Chapter 03 - The Great Tribulation.



The Great Tribulation – distress for the faithful or for the world?

Distress for all people.

The beginning of birth pangs.

The two witnesses.

The distress of the faithful in Jesus.

The Great Tribulation.

The first beast, the Antichrist.

The Antichrist kills the two witnesses in Jerusalem.

The conquest and dispersion of Jerusalem.

The reign of the Antichrist.

The fifth seal.

The great darkness.

The seventh seal.

Is there a connection between environmental catastrophes and cultural development?. /     Discourse 1133



The assignment to the appropriate time.

The "Great Tribulation" is the period, with which the last days set in. The first half of this period of time (the beginning of birth pangs) is characterized by the worldwide catastrophes and the two witnesses of God in Jerusalem, who are killed at the conquest and dispersion of Jerusalem by the Antichrist. The subsequent three and a half years are the time of the reign of the Antichrist and of the persecution of the faithful in Jesus.

The last event of this period is the great darkness, which already announces the next period, the “Day of the Lord” with the eclipse of the celestial bodies.


Postscript:

This old interpretation, going back to the year 1995, is still based on the conventional understanding, advocated by almost all biblical commentators up to the present, that the seventieth week of seven years is a temporally unified event and that there is only one Antichrist. These assumptions are fundamentally based on the one hand on the prophecy in Dan 9,27, according to which the one who makes desolate will come in the middle of the seventieth week of seven years, and on the other on the statement of Paul in 1Cor 15,52, according to which the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture will occur at the time of the last trumpet, which is then referred to the last and seventh trumpet of the plagues of the trumpets (Rev 10,7).

More recent studies however have resulted in the realization that there is a parallel course of events between Mt 24 and Rev 6 and 7. This necessitates a transposition of the Second Coming and the Rapture to after Rev 6,12-17 (6th seal) and so interrupts the seventieth week of seven years at that point.

(See also Discourse 05: “The parallel course of events of Mt 24 and Rev 6 and 7”)


In this connection we also come to realize, on the basis of 2The 2,1-4 and Rev 13,1-11, that there cannot be just one Antichrist who will dominate in the Last Days, but two: a human dictator (the rider on the white horse, Rev 6,1-2) in the Great Tribulation (Rev 6,1-8; Mt 24,1-25) and a demonic spiritual being (the beast from the sea, Rev 13) on the Day of the Wrath of God.

(See also Discourse 86: “The first and second Antichrist.”)


In view of the fact, however, that this new point of view in principle only results in transpositions in the temporal sequence of events, while the content – apart from a few exceptions – essentially remains the same, the documents based on the old interpretation (taking these indications into account) remain fully valid and so have been retained here. A summary of the changes may be found in Discourse 48.

(See also Discourse 48: “An alternative view on the sequence of events in the Last Days.”)





The Great Tribulation - distress for the faithful or for the world?

In the circles of many faithful the Great Tribulation is well-known as the center of two divergent views on Rapture. On the one hand the view of pretribulationism, that is to say the teachings of the Rapture before the Great Tribulation, and on the other hand the view of posttribulationism, that is to say the teachings of the Rapture after the Great Tribulation.

In this connection it is over and over again interesting to see that here, on both sides, the argumentation is put forward in a very committed way and with much knowledge of the Scriptures, but that nevertheless - as it seems - in most cases an essential and central aspect in the discussion is left out of consideration or possibly taken for granted that it is known. Namely the Great Tribulation itself and the events, which dominate this phase of the last days and which lend its name to it.

The prevalent opinion concerning this question is the interpretation which believes that the Great Tribulation is the persecution of the faithful (Mt 24,21-24) under the reign of the Antichrist, followed by the return of the Lord and the "gathering of the elect" (Mt 24,30-31).

Other exegetes on the other hand proceed from the assumption that the Great Tribulation is identical with the "Day of the Lord" (John F. Walvoord, "Focal points of biblical prophecy", page 246) and is thus a time of worldwide catastrophes with an eclipse of the celestial bodies, etc. according to Joel 2,28-32, and therefore set the Rapture before this, their interpretation of the Great Tribulation.

In order to clarify this question - as far as possible - we want to examine it in some more detail.

A distress for the faithful.

We proceed from the text of the Scriptures, which is usually quoted in connection with the "Great Tribulation", namely Mt 24,15-28:

There will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now.

Mt 24,15 "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 24,16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 24,17 "Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 24,18 "Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 24,19 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 24,20 "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 24,21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

24,22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 24,23 "Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24,24 "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 24,25 "Behold, I have told you in advance.

24,26 "So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 24,27 "For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 24,28 "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. Mt 24,15-28;


The designation "distress" in some texts for the tribulation is not surprising, these are only synonyms for one and the same Greek word. So, here there is talk about a great tribulation "such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now". Therefore the question arises, what the contents, the nature of this distress is. Are the events mentioned after this statement the exclusive characteristics of this time? If this were the case, the great tribulation would then be a time of temptation of the faithful by false Christs and false prophets. Or are these phenomena of this time only the consequence of another, considerably greater event?

Now we have some verses before that also the mention of a "tribulation":

And you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

Mt 24,9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 24,10 "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 24,11 "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Mt 24, 9-11;


Also here the false prophets are mentioned and therefore one could assume that these two texts - Mt 24,9-14 and Mt 24,21-27 - are quite simply parallel passages of one and the same event and are to be seen side by side or "in one another" at the exegesis, as represented in the following.


Mt 24,9 "Then they will deliver you to
tribulation, and will kill you, and you
will be hated by all nations because of
My name. 24,10 "At that time many will
fall away and will betray one another
and hate one another.



24,11 "Many false prophets will arise
and will mislead many
. 24,12 "Because
lawlessness is increased, most people’s
love will grow cold.

24,13 But the one who endures to the
end,
he will be saved. 24,14 This gospel
of the kingdom shall be preached in the
whole world as a testimony to all the
nations, and then the end will come.






Mt 24,21 "For then there will be a great
tribulation
, such as has not occurred
since the beginning of the world until
now, nor ever will. 24,22 "Unless those
days had been cut short, no life would
have been saved; but for the sake of
the elect
those days will be cut short.
24,23 Then if anyone says to you,
‘Behold, here is the Christ,’
24,24 "For false Christs and false
prophets
will arise and will show great
signs and wonders
, so as to mislead,
if possible, even the elect. 24,25
Behold, I have told you in advance.
24,26 "So if they say to you, ‘Behold,
He is in the wilderness,’ do not go
out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner
rooms,’ do not believe them.

24,27 "For just as the lightning
comes from the east and flashes even
to the west, so will the
coming of the Son of Man
be.




We see that in both passages there is not only talk about a tribulation and about false prophets, both texts also stretch in their statements as far as to the "end". One of the passages from the Scriptures concludes with the coming of the Lord, which - according to Mt 24,29-30 - completes the tribulation, and the other one says expressly "then the end will come", namely the end of this tribulation, and hints with that indirectly at the coming of the Lord, too.

Then the text goes on, subsequent to verse Mt 24,28, with the signs of the celestial bodies:

After the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.

Mt 24,27 "For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 24,28 "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
24,29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
24,30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. Mt 24,27-30;


With that we have in verse 29 the third hint at a tribulation in this chapter. We proceed from the assumption that this is a reference to the "Great Tribulation" from verse 21, which is already terminated here ("but immediately after the tribulation") and that with that the announcement from verse 27, namely the coming of the Son of Man, becomes reality now in verse 30.

However, the parallelism of the first two texts from Mt 24,9-14 and 21-27 is over and over again doubted because of a relatively small difference of the statements. In Mt 24,9 there is talk about a "tribulation", whereas in Mt 24,21 it says "then there will be a great tribulation". We will touch upon this difference below.

So, according to this interpretation the Great Tribulation is a time of temptation of the faithful and the elect by false prophets and false Christs. Those who do not let themselves be tempted, will be persecuted and killed.

So, as far as this is concerned, this text seems to be unambiguous and the connection seems to be clear, if there were not a hint in Mt 24,21 at quite a particular characteristic of this tribulation:

Mt 24,21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Mt 24,21;


And this statement is also corroborated by the parallel text from Dan 12,1-2:

A time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time.

Dan 12,1 "Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. 12,2 "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Dan 12, 1- 2;


We see here in Dan 12,1-2 an unambiguous parallel to Mt 24,21. In both texts, in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament, this Great Tribulation is called a time of distress, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now. And no matter how dreadful scenes of horror one may imagine under the persecution of the faithful, one will not find any atrocities, which have not been already committed to men by other men in the course of history.

Especially the people of Israel has already endured all sufferings in its past which people can inflict upon each other. No matter if these were now the tortures of the faithful Jews under Antiochus Epiphanes, which we can look up in the Epistles to the Maccabees (2Mac 7,1-42), the conquest of Jerusalem by the crusaders, the pogroms against the Jews in the whole of Europe or the crime against the Jewish people at our time, under Hitler, to mention only a few.

But also the distress of the Christians, starting with the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, via the inquisition of the Roman Church up to the Counter-Reformation, has already contained all sorts of torments, such as mauling by wild beasts, tortures in the "embarrassing interrogation" or burnings at the stake.

One can torment individual persons or also an entire people "only" up to death. And precisely this has already all too often happened in world history. Therefore, an aggravation "such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now" is not conceivable under the title of a persecution of people alone.

But there is still a further hint in the text of Mt 24, which makes it seem advisable, to see the Great Tribulation not only as a distress for the faithful. It says there in

Mt 24,22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Mt 24,22;


So, if those days will be cut short "for the sake of the elect", this implies that there are also non-elect at that time and that those also have to be affected by that distress. This is also confirmed by the first part of the sentence, where it says that "no life" would be saved. Under the designation "no life" now faithful as well as godless are to be subsumed. And after all, the godless cannot be persecuted because of their faith in Christ.

