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Preparing For The Tribulation

 

In these days when we hear of anxiety in Egypt and Israel and loss of American influence, we tend to relate to the “end of days.”

2 Tim 3:1-5 shows us that we are living in the last days:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. {2} People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, {3} without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, {4} treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- {5} having a form of godliness but denying its power.

In Mat 24:3 Jesus tells his disciples of the end of the age:

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

Mat 24:21-22 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. {22} If those days are not cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

How many can personally relate to what the tribulation will be and what can we do to lessen its impact on our lives? It is to be the most trying period in the history of man - when first man, then God himself initiates punishment upon mankind.

Today I want to take you through many scriptures which warn us of the seriousness and severity of the coming tribulation and describe to you the key to avoiding, coping, or preparing for it. This is going to be a sermon consisting mostly of reading scriptures, with very few comments from me. My purpose is to refresh your memory of these scriptures so you can relate them with current events.

Let’s begin by reviewing Christ's description of world conditions just prior to his return. Notice what actions the elect, that is those called by God, must take to be found acceptable (i.e., saved, but not necessarily protected from death):

1. Let’s first consider Persecution and Martyrdom:

We’ll begin with Luke’s description.

(Luke 21:7-28 NKJV) So they asked Him, saying, "Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?" {8} And He said: "Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time has drawn near.' Therefore do not go after them. {9} "But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately." {10} Then He said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. {11} "And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. {12} "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. {13} "But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. {14} "Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; {15} "for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. {16} "You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. {17} "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. {18} "But not a hair of your head shall be lost. {19} "By your patience possess your souls. {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. {23} "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. {24} "And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. {25} "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; {26} "men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. {27} "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. {28} "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."

Now let’s read the same account in the book of Matthew:

Mat 24:4-Mat 25:34 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. {5} For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. [These are false prophets or teachings. We’ll read more about them in Rev 6:2-6.] {6} You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. {7} Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes [some resulting in tsunamis] in various places. {8} All these are the beginning of birth pains. {9} "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. [We’ll read more of this in Rev 6:9] {10} At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, {11} and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. {12} Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, {13} but he who stands firm to the end [the end of his life] will be saved. {14} And this gospel [this good news] of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. {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-- {16} then let those who are in Judea [Jerusalem is in Judea] flee to the mountains. {17} Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. {18} Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. {19} How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! {20} Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. {21} For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. {22} If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

skipping to verse 27....

{27} For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. {28} Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. {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 [We’ll read more of the sign in Rev 6:12] 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. {32} "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. {33} Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. {34} I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. {35} Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. {36} "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. {37} As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. {38} For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; {39} and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. {40} Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. [Only one will be chosen to be spirit.] {41} Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. {42} "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. {43} But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. {44} So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

skipping to 25:1

{25:1} "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins [that have not been polluted with the world’s religions] who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. {2} Five of them were foolish and five were wise. {3} The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. {4} The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. {5} The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. {6} "At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' {7} "Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. {8} The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' {9} "'No ,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' {10} "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. {11} "Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' {12} "But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.' {13} "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The oil, in my opinion, is the amount of God's spirit the people He is calling will individually possess at the time.

skipping to verse 31...

{31} "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. {32} All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. {33} He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. {34} "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

Let's look now at the book of Revelation, a much more explicit repeat of what we have just read:

Now we’ll read Rev 6:1-7:4. Verses 1-11 describe the tribulation or punishment by man.

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" {2} I looked, and there before me was a white horse! [FALSE CHRISTS - These are also mentioned in Mat 24:4-5.] Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. {3} When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" {4} Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. [WAR- This is also referenced in Mat 24:6] Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. {5} When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! [FAMINE - This is also referenced in Mat 24:7] Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. {6} Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" {7} When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" {8} I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! [DISEASE] Its rider was named Death, and Hades [the grave] was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth [people, not area] to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. {9} 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. [MARTYRDOM - This is also referenced in Mat 24:9] {10} 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?" {11} 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. {12} I watched as he opened the sixth seal. [HEAVENLY SIGNS - This is where God begins His punishment - Mat 24:29] There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, {13} and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. {14} The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. {15} Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. {16} They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne [the Father] and from the wrath of the Lamb! {17} For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" {7:1} After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. {2} Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: {3} "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." {4} And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: [The cause of the delay in events seems to result from a delay in removing or protecting the 144,000 from the tribulation.]

Rev 8 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. [The silence seems to be caused by heaven being taken back by the horror of what was about to happen] {2} And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. {3} Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. {4} The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand. {5} Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. {6} Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them. {7} The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. {8} The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, {9} a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. {10} The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water-- {11} the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. {12} The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night. {13} As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: "Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!"

