What is The Great Tribulation in the Bible? | Revelation 12-16. What a great question. Let’s see what the Bible has to say. In these chapters, the Apostle John introduces multiple individuals who play a key role in the future time of tribulation:
Revelation Chapter 12
- Israel—Pictured as a woman who gives birth to the Messianic King (Rev 12:1-6).
- Satan—Portrayed as a dragon who persecutes the “woman” during the Great Tribulation (Rev 12:3-6). But God has prepared a protected place in the wilderness to shelter Israel during this time (Mark 13:14-23, Revelation 12:17-23).
- Jesus Christ–Described as a male child born to Israel and caught up to God’s throne.
- The Archangel Michael —Who, with his angels, battles with Satan and Satan’s angels, casts him out of heaven, and hurls him to the earth at the mid-point of the seven-year tribulation. That move focuses Satan’s wrath, so the Bible warns “Woe to the earth,” on earthdwellers. Though Satan’s main attack is against those who testify of Jesus (Rev 12:7-18).
Revelation Chapter 13
- The Beast—He’s also known as the Antichrist and he’s the world leader during the tribulation period. He is the second member of the Satanic (imitation) trinity. The Beast successfully wages war with the saints, and the entire world of unbelieving earthdwellers will worship and follow him. According to 2 Thessalonians 2:4, he enters God’s temple and proclaims himself “god.”
- His Assistant—He’s the Second Beast who the Bible also calls the False Prophet, the third member of the satanic trinity. He causes the unbelieving world to worship the Beast (Rev 13:11-16). This Second Beast forces all earth dwellers to receive the Beast’s mark, his name, or the portentous number 666 (Rev 13:17-18). He will force everyone to accept the mark if they want to buy or sell. Receiving the mark is the same as worshiping Satan, which has severe eternal consequences. This mark can only be accepted willingly.
- Note: Satan is the first member of the false trinity and power behind the man (Rev 13:1-10). The Beast is the second member of the false trinity because He imitates Jesus. And the Beast’s Assistant is the third member, supports the Beast, and he imitates the Holy Spirit.
Revelation Chapter 14
Revelation chapter 14 shows God’s response to Satan’s earthly activity. John introduces us to:
The 144,000 Jews were previously sealed and are now in heaven after dying as martyrs (Rev 7:4; 14:1-5).
Three angels—they pronounce:
(1) The eternal gospel. This gospel is not the gospel of salvation but the good news for God’s people that the time has come for our patient God to judge evil: “And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters (Revelation 14:7).”
(2) The fall and destruction of Babylon the Great as a result of God’s judgment.
Note: The identity of Babylon the Great is disputed, but it represents organized opposition to God.
(3) Eternal torment for those who worship the Beast or receive his mark (Rev 14:6-20).
Revelation Chapter 15
The Conquerors: Chapter 16 will reveal the final series of judgments—the seven bowls—prepared for angels to pour out in rapid succession. But before showing these judgments, in chapter 15 John sees the conquerors in heaven, tribulation saints: They defeat the Beast and stand in God’s presence (Rev 15:2-4). These imminent judgments come directly from God’s throne room and temple in heaven and complete God’s wrath (Rev 15:1, 5-8). With God’s wrath completed, Jesus will return (Revelation 19).
Revelation Chapter 16
The seven angels pour out their bowls of terrible judgments (Rev 16:1-21).
The earthdwellers—These are non-believers in Christ, whose response remains the same: They still blaspheme God for these plagues and will not repent (Rev 16:21)!
Believers Will Be Raptured Before the Tribulation
Sometime after God raptures the believers in Jesus and takes them to heaven, a seven-year time of tribulation will begin. During this time, God will pour out His wrath against sin. If you don’t believe in Jesus and you live during the tribulation, God calls you an earthdweller. Please know, Jesus satisfied God’s wrath by sacrificing Himself, by dying on the cross. He promises that the person who believes in Him has eternal life. And God—who cannot lie—promises to never take it away.