So, in terms of logical consistency, this kind of distress – namely the persecution of the faithful - cannot be the "Great Tribulation" such as "has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will".

But what is now this Great Tribulation? Possibly the global, the worldwide aspect of this distress is lacking here. An aspect, which we might make out in the second line of interpretation mentioned above. There one thinks that by the Great Tribulation those worldwide catastrophes have to be understood which will shake the world on the Day of the Lord.

Out of the many hints which we have in the Scriptures about that time, only two shall be mentioned here:

The great and awesome day of the LORD.

Joel 2,31 "The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 2,32 "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls. Joel 2, 31-32;

A great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth.

Rev 16,17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, "It is done." 16,18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. Rev 16,17-18;


Also here above in Rev 16,18 the great earthquake - just as the Great Tribulation in Mt 24,17 and/or Dan 12,1 - is provided with the attribute "such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth". And here one has for the first time really the impression that these will be catastrophes such as have not occurred so far.

However, also this interpretation of the Great Tribulation cannot be seen without a contradiction. The "Day of the Lord" which is mentioned in this text, is preceded by the "great darkness" mentioned in Mt 24,29.

The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky.

Mt 24,29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Mt 24,29;


Also in the Old Testament we have hints at this special event:

The great day of the LORD is a day of clouds and thick darkness.

Zeph 1,14 Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. 1,15 A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, 1,16 A day of trumpet and battle cry Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers. Zeph 1,14-16;


But now it says above, in Mt 24,29, "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened …". According to that the "Day of the Lord" starts with the darkening of the sun and the moon only after the tribulation of those days and consequently cannot be its contents therefore.

So, let us recapitulate the state of affairs briefly:
The temptation and persecution of the faithful or also of other people according to Mt 24,9-14 cannot exclusively be the event, of which it says in Mt 24,21, "then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will", because there is no conceivable qualitative aggravation of torture and torment of man, which would not have been already committed to man by man in the history of mankind.

The possibility of a "quantitative" interpretation of this distress - that is to say of the dying away of the people of the whole world "like gnats" (Isa 51,6; / RSV) - would fit better into this picture and would also be to be made out at the events on the "Day of the Lord" in the Scriptures. The fact, however, that this period of time starts only after the Great Tribulation according to Mt 24,29, proves it as an independent event taking place afterward and prevents that it is interpreted as the contents of the event of the Great Tribulation itself.


Distress for all people.

Therefore we want to have a look at the passage under discussion in Mt 24,21 once more:

Mt 24,21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Mt 24,21;


It can by no means be inferred from this statement that this tribulation should be only restricted to the faithful. The hint "such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world" on the contrary rather seems to point to the fact that this is a unique event worldwide. It is true that the immediate context hints at the temptation of the faithful, however, it does not mention with a single word that these temptations should at the same time also represent the "Great Tribulation".

Solely in the text of Mt 24,9 we have the statement "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you". And here the question which has already been touched upon above arises again: Are the texts of Mt 24,9-14 and 24,21-27 to be seen as parallel and are consequently both mentions of a tribulation to be seen as identical or not? Considering the argumentation just put forward, we can identify Mt 24,9-14 unambiguously as the distress of the faithful, whereas Mt 24,21-27 seems to represent rather a "Great Tribulation" with worldwide catastrophes.

And also another passage of the Scriptures is concerned with worldwide catastrophes, which deals with the last days as well - in fact even exclusively: In the Revelation of John we do not only have the announcement of the most dreadful judgments of God, which shall come over the earth, we have there also a text, which must not be overlooked in connection with the Great Tribulation. Here, in Rev 7, 9-17, John sees a great multitude from all peoples in heaven, standing before the throne of God.

These who come out of the great tribulation, they will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore.

Rev 7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 7,10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."

7,11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 7,12 saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." 7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of he great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

7,15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them.7,16 "They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 7,17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." Rev 7, 9-17;


It is one of the twenty-four elders, who reveals to John that this great multitude before the throne "from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues", represents those people, "who have come out of the great tribulation". So, they are obviously the faithful, who have met their death in the Great Tribulation and who are now standing here, in heaven, before the throne of God and who are praising God and the Lamb. This great multitude must now not be confused with the martyrs, who get to the First Resurrection in Rev 20,4. Those there were "beheaded", these here obviously died because of hunger, thirst, and great heat according to Rev 7,16.

Three statements of this passage of the Scriptures are interesting for our considerations:

- First of all the confirmation in verse 14 that this is really the description of the Great Tribulation. It does not need an interpretation here, here it says unambiguously and expressly "Great Tribulation" as we also find it in Mt 24,21.

- Second, the hint in verse Rev 7,9 that here men "from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues" are concerned. This is the confirmation for the opinion that the Great Tribulation has global dimensions and cannot be restricted to a certain country or people (e.g. Israel).

- And third, the statement from verse Rev 7,16, where it is pointed out that these risen people "will hunger no longer, nor thirst any more; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat". If you look at it the other way round, this means that these people had to hunger and thirst and suffer from the great heat of the sun while they were still alive - namely during the Great Tribulation.

So, it is with a high degree of certainty that we can proceed from the assumption that the text above from Rev 7,9-17 refers to the Great Tribulation, to be more precise to exactly that great tribulation which is also mentioned by the Lord in Mt 24,21 and which we have taken as the starting point for our analysis. As here the faithful are already standing in heaven, before the throne of God, they must have died in the time before that event.

Under the assumption that the prophecies of the Revelation are to be seen chronologically - at least in this part -, the text before that, that is to say, the text before Rev 7,9, must therefore describe those events, which we are looking for here and which make up the contents of the Great Tribulation.

If we now trace back the text from Rev 7,9 and leave the sealing of the 144,000 from Rev 7,1-8 out of consideration for the time being, we get to the breaking of the sixth seal in Rev 6,12-17.

The sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood.

Rev 6,12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 6,13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 6,14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

6,15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 6,16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 6,17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" Rev 6,12-17;


Also here there is talk about dreadful catastrophes which are in store for mankind. And if we compare here the statements from Mt 24,29 and Rev 6,12-13, we see the parallelism of the texts.

The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.

Mt 24,29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Mt 24,29;


With that it is certain: Rev 6,12-13 describes the same event as Mt 24,29 and with that we also have a further confirmation of the assumption that the Great Tribulation must have taken place before this event of the darkening of the celestial bodies. So, the great darkness comes already after the Great Tribulation in the correct chronological order and the events we are looking for must therefore be found still further back in chapter 6 of the Revelation.

This finding also confirms the often doubted view that the Revelation has to be interpreted here – as it is also the case with other passages - chronologically, and that - on the basis of Mt 24,29 - both Rev 7,9-17 (the great multitude) and Rev 6,12-17 (the darkening of the celestial bodies), mark the Great Tribulation as an event taking place before the breaking of the sixth seal.

(See also Table 11: “The chronology in the Revelation of John.”)


On top of that, the parallelism of the texts from Mt 24,29 and Rev 6,12-13 gives rise to the presumption that there could be an identity between the statements from Mt 24 and Rev 6 and the following verses, anyway. This would not be surprising at all in so far as both prophecies do come from one and the same mouth – namely the mouth of the Lord Jesus.

Therefore, we want to examine the statements subsequent to Mt 24,29 for an analogy in the Revelation of John as far as contents and chronology are concerned.

They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky.

Mt 24,29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
24,30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 24,31 "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Mt 24,29-31;


It is the coming of the Son of Man which is mentioned in Mt 24,30-31, subsequent to the darkening of the celestial bodies, as the next event. In order to be able to localize this coming of the Lord for the gathering of the elect in the Revelation, we make use of a prophecy of Paul, which he conveyed to the Thessalonians and the Corinthians in his First Epistle in both cases.

The Lord Himself will descend from heaven and we who are alive and remain will be caught up.

1The 4,16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 4,17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 4,18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1The 4,16-18;

The trumpet will sound, and we will be changed.

1Cor 15,51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 15,52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1Cor 15,51-52;


So, when the last trumpet sounds, the Lord will descend from heaven and then those who are alive and remain will be changed and caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord.

With those who "are alive and remain" the elect are meant who will be gathered by the angels of the Lord, will be clothed with a spiritual body and will be caught up to the Lord in heaven together with the raised dead in Christ.

What is now important for our further analysis in this prophecy of Paul, above, in 1Cor 15,51, are three statements:

-  He is speaking here of the coming of the Lord

-  The elect who are still alive and have remained are gathered

-  All of this happens when the last trumpet sounds.

The first two statements allow an assignment of these texts from 1The 4,16-18 and 1Cor 15,51-52 to Mt 24,30-31 (The coming of the Son of Man and the gathering of the elect). The third statement of the "last trumpet", however, gives us the hint at the last, the seventh trumpet in Rev 11,15-19 (but see also the postscript at the beginning of this document!). At the same time we have here also the connection to Mt 24,31: "And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect."

With that it seems to be proved that the text from Mt 24,29-31 corresponds with the prophecies in Rev 6,12-17; 8,6-9; and 11,15-19. Consequently there is an identity of the statements from Mt 24 and these passages of the Revelation of John both with regard to the contents and the chronology.

Now this important finding consistently leads to the next step, namely to the examination in how far the statements before the text from Mt 24,29 have an analogous equivalent in the Revelation.

For this purpose we want, however, to immediately commence with the text of the Revelation and – starting with the breaking of the first seal in Rev 6,1-2 – compare the parallel passage, especially, however, the statements from Matthew, chapter 24 and parallel texts.


The beginning of birth pangs.

One who went out conquering and to conquer.

The first seal: The conqueror on the white horse.

Rev 6,1 Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, "Come." 6,2 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. Rev 6, 1- 2;


Basically it can be observed with the plagues of the seals that they - just as the plagues of the trumpets and the judgment of the bowls - are subdivided into a group of four and a group of three. Here, with the plagues of the seals, it is the four figures from Rev 4,6-8 and 5,6-14, who call out the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse with their plagues and send them to the earth.

