The Great Tribulation
Compiled from the writings of David Brandt Berg
When the Antichrist reaches the “midst of the week” and tries to wipe out all religions and establish his world religion of self-worship and worship of his idol, this is when he really starts getting into trouble—both with the peoples of the world and the religions of the world and their followers—and he begins having all kinds of wars. He has wars with different areas and nations and peoples, no doubt with those who are the most religious. He has a lot of problems in those last days of his reign, and God Himself will give him a lot of problems, too.
That final 3½ years will be the most difficult, as Jesus Himself said, “Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). Many will refuse to accept the Mark of the Beast, obey him, or bow down to his image, and as a result many will be killed. It says many shall “fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity and by spoil” (Daniel 11:33). There will be 3½ years of horrible persecution of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. All religions will be forbidden, banned and persecuted. (See Daniel 11:36–37)
When he first arises as a great world leader, the whole world thinks he’s great and follows him, except, of course, those who really know God’s Word and will recognize who and what he really is. Millions will believe in the Antichrist and follow him. It even says, “All the world wondered after the beast” (Revelation 13:3). They may all be deceived by him and wonder and wander after him for a while, at least until the middle of his reign, but when he suddenly invades Jerusalem, sets up an idol of himself in the holy place, and sits in the temple of God saying that he is God, at that point, obviously, many millions of people will reject the mark, refuse to worship him and his image, and will rebel against his satanic kingdom, resulting in nothing but trouble from then on according to the Bible.
There will be literally millions who will reject the Mark of the Beast and refuse to fall down and worship his image, and who will, even as nations, rebel against him and fight him, which accounts for some of the wars and turmoil detailed in the book of Daniel. The whole world is not going to be in perfect peace during those last 3½ years, and he’s not going to have absolute control. Many people will rise up and realize that he’s not the right guy and he’s not good for them or the world, that he’s demonic and the worst thing that ever happened to the world, and they’re going to rebel and refuse to follow his orders. They’re going to refuse to take the Mark of the Beast.
In Revelation 12, when Satan was finally cast out of heaven down to earth, “having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12), what was the first thing he began to do? “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman”—the Bride of Christ, the church—“and the dragon was wroth 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” (Revelation 12:13,17). He’s particularly going to be out to get anyone who loves Jesus and is a part of His Bride.
The Bible says, “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: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:9–11).
The true Christians, the true believers in God, will not accept that mark. The Bible says that we who love Jesus will already have the invisible mark of God in our foreheads—faith in Jesus Christ. Those who are following the Antichrist, this horrible beast, will have the Mark of the Beast in their foreheads or in their hands as they follow and worship him. But we who love the Lord cannot accept that Mark of the Beast, and we will not. If you love Jesus, you will refuse the Mark of the Beast, because you’ll have God’s mark in your forehead already. (See Revelation 7:2–3; 9:3–4.)
Although the beast commands that no one can buy or sell without the mark and that anyone who refuses to worship his image should be killed, we will refuse. We will refuse both the mark and the worship of the image, and therefore they will try to kill us, and we will not be able to buy or sell food or clothing or shelter or the necessities of life. We will undoubtedly have to flee into the “wilderness” for survival, to prevent our being killed for not worshipping the image of the beast and to survive without being able to buy or sell. But God is going to take care of us.
Just because they tell you to stop worshipping the Lord and to worship the Antichrist, do you have to? Even if they tell you that unless you get his mark, 666, in your forehead or in your hand you can’t buy or sell anymore, you can’t go to the grocery store and buy groceries, and if you’re a farmer you can’t sell your produce, does that mean you have to? No. He only threatens to kill everybody. The Devil’s been trying to kill God’s people for thousands of years, but he’s never succeeded. He’s managed to kill a few, sometimes quite a few, but he’s never managed to kill them all. So he may get a few of us—if he can catch us.
During this Tribulation period, for Christians it will be impossible to survive except by miracles of God and faith and living independent from the system, without its mark and without its approval and benefits, unable to buy or sell. Christians will have to subsist in a survival situation, underground, and do the best they can to survive and continue to witness, much like the early Christians did from the catacombs during the Roman persecutions. The time of suffering and persecution under the Roman Empire during the early days of the church may be similar to what will happen under the coming Antichrist Empire, because Rome was also very anti-Christ.
Of course, if you’re really following the Lord, your very life and your light and your example and your love are a constant witness in themselves and sufficient and all that God may expect of you, until they come to you and ask you why.
The church in Tribulation
Back in the last century, some Christians decided that they shouldn’t have to go through the Tribulation. They developed a theory, the “pre-Tribulation Rapture” doctrine, which gained wide acceptance with many Christians. The adherents of this doctrine believe that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to resurrect and rapture His church will occur before the 3½ years of the Great Tribulation.
They believe the Lord will rapture them before the Tribulation and before they have to do any suffering for their faith, before they have to be tested for their testimony, before they have to really be tried in order to triumph. They hope to be wafted off into heavenly places, out of their comfortably cushioned pews and lovely church buildings, right on up into the heavenlies.
