THE WORLD-WIDE SCOPE OF THE TIME OF JACOB'S TROUBLE
Men Will Flee Before the Terror of Jehovah
The word of God is chock full of prophecies that tell of the world-wide and universal scope of the judgments of God during the tribulation. Trouble will swirl like a whirlpool around the State of Israel in that day. From there it will reach out and encompass the whole world.
Everyone living upon the earth during the Tribulation will be affected by the earth-shaking, earth-shaping events that will occur. Rich and poor. Young and old. Employer and employee. Industrialist and farmer. Businesswoman and housewife. If you are here then, these events are going to have a direct effect upon your life.
The events that will take place during that day were shown to the prophets in vision. These visions were not fantasies. That which was seen in vision will one day be a reality. "Surely the Lord Jehovah will do nothing, except he reveal his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
The prophet Isaiah was an eyewitness in vision of many things that will happen during the Day of the Lord. One of his visions is recorded in Isaiah 2:12-22. A Man Will be More Rare Than Fine Gold
12 For there shall be a day of Jehovah of hosts upon all that is proud and haughty, and upon all that is lifted up; and it shall be brought low; 13 and upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, 14 and upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, 15 and upon every lofty tower, and upon every fortified wall, 16 and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all the pleasant imagery. 17 And all the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; and Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day. 18 And the idols shall utterly pass away. 19 And men shall go into the caves of the rocks, and into the holes of the earth, from before the terror of Jehovah, and from the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake mightily the earth. 20 In that day men shall cast away their idols of silver, and their idols of gold, which have been made for them to worship, to the moles and to the bats; 21 to go into the caverns of the rocks, from before the terror of Jehovah, and the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake mightily the earth. 22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?
Babylon Will be Utterly Destroyed
As you read the next prophecy, remember the city of Babylon will be prominent during the last days. As has already been mentioned as a sign of the times, ancient Babylon will be resurrected and become a great political, economical, and cultural power during the last days. The first part of the prophecy is world wide in scope (vss. 6-16). Then it narrows down to a specific prophecy about the city of Babylon, which will be the most wicked city on the face of the earth during the end days (vss. 19-22).Edom Will be Cut off Forever
6 Wail ye; for the day of Jehovah is at hand; as destruction from the Almighty shall it come. 7 Therefore shall all hands be feeble, and every heart of man shall melt: 8 and they shall be dismayed; pangs and sorrow shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman in travail: they shall look in amazement one at another; their faces shall be faces of flame. 9 Behold, the day of Jehovah cometh, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger; to make the land a desolation, and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it. 10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in it's going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to shine. 11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12 I will make a man more rare than fine gold, even a man than the pure gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will make the heavens to tremble, and the earth shall be shaken out of its place, in the wrath of Jehovah of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. 14 And it shall come to pass, that as the chased roe, and as sheep that no man gathereth, they shall turn every man to his own people, and shall flee every man to his own land. 15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is taken shall fall by the sword. 16 Their infants also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be rifled, and their wives ravished (Isaiah 13:6-16).
What a burden Isaiah carried! Wouldn't you have a heavy burden if you saw New York city or London or Tokyo, being destroyedold people, women, children, babies being wiped out by the thousands?
The fierce anger of the Lord will lay waste the land, destroy the sinners, cause the moon and stars to cease shining and cause the sun to be darkened. He is going to punish the world for its evil.
Ancient Babylon, having come out of its grave, will play a most vital role in the end timeonly to be cast down from the pedestal of human glory.
19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans pride, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. 20 It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall shepherds make their flocks to lie down there. 21 But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and ostriches shall dwell there, and wild goats shall dance there. 22 And wolves shall cry in their castles, and jackals in the pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged (Isaiah 19-22).
The site of Babylon will be marked by the ruins of the overthrow as were Sodom and Gomorrah. It will remain notoriously desolate all during the Golden Era.
