What in the world is going to happen? The Tribulation

February 20, 1990

      

We're talking about what in the world is going to happen

- we said that one of our goals in this series was that

  everyone involved would learn a basic overview of the end-

  time events

- so far we've talked about two major ones

- INPUT - the first is the next event on the prophetic

          timetable - the rapture

          (INPUT - describe)

- after the church is caught up, we will face _________?

     (Judgement Seat of Christ)

- while that is happening in heaven, an event of judgement is

  beginning on earth, that is known as __________________?

 

- our goal now is to see what the Scripture says about this

  important end-time event

- I think it would be good for me to take a minute and

  explain how we're going to go at this study

- there are a number of factors that have to be considered in

  deciding; how are we going to study this material?

  1)  there is a lot of material in the Bible about the

      tribulation.  In a minute, we'll mention some of the

      various passages involved, but we're talking about 3

      large passages of Scripture and then a whole bunch of

      verses spread out all over the Bible.  Point is,

      obviously we can't study all of those passages in one

      night.  So we have to decide, do we go at in

      chronologically, where we talk about the first event,

      and then see what each passage says, etc.?

 

  2)  people are present here who are at various stages of

      their Christian life.  Some folks have known the three

      step end time time-line we just mentioned for years,

      others are just getting it down.  We have to careful as

      we study this subject that we don't take anything for

      granted.

 

  3)  we need to be applicational however we handle the

      material.  The temptation when there is a lot of

      material is to have a lot of content without many

      applications or how-to's.  We on't want to fall in that

      trap as we study the tribulation.

 

- So, with all that in the mix, here's how we'd like to

  handle the material.  Tonight, we're going to do an

  overview of the tribulation and try to address some of the

  basic questions involved.  Then, in the next couple of

  weeks, we'll take one of the longer pasages each evening

  and see what that passage contributes to our overall

  understanding of the subject.

 

- let's begin with:

  

I.  What is the tribulation?  

 

    seven year period of judgement on the earth and its

    inhabitants which begins shortly after the rapture.

- one of the ideas we'd like you to leave with tonight is

  that the tribulation is not an obcure event that is

  mentioned in just a few places in Scripture

- to demonstarte that. let's look at:

II.  What Are The Principle Passage Involved?  

    - I say principle because we are not at all attempting to

      mention them all - these are just some of the more

      prominent ones

    A.  3 major ones (Input?)

        - Rev. 5-19

        - Matt. 24-25

        - Daniel 9, 12

    B.  Day of the Lord passages

        - we need to be careful with this one

        - this phrase is used differently in Scripture

        - sometimes its speaking primarily of the final day

          at the end of the tribulation

        - usually it is speaking of the entire tribulation,

          and sometimes even the tribulation and the

          millennial period

        - these passages are important because they give some

          important truth about the trib.

        - a few of them are:

            - I Thess. 5:2 - For yourselves know perfectly

                             that the day of the Lord so

                             cometh as a thief in the night

 

            - II Peter 3:10 - But the day of the Lord will

                              come as a thief in the night,

                              in which the heavens shall pass

                              away with a great noise, and

                              the elements shall melt with

                              fervent heat, the earth also,

                              and the works that are in it,

                              shall be burned up

            - many in the OT

            - theme of the book of Zechariah

- I wanted us to see those passages for at least two reasons:

    1)  to get an idea of the magnitude of the study we're

        undertaking

    2) to demonstrate that this is not some obscure Bible

       issue

           - thats important because you'll probably run into

             a person some day who claims to be a Christian

             who says something like,

                - the tribulation, thats something that has

                  already passed

                - you're making too big of a deal of that

                - when our study is done, I think you'll be

                  able to say - there's no way that what the

                  Bible describes as the tribulation is

                  already passed

III.  How Do We Know How Long The Tribultaion Will Last?

    A.  Daniel 9:24-27

        - this passage is one of the more difficult ones in

          Scripture but it can be understood if we walk

          through it carefully

        - Input - what is the context according to verse 2

               (Daniel learned that they were to be in

                captivity seventy years through reading

                Jeremiah)

