If we were in a movie theater the ominous music would alert us that something earth shaking is about to happen. God warned through His prophets for centuries that The Day of the Lord will surely come. This is the time when God has determined that He will settle all accounts with humanity, including His chosen people. In the first three and one-half years, God has sent warnings through the seal judgments and the first six trumpet judgments including the first two woes. The judgments have impacted the earth in various ways, and the two woes involved demonic forces that tortured and killed wicked people. Many people have responded with true belief, but many others are still in deep rebellion. In the interlude John is told to keep prophesying, for the worst is yet to come.
The Tribulation began with the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Antichrist (Daniel 9:27). In the middle of the Tribulation the Antichrist will break this peace treaty, and the Jews will become the target of Antichrist’s fury. Some time prior to that the Jewish temple will be rebuilt and sacrifices resumed. So, this section introduces us to some concepts and characters that focus on the city of Jerusalem and the orthodox Jews who worship there.
DAY ONE: JOHN IS FOCUSED ON ACTIVITIES IN JERUSALEM.
READ: Revelation 11:1-14
A. JOHN IS TOLD TO MEASURE THE TEMPLE AND ALTAR.
This has been confusing and controversial to readers of Revelation, because we are not told when the temple was rebuilt. However there are several prophecies that indicate that a literal temple will exist in the Tribulation period.
- Matthew 24:15 – Jesus speaks of an “abomination” like the one spoken of in Daniel will take place in the holy place in the last days.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:4 – Paul teaches that the Antichrist will set himself up “in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
- Daniel 9:27 – Daniel says that in the last days the Antichrist will stop sacrifices and grain offerings. These offerings could only be done in the temple in Jerusalem.
There is a group that exists today in Jerusalem called the Temple Mount Faithful. They are assembling materials for rebuilding the temple and training priests to carry out the sacrifices. Daily Jews come to the Western Wall to pray for God to restore their temple.
This temple is not sanctioned by God anywhere in Scripture because the temple sacrifices became obsolete when Jesus fulfilled the law. However, God obviously allows a new temple to stand for a short period of time. By telling John to measure the temple and the altar, it is assumed that He has a purpose for it during the first half of the Tribulation involving the Jews and during the second half involving the activities of Antichrist. So, it will be protected even though the Gentiles will trample on the outer court for 42 months.
B. TWO WITNESSES WILL BE MARTYRED AND THEN RESURRECTED.
Again the identity of the two witnesses has been subject to widespread speculation. However, they are not identified by name. They are two prophets who are empowered by God to be sound witnesses to truth during the first half of the Tribulation period (1,260 days).
The witnesses are clothed in sackcloth, which is the Middle Eastern way of expressing shock and mourning. They witness the evil and calamity brought about by Gentiles, Antichrist and Jews who are in rebellion against God and His Son. There is always reason for mourning when we look around and observe the world that is sold out to evil.
They are described as the two olive trees and the two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of the earth. They are sent to function as well-fueled lamps from God to the dark earth. These two mysterious witnesses have an unending supply of power from the Holy Spirit to maintain a strong light in this dark period. They are protected from the many people who would try to harm them. They are given a supernatural ability to send fire from their mouths and devour their enemies. They are also given the ability to perform miracles to verify the truth of their spoken words. God never leaves Himself without a powerful witness on earth.
When their 1260 days are complete, their martyrdom and ascension provide a dramatic exit from the earth. They are killed by the Antichrist (11:7). Their bodies will be allowed to remain unburied for three and one-half days. The entire evil world will celebrate. This “Holy City” is now being called Sodom because of its moral decadence and Egypt for its spiritual rebellion against the true God. The worldwide celebration of the death of these two faithful witnesses speaks to the worldwide impact their witness has been.
The celebration is cut short when the two witnesses are resurrected and a voice from Heaven calls them to ascend. There is terror in the people who witness this scene. The terror is heightened by a sudden earthquake that causes severe damage and death in the city. Can anyone deny that God is in control? Will this cause some to think seriously about their choices? The death and resurrection and ascension of the two witnesses illustrate the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. It validates the testimony regarding Christ that the witnesses have faithfully spoken.
- What is the source of strength that these two witnesses have in order to face the entire unbelieving world with strong testimony? (Zechariah 4:6)?
