The People of the Tribulation
The time of Tribulation that is to befall the earth for seven years following the Rapture will change our world drastically. This will include the world’s demographics– the groups of people in the world. Currently, peoples are grouped according to government, station in life, and other factors. Spiritually, people are grouped into believers and nonbelievers. But these classifications will spread out in the Tribulation. Let’s dive into God’s Word and find out just what specific people, as well as type of people, will face the Tribulation.
Prior to the Tribulation, Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will shout from heaven to rapture His Church. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says that “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” When he was instructed to write Revelation, the apostle John saw a vision of the risen Lord. He records, in Revelation 1:12-20:
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.”
At the end of the Tribulation, Jesus will return in glory with the armies of heaven and will establish His kingdom for 1,000 years on earth. This will be a reign of righteousness and peace. John describes the return of Christ this way: “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16)
Called the “man of sin” and “son of perdition” in the Bible (2 Thessalonians 2:3), this man will arise to power following the Rapture and will ascend to the throne of earthly rulership over the world. At one point in the Tribulation, the Antichrist will appear to die and appear to be resurrected (Revelation 13:3). This will result in the entire world following after him and worshiping him. The Bible indicates in the next verse that the world will worship Satan (the dragon) as well as the Antichrist himself. However, at the end of the Tribulation, judgment will come upon the Antichrist. When our Lord appears in glory, He will cast the beast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20).
The False Prophet
The False Prophet will exercise all the authority of the beast (Revelation 13:12) and will lead the world in worshiping the beast. He will perform great signs, deceive the world, and order the creation of an image of the beast to be worshiped (Revelation 13:12-14). He will also institute the mark of the beast, which will be ordered to be given to everyone on their forehead or right hand. Nobody will be able to buy or sell without the mark. (Revelation 13:16-17).
The Two Witnesses
These two will appear in Jerusalem in the Tribulation and will have authority go prophesy 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth (Revelation 11:3). They will preach the Gospel message and will be supernaturally protected during their ministry. Revelation 11:5-6 elaborates:
And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.
When their ministry is finished, the Two Witnesses will be killed by the beast and will lie in the street for three and a half days. The world will rejoice over their deaths, and celebrate the end of the torment that these Witnesses brought. After three-and-a-half days, the Witnesses will be resurrected and ascend to heaven in a cloud (Revelation 11:7-12).
Groups of People
These will be 144,000 chosen people from Israel, composed of 12,000 each from the twelve tribes: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. They will be sealed by God on their foreheads and supernaturally protected (Revelation 7:3-8).
The Tribulation Saints
John writes this about the Tribulation saints in Revelation 7:9-10:
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
These are those left behind in the Rapture who will receive the Lord Jesus Christ during the Tribulation. Like the Church, they will be those individuals who recognize that Christ died on the cross for their sins and will accept His offer of grace and mercy. They will oppose the Antichrist and his government, and many of them will be martyred. However, martyrdom will be a release from such a period of terror; Revelation 7:17 says that God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
The implementation of the mark of the beast will present challenges for believers, since they will refuse it. Those who openly refuse to worship the beast will be executed by the government (Revelation 13:15). Without the mark, believers will not be permitted to buy or sell on the world market. This could make survival more difficult, since the ability to obtain food, medicine, and supplies will be hindered. Some have speculated that believers may form some sort of black market to survive.
Worshipers of the Beast
A second group of people who will live in the Tribulation. These people are those who do not receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They will be deceived by the Antichrist and will eventually take the mark of the beast when it is implemented. This mark, which may be in the form of a tatoo, a brand, or other visible mark, will be required of people to buy or sell in the world market. Those who take the mark of the beast will worship his image, and will be cast into the lake of fire in the end.