 

        - verses 3-19 are a record of Daniel's prayer as a

          result of that understanding

        - just to give you a flavor of this (read vs. 3-7)

        - its important for us to understand the news about

          the tribulation in this context

 

        - what happens in verses 20-21?  (angel Gabriel comes

          with new revelation about Israel)

 

        - read 22-23

        - let's work our way through the vision

       

        - read 24

        - work weeks is the word "heptad" - literally "a

          seven" (which shows how it would often be

          translated "week"

        - in jewish thinking, a heptad wasn't always seven

          days, it was just seven "somethings"

        - in this case, its seven years

        - Jews were very accustomed to thinking in groups of

          seven years

        - you may remember that the law required them to

          observe a sabbath year, where they plowed their

          ground for six years and then let it rest for the

          seventh (Lev. 25 and other places)

        - the fact that they hadn't done that is one of the

          reasons they were in the Babylonian captivity

        - point is - when Gabriel spoke to Daniel about 70

          "sevens", he would have been thinking about 70

          years

        - INPUT - how many years does that total (490)

        - let me also add that the Jews had a little

          different way to count years, so theirs were a

          little shorter than ours

 

        - read vs. 25 (through Jerusalem)

        - what event is that talking about?  (commandment

          given to Nehemiah in chapter 2 to go rebuild the

          walls) (in 440's BC)

        - finish vs. 25 and read 26 through "cut off"

        - Input - who is the Messiah and what does the phrase

          "cut off" mean?  (Jesus, speaking of His

           crucifixion)

        - Input - how many weeks between the time the

          decree to rebuild Jerusalem went out and the time

          the Messiah was cut off?  (69 weeks)

        - how many years would that be? (483 Jewish years)

        - do you know how many years it was between the time

          Nehemiah received his decree and the time Jesus was

          crucified?  (483 Jewish years)

        - point - a significant part of this prophecy has

                  already been literally fulfilled

 

        - read 26-27

        - so the Prince (antichrist) sets up a covenant with

          many for one week (7 years)

        - he breaks that covenant at the mid point, dividing

          the tribulation into 2 three and 1/2 year periods,

          the latter part often being referred to as the

          great tribulation

        - that same concept is found in several other

          passages    (please keep a finger in Dan. 9)

 

    B.  Dan. 12:7 - read

        - this passage is speaking of the second half of the

          tribulation, the great trib.

        - tells how long that period is, "time, times, and

          half a time"

        - obviously this phrase is criptic, but how many

          years do you think would be designated by this

          phrase?  (3 1/2 years)

        - we find thats exactly right when we look at a

          similar passage in the book of Revelation

 

    C.  Revelation 11:1-2

        - this passage is also speaking of the great

          tribulation which shall last three and a half

          years, or 42 months

- the point of all this is that the tribulation lasts for

  seven years, and will be divided into two 3 1/2 year periods                                                           -

- there's an important question we need to deal with

  before we talk about some implications of all this, and

  that is;

 

III. Why Wasn't The Church Mentioned?

 

  - we're going to spend quite a bit of time here, so let me

    be sure we've explained the question properly

  - INPUT - the 69th week in Daniel 9 dealt with what?

  - INPUT - the 70th week dealt with what?

 

  - the question some might have would be - there's obviously

    been a great gap between the 69th and 70th week where the

    entire church age has fit - why wasn't that gap more

    apparent in the Daniel passage?

 

- remember some of our principles of hermenutics

- 1) our interpretation of a seemingly obscure passage in the

     Bible must bear the weight of the rest of the Scripture

  2) we interpret passages in light of their context

  3) if the plain sense makes good sense, seek no other sense

- see, we aggree with Jay Adams on a lot of things, but the

  way you interpret prophecy is not one of them

- some of us have said to Jay that we can't believe you're so

  biblical in many areas but you won't interpret the Bible

  literally in the area of prophecy

 

    A.  The real issue? - heremnuetics

        - we interpret the Bible literally accross the board

        - the fact that the first 69 weeks were fulfilled

          literally give us good warrant to do so

        - so we still have the question, why doesn't the

          issue of the church age come up in this discussion

          of the 69 and the 70th week

 

    B.  Answer?  we believe in progressive revelation

        -in other words, God didn't dump all his truth on

         people all at once

    C.  Examples?

        - In fact, Jesus told his disciples something that

          demonstrates that concept

        - INPUT - do you remember the statement?

