Signs of the End of the Age
Part 1 of 4 of this bible study
 
Is the GREAT TRIBULATION the same as THE DAY OF THE LORD?
  1 Thessalonians 5:9

Often the argument is used that the church is not going through the great distress because God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, as we can read in Thessalonians.
“9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

There is a difference between 'tribulation' and 'wrath'. The Christians have always been oppressed. Oppression remains the same whether it is large or not. Large only indicates the scale. What is the difference between being martyred in the first century to the testimony of Jesus, or being martyred for the same testimony in the last century?


1 Thessalonians 3:3

The persecuted in the past and those of the (near) future will all need Gods fellow-workers “to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, “so that no-one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.”
But is the day of His wrath then the same as "the Lord's day"?
To find out we compare a number of Bible passages .
We begin in 2 Thessalonians


2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

“ 2:1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”

Paul reassures the Thessalonians “ Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him ... that the day of the Lord has already come.”
Paul here clearly states the time of our being gathered with Jesus right at the beginning of the day the Lord. But he says, before that happens, the rebellion must occur and the man of lawlessness be revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

The prophet Daniel speaks also about that man of lawlessness.


Daniel 9:27

“ 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’. In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”


Daniel 11:31

And:
31 “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation."


Daniel 12:11

11 “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.”

The context of these verses (verse 24) shows that there is a period set which lasts 70 weeks. We can not look into this, but meant are annual-weeks. This means it is 70 weeks x 7 years = 490 years.
In that last year-week (7 year), “ the abomination that causes desolation” will occur. In that last year-week too the people of Israel will finish transgression, put an end to sin, and atone for wickedness. These last things will happen when Jesus comes back.

The ruler of a people that will come, says Daniel, will be in the middle of that last year-week will put an end to sacrifice and offering and he will be revealed as ‘the abomination that causes desolation’.

Jesus also cites Daniel in his speech on the last things:


Matthew 24:15,21

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’, spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--”....
“21 For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equalled again.”

So that time will last for three-and-a-half-years. The half of a year-week. Daniel speaks in this context about 1290 days. Thirty days more than 1260 days. Why? I still don’t know.
Those 1260 days are mentioned in Revelation as well.


Revelation 12:1-9, 12-14, 13:1-8

12:1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.
2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.
3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.
4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.
5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.

7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.
8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.
9 The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
’s reach.

"13:1 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.
2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.
3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.
4 Men worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshipped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”
5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months.
6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling-place and those who live in heaven.
7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."
The woman who gave birth to a male-child is Israel. The male-child is Jesus.
The first half of the last year-week were the last three and a half years that Jesus lived on this earth.
The last three and a half years are still to come.
Israel will be protected by God in the desert in those 1260 days. 1260 Days is 3 1/2 year. It is also a time, times and a half time. Verse 6 and 14 are telling the same story.
This same time we see to in Revelation 13. The beast will have 42 months power to utter proud words and blasphemies and conquer the saints.
This is the time of great distress. This is not “the day of the Lord”.
Before that day will occur there will be signs in the heavens.


Joel 2:31

“ 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.”


Isaiah 13:9-13

"9 See, the day of the LORD is coming--a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger--to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. 12 I will make man scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the LORD Almighty, in the day of his burning anger."

Signs on sun, moon and stars "I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. ..."
This is the "Lord's Day" (vs.9), the day of His burning anger.
If we compare these Bible passages, it appears that the Lord's day, the day of His wrath, comes after the signs at the Stars, Sun and Moon.
Matthew 24 shows that these signs are immediately after the tribulation.
29"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,"

Conclusion:
The "great tribulation" is NOT the same as the Lord's day".


Is the church going through the GREAT DISTRESS?

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

When we think over the previous texts it has to be clear that we Christians are destined for oppression, but God did not appoint us to suffer wrath. The day of his wrath will pass us.

Let us read again 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4.
2:1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers,
2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Paul mentions the coming of our Lord and our 'gathering' to Him in one breath with the coming of the day the Lord. This shows that the church is gathered at the dawn of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. The day of His wrath.
We already have seen that the dawn of the day the Lord is coming is after the end of the great oppression.

Let us read some more Bible parts to make the image clearer.
We begin with a few verses from Revelation.
The church will, once it is gathered, reign along with Jesus on earth.


Revelation 5:10

“ 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”


Revelation 1:6

“ 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”


Daniel 7:17-18

Daniel speaks about the same things.
“17 ‘The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.
18 But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it for ever--yes, for ever and ever.’”

It is not like that this goes without incidents. The believers will endure a lot of trouble before it happens.


Daniel 7:21

“ 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them,”


Revelation 13:7

That horn is the beast from Revelation 13. “ 7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them.”

Fortunately Daniel 7 shows that it is no permanent victory over the Saints. When Jesus comes He right the saints.
“18 But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it for ever--yes, for ever and ever.’”

In Revelation 20 we read again of people who will be king with Jesus. This is particularly talked about them coming from the great distress. (They didn't worship the beast nor his image.)
And then in verse 4b:


Revelation 20:4

“4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

Is the kingship then only for them who are beheaded?


Revelation 2:26-27

No, because Jesus says: “ 26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations--
27 ‘He will rule them with an iron sceptre; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’-- just as I have received authority from my Father.”


Revelation 3:21

And: “ 21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

Paul explains to the Corinthians that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. That’s why he says:


1 Corinthians 15:51-52

“51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--
52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

He explains the same to the Thessalonians:


1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

“15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever.”
It is thus clear that the church will be caught up and those who had died (in the Lord) will be resurrected. This is a resurrection.
If in Revelation 20:6 it is explicitly stated that at the beginning of the millennium (the thousand years of the Kingdom of God on earth) and after the great distress the "first resurrection" takes place, then that has to be the same as in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4.
Conclusion: The church will have to go through the great tribulation.

