Who Does What In The Tribulation?

Dr. Steve Viars March 13, 1990

- we're studying the tribulation period, the seven year

  period of judgment on the earth and its inhabitants after

  the rapture of the church

- we've been talking about this subject for three evenings,

  and we've studied

    - the duration of the tribulation, from the books of

      Daniel and Revelation and we've seen how the material

      in each of those books fits together perfectly

    - we also studied Matt. 24-25 and saw how Jesus thought

      it was important for his disciples to understand this

      subject so that they could carry out their ministry


    - last week we did a whirlwind study of the book of

      Revelation, and we saw the perfect organization of the

      tribulation judgements, and the terror of those



- Input - what were the three categories of judgements we

          studied?  (seals, trumpets, vials)

- before the seventh of each of these judgements, there is a

  group of material that we gave a certain name to - what was

  that name?  (parenthetical material)

- in other words - God chose to organize this material by

  telling about a series of judgements, and then by stopping

  and telling us about some of the persons and groups and

  what they will be doing in the tribulation period


- tonight, we'd like to begin studying some of those persons

  and groups to find out "who's doing what during the


- before we get into that specifically, I'd like to make a

  comment about Bible study in general

- I've heard of several folks from outside our church in the

  last couple of weeks say, well - you can't really say

  anything from the Bible with certainty - people make it say

  whatever they want

    - INPUT - what's wrong with that?


- I think that is real application to our study of the book

  of Revelation

- there's no question that there are things we don't

  understand about the end times

- God didn't choose to clearly reveal some things to us about


- But He has revealed a number of things about the end times

  that can be understood by any believer who wants to study



- The book of Revelation was not designed and given to

  mystify, but to clarify!

- I don't believe God is pleased with individuals who

  intellectualize and intellectualize the Scripture until by

  time its gone through their great mind

     - there's no truth left

     - there's no absolutes

     - there's nothing that can be said with certainty

- so while we certainly don't know everything about the end

  times, God has given us much revelation that can be clearly

  understood about what's going to happen in the end times


I.  What Will The Holy Spirit Be Doing?


    One of the passages that teaches us the most about this

    subject is II Thess. 2


  - Why had Paul written the book of I Thess?

      (Paul had taught them about the rapture when he was

       there, but in the interim time, some of their loved

       ones had died - therefore question was - what will

       happen to them?

      - also, some had taught that the rapture had already

        taken place, Paul had written to assure them that

        that wasn't so)

- because the persecution in their day was increasing, Paul

  wrote II Thess. to assure them that the rapture still

  hadn't happened

- they hadn't somehow missed the rapture and were now living

  in the trib.


- read II Thes. 2:1-10

- stop at verse 2 - INPUT - what is Paul talking about in

  verse 2 when he says, don't be disturbed by a letter?

    (someone had sent the church a letter with false doctrine

     in it and signed Paul's name - a fairly common practice)

- read 3-10 (point out - man of sin-Antichrist/ restrainer -

             Holy Spirit)


    A.  no longer will be restraining Satan


        might ask - how do we know that this is the Holy

                    Spirit in this passage?


            1)  Person has to be a member of the godhead,

                because He is stronger than the Anti-christ

                and Satan who energizes him

            2)  the Holy Spirit is the One acting as the

                restrainer now

                  INPUT - in what sense is the HS acting as a

                          restrainer now?

                       - John 16:7-11 - convicting of sin

                       - I John 4:4 - greater is He that is

                          in you than he that is in the world

        - we are not saying that Satan is bound now - that

          will happen in the millennial period

        - but the work of Satan is clearly being restrained

          in the sense that Satan does not have clear run of

          the events that happen on earth


        - that is one of our major differences with the


        - they would view the world in much more of a

          dualistic fashion today

            - they would never say that it was God's will

              that a person have cancer or some other illness


            - their position today would be that God always

              wants you to be well and to be prosperous, and

              if you have enough faith, you will be

            - thats how some charismatic leaders can justify

              such lavish lifestyles

            - see, in their minds, thats not an example of

              greed, its an example of faith

            - the more stuff you have, the more faith you



            - thats why the charismatic movement is so

              popular in America and why it hasn't caught on

              in communist countries

            - can you imagine preaching health and wealth

              theology in Russia?

