Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Great Tribulation: a cavalcade of evil

The Word for today:
Revelation 8
mark this: Revelation 6:1 & 8:1-2 --
As I watched, the Lamb broke the first of the seven seals on the scroll...
When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven trumpets...
Have you ever been in trouble?
Certainly you have. We are born to it:
Man is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly upward. (Job 5:7)
In our reading of Revelation, we have entered the Great Tribulation Period. (Described in chapters 6-19, the Tribulation will involve the whole earth. See Revelation 3:10.)
"The Great Tribulation" sounds like a phrase invented by some stern fundamentalist preacher.
But, in fact, the term was originally spoken by Jesus Christ:
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:21)
Jesus first used that specific phrase, but this period of great trouble had been prophesied throughout scripture. The Old Testament described it as the time of Jacob's Trouble:
Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is the time of Jacob's trouble. (Jeremiah 30:7)
The Tribulation is a seven-year period, the 70th "seven" as predicted by the prophet Daniel. (For further information about this pivotal prophecy, found in Daniel 9:27, see the "Stand in the Rain" article of December 15, 2013).
American English has a figurative expression which, if spoken literally, precisely describes what the Great Tribulation will be like:
All hell breaks loose.
God does not initiate, generate, or instigate the tragedy and terror which will ensue. He has been restraining evil since the Garden of Eden in order that the Good News of salvation through Christ could be effectively proclaimed (1).
But in the Great Tribulation, the restraints God has placed upon evil are going to come unsealed. When they do, in Revelation 6, a cavalcade of evil is loosed--and the Great Tribulation has begun:
The first seal: false "Christ"
The second seal: war
The third seal: famine
The fourth seal: death
The fifth seal: martyred believers
The sixth seal: cosmic disturbances
(The opening of the seventh seal ushers in the seven "trumpet" judgments of Revelation 8-9.)
Evil has an energy, a momentum. The consequences of evil actions, words, or intentions ripple outward from their point of origin. God has, to a great degree, contained or curtailed the immediate consequences of evil. And judgment has been delayed or deferred. (That's why "lightning" doesn't strike the sinning soul on the spot. Good thing for me!)
But in the Great Tribulation Period, the pit bull (so to speak) comes unchained.
While the book of Revelation is an apocalypse--an unveiling--of Jesus Christ, the Great Tribulation Period is an apocalypse--an uncovering--of the human heart of darkness, which scripture so succinctly described long ago:
The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
 (Jeremiah 17:9)
It is imperative, as the Bible student reads this horrific expose`, that (s)he understands this:
God didn't cause Jacob's Trouble. He didn't cause my trouble, and he didn't cause yours. And he didn't cause the parade of evil which passes in review during the Great Tribulation.
He just stopped stopping it.
(1) see 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7

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