How Bad Will the Tribulation Be?
By Pastor Boyd & David Jeremiah
May 3rd 2021
Our culture has embraced the idea of suffering for a cause, but it has cheapened the concept of martyrdom in the process. Terms like social change martyr, digital martyr, work martyr, and political martyr have expanded the meaning of martyr to include any inconvenience resulting from expressing an opinion. But in order to understand just how bad the Tribulation will be, we need to know what words like martyr mean in their biblical context.
What Does It Mean to Be a Martyr?
Revelation 6:9 makes the meaning clear: "When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held." Slain is a sacrificial term that means "slaughter, butcher, murder." God's people have always experienced persecution in parts of the world, and many have sacrificed their lives for the Gospel throughout the centuries. As the world's end draws near, persecution will rise to unprecedented levels, and many will be martyred—murdered—for their faith.
When the fifth seal is opened, every Christian, whether dead or alive, will have been raptured to heaven at the beginning of the Tribulation. This suggests the martyrs in Revelation chapter 6 will be new converts to Christianity during the Tribulation period. In a world dominated by evil, their faith will lead to a bloody massacre. Jesus described their suffering in His Olivet Discourse: "Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other" (Matthew 24:9–10, NLT).
There will be no room for lukewarm Christians during the Tribulation. For many believers, following Christ will demand the ultimate sacrifice. For every believer, following Christ will require carefully counting the cost. The Tribulation martyrs will weigh their earthly suffering against the greater spiritual suffering of denying Christ, and they will arrive at the same conclusion as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who was hanged during World War II:
[Messengers of the Gospel] must not fear men. Men can do them no harm, for the power of men ceases with the death of the body. But they must overcome the fear of death with the fear of God. The danger lies not in the judgement of men, but in the judgement of God, not in the death of the body but in the eternal destruction of body and soul. Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men.
Why Will Believers Be Martyred?
The apostle John says the Tribulation martyrs will be killed "for the word of God and for the testimony which they held" (Revelation 6:9). Armed with the truth of God's Word, the martyrs will preach repentance and warn of the judgment to come. In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul describes the Christian life as a fragrance that smells like a sweet perfume to God and other Christians. But to "those who are perishing," the aroma smells like decay and death (verses 14–16).
During the Tribulation, there will be few believers around to appreciate the fragrance of righteousness. Most people will have hardened their hearts and will reject the message of salvation. With the Antichrist firmly in control of world politics and religion, society will react violently to any trace of Christianity. Many will be called upon during the Tribulation to love God more than their very lives (Revelation 12:11; see also Psalm 44:22).
Why Won't the World Listen?
A story from the Old Testament helps us understand how humans, who were created in God's image, could hate someone for serving Him. Two kings, Ahab of Israel and Jehoshaphat of Judah, were preparing for war. Jehoshaphat insisted on consulting one of God's prophets. Ahab, who worshiped false gods, summoned four hundred prophets who readily agreed with the kings' battle plan. Jehoshaphat wasn't fooled and again asked for a prophet of the Lord. Ahab finally admitted there was one godly prophet, Micaiah, who could be consulted. Before calling the prophet, Ahab explained his disregard this way: "I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil" (1 Kings 22:8).
Ahab rejected truth because it did not conform to his expectations. He preferred the flattery of pagan prophets to the sincerity of God's prophet. In 2 Timothy 4:3–4, the apostle Paul warned Timothy that a time would come when mankind "will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." Ahab's attitude is typical of what happens in a heart that has turned away from God.
The Digital Age has made it possible for people to select which news they hear and how it is reported. Universities have created safe spaces where students can insulate themselves from unwelcome ideas. Recent court cases have threatened the civil liberties of Christian business owners who try to conduct their businesses according to biblical standards. When Christianity in practice arouses the dormant conscience of a non–Christian, the response is to "kill the messenger." That is why Christians have been persecuted throughout history and will be increasingly persecuted as the Day of the Lord draws near.
