The season that ends the times of the Gentiles is called the Time of Distress. This is the third season following the ministry of Jesus. It will be painful for the world, as troubles and tribulations will break out everywhere. The devil will be angry at losing power, so evil will be rampant.

The distress will build slowly. Initially, governments will hold back the worst effects, so most people will be confident that the good times will return.

Power and Persecution

The Time of Distress will be the last hurrah for human political power. When the troubles begin, governments will grab emergency powers, as their people cry out for relief. Most people will support their leaders' attempts to turn back the tide of evil, so they will deal ruthlessly with those who oppose their increased powers. In many places, governments will be successful in controlling the worst evil, for a while. As the spirit of fear and dread takes hold, human governments will accrue enormous authority. Political power will be concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people.

The principalities and powers will use the Time of Distress to soften up the world for their last power play. When people see their political leaders on television declaring peace and promising to restore broken dreams, their faith in political power will be boosted. Fear of the future and faith in the state are a dangerous mix. When fear and dread are pervasive and faith in human government is widespread, accumulation and concentration of political power is easy.

Many Christians will welcome the expansion of political power as a solution to problems that concern them. A few will see through this accumulation of political power and speak against it. This will lead to the persecution represented by the fifth seal of Revelation.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained (Rev 6:9).
Christians exposing their leaders as human messiahs will face terrible persecution.

Political Messiahs

As the Time of Distress progresses, smaller governments will collapse under the strain. Some nations will not be able to cope with the pressure and will go broke. Politicians will feel overwhelmed by troubles and flee from office. Many smaller nations will fall into anarchy, because no one will risk running for office and there is no money to maintain the structures of government. Jeremiah described this time.

"In that day," declares the Lord, "the king and the officials will lose heart, the priests will be horrified, and the prophets will be appalled" (Jer 4:9).
Difficulties will produce huge disappointment and political leaders will be cursed.
Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness (Is 8:21-22).
The situation will be different in larger nations. Local councils and regional governments will grind to a halt, as revenues disappear and politicians bolt from power. People will look to their national and federal governments for deliverance from trouble. Political power will shift from the local to the centre in a last desperate attempt to bring order from the emerging chaos. The larger the nation, the longer political messiahs will be able to hold out by promising deliverance and hope.

We live in a very materialistic age, where people are driven by physical comfort. When difficult times come, most people will submit to political messiahs who promise to restore their affluence. They will sell their freedom for peace and security. These political messiahs will fail, because they are working without God. They will demand huge powers in order to hold things together, but will make the situation worse.

A great nation will rise up in the west and dominate the world in a desperate attempt to turn back distress. The people of the world will welcome its expanding power, as it intervenes in nasty situations in many places to restore peace and prosperity. The United States is the only western nation with the economic strength and military force for this task. More important, it has the democratic credentials and the aspiration to save the world. It is already stepping up to the role.

Democratic Beast

The Beast that emerges during the Time of Distress is very different from previous empires. People will be amazed, because it is a democratic beast.

The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast (Rev 17:8).
The distinguishing feature of this empire is that it has died and come back to life.
One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast (Rev 13:3).
The beast is a form of government that once existed, was destroyed, but will return to dazzle the world.
The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction (Rev 17:8).
This form of human government existed before John’s time, but had come to such a violent end, that no one expected to see it again. It once existed, it did not exist in John’s time, but in the future, it will come back into existence.
They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while... The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction (Rev 17:10-11).
Rome had a number of different types of government. The key is identifying a form of government that did not exist during John’s lifetime, but existed previously. When John was alive, Rome was an empire controlling a large part of the ancient world. This makes the Roman Empire the sixth king. The Beast is a type of government that was brought to a violent end by the Roman Empire.

The major form of human government prior to the Roman Empire was the Roman Republic. It was a copy of the democratic republic that began in Greece much earlier. The Roman Republic began in 500 BC and lasted for nearly five centuries. Consuls were elected for a year. An elected Senate was responsible for passing laws and appointing government officials. Not everyone had the right to vote, but the republic was based on the principle of democracy.

Democracy in Rome came to a violent end about thirty years before Jesus was born. Julius Caesar and his successor Caesar Augustus turned the Roman armies against Rome and destroyed the Republic. By the time Jesus was born, the Empire was fully entrenched in power. Christianity was born when democracy died.

