Regardless of whether we refer to these "seven" foretold "strikings/chastisings of the shepherd," as "great tribulations," "birth pangs" of a kind of "barren woman," "fiery" spiritual cleansings and rebirths or "baptisms" of a kind of spiritually 'leprous" and foreign army chieftain, etc; in order to genuinely grasp and appreciate what is being conveyed in the symbolisms of the final tenth plague of ancient Egypt and the events surrounding it or otherwise what is always the FINAL PORTION of a "great tribulation," there are at least a few very key things we would need to factor in and understand beforehand. (Mt 13:39) With that said we would all do very well to appreciate that EVERYTHING being covered in this scriptural discussion is in reality among the most FUNDAMENTAL of scriptural teachings, which aside from Jehovah's support is precisely why it is so easy for me to cite direct scriptural proof for EVERY point I am making here. It is simply that ALL OF US to some degree or other are suffering the devastating effects of the GREAT RIVER of "teachings and commands of MEN as doctrines" that ALWAYS begin to plague the ENTIRE EARTH the moment that a holy kingdom covenant is violated with spiritual "harlotry" on the part of the theocratic shepherds it is always formed with. (Mt 15:9) Once again the tremendous challenge of completely overcoming what is generally an entire LIFETIME of this false indoctrination by the time we reach this "tenth plague" is (once again) a very key PORTION of these "pangs of distress" or "fiery" "tribulations." (Mt 3:11) (Mal 3:2, 3) In view of this difficulty, let's by all means address these things.
In order to fully grasp what would make the "pangs of distress" involved in these "seven" foretold "births" of Jehovah's nation such a "great tribulation," we very much need to understand what this scriptural term—"shepherd" actually ENCOMPASSES in the prophetic time frames that it RECEIVES one of these "seven" foretold "strikings." (1 Th 5:3) (1 Sa 2:5) (Jer 15:9) (Le 26:24) Based on accounts such as Matthew 26:31 we realize of course that the "two witnesses" and to at least some extent the ones who "stick WITH THEM in the trials" they undergo in these ministries to the anointed "virgins" are always at least AMONG what experiences these foretold "strikings of the shepherd." (Lu 22:28, 29) At this point in time however (namely the times of the "tenth plague") at least momentarily that fact would actually now make this "shepherd" Jehovah speaks of here a rather massive FOUR PART entity.
Let's not forget that a renewed and inaugurated kingdom covenant between Jehovah and repentant ones among the anointed ALWAYS immediately results in the emergence of a NEW WORLD POWER, and even if that would prove be the long anticipated Millennial Reign! Moreover this NEW world power ALWAYS begins to IMMEDIATELY render what is now the FULL FORCE of Jehovah's adverse judgments on the one that preceded it and which had "fallen" into spiritual "harlotry" by means of adulterously violating the holy marriage covenant that MADE them this world power. (Da 5:26-28) What reason therefore would ANYONE have for imagining that a "great tribulation" would NOT be involved in all of this, and ESPECIALLY if this new world power would prove to be the Millennial Reign? But what exactly would qualify the "shepherd" that Jehovah always refers to as being "struck" in these prophetic time frames as actually a FOUR part entity at least initially or momentarily, and particularly in view of the fact that even when existing in a "STANDING" spiritual condition, (as opposed to a "fallen" one) this shepherding entity in the SETTING of the "appointed times of the nations" is always identified normally as a THREE part phenomenon. (Da 7:4) (Re 18:2) (Lu 21:24)
Once again we are now speaking specifically of what was being symbolized by the TENTH plague here. This means we are considering specifically the precise moment DURING a "great tribulation" NOT when Jehovah's prophets or "two witnesses" appear on the earth to begin their ministry and "inspection" of the anointed "virgins," (obviously pictured or typified with Moses and Aaron in this case), but rather the moment after they have FOUND genuinely repentant and "discreet" ones among them that they can now renew the broken kingdom covenant with. (Hag 1:12, 13) In other words we are dealing with precisely what Jesus himself foretold for future occasions in accounts like Matthew 25. (Mt 25:1, 2, 10) (Re 11:3) (Lu 19:44) (Jos 2:1) In this case the "marriage feast" that these spiritually "sleeping" "maidens" or "virgins" are desperately endeavoring to attend is being used to represent this renewed marriage covenant. (Mt 25:5) What this MEANS however is that the "shepherd" that has ALREADY at this point LONG been experiencing a "chastising" from Jehovah is now a CONGLOMERATE entity that will now receive not so much a "great tribulation," but more specifically what is always the most pivotal and decisive PART or even RESULT of these "birth pangs." What is more, while what are actually at this point very distinct PORTIONS of this "shepherd" will now actually receive the very SAME "striking," it will nonetheless be for entirely different reasons and with an entirely different OUTCOME.