Jesus Christ?

In the case of the first horseman, the one on the white horse from Rev 6,2 there are various possibilities for interpretation. Some think, by analogy with Rev 19,11-16, where the white horses and the white clothes are to be interpreted as the distinguishing features of the saints, and where also the Lord Jesus rides on a white horse, followed by the army of heaven, the one who goes out conquering is also here the Lord.

But there are some details speaking against it. "A crown (authority) is given" to the horseman from Rev 6,2. The Son of Man already has this authority, he is the Lord of lords and King of kings. The horseman has a bow. The weapon of the Lord is not the bow, but the sword from his mouth (Rev 1,16; 2,12.16; 19,15.21). Moreover, the Lord would be present in this vision both as Lamb and as white horseman and would call himself to come. Finally, this horseman is "urged" by one of the four living creatures. It shouts at him with a voice of thunder, "Come!" - that is to say as much as "come on" or "hurry up". It is inconceivable that these living creatures should command their god.

However, if one wants to be objective, one has to admit that the white horse gives the impression that this horseman does not only bring a plague for mankind as his successors do in the two next plagues of the seals, but that he also represents in some way or other an authority given by God or perhaps also only tolerated by God and initiates these subsequent events.

The Antichrist?

The second possibility would be therefore to interpret this horseman as the Antichrist. The fact that he is called "conquering" here in Rev 6,2, would correspond with the statement about the Antichrist in Rev 13,7 "and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him". And also the hint "authority was given to him" fits very well together here with the one in Rev 6,2 "and a crown (authority) was given to him".

Authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.

Rev 13,7 It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. 13,8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. Rev 13, 7- 8;


Finally, also the bow of the white horseman refers to the text in Rev 19,17-21 and its parallel passage in the Old Testament, namely in Ezk 39,1-4, where the Antichrist is also described with a bow in his hand in the Battle of Armageddon.

I will strike your bow from your left hand and dash down your arrows from your right hand.

Ezk 39,1 "And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal; 39,2 and I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel. 39,3 "I will strike your bow from your left hand and dash down your arrows from your right hand. 39,4 "You will fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you as food to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field. Eze 39, 1- 4;


(See also Chapter 07: “The Battle of Armageddon.”)


So, it seems to be obvious that this horseman represents the Antichrist. But what is the white horse supposed to mean in this case?

We learn here above, in the same passage from the Scriptures Rev 13,8 that people will worship the beast, the Antichrist. The Antichrist (this word does not only mean "Counterchrist", but also "instead of Christ" or - what is the same - "instead of the Messiah") will appear in the authority and power of Satan according to Rev 13,2. The fact that people will worship him, gives rise to the assumption that he - in the well-known satanic way - will ape the outward appearance of the Son of God and will pretend to be the "Messiah".

As also the true Messiah rides on a white horse from heaven in Rev 19,11, it would be conceivable that the white horse of the Antichrist is supposed to give us just that hint. The one who goes out conquering here in Rev 6,2 has the authority and power tolerated by God of an angel – even if this is a fallen angel, namely Satan. He calls himself Messiah and is worshiped by the people whose names are not written in the Book of Life, as "Messiah", but he is a fake.

It is true that it is the white horse - that is to say the supernatural power and authority - but the one who is sitting on it, is not the Son of God, but the "son of destruction", the "man of lawlessness" (2The 2,3).

But in the final analysis also this interpretation is not completely satisfying and therefore, it is not really an explanation of the happenings round the horseman on the white horse.

A bringer of peace?

We can also observe that no connection at all can be found between the first seal and Mt 24 and parallel passages. This could have its reasons in the fact that the appearance of this white horseman takes place before the "beginning of birth pangs" described in the Gospels and therefore is not mentioned at all by the Lord in his address concerning the last days.

While the identification as Antichrist represents the white horseman as the primal cause and trigger of especially also the subsequent wars, one could therefore - under the aspect of the second seal, whose horseman is given the authority "to take peace from the earth", and the hint from 1The 5,3: "While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape." also take the line that consequently before, that is to say at the time of the first seal and at the time of the white horseman, there must have been peace.

The consequence of this would be that the white horseman would be a bringer of peace, and that only after that time, at the time of the second seal, in the era of the horseman on the red horse, the wars of the nations would break out among each other. And there are also some hints which could support this theory quite well. In the scrolls from the Dead Sea – and not only there, but also at many passages from the Scriptures (e.g. Mal 3,23; Mt 11,14; 17,11 etc.) - Elijah is mentioned as the one who paves the way for the Messiah. In the Jewish tradition he is ascribed the task of the Messianic herald, who will solve all conflicts and bring peace to the world in a miraculous way.

A rather worldly interpretation of this line of thinking sees the horseman on the white horse as a political power – maybe a Great Power -, which "went out conquering and to conquer" and which consequently would, in the final analysis, unite the peoples of the world – politically or also militarily - and thus would make peace possible on earth for a limited period of time.

A last conceivable interpretation would be the fact that this horseman from the first seal is not at all an actual, real power or figure, but a symbol, which is supposed to announce the forthcoming plagues of the seals, just as the last, the seventh seal does not bring any judgments, but indicates a kind of turning point in the development of the events.

Peace will be taken from the earth.

The situation is different, however, with the following plagues of the seals. Here, there are quite essential correspondences with the address concerning the last days of the Lord in Mt 24 and parallel passages as we will see immediately.

The second seal: Men will slay one another.

Rev 6,3 When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come." 6,4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him. Rev 6, 3- 4;


The breaking of the second seal and the hint that peace will be taken from the earth shows on the one hand a parallelism to the statement of Paul in his First Epistle to the Thessalonians:

While they are saying, "Peace and safety!".

1The 5,1 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 5,2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 5,3 While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 5,4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 1The 5, 1- 4;


On the other hand, this statement of the Revelation here, in the continuation of the texts of the Gospels, corresponds with the second warning of the Lord in his address concerning the last days. What is meant here is the prophecy of the "beginning of birth pangs", where there will be wars and rumors of wars.

You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars.

Mt 24,6 "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.24,7 "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. Mt 24, 6- 7; Lk 21, 9-11; Mk 13, 7- 8;


The world sinks into war. But as it seems, this will not be a world war, but many small, locally limited wars, in which one people will fight against the other one and one nation against the other one. They will kill each other and during that time those people will be endangered most who have to live as foreigners in a foreign country. With Isaiah we have a text which actually refers to the day of wrath of the Lord, but which could also find a prefulfillment in this time before it.

They will each turn to his own people, and each one flee to his own land.

Isa 13,14 And it will be that like a hunted gazelle, Or like sheep with none to gather them, They will each turn to his own people, And each one flee to his own land. 13,15 Anyone who is found will be thrust through, And anyone who is captured will fall by the sword. Isa 13,14-15;

Drought and famine.

The third seal: increasing cost of living.

Rev 6,5 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6,6 And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine." Rev 6, 5- 6;


The fact that here Rev 6,5-6 actually deals with famines, emerges quite unambiguously from verse 6: A quart of wheat or three quarts of barley for a denarius. The "quart" means a daily ratio, that is to say a daily ration for one man. The "denarius" was at that time the daily wages of a worker (Mt 20,2) and one can assume that here the costs of foodstuffs have gone up to ten times as high according to the circumstances of that time.

Also these plagues were already announced by the Lord in his address concerning the last days to his Disciples. There will be great earthquakes and famines and epidemics in various places ("across the regions") and great signs will occur from heaven.

And in various places there will be famines.

Mt 24,7 "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 24,8 "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Mt 24, 7- 8; Lk 21,10-11; Mk 13, 8;


What was now the cause of this famine? Some people think it was a consequence of the second plague of the seals and the wars and devastations of the land connected therewith. We even would have to assume this unless we had an indirect hint at another cause.

In the second half of the sentence of Rev 6,6 it says, "and do not damage the oil and the wine!". That means the vines and the olive trees will be spared. So, if this famine were a consequence of the acts of war, such an avoidance could hardly be possible. Therefore, there must be another cause of this food shortage.

If we proceed from the assumption that this third seal implies an independent judgment and is not only a consequence of the preceding judgment, the assumption seems to be justified that this must be a period of drought for a longer period of time.

This is also confirmed by the following consideration: When we take a closer look at verse 6, we see that grain is on the market all right, but in a very little amount. This is also the reason for the high price. This may be grain from regions where the weather was favorable and where it was still possible to harvest (this is insinuated by Lk 21,11 "in various places famines"), or it is quite simply stock from the time before the drought, which are now sold at a high profit.

Also the fact that grain is affected all right, but not wine and oil rather hints at a longer period of drought, which becomes apparent immediately with grain, whereas a limited period of drought does not damage vines and olive trees to that extent.

And such a long period of drought is known to us from the two witnesses, who appear just at that time and will shut up the sky for three and a half years.

The mention of the great signs from heaven in Lk 21,11 seems to be an anticipation of Lk 21,25 and the parallel passages to that in Mk 13,24 and Mt 24,29, the latter ones, in turn, having their correspondence in the sixth seal, where the celestial bodies will also be darkened and where the stars will fall from the sky.

The temptation by false Christs.

In his address concerning the last days the Lord warns us that during that time of the "beginning of birth pangs" many false Christs will try to tempt people. With the assertion that they themselves were the returned Lord and that now the special time had come, they will dissuade many from their faith and lead them astray.

Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’.

Mt 24,3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" 24,4 And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you.

24,5 "For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. Mt 24, 3- 5; Lk 21, 7- 8; Mk 13, 3- 6;


However, these temptations will affect not only Christians. The Lord says here, in Mt 24,5, "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ', and will mislead many". That is to say, the name under which these tempters will appear, is "Christ".

