As the end of the age was drawing near, the Lord had made Himself known to the People of Israel again just as Ezekiel had fore told 2500 years earlier, and in response they had built a temple for worshiping Him again like they did in Old Testament days. I was told to go and measure the temple area but to leave out the outer court because it had been defiled by a non-Jewish element whose real intent was to pay homage to a false messiah. These Gentiles were forcing their way into the Lord’s Holy City and would desecrate it for 42 months with their false worship. The Luciferian Doctrine I told you about was becoming the dominant religion of the world and the 3 1/2 year long Great Tribulation would soon be upon them.
To warn them against this false religion, the Lord sent two witnesses to preach the true gospel in Israel. To help His people identify these two and lend credibility to their warnings, He gave them the same supernatural powers they had displayed during their lifetimes in the Old Testament. Like Elijah, one had the power to prevent any rain from falling on Earth, and like Moses the other one could turn water into blood and strike the earth with all kinds of plagues. Of course, the leaders of the “new” religion tried to have them silenced, but the Lord protected them all through their 1260-day ministry. When their assignment was finished He allowed them to be killed, and to show their contempt, the people left them lying where they had fallen in the streets of Jerusalem and sent gifts to each other to celebrate finally being rid of their tormenting. But after 3 1/2 days they heard the same loud command I’d been given earlier. “Come up here!” the Lord shouted, and in full view of all the world these two dead bodies stood up and shot up into heaven, full of life. At that moment there was another earthquake, part of Jerusalem was destroyed and thousands were killed. The survivors were terrified and correctly identified God as the source of the quake. He always has the last word, doesn’t he?
Just then the 7th trumpet sounded and loud voices in Heaven announced, “The Kingdoms of the world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever!” As the 24 leaders of the church whose thrones surrounded the Throne of God worshiped and sang praises to Him, I couldn’t help but think about that scroll I had eaten. Hearing that the time had finally come to begin the Lord’s reign on Earth caused my heart to swell with joy, but knowing that the full fury of God’s wrath was about to be unleashed on His enemies also filled me with a sense of dread.
Then God’s real Temple, the one in heaven, was opened and I saw the Ark of the Covenant, symbol of His commandments and promises to His people. The flashes of lightning, peals of thunder, earthquake and hailstorm that came next warned of the final and most terrifying series of judgments soon to descend upon the Earth.
Now comes one of those times I talked about when we’ll have to “stop the play.” To give me a better perspective and show just who was the cause of all this horror and devastation, the Lord gave me a quick history lesson in the form of another vision. First I saw a woman, representing the human race in general but Israel in particular. She was about to give birth to the Messiah.
Then I saw this enormous red dragon with extraordinary intellect, power, and authority. He had rebelled against God and convinced 1/3 of the angelic host to follow him. He stood waiting to destroy the Messiah the moment He was born. But God raised His Messiah from the dead and whisked Him up to heaven.
The woman fled into the desert to a place God had prepared for her to hide from the dragon during the time of his great war against God. This war began in Heaven, but Michael, General of the Lord’s army, defeated the dragon and drove him from heaven confining him and his forces to Earth.
Then I learned that the dragon is the devil, or Satan. Ever since he deceived Adam and Eve and illegally gained control of Earth he’s been at war with God to keep it. He’s also been trying to win the people of Earth over to his side by deceiving them just like he deceived Adam and Eve and the angels. He knew the Messiah was coming to take back the Earth and redeem God’s people and that’s why he killed Him. But when God raised His Messiah from the dead He promised to send Him back to finish the job. Since the Messiah first came to Earth through the Jewish people, Satan has been determined destroy them all, to prevent them from calling Him back again. This is what makes anti-semitism the most brutal of all bigotry. It’s Satanic.
When Satan realized he had been confined to Earth he unleashed his full fury against God’s people. Foreseeing this God had done two things. First, as a reward for their faith, He had snatched His Church right off the Earth altogether and hidden them some years earlier in a place he had prepared for them in Heaven. And second He had hidden the believing remnant of Israel in the desert on Earth, east of the Dead Sea.
