Last month we presented the need for the gospel in Italy at Fairfax Baptist Temple in northern Virginia. We enjoyed the fellowship of our host family as well as the brethren we met at church. We had opportunity while in the area to visit Washington D.C. and spend an afternoon at the Holocaust Museum, the Native American Museum, as well as the Capitol Building.
Sandy and I had visited the Holocaust Museum earlier in our marriage and thought the main exhibit may be too intense for Isaiah so we toured an exhibition for children entitled “Daniel’s Story” where visitors experience the Holocaust through the eyes of a fictitious child named Daniel. His story is based on the actual experiences of German Jewish children during the Holocaust. The exhibition was designed to draw in younger viewers by focusing on one child’s high hopes and shattered dreams without presenting violent or graphic images.
The exhibit uses overhead narration, Daniel’s diary pages and a walk-through environment to see through Daniel’s eyes the increasingly restrictive laws and random violence against Jews, his family’s forced move from their comfortable middle-class home to the decrepit ghetto in Poland, their transport to a concentration camp, and Daniel’s life following liberation. The exhibit concludes with a short video narrated by “Daniel” which tells of his time in the concentration camp and it also reveals that Daniel and his father survived, that his mother and sister were gassed, and that more than one million Jewish, Polish, and Gypsy children were murdered. “Whenever I see children playing, I think of my little sister,” says Daniel. “I hear her giggles.”
Before exiting the exhibit, children have an opportunity to write down their reactions. Judging from the drawings and messages posted on the walls, the visiting children have been drawn into Daniel’s world and are sobered by the reality of this tragic time in world history. We were curious what Isaiah would write as he picked up marker and paper. He held up his note that read, “That is sad! I hope it will never happen again.”
Sadly, the Bible tells another Daniel’s story that reveals a future Holocaust that will be much worse than that which was inflicted upon Europe by Hitler. It is known to Bible students as Daniel’s 70th Week. Daniel 9:24-27 gives 490 years of history and all have been fulfilled except the last seven years. In this portion of scripture, one week is equivalent to seven years so 70 weeks equals 490 years. After 69 “weeks” (483 years from the command to rebuild Jerusalem) Messiah was “cut off” (crucified), Jerusalem was destroyed (AD 70) and the Jews dispersed among the nations of the world. God’s people (Israel) have been out of fellowship with Him and out of their land and thus God’s “clock” has not been ticking. In 1948, Israel became a nation again and since that time Jews have been returning to the Land – God’s “clock” is about to start again ushering in Daniel’s 70th week. The last week (7 years) will be when the Antichrist is in power. This period is known as the Tribulation and is also called in scripture “the time of Jacob’s trouble.”
This horrific time when the wrath of God will be poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth is described in the books of Daniel and Revelation. Just as Daniel’s Story put a face to the anonymous mass of Jews killed by the Nazis we would do well to meditate on these scriptures and their implication for individuals we walk among that will be left behind if the rapture occurs in our lifetime. Consider for a moment that person who must choose to either allow his children to starve to death (“no man might buy… save he had the mark”, Rev. 13:17) and eventually himself be decapitated (“I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus”, Rev. 20:4) because he won’t take the mark of the Beast or choose to take the mark and be doomed without any hope of future salvation and spend eternity in hell (“If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark… The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God… and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone… for ever and ever”, Rev. 14:9-11). May we be sobered by the reality of this tragic time in world history yet to come.
As a postscript, the good news for Christians is that we will not go through any part of this seven-year Tribulation but will be “raptured” or taken up to be with the Lord before it begins. Rather than listing lengthy passages of scripture, here are some simple principles upon which this fact is based…
Present-day believers will be taken out of the world before the wrath of God is fully poured out on the earth. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 tells us that Jesus Christ has “delivered us from the wrath to come.” Paul later writes, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Hell is the wrath or judgment to which men will go. The wrath to come points to the Tribulation as defined in Revelation 6:17, “For the great day of his wrath is come and who shall be able to stand?” In Revelation 15:7, seven vials are poured out upon the people living on this earth. The vials were “full of the wrath of God.”
If Present-day believers were appointed to wrath then we should be looking for the coming of the Antichrist, but we are told to look for the coming of the Son of God. We are not told to look for the Antichrist or for signs in the heaven or on earth. We are told in Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” We are to be “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7). “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 we read of the activity of the local churches. Chapter 4 begins with a call, “Come up hither” which matches the detailed promise of the Lord’s call and the church’s departure found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Following this call, the Apostle John, a type or picture of the church (born again Christians), finds himself instantly before the throne of God in heaven (“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”), and the Antichrist doesn’t show up until Revelation 6:2. The church on earth is not mentioned again during the chapters describing the Tribulation period.
The entirety of the seventy weeks of Daniel are said to be “determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city” (Daniel 9:24). God’s people in context are clearly the Jewish people and the holy city is Jerusalem. The Bible says that this time is for the purpose of completing God’s work with the Jewish people. The multitudes that will be redeemed out of all nations in the Tribulation is a side issue. The seventieth week is for the Jewish people. It is the “time of Jacob’s trouble,” not the church’s trouble.
2 Thessalonians chapter 2 details the coming of the Antichrist and the perilous times of his power; in verse 2 of that chapter we learn that this information should not trouble any child of God – it would be most troubling if we were going to be present in the Tribulation
“For 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