God's Message of Hope Before and During the Tribulation
God provides man the opportunity to seek Him during the Tribulation. "Two witnesses" prophesy for almost three and a half years. Men try to hurt them, and they smite the earth with plagues that cause rain to stop, and water to turn into blood. The beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit makes war against them and kills them. The nations rejoice at their death. God raises them from the dead and lifts them into heaven (Revelation 11:3-13). Tradition identifies these men as Moses and Elijah (Revelation 11:16) because God gave Elijah and Moses the ability to perform miracles and because they both appeared with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3). Elijah and Elisha together as a team might also be the two witnesses because of all the prophets they performed powerful miracles, which included raising a person from the dead.
In addition, during the Tribulation 144,000 witnesses, consisting of 12,000 from each of 12 tribes of Israel, preach the Gospel to the four corners of the earth (Revelation 7:1-9, 14:1-7). Despite the outpouring of God's anger and judgments, He still desires that men turn to Him. Revelation 9:20-21 declares: "after all of these plagues, man will not repent of his evil ways. Instead, he curses God ." This phrase repeats throughout the entire book of Revelation with each plague issued.
Today we have the Gospel and the Bible which teaches us about Jesus Christ and forewarns the world about the horrific events that are yet to come. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior will not go through the Tribulation. God takes them out of the world in the Rapture just prior to the earth's final seven years. II Thessalonians 4:14-18 tells us:
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
For 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.
Therefore comfort one another with these words.
In John's vision on the Isle of Patmos, he saw an innumerable multitude of people dressed in white robes, praising God. John asked who these people were. The angel answered him and said: "These are the ones who come out of the great Tribulation, and washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb " (Rev. 7:9,13,14). Christians will come out of the Tribulation. The blood of Jesus Christ makes them perfect in God's sight.
God ushered Lot and his family out of Sodom and Gomorrah before destroying the city. He commanded Noah to build the ark, rescuing his family from the flood. God brings those who have placed their faith in his Son out of the Great Tribulation. The Rapture occurs just prior to and after the sealing of the 144,000. This disappearance of people will go virtually unnoticed amid the tumultuous events of the times. Some may regard it as a rare occurrence of individuals disappearing into another dimension. Others may claim that aliens abducted the missing. Various experts will offer their explanations of how the disappearance of these people could have occurred. On the whole, though, with paranormal incidents occurring with increasing frequency, and stories of alien abductions filling the airwaves, the Rapture will seem unremarkable to most of the world's inhabitants. After the Rapture, the Tribulation will usher in signs and wonders performed by false Christs, the False Prophet and those performed by God Himself through the two witnesses.