Midpoint of the Tribulation: Earth’s Perspective

PART TWO:

In our last post we examined heaven’s perspective of what will occur at the midpiont of the Tribulation.  Satan will attempt to usurp God’s throne in Heaven.  Michael the Archangel will stand up from his post restraining the Beast from the abyss to do war with Satan and his demons.  Michael and the Heavenly Host will overcome Satan and throw him to the Earth.  During this heavenly war, the Beast from the abyss will escape to the Earth and possess the Antichrist.

In this post we will discuss what three main events will happen on Earth.   The Beast empowered Antichrist will invade Israel and capture Jerusalem, he will kill the Two Witnesses and then will sit in the Temple of God and proclaim himself to be God.

The Antichrist Captures Jerusalem

Many prophecy teachers wrongly assume this passage from Luke applies to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.  It does not. Those events were a foreshadow of what is to come.

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.  Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.  And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21: 20-24 NASB)

How can we be sure these are future events?  First notice the verse “for these are the days of vengeance that all things which are written may be fulfilled.”  Obviously all prophecy wasn’t fulfilled in 70 AD.

Second notice the exact paralellism of these 3 verses from Luke, Matthew and Mark.

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.  Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  (Luke 21: 20 -21 NASB)

So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Mark 13: 14 NASB)

Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation’, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  (Matt. 24: 15-16 NASB)

All three verses speak of the desolation of Jerusalem and fleeing to the mountains.  Luke simply gives an earlier look at what will be a singular event, the capture of Jerusalem and the Abomination.

Third, if the events in Luke truly were in regard to 70 AD, Jesus was giving his followers terrible advice.  The Roman armies slowly approached Jerusalem starting in 66 AD.  By the time they encircled the city it was too late to escape.  Many were slaughtered at this time trying to slip through the Roman lines.

Samuel Clough does a fantastic job clearly defining that Luke 21: 20-24 is future.  Now that we are sure, let’s carefully look at what it prophesies.  It clearly states that many will die in the seige of Jerusalem and that many will be taken as captives into “all the nations.”  This imprisionment of the Jews (and Jesus’ subsequent setting the captives free) is found in numerous scriptures.  (Psalm 14:7; 102:13,19, 20; Isaiah 11:11-12,15-16; 27:12-13; 35:5-6; 42:6-7,16; 52:11-12; 61:1-3; Jeremiah 31:8-10; Ezekiel 39:25-28; Joel 2:32-3:1; Hosea 11:11; Micah 2:12-13; 4:6-7; 5:6; 7:12; Zechariah 10:6-11).

In my new book Are We Ready for Jesus? How to prepare for his return  I discuss how Jesus wants his church to prepare for this horrific event and how he wants us to care for our brother Jacob (Israel.)

The Times of the Gentiles

The passage then concludes saying that Jerusalem will be trampled until the Times of the Gentiles are complete.   What does “the Times of the Gentiles” mean?  Is it the entire time from 70 AD until the present or is it the three and a half years that the Antichrist and his empire control Jerusalem?

The Greek word translated times is kairos which means appointed time.  This is the same word used in the Septuagint translation of Daniel 7: 25 for “time, times and half a time” which is the known to mean the final 42 month reign of the Antichrist.  Revelation makes it clear that the “trampling” of the city will be this three and a half year period.

But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:2 NKJV)

Isaiah poetically describes this period:

So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.  I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned or hoed, But briers and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it. (Isa. 5: 5-6 NASB, emphasis mine)

Notice this also refers to the trampling, and biers and thorns (the gentile nations) growing up within Israel.  Jerusalem falls because God removes his hedge of protection.  Of greatest interest to me is the final line that says no rain will fall.  Is this part of the mission of the two witnesses?

These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. (Rev. 11: 6 NASB)

After the capture of Jerusalem, the Antichrist is ready for his defining moment.