            - now, with the changes in the communist world,

              its conceiveable that charismatic theology

              could become very popular


            - but the point is, the Holy Spirit is

              functioning as a restrainer today - but he will

              not perform that function during the



    B.  Still very active on earth


        - how do we know that to be true?  (because of the

          many people who are saved during the tribulation)


        - I've listed some of the many passages that teach

          this important truth

        - Jer. 30:7; Ez. 20:37-38; Dan. 12:1; Joel 2:31-32;

          Zech. 13:1, 8-9; Isa. 2:2,4; Isa. 60:3-5; Isa. 62:2


        - so even though the Holy Spirit isn't functioning as

          a restrainer, He's still active because no one

          could be saved without the ministry of the Holy

          Spirit  (proof - John 3:5 -Except a man be born of

          water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the

          kingdom of God)


    C.  Implications


        there are a couple of implications of this:


        1.  another thing to be thankful for!


        - its important for us to be growing in our

          thankfulness and one of the keys to that is

          learning news things to be thankful for


        - when's the last time you thanked God for the

          restraining work of the Holy Spirit?

        - probably been a while, yet when you think about it,

          many of the privileges and freedoms we have today

          are because of this special ministry


        - how would you fill in this blank - because of the

          restraining ministry of the holy Spirit, I'm able

          to _________  (teach children, worship freely...)


        - another implication

        2.  gives a new perspective of the tribulation


        - you might say, I hear what you're saying about the

          Holy Spirit restraining, but things are pretty bad


            - they are pretty twisted, pretty evil

        - thats right, but think about what thats means the

          tribulation will be like, when that restraint will

          be removed!


II.  What Will The 144,000 Be Doing?


    - we're going to look at this group next because they are

      the first ones that are discussed in the first

      parenthetical section


    - read Rev. 7:1-4 (mention 5-8)

    - read 14:1-5


    - INPUT - who are the ones that recieve this seal?

    A.  Recipients

         - representatives from the 12 tribes of Israel


    - INPUT - was there anything in the two passages we read

              that tells what the seal might be like?

    B.  Nature

        - 14:1 - his Father's name written on their foreheads

               - NASB - having his name and the name of his

                        father written on their forehaeds


        - just like those who follow the antichrist will have

          a mark of the beast, the 144,000 sealed witnesses

          will have a seal


    - INPUT - Is this the first time God has sealed a group

              of people? (no - Christians are sealed with the

                          Holy Spirit - Eph. 1:13-14)

                          (denotes ownership and protection -

                           we're saved and safe because of

                           the Holy Spirit's seal)

    C.  Significance

        - the same (as believer's seal) is true with this

          seal for the 144,000

        - it denotes God's:


            1.  ownership

                INPUT - what statements from the passage

                indicate that they are children of God?

                - 7:3 - servants of God

                - 14:1 - Father's name on foreheads

                - 14:3 - sang a new song before the throne

                - 14:3 - redeemed from the earth

                - 14:4 - follow the lamb wherever He goes

                - 14:4 - first fruits unto God

                - 14:5 - no guile found in their mouths

            2.  protection

                - protected from "four winds" - i.e. coming


                - we also read last week about something they

                  were protected from - INPUT?

                - Rev. 9 - locusts could not hurt those who

                       had the seal of God on their foreheads


    - you might ask:

    D.  How could this many Jews be saved during the


        1.  ministry of the 2 witnesses during the first half

               of the tribulation (Rev.  11 - will talk about

               them in more detail next week)

        2.  Jews will be shielded from much of the judgement

               of the first half of the tribulation


            - we'll see next week that in the 2nd half of the

              trib., the satanic activity of the antichrist

              will be especially focused on the Jews - but

              Scripture does teach that the Jews will be

              shielded from much of the judgement of the

              first half


             1)  Isa. 26:20-21 - Come my people, enter thou

                 into my chambers, and shut thy doors about

                 thee; hide thyself as it were for a little

                 moment, until the indignation is past.  For

                 behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to

                 punish the inhabitants of the earth for

                 their iniquity...


             2)  Antichrist's peace pact - Dan. 9:27 - not

                   cut off until the second half of the



             3)  in Matt. 24:15ff, Jews are doing "normal"

                   things when the great tribulation begins

                   (up on the housetop, in the field, having



    - so 144,000 Jews will be saved during the tribulation

      period and function as special servants of God


    - Now, you might be wondering, what about the person who

      says that he is one of the 144,000 today?

      (some Jehovah's witnesses would claim that - though I

      understand thats been modified)


    - based on what we've studied, how would you answer the

      person who claimed to be one of the 144,000?


