Summary: An overview of the next event on God’s program
The next event on God’s Prophetic Program is the sending of Elijah the prophet to ‘restore all things’ (Malachi 4:5, 6; Matthew 17:11) and then the beginning of Daniel’s Seventieth Week. This seven year period will be initiated by the Antichrist confirming "the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate". (Daniel 9:27)
This verse defines the seven year period "one week" and also reveals the "abomination of desolation" that Jesus later spoke of in Matthew 24:15 which occurs at the mid-point of Daniel’s Seventieth Week.
However, prior to the Seventieth Week, the Antichrist will be slowly but surely rising to power. He will have a 3 nation confederacy formulated from the east-European area described in Daniel 7:8 as "three first horns" and more specifically in Ezekiel 38:2,3 as "Gog (Antichrist), the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal".
Genesis 10:2 confirms these three to be from the lineage of Japheth, Noah’s son whose descendants populated the east-European region or "north parts" (Ezekiel 38:15). This gathering of nations from the same general area where the last two world wars were initiated should be no surprise to the student of history. The present-day fighting and upheaval in this very land region should hold the interest of every student of prophecy.
The Antichrist, with his three nation confederacy in place, will then use his political clout to convince the majority of Israelites of the necessity to sign/confirm/reconfirm an agreement or covenant guaranteeing peace to Israel during this time of world trouble and confusion, for this will be the era of "wars and rumors of wars... the beginning of sorrows" which the Lord described as a time of world turmoil in Matthew 24:5-8.
This perfectly agrees with the events surrounding the opening of the First Two Seals of Revelation 6:1-4. The one sitting on the white and red horses is the Antichrist himself! The opening of the third Seal demonstrates the continuing effects of the Antichrist’s influence on world conditions.
The black horse and rider holding balances symbolize famine which oftentimes follows war. This too agrees with the Lord’s account of Matthew 24:7 "there shall be famines". The fourth seal reveals a pale horse and rider with Death and Hell following with the horrifying result of death by the sword, hunger, death and beasts of the earth. The authority given to the Antichrist over 1/4 of the earth’s population will result in the killing of multitudes of innocent people!
These events are authored by men and Satan and must not be confused with the wrath of God which we as Christians will not experience. This opening of these Seals is only the "beginning of sorrows" referring to the first 3-1/2 years of Daniel’s Seventieth Week, and although the Lord controls the timing of these events, He is certainly not the author of the turmoil, tribulation and martyrdom of believers that follows and intensifies as each individual Seal is opened.
The events described as a result of the opening of the first five Seals portray what has occurred throughout history as the result of ruthless men and the wicked onslaught of Satan.
The opening of the Fifth Seal, brings about the escalating martyrdom of saints, and is the direct result of the Antichrist’s vicious persecution of God’s people.
This heinous slaughtering of Lord’s chosen surely can not be attributed to the wrath of God! Remember, the wrath of God will not come upon the saints, but, the Antichrist’s persecution will, for many will be "slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held"(Revelation 6:9) during the Antichrist’s reign, but the Lord will triumph in the end as He later pours out His wrath (Isaiah:13:9,13) during the Day of the Lord when "the Lord alone shall be exalted"!
This Bible doctrine concerning the saints experiencing the persecution of the Antichrist is not a new teaching, but, in fact was the belief of the early church and the majority of the church fathers. This Bible doctrine has been faithfully studied and revived during recent years by men of God who are concerned for the saints of today and that future day when the Antichrist will viciously persecute us, the born-again the Bible way Christians! Those who know the truth will be prepared for this most destructive of all persecutions in history the Great Tribulation!
However, the theory that is relatively new in origin is the pre-tribulation rapture theory which is only about 170 years old. If questions are raised concerning the Biblical validity of this theory, one need only review the book "The Rapture Question Answered" by: Robert Van Kampen.