The democratic republic received a fatal blow when Caesar August took control of Rome. “The beast that once was, now is not” is the democratic republic. The beast with the “fatal wound that had been healed" and the “beast who was wounded by the sword and lived” represent the restoration of democratic government in a republic.

John saw the Beast coming out of the sea (Rev 13:1). In Revelation, the sea represents the people of the world.

Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw... are peoples,multitudes, nations and languages" (Rev 17:15).
In most empires, a few powerful men control the people. This beast emerges when people govern themselves. Democracy is the only way a multitude of people can govern themselves. The Beast is a restored democratic republic. Many Christians have been taught that democracy is a Christian form of government. This is not true, as democracy is the opposite of the Kingdom of God. Authority resides with the people in democracy, whereas authority in the Kingdom of God belongs to God.

If a group of people choose to obey God, they will not find his will by voting, but by listening to the Holy Spirit. They may also need prophets to declare his will. Democracy does not lead to the will of God, so it cannot produce his Kingdom. The scriptures show that when the people got to vote, they walked away from God's will.

Democracy is a form of adultery in which people freely surrender to a democratically-elected ruler in return for prosperity and security. This adulterous relationship during the Time of Distress makes the Beast different from other empires. Earlier empires killed and stole to provide wealth to the elite. A democratic empire taxes the rich to provide benefits to everyone and to attract their votes. For more see Democratic Beast).

Some Christians believe that the Beast is Islam, but this is not correct. Islam has a big influence during the Time of Distress, but it is not the Beast. The white horse, which represents the advance of Islam, helps create the conditions that open the way for the Beast. It emerges as a solution to the problems caused by the advance of Islam. Islam causes distress whereas the Beast is the great de-stresser.

Widespread Support

The Democratic Beast is different from the empires that have gone before. They were established by military power and anyone who opposed their rule was forced to submit with ruthless violence. The new empire will get its power in a different way.

He deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived (Rev 13:14).
Instead of being conquered by force, the people of the world will be deceived into free submission. People longing for peace and prosperity will support any government power that promises to fulfil their dreams.

The people of the world will be deceived into supporting this Terrible Beast. Many national leaders will freely submit to the new empire, because it offers military and financial support. This Beast will not rule the world directly, but will extend its influence through subordinate client states.

The only challenge to this aggregation of political power will come from Christians who understand the “signs of the times”. When most people are calling on the political powers to do more to turn back the overwhelming crisis, they will expose the real character of the “best government ever”. Suggesting that this democratic republic is the next manifestation of the Beast will make them unpopular. Opposition will lead to the persecution of God’s people (Rev 6:9-11).

The Terrible Beast

As the Time of Distress progresses, the true character of this political power will be revealed and people will realise that it opposes God. Many Christians will wake up and realise that the mighty empire that they trust has morphed into the Terrible Beast of Revelation and Daniel.

The king will do as he pleases... He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place (Dan 11:36).
Many Christians will miss the emergence of the Beast, because they are looking for a wicked man, who gains control by devious means and then wreaks evil on the world. This is a mistake. The Terrible Beast is not a manifestation of evil and wickedness, as many assume. This view has been spread by movies and books, but it distorts the truth. More at Terrible Beast).

Role of the Beast

The book of Revelation explains that the Beast will do four things. They are not what most Christians are expecting.

1. Blasphemy

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies... It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven (Rev 13:5-6).
A person blaspheming usually speaks against God to mock him, but the Beast speaks “proud words,” not rude words. It insults God by claiming his place and offering a salvation that is better than the salvation bought by Jesus.
He will speak against the Most High and... try to change the set times and the laws (Dan 7:25).
Political messiahs promise to provide human salvation using political power. Most people believe there is no God, so a human government is their only hope. The Beast is an attempt to create a better world by applying human wisdom to government. It is not established by evil men to do evil, but is instituted by good men to do good.

2. Economic Control

The Beast will control the economic system to prevent economic collapse.

It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave (Rev 13:16).
Political powers have always manipulated the little people and the poor. Their misery does not change, but this Beast will also control the rich and the powerful. It even controls those who are too big to fail (the great and the free). These activities will make preferred merchants and traders very rich (Rev 18:11-20).

