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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

What is the Tribulation Period (Revelation 6)

If the Rapture is the most debated topic in all of Scripture, the 7-year Tribulation Period is probably the second. So according to Scripture, what is the Tribulation, when will it happen, who will experience it, and what is its purpose?

There are a lot of different opinions on "when" the 7-year Tribulation period will occur.

Some say it happened in the past. But the problem with this view is that Revelation 6-19 which describes the 7-year Tribulation period, does not match anything in history. There is also the fact that Jesus has not dealt the final blow to the Antichrist and set up his 1,000 year reign on this earth which happens after the Tribulation period. So according to Scripture, the 7-year Tribulation period did not happen in the past.

Some say the Tribulation period is happening right now. They say the 1,260 days of Daniel's 70th week actually equates to 1,260 years. But again, other than the 4 horses of the apocalypse: peace, famine, war, and death, which are pretty general, none of the other seal, trumpet, or bowl judgments of the 7-year Tribulation period match anything in this current church age. So according to Scripture, the 7-year Tribulation is not happening right now.

Some say the whole thing, the 7-year Tribulation and all of Revelation is just a symbolic depiction of good versus evil rather than literal. But Jesus didn't say it was symbolic, did He? In fact, right off the bat in Revelation 1:1 we are told that the purpose of Revelation is "to show His bond-servants the things which must soon take place." There is really no way that you can take that statement as "just symbolic," especially since it is repeated again in Revelation 1:19, 4:1, and 22:6. So according to Scripture, the 7-year Tribulation is not "just a symbolic depiction of good versus evil." It is the literal wrath of God and of the Lamb which is still to come upon this world.

The last view is that the Tribulation period is still future and a literal 7-year period of God's judgment on this earth in the form of 7 seal judgments, 7 trumpet judgments, and 7 bowl judgments as described in Revelation 6 - 19. A literal future 7-year Tribulation happening after the current church age is the only view that matches all of End-Times prophecy throughout the Bible. But people don't want to believe this because a literal rain of God's judgment upon this earth doesn't sound very pleasant. But there's good news. So don't stop reading here.

We need to understand what this period is, why it will happen, and who will go through it. In a nutshell, all of those questions are answered in one verse of the Old Testament book of Daniel:

Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

"Seventy weeks" means 70, 7-year periods which is 490 years. Daniel 9:25-27 tells us 69 of those 70 weeks (483 years) have already been completed. So, there is just one 7-year period remaining, the 7-year Tribulation period.

This message was given to Daniel, a Jew, saying this period has been decreed "for your people," the Jews. Why the Jews? Daniel 9:24 goes on to say:

  • to finish the transgression,

  • to make an end of sin,

  • to make atonement for iniquity

So what "sin" or "transgression" did the Jews commit that will cause God to rain down judgment upon the earth for 7 years?

They rejected Jesus, their Messiah, God the Son, Immanuel, God in human flesh.

Zechariah 12:10 I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

The Jews who have not believed in Jesus and are still alive at the end of the church age will experience this 7-year Tribulation period. But, the Jews are not the only ones who have rejected Jesus, are they? We can look around at our world today and see that the majority of people have refused to turn from their sins and make Jesus the Lord of their life, trusting in Him alone for eternal life.

Because of that rejection, God will rain down 7 years of wrath and judgment on all who have refused to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus. But the purpose of this 7-year Tribulation period is to give all who have rejected Jesus one more chance to choose to repent of their sins and make Him the Lord of their lives.

Those who repent of their sins and make Jesus the Lord of their lives before the Tribulation begins, will not go through the 7-year Tribulation period:

1 Thessalonians 1:10 "Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come"

1 Thessalonians 5:9 "God has not destined us for wrath"

Romans 5:9 "We shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him"

Revelation 3:10 "I will keep you from the hour of testing."

Romans 8:1 "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Dear Lord, Thank you for loving all of us, Jew and Gentile, enough that even in your 7-years of wrath on this earth, your purpose is to show people their need to repent and trust in You. Thank you for loving all of us enough to die on the cross in our place so that all who have trusted in your sacrifice are rescued from the wrath to come because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Thank you for loving people so much that You give us chance after chance to repent all the way to the very end. This is a reminder to me, Lord, that I too must keep on praying for people to turn to You and never give up on them. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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