Revelation is a discipleship manual to help the Body of Messiah, “the saints,” walk through the coming Tribulation to the glory of God. Look how it opens up “Show His servants the things that must soon take place”. Mind you a thousand years is as a day to the Lord and Revelation clearly says the things that must take place are “end-times” events prior to Jesus’ return to rescue Israel and set up His Millennial rule in a totally restructured Jerusalem.
“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” Revelation 1:1-3
Jesus also said at the end of this critical book of the Bible that it was written for us. The New Testament scholar Douglas Moo explains it well:
Jesus claims that He has sent His angel “to give you (plural!) this testimony for the churches.” It is difficult to see how the chapters on the Tribulation could be a “testimony for the churches” if they are not involved in it. Finally, it simply appears improbable that the event described at the greatest length in Revelation (the Tribulation) would have no direct relevance for those to whom the book is addressed.
When we zoom out to take an objective look at what Jesus, Paul, and John taught about the Body of Messiah during the end times, it is not hard to see that they all communicated the same basic message. They all taught that believers will see the Antichrist and live through the Great Tribulation.
“So when you see the abomination of desolation (Antichrist) spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” Matthew 24:15-16 & Luke 13:14
“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word… to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness (Antichrist) is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.“ 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
“Forces from him (Antichrist) shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate. He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.
“And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done.” Daniel 11:31-35
The Saints will see the Antichrist and live through the tribulation, even great tribulation. We all need to pray that the Lord will grant us the heart, mind, and physical strength to live for Him all the way to the very end, no matter what the future may hold.
The good news is “our being gathered together to Him” happens before God pours out His wrath upon the unrepentant with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements. Note that the golden censer which contained the final offering of the prayers of the Saints is used to initiate the wrath of God upon the earth. It is filled with fire from the altar and cast down to earth.
“When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
The Seven Trumpets
“Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up” Revelation 8:1-8
The intensity of the judgements escalates through the Trumpet and then Bowl judgements. Note the people’s reaction to the final plague of hail.
“The Seventh Bowl
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail because the plague was so severe.“