What is the seven-year Tribulation period?
After millions of blood-washed saints have been raptured from the earth to be with the Lord, there begins a seven-year period called the Tribulation. The Bible uses various names for this period such as the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12), The Time of the End (Daniel 12:9), and The End of this World (Matthew 13:40, 49).
The Tribulation Period is divided into three eras, the first era being approximately three and a half years; the brief middle period being perhaps only a few weeks; and the last era, called the Great Tribulation, being approximately three and a half years.
A powerful ruler, led by Satan and referred to as the antichrist, will rise to power. After leading the nations to form an alliance to help preserve the world system, he will break the treaty and be responsible for persecuting the nation of Israel and leading the last great battle against the forces of God in the battle of Armageddon.
During this time, God will be pouring out His wrath upon the earth and mankind unlike anything that has ever taken place before. It will be a terrible time of persecution and suffering. The antichrist will gain ascendance and will lead into sin the vast majority of the people who were left behind when Christ appeared in the clouds to take out all the Christians. Those who become Christians will be terribly persecuted. Judgments from God upon the natural elements of the earth and upon the inhabitants of the earth will be severe. Even in the midst of it men will still be unwilling to turn to God and will blaspheme Him (Revelation 16:21). See other Scripture passages: Matthew 24: 11 Thessalonians 2:3-9; and Revelation 13:16-18; 14:14-20.
Will the church go through the seven-year Tribulation period?
The answer to this question is “NO.” Although the word “Rapture” is not found in the Bible, this is indeed an event in prophecy which is taught in the Scriptures. The passage in I Thessalonians 4:14-17 is actually the next prophecy that shall be fulfilled (see also I Corinthians 15:51-57). I Thessalonians 5:9 tells us: God hath not appointed us unto wrath. Revelation 3:10 is also an indication that the church will not suffer the terrible days of the Tribulation. From the first chapter through the third chapter of Revelation, there are several references to the church. However, from the fourth chapter until the nineteenth chapter, the church is not mentioned at all, as the times of the Tribulation are discussed. However, there will be many people converted and saved during the Tribulation. These are the Christians who will have to suffer for the Lord during the days of the Tribulation and about whom the Bible speaks of in Revelation 20:4. These Christians will suffer terrible persecution and will have to refuse the mark of the beast. However, this will not affect Christians who are living today. There are many events in the Near East, and in other places in the world, which cause many of us to feel the stage is being set for end-time events, which, of course, would include the rise and worldwide rule of the antichrist, the rise and destruction of a one-world church, and the terrible Divine judgment destruction. In Revelation, however, the actual end-time events just mentioned cannot and will not come to pass until the rapture of the saints, and the time of this glorious event is not known. The trumpet may sound and Christ may call out His saints any time. It may be today; it may be tomorrow; it may be many years from now.
What should our response be to these truths?
Although the Christians living today will not have to go through the Tribulation, it is wrong for us to assume we will have an easy life to live. The Lord may yet call upon us to suffer for His sake in these days. Christians in Africa, Russia, and China are no doubt having great persecutions because of their faith. So we, too, must stand prepared to face whatever trials may come.
The trials and persecutions of heathen nations against Christians today and in years gone by will be much less severe than those which will come in the days of the Tribulation. God will pour out His wrath in such a way we cannot even begin to imagine it. But, praise God, He promises to shorten the time for the sake of the Christians won during that time, for the elect’s sake.