Now, "Christ" is only the Latin derivation from the Greek word "Christos", by which the Hebrew term "Messiah" (originally Hebrew: maschiach, Aramaic: meschicha) was translated in the Septuaginta (= LXX, Greek translation of the Old Testament). Literally Messiah means "anointed" and stands in the Mosaic faith for the glorious king and descendant of David, who is supposed to lead Israel to world supremacy once according to the prophecies of the Old Testament. But also the Christian faith expects - according to the statements of the New Testament - the return of the Lord and the accession to power in the world by the Son of God and thus also Christ and/or the Redeemer and Savior.

These two aspects will then below, when the Antichrist appears, overlap congruently. This man of lawlessness will be acknowledged and worshiped as "Christ" and/or "Messiah" both by the apostate Christian World Church and by those Mosaic Jews, who reject Jesus as the Son of God. But here, in the time before that, at the "beginning of birth pangs", there will be obviously not only one “Christ”, but – possibly caused by the great distress on the earth and the helplessness of men - many frauds and charlatans, who will give themselves out to be "Christs" and "Saviors".

Now the question arises, however, in how far these false Christs will appear as religious or as political leaders. The expectation of the Jews will probably be also at that time then - in a similar way as at the time of Jesus - rather a political leader. The Christians, on the other hand, will bear the return of their Lord in mind and it will be rather possible to tempt them with religious motives.

The greater plausibility is, however, presented by the assumption that these two events, the temptation by false Christs and the wars among the peoples, take place parallel in time, but at different - namely political and religious - levels.


The two witnesses.

The 1260 days of prophecy of the two witnesses in Jerusalem.

This period of the Great Tribulation is, in its turn, a part of the seventieth week of seven years. And in this seventieth week of seven years God sends his two witnesses to Jerusalem in order to induce the discerning men to change their ways and to repent, to prophecy their perdition to the godless and the impenitent and to announce the judgment on the coming Day of the Lord to the world.

And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1260 days.

Rev 11,1 Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, "Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. 11,2 "Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.

11,3 "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." 11,4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 11,5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.

11,6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. Rev 11, 1- 6;


Apart from the hint here in Rev 11,2 at the temple and the statement that these two witnesses will prophecy in the "holy city", we also perceive below, in Rev 11,8, that Jerusalem is meant here. There it says that their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, "where also their Lord was crucified".

At the same time it can be also inferred from this text that Jerusalem will be at that time anything else but a city of God. Although the population is made up of Jews by birth, the major part – as it is also the case today, by the way – will be godless and consequently count - according to Rev 11,1-2 - as Gentiles just as the faithless, non-Jewish population.

Even if Jerusalem is compared to Sodom and Egypt in that time to come, or maybe just because of that, the Lord considers it necessary to have his two witnesses prophesied precisely in Jerusalem. And although the contents of their prophecies is not mentioned, one can find out from the context that they will warn men of the forthcoming Judgment of God, the Day of the Lord and that they will exhort them to change their ways.

In spite of all the love for the land and people of Israel we must be aware of the fact that today a major part of the people of Israel is not a "people of God" from God's point of view. And this does not only concern those Israelites, who are – especially in the cities – completely godless, but in particular also the religious, orthodox Jews, who reject Jesus as the Messiah - as their fathers did. Already Paul says of them:

 For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear.

Acts 28,25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, "The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 28,26 saying, ‘go to this people and say, "you will keep on hearing, but will not understand, and you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;

28,27 for the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes ; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them."‘ Acts 28,25-27;

But their minds were hardened.

2Cor 3,14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 2Cor 3,14;


And with the prophet Hosea we find one of the many appeals to Israel to return to its God, which even today are still unheard.

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.

Hos 14,1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity. 14,2 Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity And receive us graciously, That we may present the fruit of our lips. Hos 14, 1- 2;


But also at the worldly level Israel hardly differs from the rest of the world today. Many politicians of Israel are just as corrupt and godless as the politicians of other countries. Today they lay claim to the land of Palestine with military means, which, however, has never been promised precisely to them – the faithless, that is to say the Gentiles. This promise was and is meant exclusively for the people of God and the Israel that confesses its God and his son Jesus, the Christ and Messiah and that also acts accordingly. It is this blessed people of God that will only convert at the return of our Lord, at the coming of their Messiah, to whom we must extend our joyful hope and fraternal affection.

The identity of the two witnesses.

The identity of the two witnesses is not mentioned expressly, however, the accompanying circumstances of their appearance remind us very much of Elijah and Moses. One time it is Moses and Elijah, who are seen by Peter, John, and James in a transfigured apparition, when they were standing with the Lord on a high mountain and when the Lord was talking with Moses and Elijah about his forthcoming end in Jerusalem.

And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah.

Lk 9,30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 9,31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 9,32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. 9,33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah – not realizing what he was saying. Lk 9,30-33;


It can be concluded from that that these two servants of God are already in heaven with God. Then we read in the Scriptures that Elijah had already once – during his life on earth – shut up the sky in Israel for likewise exactly three years and six months (as in Rev 11,6), so that it did not rain.

In the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months.

Lk 4,25 "But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; 4,26 and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. Lk 4,25-26;

Jam 5,17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 5,18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. Jam 5,17-18;

1Kg 17,1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word." 17,2 The word of the LORD came to him, saying, 17,3 "Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 17,4 "It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there." 1Ki 17, 1- 4;


And on the other hand it was Moses, who, too, already once, by the order of the Lord, turned the waters of the Nile to blood in Egypt, in order to prove that he was speaking in the name of the Lord.

The water that is in the Nile will be turned to blood.

2Mo 7,17 ‘Thus says the LORD, "By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood. 7,18 "The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile."" Ex 7,17-18:

2Mo 4,8 And the LORD said to Mose, "If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign. 4,9 "But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground." Ex 4, 8- 9;


Also the prophecies in the Old Testament and in the New Testament that the prophet Elijah is supposed to come before the Day of the Lord, in order to clear the way for the Lord and in order to restore the hearts of the fathers and the sons to each other, are an important hint here.

I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the terrible day of the LORD.

Mal 4,5 "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 4,6 "He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse." Mal 4, 5- 6;

Mal 3,1 "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts. Mal 3, 1;

Isa 40,3 A voice is calling, "Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 40,4 "Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; 40,5 Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." Isa 40, 3- 5;


In the above passage from Isaiah, Isa 40,3-5, we find the first hint at the geological upheavals on the Day of the Lord. However, these radical changes of the earth's surface in Isa 40,4 affect for the time being only the land of Israel, which becomes one single plain from Geba to Rimmon.

(See also Chapter 08: “The reorganization of heaven and earth.”)


And the Lord Jesus reveals to us below, in Mt 11,10-14, that the spirit of Elijah had already come in John the Baptist and that the kingdom of peace could have started already nearly two thousand years ago. However, at that time only Israel, as the elected people, would have been saved. Due to the fact that Israel did not want to acknowledge the Messiah at that time, these promises passed over to the faithful in Christ of the whole world.

It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah.

Lk 1,13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. 1,14 "You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 1,15 "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.1,16 "And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 1,17 " It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Lk 1,13-17;

This is the one about whom it is written, ‘behold, I send my messenger ahead of you’.

Mt 11,10 "This is the one about whom it is written, ‘behold, I send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11,11 "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Mt 11,10-11;

And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.

Mt 11,12 "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. 11,13 "For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 11,14 "And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.” Mt 11,12-14;

But I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him.

Mt 11,12 “But I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." 11,13 Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist. Mt 17,12-13;


And finally we learn in Zech 14,11-14 also where these two witnesses, who are called "the two olive trees" in Rev 11,4, come from. These two anointed ones are standing on both sides of the Lord in heaven.

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.

Rev 11,3 "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." 11,4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. Rev 11, 3- 4;

The two olive trees are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.

Zech 4,11 Then I said to him, "What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?" 4,12 And I answered the second time and said to him, "What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?" 4,13 So he answered me, saying, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." 4,14 Then he said, "These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth." Zech 4,11-14;

The invincibleness of the two witnesses.

During the days of their prophesying in Jerusalem the two witnesses are invincible. If anyone attacks them, fire comes out of their mouth and kills their enemies. On first sight one could ask oneself who would try to kill two men who only "prophesy" and exhort men to return to God, anyhow.

Fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies.

Rev 11,4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 11,5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. Rev 11, 4- 5;


But as we will see below, in the commentary to Rev 11,6, not only the inhabitants of Jerusalem have every reason to be afraid of them, but the whole world is looking spellbound to Jerusalem, and is waiting, who will finally succeed in eliminating these two saints of God, who have brought about drought, famine, and water shortage all over the world.

And the statement "if anyone wants to harm them" implies that there will be some attempts in doing so. But these anointed ones have the spirit of God in them and can only be defeated, after they have completed their mission.

The power of the two witnesses over nature.

So, these two prophets will try to "restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers". And even if their prophecies will not affect the major part of men very much, the plagues, which the two witnesses make come over the earth on account of their power that has been given to them by God, do that all the more. They will shut up the sky during the time of their prophesying - that is to say for 1260 days or 3 years - so that it will not rain. They also have the power to turn water into blood and to strike the world with epidemics and other plagues.

Rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying and waters will turn into blood.

Rev 11,6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. Rev 11,6;

The global dimension of this climatic catastrophe.

The fact that this climatic catastrophe will not be a locally restricted one, but will have worldwide effect, also follows from Rev 11,6 above … have the power … to strike the earth …", in particular, however, from Rev 11,10:

These two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

Rev 11,9 Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. 11,10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Rev 11, 9-10;


So, these two prophets will effect among other things that there will be no rain on this planet for three and a half years.

The full meaning of this statement becomes aware to us only, when it is analyzed a little bit closer and when one tries to work out above all the consequences. We know from comparable events at our time, e. g. in Africa (Ethiopia), that even the absence of rain for eight to ten months means great catastrophes of drought and famine for millions of people.