How Will God Punish the Martyrs' Persecutors?
The apostle John describes the martyrs as crying out from under an altar contained inside the fifth of seven seals on a scroll (Revelation 6:9–10). Each of these seals represents a separate judgment upon the earth. This means the world will be judged, among other things, for the blood of the martyrs.
Beginning in Revelation 8, John describes seven trumpet judgments that declare the Lord's final intervention on earth. They present a picture of the world ruined by man. The final trumpet blow reveals God's final seven judgments upon the earth, which are the bowl judgments detailed in chapter 16. The trumpet judgments present the world ruled by Satan. The bowl judgments present the world reclaimed by God.
The prayers of the saints crying out for justice become the punishment of the sinners. The third bowl judgment, turning freshwater to blood, declares God's retribution against those who have martyred His people. Here are the words of the angel who pours out this judgment:
You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due. Revelation 16:5–6
Why Will God Wait to Punish the Persecutors?
In the words of 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent" (NLT).
In Revelation 6, the martyrs' cries for justice were answered with white robes and encouragement to "rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed" (verse 11). As in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, God will delay His judgment until every willing soul is preserved (Genesis 18:32). Now in Revelation 16, the cries are answered with the Lord's vengeance.
Freshwater rivers and lakes will turn into bloody water when the third bowl is poured. Once again, the altar is the focus of this message of retribution because the souls of the slain are held under the altar. The angel declares God's justice in judging His enemies. This bowl pours out the judgment requested by the martyrs.
As terrible as the Tribulation will be, it is only a small taste of what awaits those who reject the Gospel. The days of the Tribulation are limited to seven years, but anyone who does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord will suffer forever.
Some people dismiss the reality of hell by thinking it's where their friends are going so they might as well go there too. Jesus disproved this idea with a story he told in Luke 16 about a godly beggar named Lazarus and an ungodly, unnamed rich man. Lazarus died and was taken to heaven, but the rich man died and was tormented in Hades. The rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his family—to testify to them about the reality of heaven and hell—because he did not want his brothers to end up in the same awful place.
Abraham refused to send Lazarus to the rich man's family saying, "They have Moses and the prophets" (Luke 16:29). Like the rich man, God has told us everything we need to know about heaven and hell and how our decisions will lead us to one place or the other. He waits patiently today for each person's decision, but one day the verdict will be final. "The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty" (Numbers 14:18).
How Do the Bowl Judgments Affect Christians Today?
If you are a Christian, these judgments will not affect you. You will not be on earth when they occur. But, as with all Scripture, there is an application to be made, for the signs of the coming of the Lord are evident. If the Lord Jesus Christ returned today, the events described in Revelation 15—16 would probably take place no later than seven years from now. Who do you know who is young enough to still be alive seven years from now? Do they know Christ? If the Rapture occurred today, would they be left behind to endure the seven bowl judgments?
Conclusion by Pastor Boyd
Do you remember your history? Do you know what the Naxis did during World War Two? How the killing gradually increased over time to not only the extermination of the Jews, but all of what Hitler said were the inferior races? This never was a war of soldier against soldier, but a war against mankind, a genocide to leave only what the Nazis called the Aryan Race to rule the planet. The myth of the Aryans was a lie made up to inspire the easily led German people to think they were here to rule the world. The horror they created was beyond belief. Here are the stats from that period:
Researchers at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum released a few years back documentation that astounds even the most informed scholars steeped in the previously known statistics of German atrocities. Here is some of what has now been conclusively discovered:
There were more than 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe from 1933 to 1945.
There were 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1000 prisoner of war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, “Germanizing” prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers.
The best estimate using current information available is 15 to 20 million people who died or were imprisoned in sites controlled by the Germans throughout the European continent.
Simply put, in the words of Hartmut Berghoff, Director of the German Historical Institute in Washington, “The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought; we knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was, but the actual numbers are unbelievable.”
