The Great Tribulation

December 16, 2012

David Sorn

Find out what’s really going to happen in the end times, how long the tribulation will last, and what the Bible says about the anti-Christ.

The Great Tribulation

December 16, 2012

David Sorn

Find out what’s really going to happen in the end times, how long the tribulation will last, and what the Bible says about the anti-Christ.


Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation.

Before we get started this morning, I do want to let any parents know that if your kids are w/ you this morning that today’s message could possibly be scary to kids

We aren’t attempting to be frightening or anything, but our services are always geared at Youth Group students and adults, and even more so, the nature of today’s content: The end of the world plagues, the anti-Christ, etc. might be scary to small children.

We do have a simply AMAZING CHILDREN’S MINISTRY though…and they can check your child (nursery- 5th grade) in at any time.

Even now if you’d like.

We are in the middle of a crazy series here at Renovation called “The End of the World”

If you haven’t heard by now the Mayan calendar ends this week. On Friday.

So if you have plans for Saturday…cancel them. Just Kidding.

For some reason…people have attached all sorts of apocalyptic end-of-the-world meanings to the end of this ancient calendar…even though it’s just an end of their cycle.

So…we figured at Renovation…since everyone’s talking about the end of the world…let’s take this opportunity to do a series on “What does the BIBLE actually say about the end of the world”

Because the Bible has tons to say about the end of the world…but a lot of people maybe aren’t familiar with it.

As a pastor, I really believe, that we need to have a wide variance in the kind of things we teach about…the kind of series we do.

Sometimes we’ll do a highly relational series about marriage…or relationships

Other times…something for the heart: A series on grace…or forgiveness.

And sometimes…we dive deep into the classroom…and really study theology.

This is one of those series.

None of those 3 different options are better or worse than the others, and all are important at different times.

If you’re visiting for the 1st time today or you’ve been in and out lately…let me catch you up:

In week 1 of the series we talked about all the signs that Jesus tells us to look for…to know the End is Near…or has started.

Last week, we talked about this thing called the Rapture: The idea that Jesus would come back to earth and rapture up (to take up in the sky) all of the Christians with him before the End Times begin.

I said that a better Biblical understanding is that the end times happen first…and then at the end…Jesus comes back.

In the Bible…there doesn’t seem to be a secret coming of Jesus where Christians disappear into the sky

In fact, no one even saw that as a possibility in the Bible until the 1800’s.

But yet…we also talked about how that’s not a “Hill to Die On” issue.

I drew a chart explaining that there are Core Issues in Christianity…proverbial “Hills to die on,” and that whether there is a rapture before the end times start or not…is not one of them.

Plenty of smart evangelical Christians believe there will be one, and plenty of smart people don’t.

This week: We’re going to cover: So what actually happens in the end times??

What kind of things will go down?

So…we’ll try…in 1 message to cover most of the end times happenings J

It’s a topic we could probably do a whole series on itself

And then, next Sunday, on the 23rd, in our final message, will cover: What happens then when Jesus comes back at the end of the end times? What about this millennial period the Bible talks about? And the new heavens and the new earth??

In the Book of Revelation…the last book of the Bible…the book about the end times, this “End Times Period” is called the Great Tribulation

(Revelation 7:14) – NIV

I answered, “Sir, you know. And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Sometimes ppl split the end times in half and call it the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation, but it’s not a big deal.

Much of the Book of Revelation is written in symbolic language.

That doesn’t mean that it’s not true…it just means some things are symbols for what will literally happen.

SO the anti-Christ is called the Beast…and Satan is called a Dragon.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a literal Satan…but Dragons aren’t real…and the Bible isn’t saying they are.

The book has symbols you have to wade through.

Which makes it probably the hardest book in the Bible to interpret.

Which means…that there are NOT a lot of HILLS to die on in this message either.

Some of this IS speculation…It’s our best guess on our interpretation of prophecy.

It’s not a shot in the dark…many scholars over 2,000 years have already studied these things.

BUT…it’s not as easy as reading in the Bible and saying…Ok…Boom…there it is…Jesus is God…not up for debate.

Prophecy is hard to interpret. Remember a lot of people missed Jesus as the messiah when he was on earth, even though there were tons and tons of prophecies about him in the OT


The first big question I want to look at today is HOW LONG will the end times be?

