KJV): "After the number of the days in which you searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall you bear your iniquities, even forty years."  It is also given in Ezekiel 4:6 (KJV): "...lie again on your right side, and you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days:  I have appointed you each day for a year."

When the 'day-for-a-year' principle is applied, the 'Day' of the Lord means it will be of one year duration.

Before giving a detailed description of the events that lead to the Great Tribulation, and during the three and a half years of the Great Tribulation itself, let’s take a summary look at all the prophetic events that will be fulfilled.

1)  The three and a half year long Great Tribulation is a time of trouble for Physical Israel – USA, British Commonwealth nations and the Jewish state of Israel; and spiritual Israel, which is God’s Church.   Daniel 12:1 calls it a time of trouble for his [Daniel’s] people, meaning Israel: “1 "At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.”

Jeremiah 30:5-7 calls it a “time of Jacob’s [patriarch Israel’s original name] trouble.”  Daniel 12:7 states: “…and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.”  This means that all the prophecies will be fulfilled when the power of the holy people, meaning God’s Church, is completely shattered.  And that can take place only when at least a part of God’s Church suffers through the Great Tribulation, and its work of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God is completely stopped when the two witnesses of Revelation 11 are killed.  It is a time of trouble when both physical and spiritual Israel are hated by all nations in the world (Matthew 24:9) and persecuted.

2)  The Great Tribulation is inflicted on physical and spiritual Israel at the hands of a leader in Europe variously called the Beast (in Revelation 13, 17, 19:20), King of the North in Daniel 11, in league with a great religious leader called the False Prophet in Revelation 19:20 and a Beast in Revelation 13:11-18 whose number is 666.  

The false prophet heads the Church based in Rome, also called the ‘Whore of Babylon’ in Revelation 17.  The combined system headed by the Beast and the False Prophet is known as the Babylonian military, civil, political and religious system in Revelation 18, and will be the seventh resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire. The religious beast causes people to receive the “mark of the beast.”

3)  The political and military leader called the beast [which other prophecies indicate will be a German] rises “up out of the sea” in Revelation 13:1-9 and power is given to him “to continue forty and two months,” that is, three and a half years of the Great Tribulation.   Waters are a symbol for many nations and a sea is a symbol of troubled areas.  An important key to understanding prophecy is that the Bible interprets its own symbols.  The
interpretation of waters is given in Revelation 17:15; “15 Then he said to me, "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.”

The German political and or military leader will have the full support of ten rulers.  He may actually appoint these rulers himself.  This is prophesied in Revelation 17:12-13: “12 And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.”  Receiving authority for one hour refers to a short time.

4)  Sometime before the forces of the Beast, in alliance with Islamists (Psalm 83), attack the USA, British Commonwealth nations and the State of Israel, Jews in Jerusalem will institute animal sacrifices.  Matthew 24:15 (NKJV) states: “15 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand)…”  Daniel 9:27 (NKJV) states: “27 Then he shall
confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.  [Till here the prophecy is discussing Jesus Christ.  But then it changes to one who makes desolate who will stop the sacrifices]. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate."  And 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (NKJV)
describes this being who will make desolate.  It says: “3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

This man of sin, also known as the False Prophet, will start claiming that he is ‘God.’  The Jews have only to start animal sacrifices on the Temple Mount.  They don’t have to build a temple to fulfill this prophecy.  The beast and the false prophet could set up the image of the beast and also quickly build a temple in months to fulfill this prophecy.

After the great World War but before the final attack of the combined forces of the Beast and the Islamists on the Americans, the British and the Israelis, certain prophecies will be fulfilled.  These are as follows.

a)  The pope of the Roman Church will start working miracles with the power of Satan at some stage and the Roman Catholic world will be energized and bewitched and would be more willing to obey all his commands.

b)  The pope will explain his plans to the world that he plans to set up an idol or image in Jerusalem [to honor the Beast, or as a symbol of the “Holy Roman Empire” perhaps like Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s image (Denial 2)] which must  be worshipped, and that the world worship on Sunday and not on the Sabbath day.  This is a demand to set the stage for persecution of God’s true Church that does not worship idols and worships on the Sabbath day and not on Sunday in complete obedience to all of God’s Ten Commandments, and also to enforce the Roman Church’s religion on the world. He will label God’s true Church a cult and ask the world to persecute and eliminate the Church.

c)  An alliance of Islamic nations, mainly Arabs and Turks, will also be forming.  At this point a military dictator might have emerged in the Islamic world but not necessarily.  This Islamic dictator in prophecy is called the 'King of the South.'  The nations in this Islamic alliance are mentioned in Psalm 83:1-8 (their modern identity is discussed later).  These nations will be allied with Assyria, or modern Germany.  Occupation of Jerusalem along with the Roman Church will be one of their goals because of the Christian and Islamic 'holy places'.

