Power to Overcome in the Great Tribulation

Power to Overcome in the Great Tribulation

Just the thought of living through the traumatic era referred to in the Bible as the Great Tribulation, the "time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time" (Daniel 12:1), is enough to make most of us uneasy, to say the least. And if we didn't have God on our side, it would be a most frightening prospect. But the fact of the matter is that if you are a believer, then you do have God on your side. Knowing that you have the biggest guy on the block on your team is comforting, even when the other side that is lined up against you looks nearly invincible. The book of Revelation calls the Antichrist "the beast" and explains, "All the world marveled and followed the beast, saying, 'Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?'" (Revelation 13:3-4).

But looks can be deceiving, and in this case we are dealing with the arch-deceiver himself, Satan, the power behind and ultimately in the Antichrist. Both Satan and the Antichrist, fortunately for us, have Achilles heels. Their doom is already sealed and they are the ultimate losers—a destiny they cannot escape, no matter how much they pretend otherwise. "The Beast was captured, and … cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Revelation 19:20). The devil will be similarly disposed of, first for a thousand years and then permanently (Revelation 20:2-3,10). We can definitely take comfort in knowing that they will lose in the end and we will win.

There are some dark days ahead for believers in Jesus and for the world in general, but even in those trying times we will not be left to fend for ourselves. The Bible makes it clear that we will be given a great deal of protection and that even the horrible plagues and monsters described in the book of Revelation will actually be directed against and torment the Antichrist and his followers, not those who love and serve God. Jesus' Endtime followers will be divinely protected (Revelation 7:2-3; 9:4).

Revelation chapter 11 talks about the exploits of two prophets of God who live in this Endtime period. An angel tells John, who wrote down the book of Revelation: "I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth" (Revelation 11:3). And John continues:

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. 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.

Now when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.—Revelation 11:4-12

The angel is initially clearing up some of the mystery that surrounded a passage in the Bible that was written some 500 years earlier by the prophet Zechariah:

I answered and said to [the angel], "What are these two olive trees—at the right of the lampstand and at its left?" … Then he answered me and said, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth." (Zechariah 4:11,13-14)

Ironically, John's mother had once asked Jesus if her sons James and John could have the honor of sitting on either side of Him in His kingdom:

Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons [James and John], kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him, "Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom." But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able." So He said to them, "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father." (Matthew 20:20-23)

So John was finally learning from this angel about the two people would be on either side of Jesus' throne in His kingdom. But what is more important to note, especially for those of us who could be alive during the time of these two prophets, is the supernatural powers they will manifest. These two defiantly stand up against the Antichrist and his forces, and the prophets' enemies will not be able to harm them until their mission is accomplished—and their very public mission will take place right in Jerusalem, the apparent capital city of the Antichrist government.

Will these powers be limited to these two prophets, or will Christians in general be able to avail themselves of similar if not identical powers when they need them?

There are biblical precedents for people having special powers when they needed them. God backed up Moses' warnings to the Egyptians by sending plagues until Pharaoh relented and let the Israelites leave Egypt (Exodus chapters 7-12). Elijah called down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice on the altar on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:17-39), and again, in an example of heavenly protection, to slay two companies of soldiers that had been sent by the wicked King Ahaziah to arrest him (2 Kings chapter 1). And when the King of Syria sent an army to capture Elisha, God sent a heavenly army in fiery chariots to protect him and to temporarily blind every man in the enemy army (2 Kings 6:8-23).

These demonstrations of power from on high weren't solely for the sakes of Moses and his fellow Hebrews in Egypt, or Elijah, or Elisha, or the others involved, we are told. "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11).

If God has done it before, why wouldn't He do the same again to protect those who love and serve Him in the treacherous time of the Great Tribulation ahead? It seems He will, because clearly there are going to be a lot of us still here when Jesus returns to take us home to heaven in the Rapture, at the time of His Second Coming.

There is also a promise that is specifically made to Christians in the Tribulation period: "The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits" (Daniel 11:32). Jesus has a vested interest in each of us because He loves us, and He and all the forces of Heaven will be fighting for us. Even though they will for the most part be unseen, they will not let us down. The apostle Paul wrote, "For [Jesus] Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5-6).