Edom is another place that is going to be severely punished in the Tribulation. Let's read part of a sermon that the prophet Obadiah preached to the Edomites: All Will Suffer Rich and Poor, Great and Small, Young and Old
10 For the violence done to thy brother Jacob, shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever. 11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that strangers carried away his substance, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them. 12 But look not thou on the day of thy brother in the day of his disaster, and rejoice not over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction: neither speak proudly in the day of distress. 13 Enter not into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, look not thou on their affliction in the day of their calamity. 14 and stand thou not in the crossway, to cut off those of his that escape; and deliver not up those of his that remain in the day of distress (Obadiah 10-14).
Obadiah warned the Edomites of the consequences of the violence they will do to Jews during the Tribulation. He told them they will become an accomplice with other nations that ransack Jerusalem. He warned them that whatever crime they commit against the Jews will return upon their own head. "For the day of Jehovah is near upon all the nations: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee; thy dealing shall return upon thine own head (Obadiah 15).
When anyone wrongs the Jewish people he touches the "apple of God's eye," and he surely will suffer for it. God said of Abraham and his descendants, "I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse."
One of the most comprehensive prophecies about God's dealings with the earth and its inhabitants during the Tribulation is found in Isaiah chapter 24.
24 Behold, Jehovah maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. 2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with he maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the creditor, so with the debtor; as with he taker of interest, so with he giver of interest to him. 3 The earth shall be utterly emptied, and utterly laid waste; for Jehovah hath spoken this word. 4 The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the lofty people of the earth do languish. 5 The earth is polluted under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are found guilty: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. 7 The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth, all the merry hearted do sigh. 8 The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth. 9 They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it. 10 The waste city is broken down; every house is shut up, that no man may come in 11 There is a crying in the streets because of the wine; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone. 12 In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction. 13 For thus shall it be in the midst of the earth among the peoples, as the shaking of an olive tree, as the gleanings when the vintage is done.Recapitulation of Isaiah's Prophecy
14 These shall lift up their voice, they shall shout; for the majesty of Jehovah they cry aloud from the sea. 15 Wherefore glorify ye Jehovah in the east, even the name of Jehovah, the God of Israel, in the isles of the sea. 16 From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs: Glory to the righteous.
But I said, I pine away, I pine away, woe is me! the treacherous have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous have dealt very treacherously. 17 Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth. 18 and it shall come to pass, he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows on high are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble. 19 The earth is utterly broken, the earth is rent asunder, the earth is shaken violently. 20 The earth shall stagger like a drunken man, and shall sway to and fro like a hammock: and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again (Isaiah 24:1-20).
Notice some of the facts Isaiah brings to our attention. During the Tribulation period
God will empty the earth, make it waste and turn it upside down. The north pole will be where the south pole is, and vise a versa.
People will flee from populated areas.
All will suffer alike; it will make no difference who they are or what they have.
The people of the earth will become so corrupt that they will bring the great destruction upon themselves.
The gay life of the cocktail lounges, night clubs and taverns will cease.
Alcoholics are going to be numerous. They will be miserable and drink will be bitter to them.
Waste and destruction are going to be on every hand throughout the world.
Isaiah saw the destruction of life and property and the dismal social conditions resulting from the Tribulation judgments that God was pouring out upon the world. Then he saw something that lifted his spirit to great heights of ecstasy. He draws our attention to what he saw saying:
14 These shall lift up their voice, they shall shout; for the majesty of Jehovah they cry aloud from the sea. 15 Wherefore glorify ye Jehovah in the east, even the name of Jehovah, the God of Israel, in the isles of the sea. 16 From the uppermost part of the earth have we heard songs: Glory to the righteous (Isaiah 24:14-16).
Here in the midst of his prophecy about the terrible judgments of the Tribulation, Isaiah mentions a group who will be praising God and giving glory to Him during those days. Do you know whom Isaiah is talking about here?
Remember, one of the purposes of the Tribulation is to cause many to turn from their wicked ways and place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah, no doubt, saw the 144,000 Jewish servants of God (Revelation 7) teaching their dejected fellowmen who are under the trials of the Tribulation days. The 144,000 servants of God cry aloud exhorting their fellowmen to glorify the Lord, even Jehovah, the God of Israel. They shout this message throughout the earth. Then Isaiah heard songs coming from the uttermost parts of the earth, sung by those who respond to the message of the 144,000. They rejoice because they have come to know God through Jesus Christ, and they sing a hymn, "Glory to the Righteous."