I said last week…that people who are PRE-Tribulational (believe there will be a secret rapture of Christians before the Tribulation), they believe it will be 7 years long

And that people who are POST-Tribulational (no secret rapture) say it will be either 7 years long…or possibly longer

While again…this is a difficult thing to decipher in Scripture…I would say the best guess is probably 7 years long.

Here’s why:

Take a look at this amazing prophecy in the Book of Daniel…about 530 years before Jesus was born

(Daniel 9:24) – NIV

24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

First question: Who is going to do those things? Atone for wickedness? Bring everlasting righteousness? Jesus, right??

Okay…let’s read on.

(Daniel 9:25) – NIV

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. (leave on screen for a few minutes – Fit on one screen??)

Okay…first of all…most scholars understand the “sevens” as seven year period.

So let’s start plugging some dates in, and doing some math

If you’re a note taker, you’re going to want to write this down.

The passage says that “from the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem…” What’s that?

Okay…well in Daniel’s time, Jerusalem and the temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians.

So when was a decree issued to rebuild the temple, etc.?

In history, this happened in 458 BC (after Daniel had died)

A decree was issued by King Artaxerxes I to go and rebuild Jerusalem

You can read about it in Ezra 7

So…that happens in 458 BC.

Then…the passage says, it will be seven 7’s, and 62 7’s until the Anointed One comes.

Who’s the Anointed One? Anointed One literally means: Messiah in Hebrew.

So…the passage says, seven 7’s and 62 7’s until the Messiah comes (that’s Jesus)

How long is that? Seven 7’s is 49 years. 62 7’s is: 434 years

49 years plus 434 years = 483 years

So…Daniel is prophesying that 483 years after the word goes out to restore Jerusalem…the Messiah will come.

So what’s 483 years after 458 BC?

It’s the year 26 AD

Couple of notes here:

There is no 0 AD or BC. So you go from 1 BC to 1 AD

Also, you need to know that almost all scholars believe that Jesus was born around 5 BC.

But doesn’t that mean 5 years BEFORE CHRIST??!??

Yes, but the people who made the Gregorian Calendar in the 1500’s got the date of Jesus’s birth wrong. Whoops. Kind of a big deal.

So…let’s bring it together:

Daniel prophesies that 483 years after the word goes out to restore Jerusalem…the Messiah will come.

He said that would be in 26AD

Guess what happened in 26AD??

Jesus introduced himself to the world with his baptism and his 1st year of public ministry.

Amazing. Simply amazing. Perhaps the most stunning prophecy in all of the Bible.

BUT WHAT does this have to do with the END TIMES?

Look at the next 2 verses:

(Daniel 9:26-27) – NIV

26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death (explain) and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. (explain – history) 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

So…it looks like in the future…there will be one more 7 year period…where an evil ruler will set-up an abomination that causes desolation in the temple.

Jesus even tells us in Matthew 24…that we will need to look for this same thing…IN THE END TIMES!

And because this prophecy was SO AMAZING SPOT ON about when Jesus would come, I think we need to take it seriously about a future 7-year period that will come.

And thus…it looks like the end times, the Great Tribulation will be a 7 year period.


During this great tribulation will come a number of terrible judgments on the earth

Much of what will actually happen during the Tribulation is in Chapters 6-18 of the Book of Revelation…I encourage you to read it.

Revelation tells us that the judgments will come through 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls of judgment.

Again, these are symbols of the judgment being “pronounced” or “poured out”

There aren’t going to be ginormous bowls in the end times J

The 1st 7, are the 7 seals, in Revelation Chapter 6

The 1st 4 seals are the 4 horses of the apocalypse:

These are symbolic of 4 things that will happen:

Conquest, war, famine, and massive death.

The 5th seal is for Martyrs: Because SO many believers will be killed for their faith in the end times

The 6th seal is a Great earthquake…and with it will also come crazy signs in the sky…in the sun, moon, and stars.

Stuff where you would look up at the sky and could in no way doubt it was the Tribulation period of 7 years.

The 7th seal introduces the 7 Trumpets in dramatic fashion.

They occur in Revelation 8-9

(again…you can read ALL about this in the Bible…if you don’t have one…take one)

As crazy as it all sounds…I’m not making this up J

The 7 trumpets are 7 more judgments that include things like hail and massive fires.

The Bible says, in that 7 year period of Tribulation, 1/3 of the earth will be burned by fires across the land.

Some seas will turn to blood. Many water supplies will be infected and bitter.