There is another point which makes it clear the church has to go through the great distress, whether we like it or not.
We just read in 1 Thessalonians that the Lord will come from heaven with the trumpet call of God.
In 1 Corinthians we read that Paul tells a mystery: At the last trumpet the dead will be raised imperishable, and we, who are living at that time, will be changed.

From Revelations 11:15 we know that this last trumpet is the seventh trumpet. When that trumpet sounds Jesus will come to the earth and be King. What is written in verse 11 is the same as what Jesus told in Matthew 24:29-30
“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. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”
And that’s exactly what the angels told to the disciples in Acts 1. “he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

With all of this it is not sure when that happens. Happily there is a clue. Jesus didn’t start the sentence in Matthew 24:29 with: “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light....” But He started that sentence with the words: “Immediately after the distress of those days...”

So, the last trumpet, and the resurrection, and our being gathered to Him, will all be at the same time. And that will be after the great distress (or also called: the great tribulation).

One of the things that gives confusion are the words: “the one who now holds him back” as used in
2 Thessalonians 2. We will look into that now.


“The one who now holds him back”
  2 Thessalonians 2:1-10

We read 2 Thessalonians 2 again.
2:1 “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers,
2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?
6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time.
7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.
8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,
10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

To understand what Paul is talking about, we have to ask ourselves some questions. These answers have to be answered by the bible, otherwise it remains guessing.

The subject is the man of lawlessness.

Question 1: Who is this man of lawlessness?

The answer is given in the same text. Although the NIV translation is not that clear as the KJV. The NIV says: the man doomed to destruction. The KJV says: the son of perdition. That is the son of satan. Satan brings also a son in this world, but to its nature, he will be an opponent of God.
The Son of God brings peace and eternal life and Jesus came to fulfill the law. (Matthew 5:17).
But the son of Satan will bring destruction and lawlessness.
His coming will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.(2 Thessalonians 2:9,10)
God's Son came exactly opposite.
He made no false miracles, but real wonders.
Jesus did not seductive iniquity, but He brought God's justice.

Question 2: From whom gets the son of satan his power

The answer is logical: from his father. Like father like son.


John 8:44

44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Jesus got His power from His Father when the Holy Spirit descend on Him like a dove.
Jesus was in the dessert for 40 days after that. Then, when John the Baptist was put in prison, Jesus began to preach the gospel of God. This was the first time He went public.

Satan will give the son of perdition his power. We see this in Revelation 13


Revelation 13:11-12

“Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.”

The beast had two horns LIKE the lamb, but he spoke like the dragon.
This is clearly an imitation of the Lamb, the Son of God, but the imitation was not perfect: the beast spoke as the dragon.
And this beast exercises all the power of the first beast before his eyes. The first beast is the fourth empire -the resurrected Roman Empire- that got his power from the dragon (the devil). (Revelation 12:9 and 13:4).
The imitation-lamb (the son of the devil) speaks as the devil and performs great miracles. (2 Thessalonians 2:9 and Revelation 13:13).

From Revelation 12 and 13 it shows that the son of perdition gets his power when the devil is removed from heaven. (Revelation 12: 9) (see also 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).

Here we see a parallel with the Son of God the Father: The Son of God received all
power when God opened the heavens and His Spirit, Who is one with God, sent to earth and declared with that being one with the Son.
The son of the devil will receive his power when his father, who himself is a spirit, comes from heaven to earth.
I believe that this parallel is not meant by the devil, but equally done the way it goes.

When we compare Bible with Bible it is clear that "he who now holds him back” is satan.

Again a parallel.
Jesus was thirty years on earth, but He was, as it were, held back by His Father, to act publicly with power.
The son of perdition will set himself in the temple to be known as a god. But he will not do that earlier than when his father is removed from heaven.
And then the great tribulation begins. That will last for three and half years.


Revelation 12:7-12

“7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.
8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.
9 The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”

How much time?


Revelation 12:13-14

“When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.”
That is 1260 days or 42 months. (Revelation 12:6 and 13:5).


Revelation 12:17

“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”


Revelation 13:7

“He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.”

This is the offspring of Abraham.


Romans 9:7-8

“Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”

In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.”

Paul speaks here about people who confess that Messiah (Christ) is the Lord.
The time of satans distress will be 3 1/2 year. (Compare Revelation 12:6, 12:14 and 13:15).

But this is not everything...

The GREAT DISTRESS is the end of an era. But it is not the end of everything!


Matthew 24:29-31

At the end of that tribulation Jesus is coming.
29 “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.’
30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.
31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

He will gather His elect.
The dead shall be resurrected, and we, if we are still alive at that moment, will be changed and from that time be together with Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
Then will happen what is foretold in Revelation 20:6. We who have part of that first resurrection will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him as kings, for thousand years.

A wonderful future.
When we stay focussed on Jesus and expect all our strength from Him, we will be given the strength we need to endure all that horrible things of the great tribulation.
He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can bear under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)).

Let us prepare spiritually to persevere in our faith in Him who loves us.


James 1:12

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”


2 Timothy 2:12

"if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us.”




Matthew 5:17

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.

2 Thessalonians 2:9,10

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,
10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Revelation 12:9 and 13:14

The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him

2 Thessalonians 2:9 and Revelation 13:13

And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men.. (Revelation 13:13). 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).

Revelation 12:6 and 13:5

The woman is Israel.The mail-child is Jesus. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:6). The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. (Revelation 13:5).

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever.

1 Corinthians 10:13)

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it..