I’m afraid this is a false doctrine—the Bible says just the opposite. Jesus Himself, when speaking of His second coming, said, “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: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all of the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:29–31). Jesus is coming to rapture or “gather together” His “elect”—which means all of His saved, set-apart children who have received Him into their hearts—immediately after the Great Tribulation period. (Part seven of this book will cover the Second Coming of Christ and the Rapture and Resurrection in much greater detail.)
Let’s look at other scriptures describing this Great Tribulation period and the “dragon’s” persecution of the church through the Antichrist: “I beheld, and the same horn”—the “little horn” of Daniel 7, the Antichrist—“made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of Days came”—Jesus Christ in His Second Coming. “And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”—The 3½ years of Great Tribulation (Daniel 7:21–22, 25).
“And his”—the Antichrist’s—“power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished” (Daniel 8:24; 12:7). The temporal power of God’s church on earth is going to be destroyed before Jesus comes. The Lord is going to allow the Devil, in the person of the Antichrist, to destroy the temporal power of the church and to destroy all the strength and the riches and the wealth of Christendom throughout the world.
God is going to turn the world over to the Devil for a while, and he is even going to have power over the saints and overcome them. “And there was given unto him”—the Antichrist—“a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations” (Revelation 13:5, 7).
Therefore, contrary to Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine, the church, the saints, the Christians, the people of God, are certainly going to be here during the Tribulation. The Lord will protect and keep them through it, because He needs a witness, lots of witnesses, to tell the world what’s happening.
“More than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37)
Even though the Antichrist will be allowed to overcome God’s children physically, obviously destroying the organized temporal power of the church, he will not and cannot overcome them spiritually. The Lord says, “And they”—the church—“overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11). This time may well be the greatest outpouring of the power of the Spirit, resulting in the greatest witnessing the church has ever done.
I believe this will be a time of greater power even than the early church, greater manifestations, mightier works, mightier witnessing than has ever been done before. The gospel is going to be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations (Matthew 24:14). “Where iniquity doth abound, grace doth much more abound” (Romans 5:20). In the world’s darkest hour of greatest iniquity, even then His followers are going to miraculously witness and shine brighter than ever before. “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:2).
“And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he”—the Antichrist—“corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32). The people who really know the Lord are going to be strong—in spite of the Antichrist, in spite of the image of the Beast, in spite of all their persecution. The worse things get, the more God’s Spirit is going to be poured out from on high to help His children withstand the dark evil forces that will be warring against them.
“And they that understand among the people shall instruct many” (Daniel 11:33). Our major job as Christians will be to stand up as God’s witnesses before the world to explain to them what’s happening and to lead and to encourage God’s children till the very end. There are going to be so many people seeking instruction, information, as they cried unto the apostles of old, “What shall we do to be saved?” (Acts 2:37; 16:30).
People are going to be more desperate than ever then, just as they are now in times of personal trial and emergency and catastrophe and illness and accidents. People are going to need salvation and need the good news. There’s going to be a great harvest of souls won to His kingdom in that last hour of earth’s history, a great harvest of souls that His followers are going to help reap.
“And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed” (Daniel 11:35). What is the Tribulation for? To test the believers, to try, purge, purify them, and make them white—to prepare a Bride fit for her Bridegroom and for His Coming. “Even to the time of the end.” It goes right up to the time of the very end, when Jesus comes and catches away His Bride.
It costs something to witness, and in that day it is definitely going to cost some their lives. The Antichrist is going to try to wipe out the believers because they’ll be telling the truth and exposing him. They’re going to be “instructing many,” warning them of who he really is. He pretends to be the messiah, the savior of the world, but we’ll be telling the world that he is the Antichrist, the Devil in the flesh. We’ll say, “Don’t take the Mark of the Beast; you’ll go to hell. Don’t take the 666. Don’t become a part of his kingdom. Don’t be one of his subjects. Don’t fall down and worship him.”
So God is going to test the church’s faith, to see if they have real faith, if they really do believe and if they’re really going to be willing to witness for Him before others. Or are they going to be ashamed of Him and try to save their lives by not witnessing? He’s going to purge and refine with fire, He says, to make them white (Daniel 11:33–35)—to try them, to test their faith and to see if they’re really willing to die for Jesus.
But there will be lots of victories and wonderful witnessing and lots of souls won, and you won’t even mind dying. After all, when you die in His service, that’s your graduation, your promotion. So even if they kill you, you can be thankful to get out of that Tribulation. And even if it’s painful, it’ll only be for a moment. The Lord will never let it be unbearable—He’ll take you first (1 Corinthians 10:13). Down through history the martyrs have died singing in the fire, praising God—joyful deaths.
