We will study some of the views that are held concerning the Book of Revelation and the events surrounding the Great Tribulation period.
Let us start with a vocabulary list, then we will explain each.
The words are:
Just what is the millennium? Of what interest is it to me? Jesus will return to earth, claiming His kingdom and ruling it with a rod of iron. (Psalms 2; Rev. 2:27, 12:5, 19:5). Ruling all the nations that remain after the battle of Armageddon, (Rev. 16:16). This battle will be fought when Jesus Returns to the earth (Rev. 16:13-16).
The millennium is of interest to me because Jesus will be fulfilling His promise to return. The Parable in Luke 19:12 is about Jesus who goes into a far country (heaven) to receive His kingdom, and to return. (to earth) To rule that kingdom.
The return of Jesus has prominence in the scriptures. It is claimed that one out of every thirty verses in the Bible mentions this doctrine. To every one mention of the first coming the second coming is mentioned eight times. 318 references to it are made in 216 chapters, whole books (1 and 2 Thess. e.g.) and chapters (Matt. 25; Mark 13; Luke 21 e.g.) are devoted to it.
Jesus Christ bore constant testimony to His coming again (John 14:3; Matt. 24, 25; Mark 13; Luke 21; John 21:22). The angels, who bore such faithful testimony to Christ's first advent, bear testimony to His second coming (Acts 1:11; compare Heb. 2:2 for the faithfulness of their testimony). The apostles faithfully proclaimed this truth (Acts 3:19, 20; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17; Heb. 9:28; 1 John 2:28; Jude 14, 15).
With this much importance placed on the return of Christ, each of us had best place a like amount of importance to the Return Of Christ! It is this blessed hope that is spoken of in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 3:12. We are to ardently long for the second coming of Christ.
The millennium is the thousand years described in Revelation 20:1-6.
The name comes from the Latin (mille = ''thousand'' and annus = ''year'').
Now there are three main views regarding the events that will happen around the millennium, and the time frame for these happenings:
1. Premillennialism: Christians today experience both the Kingdom of God and tribulation today in a partial sense. However, at a point in the future the persecution and temptation will intensify into a Great Tribulation in which the beasts will arise, the two witnesses will testify, and the judgments of seals, trumpets, and bowls will occur.
At the end of the Great Tribulation, Christ will return and defeat the enemy army at Armageddon. Then the faithful martyrs of the Tribulation will be raised in the first resurrection. (The church / bride of Christ will be covered below under the title ''rapture''.)
Those raised in the first resurrection will reign with Christ in ''a literal, visible reign of peace and righteousness on the earth. That is the millennium. Afterward, the rest of the dead will be raised and judged.
Finally, the old earth and heavens will be replaced with a new earth and heaven and the temporal Kingdom will be merged into the eternal Kingdom.
This view is called premillennial because the Antichrist and the Tribulation come before (pre-) Christ's return and that occurs before the millennium.
Premillennialists tend to take Revelation more literally, and its sequence more chronologically, than either postmillennialists or amillennialists.
2. Postmillennialism: means after the millennium or the 1000 year reign of Christ. Moral reform will grow and expand until the whole world has been christianized through evangelism. Thus will come along a long period of peace and prosperity. Christ will come after (post-) this 1000 year period, ushering in resurrection, the last judgment and the eternal kingdom.
3. Amillennialism: (1st faction says) that the events of Rev. 20:1-6 is only a flashback in time. This flashback and the binding of Satan, the first resurrection, and the millennium are just metaphors for the present situation in this world which covers the period of time between the first and second coming of Christ. Still to come is the last revolt of evil which is held to be the setting for such other predicted events such as the great tribulation, the appearance of the man of sin. All of this will be ended by Satan's overthrow and judgment, which we read of in chapt. 20. The first resurrection is the believers new birth and that is the rising to Christ after being dead in sin. So they are saying that the first resurrection is when you are born again. You became alive, being resurrected from your life of sin.
(2nd faction says) The present form of Gods kingdom will be followed by Christ's return and the general resurrection with Christ reigning over the perfect kingdom on the new earth in the eternal state.
The word ''Rapture'' is not used in the Bible. It is a term applied to the words ''caught up'' in 1 Thess 4:15-17 and to ''the dead shall be raised incorruptible: in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54. These passages tell us that Jesus will return in the clouds (not to the earth as he will do at the end of the tribulation. Here He does not touch the earth.) and will call ALL the believers,(the Church, which includes all the Old Testament saints as well as all the New Testament saints.) both dead and alive, to come up to Him, Their bodies will be changed to a different form that will never die, requires no air, food, water. There are three views as to when the rapture will happen.
Pre-tribulationism is the believe that the rapture will happen before the great tribulation. This will cause many non Christians, including the 144,000 Jews to put faith in Jesus Christ and become the martyrs of the tribulation period. Their beliefs are based on:
1. Rev. 1:19... The things that will be here after (chap 4 - 22). The word church is not mentioned again after Rev. 3:22 until the marriage supper of the Lamb in chapter 19. This is after all the judgments have been poured out. According to pre-tribbers, the church is not mentioned because the church has been raptured away.
2. Rev. 4:4... There is mention of 24 elders. Pre-tribbers believe these 24 elders represents all of the believers, who are in heaven before the wrath of God has been poured out. The 24 elders are not spoken of until chapter 4 on. The Pre-tribbers believe that they are there because the church has been raptured out between chapters 3 and 4.
