The Greatest Tribulation
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you see Christ's soon return through signs of the end of the world like widespread tribulation, tsunamis, and global travel advances!
John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne.
-Revelation 1:4, emphasis added
This week we are examining the Revelation 1:4 promise that Jesus is the One "who is to come." What will His coming be like? Every so often, we witness an event so momentous that it touches the whole planet with a glimpse of the ominous things to come when Christ returns. On December 26, 2004, the eyes of the entire world were drawn to just such an event.
That Sunday after Christmas, life ended abruptly for 150,000-plus souls as a result of the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, which produced what is now called the Boxing Day Tsunami. So many bodies were swept out to sea in that catastrophic event that an exact number of casualties can never be verified.
It is especially notable that secular writers and news reporters used words like "apocalyptic" and "of biblical proportions" as they struggled to describe the horrific scenes of desolation and death they witnessed in Southeast Asia. Some even began to contemplate: What if there is a catastrophe so big, so deadly, that it could wipe out life on our planet-an asteroid, a comet, or a complete climactic shift away from a life-sustaining world? In other words, countless people, all around the globe, were anxiously thinking and talking about the end of the world!
As apocalyptic as the 2004 Tsunami might have seemed to some, during the seven-year period known in the Bible as the Great Tribulation there will be at least 20,000 times more deaths. Suffering will be so extensive, and desolation so great, that God says it will be "such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).
Most Bible prophecy scholars believe that the greatest number of deaths will occur in the second half of the Tribulation, which lasts forty-two months, or three and one-half years. By the end of the Tribulation, over half the population on earth will have perished. With over six billion people alive today, this means more than three billion will die!
Let's put those astronomical figures into perspective. If an event like the 2004 Tsunami occurred daily for three and one-half years, at the rate of 150,000 deaths per day, it would still only total 189 million casualties. For half the world's population to die by quake and tsunami in forty-two months, there would have to be one quake and tsunami each hour, sixteen hours per day, for three and one-half years. That would be more bodies to bury than we can possibly imagine!
Those figures are staggering to our human minds! That is why Jesus has said so much about the need to get ready for the end of the world. Is it possible to know an exact date as to when the world will end? No, for Jesus tells us, "But of that day and hour no one knows . . . but My Father only" (Matthew 24:36). However, Jesus promised to give us signs that would indicate the end is near.
The Bible is so unique because God has already mapped out specific future events. Only the living, faithful, and true God could ever, with 100 percent accuracy, declare: "Let Me tell you the future!" God has said that is the way we can know that He is real. Because He is real, you and I can confidently make a choice to live in hope because we place our faith and trust in Christ "who works all things according to the counsel of His will" (see Ephesians 1:11-13).
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