3. Worldwide Influence

Authority and influence will be surrendered to this dominant nation by governments all over the world (Rev 13:5).

And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation (Rev 13:7).
For God has put it into their hearts to fulfil His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled (Rev 17:17).
The nations do not disappear during this period. They carry on, but give some of their sovereignty to this dominant nation, so it can deal with the crises sweeping the earth.

John calls this behaviour adultery.

The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries (Rev 18:3).
The nations belong to God, so they should be loyal to him. Instead, they surrender to a powerful nation for comfort and prosperity. They compromise to get what they want.

Daniel indicates that some nations will be broken up by the Beast (Dan 7:7). This has already happened in Yugoslavia, Somalia and Sudan. In the future, many nations will be split up by the Beast.

4. Christians Persecuted

Christians who do not accept the authority and the power of the Beast will face terrible persecution.

It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them (Rev 13:7).
If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed (Rev 13:10).
Some Christians will understand that the Beast is a false messiah offering a false hope and warn of the dangers of trusting this dominant nation.
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people (Rev 13:10).
The main role of the Beast is to persecute Christians to create a suffering church that is ready to receive the Kingdom.

This powerful nation does not engage in blatant evil. It controls trade and puts big business back in its place. It promises to bring peace and prosperity to the people of the world. These are things that all good governments are expected to do. Many Christians are already applauding this nation for its exercise of power throughout the world.


Daniel prophesied that multitudes from his nation would receive salvation after a Time of Distress.

There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered (Dan 12:1).
Before this promise can be fulfilled, Daniel’s people will endure a season of distress. This time of trouble comes because Jewish leaders have rushed ahead of God and used political manipulation and military power to establish their own nation state before the Times of the Gentiles have ended. Ezekiel speaks of people who have returned to the land by the power of the sword.
A land that is restored by the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel who had long been desolate... and now all of them live in safety (Ez 38:8).
The Jewish people responded to the trauma of their holocaust in Europe, by seeking security in a Jewish state. This will prove to be a false hope, because during the Times of the Gentiles, their security comes from being scattered among the nations.
The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach (Rev 12:14).
God has fulfilled this promise by keeping the Jewish people alive among the nations for two thousand years. When they gather in one place, they lose this protection. Trusting in political and military power leaves them vulnerable to the powers of evil. The Jewish people will only be safe in their land, when they trust in God through Jesus.

No Protection

Jesus had warned Israel that their house would be desolate until they blessed those coming in his name (Matt 23:39). He had previously warned how damaging this could be.

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation (Matt 12:43-45).
This was a warning for an entire generation. The current generation in Israel has amassed a huge arsenal of conventional and nuclear weapons, yet it has no spiritual protection. Without the cross and the Spirit, they have no way of dealing with evil spirits.

This chink in Israel’s armour has allowed a huge host of evil spirits to flood this small nation, carried by people who do not understand what is happening. Jewish migrants from Russia often bring spirits of violence and control with them. When Israeli children visit Auschwitz, the emotions produced by the memory of the Holocaust open them up to spirits of violence and hatred that are wandering around there looking for a home. These children often take these spirits home without realising what is happening. Bringing these spirits together allows them to form hierarchies that leverage their power. The house of Israel is now the home of thousands of spirits of fear, hatred, pride, deception, anger and violence. They are currently biding their time, with the deceiving spirits covering for their more violent colleagues.

Rash Action

During the Time of Distress, a host of evil spirits will break out and cause the political leadership of Israel to go ugly. Violent and angry leaders will take rash actions in an attempt to force things to happen.

Sons of the destroyers among your own people will rebel in fulfilment of the vision, but without success (Dan 11:14).
While the nations are distracted by other disturbances in the Middle East, violent people will use force to push their agenda for the Jewish dominance of greater Israel. Their strategy will fail and bring the wrath of the nations down on Israel. This disaster will end with Israel being invaded. An army led by a powerful western nation will overrun the nation of Israel from bases in the Middle East.
The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land and will have the power to destroy it (Dan 11:16).
The expression "power to destroy" is literally "destruction in his hand". The invading army will have weapons of mass destruction, making resistance impossible.
And he shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and with him equitable conditions; and he shall perform them (Dan 11:17).
This powerful western nation will take control of Israel in an attempt to impose a lasting peace in the Middle East. Its President will use military power to force Israel into a more equitable solution to the Palestinian problem. Israel might be forced to accept an independent Palestinian state. Ironically, Israel will get the security it seeks from independence while being trampled by a powerful nation.

