A clear distinction between the time period before the Great Tribulation and that which occurs during the three and a half years when God’s wrath is poured out on the earth is that the gospel of Jesus Christ will not be preached after the church is raptured. Instead, there will be two witnesses that will be given power to prophesy “a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth” (Revelation 11:3). “Some feel they may symbolize testifying believers (the church), in the final period before Christ returns. However, they are probably two actual individuals who will be martyred for the proclamation of the truth” (note on Revelation 11:3). The hostile environment in which these two witnesses have to proclaim the truth could be described as the worst days on planet Earth. John indicated, “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves” (Revelation 11:7-9).
The ruthless treatment of God’s prophets may be attributed to the fact that no one that is alive during the Great Tribulation will want to get saved or what Jesus described as being born again (John 3:3). The specific purpose of this time period is to punish an unbelieving world for its hostility toward God (note on Revelation 6:10). It could be that the little book that John is commanded to eat in Revelation 10:9 is a copy of one or more of the gospels that is recorded in the New Testament of the Bible. Jesus told his disciples “You were given the secrets about the holy nation of heaven. The secrets were not given to the others” (Matthew 13:11, NLV). The Greek word translated secrets, musterion (moos-tay’-ree-on) means a secret or “mystery.” In the New Testament musterion denotes, “not the mysterious (as with the English word), but that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God, and to those only who are illumined by His Spirit” (G3466). It says in Revelation 10:7, “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” John’s declaration that the mystery of God should be finished means that it will come to an end that is it will be completed (G5055). In other words, there will be no more divine revelation, God’s Holy Spirit will be absent from the Earth during the Great Tribulation.
Even though divine revelation will be absent during the Great Tribulation, it appears that the mystery of God will be preserved and will be reactivated during the millennial reign of Christ. After he ate the little book, John was told, “You must tell what will happen again in front of many people and nations and families and kings” (Revelation 10:11, NLV). According to the note on Revelation 10:11, this statement is in reference to what takes place in Revelation 11:15. It states, “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” Whether or not the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord before or after the Great Tribulation is unclear. It could be that Jesus’ claim to the Earth is what triggers the destruction of unbelievers or that the purging of godless individuals is what makes it possible for Jesus to reign on Earth. Either way, there is clear evidence that shows Satan’s rule over the Earth is not what drives its destruction. It is God’s wrath being poured out on mankind that brings an end to the evil forces that have interfered with his plan of salvation for more than 2,000 years.