You see while ALL of the "strikings" will now be comprised of LITERAL death blows as opposed to the mere trials and tribulations that always follow a SPIRITUAL death, the ones being experienced by Jehovah's prophets at this point will be for the purpose of "INAUGURATING" the holy marriage covenant that Jehovah just once again renewed with the "discreet virgins" THROUGH these prophets or "two witnesses." (He 9:16-18) (Lu 22:28, 29) (Hag 1:12, 13) However in THEIR case as opposed to landing them in the figurative "lake of fire" spoken of in Revelation 20:10, 14, 15, this "striking" will transform them into heavenly kings and priests along with their "leader." (Re 5:10) (Da 9:25)
It is absolutely INCREDIBLE just how much deception and confusion is "sown" throughout the earth by means of the spiritual adultery of Jehovah's appointed shepherding fold and the resulting overthrows or "conquerings" of his earthly "sanctuaries." (Hos 8:5) (Re 13:7) (Da 11:30-32) Just when exactly was it that Jehovah's covenant people were EVER presented or REPRESENTED to us as a mere religious persuasion or belief system? Even for many centuries PRIOR to the spiritual adultery of King Jehoiakim that triggered the start of the "appointed times" in which foreign kings would hold God's people in "captivity and exile," Israel was ALWAYS manifested as a NATION! (Jer 1:3) (He 8:5) (Ro 15:4) In fact even much more than that, while this theocratic nation of course HAD an organized form of worship or otherwise A religion, as long as it "KEPT the holy covenant" that QUALIFIED it as Israel (whether fleshy or spiritual) it would manifest itself as even the WORLD POWER of its day! (Ex 19:5, 6) (Ro 15:4) (He 8:5) (Ga 4:24-26)
What was it exactly that the ancient Moses or for that matter the "VIRGIN" or shepherd "BOY David" was pictured as "running away" from upon performing a kind of "flight to the wilderness" or "mountains." (Ex 2:15) (1 Sa 19:18) (Mt 24:15, 16) (Re 12:14) Was it perhaps merely from one of the numerous cults or religious persuasions of ancient Egypt that Moses performed an "exodus" from at the age of 40? But would this mean that when this "faithful town" would "BECOME a prostitute" with spiritual adultery that what was now an "APOSTATE nation" would not REMAIN a world power until the time that it would experience the outright destruction that ALWAYS eventually comes upon this "Great Harlot"? (Isa 1:21 10:6) Are we beginning to see the point here?
Regardless of what particular "birth of the barren woman" we are considering here, the "pangs of distress" involved with another foretold "coming of Jehovah's kingdom" ALWAYS includes not only "great plagues," but ultimately a COMPETE ANNIHILATION of an ENTIRE WORLD POWER that Jehovah now recognizes as a great spiritual "prostitute" and even a kind of "widow" due to the holy marriage covenant that she violated with spiritual adultery as well as the spiritual death or "sleep" that it ALSO results in. (Isa 1:21 54:1-4) (Re 17:1) (Hos 2:1, 2) (La 1:1) (Mt 25:5) Why would this NOT involve a "great tribulation" as well as ultimately even a "conclusion of a system of things" or "judgment that is coming upon the WHOLE INHABITED EARTH"! (Mt 13:39) (Re 3:10) Even in a "FALLEN" spiritual condition, when we are dealing with a WORLD POWER we are considering an entity that has a "kingdom OVER the kings of the earth." (Re 17:18) Among the things that this means however is that there are now SEVERAL facets or "parts" to the "shepherd" that is receiving the "chastising" and ultimately the "striking" spoken of in accounts like Leviticus 26:18, 24. (Mt 26:31) (Re 13:19)
Yes scriptural accounts such as here in Revelation 13:16 should help us to appreciate that even PRIOR to the arrival of the "two witnesses" or "son of man" towards the END of these "great tribulations," the "great city" that Jehovah NOW recognizes as a "Great Harlot" is already a THREE PART" entity that in turn points to THREE distinct shepherds, ALL of whom Jehovah considers as "despoiled," "useless" and "valueless" at this point. (Zec 11:2, 3, 8, 10, 15, 17) In fact Jehovah makes it clear that these three shepherds who often claim to even REPRESENT him in reality actually "LOATHE" him! (Zec 11:8) (Isa 29:13) (Mr 7:6) But why would they NOT pretend to represent him? Contrary to what we have always been led to believe, the word "antichrist" literally means—replacement or substitute spirit anointing, or otherwise exactly what is explicitly spelled out for us in accounts like Daniel 11:31 or 2 Thessalonians 2:4. (Strong's #273 #5547) We are dealing with a COUNTERFEIT Christ here at this point which in turn means counterfeit Christians or what the Apostle John identifies as even "MANY antichrists." (1 Joh 2:18) Even if the vast majority of these so called "Christians" are not even initially AWARE or have not yet "CAUGHT SIGHT" of what a broken kingdom covenant has just reduced them to, the WHOLE IDEA of a counterfeit is to appear as much like the genuine article as possible! (Mt 24:15, 16) The blissful ignorance of these now "useless shepherds" only serves to FURTHER Satan's deceptive agenda at this point! But who or what exactly are these "three shepherds" that will now continue to be "effaced" ALTOGETHER by Jehovah's adverse judgments? (Zec 11:8)