The Abomination

After the Antichrist captures Jerusalem, kills the Witnesses and sends all remaining Jews into captivity, he is ready to take his seat in the Temple of God and proclaim himself as God.  This is the event known as the Abomination of Desolation.  The desolation here refers to the Jews being removed from the Temple and Jerusalem.  The actual Abomination may be the “image of the Beast” referred to in Revelation 13 or may be a combination of that and the Antichrist proclaiming he is God.  More information is found in HANUKKAH AND THE FUTURE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION and THE SIXTH SIGNPOST: THE ABOMINATION.

The Desolation of the Abomination

Jesus refers to the Abomination of the Desolation.  The Greek word translated Desolation is erémósis which means devastation and of course, desolation, barren, and isolated.  This refers to the Temple of God and to the city, I believe.  The Temple is made barren as it is desecrated by the Abomination and the city is made barren after the Jews are taken into captivity.

After this horrifying event, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will begin requiring  the world’s inhabitants to worship the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation will begin.

 

27 thoughts on “Midpoint of the Tribulation: Earth’s Perspective”

  1. Why is it necessary the two witnesses have to come at beginning of 7 year,or at mid point why not year two?I Also find it hard to believe that they will die in last year,while wrath rapture no
    is happening, who is going to feel like giving gifts then,when you are fighting for your lives or hiding in caves.

    1. I need to revise this post. I believe I was wrong about the two witnesses. My current thinking is it is year 3 of the 70th Week until end of year 6, so I love your thinking Mike, outside the box of first half or second half. I plan to do a separate post on the witnesses at some point.

  2. Luke 21 is about 70 a.d. The roman army went into Jerusalem in 66 a.d. and then unexpectedly withdrew before coming back a bit later. Jesus knew that this would happen and that this withdrawal would allow people to flee. The final seven yrs is broken into 2 halfs. The first half is 3 and a half yrs and is the great tribulation. The second is 3 and a half yrs and it is called the wrath of God. The second half is when the two witnesses ministry takes place and they are killed at the end and raptured with the church. The first 5 seals cover the first half, the last two seals cover the last half. The seven trumpets are inside of the SEVENTH seal and the seven bowl judgements are inside of the SEVENTH trumpet.

    1. Thanks for reading Antoine, I agree with you about the 7 trumpets being released upon the 7th seal and the 7 bowls at the 7th trumpet. If you carefully refer back to the article you will see that although a foreshadow of the events in Luke 21 occurred in 70 AD, final fulfillment awaits the midpoint of the Tribulation. We know this with certainty because verse 22 says: “because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.” All things were not fulfilled in 70 AD. Nelson

  3. Hey Chris and Nelson;
    I have to get to work but I wanted to leave a quick comment.
    I believe the two witnesses will be in the first half of the seven years. Based on the Malachi passage I think there is a possibility they could come on the scene and begin preaching in preparation for the revealing of the Antichrist…
    but in revelation we see them being killed by the a. c. His followers rejoice and probably this leads to him taking his place in the abomination of desolation fulfillment.
    This sets the scene for the third woe that comes on the world which is the seventh trumpet blast. After that we still have the seven bowls of wrath. I see these being the last 3 1/2 years.

    More to say but I have to head off to work.

    Doug

  4. Nelson, I respect your work greatly but I just don’t see how the 2 witnesses can minister in the 1st half of the week.

    1. The “beast from the bottomless pit” kills them. That’s the 2nd beast/False Prophet. He “does his thing” during the 42 months, part of the war with the saints, IE the 2nd half. Satan is cast out in the middle of the week (ch 12) then we see the GT of ch 13.

    2. There can be no rapture/resurrection of anyone 3.5 years before the 7th trumpet. The fact they are raised and go in a cloud (ie to meet the Returning Jesus) tells me this is the same “last day” as the rest of the Church is gathered.