Remember don’t expect all this to be taking place right now though the groundwork for it is being laid.  It will take place after the Third World War has begun and famine and disease conditions have already wiped out one fourth of mankind.  These events can take place in a matter of months to administer the deathblow to the American, British and Jewish alliance. In fact, the actual war will last only 30 days as described later.

d)  To force the Jews in Jerusalem to comply with the pope's demands to let him set up the image in Jerusalem [most probably on the Temple Mount], the forces of the European military dictator along with his Muslim and Catholic alliance partners will most likely lay an economic siege to the state of Israel, America and British Commonwealth nations.  This economic siege may last for 390 plus 40 days as indicated in Ezekiel 4:1-17.  This will cause famine conditions in these countries.  These famine and disease conditions will kill one third of the Jewish population in Israel.  The Jews may then begin negotiations with the pope, the beast and the Islamic leader to allow the pope to set up the idol in Jerusalem, and allow the Islamic leader to set up his religious regional headquarters in Jerusalem.  But the plans of the Beast, the pope and their alliance partners are to launch a final attack on the USA/Britain/Israel alliance, defeat them militarily and make them captive slaves.

e)  At this time, ten rulers in Europe make a decision to give all their power and authority to the Beast.  These may not actually be ten existing rulers, but may be appointed as rulers by the European Community over ten regions in Europe carved out of member nations.  These rulers could even be appointed immediately after the military victory over the American, British and Jewish alliance.  They give their total allegiance to the beast and put all their power at his disposal.

5)  To force the Jews in Israel to submit to the pope’s and Islamic demands, they send armies to surround Israel.  End of the end time events kick into the highest gear when Jerusalem [or Israel] is surrounded by armies as stated in Luke 21:20-21 (NKJV): “20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 for these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.”

6)  A few months earlier, most likely after the pope has started working miracles, the two witnesses will have begun their prophesying as described in Revelation 11:3-4: “3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.”  They are also mentioned in Zechariah 4:3,

7)  Soon after the two witnesses start their prophecy, and the false prophet has asked the world to persecute God’s Church, the two witnesses will give the signal to the Church to gather in one place, most likely Jerusalem.  The Church will have approximately 45 days to gather from around the world.  Actually this gathering may not be dependent on human efforts.  The prophecy in Matthew 24:40-42 leads us to believe that the gathering together
in one place will be done by God Himself.  The verses state: “40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”  It seems that one person will be taken to the place of safety by God [and not by human effort] while the other is left.

In addition Revelation 12:14 (“14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”) indicates that God will help His Church to flee as He helped ancient Israel at the time of the exodus from Egypt.  Deuteronomy 32:11-12 describes how God bore ancient Israel as an eagle bears her young on her wings.

8)  While God’s Church is being gathered in one place, the False Prophet will be working to take control of Jerusalem.  And the European (German) Beast’s forces along with their Islamic allies have now surrounded Israel to take over full control.  Because of the devastating famine conditions, the Jews have agreed to allow the False Prophet to set up his idol in the holy place in the Temple Mount.  At the end of 45 days, the False Prophet or his representatives and forces cause the Jewish daily sacrifices to cease and may install a temporary (or may have been already making preparations to install a large permanent idol or image) idol and begin sacrificing on the altar.  This is the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Daniel the prophet as Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24:15.

9)  Once the idol or image is set up, events kick up in the highest gear and there is no time to lose for God’s Church gathered at Jerusalem.  They have only 30 days to flee to the place of safety.  The Church begins fleeing to the place of safety prepared by God for her.  This is when Matthew 24:15-16 will be fulfilled: “15 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”  Clearly the place of safety will be a mountainous area.