For his part, Satan empowered two men to deceive the people of Earth and mobilize them against God and His people. These men were identified to me in the vision as two beasts, one from the sea and one from the land. The first was a great political leader, the smartest, most charismatic man the world has ever known. When this man was apparently assassinated Satan supernaturally healed him, convincing the world he was the messiah. Nearly everyone on Earth was fooled by this so-called resurrection and began worshiping Satan and his false messiah. Remember I told you that after the church disappeared, God’s Word was pretty scarce on Earth and non-believers were easily tricked by what they saw. Also, having previously hardened their hearts against the truth they were now fair game for the lie. I have to admit, it was pretty convincing. If I hadn’t had the benefit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within me I’d have been fooled, too.
Satan’s second man was a religious leader. His job was to head up the world’s new religion and make sure everyone worshiped Satan and his false messiah. Using the supernatural powers Satan had given him, he performed all sorts of miraculous signs even constructing a giant image of the false messiah that could actually speak. To ensure their loyalty to his religion and compliance with its ritual, he fixed it so that people couldn’t earn money or buy the things they needed unless they took a mark signifying their belief in the false messiah. Refusing to receive the mark was punishable by death. From now on, following Jesus was going to require a whole bunch of faith.
With the appearance of these two men, all hell had broken loose on earth and the Great Tribulation had begun. Because of this vision I now understood that Satan was the cause of all of man’s troubles. With his successful effort in deceiving Adam and Eve he had introduced sin and sickness and death and destruction into God’s perfect creation contaminating it beyond repair and estranging God from man. In His great mercy, God had provided mankind a remedy for this predicament and through His prophets had pleaded with us to accept it, even sending His own Son to show us the way.
But even God runs out of patience and now the time had come to take back that which had been stolen from Him and punish those responsible. Satan and his angels along with all those from the human race who sided with him would now learn the terrible consequences that come from incurring the wrath of the Living God and refusing His offer of peace. But even in the midst of His wrath, God would still accept without prejudice all who bowed their knee to Him and asked forgiveness.
The Lord gave me the duration of the Great Tribulation in several ways. They come out equal when you realize He’s measuring time the way He created it; 12 thirty-day months for a 360 day year. So whether He says 3 1/2; years or 42 months or 1260 days it’s all the same. With Satan’s expulsion from heaven and the appearance of anti-christ as a self proclaimed god on Earth the last 3 1/2; years of the Age of Man have begun. This is the Great Tribulation.
I had been trying to absorb the vision of the woman, the red dragon and the 2 beasts when my attention was drawn back to Heaven. There I saw another group numbering 144,000 but different than the 12,000 Jews from each of the 12 tribes of Israel I described earlier. That group was composed of Jewish believers commissioned to spread the Gospel on Earth. These were standing before God’s throne in Heaven, having been redeemed from the Earth. Since they’re described as pure and blameless, purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God who follow the Lamb wherever He goes, they can only represent the Raptured Church, observing events of the Great Tribulation from their vantage point in Heaven. No group of humans could ever be described that way unless the Lord had first perfected them as happens in the rapture.
By the way, when I say they hadn’t defiled themselves with women, I don’t mean there’s anything wrong with women per se. But most of natural man’s evil thoughts involve sinning with women, and in my day the false religions used illicit sexual acts with women in their worship rituals. As an example the great temple of Aphrodite in Corinth was home to nearly 1000 female priests who supported the temple’s financial needs by getting sailors and other travelers who visited Corinth from all over the middle east to pay to have sex with them. Sex was all mixed up with pagan religion then just like it’s all mixed up with politics now
As I looked around I also saw three angels flying between Heaven and Earth broadcasting messages. One was proclaiming the eternal gospel to all the nations in every language, and alerting them to the judgments still to come. Another was giving news of the coming destruction of Babylon, that great city that has personified all that’s opposed to God on Earth. And the third was warning the people of Earth that worshiping anti-christ and receiving his mark was an irreversible decision that would condemn them to never ending pain and torment. I told you the middle ground was disappearing. Worship the Lord and face the death penalty on Earth or worship Satan and face eternal punishment in Hell. Talk about needing faith.
Then the Lord showed me another vision. In this one a harvest of grapes from all over the Earth was brought to Israel to be crushed in the winepress of God’s Wrath creating a great river of blood. It was up to 4 1/2; feet deep and 175 miles long, the distance from Mt. Megiddo in central Israel to the Dead Sea in the south. This was a vision of the soon coming Battle of Armageddon, the great and final thrust in Satan’s war for control of Earth. (Since the Hebrew word for Mount is Har, over the centuries what was Har Megiddo in Hebrew has become Armageddon in English.)