What Saith the Scripture?
Tribulation Timeline: When Shall These Things Be? (Part 4)
"And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples
came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall
be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
by Tom Stewart
The Seven Vial Judgments
1. The 1st Vial Judgment is the vial, or bowl, which
begins the pouring out of "the wrath of God upon the earth" (Revelation 16:1). A foul and painful
sore is poured out upon those who have the Mark of the Beast and worship him. "And
I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways,
and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and
poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon
the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image"
- a. It is evident that the 1st Vial Judgment must be at
the End of the Week because they are called the "seven last plagues" (Revelation
15:1), and "the mark of the beast" (Revelation 16:2) is already present.
The reception of the Mark of the Beast qualifies the recipient for "the wine
of the wrath of God" (Revelation 14:10).
b. Further, since the "everlasting Gospel" (Revelation 14:6)-- the Good
News that men can still repent and turn in faith to the Living God (Acts 26:20)--
is still being preached, repentance must still be possible for those to whom God
will give "repentance to the acknowledging of the Truth" (2 Timothy 2:25).
c. Additionally, "there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which
had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped
his image" (Revelation 16:2). The word "and" indicates two conditions
that must be present for the 1st Vial Judgment's "noisome and grievous sore"
to target an individual: having possessed the Mark of the Beast, and worshipping
("worshipped" King James Version, in the Greek is present tense) the Beast.
d. The Mark of the Beast has God's twofold promise of wrath and eternal torment.
This is not to proceed from the Beast, but from an Angry God-- "It is a fearful
thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31). "And the
third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast
and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall
drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the
cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the
presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb" (Revelation 14:9-10).
e. In spite of this twofold promise of divine wrath and eternal torment, a Merciful
God still waits for the repentance of whosoever will. "And the Spirit and the
bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst
come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation
22:17). However, no one should presume upon God's grace to think that they will necessarily
repent after receiving the Mark of the Beast! "For if we sin wilfully after
that we have received the knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice
for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which
shall devour the adversaries" (Hebrews 10:26-27).
f. A "noisome and grievous sore" (Revelation
16:2) is a loathsome and painful ulcerated wound. It would
be fearful to speculate as to the exact nature of the "sore" that God will
deem appropriate to deliver in His last group of judgments against the Beast's followers.
g. The Vial Judgments follow the sounding of the 7th and Last Trump. The 7th angel
sounds his trumpet in Revelation 11:15, while the Vial Judgments occur in Chapter
16. This will probably correspond to Tishri 1, 5766, which is Old Testament Israel's
Feast of Trumpets (modern Israel's Rosh HaShanah)-- corresponding to Tuesday, October
4, 2005 AD. That will allow for about 8 to 9 days to pour out the Vial Judgments
and to complete the Tribulation Week, which ends on Tishri 9, 5766 (October 12, 2005
AD). This allows for about one judgment every day.
2. The 2nd Vial Judgment is
where the angel of the Most High God pours out a vial upon the sea, which
turns it to blood. Consequently, all sea life dies. "And
the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of
a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea" (Revelation 16:3).
- a. Another indication that this is the end of Daniel's
Seventieth Week is that "every living soul died in the sea" (Revelation
16:3). How long can the planet's ecosystems survive, when everything in the sea is
dead? Without deep speculation, not long.
b. Remember that this is the second time in the Tribulation Week that the planet's
oceans and seas have been targeted, by God, to judge man. The other time was the
2nd Trumpet Judgment (Revelation 8:9). That was most likely a regional ecological
catastrophe. Killing 1/3 of the sea's animals is disastrous. Killing all sea life
3. The 3rd Vial Judgment is
God's judgment upon fresh water and its sources. An angel pours out the vial
upon all fresh water. It all becomes blood. "And the third
angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became
blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O LORD, which
art, and wast, and shalt be, because Thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the
blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are
worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, LORD God Almighty, true
and righteous are Thy judgments" (Revelation 16:4-7).
- a. Without fresh water, human life is limited to only a
matter of days. Deprive a human being of oxygen, then he has only minutes to live.
If you expose a person to extreme cold, then he may survive only a matter of hours.
