As we continue our study of the lectures on “The Interpretation of Prophecy” by Dr Paul Lee Tan, we will be looking further into the following end-time issues:
o The Tribulation
The Bible tells us that immediately after the rapture, God will pour down His wrath upon the earth – there will be a period of unprecedented sufferings, painful anguish and terrible devastation: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24: 21).
Daniel 9: 24-27 and Revelation 11: 2-3 tell us that the tribulation will last for seven years. “The length of tribulation period is not difficult to ascertain under the literal method of interpretation. Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 ‘weeks’ is the starting point. The first 69 ‘weeks,’ when interpreted as ‘week of years,’ equals 483 years – the exact length of time from the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem (Neh. 2: 1-6) in 445 BC to the triumphant entry into Jerusalem of Jesus the Messiah! This gives us assurance to take the final 70th ‘week’ (the tribulation period) as a period of seven literal years. The mid-point of the 70th week – properly called ‘the Great Tribulation’ since sin and suffering then will be unprecedented, is revealed even in days and in months – Rev. 11: 3; 12: 6; and 11: 2; 13: 5” (The Interpretation of Prophecy – Dr Paul Lee Tan).
The tribulation will start with the Seven Seal Judgments (Rev. 6), followed by the Seven Trumpet Judgments (Rev. 8-9), and finally the Seven Vial Judgments (Rev. 16).
o The Antichrist
During this fearful tribulation period, the world’s economy will collapse. A “superhero” or “saviour” with full political, military, economic and religious powers will emerge to exert control over the world: “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months” (Rev. 13: 5).
The Bible refers to him as the “antichrist”: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (I Jn. 2: 18). “He probably answers to ‘the little horn having the eyes of a man, and speaking great things’ (Dan. 7: 8, 20); ‘the man of sin, son of perdition’ (II Thess. 2: 3); ‘the beast ascending out of the bottomless pit’ (Rev. 11: 7; 17: 8)” (J F Brown Commentary).
The antichrist’s rise to world power will start with his uniting of the 10-nation European confederacy and the signing of a peace treaty with Israel, thus ushering in peace in the Middle East. We note however, that the European Union now has more than 10 countries. Thus, the “10-nation” confederacy may also be interpreted as “10 economic trade blocs” such as our present day European Union (EU), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
In the middle of the tribulation, the antichrist will show his true colours. He will persecute God’s people, repudiate the peace treaty, and destroy Israel’s temple sacrifices: “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he 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” (Dan. 9: 27).
The antichrist will establish himself upon Mount Zion: “And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain” (Dan. 11: 45a). Moreover, “he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done” (Dan. 11: 36).
This is clearly affirmed by Apostle Paul: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (II Thess. 2: 3-4). Energised by Satan – “… whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (II Thess. 2: 9) – the antichrist will receive the world’s worship: “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13: 8). Under his direction, all religions will unite into one super-church. For the first time in history, one man will rule the entire world.
In the cruel exercise of his power, the antichrist will make an absolute decree – that everyone must receive the mark of the beast (the number 666) in order to “buy or sell”: “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (Rev. 13: 16-18).
These end-time prophecies may trouble us as we think of the unprecedented sufferings that will come upon the world. Let us remember that our God rules sovereign. Every turn of history is in accordance with His will and purpose. May we keep close to the Lord and be always ready to meet our Saviour when He comes for us. Amen. (… to be concluded)