Well the fact that the "serpent" is always allowed to immediately occupy the "holy place" or "sanctuary" the moment the holy covenant is violated should already provide a major clue here. (Re 12:14) (Da 11:30-32) (2 Th 2:1-4) (Mt 24:15, 16) But let's not forget that it is always a "leaving of the holy covenant" on the part of a TRUE prophet of Jehovah that ALLOWS for a demonic occupation of the spiritual "temple." (1 Cor 3:16, 17) So already we can discern that at least TWO of the "three shepherds" that are once again in line for Jehovah's wrath would be the "dragon" along with what would NOW qualify as a "FALSE prophet." (Re 16:13) Once again however we are considering specifically the "SEVEN births" of Jehovah's nation that would unfold in connection with FOREIGN world powers or otherwise "captivity and EXILE" of Jehovah's people. So if what Jehovah had ALL ALONG represented or prophetically pictured as "beasts" would at least BEGIN as even AMONG the "anointed shepherds" that Jehovah would assign over his people upon a renewed covenant, then at least as long as they would remain in a "STANDING" condition with their "disgusting wings PLUCKED OUT" as opposed to even "growing like eagles feathers," they would of course be recognized as DOMESTICATED "beasts" as opposed to the 'WILD" ones "driven AWAY from mankind" spoken of now as the THIRD "part" or "shepherd" of this "three part great city." (Re 13:16, 19) (Da 4:33 7:4, 9:27) (Le 11:13) (Isa 44:28 45:1) (Isa 1:21)
You see Babylon the Great in a "STANDING" condition is comprised of Jehovah, a DOMESTICATED beast, and a TRUE prophet. (Isa 44:28 45:1) (Jer 25:9) In a "FALLEN" condition it now takes on MUCH LONGER name found at Revelation 17:5, and which is sometimes abbreviated to terms like "the great harlot," the son of destruction," man of lawlessness" or the "antichrist." It is now by means of a broken holy marriage covenant comprised of exactly what we find identified at Revelation 16:13. Even if in the case of the two prophets or shepherds that Jehovah actually "APPOINTS" in these prophetic time frames the "striking" they humbly and repentantly subject themselves to would be for the sake of bearing the COMMUNITY responsibility involved in all of this and thus be offering themselves also as a "COMMUNION sacrifice," nevertheless what will now be inflicted upon ALL the "shepherds" involved with adulterously crawling into bed with Jehovah's "woman" will obviously prove to be a "GREAT tribulation." (Mt 24:45) (Le 4:3, 10) This is so even if this divine "striking" can in some sense be summed up basically with the three Hebrew words found in Daniel 5:25-28.
But here is yet ANOTHER example of a seemingly endless STREAM of scriptures that upon ANY serious or prayerful contemplation should QUICKLY reveal that as is ALWAYS the case in these post-apostasy/pre-kingdom time frames, we have basically been taught NOTHING that genuinely comes anywhere NEAR the true teachings of Jehovah's word! With all the scriptural information in mind that I have just covered in these last three posts, let's now see if the account here in 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 that we have long been associating with the concept of the "great tribulation" actually begins to MAKE SENSE to us. Have you like myself the entire time I was associated with the Watchtower organization not found this scripture rather confusing and mysterious when trying to reconcile it with everything we have always been led to believe or understand in connection with the "great tribulation" and "Armageddon"?
Now as for the times and the season's brothers, you need NOTHING to be written you. For you yourselves know quite well that Jehovah's day is coming as a thief in the night. Whenever it is they are saying: "Peace and security," then SUDDEN destruction is to be INSTANTLY upon them as pangs of distress upon a pregnant woman, and they will by no means escape." (1 Th 5:1-3)
I'll insist that if we have been paying close and prayerful attention to all the scriptural information I have already covered in these last three posts, these words of Paul should now already make PERFECT sense to us. Nevertheless, Jehovah willing let's by all means pick up the discussion with this scriptural passage beginning with my next post. In the meantime I would as always warmly welcome comments, questions or observations on it from my dear bothers and sisters.