Rev 9:1-11 describes the first woe.

The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. {2} When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. {3} And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. {4} They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. {5} They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. {6} During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. {7} The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. {8} Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth. {9} They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. {10} They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. {11} They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon [or “destroyer”]. {12} The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come. {13} The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God. {14} It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." {15} And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. {16} The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number. {17} The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. {18} A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. {19} The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury. {20} The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood--idols that cannot see or hear or walk. {21} Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Rev 11 talks abut the two witnesses.

I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. {2} But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. [3-1/2 years] {3} And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." {4} These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. {5} And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devours their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.{6} These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. {7} Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. {8} Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified [Jerusalem]. {9} For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. {10} The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. {11} But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. {12} Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. {13} At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors [the remnant] were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. {14} The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon. {15} The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." {16} And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, {17} saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. {18} The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great-- and for destroying those who destroy the earth." {19} Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant [which appears to be the container of His contract with mankind] . And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

In Revelation 12 we have an inset chapter which describes a woman. A woman in prophesy usually describes a church or assembly. If the woman is described as fallen as in chapter 17, the church is a fallen church. The woman in chapter 12 is not described as fallen. In fact, in verse 5 her Son is described as being taken up to God before returning to earth to rule all nations. This church has to be the church or assembly of the Saints.

(Rev 12 NKJV) Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. {2} Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. {3} And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. {4} His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven [a third of the angels?] and threw them to the earth. [Do current world problems indicate they are here now?] And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. {5} She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. {6} Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. [3-1/2 years] {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. {10} Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. {11} "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. {12} "Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! 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 [a place of safety], 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 [a flood of people?] 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. {17} And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest [the remnant] of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

I believe that the remnant is the Saints, those called by God, committed to God’s instructions, and with the conviction, the firm belief to remain that way regardless of adversity.

Rev 15 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues--last, because with them God's wrath is completed. {2} And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God {3} and sang the song of Moses [which we can read in Psa 90] the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. {4} Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." {5} After this I looked and in heaven the temple, that is, the tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened. {6} Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests. {7} Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. {8} And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

Some of Rev 16 provides more detail to what we read earlier in chapters 6 and 9.

Rev 16 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth." {2} The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. {3} The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died. {4} The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. {5} Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: "You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; {6} for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve." {7} And I heard the altar respond: "Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments." {8} The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. {9} They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. {10} The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony {11} and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done. {12} The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. {13} Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon [Satan], out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet [the false religious power]. {14} They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. [Zech 14:2 says it will be at Jerusalem] {15} "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." {16} Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. [Literally, the word is Mount Megiddo, which means “decision.”] {17} The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, "It is done!" {18} Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. {19} The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. {20} Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. {21} From the sky huge hailstones of over a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

Some refer this plague to the plague of Zech 14:12-15, but the plague of Rev 16:21, which we just read, refers to the plague of hail while Zech 14:12-15 seems to refer to a different plague. Anyway, here is Zech 14:12-15 for your consideration.

(Zec 14:12-15 NKJV) And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, Their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, And their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths. {13} It shall come to pass in that day That a great panic from the LORD will be among them. Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbor, And raise his hand against his neighbor's hand; {14} Judah also will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations Shall be gathered together: Gold, silver, and apparel in great abundance. {15} Such also shall be the plague On the horse and the mule, On the camel and the donkey, And on all the cattle that will be in those camps. So shall this plague be.

The tribulation is to be the worst time ever experienced by man. Since it is to be the worst time, it will be worse than what we are now going to read from the Old Testament:

Deu 28:52-57 They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the LORD your God is giving you. {53} Because of the suffering that your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you. {54} Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, {55} and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. {56} The most gentle and sensitive woman among you--so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot--will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter {57} the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For she intends to eat them secretly during the siege and in the distress that your enemy will inflict on you in your cities.

 

2. There will be no escaping the punishment:

We read Rev 6:15-17 before, but here it is again:

"Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains." {16} They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! {17} For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"

In view of all we have just read, the Kingdom has to be real to us if we are to persevere and reach it. First let's look at who this enemy is that God will use to punish modern Israel. Punish Israel for what? - Have you been reading the papers or watching the news? If so and you still don’t understand, I suggest you read the news directly from Israel via the internet.

Dan 2:40-45 speaks of the Roman Empire from 31 BC to 476 AD.

Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron--for iron breaks and smashes everything--and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. {41} Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. {42} As the toes [ten toes] were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. {43} And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. {44} "In the time of those kings [one king for each toe], the God of heaven will set up a kingdom [the Kingdom of God] that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. {45} This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands--a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. "The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy."

It will be Christ (the rock) who finally destroys the destroyer and brings his kingdom to the earth.

Dan 7:13-14 - Speaks of the last (reportedly the 10th) era of the Holy Roman empire which may be forming in Central & Eastern Europe as we speak.

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven [Christ - see Mat 24:30 and Rev 6:2]. He approached the Ancient of Days [God the Father] and was led into his presence. {14} He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

 

Now let's look at the description of God's Kingdom: Please turn to Isa 11:6-13. As we read these verses about the millennium, notice that there is no oppression by the strong over the weak:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. {7} The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. {8} The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. {9} They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. {10} In that day the Root of Jesse [Christ] will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. {11} In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. {12} He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. {13} Ephraim's jealousy will vanish, and Judah's enemies will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim.

The exiles of Israel are those tribes of Israel which have been scattered, mostly to the present day nations of northwestern Europe, North America, and Australia. The people of Judah are the Jews of the world. What of the Saints living in Gentile nations? Rev 7:9-14 indicates these Saints are included. Mat 24:31-33 told us that His people will be called from all nations.

(Hosea 1:7 NKJV) Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, Will save them by the LORD their God, [His Holy Spirit] And will not save them by bow, Nor by sword or battle, By horses or horsemen."

3. Now let’s discuss the attainability of the Kingdom:

Do we look at our journey through the days of tribulation and into the Kingdom with the same feeling of fear and deprivation the Israelites had when they came into the promised land with Joshua? Are we going to be prepared for really difficult times?

 

(Num 13:1-3) The LORD said to Moses, {2} "Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders." {3} So at the Lord's command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites.

skipping to verse 17....

{17} When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, "Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. {18} See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. {19} What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? {20} How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees on it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land." (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.) {21} So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. {22} They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) {23} When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. {24} That place was called the Valley of Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. {25} At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land. {26} They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. {27} They gave Moses this account: "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. {28} But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. [These were giants. Reference our sermon “Giants in the Land?”] {29} The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan." {30} Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." {31} But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." {32} And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. {33} We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

 

4. Will we have doubts as the world threatens us? What did doubting and fear get the ancient Israelites?

Num 13:28 says in essence: "The land is real but we can never get there."

Num 14:1-12 That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. {2} All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, "If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! {3} Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?" {4} And they said to each other, "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt." {5} Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. {6} Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes {7} and said to the entire Israelite assembly, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. {8} If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. {9} Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them." {10} But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites. {11} The LORD said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? {12} I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they."

Heb 3:11-4:5 So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" {12} See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. {13} But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. {14} We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. {15} As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion." {16} Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? {17} And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? {18} And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed ? {19} So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. {4:1} Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. {2} For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. {3} Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. {4} For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; {5} and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest."

Brethren, we can't make it into the KOG on our own, by doing our own thing. We must live our lives in a way pleasing to God. Then:

Deu 1:30 "The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes,"

And what of our past sinful life?

Eph 2:1-7 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, {2} in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. {3} All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. {4} But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, {5} made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. {6} And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, {7} in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

 

Phil 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

At the same time, we must not impulsively take risks when we do not know that God will supports us.

Num 14:39-45 When Moses reported this to all the Israelites, they mourned bitterly. {40} Early the next morning they went up toward the high hill country. "We have sinned," they said. "We will go up to the place the LORD promised." {41} But Moses said, "Why are you disobeying the Lord's command? This will not succeed! {42} Do not go up, because the LORD is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, {43} for the Amalekites and Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the LORD, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword." {44} Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the high hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord's covenant moved from the camp. {45} Then the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.

It's God's will that we make it. The Kingdom is attainable but only via the Father and His Son.

John 6:28-40 Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" {29} Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." {30} So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? {31} Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' " {32} Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. {33} For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." {34} "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." {35} Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. {36} But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. {37} All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. {38} For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. {39} And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. {40} For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

 

In conclusion, let's read what Paul wrote in Phil 3:

Phil 3:20-21

{20} But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, {21} who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Brethren, we can not by ourselves achieve the kingdom, even through the tribulation, but we must depend upon God to get us there...God's grace will take care of those of us who have faith in His leadership and who please Him by the actions of our daily lives.

 

 

 

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell

06 July 2013

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

 

 

 

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