Is it true that the coming of the Day of the Lord will be preceded by a period of peace and quiet in the world? Will the antichrist be the one who will establish peace and tranquility all over the earth after which he will bring great destruction? Or how should we understand the text of 1 Thessalonians 5:3, which says, “While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.”?
Before the second coming of Jesus on earth, Antichrist will establish a world empire, but this empire will not know either peace or quiet. This text does not say that there will be a time of peace and quiet, but the world will say, “Peace and quiet.” What does this mean? This means that at the time of the end, things will go from worse to worse in the world, but immediately before the coming of the Day of the Lord the circumstances will change in such a way that people will believe that liberation, peace, and tranquility have come, and that things will be better. A good illustration of this is the arrival of the Khmer Rouge (Cambodian Communists) in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, on April 17, 1975. At that time, the country’s population was tormented and exhausted by United States bombing campaign and by the civil war in the country that lasted for many years . When the Khmer Rouge troops entered the city, after a few days’ siege, the city’s population met them with great joy and said “peace and security” and they did not know that in less than three days the “black terror” would begin. In three days the city was left desolate because all the townspeople were banished from the cities and their own land to work on farms, the intellectuals were killed cruelly, and the land was filled with “the killing fields.” Over a period of three years, 10 months, and 20 days, one third of the country’s population was slaughtered. More than 300 killing fields have been discovered in the country (fields where people were savagely massacred and buried in common graves). For example, in the Choeung Ek field near Phnom Penh, 129 tombs were discovered where over 20,000 people were buried. This field was found by a peasant who was searching for potatoes in the field and, to his horror, saw the branch of an old tree full of blood, brains, teeth, and skulls … . Later, along with this tree there was discovered a common grave filled with the bodies of more than 100 young women and babies who had had their skulls crushed. Under that tree, the head of the famous ‘‘S-21’’ Prison in Phnom Penh recognized his guilt for the terror of those years, and confessed that the babies were grabbed by their feet and their heads were struck by the branch of the tree until their skulls were crushed … . This was “the liberation” brought by the Khmer Rouge. When they thought it was the much-awaited peace in the country, then an unexpected (sudden) disaster came over them … I suggest that you watch the BBC documentary “Pol Pot: The journey to the Killing Fields’’. At the minute 22 mark, you can see the joy with which the residents of the Phnom Penh met the Khmer Rouge (Communists of Cambodia) upon their entrance to the city on April 17, 1975. If you watch the whole movie, you will see the state of the people both before and after that moment.
Now let us turn to our subject: the coming of the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is the time when God will judge the world and it begins after the settlement of the antichrist in the Temple of Jerusalem. In Revelation chapter 11, we are told that when the Antichrist kills the two prophets of God, whom God appointed to prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days (three and a half years), all the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice over them, celebrate, and send gifts to one another. Why? Because, in their opinion, these two prophets had tormented them for three and a half years (Revelation 11:10). Here’s what the Bible tells us about these two witnesses:
“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. (Revelation 11:3-6)
The inhabitants of the earth will rejoice because of both the death of these two prophets, and the “deliverance” brought by the Antichrist; they will not know what the new regime will bring them – this regime established by the Antichrist. After the slaying of the two prophets, the Antichrist will set himself up in the Temple of God, exalting himself as God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).
But three and a half days later, the two prophets will rise, they will be raptured to heaven, there will be great cataclysms on the earth, and in heaven it will be announced that the time of God’s judgment (the Day of the Lord) has come:
When they (the two witnesses) have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly. Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm. (Revelation 11:7-19)
So, the coming of the Day of the Lord will not be preceded by a period of peace and security. People will enjoy the establishment of the Antichrist’ regime, believing that it will bring safety and the long-awaited peace.
May the Lord help us to live a beautiful life by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to be delivered from the wrath that will come (the Day of the Lord, which will come like the labor pains upon the pregnant woman).
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:8-10)
Translated by Marcela Tașca