Summary: The sixth trumpet warns of a terrible taste of hell for those in the Tribulation.
Well – today we have a formidable task, to somehow cover three chapters of the book of Revelation. We are using the same portion of Scripture in worship that we are using for our Bible study on Wednesday evenings and these chapters are difficult and appear very strange – like most of Revelation.
After our study on Wednesday evening, I had dreams all night about some of the images. I awoke numerous times and was thinking “Stop this. Dream of something else.” But they just wouldn’t go away. My sleep was filled with huge angels, locusts that have the face of men with long hair and the Abyss.
When I was ten years old a friend and I were dropped off at the theater in town while mom shopped and the movie scared the bajeebies out of me. It was from an Edgar Alan book, the Pit and the Pendulum, staring Vincent Price – a really creepy guy – and in the movie there was, of course, a pit. It was a bottomless pit with fire and smoke and they would tangle people over the pit. And that pit was back Wednesday night in my dreams because in this section, there is a pit – called the Abyss – a place where demons are kept – only during the Tribulation they are released and they torment people.
Now we can’t read everything that is in chapters 8-11 but they are all a part of what is called the Great Tribulation. And American Christians always want to know, “When is this going to happen? Will it happen in 2012 to coincide with the predictions in the Mayan Calendar? What are the signs? How will we know when it starts? Should we be stockpiling food and ammunition like Glen Beck says that we should?”
And I think we need to gain a much larger perspective on this. The church has two views about the Tribulation – at least among those who acknowledge that there is one. One opinion is that the tribulation began with the ascension of Jesus Christ and that the entire church age is in fact the tribulation – that there have always been and will always be wars, persecutions, and great times of testing until Christ returns. The other opinion is that it has not begun yet and will be a definite seven-year period of severe testing.
And it really depends on where you are in the world. If we were to ask some Christians who are living in China, or any nation where Christianity is illegal, they would probably say that we are in the midst of the tribulation right now, because they are being persecuted. Did you see the news about the man who is told by the Iranian Supreme Court to renounce Christianity and return to his parent’s faith of Islam or be executed? I am confident that in those nations they would say that we are in the midst of the Tribulation right now. Or maybe if we would ask some Christians living in Eastern Africa, they might say “Tribulation – yes – it has been going on now for ten years.” But it does in some part depend on our context – our life situation.
But when Americans are asked about the Tribulation, we think only about how to avoid it. In my opinion, some Christians have done some rather difficult interpretive gymnastics in order to come up with a doctrine where the church is removed from all of the Temptation. That is called pre-tribulation rapture – where all Christians are removed from the earth prior to the tribulation. But even the pre-tribulation rapture does not satisfy some.