Study 7 THE GREAT TRIBULATION
In the Bible we read of a period of unexampled warfare, distress and suffering which is to break upon this troubled world. It is called “The Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21-22, 29-30; Mark 13:24; Revelation 7:14); “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1); “the Day of the Lord” (Isaiah 13:9; Joel 2:1; Amos 5:18,20; Zephaniah 1:14-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; Revelation 6:12-17); and “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2). It will be the darkest period of the world’s history, in comparison with which the cruelties of the Assyrians, the fearful sieges of Jerusalem, the tortures of the Inquisition, the campaigns of Napoleon, the bloodshed of 1914-1918, and the atrocities perpetrated under the Nazi regime will fade into insignificance. It will be the darkest night before the dawning of the day of millennial glory, for when the Great Tribulation has run its course the Lord will return to set up His glorious kingdom, and this will begin earth’s Golden Age!
As so very many scriptures refer to the period of time known as “The Great Tribulation”, it is unwise to be dogmatic concerning every detail of so intricate a subject; but concerning the fact of the Tribulation there is no room for doubt at all.
1. The Great Tribulation will be ushered in by the appearance of a very powerful and sinister figure whom the scriptures call the Antichrist.
He will seem to be the greatest warrior, statesman and religious leader the world has ever seen (Ezekiel 28:3-7). He is referred to in the following scriptures:- Daniel 7:2-27; 9:25-27; 11:36-12:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 7; Revelation 13:11-18 and 19:20. This dread personality may be alive on the earth now. He is also called “The man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) “the man doomed to destruction” (2 Thessalonians 2:3); “the wicked (or lawless) one” (2 Thessalonians 2:8); and the prophet Daniel speaks of him as a “contemptible person” (Daniel 11:21). He will be energised by Satan and will be the Devil’s counterfeit Christ. Notice the seven striking contrasts:-
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
(1) Humbled Himself (Philippians 2:8)
(2) Came to serve and save (Matthew 18:11)
(3) Came to do His Father’s will (John 4:34)
(4) Is a Lamb and a Lion (Revelation 5:5-6)
(5) Has a Bride (Revelation 21:9)
(6) Was (and is) God (John 1:1)
(7) Exalts God (John 14:28)
(1) Exalts himself (2 Thessalonians 2:4)
(2) Comes to domineer and destroy (Daniel 11:39)
(3) Comes to do his own will (Daniel 11:36)
(4) Like a lamb and a dragon (Revelation 13:11)
(5) Has a bride (Revelation 17)
(6) Claims falsely to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4)
(7) Blasphemes God (Revelation 13:6)
The co-worker of the Antichrist will be the False Prophet (Revelation 13:11-18; 19:20), and he will control the military system (Revelation 13:4); commerce (Revelation 13:17); worship (Revelation 13:15); and he will claim to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
2. At the beginning of the Great Tribulation period the Antichrist will make a covenant with the Jews, which he will break by setting up the abomination of Desolation in the temple and by demanding universal worship.
Look up Daniel 9:27, and compare our Lord’s words in Matthew 24:15 and Daniel 12:11. Now see 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 12:12 and 13:4! At first, the true character of Antichrist will not be generally recognised, but after he breaks the covenant which he has made with the Jews, then he will be recognised as the evil and sinister being that he is. Then there will be worldwide war (Matthew 24:6; Revelation 6:4; 16:12-16); famines, pestilence and death (Matthew 24:7,21-22; Revelation 6:5-8); earthquakes and other terrible judgments (Mark 13:24-25; Luke 21:11,25,26: Revelation 6:12-17; 16:1-11).
3. During the Great Tribulation the Jews will proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom; many will be saved, but they will be severely persecuted for their faith in God and will suffer martyrdom.
Yes, what a comfort it is to know that after the church age has ended and all the redeemed have been “caught up” to be with the Lord in Heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), an innumerable company will be saved. They must go through the Tribulation, and they can never belong to the Bride and Body of Christ, the Church, but they will be “before His throne and serve Him day and night in His temple” (Revelation 7:15). During the Tribulation the gospel of the kingdom will be preached by the Jews who will be the true witnesses of Jehovah (Isaiah 43:10,12), and those who are saved, because of their faith in God and their refusal to bow to Antichrist and worship the Beast, will be persecuted and suffer martyrdom (Revelation 6:9-11; 13:15-18).
4. The Great Tribulation will culminate in the Battle of Armageddon, which will be fought in the vicinity of Jerusalem and which will end in Christ Himself being Victor.
It will be a solemn and terrible time, the most stupendous conflict in the history of the world - look up Zechariah 14:1-8. Christ Himself will return in power and great glory and will put down His enemies and set up His millennial kingdom (Zechariah 14:9,16; Revelation 19:16).
5. I do not believe that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation. In our next study we shall see why this is so.
How important it is, therefore, that if we would escape these days which are to come to pass upon the earth we should - (Isaiah 55:7) - and having done that, that we warn the lost to flee from the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7)!