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Summary: The third part in this series on the end times, it looks at the great tribulation

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It started the day everybody disappeared, well not everybody disappeared but a lot of people did. And from there it went from bad to worse. No one was sure who was simply missing and who had been lost in the tragedies that followed the disappearances. Those who remembered September 11th tried to draw comparisons but that event paled in comparison with what happened this time. To start with over a billion people just disappeared. Which in itself was unsettling until you realized the implications of aircraft suddenly without pilots crashing into buildings, buses whose drivers suddenly disappeared, millions of cars driving at highway speeds now without drivers and tankers and container ships without helmsman?

The devastation was felt world wide, there wasn’t even one country that had been spared. People didn’t know if their loved ones had disappeared or were victims of the devastation that followed the disappearance. Emergency crews were taxed beyond belief, cleanup efforts were stymied globally chaos reigned. To make matters worse many of the organizations and relief agencies that would normally have stepped in to provide help had virtually disappeared themselves. Sure the organizations were there, but there was nobody to man them, and if they had personnel they didn’t have money because most of their donors were gone.

Then came the conflict, countries and nations blaming each other for the devastation, and with no voice of reason to be heard it wasn’t long before words became action and all the various factions were fighting amongst themselves and then it was just a matter of time until the conflict reached around the globe. In the past there had been wars called world wars because they involved so many countries, but never before in history had there been a war that involved every nation on the earth.

When the toll of the combat was added to the devastation that had already rocked our planet it wasn’t long before crops began to fail because the resources were being poured into trying to deal with casualties and fatalities from both combat and catastrophe. Famine spread across the world, the most essential foods became out of reach for all but the wealthiest people. And so it was only a natural consequence that added to the chaos, confusion and hunger was disease. The fatalities were piling up, literally piling up as the resources weren’t there even in the prosperous countries to deal with death on this scale. As decomposition began to set in all kinds of sickness followed, cholera, malaria, aids. And it seemed as if the most compassionate of the health givers had disappeared in the initial event. Before the wars, famine and plagues were over another billion people had died. And so this was the beginning of the end of the world as we know it.

And then it was as if the earth itself turned against humanity. Earthquakes, eclipses, meteorite showers, salt water fish dying and fresh water supplies becoming unfit to drink, and the bugs, ugly bugs. Millions of locusts swarming across the earth eating everything in sight and the stings, the stings hurt like blazes and there was nothing that could be done.

And that was only the beginning. As food and resources became scarce any feeling of generosity began to fade and the countries that had reserves held onto them for their people alone. Well if your people are starving and those with the food won’t give it to you then you have to take it, and so an army of 200 million troops began to move. Before the conflict was finished another billion people had died.

And into this conflict stepped one man, one man who promised to restore peace, one man who promised to feed the hungry and take care of the sick. And he did. Not just in one country or a few countries but all over the world he restored order out of chaos, it had to be a miracle. And it was acknowledged as such. People came to view the man as more then a leader, more even then the deliverer, to people all over the world he became a messiah.

You know the story; it’s recorded in the book of the Revelation at the end of your Bibles. It’s been the subject of books and movies not to mention a gazillion sermons over the past 2000 years. The event is called the great tribulation and it’s part of what has been called the end times, the last days or the end of the world. If you came this morning looking for an in depth look at scrolls and bowls, seals and trumpets you’re out of luck. For a couple of reasons. The first is that we just don’t have the time, there are a multitude of different interpretations that abound in relation to those symbols and events. And if we were going to take the time to even highlight the most credible of those views we would be here for a month. Secondly it really isn’t all that important in the big scheme of things, there’s nothing we can do to stop it, and if you’re around when it’s underway the least of your concerns will be trying to interpret the catastrophic events that are taking place around you. But there are a lot of people out there who not only insist that it is important that we know and understand everything during the tribulation but they also insist that they have all the answers and they are ready to fight about it. And so the best I can do is say "The Tribulation: It’s Not a Good Thing." So this morning we are going to look as best we can at an overview of the tribulation.

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