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August 28, 2019

Tribulation Revival

Passage: Ezekiel 38:11-23
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During my childhood in Michigan we had some very heavy snow storms when the mountains of fluffy white snow in places would be over our heads. One of us kids would climb up to the top of an especially high pile of snow and, standing tall, proclaim himself to be “King of the Mountain”. The rest of the kids would take up the challenge and try to climb up the pile and pull the “King” down, and then someone else would scramble up to claim the coveted position of honor.

In studying Bible prophecy I discovered that the Antichrist will have the same problem. With his charismatic energy and satanic backing he will be able to not only gain control of the revived Roman Empire, but also convince the entire world of his ability to offer the peace and prosperity they say they desire. He even promises to protect Israel from their enemies, makes Jerusalem his headquarters, and allows temple worship with animal sacrifices. The Jews are convinced that this powerful, friendly leader must be their Messiah. They set aside their emphasis on military preparedness and dedicate themselves entirely to fulfilling all the sacrifices and offerings they had not been able to perform for centuries.

However, envy soon grips the Southern Confederacy (Ethiopia and Libya) and seeing that Israel was rich and at ease they decide to attack. When Antichrist rushes to stave off the southern confederacy that is challenging his ability to protect Israel, the northern confederacy (Russia and Iran) move their armies south to annihilate weakened Israel and take the spoil. When Antichrist is free to move north and face the northern challenge he discovers that a horrendous earthquake in the mountains of north Israel had annihilated most of the armies from the north and provoked the remaining armies to slay each other over their greed to loot the riches of Israel.

Ezekiel 38:11-12 “And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places [that are now] inhabited, and upon the people [that are] gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.”

Eze 38:18-23 “And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, [that] my fury shall come up in my face. For in my jealousy [and] in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; … and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that [are] with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.”

Such an earthquake and great hailstones had to be the hand of God, but why would God defend the Antichrist and help him stay in power by destroying his biggest foe? We could also ask ourselves, “Why did God wait until the Jordan was overflowing its banks before telling Israel to cross over to the other side?” Because God is a great God and the greater the miracle, the greater glory He receives.

Also, why did God harden Pharoah’s heart to not let Israel leave Egypt? The reason is made very clear by the Hebrew words used. During the first seven plagues we read that Pharoah hardened his heart (cabod – made heavy- not want to lose his slave labor). But for Pharaoh to remain firm during the last three plagues and the audacious attempt to drive his chariots between the walls of water in pursuit of Israel required that God strengthen (hazak) Pharaoh’s heart by giving him courage to do what he wanted to do so that God’s great power would be made manifest in drowning Pharaoh, his horses, his chariots, and his army as they followed the Israelites between the huge walls of water, proving to skeptics even now how deep the Red sea was at that time and place.

So also God will wipe out the huge northern confederacy because it is essential that Antichrist, “the willful king,” have the power to sit as god in the Holy of Holies. This destruction of the armies of the northern confederacy is not the battle of Armageddon because at this time Israel is living in complete peace and safety under the protection of their false messiah who has not yet broken his promise to protect them. Armageddon will occur at the close of the great tribulation when Antichrist pours out his full wrath on Israel in his attempt to annihilate the Jews and Jesus returns to earth with His saints to establish His Millennial Kingdom.

Antichrist’s power is greatly enhanced by the destruction of the armies of the southern and northern confederation. He now feels that his power is great enough and Israel is weak enough so it was time to break his covenant and proclaim himself to be god and set his image in the Holy of Holies. He knew the Jews would not tolerate idolatry and he could respond with their total annihilation.

2Thess.2:4 “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.”
Rev. 13:14-15 “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted [power] to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed).”

To facilitate the destruction of Jews as well as any people who have become Christians, Antichrist orders that all men must accept the mark of the beast on their right hand or forehead or be killed.

Rev. 13:16 “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,.”

The Great Tribulation years will be the years of greatest suffering and death of any time this world has ever seen. Most of the people who enter the Tribulation week will die before those years are over, either martyred by Antichrist or slain by special angels appointed by God.

Rev. 6:8 “So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”
Rev. 9:15 “So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.”

This time of great tribulation will also be a time of great spiritual harvest. Of the hundreds of thousands of Jews that receive Jesus as their Messiah, 144,000 will be commissioned and sealed by God to take the gospel to every tribe and nation. Also God will send two special witnesses to earth to fulfill a miraculous worldwide witness of the gospel.

Rev. 7:3-4 “Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”
Rev.11:3 “And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”

During this time of great suffering these witnesses will see many turn to Christ, both Jews and Gentiles.

Rev 7:9 and 14 “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,”
Rev 7:14 "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

We don’t like trials, but they can be very beneficial spiritually.” In James 1:2-4 God gives us this marvelous encouragement:

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Phillips gives us an interesting paraphrase of James 1:2-3: “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance.”

Imprisoned Russian Pastors usually lacked food, warm clothing, blankets, mattress, family news etc., but always had only one prayer request, NOT that they might be released, but that they might be faithful.

The path to spiritual maturity is lined with a great variety of trials. Don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends, knowing that God sends them to us to produce spiritual maturity.

The Great Tribulation reminds us also of the wickedness of the heart of man in his rebellion against God.

Rev 16:8-9 – “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.”

They cursed God because of the heat, but refused to repent of their wicked rebellion against God. Do you think anybody in hell is repenting? Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar in Luke 16. Lazarus died and went to a place of comfort and blessing. The rich man died and went to a place of torment. He asked Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his five brothers about that place of torment.

By requesting that Lazarus be sent back from the dead to warn his brothers he was implying that he was not given sufficient warning. Also, he does not repent of his years of rebelling against God, he just blames God for sending him there. In hell nobody repents, they just blame God for giving them what they themselves choose when they reject God’s rule over their life.

Footnote: What will the Great Tribulation really be like?
A brief summary of some of the horrible catastrophes that will occur during the Great Tribulation

1. A third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
Rev 8:7 – The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
2. A third of oceanic life is destroyed.
Rev 8:8 – And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
Rev 8:9 – And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
3. A third of fresh water life is destroyed.
Rev 8:10-11 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
Rev 8:11 – And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
4. A third of the celestial bodies are affected.
Rev 8:12-13 – And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
5. Men are tormented for 5 months by demonic creatures. Rev. 9:1-12 (Brief Summary)
Swarms of locusts that sting like scorpions to hurt those who have not the seal of God on their foreheads. Men shall seek death and cannot find it.
6. A third of mankind is killed. Rev. 9:13-21 Only vss.15,20,21
Rev 9:15 – And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
Rev 9:20 – And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
Rev 9:21 – Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
8. All oceanic life is destroyed and shipping stopped.
Rev 16:3 – Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead [man] (coagulated); and every living creature in the sea died.
9. Fresh water supplies turned to blood
Rev 16:4 – Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
10. Intensity of the sun increased.
Rev 16:8 – Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.
Rev 16:9 – And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.

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