3. Luke 21:36... Jesus promises that some will be found worthy to escape all these things. What things is Jesus talking about? Jesus is speaking about all of the things He spoke about in Matthew 24:4-26 and Luke 21:4-19. This is all the things that will occur during the tribulation. The worthy ones are the living saints occupying the earth just prior to these things coming to pass.
4. 1 Thess. 5:9-10... God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by out Lord Jesus Christ. God has not appointed his people to wrath.
Mid-tribulationism is the belief that the rapture will happen in the middle of the tribulation period. (at the 3 1/2 year point) They say that its improper to link the Great Tribulation to Daniel's 70th week. The first three and one half years will be peace and safety. The second three and one half years will be when desolation occurs, so this is when we will be raptured out, just as the desolation begins.
There is also a belief that the last trumpet that occurs when Jesus returns is the Last of the Trumpet judgment (The seventh Trumpet sounding which starts the vile or bowl judgments.) and therefore this will be at the 3 1/2 year point where Jesus will raise his saints from the grave.
Post-tribulationism is the belief that the rapture will happen at the end of the tribulation period, just when Jesus is returning to earth to begin the 1000 year reign. They believe that they will have God's loving hand upon them to protect them but they will go through the tribulation period untouched by God's wrath. Their beliefs are based on:
1. Rom. 8:35... The tribulation here according to the post-tribbers, is the great Tribulation and all the things the Christians will experience will not separate them from Christ.
2. Matt. 24:1-11... Jesus is telling the disciples what will happen in sequential order.
3. Matt. 24:16-22... ''but for the elects sake those days shall be shortened''.
a) The Post-tribbers say the elect here is the Christians.
b) The Pre-tribbers say God's elect are the Jewish people, and they are called the elect of God from Old Testament times on.
4. Matt. 24:29-31... the angles are going to gather the elect. According to the Post-tribbers, the Christians, or the elect, from all over the earth.
5. Matt. 25:1-13... indicates that there is only one coming. The Post-tribbers says that we should look at the coming of Jesus Christ and not as two separate events (the rapture and then His coming to do battle). They say that we should look at it as only one event. They point to the parable of the ten virgins, saying the bridegroom comes and meets the virgins and then continues on to the wedding feast. Always proceeding forward.
Others in the church claim that, of the ten virgins, all are Christians but the five with the oil who enter in are the Spirit filled. And the other five are not raptured and go through the tribulation period.
Others say that the five wise virgins are the church and the five other virgins are the world. The problem with this view is that all ten virgins are waiting for the bridegroom. The world is not waiting.
6. 1 Thess. 4:17... Those who are caught up to meet the Lord and so shall ever be with the Lord.
a) Post-tribbers say that when the saints are raptured, they are caught up, they meet Christ in the air and then they continue on with Him. They do not change directions.
b) Pre-tribbers say that the church will be caught up to meet Jesus, Jesus comes from the clouds, the church is caught up to meet him, then Jesus changes directions and goes up to heaven with the church.
c) Post-tribbers say Jesus comes down, as He comes down in the second coming, the church rises to meet Him. Then the church changes direction and comes down to earth with Jesus.
7. 1 Cor. 15:50-52... Post-tribbers say the final trumpet means the last thing, the final thing, last is last.
8. Rev. 10:1-7... Post-tribbers say the peals of seven thunders is not part of the last trumpet, the last trumpet is the seventh trumpet, the last trumpet of the trumpets judgments. The last trumpet is not in chapter 10, here in chapter 10 the angel is still preparing to blow the trumpet.
9. Rev. 11:15-19... Here is the trumpet sounding. Note verse 18, The time of the dead and they should be judged and also give rewards to the servants and prophets and the saints. But also bringing judgment on those who should destroy the saints and the earth. Post- tribbers claim this scripture backs up their theory.
Post-tribbers also use Noah as an example. He was warned, given instruction on what to do for safety but God allowed him, not to be taken out of the earth while the floods came, but to ride over the top and God's hand, mercy and grace was upon Noah and his family while all the turmoil raged around them. They were safe.
Pre-tribbers use Noah, Enoch, and Lot to represent Christians, spiritual and carnal alike. Lot represents a Christian who is saved but doesn't live for God all the time. He does many carnal things. Lot was saved out of the city, Noah was saved out of the flood, Enoch was taken out of the sinful world.
Both the Pre and Post-tribbers use Noah as a type of the church.
A Dispensationalist believes that God deals with believers differently in each of the dispensations, therefore God will treat us differently during the tribulation period than He does now.
According to Matthew 24:44, Jesus tells us to be ready at all times because you will never know when He is coming. So, Love God, and study His word with an open heart and a teachable spirit. (see Eph. 1:16-18)
In the Assemblies of God, we believe in the return of Jesus before the millennium, and that He will, in fact rule for a 1000 year period. (Zech. 14:5; Matt. 24:27, 30; Rev. 1:7; 19:11- 14; 20:1-6) The millennial reign will bring the salvation of national Israel (Ezek. 37:21-22; Zeph. 3:19-20; Rom. 11:26-27) and the establishment of universal; peace (Isa. 11:6-9; Psalm 72:3-8; Micah 4:3-4).
In the Assemblies of God, we believe in the Blessed Hope of the resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord. (1 Thes. 4:16-17; Rom. 8:23; Titus 2:13; 1 Cor. 15:51-52).