By Nathan Jones
Will the first half of the Tribulation be peaceful?
On July 23, 2014, I was interviewed by Vic Batista, senior pastor of the Miami-based Calvary Chapel Aventura on his radio program "The Truth Will Set You Free" via TWave Radio. "Pastor Vic" (as he likes to be called) was born in the Dominican Republic and is as active in planting churches and helping orphans there as he is in southern Florida, reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ to both the English and Spanish speaking audiences.
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" episode, we discuss the differences between the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation. The first half of the discussion is in English, while the second half is translated into Spanish.
Unleashing the Antichrist
Nathan: Revelation divides the judgments of the Tribulation into three groups of seven – the Seven Seal Judgments, the Seven Trumpet Judgments and the Seven Bowl Judgments.
The First Seal Judgment starts with the Antichrist conquering the world. The world will cry out for a one-world ruler to fix all of their problems. They world will get someone who at first will dazzle them, but as time goes on they're not going to like the person whom they get. Initially, he'll be a great orator and a great politician. Revelation 6 says he conquers with a bow, but he has no arrows. In other words, he doesn't at first need war to conquer. But, as soon as the Antichrist sets up the peace treaty with Israel according to Daniel 9, that's when the seven-year Tribulation begins.
Vic: The old saying is true, "We get what we ask for."
Nathan: Oh, yes, indeed. Just look at what the former head of the UN said. He decried about how much the world needs a one-world ruler to bring peace and harmony, and that the world couldn't care less whether the man was a god or a demon, either way we would all accept him. And, a demon is what they're going to get – Satan himself.
The Antichrist will be a monster of a person possessed by Satan. He'll plunge the world into World War III. We read in the Second Seal Judgment how the world will be plunged into a war as the Antichrist conquers those different nations which resist his rule.
The Antichrist's peace treaty with Israel protects Israel for the first 3.5 years of the Tribulation. We know from Revelation and also Daniel that Israel will be at peace for the first 3.5 years of the Tribulation. The Antichrist will then use that time to conquer the rest of the world. We read that a quarter of the world population will die in that war, which is 1.5 billion people in today's numbers.
Vic: Oh, how awful. Nathan, we know that all this is coming right around the corner in a sense compared to the thousands of years that we've waited for Israel to become a nation again. These Tribulation events can literally unfold in the very near future.
Nathan: Yes, I agree. Jesus said that as we get closer and closer to the end times, then the signs of the end times which He gives us in Matthew 24 will come upon the world more frequent and more intense. For example, with natural disasters, we've always had them, but they will come more frequently and more intensely. The chaos from the fragility of the politics of the world will come more frequent and more intense. The wars and rumors of wars will come more frequently and more intensely, and we are seeing this happening this very day.
Just watch the news and you'll see how the world is ratcheting up for something big. In the center of it all is Israel, just like God said in Zechariah 12 and 14. He said that Israel would become the center of the world's attention. The world today blames Israel for all of its problems, for its financial problems and for the political situation in the Middle East. Antisemitism is on the rise, so we know that prophecy is being fulfilled and that Jesus is coming back soon.
After this terrible world war in the Seal Judgments of Revelation 6, the Third Seal Judgment will follow bringing famine and disease. The result will be another quarter of the world's population will die. So, just in the first year or two of the Tribulation, half the world's population will die from war, famine and plague.
Vic: Absolutely terrible! What a sound of alarm that should be for people today to take seriously.
Vic: Nathan, the first half of the Tribulation, will it seem then that everything's peaceful?
Nathan: Well, for the Jews it will be. They are engaged in a peace treaty with the Antichrist, so they're protected. The treaty likely is the result of another war talked about in Ezekiel 38 and 39, and that's the Gog & Magog War. That's when all the Islamic nations come against Israel, along with Russia. God steps in and destroys those nations and their armies. Just think of Russia and the Middle East no longer being a player in world politics. That's a huge change! So, Israel will be at peace, but the rest of the world will be in a world war.
Some theologians believe that the first half of the Tribulation will be peaceful and the second half of the Tribulation is all out war and destruction, but that's far from the truth. Just read about the first four Seal Judgments and you'll see the whole world is plunged into war, except for Israel. Death will be everywhere, so the first half is hardly peaceful.
In the fifth and last part of this discussion with Pastor Vic on the Great Tribulation, we'll learn why the second half of the Tribulation is even worst than the first, but offer up real hope.