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Living in the Age of Signs

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What is the Tribulation?

The sign of the four riders will usher in the Tribulation period. Here are twelve answers to twelve questions about this phase of the End Times.

A Time of Unrestrained Evil

During the Tribulation, evil will flourish. God's wrath toward the wicked will be revealed. Signs of His coming judgment will loom. It will be a terrible time. But in His goodness, God has not left us unaware. The Bible describes various signs, disasters, and circumstances of this future event and how we can prepare for it.

What Signs Will Warn of the Approaching Tribulation Period?

We can expect ten events to occur in the days preceding the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation. They will continue to multiply and progress as the first 3½ years of the Tribulation unfold.

A Time of Deception

Matthew 24:5
Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.

A Time of Dissension

Matthew 24:6–7
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars … Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

A Time of Devastation

Matthew 24:7
There will be famines …

A Time of Disease

Matthew 24:7
… pestilences …

A Time of Disasters

Matthew 24:7
… and earthquakes in various places.

A Time of Death

Matthew 24:9
They will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.

You will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. –Matthew 24:9

A Time of Disloyalty

Matthew 24:10
Many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.

A Time of Delusion

Matthew 24:11
Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.

It is likely that the delusion will be facilitated by an increase in drug use. One of the characteristics of the End Times' false religion will be what Revelation calls "sorceries" (9:21). The word John uses is pharmakos, from which we get the word pharmacy. It is an ancient reference to the ingestion of drugs.

The use of mind–altering substances such as narcotics and hallucinogens will be associated with false religions, doubtless with the approval of the government.

A Time of Defection

Matthew 24:12
Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

People will turn away from God and from each other.

A Time of Declaration

Matthew 24:14
This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations.

What Will Happen on Earth During the Tribulation?

Things will be far worse than today (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Completion of the Rapture will usher in the seven–year period described in Revelation 6—18. For the first 3½ years, conditions will worsen; God's anger will burn against the wicked; and signs of Christ's coming will appear. During the last 3½ years, the "lawless one"—the Antichrist—will be empowered to sit at the center of the Tribulation's evil as he personifies Satan.

What Will Happen in Heaven During the Tribulation?

Christians will be in heaven. God will be seated on the throne, surrounded by a rainbow of emerald greens. Twenty–four elders representing the church–age saints will sit around the throne. Before the throne will be a sea of glass. Around the throne, there will be four living creatures, singing praise to the One on the throne. All heaven will worship the glorified Christ, the Creator of the world. God's judgment of the physical earth will soon follow, but before He does, the Church will worship earth's Creator in heaven. Thunder, lightning, and voices proceeding from the throne will signify the impending judgment (Revelation 4:5).

Will Christians Escape the Tribulation?

Yes, Christians will escape the seven–year nightmare of the Tribulation (Revelation 3:10).

The Bible clearly teaches that the Church will be raptured, or transported to heaven, before the Tribulation begins. This will be accomplished through the personal, bodily return of the Lord to remove His waiting Church from earth and to reward them according to their works. This will take place before the judgments of God are poured out upon the unbelieving world.

The church will be raptured before the great tribulation begins.

The following Scriptures support the imminent return of Christ for His Church prior to the Tribulation, rather than during or after it: 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 2 Thessalonians 2:8–12; Matthew 24:29–31; Revelation 21.

Excerpt from The Book of Signs:

Without any sign, without any warning, Jesus Christ will return to rapture His saints and take them to heaven. Paul understood the implications of this sign–less event. It means that we must be ready for the Lord's return at any time and at all times. Thus, he urged Titus to be always "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). (Chapter 12, "The Rapture," page 158)

What Natural Disasters Will Occur During the Tribulation?

The sun will turn black, the moon will turn red, and great earthquakes will be common.

Revelation 6:12 says, "Behold, there was a great earthquake." It continues, "The sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood." When Jesus died on the cross, the whole earth darkened at midday. When Egypt was judged, there was a blackness of night. When the Lord descended at Mt. Sinai, the mountain was shrouded in black clouds. Likewise, darkness will fall at the onset of the Tribulation period.

The stars will fall out of the sky.

Revelation 6:13
The stars of heaven fell to the earth.

The word "star" here is the Greek word aster and it refers to luminous bodies in the sky other than the sun and moon. Clearly these "stars" are not the distant stellar objects we know as stars. More likely, this refers to a cluster of asteroids that will pummel the earth.1

The mountains and islands will move.

Revelation 6:14
Every mountain and island was moved out of its place.

When the asteroids strike the earth, it is possible that the earth's crust will be so disturbed by the impact that great segments of it will actually begin to slip and slide over the earth's mantle. According to Dr. Henry Morris, those living in the regions above such shifting will observe the heavens appearing to move in the opposite direction, as if they are being "rolled up."2

The ocean will become blood.

As Revelation 8:8–9 explains, a great mountain burning with fire will be cast into the sea. The sea will become blood, and one–third of all sea life will die. In addition, one–third of all ships will be destroyed. The far–reaching implications of these judgments are beyond our understanding. Someone has reasoned that the oceans occupy about three–fourths of the earth's surface, so the extent of this judgment will be staggering. The pollution of the water and the death of so many sea creatures will vastly affect the balance of ocean life. This will happen to one–third of the saltwater bodies of the world.

The water will become poisoned.

Next, freshwater supplies will be affected. They will become bitter and cause many people to die (Revelation 8:10–11). The instrument of judgment will be a great star known as "Wormwood." This literal star or meteor hurtling through space will sideswipe earth, turning one–third of the earth's water into a deadly poisonous liquid. Rivers, springs, and wells will all be affected.