    Many blessings to you sir! 🙂

    1. Chris thank you for speaking out. Only “iron” sharpens “iron.” I try and not be dogmatic about many end time theories. We are all looking through a glass darkly. Someday we will know all but not yet. The Witnesses are an area where I don’t feel I have all the answers for sure. I used to believe that the witnesses’ ministry occurred in the second half of the Tribulation as you do. In fact on the post “THE GOSPEL IN THE END TIMES” written only a year ago, I state this. I used to believe they were God’s witness on the earth when the Christians and Jews take flight and go into hiding. This may still prove to be true.

      You are also correct that the witnesses are killed by the beast coming out of the abyss. This is the beast of Revelation 17 whom the harlot rides. This beast is more than a simple man. “Coming out of the abyss” implies its demonic component. So when does the beast arise? Certainly it arises from the pit at some point prior to the midpoint of the Tribulation (probably just prior) and possesses the man who will be Antichrist. It has to be in full control throughout the 42 months. This demonic empowered man then kills the witnesses. This could be anywhere from the midpoint on. To my thinking, as stated in the article, it is unthinkable that the Witnesses are in Jerusalem and the AC is declaring himself to be god in the temple at the same time. It just makes sense that the witnesses are getting the Jews and Christians ready for what will occur in the 42 months in the first 1260 days. Notice chapter 11 delineates these differently possibly to differentiate them as the first and second halves of the Tribulation.

      As far as no resurrection of anyone before the rapture of the Church, that is not clearly stated in scripture. God can do anything. He can resurrect these key individuals or, the 3.5 days may actually be years. Their bodies may be displayed for the entire 42 months and they may be raptured with everyone else.

      Of course, we both might be wrong! and God might have something entirely different in mind.

      BTW, I believe the rapture occurs at the sixth seal of Revelation, prior to God’s wrath being poured out after the 7th seal, but that is an entirely different (and lengthy) discussion. My reasons for that thinking are spelled out in the new book.

      Blessings to you as well Chris.

      1. Thank you Nelson. 🙂
        I know how being pliable can lead to a complete change of understanding of the Scriptures, praise God!

        You’re right, the beast from the bottomless pit has a Satanic component (5th trumpet, the angel from the pit is the leader of the locust army – re Joel 2 etc) – the False Prophet rises from the earth (pit). The 42 months vs 1260 days I always understood as the same period of time, just Darkness (lunar) vs Light (solar). True Prophets of God vs the False Prophet and the Beast? Like Elijah vs Baal re-kindled. I don’t see why their ministry would effect Christians and Jews hiding either way though – could you expound on that?

        Regarding their resurrection/rapture, God can do anything He wants clearly, but you can’t have something before the “first”, right? IE the First Resurrection of Rev. 20:5. 4 times in John 6 and in John 11:24 we are told the resurrection is on the “last day”. We are told the dead in Christ rise at the 7th Trumpet (IE the last day). I just don’t see how they would be a special exception to these rules. I also don’t see how 3.5 days could mean 3.5 years because that very chapter has no qualms about using that language. Know what I mean?

        I don’t disagree that the rapture & return are the 6th seal – I view the seals as the complete picture and the trumpets as details of the trib and vials as the wrath poured out as He comes with the armies of heaven. But as you said that’s a whole other conversation. 😉

        BTW I have a really crazy theory about who the 2 witnesses will be but that’s not ready for prime time yet lol. May His name be glorified in all we do…

        1. This is a great conversation.

          In answer to your question, the final 42 months the woman of Rev. 12 goes into hiding and as Amos tells us there will be a famine of God’s word. Into this vacuum, I believed the witnesses would give God praise in a world without a “witness”, they would provide it. This may yet prove to be true, however I doubt it. I think the martyrs of the Great Tribulation will be giving Him praise even unto death.

          BTW, Mark Davidson, my good friend, had the same thoughts as you with the phrase “on the last day” from John’s gospel. IMO this does not refer to a single ‘day’ but rather to the seventh day of the Creation prophecy (See Declaring the End from the Beginning on this site), the seventh thousandth year from creation of Adam. The seventh day is the Day of the Lord which includes his wrath and eventually the Millennial Kingdom; it’s the 1000 year reign of Christ.