And what makes this revelation so important is that it forces us to acknowledge a crucial truth about the Holocaust that many people have tried to ignore or to minimize – a truth that has profound contemporary significance: The unspeakable crime of the 20th century, more than the triumph of evil, was the sin of the “innocent” bystander.
For years our efforts to understand the Holocaust focused on the perpetrators. We looked for explanations for the madness of Mengele, the obsessive hatred of Hitler, the impassive cruelty of Eichmann. We sought answers to how it was possible for the criminal elements, the sadists and the mentally unbalanced to achieve the kind of power that made the mass killings feasible.
That was because we had no idea of the real extent of the horror. With more than 42,000 ghettos and concentration camps scattered throughout the length and breadth of a supposedly civilized continent, there’s no longer any way to avoid the obvious conclusion. The cultured, the educated, the enlightened, the liberal, the refined, the sophisticated, the urbane – all of them share in the shame of a world that lost its moral compass and willingly acceded to the victory of evil.
“We had no idea what was happening” needs to be clearly identified as “the great lie” of the years of Nazi power. The harsh truth is that almost everyone had to know. The numbers negate the possibility for collective ignorance. And still the killings did not stop, the torture did not cease, the concentration camps were not closed, the crematoria continued their barbaric task.
The “decent” people were somehow able to rationalize their silence, unable to do any critical thinking, almost like they did not want to know.
This was the despicable spirit of Antichrists' that filled the hearts and minds of the wicked at that time. This spirit survived even after the war when 1.5 million Germans were slaughtered as they returned to Germany from living in other countries that were now kicking them out of their homes. These German refugees were attacked by left over foreign armies, citizens, officials and murdered mercilessly along the highways and byways, put on trial and hung in the town squares, women who slept with the nazis were stripped of their hair, with swastikas carved in their forehead to be forever shamed. Many who could not stand the stigma committed suicide.
So you see this spirit of Antichrist even moved against the Germans themselves. This spirit of Antichrist has risen its ugly head again in our time with anti-semitism returning to Europe, the middle east, etc.
Then we read on the Georgia Guidestones that the elite globalists want to cull the population of the world to 500,000,000 million! So you see this spirit is not done with mankind yet and will go on to intensify and grow in the tribulation to come to destroy at least half the world’s population which is many times worse than the holocaust ever was.
You see with the holy spirit gone from the earth this will leave no restraints on them who want to work evil in the world. One much like Hitler, who was a forerunner of the Antichrist, will come to power preaching peace as Adolph once did, only to completely turn on mankind killing off Christians, Jews, and whomever they feel are inferior races.
As the world weakens its reasoning minds with mind bending drugs like meth, which is exactly what the Nazis did to empower their troops, it is easy for the devil to move into your consciousness and take over what mind you have left.
Why don’t you post this ridiculous “tribulation/rapture” nonsense on some whackjob religious forum?
Because you and others need to be forewarned of what's about to happen, so after the Rapture, you will know for certain we weren't crazy and understand your ONLY hope to escape Hell and damnation is to believe on Christ, but also understanding the cost to you will be your life.
God is perfectly holy, completely just and merciful. You can rant against Him, but one day, even your knee will bow in the awful reality (or blessed reality) that Jesus Christ is Lord. EVERY knee will bow. You won't have a choice.
So “scripture” says 2.5 billion will die in WWIII? Uh-huh. 🙄
Dumbasses rolled their eyes prior to WWII or are you smarter than they?
I cannot fathom why people have to learn the same nasty lessons over and over but here you are, despising experience and logic.
You people are luckier than you realize.
The rapture is a 19th century invention. Nobody is ranting against God, just nutjob religious fanatics flapping around bleating about the end is near.
I'm a post trib Christian. I don't believe Christians will be transported out of the 4th dimension prior to the really bad stuff happening.
The end isn't near, it's here, BTW.
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