Then, however, drought and with that also famine will be worldwide. And that for three and a half years! Also the water of the rivers will be undrinkable. Even if it were possible to clean a part of the water by purification, this will hardly suffice for the necessary amount of drinking water, let alone for water for the irrigation of the desiccated fields. The consequence of that will be famine, thirst, and worldwide deaths. Especially on account of the water shortage epidemics and diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, jaundice, and others will even aggravate the situation.

On account of the statements above it is to be assumed that the whole world is informed of the activities of the two prophets in Jerusalem, and that therefore also the causers of this global climatic catastrophe are known to all people. Therefore, attempts will be made to eliminate the two prophets in Jerusalem in a joint effort. But to the dismay of everyone it will be discovered that these two men are invulnerable. No guns, no revolvers, and no other weapons either will be able to harm them. Well, even on the contrary, every commando that marches out in order to eliminate them, will be destroyed up to the very last man. And with every attack the extent of the plagues will be increased.


The distress of the faithful in Jesus.

As the attempt to defeat the two witnesses is not successful, the whole rage now turns against their brothers in faith. All people, who profess God and His Son Jesus Christ, will be persecuted, arrested, and killed. They will be hated by all nations because of the name of Jesus.

Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you.

Mt 24,9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 24,10 "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Mt 24, 9-10;

The persecution of those who confess Jesus.

You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake.

Mt 10,17 "But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; 10,18 and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. Mt 10,17-18; Lk 21,12-13; Mk 13, 9-10;


So, they will be persecuted, brought before the ruling powers, handed over to the courts, scourged and some of them even killed. And all of that for the sake of the name of Christ. Here, the question arises if this persecution affects therefore all those who call themselves "Christians" today. This question has to be answered in the negative, however. It is precisely at such a time of persecution, when the chaff will separate from the wheat very soon. All so-called Christians by name – as we will see below also parents and children, and even former brothers and sisters in the Lord – will not only fall away from the right faith, but will also react with hatred and rage.

So, it is not the "Christian Churches" which will be persecuted - for instance by Islam - , but it is the remaining truly faithful all over the world, who will stand by their faith and their Lord even under tribulations and therefore will endure betrayal, persecution, and even death.

Do not worry about how or what you are to say, for it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

Mt 10,19 "But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 10,20 "For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Mt 10,19-20; Lk 21,14-15; Mk 13,11;


The Lord says to his loved ones here, in Mt 10,19-20 and parallel passages, that they shall not worry about how they are to defend themselves, for the Holy Spirit itself will speak out of them and for them to their judges. This will be doubly embarrassing for these judges and rulers. For they can neither contradict nor resist this wisdom. This will probably even add more fuel to the hatred of men toward the faithful in Jesus.

They will be hated by all nations because of the name of Jesus.

You will be hated by all nations because of My name.

Mt 24,9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 24,10 "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Mt 24, 9-10;

You will be hated by all because of My name.

Mt 10,22 "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. Mt 10,22; Lk 21,17-19; Mk 13,13;

They will be betrayed by parents and children.

Many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

Mt 24,10 "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Mt 24,10;

Children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.

Mt 10,21 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. Mt 10,21; Lk 21,16; Mk 13,12;

Because of increasing lawlessness, love will grow cold in people.

Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

Mt 24,11 "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 24,12 "Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. Mt 24,11-12;

But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

Mt 24,13 "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Mt 24,13;

Who has endured to the end will be saved.

Mt 10,22 "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. Mt 10,22; Lk 21,17-19; Mk 13,13;

Do not be afraid of them.

But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next.

Mt 10,23 "But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. 10,24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. 10,25 "It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! 10,26 "Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Mt 10,23-26;

The Gospel will be preached to all nations, then the end will come.

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world.

Mt 24,14 "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. Mt 24,14; Mk 13,10;



The Great Tribulation.

A fourth of mankind will be killed.

With the fourth seal these plagues reach now their climax: wars, drought, famine, and epidemics culminate in a singular, terrible, worldwide catastrophe.

The fourth seal: sword, famine and pestilence kill a fourth of the earth.

Rev 6,7 When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come." 6,8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth. Rev 6, 7. 8;


Death and Hades bring in the harvest. And if by this "fourth part of the earth" the fourth of this world with the highest population density – namely Europe, Asia, and all North Africa - is meant, even more than half of the world population could be affected by it. But also if by that only the fourth part of people is meant, it is more than one billion of people, who will be carried off by wars, famine, thirst, and epidemics. People will perish like gnats. This is now really a completely new, unparalleled category of horror.

(See also Table 14: “The Revelation - classified by events.”)


Also the additional mention here of "pestilence" and "wild beasts" seems to be quite plausible, because this is a consequence of the innumerable dead bodies lying round and which on the one hand pollute the waters and the air and thereby cause diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, and hepatitis, but which on the other hand, of course, also lure the ravenous animals.

With the fourth seal the first phase of the judgments of God upon this world ends. And if the interpretation above is correct, – according to today's level – almost two billion people will have perished in these worldwide catastrophes.

So we can certainly proceed from the assumption - and rightly so - that this will be the biggest catastrophe of all times for mankind until then. Although at the Flood also all people - except for Noah and his family - perished, the world population in those days made up hardly more than some million people and therefore is hardly comparable to these orders of magnitude here.

As it seems, we have made a discovery with that on our search for the "Great Tribulation". This seems to be the "great distress upon the earth", which the Lord is speaking of in Lk 21,23.

(See also Discourse 1133: “The Great Tribulation - God's third and last wave of destruction.”)



The first beast, the Antichrist.

The dragon gives him his power and his throne and great authority.

Now, as the world is on the verge of sinking into a chaos by worldwide catastrophes, the time has come. Satan plays his supposed "trump". He lets him rise from the depths of the sea.

(See also Table 06: “The Antichrist, the ‘queen’ in the chess of the devil.”)


And the dragon stood on the sand of the sea.

Rev 12,17 Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea. Rev 12,17;

A beast was coming up out of the sea and the dragon gave him power, throne and great authority.

Rev 13,1 And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. 13,2 And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. Rev 13, 1- 2;

His coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

2The 22,9 That is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 2,10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 2The 2, 9-10;


And the dragon vests the beast with his own, quite considerable power and authority. This text reminds us now very much of Mi 5,3, where it says of the Lord Jesus that he will arise in the strength and majesty of the Lord, his God.

The Messiah will arise in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God.

Mi 5,2 "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity." 5,3 Therefore He will give them up until the time When she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren Will return to the sons of Israel. 5,4 And He will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, Because at that time He will be great To the ends of the earth. Mi 5, 2- 4;


Here we already realize that the Antichrist will not be only a "Counterchrist". The Greek word anti can just as correctly be translated with "instead". And thus the assumption is obvious that officially the Antichrist will appear to the world not as a wicked antagonist of God, but, on the contrary, he will give himself out to be the "Messiah" and "Christ" – of another "god", however. He will deny God, the Lord, and his son, Jesus Christ, and will have himself and his father, Satan, worshiped. And in order to furnish evidence for his own genuineness, he must, of course, deny that in Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God, the Christ and Messiah, has already become flesh.

This is the antichrist, who denies that Jesus is the Christ.

1Jn 2,22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 1Jn 2,22;


This circumstance finally also leads to the fact that every man who believes and spreads this "wrong teachings" of Jesus as the Christ, will be persecuted and killed.

Nevertheless, the Christians remain a great danger for the antichristian regime. Therefore, all who have the "right" antichristian faith, must have a mark made on their foreheads or on their right hands. Those who do not bear this mark then and are recognized somewhere, will be arrested and eliminated.

He has authority over all peoples and tongues and nations;

And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast, whose fatal wound was healed.

Rev 13,3 I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; 13,4 they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?" Rev 13, 3- 4;

And authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.

Rev 13,7 It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. 13,8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. Rev 13, 7- 8;

This is the antichrist, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.

2Jn 1,7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 1,8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 1,9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 1,10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 1,11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. 2Jn 1, 7-11;


From the assumption that the Antichrist will appear as the "true Messiah" it can be also concluded that at the beginning he will not at all appeal for the most part to the godless and unfaithful, but rather to those who – as John writes above – do not abide in the teaching. Possibly this will be first of all those large religious groups among the Jews, who are still waiting for the Messiah. They will – unlike at the time of Jesus – cheer to the "anointed one of God" they have been longing for such a long time in sheer enthusiasm.

But also Christian groups, such as for instance Jehova's Witnesses, the Adventists, and many others more, which are even today preached to expect the "coming of the Lord soon", without being informed of the fact that first the Antichrist must come, will possibly be tricked by this false Christ and think that now the time of the reign of God has come.

He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth.

Rev 13,11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. 13,12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. 13,13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. 13,14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. Rev 13,11-14;


Through great signs and wonders, which the false prophet performs on behalf of the Antichrist, he will now also succeed in convincing the godless and unfaithful of his authority and force, and even more: as the Lord predicts us in Mt 24,24, in this time even the elect will be in danger of being misled. And the Antichrist would also succeed in doing so, unless the Lord shortened the days of his reign, so that these elect can be saved by a close shave. Until that time, however, he will probably acquire absolute rule. This is also corroborated by the statements of Rev 13,3-4:

They worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast.

Rev 13,3 I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; 13,4 they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?" Rev 13, 3- 4;


So, people will consider the Antichrist to be the Messiah, the Son of God, and his father, Satan, who gives him this power and authority, to be God. The power of this deceit can be presaged if one bears in mind that even the elect will be in danger of being misled. It can be hardly assumed that these men, these elect of God, could be dissuaded from their faith by primitive and false teachings. That means, however, that this will be actually quite a subtle and fiendish copy of the "manifestation of Christ", so that even these servants of God could be deceived.

But the Lord Jesus foresaw precisely this when he said, "I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him." (Jn 5,43).

And so men will consider Satan to be God, the Antichrist to be the Messiah, and the false prophet to be the third person of this satanic "trinity". They will venerate and worship them. The admiring statement of the people in Rev 13,4 "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?" is to be seen in the context of the "revival" of the beast. It was fatally wounded, and its fatal wound was healed.

The beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.

Rev 13,12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. 13,13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. 13,14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. Rev 13,12-14;


This satanic creature will now get into worldwide power as a religious and political leader within a very short time due to deceitful signs and wonders. He will probably be welcomed by the pseudo-Christian World Church as the "returned" Christ, but he will also be acknowledged as the Messiah by the Jews of the whole world, because he will fulfill exactly those conceptions, which the Jews demanded of him already at the time of Jesus and did not get: He will set up his kingdom and thanks to the supernatural power which is given to him by Satan, he will destroy all enemies, who oppose him.

But let us now come back to the beginnings of this false Christ.

He will be completely different from the previous ones and will blaspheme God and everything that is God.

He opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle.

Rev 13,5 There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. 13,6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Rev 13, 5- 6;

This horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts.

Dan 7,8 "While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts. Dan 7, 8;

And he will speak monstrous things against the God of gods.

Dan 11,36 "Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done. Dan 11,36;

He will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings.

Dan 7,23 "Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. 7,24 ‘As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. Dan 7,23-24;


One of the first actions of this new leader will be to free the world from the saints of the Highest One, the two witnesses of God, the two prophets in Jerusalem. He will take into his hands what many have already tried in the past three and a half years, but which no one has succeeded in so far, and he will show his authority to the world.


The Antichrist kills the two witnesses in Jerusalem.

The Antichrist goes to war with his Gentile armies against Jerusalem and fights there himself with the power that Satan gave to him against the two men of God. As the service of the two anointed ones as witnesses is over now, it is given to the Antichrist to defeat and to kill them. It is probably just this victory then which evokes the admiration of the whole world for this false "Messiah" and which finds its expression in Rev 13,4: "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?".

The beast will make war with the two witnesses and overcome them and kill them

Rev 11,7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. 11,8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 11,9 Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. 11,10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Rev 11, 7-10;

It was also given to the beast to make war with the saints and to overcome them.

Rev 13,7 It was also given to him (cs. the beast) to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. Rev 13, 7;

The horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them.

Dan 7,21 "I kept looking, and that [eleventh] horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them 7,22 until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom. Dan 7,21-22;

The [eleventh] king will wear down the saints of the Highest One.

Dan 7,25 ‘He [the eleventh king] will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. Dan 7,25;


Some exegetes are of the opinion that by the "saints of the Highest One" in the above texts the people of God in Jerusalem is meant. In fact, it is, however, obvious from Rev 11,3-10 that the Jerusalem of that time is comparable to "Sodom and Egypt". That means that the people there are godless and that the inhabitants of Jerusalem even prevent that the two witnesses of God are buried. So, they are no "saints" at all, as Rev 13,7 presupposes.

Other interpreters, on the other hand, see in the "saints" of the above three passages from the Scriptures again and again "the congregation". It seems, however, that we see our role as the congregation in the exegesis much too uncritically. This is for instance also shown by the fact that the First Resurrection is over and over again interpreted as the Resurrection of the "entire congregation", although in Rev 20,4 there is expressly only talk about those who were beheaded because of the word of God and their testimony for Jesus. That means that there is unambiguously only talk about the martyrs, who were killed because of their faith, and that therefore only those can take part in the First Resurrection then.

So, here the "saints" do not mean the members of the congregation, but the "saints of the Highest One", the two prophets of God. Luther's translation with "destroy" is here somewhat misleading. Literally it should probably rather mean "overcome", as we find it approximately also in Rev 11,7 and 13,7. For these two prophets are actually killed all right, as it is prophesied in Rev 11,7, they will, however, resurrect according to Rev 11,11 at the end of three and a half days and ascend to heaven, so they will not be "destroyed" at all.

The special interpretation of the Seventh-day-Adventists, who want to see the "Old and the New Testament" in these two witnesses, does not need any detailed explanation. Bearing in mind the statements of the text, that these two witnesses are called prophets, that fire comes out of their mouths and destroys their enemies, that they are killed, that their dead bodies lie in the streets of the city of Jerusalem and that they "stand on their feet" after three and a half days and go up into heaven in a cloud, an identification with the "Old and the New Testament" cannot be construed at all - not even symbolically.

Here it becomes evident – as it is also the case with some other exegetes - that whenever the Scriptures is examined only superficially and no time is invested into a thorough analysis of the text, of the context and the parallel passages, the real understanding is naturally lacking and then, recourse is always taken to "symbolism" as an emergency solution, where then everything can be interpreted into it.

The attribute "holy" or "saints" is now again and again used - especially also with Daniel – for designating angels or other creatures of heaven:

Dan 4,13 ‘I was looking in the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed, and behold, an angelic watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven. Dan 4,13

Dan 4,17 "This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers And the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes And sets over it the lowliest of men." Dan 4,17

Dan 4,23 ‘In that the king saw an angelic watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, "Chop down the tree and destroy it; yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field, and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts of the field until seven periods of time pass over him," Dan 4,23;

Dan 8,13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, "How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?" Dan 8,13;


Therefore we can start out from the assumption that also above, in Dan 7,21 and 25 "saints" and "saints of the Highest One" mean such creatures of heaven, namely, as Rev 11,4 says, "the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth". They are the two witnesses in Jerusalem who were sent to the earth by God, who came down from heaven in order to prophesy here for three and a half years. Also here this connection follows expressly from Rev 11,7. The term "overcome" which is used here is identical with the one from Rev 13,7 also in the Greek original text.

So, the three and a half years are over and the mission of the two witnesses is completed. God calls them to come back to him and lets the Antichrist kill them. Seen from this point of view the identity of the two witnesses may be somewhat elucidated also here. We know that in the First Resurrection only the martyrs will rise and will rule together with the Lord in the Millennium.

If the Lord wants now Elijah and Moses to join his reign, and if the precondition of the death of a martyr applies to really everyone with the just Lord, those who did not die a violent death – such as Moses – or those who did not die at all, but were caught up into heaven already during their lifetime – such as Elijah, but possibly also Hennoch -would have to come once again to this earth, in order to be killed as martyrs and thus to fulfill the precondition for the First Resurrection.

However that may be, the dead bodies of these two men are now lying in the streets of the city where also their Lord was crucified - that is to say in Jerusalem. Raptures of joy break out among the people of the whole world. They congratulate each other, and in order to be able to present this picture of "redemption" to the people all over the world, they prevent these two dead men from being buried.

After three and a half days the two prophets will arise.

Rev 11,11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them.
11,12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.
11,13 And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.11,14 The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly. Rev 11,11-14;


But in the middle of these joyful celebrations a frightening news is being spread. After three and a half days these two dead men suddenly come to life again and go up into heaven in a cloud. And at the same time there is a tremendous earthquake in Jerusalem. Seven thousand people are killed and a tenth of the city tumbles down. And only now the remaining people in Jerusalem think of their God and honor him.


The conquest and dispersion of Jerusalem.

But the Antichrist does not let himself be impressed by all that. Up to that time Jerusalem has been a prohibited zone of the two witnesses - so to speak. Whoever had tried to attack them, was destroyed by them. But now the spell is broken. After the elimination of the two witnesses the Antichrist occupies the whole city with his troops. They plunder the houses, the women are ravished, and half of the population of the city is exiled by them.

For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle.

Zech 14,1 Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. 14,2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Zech 14, 1- 2;


The tremendous earthquake in Jerusalem at the Rapture of the two witnesses claimed seven thousand victims. The surviving population of the city that remained returned to God and repented. So, at that time all people in Jerusalem are faithful and worship the right God. And this may be now one reason more for the Antichrist to persecute people, to kill them, and to expel them.

For a little while our adversaries have trodden down Your sanctuary.

Isa 63,18 For a little while Your holy people had been expelled, our adversaries have trodden down Your sanctuary. 63,19 We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, Like those who were not called by Your name. Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence. Isa 63,18-19;

They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations.

Lk 21,20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21,21 "Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 21,22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.

21,23 "Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for  great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; 21,24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Lk 21,20-24;

The nations will tread under foot Jerusalem for forty-two months.

Rev 11,1 Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, "Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. 11,2 "Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months. Rev 11, 1- 2;


Reading these passages from the Scriptures about the conquest of Jerusalem, the impression could easily arise that this, too, is a description of the destruction of the city in the year 70 A.D., at the end of the first Jewish insurrection against the Romans. At that time the city and the temple were conquered and completely destroyed by Titus after five months of siege. And as we have seen above, there are also passages from the Scriptures, which refer to this event (Lk 19,41-44; Isa 29,1-4) so that one really has to differentiate quite clearly. An important clue for the exegesis in this connection is the fact that in the year 70 also the temple was completely torn down, in the seventieth week of seven years, however, it is just the temple which is left undamaged.

We know this on the one hand from Rev 11,2, where only the outer dooryard - that is to say the area outside the temple - is affected by the destruction, on the other hand also from the fact that somewhat later the Antichrist has set up his image in the temple and has worshiped it (Mt 24,15; Dan 9,27; 11,31), which presupposes that this temple still exists. Apart from that one has to realize that the statement in Rev 11,2 "they (namely the Gentiles) will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months" was written in the nineties of the Christian era, that at that time the conquest by Titus had taken place already at least twenty years before and that therefore this text - as a prophecy - cannot at all be related to this event.

But the connection with regard to time can also be deduced from Zech chapter 14. In the verses 1-2 (see above) the conquest and pillage of the city by the Gentiles is prophesied. In the verses 3, 12 ,and 16 of this chapter reference is made to those nations / Gentiles, who went to war against Jerusalem before and who are then – in the Battle of Armageddon – defeated by the Lord.

Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations.

Zech 14,3 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 14,4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. 14,5 You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! Zech 14, 3- 5;

The LORD will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem.

Zech 14,12 Now this will be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth.

14,13 It will come about in that day that a great panic from the LORD will fall on them; and they will seize one another’s hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another. 14,14 Judah also will fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered, gold and silver and garments in great abundance.

