This study, taught by pastor Barry Forder at our Sunday morning service on Sunday 6th March 2016 is the 9th in our verse-by-verse study through the book of Revelation.
In this study we begin to look at ‘the beginning of sorrows’. This is a phrase given to us by Jesus in Matthew 24, when He was explaining to the disciples the events that would take place immediately before His return.
Much of the church today tends to ignore prophecy, or at least, put it to one side, deeming it to be ‘difficult’, ‘hard to understand’ or even divisive! In ‘The Purpose Driven Life’, a book embraced by many churches both in the UK and in America, pastor Rick Warren made the following incredible statement: “When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He said in essence. “The details of my return are none of your business.” – yes, pastor Rick says the details of Jesus’ return are not for us to worry our little heads over! Err…. Excuse me! In the words of an old Christian song “If the Bible don’t back it then it seems quite clear, perhaps it was the Devil who whispered in your ear!”
Seems to me like pastor Rick and those who subscribe to views like this should spend less time on motivations pep talks and get back to what the Bible actually says!
The Bible actually says:
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Matt 24:5)
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. (Matt 24:25-26)
Now learn a parable of the fig tree…… (Matt 24:32)
So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near (Matt 24:33)
Therefore be ye also ready……… (Matt 24:44)
Watch therefore…….. (Matt 25:13)
Take heed lest any man deceive you: (Mark 13:5)
But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that reads understand,) (Mark 13:14)
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. (Mark 13:22-23)
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. (Mark 13:33)
Watch ye therefore (Mark 13:35)
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch (Mark 13:37)
Take heed that ye be not deceived (Luke 21:8)
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28)
Doesn’t look like this is ‘none of our concern’!
In fact, almost one third of the Bible is made up of prophecy; and God says that prophecy is unique to Him, and is evidence that His Word is supernatural and from outside this time domain.
In Isaiah 46:9-10 God says: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure”.
Prophecy is not a prediction about the future. We make predictions, which are really educated guesses, about things like the weather, or a sporting contest. We have a little bit of information, and coupled with experience we give it our best guess. But prophecy is history recorded in advance by a God who is outside of Time!
Without doubt, one of the most detailed areas of prophecy in the Bible has to do with the ‘Day of the LORD’, or as we are often more familiar, ‘the Tribulation’. This coming seven-year period begins in chapter 6 of Revelation, and concludes in chapter 19. This period of time is spoken of by a number of names in both the Old and New Testaments:
The Tribulation in the Old Testament
The Time of Jacob’ Trouble – Jeremiah 30:7
The Seventieth Week of Daniel – Daniel 9:27
God’s Strange Work – Isaiah 28:21
The Day of Calamity – Deuteronomy 32:35-43
The Day of the Lord – Obadiah 15-17 / Isaiah 2:12 / 13:6-9 / Joel Ch 1-2
The Tribulation – Deuteronomy 4:26-31
God’s Indignation – Isaiah 26:20-21 / Daniel 11:36-37 / Isaiah 34:2
The Overflowing Scourge – Isaiah 28:15, 18
The Day of Vengeance – Isaiah 34:1-8 / Isaiah 61:2
The Time of Trouble – Daniel 12:1
The Great Day of The Lord – Zephaniah 1:14-18
The Tribulation in the New Testament
The Day of the Lord – 1 Thessalonians 5:2
The Wrath of God – Rev 15:1 / 14:10
The Hour of Trial – Rev 3:10
The Wrath to Come – 1 Thessalonians 1:10
The Great Tribulation – Matthew 24:21 / Revelation 2:22
The Hour of Judgment – Revelation 14:7
In Chapter 6 of Revelation we see the beginning of the wrath of God being poured out on this unbelieving and Christ-rejecting world. The Lamb – bearing the marks of slaughter – now begins to break the seals on the scroll, and with each succeeding seal that is broken there is an accompanying event that unfolds, as if part of a chain reaction. This will usher in the most terrifying and cataclysmic period of history since the Flood of Noah. We will see world-wide conflict, poverty and starvation on an unimaginable scale, disease and pestilence that will confound the World Health Organisation and will be so great that a quarter of the Earth’s population will be wiped out in a matter of months. Then we will see the largest earthquake ever recorded, where every island – including the British Isles – will be rocked and shaken. But remember, this is just the ‘birth pangs’!
May you be blessed by this study as you continue to grow in knowledge and grace.
As well as the audio, we have made available for FREE download the PDF PowerPoint slides used in the study.
To encourage you to study this chapter in more detail there is also a verse-by-verse text commentary in the Pastor’s blog section of this website, headed ‘This is just the beginning!”