The Rebellion, Return and Retribution

The Rebellion

The Trinity of Evil

Sometime subsequent to the Rapture, there will appear upon the scene a man of consummate diplomatic skill, possessed of a charismatic personality. He will arise from among the sea of nations. Allied with him will be a “false prophet” (Rev 13) arising from the nation of Israel who will beguile men with his miraculous powers, ultimately causing all men to worship the image of the first beast. The western world will hail the arrival of this world leader and place all their hopes in his ability to bring in “peace and safety.” Added to these two men, energizing and catapulting them to prominence, is Satan (vv2,4). Thus, they form a trinity of evil, a challenge to the trinity of the Godhead. Satan, the great counterfeiter, will present his masterpiece of deception to the world. The language of Psalm 2 captures the attitude of men during this time as well. The world will hail this man, the Man of Sin, as the only god they need. The rebellion native to the human heart since Eden will express itself in all its hideous reality.

The Treaty

In some way which is currently hidden from us, the beast will ensure Israel’s safety and ink a covenant with them to this end (Dan 9:27). It will likely include the ability to rebuild their temple. Peace will seemingly have come to the Middle East through the strategy and skill of this Beast. But just when all the world thinks that “peace and safety” have finally come, the events of Revelation 6 begin to unfold. Heaven is no longer silent! The command to “come” is issued and the first rider makes his appearance on the scene.

The Tribulation

The expression “the Day of the Lord” is found about 30 times in Scripture. At times it may have an immediate context. But usually it refers to a time when God will once again deal directly with sin and sinners on planet Earth. This appears to begin at the point when one of the “living creatures” says, “Come” (Rev 6:1). It will likely extend through the tribulation period and into the Millennial reign of Christ, concluding with the events mentioned in 2 Peter 3:10. It is a day of wrath (Rev 6:17) for the dwellers on earth. It will include the persecution of the faithful Jews as well as those who are reached through their testimony. But primarily it is God speaking to men on earth and showing His just retribution for their sinful ways. Nothing like it has ever been seen on earth. The details of the horror of that day are beyond the scope of this article, but they will dwarf, in comparison, all the horrors of wars that this world has ever known.

The Return

The Appearing

The dark clouds and somber tones of the previous chapters in Revelation are suddenly broken by the “appearing in glory” which will dawn upon the world as described in Revelation 19. A sudden “hallelujah” heralds the arrival of the King of kings and the dawn of a new day. Worship once again occupies our vision as we are exhorted to “praise God” (v5) for His righteous judgment and for the advent of the Marriage of the Lamb.

The Adoration

The four “hallelujahs” which follow in staccato-like procession (vv1,3,4,6) all relate to the righteous judgment of God on the Beast, False Prophet and Babylon. Adoration for His righteousness, majesty, might and dominion fills the heavens. For millennia, men have challenged the very existence of God because of His supposed silence in the face of evil, but now He has arisen and answered all the blasphemy of men and all the challenges of the skeptics.

Those Associated with Him

Accompanying the Lord and by His side is His Bride, the Church. During the seven-year period of tribulation, she has not been on the earth to endure all its wrath; she has been in heaven. This is the fulfillment of the promise of the Lord to keep us from the day of tribulation about to try the entire earth (3:10). To this can be added the assurance of the Holy Spirit in 1 Thessalonians. We are waiting for the Lord Jesus, “our deliverer from coming wrath” (1:10). Also, we are not appointed to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus (5:9). “Wrath” almost always refers to God’s judgment in time and not in eternity. It refers in the Scriptures cited to the “great day of his wrath” (Rev 6:17) which will come upon earth dwellers. It is described in numerous ways in Scripture: the time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jer 30:7), the Day of the Lord (1Th 5:2), and the Great Tribulation (Mat 24:21; Rev 7:14), among others.

His Bride will descend out of heaven with Him, for that is where she has spent the intervening period between the Rapture and His return to reign.

This is further substantiated by a consideration of Paul’s own expectations. In his earliest letter, 1 Thessalonians, he speaks of the Lord Jesus as our deliverer from the coming wrath (1:10), and then, in his revelation concerning the Lord’s coming, speaks of himself among those who are alive and remain at that moment (4:17). He was not looking for the fulfillment of anything else such as the appearance of the Man of Sin, the tribulation or other signs. But lest some might accuse Paul of not having developed his theology completely, five years later in writing to the Corinthians he says, “We shall not all sleep” (1 Co 15:51). A year later, he wrote to them again about groaning to receive his new body from out of heaven. And perhaps four years later, in writing to the Philippian assembly, he said, “from whence also we look for the Savior … who shall change our bodies …” (3:20-21). It is clear that Paul was looking for the imminent coming of Christ and not the tribulation.

The Retribution

The Scene

The scene described for us as the Lord exits heaven is one of majesty and might. He comes to judge and make war. Upon His thigh is written, “King of kings and Lord of lords.” With Him are also the armies of heaven. But they will not be needed for this battle; it is hardly a battle. He will descend to the mount of Olives; the touching down of His feet will herald greater things than the footprints that men left on the moon. The mount will divide, and topographical changes will elevate Jerusalem and make it a port city as well (Zec 14:3-9). The city that men thought was ripe for picking will become a burdensome stone to the nations (12:1-4), and the Lord shall fight for His people and His city.

The Supper

Call is made to all the fowls of the air to gather together to feast upon those who will be slain by the Word of the Lord. The outcome of this battle is assured. No weaponry or strategy will be able to defend against the Lord in the Day of His wrath.

The Slaughter

What ensues is best described in the words of Scripture: “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet … these both were cast alive into a lake of fire” (Rev 19:20).1 The remnant of their armies will be slain “with the sword of him that sat upon the horse” (v21). The battle will likely be over in moments and the victor will emerge unscathed and triumphant. The last member of this evil trinity with whom He deals will be Satan. To highlight the powerlessness of this inveterate foe, the Lord assigns the responsibility to consign Satan to the abyss for 1,000 years to an angel!

This seemingly invincible power, the Beast and False Prophet and their confederacy, will be dispatched in moments by the true Sovereign of the Universe. He will come and destroy them by the brightness of His coming (2Th 2:8). The bitter foe of God will be banished for 1,000 years. But he still has a small role to play in God’s revelation of the human heart. That will occur at the end of the 1000-year reign of the Lord Jesus. After ideal millennial conditions, Satan will be loosed, and he will readily find those willing to follow him and reject Christ and all His blessings. The revelation of the full depravity of the human heart will be complete.

The Session

The final matter to deal with prior to the ushering in of the Millennial kingdom is the final session of the King upon His throne, judging the nations (Mat 25:31-46). The wicked will leave that throne and enter eternal darkness and banishment. The righteous will enter the kingdom. All then gives way to the Millennial Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s great plan and purpose for His Son and for redeemed humanity are about to see their fulfillment in the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior. The Millennial reign is but the foyer into the vast eternal expanse which will know no boundaries.

1 Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV.