How would you react if God suddenly spoke to you — and warned you to take drastic action to save your life? Would you listen? Would you heed?
Few realize that God has already spoken to us today: "God, who... spake in times past... by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son" (Heb. 1:1-2). When you read the Bible, God is speaking directly to you! In fact, for nearly 6,000 years God has been expressing his love toward mankind.
In love God revealed his WAY of life that leads to everything good and desirable — including eternal life — to our first parents, Adam and Eve. But they rejected that way. God later sent his prophets with his law — his message of love, revealing to mankind the way to peace, happiness, joy and eternal rewards.
Through them God has pleaded with this stiff-necked and self-willed world for nearly 60 centuries! But men have rejected the words of that message of love and killed the prophets.
And so, as any wise and loving father punishes his children for their own good when they refuse to respond to kind and loving verbal admonition, an all-loving, all-wise God will finally plead with rebellious humanity in the only language humans will understand!
The book of Revelation is full of warnings of awesome, catastrophic events soon to occur. In the last chapter of this most misunderstood book of the Bible, the Revelator — Jesus Christ — concludes: "Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth [acts on] the sayings of the prophecy of this book" (Rev. 22:7).
Bible prophecies are not to be taken lightly. The events they foretell will have a tremendous effect on your future and the future of this whole world. As the old saying goes, "Forewarned is forearmed." To those who will heed the warnings of God recorded in his Word, he promises a way of escape from the coming time of worldwide peril!
Great World Trouble Foretold We are now fast approaching the crisis at the close of this chaotic, unhappy world that Jesus foretold. Let's notice what he said would be happening.
1. In his "Olivet prophecy" recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, Jesus explained to his disciples that certain events would have to occur before his return to earth. What did he first warn about? Matt. 24:4-5, 11.
COMMENT: Here we are told of those who would proclaim Jesus as the Christ but who would deceive the world about Christ's message!
2. What are we told elsewhere about these so-called representatives of Christ? II Cor. 11:13-15. Who do they actually represent? Verse 15. Are they themselves deceived? Rev. 12:9.
3. What further events did Jesus predict would be taking place at the close of this age? Matt. 24:6-7. We are now in the recess between stages of world war.
COMMENT: Two world wars have already occurred. In this interim, brushfire wars have raged and "rumors of wars" continue. Famines, disease epidemics and earthquakes will grow in severity. Then World War III will erupt. Hundreds of millions of earth's inhabitants will be affected by these conditions!
4. But are these events only the "beginning of sorrows" — or, more properly translated, of travail or tribulation? Verse 8.
COMMENT: This four-part "beginning of sorrows" is elsewhere pictured by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They are described in Revelation 6:1-8 under the symbols of the first four seals that cover the scroll of the Apocalypse or book of Revelation (Rev. 5:1). For a more detailed explanation of these "sorrows" — false religion, wars, famines, disease — write for our free booklet The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
5. How is the fifth seal described? Rev. 6:9-11. What did Jesus say about this time of religious persecution? Matt. 24:9; Luke 21:12-17.
COMMENT: At this point we need to understand that the principle of duality applies to many prophecies. There is a former, typical fulfillment and then a final, antitypical fulfillment.
The national persecution spoken of in Matthew and Luke did actually occur in the typical or preliminary sense, in the nation of Judah when the Roman armies crucified tens of thousands of Jews about A.D. 70. Millions more from various nationalities were also tortured and killed in religious persecution during the Middle Ages (Rev. 17:6; 18:24). Yet another time of great religious persecution is prophesied to occur at the close of this age.
6. How does Luke 21:20-24 describe what will happen to Judah and Jerusalem?
COMMENT: Verse 23 is made plainer in the modern English of the Moffatt translation: "... for sore anguish will come upon the land and Wrath on this people."
7. Notice the parallel account in Matthew 24:15-20. Do these verses foretell a time of great oppression and persecution affecting the entire world? Verse 21. What would happen to all mankind if God did not intervene in the affairs of men? Verse 22.
COMMENT: As we learned in a previous study, humanity would perish in an all-out nuclear war if Jesus Christ did not return to STOP it!
8. Who will be responsible for inspiring persecution, warfare and man's inhumanity to man during this soon-coming time of world trouble? Rev. 12:12. Why will the devil be angry? Notice last part of verse 12.
COMMENT: This period of great tribulation is SATAN'S WRATH. It will be unleashed not only upon the one true Church of God, but upon the descendants of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob (the modern descendants of ancient Israel — write for The United States and Britain in Prophecy to learn who these peoples are today) and on the whole world.
9. Does God promise to protect from the wrath of the devil those who faithfully keep his Word and do his Work? Rev. 3:7-8, 10. Notice especially verse 10.
COMMENT: These promises of protection are for the Church of God, which is carrying on the Work of God today. Even though God's Church is relatively small, Jesus has opened the powerful "doors" of radio, television, the printing press and personal appearance campaigns to his Church that it may preach and publish his gospel of the kingdom of God as a warning witness to the world (Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10). And for faithfully obeying his Word and doing his works, Christ promises to spare his servants from the "hour of temptation [trial]" — the terrible wrath of Satan!
10. Revelation 12 also speaks of God's end-time Church, personifying it as a woman. Does God specifically state he will provide his Church with shelter away from the wrath of the devil? Rev. 12:13-16.
COMMENT: This end-time prophecy tells of an escape from the terrible tribulation caused by Satan the devil. God's Church will be in a place untouchable by Satan or by his human agents or by the devastation of a world at war around them. Regardless of where that place of protection will be, God promises to take his faithful, obedient people there!
However, we have seen that some of God's people will not receive this protection and will have to go through this coming time of Satan's wrath to wake them up spiritually (Rev. 3:14-19; 12:17).
Signs of God's Intervention 1. How is the sixth seal, which covered the scroll of the Apocalypse or book of Revelation, described? Rev. 6:12-13. Is a very great earthquake to occur? Verse 12. Where else are these spectacular events described? Matt. 24:29. How soon after the fifth seal is fulfilled does all this occur? Same verse, first word.
COMMENT: The sixth seal consists of awesome heavenly signs — sun and moon becoming dark and the "stars" falling. Spectacular meteor showers will make the starry heavens appear to be crashing earthward!
2. What other great heavenly sign occurs at this crisis period? Matt. 24:30; Rev. 6:14. Are these events intended to warn the world that God's direct intervention to halt the destructive ways of man is about to begin — that the "Day of the Lord" with its punishments for sin is about to commence? Rev. 6:15-17; Joel 2:30-31; Zeph. 1:14-18; Isa. 2:19-21.
3. What is the reason for the punishment God is soon going to bring upon this world? Isa. 24:4-6. Notice especially verse 5.
4. Will this punishment in reality be a manifestation of God's GREAT LOVE for humanity? Notice the principle in Hebrews 12:5-8. To what purpose will God's punishments be directed? I Tim. 2:3-4; II Pet. 3:9.
COMMENT: This period of divine chastisement, described in more than 30 different prophecies scattered throughout both Old and New Testaments as the "Day of the Lord," shall lead directly to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and world peace at last!