    - Let's see your proof! - prove to me that you're a

      descendant of the tribe of Reuben

    - the truth is - nobody could prove that - that kind of

      documentation doesn't exist

    - which brings up a rather knotty problem

    - who is a Jew? - how does inter-marriage affect whether

      a family is still Jewish

    - how is God going to be able to find decendants of these

      various tribes?


- I think there's a real implication of that to you and I



    E.  Implications


        - see, there are some real similarities between the

          144,000 sealed believers and NT believers


        - of course we too are sealed, signifying God's

          ownership and protection

        - but we are also intimately known by God


        - the same God who is able to know the complete

          family line of these 144,000 people knows us in the

          same way


        - Jesus said that the very hairs of our head are

          numbered (Matt. 10:30)

        - Paul described believers as "those whom he did

          foreknow" (Rom. 8:30)

        - he's saying God has entered into a loving

          relationship with us way before we were even born


        - Psalm 139 tells about how He intimately knew us

          while we were in our mothers womb


        - that means two things


            1)  there's always someone who cares

                 - even in an impersonal world where it seems

                   like your social security number is more

                   important than your name, there's a

                   personal God who knows you and cares about



                Paul said later in Romans 8 - "For I am

                persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor

                angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor

                things present, nor things to come, nor

                height, nor depth, nor any other creation,

                shall be able to separate us from the love of

                God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord


            2) loves us in spite of what He knows

                - I think this point strengthens what we've

                  been studying in Sunday school about guilt

                - the unbeliever would say that guilt is bad

                - need to cover up those guilty feelings,

                  blame them on someone else, keep sinning

                  till you don't feel guilty anymore

                - but the Bible would say - no-deal with

                  the fact of guilt (the state, the liability

                  to punishment)

                - confess it to God - and after all, we're

                  not telling Him something that He doesn't

                  already know

                - in fact, because He knows us perfectly, he

                  could describe our sinfulness more

                  acurately than we could


                - the amazing thing is - He still loves us!

                - The God who knows the exact geneaology of

                  these 144,000 knows us so well He could say

                  how many hairs we had...

                    - knows all our past, knows our thoughts,

                      our futures

                    - still loves us because of our

                      relationship with his Son


- so we've looked at what the Holy Spirit will be doing, and

  what the 144,000 will be doing

- there's another group in Rev. 7, the Gentiles who are saved

- we're not going to look at them specifically, but I've

  copied a transparency from one of Pastor's earlier studies

  to help round out your notes on Revelation


- I would like to talk about one more group tonight;


III.  What Is The Church Doing?


    - obviously the church is in heaven because the rapture

      has already taken place

    - but what is the church doing?


    Read Rev. 4:4


    - the passage speaks of 24 elders (also mentioned in 5:5,

       6, 8, 11, 14; 7:11, 13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4)


    - first question probably is -


    A.  why 24?


        - in I Chron. 24, David had set up a rotation of 24

          groups our courses to minister in the temple

        - in fact, when John the Baptist's birth was

          announced, his father Zacarias was ministering in

          the temple because it was his turn

        - so its not surprising that there are 24 elders

          since there were 24 courses of priests


        - might say, well:


    B. How do we know these people represent the church?


        1.  their position - they are seated on thrones


            - this isn't a position angels occupy

            - instead, its a position specifically promised

              to the church (Rev. 3:21, Matt. 19:28)



        2.  white raiment

            - sign of the Christ's righteousness which had

              been put to their account when they were saved

            - Jesus had promised the church at Sardis - "He

              that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in

              white raiment"


        3.  their crowns

            - not ruling crowns (diadema), but victor's

              crowns (stephanos)

            - crowns that had been given at the Judgement

              Seat of Christ (later cast them at Christ's

              feet in Rev. 4:10)


    - the verses that we mentioned say these elders, these

      representatives of the church are doing certain things


    C.  What are they doing?


        1.  worshipping God  (evident in all of these



        2.  intimately aware of God's program


            Rev. 5:5 - "And one of the elders said unto me,

                 Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of

                 Judah, the root of david, hath prevailed to

                 open the scroll, and to loose its seven



        3.  ministering priests


            Rev. 5:8 - having harps, golden bowls of incense


        - therefore, the bottom line answer to what will the

          church be doing doing the tribulation is, exactly

          what Christ had prayed for before He left earth


        - Remember in John 17, He prayed for you and for me,


         3 - they might know Thee, the only true God, and

               Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent


        11 - that they might be kept through Thine own Name


        13 - My joy might be fulfilled in them


        17 - they might be sanctified through Thy truth


        24 - that they would be with Me where I am, and

               behold My glory

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video