Preaching the Gospel and the Kingdom

by Leland M. Haines

Preaching the Gospel During the Tribulation
Christ Establishes His Kingdom

Preaching the Gospel During the Tribulation

Although there will be a time of tribulation before Jesus returns to the earth to set up His kingdom, Jesus said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matthew 24:14). This preaching will occur during the tribulation period, after "the beginning of sorrows" (v. 8). While the preaching of the Gospel will surely occur throughout the tribulation period, in the middle of the period, two special witnesses will spread the message.

Following these remarks about preaching the Gospel to the whole world, Jesus tells of an event that will occur in Jerusalem during the tribulation period. He said, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains" (Matthew 24:15, 16; cf. Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20, 21). Jesus here is referring to Daniel's prophecy about one who for a half of the week of years (31/2 years) "shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (Daniel 9:27). Daniel later wrote that "they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate" (11:31).

During this time, when the temple is under the control of the nations, or the Gentiles, God will empower two witnesses to prophesy for 1260 days, the second 31/2 years of the Tribulation. These two will witness in Jerusalem. No one can harm them during this time. But after the 1260 days are past, "the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them" (Revelation 11:7). The people will rejoice at their death and will come to see their dead bodies in Jerusalem. "And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth" (v. 10). Their message will be hard for the ungodly to listen to, so they will be glad when the prophets are dead. "After three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them" (v. 11). They then ascended into heaven. Their enemies saw what happened to them. Then when a great earthquake occurred, destroying a tenth of the city and seven thousand people, "the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven" (v. 13).

Christ Establishes His Kingdom

Next the seventh trumpet sounds, and voices in heaven are saying, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15). This trumpet signifies the first step in Christ's taking charge of His kingdom. It brings a reaction from the nations, "because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth" (vv. 17, 18). The events related to Christ establishing His kingdom are unfolded in chapters 12 through 19. The events in this section are revealed in highly symbolic language, yet they can be understood because the symbols are interpreted. Some aspects of these events are foretold in Daniel 11:36-45 and Zechariah 12(14.

These events show a conflict between God and the forces of evil empowered by Satan. This conflict is introduced by a great sign that reveals a conflict of the past. This sign is a woman who signifies Israel. "She being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered" (Revelation 12:2). Another sign followed this one. "A great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads" (v. 3), threw a third of the stars (symbolizing his angels), to the earth. This "dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born" (v. 4).This refers to Satan's influence on Herod that caused him to try to destroy all the boys under two years of age at Bethlehem at the time of Jesus' birth (Matthew 2:12-18).

Jesus' birth is next mentioned, including the fact that He "was to rule all nations with a rod of iron" (Revelation 12:5). This further rule was told to Mary at Jesus' birth. "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32, 33).

The passage in Revelation does not go into the details of this Child's life and ministry but jumps over them and mentions only that He "was caught up unto God, and to his throne" (Revelation 12:5). This clearly refers to Jesus' ascension.

With this review of the past conflict, apparently Revelation jumps beyond the church age and the first half of the seven-year tribulation to events that will happen to Israel during the last half of the tribulation period. "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days" (Revelation 12:6).

Israel had to flee to safety because "there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon" (Revelation 12:7). Because of this war there was no longer any room for Satan and his angels in heaven. "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (v. 9). After Satan's first rebellion, when he was thrown out of the presence of God, his operation was limited to the first heaven and the earth. He became "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), the head of the "spiritual wickedness in high places [heavenly places]" (6:12). The "air" and "heavenly places" refer to the sky surrounding the earth. But now we see that Satan lost this sphere of influence, and his activities are limited to the earth.

This limitation of Satan's power brought "a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down" (Revelation 12:10). This proclamation is given because the last steps leading to the establishment of the kingdom were now ready to begin. "Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (v. 12).

Those in heaven can rejoice, but sorrow faces the inhabitants of the earth. "When the dragon saw he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child" (Revelation 12:13). Satan's first act is to try to destroy Israel, but God intervenes to protect her. She is taken to "the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent" (v. 14). When Satan sees her fleeing, he tries to destroy her with a flood, but God again acts and saves her. This draws a strong reaction from Satan. "The dragon was wroth [enraged] with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (v. 17). This is the second time God's people undergo great suffering. The first is described in 6:9-11.

This is from Chapter 7 of the book, Redemption Realized Through Christ, © copyright 1997 by Leland M. Haines, Northville, MI.

We highly recommend you read this book. It may be ordered from Biblical Viewpoints publication (see below) or visit Books.


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January 29, 2001