- Look up sackcloth in the dictionary. What does it symbolize?
- What does being clothed in sackcloth suggest to the people who are observing the message of the two witnesses?
- What activities or situations in your society might cause you to want to dress in sackcloth?
- What modern technology could enable the whole world to witness the bodies of these two dead witnesses?
- In your opinion, what message was God sending to the people by their deaths and resurrection?
DAY TWO: SEVENTH TRUMPET SOUNDED
READ: Revelation 11:15-19
A. HEAVEN CELEBRATED TRANSFER OF POWER.
With the two witnesses out of the way, it is time for the wrath of God to be poured out on earth. The blowing of the seventh trumpet signals the pouring out of the seven bowls. When the seven bowls are poured out, the transfer of power will be complete. The kingdom of the world will give way to the kingdom of our Lord. He will reign forever and ever.
Needless to say, this is a time of great rejoicing for the saints and angels in heaven. Of course, the final bowls of wrath have not yet been poured out, but God’s people see it as an accomplished fact. The rest of Revelation will describe this outpouring and then the new kingdom will be a reality on earth as it is in heaven.
B. THE TWENTY FOUR ELDERS WORSHIP.
These figures who regularly worship before the throne now praise God that He has begun to reign over the ages-long rebellious earth. They praise Him that His wrath has been poured out. Evil has been judged rightly. They praise Him for His righteous judgment of those who destroy the earth and for His righteous rewarding of those who have honored God and for the prophets who have served well in hard circumstances.
C. HEAVEN OPENS AND STORMS HIT THE EARTH.
At this point God’s temple was opened so that the Ark of the Covenant was visible to John and perhaps to the inhabitants on earth. This Ark was a symbol of God’s covenant with Israel. It contained the law and was covered on top with the mercy seat of God. God has not forgotten his promises and covenant with Israel… We will see an even greater focus on Israel in Chapter 12.
With the opening of the temple of heaven, there followed flashes of lightning, thunder, rumblings, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. These symbols always show God’s power that is about to be unleashed on earth. God will act on behalf of Israel so that the Antichrist will not be able to completely destroy the chosen nation.
- What has God revealed about the casting off of His chosen people? (Romans 11:1-5)
- How are Gentiles related to this covenant with Israel? (Galatians 3:29)
- What does Luke say about the rewarding of God’s people for faithful service? (Luke 19:11-27)
- The twenty-four elders are specific in their praise and worship. What specific thing causes you to praise God this week?
- Meditate on the time when you will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive your reward for faithful service. What current acts of service occupy your life?
DAY THREE: STRANGE SIGNS APPEAR IN THE SKY.
READ: Revelation 12:1-6
A. A PREGNANT WOMAN CRIES OUT IN PAIN.
Satan has been at war with humanity in general and Israel in particular since the beginning of time. Now his battle will intensify as his time is running short. The woman in the sign obviously represents Israel. The sun and moon and stars are Old Testament symbols used with Israel in Joseph’s dream (Genesis 37:8-10). The twelve stars represent the twelve tribes.
The woman is experiencing labor pains. She is about to deliver, and an adversary is waiting to destroy her offspring.
B. A RED DRAGON SEEKS TO DESTROY THE CHILD.
There is little doubt that this dragon is Satan as revealed in v. 9. He is described as having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. This is the form that satanic power will take in these final days of the Tribulation. He will make a final push for Gentile world power. His battle for dominance is described in Daniel 7, using the same imagery of heads and horns.
The dragon has plenty of help as he takes one third of the angels with him in his rebellion. He obviously believes that he can conquer the earth and destroy the human savior. He has tried many times in different ways to destroy the chosen people and the Messiah.
Satan tried to destroy Jesus immediately after He was born, but God sent the holy family to Egypt for protection. Later he tried to thwart God’s plan for Jesus by tempting Him to get the kingdom without the cross. Finally he entered Judas and influenced the Jewish leaders to kill Jesus, but the grave couldn’t hold Him. Finally the risen Jesus was taken up into heaven until time for His second coming when He will rule the earth with an iron scepter. Israel will soon give birth to a believing remnant that will form the nucleus for the Kingdom with Messiah as ruler.
At this point, Satan and Antichrist will try again to destroy Israel, so God will send the worshipping Jews to a safe place in the desert for 1,260 days.