The nations that invade Israel will come under the influence of the evil spirits that have gathered there. Their leaders will come under the same spirits of hatred, pride, violence and destruction. They will go on to do great evil throughout the world.

Israel Humbled

In subsequent decades, several external rulers will gain control of Israel. The nation will continue to be trampled by the Gentiles as Jesus had warned (Luke 21:24). Jews who have come to Israel seeking peace will be disappointed.

John warned that the Jewish people would be in exile for a time, times and half a time (Rev 12:14). When Daniel asked an angel how long the manoeuvrings of powerful nations would last, he received the same answer, with a warning.

The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed" (Dan 12:7).
The “holy people” is Israel. The angel declares that the power of Israel will be broken after a “time, times and half a time”, which is the end of the Times of the Gentiles.

The Zionist movement used the manoeuvrings of powerful nations to achieve a return to their land. This has placed the Jewish people at enormous risk. The Israeli government has mitigated this risk by accumulating massive military force, and the Israeli people now trust this for their security. This false trust will have to be broken before the people of Israel are able to believe in Jesus. Military defeat will break Israeli faith in their political leaders and military power, opening the way for faith in Jesus.

When several nations are attacking Israel and there is great trauma in the land, the Holy Spirit will be poured out.

There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. (Dan 12:1).
The trauma that climaxes the Time of Distress leads to the Fullness of the Jews. More at Israel.

The Church

The Time of Distress will be a huge disappointment for many Christians, especially those who trust false teachings.

Most Christians will be unprepared for the Time of Distress. Many will be thrown into confusion and despair. Some will fall from the faith.


During the Time of Distress, the church will suffer for Jesus. The letter to the Hebrews describes what it will be like.

You stood your ground in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property (Heb 10:32-34).
This season will be tough for those who follow Jesus. They will have to turn the other cheek again and again.


Looking for the second coming or rapture during the Time of Distress will lead to disappointment. Instead of trying to escape, Christians should:

During a time of trouble, the safest place is a strong Christian community. Paul insists that we counter evil with good.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21).
In the same letter, he gives instructions about building strong relationships with other Christians.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
Share with God's people who are in need.
Practice hospitality.
Live in harmony with one another (Rom 12:10,13,16).

The best antidote to evil is strong communities where Christians can stand together to protect those coming under attack. Those standing alone will be vulnerable. Faithful prayer during affliction produces joyful hope.

Be joyful in hope,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer (Rom 12:12).

Not the Tribulation

This Time of Distress and trouble will be a time of persecution for Christians. As the world slips into turmoil, political power will be consolidated in a desperate attempt to hold back the chaos.  One mighty nation will gain influence over a large part of the earth by promising to restore peace and prosperity. Christians will see through the promises and stand against them. The Beast will use its power to annihilate any opposition, which will be very painful for many believers. However, because it opposes God, the situation will deteriorate even more.

God will allow this persecution to purify the church and make it ready to receive the Kingdom. Christians who are not fully devoted to the Lord will fall away, but those who stay true will be strengthened by the refining process.

To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations (Rev 2:26).
Christians who suffer for Jesus will inherit his Kingdom.

This Time of Distress should not be called The Tribulation. Many Christians will experience terrible trials, but this will be no different from the experience of Christians down through the ages. Describing this time as something unique is unfair to Christians in other times who have suffered terribly for the Lord.

Being under pressure is normal for Christians. We are taught that we should always expect tribulation.

In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
We must go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).
Christians should always expect tribulation. Whenever they are true to Christ, they will be a threat to the world, and this will always bring opposition. The Time of Distress will be very painful, but Christians will take comfort from knowing that God will cut this terrible season short. They will rejoice in these trials, as they will see the Kingdom of God springing forth on earth.

More detail about the events that occur during this season can be found at What is Going On.