I can remember on one occasion cheering for my favorite college football team. My cheering had no effect on them as they just played terribly in the first half and were behind 28 to 6. It really did not look good for them. In the second half, however, they were a completely different team as though they woke up at halftime from some sort of slumber that they had been in. Same uniforms, but a radically different group was out on the field and they went on to win by some 20 points. So what transformed them? Apparently whatever took place in the locker room at halftime.
The coming Tribulation is no game but it does have a first half and a second half. And those two halves are very different from one another because of the halftime events. In this study we want to investigate the events that take place at “halftime” which dramatically change this coming period of Tribulation.
In our last study we focused on the first half of the Tribulation and noted the following: (1) the nation of Israel is back in their land though they remain largely in unbelief; (2) there is a politically powerful, wealthy entity which is a false form of Christianity and which holds sway over the western world; (3) the Antichrist rules over an eleven nation western confederacy; (4) God’s “seal judgments” blast the earth causing a minimum of 25% of the world’s population to perish; and (5) a time of great salvation takes place on the earth as people are faced with the truth of God as never before. There are four major events that take place at the half way point of the Tribulation which dramatically change this period of time. Recall that Jesus referred to the second half as the “tribulation, the great one.” The following events bring about “the tribulation, the great one.
- THE NATION OF ISRAEL. Israel is back in their land and the “temple of God” (2 Thess. 2:4) has been rebuilt with the result that the full Levitical worship system is back in place. We can only wonder how Israel gets the temple mount back and what the role of the Antichrist might have been in returning it to them. But as Israel’s protector, he does what today seems impossible. All is well in Israel. However, at the midpoint, the Antichrist breaks his agreement with Israel and turns from being their protector to being their persecutor. He will terminate the Levitical system and will then require worship of himself (and Satan) alone. We are told that “he takes his seat in the temple” and makes himself out to be God. Jesus said that when this (along with the setting up of his image in the holy place) occurs, people need to flee Jerusalem because terrible persecution is coming immediately. This “abomination of desolation” (Matt. 24:15) is a key mid-tribulational event. So Israel will go from being protected in the first half to being persecuted in the second half. Things will be dramatically different in Israel because the seven year treaty is broken by Antichrist.
- SATAN’S REMOVAL FROM HEAVEN. While we do not fully understand why God allows Satan access to heaven, we know from the story of Job that He does. He appears there regularly. But that changes half way through the Tribulation when an angelic war takes place in heaven (Rev. 12:7-12). Satan and his forces are defeated and they are forcibly removed from heaven and confined to the earth for 1260 days. The strategic verse in the discussion is 12:12.
“Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”
This event is seen as that final wakeup call that alerts Satan to the fact that time is almost over for him. His response, in his rage, is to do as much harm to God’s people as he possible can. The killing and destroying of God’s people is simply “off the chart” in the second half, making it the worst of times. Satan simply is now confined to the earth by God and no longer has the freedom that he once enjoyed. This makes him highly unhappy.
- THE DEATH AND RETURN TO LIFE OF THE ANTICHRIST. At the midpoint of the Tribulation, the Antichrist is assassinated. This is clear from Revelation 13:3, 12 and 14 where he receives the wound of the sword (a violent death) and then returns to life. Technically, he does not receive a resurrection body, but rather he is restored back to physical life. (The word for “slain” is the same one used of the Lamb in Rev. 5:6, and no one doubts that Jesus actually died). The Antichrist has made a lot of enemies during the first half and someone is able to successfully take his life. But shortly thereafter (I would guess about 3 days!) he returns to life, apparently God allowing such a thing. The result of this return to life is breathtaking. One can only imagine the messianic type claims he will make for himself. The world immediately will begin to worship him and immediately he becomes ruler of the entire world (not just the western world). He is revered by much of earth’s population. It seems that in Daniel 11 he takes up residence in Israel. (A logical place to be if one is claiming to be the messiah). He will engage in efforts to destroy God’s people and will be very successful in those efforts (Rev. 13:7).
- THE TERMINATION OF ALL RELIGIONS. Not only is the Levitical worship system of the Jewish people ended at the midpoint, but at this time the false form of Christianity is violently destroyed by the Antichrist (Rev. 17:15-17; 19:1-3). Also, we would assume that at this time all religions of mankind are terminated by the Antichrist and the “false prophet” (Rev. 13:11-18; 19:20; 20:10). The only legal religion in the world is the worship of Antichrist and Satan (Rev. 13:3, 4, 8, 12-15). This is a close as Satan gets to being “like God” and having creation worship him.
We, of course, do not know how many days are involved in these events coming to pass. However, these most likely will take place in a very tight sequence of events, and they will rock the world as few days have. The sudden, dramatic series of events will reshape life in the Tribulation. But obviously the Lord God knows about all this and is not caught off guard by any event, and this truth will fortify the resolve of believers in those difficult days. And for us, it is important to remember that events in our days do not blindside the Lord either. He knows all things and is ready to shepherd us through them for His glory and for our benefit. What a “good shepherd” He is.