Those who have put their trust in Christ today sing songs that express a note of joy and rejoicing similar to that which Isaiah heard in his vision. One of the Christian hymns reads as follows:
When all my labors and trials are o'er,
And I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
When, by the gift of His infinite grace,
I am accorded in heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on His face,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
Friends will be there I have loved long ago;
Joy like a river around me will flow;
Yet, just a smile from my Savior, I know,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
O that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me;
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.
But now back to what Isaiah saw and heard. On one hand he heard a group of people who had been brought out of spiritual darkness rejoicing in the face of the extreme difficulties of that day. On the other hand, he saw men, women and young people who were gloomy and discouraged. It will take a miracle in a person's life, even the salvation of God, to cause him to rejoice in those days, when a tyrant will be wielding a whip over the inhabitants of the earth. The treacherous tyrant Antichrist will deal treacherously. Remember Hitler? Antichrist will be far more diabolical that Hitler. Remember the Gestapo? Antichrist's henchmen will be far more sadistic than the Gestapo.Comparison of the Prophecies of Jesus, the Messiah, and Isaiah
The Lord Jesus, the Messiah, confirmed some of Isaiah's statements on a certain occasion. (When a New Testament prophet spoke about what is to happen during the day of the Lord, he only confirmed what the prophets of old had spoken.) Jesus told four of His disciples, Andrew, Peter, James and John, that some catastrophic changes would take place in the heavens and on the earth during the Tribulation. He said:
25 And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows; 26 men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world: for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken (Luke 21:25,26).
Let us compare Jesus' statements with some things Isaiah said about the end days: Jesus said: "There shall be signs in the sun and moon and stars ... the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."
Isaiah said: "The windows on high are opened."
Jesus said: "There shall be ... upon the earth distress of the nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows; men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world."
Isaiah said: "The foundations of the earth tremble. The earth is utterly broken, the earth is rent asunder ... The earth shall stagger like a drunken man, and shall sway to and fro like a hammock."
Order of Tribulation Events Recorded by John in Revelation
God revealed all the major Tribulation events to the Old Testament prophets, but he did not show any of them the sequence in which the events will take place. He chose to reveal the chronological order of Tribulation events to the apostle John in a vision about 96 A.D. John was on the Isle of Patmos at the time.
The chronological order of events, as seen by John, are recorded in the book of Revelation, chapters 6, 8 and 9 and 16. People living during the Tribulation period can study these chapters and determine the progress of events.
John wrote the book of Revelation in graphic and symbolic language. In it he quoted the Old Testament prophets 285 times and made 550 references to the things they taught. In the greater portion of his book, he describes what will take place during the Tribulation and its aftermath. That portion includes chapters 4 through 20.
The Time of Jacob's Trouble will start ticking off when the Jewish leaders sign a contract with Antichrist (Daniel 9:27). As soon as this takes place, the Tribulation will begin.
The signing of the contract will appear to be just an ordinary event in the course of world affairs. Few will recognize that Antichrist's gradual rise to power will be the first major Tribulation judgment. God will allow Antichrist's nefarious reign to become a terror to the inhabitants of the world.
The second judgment will be World War I of the tribulation. It will also seem to be an ordinary happening.
The third judgment will be a world-wide famine. It likewise will be looked upon as just another tragic event that will go down in history.
The fourth judgment will be a severe local war. From man's viewpoint it will be another usual event.
The fifth judgment will be a world-wide martyrdom of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. To many this will seem to be nothing more than a wide-spread pogrom to annihilate those who believe in God and His Messiah.
While these judgments are taking place, few will be aware that God is behind the scenes silently directing the judgment to become more severe that the previous one.
When the sixth judgment occurs, a mighty earthquake will take place. Concurrent with the earthquake, the sun will cease to give its light, the moon will become blood, and the stars of heaven will fall upon earth. Then men will begin to notice that God is pouring out His wrath upon the world. All of the judgments from the sixth through the last, the 19th, will be so severe that men will know that they are being meted out under the direct and sovereign order of the Almighty.
A "Countdown" of Tribulation Events
The following is a "countdown" of the Tribulation events as they are listed in Revelation, chapters 6,8 and 9 and 16.