14,15 So also like this plague will be the plague on the horse, the mule, the camel, the donkey and all the cattle that will be in those camps. 14,16 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. Zech 14,12-16;


So, the verses Zech 14,3, 12 and 16 refer directly to verse 2. However, neither an epidemic nor a confusion among the Roman soldiers is handed over to us about the capture of Jerusalem in the year 70. Another point is that the statement of verse 16 that the Gentiles who are left will come up to Jerusalem every year to worship the Lord, has not been fulfilled yet in this form so that we have to place this prophecy into the Millennium. And there it would be hardly understandable if the hint at "any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem" referred to the troops of Titus already nearly two thousand years ago by now.

The anger of the LORD has burned against His people and he has struck them down.

Isa 5,25 On this account the anger of the LORD has burned against His people, And He has stretched out His hand against them and struck them down. And the mountains quaked, and their corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets. For all this His anger is not spent, But His hand is still stretched out.

5,26 He will also lift up a standard to the distant nation, And will whistle for it from the ends of the earth; And behold, it will come with speed swiftly. 5,27 No one in it is weary or stumbles, None slumbers or sleeps; Nor is the belt at its waist undone, Nor its sandal strap broken. 5,28 Its arrows are sharp and all its bows are bent; The hoofs of its horses seem like flint and its chariot wheels like a whirlwind. 5,29 Its roaring is like a lioness, and it roars like young lions; It growls as it seizes the prey And carries it off with no one to deliver it.

5,30 And it will growl over it in that day like the roaring of the sea. If one looks to the land, behold, there is darkness and distress; Even the light is darkened by its clouds. Isa 5,25-30;


(See also Chapter 02: “The conquest and the dispersion of Jerusalem.”)



The reign of the Antichrist.

The Antichrist will rule in Jerusalem for 42 months and blaspheme God.

The text below from Dan 9,27 is the key passage for the comprehension of the connection with regard to time between the 1260 days of the two witnesses and the 42 months of the Antichrist. When the latter comes, he will first defeat the two witnesses and then he will put those in a predicament who are given into his hands for 3 times by making alterations in their holytides and in their religious law.

But in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering.

Dan 9,27 "And he will make hard the covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and in the temple there will be abomination of desolation, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate." Dan 9,27;

And they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

Dan 7,25 ‘He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. Dan 7,25;

The regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up.

Dan 12,9 He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. 12,10 "Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.

12,11 "From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12,12 "How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days! 12,13 "But as for you, go your way to the Dan 12, 9-13;

He rules for three and a half years, when the dispersion of the holy people is brought to an end.

Dan 12,6 And one said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long will it be until the end of these wonders?" 12,7 I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the dispersion of the holy people is brought to an end, all these events will be completed. Dan 12, 6- 7;


The Antichrist has now made it. He has defeated the two prophets, who struck the earth with famine and epidemics and has conquered the city of God - Jerusalem. He is the "Savior" of the world, he is the "Messiah" and the one, who sent him, is "God".

Now men will worship this "God", Satan. And this "Messiah", who seems to have come now finally in order to set up the kingdom and the reign on the earth, will also be acknowledged by the Jews. He hardly has to push things forward; the whole world wants him to become the ruler of the world. The "Messiah" in his kingdom of peace! The kingdom which will last for a thousand years seems to have started. He gets power over all nations and peoples.

But appearances are deceptive. Also this power of his is only tolerated by the true God. And he has only little time to exercise it. Three and a half years, that is to say 42 months are given to him. Then also his rule will be brought to an end.

The nations will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.

Rev 11,1 Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, "Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. 11,2 "Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months. Rev 11, 1- 2;


He will speak monstrous things against the God of gods and he will deny the Father as well as the Son. He will lure all those to unrighteousness, who are lost, for God sends the power of temptation to them so that they believe the lies, and in order that all those are judged, who did not believe the truth.

And he will speak monstrous things against the God of gods.

Dan 11,36 "Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done. 11,37 "He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all.

11,38 "But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know; he will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones and treasures. 11,39 "He will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god; he will give great honor to those who acknowledge him and will cause them to rule over the many, and will parcel out land for a price. Dan 11,36-39;


The texts from Dan 11,31-39, which are related in this chapter to the Antichrist, have already found their prefulfillment at the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the years 175-171 B. C. But while the verses Dan 11,31-36 can be interpreted without any problems with the historical events handed down to us from the time of Antiochus, the interpretation into this direction becomes more and more difficult from verse 37 onward.

So, here we have the same situation as in Dan 9,26 and 27: Whereas the prince in Dan 9,26 can still be interpreted quite unambiguously as being Titus, in verse 27 this prince already means the Antichrist – although the "he" of this verse still refers to the "prince" in verse 26. And we have quite a similar situation also here: The verses Dan 11,21-36 can be assigned quite unambiguously to Antiochus and his time. From verse 37 onward, however, the historical relation to Antiochus grows less and we see more and more clearly the traits of the Antichrist, whom we can unambiguously identify from verse 40 onward.

(See also Table 04: “What is written in the Book of Truth.”)


The false prophet.

After Satan has made the first beast, the Antichrist, come out of the sea, he makes rise even a second beast. This time out of the earth. It is the false prophet, and this one acts on behalf and in the authority of the first beast. He, too, performs great signs and finally achieves that the whole world worships the first beast, the Antichrist. They worship him as the "Redeemer", and the false prophet induces the people to make an image of him and to worship it, too. Everyone who is not willing to worship this image, is a "blasphemer" and will be killed.

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns.

Rev 13,11 Then I saw another (second) beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon.

13,12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.13,13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. 13,14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. Rev 13,11-14;


And, in his authority, this false prophet also succeeds in making this image speak. One of the first statements of the image is now that all men must make a mark on their forehead and on their right hand. Those who do not have this mark, will be persecuted and killed.

And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast.

Rev 13,15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 13,16 And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 13,17 and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 13,18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. Rev 13,15-18;


The false prophet has this image set up for being worshiped in the holy place, in the temple in Jerusalem. After that he makes alterations to the holytides and the laws of the Jewish service and abolishes the daily sacrifice.

He will intend to make alterations in times and in law.

Dan 7,25 ‘He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. Dan 7,25;

And in the temple there will be abomination of desolation.

Dan 9,26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

9,27 And he will make hard the covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and in the temple there will be abomination of desolation, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate. Dan 9,26-27;

Dan 12,11 "From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Dan 12,11;


But from the above parallel passages in Dan 7,25; 9,27 and 12,11 we can come to realize even a further point: sacrifice and grain offering are integral parts of the Jewish service in the temple. So, this service can be carried out only in the temple. But as there has been no temple any more in Jerusalem since the destruction by Titus in the year 70, it has not been possible up to today to hold a service that is conforming with the law.

This long time without service is also prophesied by the prophet Hosea.

Israel will remain for many days without king or prince.

Hos 3,4 For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. 3,5 Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days. Hos 3, 4- 5;


If now at this time, in the middle of the seventieth week of seven years, sacrifice and grain offering are to be abolished and holytides and the law are to be altered, they must have existed before and a regular service must have been possible. This and the fact that also the abomination of desolation will be in the "sanctuary" or "in the holy place", presupposes that there is a temple in Jerusalem.

We see here quite clearly that between Dan 9,26: "…and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary…" – that is to say Titus in the year 70 A. D. - and the next verse, Dan 9,27: "… And in the temple there will be abomination of desolation…" there is a period of time of so far almost two thousand years.

The fact that this temple - the third one, by the way - will presumably be built already at our time, is explained in more detail in chapter 10. So, we can proceed from the assumption that there is a temple in Jerusalem at the beginning of the seventieth week of seven years and that Jewish service is celebrated with sacrifice and meal offering.

(See also Chapter 10: “The Millennium.”)


The abomination of desolation in the temple as a sign that it is time to flee.

This abomination of desolation in the temple, of which we read above, in Dan 9,27 and 12,11, is repeatedly mentioned also in the New Testament. So Paul writes to the Thessalonians in his Second Epistle of the "man of lawlessness", who takes his seat in the temple, displaying himself as being God.

The man of lawlessness takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

2The 2,3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 2,4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2The 2, 3- 4;


And also in the Gospels the Lord points out that the abomination of desolation in the temple should be a sign for the faithful that it is time to flee.

When you see the abomination of desolation, standing in the holy place.

Mt 24,15 "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 24,16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.24,17 "Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 24,18 "Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 24,19 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 24,20 "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

24,21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 24,22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Mt 24,15-22;

Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

Mk 13,14 "But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 13,15 "The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 13,16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 13,17 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 13,18 "But pray that it may not happen in the winter.

13,19 "For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 13,20 "Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. Mk 13,14-20;

They will do away with the regular sacrifice set up the abomination of desolation.

Dan 11,31 "Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation. 11,32 "By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. 11,33 "Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days. Dan 11,31-33;

A time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time.

Dan 12,1 "Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.

12,2 "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. 12,3 "Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. Dan 12, 1- 3;

From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished, there will be 1,290 days.

Dan 12,11 "From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12,12 "How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days! 12,13 "But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age." Dan 12,11-13;


Also the passage from Matthew above with its parallel with Daniel is interpreted by some exegetes as being an allusion to the year 70 A.D. and the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus. Of course, then these people will be put in the embarrassing position to have to explain the "great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will".

It says then "that the fall of the city of Jerusalem has caused such a dreadful horror of dismay and despair, such a terrible affliction for Israel as nowhere else in world history" (Fritz Rienecker, "The Gospel according to Matthew", WStB, page 319). But it is easily to be seen that all that despair of the Jews, however terrible it might have been, cannot nearly make up for the weight of the statement in Mt 24,21. The point here is not the grief at a city, but a catastrophe of worldwide dimensions.