          How this links with the Tribulation can be confusing until you realize the seven year Tribulation does not have to exactly coincide with the end of the sixth day. Rather the seventh year of the Tribulation may be the first year of the Day of the Lord. Thus the rapture can occur one year (or so) before the end of the Tribulation and thus fulfill both Jesus’ words in John about raising us on the “last day” and his words in Matthew that “those days might be cut short.” But this is too huge a conversation to have in a comment section, but I thought I’d give you my thoughts on that. Maybe someday I’ll do a post on “the last day.”

          I have a zillion ideas on who the witnesses might be and no definitive, dogmatic idea. I just know I’d love to meet them. Maybe God will preserve me till that day.

          Nelson

        2. Hey Chris, a couple comments on rapture timing that might need some explanation. Paul tells us that the resurrection and rapture occur at the “last trumpet” not at the seventh trumpet. They aren’t the same thing. The “last trumpet” is a Jewish idiom specific to Yom Teruah, it is the last, long trumpet blast on that day of trumpet blasts. This fits perfectly with another first century Jewish idiom, “the day and hour no man knows” which also means Yom Teruah. I a have an article on this site about that idiom. The book “The Last Shofar!” by Leonard and Zoller will shed even more light on this.

          The “last trumpet” then isn’t the very last trumpet blown (as a 21st century Christian might imagine), it is a specific day-related trumpet. Also notice it is called the trumpet of God. Yeshua blows the trumpet. The 7th trumpet is blown by an angel so we know without question that this is not the “last trumpet.”

          You also mentioned “the last day.” If this is truly a single physical day you are correct. However “a day is unto a thousand years” and I believe Jesus was speaking of the sixth 1000 year age, not the last physical day. The rest of scripture supports a rapture that is before God pours out his Wrath in the Trumpet and Bowl judgments.

          1. Nelson you know how much I respect you…at least I hope you do…but that “last trumpet isn’t the 7th trumpet” thing is a pre-trib invention. I say that as an ex-pre-tribber. Didn’t you just write an excellent article about how the battle of Jericho mirrored the Tribulation? Only 7 trumpets there, just like in Revelation. That’s 2 witnesses that the last is the 7th. IMO, Paul knew Joshua very well and knew when he said last people would know there are none after the “last”. 🙂

          2. Last trumpet IMO is blown on Yom Teruah, it is a Jewish idiom for the last trumpet blast (long blast). Just like the idiom “day and hour no man knows” is an idiom for Yom Teruah itself. The other reason 7th trump IMO isn’t the last is it is blown by an angel. Yeshua blows the trump of God. The book the Last Shofar! goes into much more detail. As you know, I support a pre-wrath/post trib rapture. This works perfectly with that view. Nelson

        3. Chris, one more thought on your comment about a “first” resurrection. We have had several already in history: Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son in II Kings, etc. Again, resurrections of individuals are at the Lord’s command, and the resurrection of the witnesses might come at the midpoint or the end. God will choose.

          1. Nelson,
            In every instance of resurrection in the bible, the number of days the person is dead does not exceed four. Lazarus was dead the longest because Jesus wanted all to see that only the son of God could raise a body to life on day four. The Jews stopped anointing the dead body after day three because they were now certain the person was truly dead. Jesus raised himself from death on the fourth day. IMO the Two Witnesses will be raised from death on day four also, not after 3 years.

      2. Hello I enjoy your teachings, thank you for sharing your wisdom that The Lord has blessed you with…I have only 2 questions…first isn’t their supposed to peace on earth during the 7 year peace treaty that will actually be cut down to 3 years? And second is it possible the church could be raptured sometime during the 3 years of peace? I always thought that the rapture of the church is supposed to happen when we least expect it. Doesn’t the bible say that people will be celebrating, getting married and having children when the rapture occurs. Like a thief in the night…

        1. Cbastias,

          Thanks for great questions. The first question is quick and easy. The Bible does not say that the world is at peace during this “peace” treaty. If you read THE ANTICHRIST BEFORE THE GREAT TRIBULATION on this site, you can see what the prophet Daniel has to say. He gives us amazingly specific information. You’ll notice the Antichrist fights a number of engagements with various countries during this time. This means the “peace” treaty is not a universal peace treaty. It may primarily be a treaty allowing the Jews to build a temple on the Temple Mount, or it might be a nuclear disarmament, or a treaty between the AC and Israel only. We aren’t yet sure.

