The combination of the Rapture and the Battle of Ezekiel 38 will fill the world with anguish and uncertainty as Daniel’s 70th Week begins. Where did all those people go? How did Israel so utterly destroy that massive invasion force all by itself? How did all these things happen so suddenly? Why didn’t somebody see this coming and do something to prevent it?
The Seal Judgments
In the midst of all the chaos and confusion one leader will stand out (Rev. 6:2). He’ll demonstrate an incredible ability to restore the world’s hope for the future, and promise to bring them peace. The frightened populace will easily be persuaded to follow his lead. He’ll agree to Israel’s demand for a Temple in which to resume their long abandoned worship of the One who had secured their victory. He’ll do this, not because He wants to help them honor God, but because he has plans of his own for the Temple (Daniel 9:27, 2 Thes. 2:4).
Using their own Scriptures (Ezekiel 48:1-10) he’ll show Israel why their new Temple shouldn’t be built where the old ones had stood. Instead it should be located a few miles north, in ancient Shiloh, where the Tabernacle had once stood. This will leave the Muslim facilities on the current Temple mount intact, at least for a time. After the disappearance of the Church, Islam will fast become the dominant religion of the world and their third holiest place is on that mount. With this bold stroke he’ll bring a semblance of peace to the region, demonstrating that Jew and Muslim can live in peace as neighbors in his brave new world (Dan 8:25). The people of Earth will breathe a collective sigh of relief.
But all too soon wars will start to break out in various places (Rev. 6:3) because this leader’s ultimate goal is world domination and some nations will resist. He’ll convince people that war is a temporary but necessary inconvenience and assure them that everything will soon be all right again. But the combination of wars, food shortages, and runaway inflation will begin taking their toll (Rev. 6:6). The deadly effects of this combination will be felt across one fourth of the Earth (Rev. 6:8).
Though it’s often called a religion of peace, Islam offers the world only two options, submission or death, as the martyrs among believers of other faiths will soon learn. For the multitude of new Christians who witnessed the disappearance of friends and family in the rapture and know from first hand experience the truth of the gospel, conversion to Islam will be impossible and the number of those who will die for their faith will mount rapidly and steadily. (Rev. 6:9) They’ll cry out to the Lord for vengeance but He’ll caution them to be patient for a little while longer because many more will die just as they have (Rev. 6:10-11).
Without warning, a great earthquake that will be felt world wide will trigger volcanic action spewing millions of tons of ash into the air, blotting out the Sun and making the Moon turn blood red (Rev. 6:12-14). The world’s leaders will run for cover, some intuitively knowing that the Wrath of God they were warned about by the Christians who’ve all disappeared has already begun and they’ll be shown no quarter. (Rev. 6:16-17)
The Trumpet Judgments
As if to confirm the worst fears of these leaders, a storm of hail, fire, and blood will rain down upon the Earth burning up a third of it. A third of the trees and all the green grass will go up in smoke. (Rev. 8:7) A meteor-like object the size of a huge mountain will crash into the sea. The resulting contamination will turn a third of the world’s oceans to blood killing all the marine life in the affected areas. The tsunami this meteor causes will capsize and destroy a third of the ships in the world. Over 50,000 commercial ships will disappear in a single day. (Rev. 8:8-9)
Then another star will fall to Earth and when it does a third of the fresh water will be contaminated. It will be toxic and foul tasting and many people will die from drinking it. (Rev. 8:10-11)
Both the day and the night will lose a third of their light due to the smoke and ash from the fires and volcanoes. Through the choking haze an angelic messenger will bring a warning from the Lord, “The worst is yet to come.” (Rev. 8:12-13)
A fallen angel will open the shaft of the Abyss and smoke will billow forth, further contaminating the already toxic air. Creatures resembling locusts will fly out from the smoke and for 5 months will inflict scorpion like stings on the people. These stings will be so painful people will wish they could die, but there will be no escape (Rev. 9:1-11). The only people on Earth who will be immune to their venom will be the 144,000 evangelists the Lord will have previously commissioned from among the tribes of Israel (Rev. 7:1-8).
Four angels who’ve been bound at the gateway to the East (the Euphrates River) will be released to kill one third of the Earth’s remaining population with plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur. (Rev. 9:13-19) The East is far different from the West and the animosity between Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other religions the Far East is well established and deadly. Since 40% of the world’s population is crowded into the nations east of the Euphrates the number of casualties will be enormous as they fight each other for supremacy.
Between the Rapture, the martyrdom, the wars, and the judgments well over 2 billion people will no longer be found among the living on planet Earth as Daniel’s 70th Week approaches the mid point. And yet the Bible gives no indication that the unbelievers who remain will see the error of their ways and change their minds. This is the hardest core of the unsaved, the ones who refused to believe the truth of the Lord and accepted the lie of the anti-Christ instead (2 Thes. 2:10). In their deluded state they’ll think they’re on the side of light not darkness, and right not wrong. They’ll see God as the invading enemy and Satan as their leader, working to protect them. Spiritually, everything will be upside down.