There will be plagues of locusts…and more war, and more famines.

This is why all throughout the Bible, these says are called, “The DREADFUL day of the Lord”

Revelation 15-16 then speak of 7 “bowl judgments,” which seem to be similar in nature to the trumpets, but are later on and even more extensive and severe

Despite all of these terrible things that are happening, there are some interesting positive things as well.

God is not absent…even in the Tribulation period

Revelation chapter 11 speaks of 2 witnesses who will stand up for God boldly for 3.5 years.

(Revelation 11:3-6) - NIV

3 And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” 5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.

Many think these 2 witnesses could be Moses and Elijah returning to earth…as their miracles are very similar.

Also, later in Revelation…they are murdered by the anti-Christ…but God brings them back to life 3.5 days later to prove He is God.

Crazy stuff!

It also appears that believers in some sense will be shielded from CERTAIN things in the Tribulation period.

For instance, in some of the plagues, like the locusts…it says the believers won’t be harmed.

It also looks like there will be mass conversions in the end times.

Rev 7 talks about many Jews being converted to Christianity .


Before all of these things get started though…many scholars believe that the 1st sign of when the 7 years start is listed in Daniel 9. Look at it again:

(Daniel 9:27 – NIV)

27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

So, the evil ruler will confirm a covenant…some sort of agreement/treaty, etc. with the “many” (which in context) is the Jews, for 7 years.

Then, half-way through, this anti-Christ (which the word is used in other parts of the Bible, specifically in the letters of John), will put an end to their sacrifices…which is why some people think the Jews will rebuild their temple again by the end

Which again…could be in our lifetime, but could be 1,000 years from now

And when he puts an end to their sacrifices, he will set-up the abomination that causes desolation…something Jesus also tells us in Mt 24 to look for in the end times

Well what does that mean?!?

Here’s a different way to explain it:

Interestingly enough, much of prophecy in the Bible has double-fulfillments.

Meaning, it’s fulfilled in a way in an earlier stage of history AND in the end times.

This is true with some prophecies of Jesus. Some were fulfilled in Isaiah’s time…and then in a different way with jesus. It’s what’s considered the complex theory of prophecy.

We can see this with the abomination prophecy.

In a way, it was fulfilled when Antiochus the IV of the Seleucid Empire..ransacked Jerusalem in 167BC and set up an idol to Zeus in the temple (The abomination that causes desolation)

But then Jew, Judah Maccabee (Judah the hammer) as they called him…led a revolt, and cleansed out the temple.

BY the way…if this sounds mildly familiar…it’s because it’s actually the beginning story of Hanukkah

But…we know that this prophecy…ultimately has another end-times fulfillment…because that was before the final 7 years…and Jesus himself, who was almost 200 years after Hanukkah…tells us to look out still for the abomination that causes desolation.

So half-way through the 7 years, the anti-Christ is going to desecrate the “temple” somehow

Paul himself even writes about the anti-Christ in one of his letters:

(2 Thessalonians 2:1-4) – NIV

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

So, you can see, that this anti-Christ is the same person that Daniel 9 talks about…as he is setting himself up in God’s temple.

But then Paul tells us, as does Revelation, that he will meet his demise

(2 Thessalonians 2:8-10) – NIV

8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

The actions of the anti-Christ are talked about at some length in Revelation 13…where he is called “The Beast” and also at the end of Daniel

Revelation tells us more about him

(Revelation 13:5-8) – NIV

5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world

So, it looks like for 42 months, 3.5 years, the anti-Christ will have extreme power over the earth…

Yet another reason…the end will probably be a 7 year period. Here’s half of 7 years in the book of Revelation…just like Daniel talks about the 7 years being divided in two.

Revelation also tells us that at one point the anti-Christ will appear to have a fatal wound, but the wound will heal, and the world will worship him even more!

One of the other major marks of the anti-Christ is that his false prophet will force people to get a mark of his name or number…which is 666…Here’s what the mark means:

(Revelation 13:16-17) – NIV

16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

You can read a whole lot more about the anti-Christ in Rev. 13, 17, and the end of the book of Daniel. Also, there’s more in 2 Thessalonians.

And really…there are literally HUNDREDS of more things that could be said about what happens in that 7 year period, but all I can do is recommend that you read the Book of Revelation for yourself.

Because I’m not making this stuff up…if I was…I’d be pretty creative…but crazy!

But someday…this is all going to happen.