        1.  John 16:12 -I have many things to say unto you,

                        but ye cannot bear them now

            - there is a also a verse at the end of the

              Gospel of John that demonstrates that concept

            - INPUT?

        2.  John 21:25 - And there are also many other

              things which Jesus did, which, if they should

              be written every one, I suppose that even the

              world itself could not contain the books that

              should be written

    - so obviously, God didn't give his people all truth at

      once

         - therefore, we know more things about certain

           events than Old Testament saints would know, or

           needed to know

         - revelation was progressive

         here are a couple of other examples:

 

         3.  John 5:25-29 - the passage Pastor dealt with

                  Sunday night,

                - Jesus was talking about resurrection

                - in that passage, he made the resurrection

                  sound like it only happened once

 

         - but because of other truth revealed in the New

           Testament, we know there are several kinds of

           resurrections (NT saints are raise at one time,

           unbelievers are raised at a different time,

           resurrection of OT saints - they don't all happen

           at the same time

         - INPUT - so why didn't Jesus tell them all about

                   the resurrections at that point?

                   1) they didn't need to know

                   2) they couldn't have handled it

         - lets look at one more example

 

         4.  Luke 4:18-19/Isa. 61:1-2

            - INPUT - what did Jesus leave out? (last part of

                      verse 2)

 

            - why? - because Jesus was there to discuss his

                     first coming

                   - and the rest of verse two has to do with

                     his second coming

                   - and there is going to be a great gap

                     between those two events, but the Jews

                     reading Isaiah 61 didn't necessarily

                     need to know that

- now I realize you might be wondering, Pastor Viars, why are

  you emphasizing this point so much?

- Here's the answer, you will run into people who will tell

  you the tribulation has already taken place

- they'll say something like - those were just general

  judgements that took place in the first centuries of church

  history

- after our study of Matt 24-25, and Rev. 5-19, your first

  response to that will be, there's no way that what happened

  centuries of church history literally fulfill what the

  Bible predicts about the tribulation

- then that person will say, then why didn't the Bible

  writers in the Old Testament prophesie a great gap between

  Christ's first coming and his judgement

(central issue) - why isn't that gap more apparent in the

Daniel passage and the Isaiah passage

- you could answer that question from what we've been talking

  about tonight - the issue of progressive revelation

     - God didn't dump all his truth on his people at once

 

    D.  illustration

        - perhaps this idea can best be pictured by thinking

          about what its like driving in some of the western

          states

        - you see a group of mountains that appear to be very

          close to one another

        - then after you get closer and drive through the

          first one, what do you often find?

        - they may be 20-30 miles apart

        - from your limited vantage, you could see the peaks

          but you couldn't see what was in-between, and you

          really didn't need to

        - so why isn't the church age gap (between Christ's

          first coming and the tribulation) more apparent in

          Daniel 9?

        - because of the progressive nature of revelation

        - probably also need to say, just so we're not

          misunderstood, that that process concluded when the

          Scriptures were written, and the book of Revelation

          puts some strong warnings against adding anything

          else to it

         - so what we're saying about Daniel 9 is consistent

           with what we believe about hermeneutics

         - there is a great gap between the 69th and 70th

           week, and thats what the NT refers to as the

           great mystery of the church

 

IV.  Implications?

 

        there are several implications from the verses we've

        looked at

        - INPUT - what do you think might be the significance

                  of the fact that the prophecy of the weeks

                  is preceeded by the material we saw in the

                  first part of Daniel 9?