- Read Genesis 37:9-10. How is Joseph’s dream similar to the description of the woman?
- What did God promise about the nation of Israel? (Jeremiah 31:35-36.)
- Who is described as god of this world? (2 Corinthians 4:4)
- Where is the likely place where the Jews will be hidden for three and one-half years? (Matthew 24:15-16; Isaiah 63:1-4; Revelation 12:14)
- God is a protector of His own people. What has He promised to believers today? (John 10:28)
- How does God tell us to deal with Satan’s personal attacks? (James 4:7)
- How does it help you to know Satan’s goals and purposes regarding humans? (1 Peter 5:8)
- Review our great promise regarding our spiritual battles in 1 John 4:4.
DAY FOUR: A HEAVENLY WAR ENSUES.
READ: Revelation 12:7-12
A. MICHAEL AND HIS ANGELS FIGHT THE DRAGON FORCES.
In the interlude in the middle of the Tribulation war breaks out on earth between the Antichrist and the ten kings of the revived Roman Empire. War also breaks out in the atmospheric heaven where Satan abides. The war involves Michael and his forces against Satan and his fallen angels.
B. SATAN IS CAST DOWN TO EARTH.
Michael wins the war and Satan is cast down to earth where he is confined for the next 42 months. There are two results:
- Satan no longer has access to heaven so he will no longer be the accuser of the brethren. There is great rejoicing in heaven for this.
- Satan is filled with wrath because he knows his time is short. This means war for the earth. Satan is furious. Jesus is now on the throne in heaven and Satan is cast down.
C. THE SAINTS OVERCAME SATAN.
How did the saints overcome Satan? How can we overcome him today?
- By the blood of the lamb – By belief in Christ and his finished work on the cross wherein He paid for sin. Satan now has no basis to condemn believers before a just God.
- By the word of their testimony – Speaking for Christ in opposition to the world’s belief in Satan’s lies. Every believer who does this weakens Satan’s position.
- They did not love their lives – They would not shrink back upon threat of death. Satan could no longer use the fear of death to control these people.
- How was Satan’s previous position and place of abode described? (Ephesians 2:2)
- What was the result of Satan’s expulsion according to verse Rev. 12 9?
- What kind of accusations might Satan bring against true believers?
- What great promise do you find in Romans 5:8-9?
- Review the ways that the saints overcame Satan. How does this compare with the tactics of your spiritual battles?
DAY FIVE: DRAGON PURSUES THE WOMAN.
READ: Revelation 12:13-17
A. WOMAN ESCAPES TO THE DESERT.
Now Satan’s fury is turned toward Israel, the nation that produced the Messiah. The Jews living in Judea during the end times are now his target. But God will save a remnant who will become the believing nation serving their King Messiah.
So God gives Israel the “wings of an eagle” (supernatural speed) to escape to a prepared place in the desert for three and one-half years. This place will be supernaturally protected from Satan’s reach.
The Devil tried to stop the fleeing people with a flood of opposition, but they were supernaturally protected.
B. ENRAGED DRAGON TURNS AGAINST BELIEVERS.
Satan becomes like a trapped animal. He begins persecuting believers through his human agents. Satan watches as Antichrist begins waging war against the saints. These may be believing Jews and believing Gentiles who are true sons of Abraham.
- What was another time God provided “wings of an eagle” for Israel’s flight? (Exodus 19:4)
- What was another time when an army or a power was described as a river? (Psalm 124:1-8)
- How does Paul describe our battle today? (Ephesians 6:10-12)
- What promise is given to believers in Isaiah 40:31?
- Copy this beautiful promise on a note card and memorize it. Share it with someone you know who is fearful or discouraged.
Satan has always hated the chosen people because they are the vehicle through which God provided salvation for the world. He also hates Gentile believers (the Church) and tries to destroy the effectiveness of God’s people in every age.
These last days Satan will unleash a wave of anti-Semitism and persecution of all believers. But a remnant of Jews will be ready to receive their Messiah and form the nucleus for the Kingdom on earth. (Zechariah 12)
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK
Believers can always defeat Satan by being faithful to Jesus Christ and His teachings.
Review the method of defeating Satan (James 4:7) and use this verse this week when you are attacked in some way.
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