And I keep asking myself this question in this series: Why is this important?

I like to teach, but I’m also a practical guy, so I have to ask, do we really need to know this stuff? Cuz it doesn’t seem that practical…

& I think we do. Because we need to know Scripture. And it teaches us about God.

But it’s also important that Christians know these things, so that they can interpret them when they happen.

We’re now 9 days away from Christmas morning…

And a little over 2,000 years ago…the messiah came to earth as a baby.

And here’s the thing:

Just like there are all of these prophecies about Jesus coming back some day…there were tons of prophecies about when he would first come.

And can you imagine…teachers…standing up in front of their flock…teaching about the signs of the Messiah coming??

Okay…so, he’s going to be born of a Virgin…

He’s going to be born in Bethlehem.

He’ll come from the line of Judah

A Messenger will prepare the way for him.

He’s going to bring light to the region of Galilee.

And imagine the crowd of people, say 5 years before Jesus was born, maybe even a crowd of children and youth…

Saying, ”Yawn…. BORING! What does this have to do with my life!”

And yet…some of those same people…who probably heard their teachers going on and on about prophecies about the first Christmas…about the Messiah coming to earth…

Some of those same people were the very disciples that Jesus called.

The first leaders of the church. The people who were able to identify the signs…and say, “THIs is HIM! This is HIM!”

The same people who wrote our Bible.

And in the same way, WE need to be sure, whether it’s in our generation, or in a generation to come, that WE TOO…could spot the signs…and interpret the prophecies if this next story of God were to happen in our lifetime.

And because of that…we learn…we study…and we trust in God’s plan.

Let’s pray.


We’ve been mentioning for a few weeks now that we are going to take our 2nd annual special offering for our Children’s Home in Haiti today (Haiti TieDye2)

In just 17 days, our team of 23 people from Renovation will be working with our Children’s Home/Orphanage in Haiti

These are kids that do not have a lot. Just a few toys and books for 50 kids. And just 2 adults, so they get hardly any contact time with adults.

From the beginning, we have felt like one of the most important things we could provide for these kids, as people who have the means to help, is to look out for their health and safety.

That’s why last year we were able to raise money to fill in their land, so they could avoid flooding all over their property, and thus a significant malaria risk.

This year…we would like to rebuild the back wall of their property…as it was knocked over in Hurricane Sandy (Haiti BackWall – Now2)

Not having the wall up is a significant security risk to these vulnerable children…

They are supplied food every day from our partner organization World Wide Village, and thus, in a neighborhood where not everyone has food, it’s a serious risk to these vulnerable children that now just anyone could walk right into their property.

We also would like to raise money today to purchase a propane stove and kitchen accessories for these kids.

Up until now, they are currently cooking over an open fire for 50 kids (Haiti Cooking)

We’d love to provide a safer, healthier, cleaner, and more efficient way for them to cook for these 50 kids every day

Over the last year and a half, God has brought our church into these kids’ lives, and we want to show these children, and their village…their neighborhood, that our faith in Jesus means something to us.

That we’re not just going there and doing this because “we should,” but because our faith in Jesus compels us to.

That HE has given us SO much…both spiritually AND physically, that we want to bless OTHER people. (Haiti Polaroid2 – for remainder of the offering)

As Jesus says, “Freely you have received, freely give.”

And we want to give…IN a way that’s going to make a serious difference

Not to just some large organization…but to give to something…that WE’RE doing. That our team is LITERALLY going to do in just 17 days!

More than anything we want to love these kids and teach them more about Jesus…and our team of 23 is going to get a great opportunity to do that.

But God has also given us…as an entire church…an opportunity to make a significant impact in keeping these kids healthy and safe.

And WE want to do that.

So our goal this morning is to raise $6,000 in one day. Today.

And I know that’s crazy, but we can do it. God can do it through us. I know He can. It only takes $20 a person, and ALL of us can help.

And many of you can give maybe even significantly more than that.

In just a moment, we’re going to take an offering for these kids, but I did want to let you know that on a logistical note, if you weren’t ready to give today, you can still give online or send a check into our p.o. box (just make a note on it) as long as you do so by Tuesday night.

Make checks to renovation church

You can also give online through our mobile website…or through the YouVersion App…just make SURE you select the Haiti Missions Fund.

So let’s just pray, and then we’ll put our trust in God and hope that he can CONTINUE to do incredible things through our church.

Let’s pray for the offering.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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