          The second question has a much, much more lengthy answer. My new book, Are We Ready For Jesus? discusses a multitude of topics, one of which is rapture timing. It comes out in May of this year. I recommend you start there for a much more complete answer.

          If you read this post on this site FOUR HORSEMEN, JERICHO: A CONSISTENT PICTURE OF THE TRIBULATION you will see that Revelation teaches the rapture occurs in year six of the Tribulation. My book adds substantial addition proof of this timing. In the next few weeks look for additional posts that give detail biblical pictures of the entire 7 year Tribulation (one from 8 consecutive Psalms and another from the churches of the Revelation.) These additional pictures are consistent with a Rapture in year six.

          The bible teaches the ungodly will be eating and drinking, etc. NOT the church. It teaches we will not be taken by surprise. “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” (1 Thess. 5:4-6 NASB) The church will know “approximately” when the rapture is coming. We’ll know the year, we won’t know the day or the hour.

          Hope that wets your appetite. Sorry but the book devotes a half chapter to this topic and one comment can’t do it justice.

      3. Hi Neslon,
        Thanks for the work you have done.

        My brother sent me the link to this discussion per a discussion we were having about the same.

        I just wanted to bounce something off of you regarding the 2 Witnesses and as you put it “being unthinkable that the 2 Witnesses are in Jerusalem at the time of the Abomination of Desolation.” I figured that this could actually be very possible. Rev. 11:7. It says that the Beast will “(1)fight against them, (2)overcome them, and then (3)kill them”. This, to me, does not suggest that they are killed right away. I personally believe that if the Witnesses prophesying is in the first half (1260 Days = John 9:4), they could be (1) beaten, and (2) imprisoned, at the end of the 1260 days, in the beast’s custody, so to speak. In other words, ending their ministry. And then made to watch the AOD, as a punishment.

        Have you considered this?

        They then have to be killed at the end off the 42 months that follow because of the sequence of events in Rev. 11. Imprisoned until they are murdered at the end. Kind of like a John the Baptist and Herod thing, if you follow me.

        Thanks for your thoughts,

        Kevin

        1. Hi Kevin, I assume your brother is Chris. Great guy. I try to keep and open mind about end time issues. Two areas where I am still unsure are the witnesses and Mystery Babylon. Originally I thought the witnesses had their ministry during the 2nd half of the 70th Week of Daniel. Then I thought the first half for all the reasons I wrote. Now I am shifting back to the second half. One reason is the 2 pictures of the witnesses in the OT, in the story of Jericho and Gideon. In both of these OT foreshadows of Revelation, the witnesses act as spies on the enemy camp. Fast forwarding to the Book of Revelation, the only way they could be in the enemy camp is if their ministry is during the second half. I am also beginning to think the first half of the “week” may not be 1260 days long, but based on traditional solar years. (I am not sure about this yet.) This would also favor a 2nd half interpretation.

          Thanks for your viewpoint, this also is possible. These reasons are why I a still open minded about the possibilities.

  5. Nelson, Revelation 11:10 struck me as quite interesting; it says that the inhabitants of the earth celebrated and gave gifts to one another after the death of the two witnesses. I noticed that what John described has a striking similarity with a practice that occurs quite often with the Palestinians after Jews are killed in terror attacks: They celebrate, handing out candies and cookies to each other. (Gifts)?

    http://www.wnd.com/2014/11/more-terror-more-palestinians-dancing-in-streets/

    Could John have further identified Muslims as the children of the Beast, through a common practice, and not a one off kind of thing?

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