But at the blowing of the 7th Trumpet in Heaven, the Lord’s reign will begin (Rev. 11:15). Having used every device at His command in an effort to persuade the people of Earth to change their minds and accept His offer of pardon, He will now take action to unseat the usurper from the throne that’s rightfully His and claim for Himself that which He’s purchased with His own blood, Planet Earth. Those who’ve sided with Satan will now face the worst time of judgment in the history of mankind. Were it not for a remnant of the Lord’s people among them, not a single soul would be left standing when this is over (Matt. 24:21-22).
The Bowl Judgments
The Bowl judgments make up the 3 1/2 year period of time we know as the Great Tribulation. The Seal and Trumpet cycles of judgments were partly for the purpose of demonstrating evidence of God’s existence to the undecided among the people of Earth. But that will have come to an end with the Bowl judgments. They’re strictly for the purpose of bringing judgment upon those who’ve rejected Him. In the process the Lord is going to completely destroy all the nations to which His people have been scattered (Jeremiah 30:11). Today there are nearly as many Jews in America as there are in Israel, and more than there are in any other nation, so you know that what’s left of this country after the rapture will not escape.
By now Satan will have been expelled from Heaven (Rev. 12:9) and and confined to Earth (Rev. 12:13). He will unleash his full fury upon God’s people. But those who heed His warning (Matt. 24:15-21) will be escorted to a place of refuge out of Satan’s reach (Rev. 12:13-16). Enraged, he will turn his fury against the Gentiles who’ve come to believe Jesus is their Savior since the rapture (Rev. 12:17).
He will take up residence in the body of the anti-Christ (Rev. 13:4) and with the help of a false prophet he will convince the unbelieving world to follow him and take a mark on their right hand or forehead to prove their loyalty to him (Rev. 13:16-17).
Three angels will deliver God’s final messages to mankind. The first one will offer one last chance to accept the Gospel, the second will announce the coming destruction of Babylon and all the city represents, and the third will warn mankind against taking the mark of the beast. (Rev. 14:6-11)
People who will have disregarded the warning against taking the mark will be treated to a dose of ugly and painful sores (Rev. 16:2). All the water on Earth will turn to blood, whether in the sea (Rev. 16:3) or in springs and rivers (Rev. 16:4). All sources of water will now be contaminated. The angel in charge of the waters reminds us that God is just in doing this because those He’s judging have shed the blood of God’s saints and prophets. Now He’s giving them blood to drink. (Rev. 16:5-7)
The Sun will go super nova at this point becoming so hot people will be scorched just by going outside. Again they will curse God but refuse to repent. (Rev. 16:8-9)
Then the Sun will go totally dark turning day into night, and still the people of Earth will curse God but refuse to repent (Rev. 16:10-11).
The anti-Christ will gather the armies of the world to Armageddon in a final effort to repel the Earth’s “invaders”. From Heaven a loud voice will shout, “It is done!” and the full fury of God’s wrath will be loosed on Earth. Lightning, thunder, and the worst earthquake man has ever experienced will be followed by a torrent of 100 pound hail stones. (Rev. 16:17-21) The punishment for blasphemy is stoning, and the blaspheming people of Earth will suffer the most extreme form of this punishment for their behavior.
Babylon The Great
Then God will turn to Babylon, headquarters of the forces who’ve defied Him since the time after the flood. There are three components to mankind’s world wide system and they will all be headquartered there. They are governmental, commercial, and religious, and among them they have enslaved the people of Earth for thousands of years.
First God will use the governmental component to destroy the religious one.
“The beast (anti-Christ) and the ten horns (ten kings who assist him) you saw will hate the prostitute (religious Babylon). They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.” (Rev. 17:16-17)
Then He’ll turn to the commercial component. It will be so totally destroyed that Earth’s leaders will stand aghast, scarcely believing what their own eyes are telling them.
They will weep and mourn and cry out, “Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!” (Rev. 18:16-17)
Finally the governmental component.
The beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. (Rev. 19:20-21)
For six thousand years God has worked tirelessly to reconcile man to Himself, even giving His own life in exchange for ours. But His efforts have all ended in failure due to mankind’s unfaithfulness. Covenant after covenant was instituted and broken. The only one that has endured is the one the Father made with His Son to save us. But even then the majority of mankind, given the choice to participate as a beneficiary in this everlasting covenant, refused. Soon, His patience exhausted, God will remove the remnant that chose the pardon He offers, and judge the rest. Can you blame Him?