 

        A.  even God's severest judgement is in the context

            of His marvelous grace

            - Daniel said in 9:7 - O Lord, righteousness

              belongs to thee, but unto us confusion of face

            - he had that right, didn't he

            - Lord, as I've sat in Babylon and examined this

              situation, I can see that we have been wrong

              and you have been right

            - then he says these powerful words - (in verse

              9) - To the Lord, our God, belong mercies and

              forgiveness, though we have rebelled against

              Him

            - see, isn't it true that when we think of

              judgements like the tribulation or the Great

              White Throne, our first thoughts are often

              negative as we consider how bad it will be for

              those who are there

            - I'm not saying that thats wrong, but if we view

              those judgements in the context of God's grace,

              (like it was presented i Daniel) perhaps

              instead of first thinking about how terrible it

              will be for those who are there, we ought to

              think about how amazing it is that some of us

              won't be there

            - its like the passage we looked at Sunday

              evening, where Jesus said, He that heareth my

              word, and believeth on him that sent me, shall

              not come into judgement, but is passed from

              death unto life

            - so even God's severest judgement is given

              within the context of His marvelous grace

 

        B.  the design of the tribulation proves his

            longsuffering

            - its amazing to think about how God, in His plan

              chose even at this period in history to hold

              off his judgement till the very end

            - do you ever get impatient with the sinfulness

              of others?

            - do you ever get impatient with the sinfulness

              of the world in which we live?

            - Input - what aspect of this world's sinfulness

                      do you find it hardest to be patient with?

            - I often have trouble when I read the newspaper

            - it usually starts right around the editorial

              page (does that happen to you?)

            - whenever I read phrases like "reproductive

              freedom", or legislating morality, or if you

              don't believe in abortion you can't believe in

              capital punishment

            - some times you think - this has got to stop

            - then I think, wait a minute-thats just your

              view of sin

            - imagine having God's view

            - imagine seeing the world's sin from his view

            - imagine seeing your sin from his view

            - and then I think, He still, in his plan chose

              to hold off judgements like the tribulation and

              then Great white throne for a long period of

              time, so as many as possible would trust Christ

              as Savior

            - see, studying the tribulation ought not to

              leave us discouraged, it ought to leave us

              amazed!

            - I think our hymn writers had it right when they

              wrote "I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus

              the Nazarene, and wondered how he could love

              me, a sinner condemned, unclean"

            - another one of our favorites says, "Amazing

              Love, how can it be, that thou my God,

              should'st die for me"

                 - our study tonight has given us material

                   for another verse, how the design of the

                   tribulation, with the great gap between

                   his first and second coming, is a

                   testimony to his longsuffering

            - before we leave this one, I think we could turn

              this around and ask ourselves a few questions

            - in today's language we'd say God is pretty slow

              at writing people off

            - good question to ask would be - If God is so

              patient with others and me, maybe I could be

              more patient with so & so

                   (imperfect mate, child, co-worker,

                    neighbor)

           - see, some of us are pretty quick t deciding that

             theres no hope for that person

           - no reason to spend time with that person

           - this study of the tribulation ought to convict

             us of that

 

    C.  God's judgements are carefully planned

        - I think its instructive to remember that some of

          the passages we're studying tonight were written

          over 2500 years ago

        - even then, God had carefully planned the

          tribulation judgement

        - when the tribulation begins, no one can say that

          God acted in haste or indecision

        - that has some instruction to the way we go after

          sin, doesn't it

        - I wonder how many of us could think of a time, even

          a recent time, where we went after someone or

          something that we believed was sinful, but hadn't

          really planned it out very well

        - we didn't think about if these were the words that

          would be easiest to understand and accept

        - we didn't consider whether this was the best time

        - the judgement was there, but it wasn't planned very

          well

        - it was done in haste

        - and now we find ourselves thinking, I wish I had

          those words back

        - I wish I had that day back

        - I wish I had that letter back

        - I wish I had that conversation back

        - these verses tonight have shown how carefully

          the tribulation has been planned

 

    Perhaps that:

    D.  Explains why vengeance doesn't belong to us

       - ever wanted to move into the role of the heavenly

         payroll clerk

       - where we help God out by getting revenge in this

         situation

        - have you ever been frustrated by Romans 12 which

          says that we must return good for evil and that

          vengeance belongs to the Lord?

        - this situation helps explain that