This is reflected in particular in the passage from Daniel quoted by Matthew, where this distress is called such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time. And then it says there, "at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued". Now the people of Israel was not rescued in the year 70 of our time, but was dispersed nearly completely.

And there cannot be found any explanation at all either for the statement in Dan 12,11: "From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1290 days" as having taken place at the time of Titus, whereas, on the contrary, there is very well an explanation for the assumption that this will take place at the seventieth week of seven years, in the middle of which the Antichrist sets up the abomination in the temple and is then destroyed by the Lord after 42 months of his reign.

Finally, there is still a last sound argument for the fact that this statement from Mt 24,15-16 cannot be assigned to the time of Titus. For it says there, "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains". So, the abomination of desolation will be in the holy place – in the temple in Jerusalem. And now comes the appeal to all those who are "in Judea" to flee to the mountains. In fact that quickly that they shall not even take their clothes with them, as the verses 24,17-18 say.

Now, before the year 70, Judea was a Roman procuratory together with Samaria and Idumea. The extension of Judea from north (Antipatris) to south (Hebron) was approximately 80 km, from the Mediterranean coast in the west to the Dead Sea and/or the Jordan river in the east approximately 80 km as well. Jerusalem was relatively centrally situated so that the information about an event, which took place in Jerusalem, had to be transported for approximately 40 km in all directions, in order to become known to the people in the country.

And now the question arises first, why the people living at a distance of 40 km from Jerusalem should have fled to the mountains at that time, when the city itself was in distress. Being at that distance from the city and taking into account the range of the weapons of that time, there would not have been any danger for them.

Second, however, problems arise with the explanation, how these people in the country should have got this information – namely that an image of abomination was put up in the temple in Jerusalem - so quickly. Those Jews, who were in Jerusalem, had their hands full being busy to flee to the mountains in time. And the Romans did not have any interest to inform anyone outside Jerusalem of this event.

The situation would be different if that happened at our time. In this case, media probably would be the first on the spot in order to be able to send such an event live. And not only all inhabitants of Judea, but probably the whole world would be informed in every second of what is going on in the temple in Jerusalem.

And so it will also be in the last days. Just as the death of the two witnesses from Rev 11,7-10 can be made known within a very short time to the "peoples and tribes and tongues and nations" only by means of today's information technology, so that they could be happy about it, also the event in the temple of Jerusalem will be broadcast at the same time all over the world.

And then this act of desecration of the Jewish temple will not have a military, but a religious background. The putting up of the image of the beast in the sanctuary and the order to worship it otherwise death penalty will be imposed, as we read it above, in Rev 13,15, obviously is the prelude to outlawry, persecution, and killing of the remaining faithful in Jesus.

However, if we want to be objective, we have to ask ourselves also here, what forms the background of this appeal to flee. Here, too, one could, of course, assume that it is the attack of the Antichrist on Jerusalem with his armies, which puts people to flight. But just as above, this does not at all concern the remaining population in the area of the former Judea. And even today it is not the common practice to destroy a city completely, which one wants to capture – and the Antichrist needs this city and its temple intact and undamaged.

So, if we ask ourselves therefore, what could be the reason for advising the population of a city to flee to the mountains, we will pretty soon come to think of the danger of an earthquake. An earthquake – especially a tremendous one – always is more dangerous in the city than outside the city due to the collapsing buildings of all kinds.

Now we already had such a "tremendous earthquake" when the two witnesses in Jerusalem were caught up into heaven. Seven thousand people lost their lives in that earthquake. However, that earthquake cannot be the one which people are apparently warned of here for two reasons. First of all, this earthquake took place at the beginning of the reign of the Antichrist over Jerusalem – but here we are already further advanced in time: the false prophet already performs his functions, the image is standing in the temple, and the worshipers of the beast persecute the faithful in Jesus.

Second, however, also here the argument above has an effect that it does not seem to be a threat to the city of Jerusalem - or not only to the city of Jerusalem. For it says, "those who are in Judea", and consequently the forthcoming threat which is warned of above, in Mt 24,15-22 and parallel passages, must apply to the entire country. If an earthquake is meant by that, this must be therefore a by far more tremendous earthquake than the one that took place when the two witnesses were caught up into heaven.

And we find such a really tremendous earthquake right afterward with the sixth seal, at the end of this period of the "Great Tribulation", when the great darkness takes place. There, a worldwide earthquake does not only cause the darkening of the celestial bodies, but also the displacement of mountains and islands.

With that we would really have a good reason for the flight of the population from Judea to the mountains.


The fifth seal.

The fifth seal: The souls of the martyrs in heaven.

Rev 6,9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 6,10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 6,11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. Rev 6, 9-11;


It is the martyrs in heaven who demand here, when the fifth seal is broken, from God that he takes revenge on the godless and unfaithful on the earth. But it is still too early. As they are told, they have to wait for a little while until also their brethren are killed. It is the faithful in Jesus who are meant here, who are still persecuted, arrested, and sentenced all over the world even during that time.


The great darkness.

Before the "Day of the Lord" sets in now, the day of redemption for his elect and the great and dreadful "day of wrath" for the godless and impenitent, there is a tremendous, worldwide earthquake. Subsequently a great darkness befalls the earth: the sun and the moon will be darkened and the stars will fall from the sky.

The sixth seal.

The sixth seal: The sun became black, the moon became like blood, and the stars fell to the earth.

Rev 6,12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 6,13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 6,14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Rev 6,12-14;

The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky.

Mt 24,29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Mt 24,29;

The sun will be turned into darkness, the moon into blood before the great day of the LORD comes.

Joel 2,30 "I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. 2,31 "The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 2,32 "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls. Joel 2,30-32;

The day of the LORD is coming; a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness.

Joel 2,1 Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near, 2,2 A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations. Joel 2, 1- 2;

When these things begin, lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Lk 21,25 "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 21,26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 21,27 "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 21,28 "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Lk 21,25-28;


(See also Chapter 04: “The Great Darkness.”)


The great multitude from the Great Tribulation.

After the sixth and before the seventh seal we find an inserted text, a so-called parenthesis. In Rev 7,1-8 on the one hand the 144,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel are sealed. (An analysis relating to this can be found in the chapter: "The Day of the Lord".)

(See also Chapter 05: “The Day of the Lord.”)


The second part of this inserted text deals with the great multitude of those who came out of the Great tribulation "from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues". We already discussed this text at the beginning, when we were looking for the Great Tribulation.

Now, after we have clarified the contents of the Great Tribulation and its assignment to the appropriate time, we can also establish the connection to these statements without any difficulties and now this text also fits excellently into the line.

Those who come out of the great tribulation will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore.

Rev 7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 7,10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."

7,11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 7,12 saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." 7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

7,15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 7,16 " They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 7,17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes". Rev 7, 9-17;


Among the billion of people all over the world who had to perish during the Great Tribulation there were obviously millions of faithful who are now standing before the throne and before the Lamb in heaven and are praising God and the Lamb. "They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb", that means they accepted the offering of the Lord Jesus for their sins and these sins have been forgiven them. The horror of this time of Great Tribulation is now over for them. The Lamb will guide them to springs of the water of life, and their God will wipe every tear from their eyes.


The seventh seal.

Seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

Rev 8,1 When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 8,2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.8,3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.

8,4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. 8,5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake. Rev 8, 1- 5;


With the breaking of the seventh seal by the Lamb the scroll is now opened completely. If we now try to subject these seven seals to a final judgment, the suspicion arises here that these plagues of the seals are not direct judgments of God. The breaking of the seals also symbolizes rather the opening of gates, which have been closed so far, and one gets the impression that here God now lets those catastrophes take their course, which he has always prevented so far, in their total extent.

(See also discourse 1133: “Has he who restrains already been taken out of the way?”)


In contrast to the plagues of the trumpets and the judgment of the bowls which follow afterward, where the executors are always angels, here the power is "given" to the plagues themselves. God lets these forces take their course, so to speak. No matter if this is the first horseman, who was "given" a victor's wreath and with that the power to conquer all the world, the second horseman, who was "given" the power, to take peace from the earth, the third horseman, who was "given" the power, to damage all field crops – with the exception of wine and oil –, or finally the fourth horseman, who was "given" the power to kill a fourth of the earth's population. So, it seems that these first four plagues of the seals are caused by men themselves.

And here it seems to be interesting to point out a detail which, in general, rather hardly receives notice in the interpretation of this passage of the Scriptures: Namely the fact that these four horsemen get their "operational order" from the four living creatures. On the one hand this corroborates the assumption that it is not God himself who is the acting one here, but that he has entrusted this decision to the four living creatures. And if we now proceed from the assumption - as explained in excursus 11 - that these four creatures are the representatives of the entire living Creation before the throne of God, the impression intensifies more and more that this here is a reaction of nature, of the living Creation of God.

(See also Excursus 11: “The throne of God.”)


At our time today, with the deliberate and systematic destruction of soil, air, and water, which is pursued by the money-grubbing of man, it would not be at all that far-fetched to presume that these plagues are no judgments of God in the sense that God "pours them over us" - such as for instance the judgment of the bowls - but rather that God lets us go on our way of exploitation and destruction of the environment of this planet. This way is sure to lead us to catastrophe, too.

The fifth seal brings the complaint of the martyrs in heaven, and is no judgment in the truest sense of the word, but offers a possible guidance for interpretation. Here as, by the way, in Rev 14,13, too it is pointed out that even after the tribulation servants of God will still die as martyrs. While the sixth seal brings then a worldwide catastrophe with earthquakes and geological upheavals, which, from today's point of view, could be quite well also "homemade", we find in the seventh seal something like a turning point, that is to say the conclusion of the hitherto happenings and the beginning of a new period. It is the calm before the storm, so to speak, which presents itself in the seventh seal. And finally the argument of the first seal, according to which the horseman there on the white horse is not the Lord Jesus, because he cannot be the Lamb and the horseman at the same time, holds true for all plagues of the seals, which are - each separately - broken by the Lord.