10)  When God’s Church has completed its flight to the place of safety, the German Beast and his Muslim (Psalm 83 shows who all will be allied in this cause) and other allies worldwide attack the USA and British Commonwealth nations and the Jewish state of Israel.  They do not use nuclear weapons on the state of Israel because the False Prophet or his representatives are already in Jerusalem and are in the process of establishing their world
headquarters there.  And the Islamists are also seeking control of their holy places in Jerusalem.

11)  Within 30 days, the American, British and Jewish alliance has been militarily defeated (Hosea 5:7).  The Philadelphian members of God’s Church have fled/been taken to the place of safety, but the Laodicean, lukewarm, members have been left in the world to prove their loyalty to God and His way of life by facing Satan’s wrath during the 1,260 days of the Great Tribulation.  These 1,260 days begin after the 30 days it took to defeat the American, British and Jewish alliance.

12)  The False Prophet, called “man of sin” and “son of perdition” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 exalts himself and sets himself up (probably his throne) in the temple in Jerusalem and claims that he is God.  2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 states: “3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

13)  When Satan sees that his forces have won control of the world, and now he has only a very short time left [the 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation], he and his army of demons mount up to God’s throne in heaven to attack and try to dethrone God.  This is when Revelation 12:7-17 is fulfilled: “7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”  Satan and his forces are defeated and cast back to the earth.

14)  Satan now is enraged with God’s Church because its members are the only ones on earth who remain loyal to God and His way of life.  But he is also set on taking vengeance on the entire earth and God’s creation on it.  He moves to fulfill remainder of Revelation 12:12-16 which state: “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." 13
Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away
by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.”

The entire earth will now face Satan’s wrath because he has only a very short time left as ruler of the earth. His first target, of course, is God’s Church.  He first sends out a Flood (Remember waters are a symbol for people.  So this flood represents armies of many nationalities allied with the beast and the false prophet) to destroy God’s Church that has already fled to the place of safety.  But the earth helps God’s Church by opening up and
swallowing these armies alive.

15)  Since Satan could not destroy members of God’s Church who have fled, his next highest priority target is the Laodicean [lukewarm] members of God’s Church who are left in the world to go through the Great Tribulation.  That is the meaning of Revelation 12:17 (NKJV): “17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring [KJV renders this phrase “the remnant of her seed” implying that their number will be smaller than those who will be in the place of safety], who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  This persecution will continue throughout the Great Tribulation, resulting in martyrdom of many, perhaps all Church members in the world who remain loyal to God.

Following scriptures indicate this martyrdom.  Matthew 24:9 (NKJV) states: “9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.”  Revelation 6:9-11 states; “9 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. 10 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?" 11 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.”

16)  Satan is permitted to scatter [or shatter as translated in the NKJV] the power of God’s Church for 3 ½ years as stated in Daniel 12:7 when Daniel asked the angel for the duration of these events: “…it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the  power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.”

17)  Because of holding on to God’s truth, persecution of Laodicean members of God’s Church who are in the world is intense and the Church is hated in all nations.  Matthew 24:9 (NKJV) states: “9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.” As mentioned earlier, this hatred by all nations is also directed at the American, British and Jewish slaves, because when Jesus used the pronoun ‘you’, He meant the disciples who would soon become members of God’s Church and were physical Israelites as well.

18)  Because of the intense persecution, abuse, mistreatment and martyrdom, borne of deep hatred, many in God’s Church (the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 indicates this number to be about 50%) will become offended against God and compromise with the beast and false prophet.  They then begin to hate their fellow brethren who choose to remain loyal to God and begin to betray them to the authorities.  Their love for the
brethren begins to grow cold.  Those that have infiltrated the Church will also begin to betray members.  This is prophesied in Matthew 24:10-13: “10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Some loyal Laodicean members will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, family and friends as prophesied in Luke 21:16 (NKJV): “16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death.”

19)  The turning away of 50% of Laodiceans from the Church is referred to as falling away from the truth.  This is prophesied in 2 Thessalonians 2:3: “2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (NKJV) states: “3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first…” and in 1 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV): “1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and
doctrines of demons…”

20)  American, British and Jewish captives are sold as slaves around the world.  Ultimately only 1/10th of them will come out alive through the Great Tribulation.  In contrast, probably most if not all of Laodicean members of God’s Church will be martyred during the Great Tribulation.

Now let’s look at these prophecies in greater detail.

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