Excerpt from The Book of Signs:

By revealing the disasters yet to come, God gives us warnings that we can heed, enabling us to avoid these approaching horrors. By turning to Him, we can be assured that His hand will remove us from the earth before these disasters arrive. (Chapter 18, "Four Riders," page 235)

Our individual ability to weather the storm will come from our understanding of the Word of God.

When Will the Rapture and Tribulation Occur?

Jesus could come tonight! You may hear people argue that the Rapture cannot occur until the whole world has heard the Gospel; therefore, we need to preach the Gospel to every creature until the "last person to be saved" is brought into the kingdom, at which time Jesus will return for His Church. This cannot be true. If there is anything yet to happen before Christ's return, then there is no such thing as the "imminent return" of Jesus Christ. The command to take the Gospel into the whole world is pressing upon every generation. However, the condition of the Gospel going to the whole world is not a condition of the Rapture, but of the Second Coming of Christ.

How Will People Be Saved During the Tribulation?

Since there will be no believers on earth at the beginning of the Tribulation, this is a good question. However, Scripture indicates there will be two witnesses and 144,000 sealed Israelites who will proclaim the truth during the Tribulation (Revelation 11, 14). In addition, Dr. Henry Morris suggests a "silent witness" because "millions upon millions of copies of the Bible and Bible portions … will not [be] remove[d] and multitudes will no doubt be constrained to read the Bible in those days … [and] will turn to their Creator and Savior." These blood–bought believers will begin to warn others of even more severe judgment to come. They will preach repentance and judgment and they will be killed for their message.

There will be a great harvest of souls for Christ during the Tribulation.

If Someone Becomes A Christian During the Tribulation, What Will Happen to Them When They Die?

The Lord has pronounced a special blessing for them: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on" (Revelation 14:13). Just as the New Testament begins with the Beatitudes of Jesus for the living, it ends with a beatitude for the dying. Revelation 14:13 is the second of seven Beatitudes found in the book of Revelation. Even though these words are particularly written for those who die during the Tribulation, they are also words of encouragement for the saints of every generation. Death is not the end for a believer; it is simply a punctuation mark while we await the coming of the Lord. Blessed are those who have gone to sleep in Jesus.

If I Can Be Saved During the Tribulation, Why Should I Change My Life Now?

Just as death terminates the day of grace for those who reject Christ, so the Rapture will end the day of grace for those who have rejected Him. Those who have resisted the Gospel message will be given a "strong delusion" during the Tribulation. Second Thessalonians 2:10–11 tells us, "Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (KJV). According to Revelation 13, the Beast and the Antichrist will imitate the life of Christ and bring deception. Believing these deceptions, the day of grace will end for anyone who rejected the Gospel prior to the Tribulation.

The Bible urges today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Don't expect to outwit God's plan. One day soon, the Lord will return. If you have rejected Him, your day of opportunity will be lost. Accept God's free gift of eternal life while there is still time. If you would like to know more about becoming a Christian, please request a free copy of Your Greatest Turning Point.

Is It True That It Will be Impossible to Commit Suicide During the Tribulation?

The Tribulation will be so terrible that men will seek to die, and many will attempt suicide. Yet apparently, death will not be possible during a five–month period described in the fifth trumpet judgment: "In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them" (Revelation 9:6).

It will be an awful experience for those who are left to endure countless demons from the pit of hell running unchecked throughout the earth. The only people these demons will be allowed to sting are those who do not belong to God (verse 4). The poison from the sting will literally set the nerve center on fire (verse 10). This evil will be stretched out for 150 days (verse 10), and death cannot provide escape (verse 6).

What Can I Do About the Coming Tribulation?

On any given day, our newsfeeds are filled with disaster—crime, greed, wars, famines, disease, earthquakes, devastating storms, and more. It is hard to imagine how things could possibly get worse. But, in His Olivet Discourse, Jesus warned the disciples that things could, and would, get a whole lot worse. Today, God restrains evil and extends grace to mankind. However, evil will continue to crescendo, building toward a day when God's people will be raptured away, ending the age of grace.

Immediately after the Rapture, God's Spirit will remove any restraining influence on earth (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Life on earth will yield to unbound evil.

Today, God restrains evil and extends grace to mankind.

The best preparation for the Tribulation is to make sure you are not around for it. If you haven't already, confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, and trust Him to be your Savior. Once that is settled, you have a commission to carry out! Jesus appointed us to carry His message to the very ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19–20). There will be an opportunity for some to receive grace during the Tribulation, but until then, it is our responsibility to share Truth with as many people as will listen. In the words of a great, old spiritual:

When you see the lightnin' flashin'
When you hear the thunder crashin'
When you see the stars a–fallin'
When you hear the chariot's callin'
Good news, chariot's a–comin'
Good news, chariot's a–comin'
So glad, chariot's a–comin'
And I don't wan–na be left out!

We do not know when the chariot will arrive, but we are to be ready when it comes. In His goodness, God has revealed the judgment that awaits those who reject Him, and He has provided a plan of salvation for those who receive Him. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)


1Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), 123.


3"Great Commission Action Guide," https://reachbeyond.org/Advocate/RBActionGuide.pdf, accessed on January 1, 2019.

Further Your Study of Bible Prophecy With Dr. Jeremiah's Study Set

The Book of Signs

31 Undeniable Prophecies of the Apocalypse

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