So I spoke on the Tribulation this past Sunday. (Gutsy move, I know.) It’s so easy to get trapped in the weeds when speaking on such a topic and lose sight of things like “application.” But I wanted to make sure I helped clarify things for people and if I fell short at least give everyone a chance to write questions down for me to answer at a later time. Well, here are those questions with my best attempt at answers:
Question 1: Please define “Pre-Millennialism,” “Post-Millennialism,” and “A-Millennialism.”
So this is defined by when Christ returns in regards to the Millennium or Kingdom Reign. Pre-Millennialism is the idea that Jesus comes back before the Millennium – “Pre.” Post-Millennialism is that Jesus comes back after the Millennium (although it’s not necessarily a literal 1,000 years.) Finally, A-Millennialism is the belief that we are in the Millennium now – it’s synonymous with the Church Age.
Question 2: In the 7 Seals, what do the colors of the horses mean?
Well, it’s all speculation. I would in general say that the horse’s color fits what they represented. The most confusing one might be the white horse representing “Deception.” Perhaps it was for “victory” or “surrender” and that was part of the deception. But red for “war,” black “death and famine,” and pale (really means sickly, pale green) as “disease” seem to make sense to me.
Question 3: If you are still alive and on the earth after the Rapture, could you still accept Christ and be saved?
Yes. We see lots of people getting saved during the tribulation. This is part of the reason we are getting this last 7 years is to repent and turn from our wicked ways. The only exception seems to be those who take the Mark of the Beast. Whether they “can’t” accept Christ is speculation, but Revelation 14:9-11 says they “won’t” receive Christ and will face the wrath of God.
Question 4: What specifically do you really think the Mark of the Beast will be?
It seems to be a visible mark. Although used for the purchasing of goods, it also appears to have a worshipful/idolatrous element as well. I don’t like speculating too much, but can imagine some sort of digital strip that also pays homage to the great provider – the antichrist.
Question 5: A Christian will not be able to be tricked into getting the “mark of the beast,” right?
I don’t think so. I don’t think it will just be a microchip under the skin or something like that. I think it certainly has an element of worship and submission to it. People will know what they are doing. There might be people who call themselves a “Christian” now, but once the Tribulation comes they will abandon all remnants of that and worship the Beast instead. Seeing that any mention of the Mark is not mentioned until the Bowl Judgments, I tend to think this Mark of the Beast doesn’t come into play until late into the Tribulation once the world has literally “gone to hell.”
Question 6: Is it possible for unbelievers in the Tribulation to choose Satan out of ignorance?
To me, this is one of the more interesting things happening in the Tribulation. There is a turn from the secularism of this world and a return to a demonic idolatry. In the same way Christ “demands” that you either call Him Lord, Liar, or a Lunatic. Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet do not allow a neutral stance toward them. You either worship them or die. I think there might be unbelievers who make a pragmatic choice to follow Satan in order to eat and survive. But I think they will know the choice they are making. I think ignorance is out the window. I tend to think the events of the Tribulation are as “spiritual” as they are physical. There are no more atheists or agnostics. There are worshippers of God and worshippers of Satan and there is no in-between.
Question 7: The descriptions in Revelation are what’s going to happen – i.e. not a metaphor?
There are no doubts that there are tons of metaphors in the book of Revelation. The question is, what can be learned from the metaphors? And is there a discernable message that can be gleaned. So here’s why I think there is normal communication in the book of Revelation:
1) There are specific numbers used. Exaggeration is fair to use, but once you use specific numbers and percentages at some point it just becomes deceptive.
2) As much as there are apocalyptic images there seems to be real events happening in the real world.
3) Looking at prophecy in the Old Testament that has already been fulfilled, it doesn’t necessarily get fulfilled completely “literally” but does get fulfilled completely. I have no reason to think that New Testament prophecy won’t get fulfilled the same way.
4) If it’s all one big metaphor for just the challenges that Christians will face through the ages than what’s the purpose of Revelation? If it has and is being fulfilled presently than it’s overall been more way more confusing than helpful. What has it provided Believers? It has no message for godly living or the like.
Question 8: There are several signs of the end times. Some are cut and dry and we know exactly what will happen, but others are seen with uncertainty – such as natural disasters. In these cases will we know during the fact of when something happens or will we know after the fact when a cut and dry sign occurs?
I think they all individually have happened in one way or another over history. Just never on a mass scale. There are 5 things that I believe will cue us off. 1) A peace treaty signed between Israel and it’s enemies allowing them to rebuild the Temple (this marks the start of the Tribulation.) 2) 2 Witnesses performing miracles. 3) The Anti-Christ being some sort of politician demanding worship. 4) The order and severity of these “natural” disasters. 5) The Mark of the Beast.
And if there is a Rapture of the Church (and prayerfully there is) that would certainly be the biggest indicator.