Deprived of water, someone may survive for days. Without food, the agony of life
can go on for weeks. Truly, it can be said of our Just and Longsuffering God: "The
LORD is known by the judgment which He executeth: the wicked is snared in the work
of his own hands" (Psalm 9:16).
b. An angel pours out this 3rd Vial Judgment upon all fresh water-- life ending,
but still leaving time to repent-- while "the angel of the waters" (Revelation
16:5) justifies God's actions. He says that "they are worthy" (16:6b) to
drink blood, because "they have shed the blood of saints and prophets"
c. What "saints and prophets" (Revelation 16:6) did they kill? The 5th
Seal Judgment (Revelation 6:9-11) recounts how "they" (16:6) aided and
abetted in the murder of the Saints because of "the testimony which they held"
(6:9). By the Middle of the Tribulation Week, "they" (16:6) were complicit
with Antichrist's slaughter of all those who "would not worship the image of
the beast" (Revelation 13:15). And now near the End of the Week, just a few
days earlier, "they" (16:6) rejoiced and made merry over the lifeless bodies
of God's Two Witnesses-- Moses and Elijah-- for 3 1/2 days, that Antichrist had just
slain (Revelation 11:7-10).
d. Sowing and reaping. "Be not deceived; God is not
mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7).
There is nothing arbitrary about God's judgments. His judgment is just and righteous.
4. The 4th Vial Judgment is
the pouring out of a vial on the sun. The result is the scorching of mankind
with great heat. Without repentance, man's actions are predictable.
They will blaspheme the very God, who controls the plague, that gives them their
torment. "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was
given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and
blasphemed the name of God, Which hath power over these plagues: and they repented
not to give Him glory" (Revelation 16:8-9).
- a. A first-degree burn is only redness, mild swelling,
and stinging pain. Cold water is most often recommended for the first aid treatment
of simple burns. Question. What water is available to treat these more serious, scorching
burns? Didn't the angel just turn all the fresh water to blood in the 3rd Vial Judgment
(Revelation 16:4) about a day earlier?
b. Turn the water to blood, then scorch the flesh by the heat of the sun. A divine
design is clearly evidenced in God's judgments. "O the depth of the riches both
of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways
past finding out!" (Romans 11:33).
c. God, "the Judge of all" (Hebrews 12:23), will complete the process of
hardening and (ultimately) judging the sinner. "But after thy hardness and impenitent
heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of
the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds"
(Romans 2:5-6). Or, He will lead the, finally contrite, sinner to repentance. "Or
despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not
knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" (Romans 2:4).
d. At no place during the Seven Vial Judgments of the last 8 to 9 days of the Tribulation
Week (Revelation 16), do we have any indication that anyone on planet earth has repented
of their rebellion against God. In fact, it is clearly stated that "they repented
not" (16:9). Who can honestly blame God for the severity of His judgments in
light of the history of man's obstinacy and rebellion?
5. The 5th Vial Judgment is
a painful darkness that the 5th angel pours out upon the kingdom of the Antichrist.
"And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his
kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed
the God of Heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their
deeds" (Revelation 16:10-11).
- a. The "seat of the beast" (Revelation 16:10)
is the seat of Antichrist's government-- his throne. Jerusalem is not just the center
of attention for three major religions-- Christianity, Islam, and Judaism-- but is
"the center of the world" as far as Scripture is concerned. The people
of Israel are said to "dwell in the midst of the land" (Ezekiel 38:12),
or literally, "who live in the center of the world".
b. Jerusalem, not Rome, nor even a rebuilt Babylon, is the most likely candidate
for the "seat of the beast" (16:10). Rome seems to be a headquarters for
a United Nations Religion, even though San Francisco, California (USA), seems to
be the place of initial organizing of a type of one world church. Saddam Hussein
is doing some kind of rebuilding of the city of Babylon; however, it does not seem
to have the significance, or attraction, of Jerusalem. Perhaps a portion of Jerusalem
will be independent of the nation of Israel, and will function as a multi-faith capital
to the world's religions with Antichrist's seat of government as well.
c. Darkness (Revelation 16:10) in this Vial Judgment will be painful. So painful that "they gnawed their tongues for pain"
(16:10). What do we compare that to? Perhaps the fear of darkness-- which is real
to anyone trying to navigate without a light-- is so great as to cause the gnawing
of the tongue, which brings on "pains" and "sores" (16:11).
d. Again, they "repented not" (Revelation 16:11).
6. The 6th Vial Judgment is
the 6th angel pouring out a vial upon the Euphrates River to prepare the way
for the Kings of the East-- and the rest of the world-- for the Battle of Armageddon. "And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river
Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east
might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth
of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false
prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto
the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that
great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth,
and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered
them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" (Revelation
- a. Preparation for the Battle of Armageddon occurs before
the End of the Tribulation Week; however, the actual conflict will not take place
until after the Seventieth Week of Daniel is completed.
b. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened,
and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and
the powers of the heavens shall be shaken" (Matthew 24:29). The phrase "immediately
after the tribulation of those days" means "immediately after the Tribulation
Week is completed," and not "immediately after the Tribulation
Week gets started".
c. What will happen "immediately after the tribulation" (Matthew 24:29)?
The Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ will occur, on that day, immediately after
the Tribulation Week. That day will be Tishri 10, 5766. This day is also known to
Jews as, Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. Our modern calendar identifies the
date as Thursday, October 13, 2005 AD.
d. What about Jesus' statement: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no,
not the angels of Heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36)? Isn't this verse
the reason why we are not supposed to set dates for the Rapture? Not really. Actually,
the context of Matthew 24 is referring to the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ,
not a Rapture. Notice the references in Matthew 24 to the word "come" in
this passage: "the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and
great glory" (24:30), "as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming
of the Son of man be" (24:37), "ye know not what hour your LORD doth come"
(24:42), "in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (24:44),
"Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing"
(24:46), and "The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not
for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of" (Matthew 24:50).
e. Even if Matthew 24 is dealing with the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ,
and not the Rapture-- as it does-- still, what about the statement: "But of
that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of Heaven, but my Father only"
(Matthew 24:36)? The word the King James Version translates as "knoweth"
is used in the Greek in the present tense. The limit, of who may know the time and
hour of the Second Coming of Christ, was only to the disciples that Jesus addressed
at that present time, in Matthew 24.
f. Why wouldn't the LORD Jesus want those disciples to know the time of His Second
Advent? Because He wanted their attention drawn to the Mystery of the Church, and
its ensuing 2,000 year history of redemption to the rest of the Gentile world. In
other words, it wasn't the right time for the Church to know and focus on that information,
which was sealed up to the time of the End. "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the
words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro,
and knowledge shall be increased" (Daniel 12:4). Conversely, the Spirit of God
is progressively divulging the understanding to the prophecies, on a "need to
know basis," as we approach their actual fulfillment. "And he saith unto
me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand"
g. Immediately before Jesus ascended back into Heaven, the disciples asked, "LORD,
wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). Jesus
responded: "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father
hath put in His own power" (Acts 1:7). Jesus' answer has given some, today,
the impression that it was not possible for the Church to know, in advance, the actual
timing of the End Time events. He was only directing those particular disciples'
attention to the immediate task of evangelizing the world and launching the Church
10 days later at Pentecost. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy
Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and
in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts
h. The case for knowing the day and hour of the LORD Jesus' Return is built upon
friendship with the LORD Jesus. He knows when He will return, and He is absolutely
willing to share that information with His friends. "Henceforth I call you not
servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you
friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you"
(John 15:15). Only for a short time did Jesus set aside His heavenly glory, and voluntarily
limit His knowledge of the future. Thus, He rightly stated that, "of that day
and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the
Son, but the Father" (Mark 13:32). That was then. But now, He is back in Heaven
where He is using all of His divine power, as the Saints' Friend and Intercessor,
to show them "things to come" (John 16:13).
i. The secret of what is about to unfold upon the world at the end of this age is
given to the righteous. "His secret is with the righteous" (Proverbs 3:32).
"Surely the LORD GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants
the prophets" (Amos 3:7). It is becoming increasingly more difficult to build
a case for ignorance of the timing of the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. If God could
lead the Wise Men to the LORD Jesus at the First Advent, why wouldn't He lead the
wise to the timing of Jesus at His Second Advent? "None of the wicked shall
understand; but the wise shall understand" (Daniel 12:10).
j. We were talking about the 6th Vial Judgment and its preparation for the Battle
of Armageddon. To continue. Armageddon is mentioned only once,
by name, in Scripture-- in Revelation 16:16. "For they are the spirits of devils,
working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world,
to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty" (Revelation
k. The scenario for Armageddon. The Seventieth Week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27) has
all but completed, when the 6th Vial is poured out. Antichrist presented himself
as God, to be worshipped in the Temple, at the center of the Tribulation Week (2
Thessalonians 2:4). The Tribulation Saints have been raptured at the 7th and Last
Trump, approximately 8 days before the End of the Week. With all of God's people
removed from the planet, the LORD God Almighty has the greatest liberty to deal with
l. Remember how the LORD refused to pull up the tares (weeds) out of His wheat field?
Why? Because He was concerned about harming His own. The Tribulation Saints must
be completely removed by a Pre-Wrath Rapture. "He said unto them, An enemy hath
done this. The servants said unto Him, Wilt Thou then that we go and gather them
up? But He said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat
with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I
will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles
to burn them: but gather the wheat into My barn" (Matthew 13:28-30). This describes
the final harvest of the nations of the world. The Pre-Wrath Rapture (which is the
final harvest of the Church) occurs before the separating of the sheep from the goats
(which is the final harvest of all the nations of the world) (Matthew 25:31-46).
m. Antichrist represents "the kings of the earth and of the whole world"
(Revelation 16:14). The "kings of the east" (16:12) are a significant part
of Antichrist's army from the Far East. They are not his opponent at Armageddon.