Whether we live or whether we die as martyrs for Jesus, “laying down our lives for our friends” (John 15:13), we live and die for the Lord and for love and for others. And there will be Christians doing so till the very end of the world, witnessing for Jesus till He comes. For according to what His Word says, there will be some of us here right up to the bitter end, enough of us to be raptured and enough to have some witnesses still going strong.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: And the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). Multitudes are going to survive right until the very coming of the Lord, otherwise there wouldn’t be anybody left to rapture. So there are going to be many people still functioning for the Lord and surviving and living by faith and preaching the gospel, without the Antichrist and his damned Mark of the Beast.
God is going to protect His children supernaturally, miraculously, powerfully, in many ways, and the message will get out all the more in spite of everything they try to do. They are going to be the worst days the world has ever suffered and it’s going to be the worst time the people of faith have ever endured, of persecution and suppression and death. But some will survive. The Lord has promised supernatural protection.
God Himself will defend His people during those very last days with mighty signs and wonders, and even monsters and plagues that will afflict His enemies in their defense. In Revelation chapters 8 and 9 where we’re told about the terrible trumpets of Tribulation and the mighty judgments, we read about some horrible monsters released from “the bottomless pit,” sent by God to torment the ungodly, the wicked, the unsaved, because He gives them a strict command not to hurt those which have the seal of God in their forehead. He says, “Hurt not any green thing, neither any tree, but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads” (Revelation 9:4).
During this Tribulation period when the Antichrist and his followers are attacking the followers of Jesus Christ, God is going to let loose pestilences and plagues to attack the people of the Devil, the kingdom of Satan and the wicked. They’ll have so much on their hands defending themselves that they won’t have much time to persecute His followers. As His Word has said, “It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you” (2 Thessalonians 1:6).
Don’t fear the Tribulation if you love the Lord. Don’t worry about that 3½ years of Tribulation. The Lord is going to give His men and women, His prophets, prophetesses, and witnesses supernatural, miraculous powers to defend themselves and even to attack the forces of the Enemy, to enable them to survive and continue witnessing until the Lord returns. Revelation 11 says that the Antichrist forces won’t be able to do anything against God’s final witnesses until the very end, because His witnesses will have power to bring curses and plagues upon the wicked and to actually call down fire from God to devour their enemies. What a picture of mighty men and women of God fighting victorious battles against the demons of hell!
There will be nothing the Antichrist can do against them, nothing he can do to stop them until just 3½ days before the Lord comes. Then he will finally be allowed to kill them, that the cup of the iniquity of the wicked may be filled. While they’re actually rejoicing over their death, suddenly the Lord will return in power and great glory and will resurrect and rapture them—a mighty triumph, showing that God even has victory over death.
Those coming Tribulation days are going to be like the last days of Israel in Egypt. Most of the trouble and Tribulation is not going to happen to God’s people; it’s going to happen to the Antichrist and his kingdom and his followers and those who take the Mark of the Beast. Until finally, just as God did in those days when He finally removed His people out of the land of the Egyptians to a place of safety, He’s going to remove His people completely out of this world to heaven in the Resurrection and the Rapture. Then He’s going to wipe out the Antichrist and his kingdom in the final wrath and judgments of God.
It’s going to be a time of great victory and marvelous testimony so that the whole world will hear, and every last person that can possibly be saved is going to be saved. So don’t worry about the Tribulation. It’s not going to be all lopsided, a rampaging victory for the Devil. We’re going to win miraculous victories over him and all of his powers. Don’t think that we’re all just going to be cowering, hunted victims. Most of us are not going to be cowering, but powering in our fight and battle and defense of the gospel right up to the end—with all the forces of heaven on our side, including the curses and plagues of God.
Although there’s going to be the most hell the world has ever known, there’s also going to be the most heavenly power and defense and help and protection. It’s going to be a time of great victory over the forces of Satan and tremendous triumph over the Antichrist and his kingdom. So thank God we’re on the winning side and we’ve got everything going for us. I’m sure that many are going to survive miraculously, protected supernaturally, to the very end, in spite of persecution and in spite of suppression. God will care for His own right to the end.
When these awesome, apocalyptic, earthshaking events unfold, will you be ready? Will you know what to do? Will you be prepared to survive, and will you know how to help others to do so, as well as continue to worship God and encourage others in the faith during days not unlike those of the catacombs church of martyrs under Roman persecution?
Only those who have the seal of God in their foreheads, His own children, who have Jesus in their hearts, will be hidden and spared by the miracles of God until the Coming of Christ, when they will join Him in the air. The only way out will be up. And the only ones saved will be those who have had the supernatural, regenerative rebirth of the Spirit of God’s love in Jesus, being born again by accepting Him into their hearts. Have you?
Are you ready? Probably not. But you can get ready now by reading, studying, and learning His Word, and giving your time to the Lord, your whole worship, and serve the Lord and love the Lord with all your heart, all your strength, all your mind, everything you’ve got, starting right now—until the very end. May God bless you with His truth and salvation and loving protection and provision forever, throughout eternity.
Copyright © March 1981 by the Family International