1. The apostle John introduces the Antichrist under the symbol of the rider on the white horse (6:2).
2. World War I of the Tribulation period (6:3,4).
3. World-wide famine (6:5,6).
4. A local war affecting one-quarter of the earth (6:7,8).
5. The evil forces declare open season upon those who stand for the word of God, and many become martyrs (6:9-11).
6. A great earthquake occurs and the world is plunged into a total blackout. The citizens of the earth of every social strata, from kings to common laborers, hide themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains; and cry out to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of their wrath is come; and who is able to stand?" (6:12-17).
7. A great fire sweeps the earth, destroying one-third part of the trees and all the green grass. Along with this conflagration, hail mingled with blood is cast upon the earth (8:7).
8. A great and massive object, probably a huge meteorite, is cast into the sea. It causes a third part of the sea to become blood and destroys one-third part of the creatures of the sea and a third part of the ships at sea (8:8,9).
9. A great body falls from heaven. It contaminates one-third of the rivers of the earth. Many men die because the waters are made bitter (8:10,11).
10. One-third part of the sun, moon and stars are smitten so that they become darkened. This judgment results in a 16-hour night and an eight-hour day upon earth (8:12).
11. A great host of locusts that have the power of scorpions are turned loose upon the earth. They come up in a great smoke from the abyss. The smoke darkens the sun. The locusts do not hurt any vegetation; they hurt only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. The locusts are not permitted to kill men; but they torment men for five months, and their torment is as the torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it. The locusts are demons loosed on the earth (9:1-11).
12. Four great angels are loosed in the world. They lead 200 million demons forth to kill one-third part of men who worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass stone, and wood. The idolaters who escape being killed do not repent of their idolatry, nor of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts (9:13-21).
The last seven judgments occur during the last three and one-half years of the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy. During these years, the intensity of God's judgments increases.
13. Men who follow Antichrist suffer noisome and grievous sores upon their bodies (16:2).
14. A certain sea becomes blood as of a dead Man. Every living thing in the sea dies (16:3).
15. The drinking and domestic waters of the earth become blood. God pours this judgment out upon the wicked to avenge the blood of His saints and the prophets who have been slain during this terrible time (16:4-7).
16. Men experience having their bodies scorched with great heat because the normal functioning of the sun is disturbed (16:8,9).
17. God's bowl of wrath is poured out upon the throne of Antichrist, whose kingdom becomes darkened. His subjects gnaw their tongues for pain and blaspheme the Almighty God in heaven because of their pains and their sores (16:10,11).
18. The great river Euphrates is dried up, so that the way might be made ready for the kings of the east to march to Har-Magedon for the War of the Great Day of God the Almighty. All of the kings of the earth are gathered together for this great conflict (16:12-16).
19. The fierceness of the wrath of God is poured out in the final judgment. An earthquake shakes the earth as no other has done since there were men upon it. Babylon receives the brunt of the fierceness of the wrath of God. Cities of the nations of the earth fall. Islands and mountains vanish and cannot be found. Great hail stones, the weight of a talent (over 100 pounds) come down upon men out of heaven; and men blaspheme God because of the plague of the hail, because it is exceedingly great (16:17-21).
How God's Judgments Will Affect Mankind
God's judgments will be terrible in the earthmatched only by man's terrible sins that compelled Him to visit His wrath upon the inhabitants of the world. He must send His judgments because the earth will be polluted under its inhabitants who have transgressed His laws, violated His statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant¹. Read again Isaiah 24:5,6.
The judgments of the Tribulation will affect men everywhere in one of two ways. On the one hand, they will drive many men to their extremity, causing them to seek the mercy and help of their Creator. All of them who turn to the Lord by faith will experience His salvation, even life eternal in His presence and glory. On the other hand, the fierceness of God's wrath will cause others to harden their wicked hearts so that they arrogantly blaspheme and defy the Holy One, the Lord Jesus Christ, and will "suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His Might."
¹ The everlasting covenant is given in Genesis 9:1-7. The provisions of the covenant are: 1) Men may eat meat for food. 2) They are to set up their own form of civil government. 3) They are to enforce capital punishment. 4) They are to multiply and bring forth abundantly in the earth.