Who do they really think they are going to fight? Not each other. As much as they
may hate each other, they are coming to fight the KING of Kings. Unreasonable? Yes.
"There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD" (Proverbs
21:30). Still, if they won't repent, they must oppose the Living God. "He that
is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth"
n. Armageddon is the showdown between the LORD Jesus Christ and the Antichrist. In
Antichrist's corner are all the weapons of the world, as well as Satan's lying wonders.
"Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs
and lying wonders" (2 Thessalonians 2:9). The LORD Jesus is armed with only
His person-- "and His name is called The Word of God" (Revelation 19:13)--
however, "out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite
the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress
of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Revelation 19:15).
o. The world is watching this engagement. "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and
every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the
earth shall wail because of Him" (Revelation 1:7). The kings, which represent
the whole world, and their armies will be there-- gathered by Satan's demons. "For
they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of
the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day
of God Almighty" (Revelation 16:14). And all of God's angels will be there.
"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the LORD Jesus shall be revealed
from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that
know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our LORD Jesus Christ: who shall be
punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the LORD, and from the
glory of His power" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). And also, all of God's Saints will
be there. "And the armies which were in Heaven followed Him upon white horses,
clothed in fine linen, white and clean" (Revelation 19:14).
p. Armageddon is more an event than it is a place. It is "the battle of that
great day of God Almighty" (Revelation 16:14). As a location, Armageddon relates
to the Mount of Megiddo, in the northern part of Israel. It also relates to Megiddo,
a city located in the Valley of Jezreel (also called the Plain of Esdraelon). Blood
will flow thick and deep. 1,600 furlongs is about 200 miles. "And the winepress
was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the
horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs" (Revelation
14:20). The entire length of Israel will be a killing field-- but only for the dead
bodies of Antichrist's troops. "And the remnant were slain with the sword of
Him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of His mouth: and all the
fowls were filled with their flesh" (Revelation 19:21).
q. Though the Campaign of Armageddon lasts 5 days (Tishri 10 to 14), the actual Battle
will probably take place in one day. When the LORD Jesus Christ begins to slay His
enemies, it will probably be ended the same day. "And out of His mouth goeth
a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with
a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty
God" (Revelation 19:15). However, if an extra day is needed to complete Armaggedon,
the LORD Jesus could do for Himself what He did for Joshua-- give Himself an extra,
supernatural day! "And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people
had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher?
So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a
whole day" (Joshua 10:13). On Antichrist's part, just the logistics of amassing
his forces will take a good part of those 5 days-- as well as the last part of the
Tribulation Week after the 6th Seal Judgment.
r. The final outcome of the Battle of Armageddon is assured. Jesus will win. Satan
will lose. "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the
bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that
old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast
him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should
deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after
that he must be loosed a little season" (Revelation 20:1-3). Both the Beast
(the Antichrist) and the False Prophet will immediately receive their eternal judgment,
being cast into the Lake of Fire. "And the beast was taken, and with him the
false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that
had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both
were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Revelation 19:20).
7. The 7th Vial Judgment is
poured by the 7th angel into the air. Thunders, lightnings, a great earthquake, a disappearance of islands and mountains, and a great hail result
from this Vial Judgment. "And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the
air; and there came a Great Voice out of the Temple of Heaven, from the Throne, saying,
It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a
great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake,
and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of
the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto
her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. And every island fled away,
and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven,
every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague
of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great" (Revelation
- a. A Voice from Heaven announces, "It is done" (Revelation 19:17). This is the voice of God. A solemn and steady
announcement, that neither understates, nor overestimates, the preceding actions.
b. The worst earthquake that the world has ever seen will take place. "And there
were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such
as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great"
c. This author believes that the "great Babylon" (Revelation 16:19) is
the city of Jerusalem-- not Saddam Hussein's attempted reconstruction of Babylon.
Jerusalem will be divided into thirds with this earthquake. The rest of the worlds'
cities will fall. Simple, but apocalyptic. "And the great city was divided into
three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance
before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath"
d. Unrecognizable terrain seems to be a key aspect of this 7th Vial Judgment. All
islands disappear. Every mountain disappears. Nothing and no one escapes. "And
every island fled away, and the mountains were not found" (Revelation 16:20).
e. If the Biblical measurement of a talent is equivalent to 100 pounds, what is left
of the world is now being pounded with hailstones, each weighing about as much as
a person can normally carry. If the populace won't repent, is it any wonder that
their remaining strength would be used to curse the Living God? "And there fell
upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and
men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was
exceeding great" (Revelation 16:21).