The Tribulation Judgments or Plagues
Our world has rejected God, rejected Christ, rejected the Bible and rejected truth. Because of this, our world is headed for judgment. The Lord Jesus spoke of a future day of trouble which would be the most difficult period in all of human history: "For then shall be great tribulation (trouble), such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." One of the reasons this will be such a difficult time on earth is because men will face plagues and judgments sent from God.
The book of Revelation describes three series of judgments: 1) The Seven Seal Judgments (Revelation chapter 6), 2) The Seven Trumpet Judgments (Revelation chapters 8-9), 3) The Seven Vial or Bowl Judgments (Revelation chapters 15-16).
In the book of Exodus we learn about ten plagues or judgments that fell upon the land of Egypt. In the first plague, all the waters (including the waters of the Nile River) were turned to blood (Exodus 7:20). The second plague involved an invasion of frogs as described in Exodus chapter 8:
| 1: And the LORD spake unto
Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my
people go, that they may serve me.
2: And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs:
3: And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs:
4: And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.
5: And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.
[Illustration from Bible Visuals, Exodus Part 2]
This plague of frogs happened exactly as the Bible describes it. The Egyptians were plagued by frogs in enormous numbers, to the point where these amphibians were found in their bedrooms, in their ovens, etc. Why do we believe this? Because the text of the Bible says so! The text of Scripture is very clear about this plague and we take these statements literally. This plague really happened, just as described in the book of Exodus.
There were eight other plagues that happened in Egypt as described in Exodus 8-10. The last Egyptian plague was the killing of every firstborn son, including Pharaoh's son (Exodus 12:29-30). This final plague convinced Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go away from his land.
Let us compare the plagues of Egypt with the plagues described in Revelation:
During the Tribulation
|Ten Plagues||Twenty-one Plagues (Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, Seven Vials or Bowls)|
|Described in Exodus||Described in Revelation|
|Area Covered: the land of Egypt||Area Covered: the entire world|
|They happened just as described (history).||They will happen just as described (prophecy).|
|Judgment upon a stubborn ruler who refused to obey God.||Judgment upon an entire world who refused to believe and honor the living God.|
The spectacular nature of the plagues described in Revelation can be seen by considering four of the plagues:
1. The Fourth Seal Plague (Revelation 6:8): "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." This passage indicates that one-fourth of the world's population will die.
2. The Sixth Trumpet Plague (Revelation: 9:18): "By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths." See also verse 15. This passage indicates that one-third of the world's population will die.
The implications from the Fourth Seal Plague and the Sixth Trumpet Plague are astounding when compared together. If one fourth of the world's population will die, and later one third will die, this means that the original population of the world will be reduced by one half, just by these two plagues alone!
This can be illustrated as follows:
Suppose you have an original population of eight blocks:
Reduce this population by one-fourth and six blocks will remain:
Reduce this population by one-third and four blocks will remain:
Therefore, your final population (four blocks) is only half of what you started with. The study of just these two terrible plagues helps us to understand why the Lord Jesus described the great tribulation as the most difficult time the earth will ever experience (Matthew 24:21).
Perhaps a better way of illustrating this would be to imagine eight heavy bags of rice (or salt). See Tribulation Devastation.
3. The Second Trumpet Plague (Revelation 8):
|8: And the second angel sounded,
and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea:
and the third part of the sea became blood;
9: And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
Based on God's Word, we believe that one-third of the sea will become blood, one-third of the sea-creatures will die and one-third of the ships will be destroyed. We believe this because the text says so. A normal reading of this text leads to no other conclusion. We accept the text of the Bible at face value.
4. The Fourth Bowl Plague (Revelation 16):
|8: And the fourth angel poured out
his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with
9: And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
Here we have a horrifying description of global warming. This worldwide warming will not be caused by man, and will not be caused by carbon emissions. This plague will come from the hand of God. This plague will take place exactly as described, because we take the text of Scripture at face value. We take God at His Word.
There are many people, even those who claim to believe the Bible, who do not believe that the plagues described in the book of Revelation will be literally fulfilled. For example, preterists [those who believe that most prophecies have already been fulfilled] believe and teach that these plagues have already been fulfilled in or around 70 A.D. They believe that the great tribulation has already taken place! Of course, we know that these plagues have not been literally fulfilled in 70 A.D. or at any other time in past history. We know that there has never been a time when one-third of the sea became blood, one-third of the sea creatures died and one-third of the ships were destroyed. Since this has never happened, and since God cannot lie, then there must be a future fulfillment. Dispensationalists [those who seek to consistently interpret the Bible literally, to understand Scripture in its normal sense] believe that these judgments will take place in the coming tribulation period, a time which Jesus said will be the greatest time of trouble the world has ever known (Matt. 24:21).
Why is it that non-dispensationalists understand the plagues of Egypt literally, as having happened exactly as described, and yet they deny that the plagues described in Revelation will ever be fulfilled literally? Their position is very inconsistent.