Jesus said ‘For then shall be Great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be’ Mt24:21.
What is Tribulation; How Long is ‘the Tribulation’; What is ‘the Great Tribulation’? Tribulation is a general term that describes great difficulties, afflictions, suffering, hardships, and distresses. In this world, tribulations are quite common in many places at any given time, caused by greed, persecutions, war, droughts, famine, pestilence, and natural disasters. There has never been a period in history without tribulation of some kind in the world. During the great World Wars I and II, tribulation was widespread, ubiquitous, consuming, and affected major parts, if not the entire world. Countries in all major continents have experienced great tribulation during times of wars. Thus, even the phrase ‘great tribulation’ is a very relative term often used only by those in the midst of their suffering. While there may be great tribulation in Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Egypt, Greece, or Spain, for the other parts of the world, things may not be so bad, or might even be good. So the use of the word(s) tribulation or great tribulation is a relative word, and should always be viewed in the context of what really happened! Jesus also said ‘..in the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ Jn16:33. As long as we are in this world, we will suffer some kind of tribulation!
Superstorm Sandy– a ‘Great Tribulation’? The recent Superstorm Sandy that struck the great northeast corridor of America’s population was a great tribulation, but certainly not ‘the Tribulation’, or ‘the Great Tribulation’. How would those whose homes were damaged by waves or washed out to sea, burned down by natural gas fire, or blown apart by strong winds describe what happened to them in terms of the word ‘tribulation’? Many suffered long periods without food and water, in the cold without electricity and heat, were trapped in high-rise buildings without elevator service; unable to leave or get to their homes, work or schools due to high-water, damaged roadways, shut-down public transportation, lack of gasoline, or damaged cars! How long will it take for things to return to normal, if ever? Who will help those with little or no money? How will the individuals, businesses, the counties or states recover their financial losses? The people living there have experienced and suffered tribulation or even great tribulation as never before. This example is given so that we can better understand the term ‘the Tribulation’ or ‘the Great Tribulation’, as Jesus spoke of. In Mt24:21, Jesus foretold that things in the end will get even worse worldwide.
Will ‘the Tribulation’ Prophesied By Jesus Really Be 7 Years Long? Here we will examine a specific period called ‘the Tribulation’ that many Bible students are seeking to understand in order to gauge when the Rapture will take place. While the Bible mentions the word ‘tribulation(s)’ 26 times (4 in the Old Testament, and 22 in the New Testament), the term ‘the Tribulation’ is only mentioned once (Mt24:29), and ‘that Tribulation’, only once also (Mk13:24)- both referring to the same specific period Jesus spoke of, but recorded by two Gospel writers, Matthew and Mark. The term ‘the Tribulation’ is not found anywhere in the book of Daniel, but most Bible scholars have inferred that ‘the Tribulation’ will be 7 years long from reading Da9:27, which states ‘..he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate’ (a week being 7 years). But in this verse, the first part of this 7-year covenant appears to be a rather peaceful time than a time of tribulation. Also does this verse really say that there will be a world-wide desolation, or just to the Jews? Da9:24 states ‘Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city..’ clearly referring to the Jews and the city of Jerusalem. The peace accord will be for 7 years, but will ‘the Tribulation’ be during this entire period or just in the latter 3½ years?
In Da9:27, it is commonly accepted that the ‘he’ mentioned 3 times is the AntiChrist who will confirm a ‘peace covenant’ with the Jews for one week, (being interpreted as ‘7 years’), and in the middle of this period 3½ years will break the ‘covenant’ and destroy the Jewish people! But nowhere is the term ‘the Tribulation’ mentioned in the book of Daniel, or that the beginning of the peace treaty will begin ‘the Tribulation’! However to be fair, Da12:7 does mention‘a time, times, and an half’, basically, 3½ years; ‘a time of trouble’ v1 for the Jewish people living in ‘the time of the end’ v9! Ezekiel chapters 38/39 also speak of a great war coming to the Middle East, with armies from the North countries attacking Israel Ez38:15. It states that God will supernaturally intervene on behalf of Israel to defeat the enemy and it would then take 7 years to burn the weapons of war Ez39:9,10. But again, this does not mean that ‘the Tribulation’ would be 7 years long.
The Great Tribulation– the Worst Time Ever to Be Living The term Great Tribulation is mentioned only three times in the Bible, and only in the New Testament. Jesus said ‘For then shall be Great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be’ Mt24:21. In Re7:14, it states ‘.. These are they which came out of Great Tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’. The 3rd reference, Re2:22 ‘Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds’, appears to refer to something else. In context, both Mt24:21 and Re7:14 refer to the same Great Tribulation that will be absolutely horrible. Here the Tribulation Saints, will be martyred and beheaded for their faith in Jesus Christ Re20:4. In Re7:9, it describes these saints as a great multitude that came out of the Great Tribulation from all ‘.. nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues’ from all over the world, not just the 144,000 Jews earlier mentioned from the 12 tribes of Israel.
The Great Tribulation – When Will It Begin and How Long Will It Last? When will this Great Tribulation begin and how many years will it last? The Bible does not state when it will happen, but it appears that it will be at ‘the end of the world’ Mt24:3. Jesus said ‘And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened’ Mt24:22; the elect, meaning the Jews. But the Bible does make reference to a time period of ‘a thousand two hundred and threescore days’ Re11:3,12:6, ‘forty and two months’ Re11:2, 13:5, and ‘a time, times, and an half’ Re12:14, basically 3½ years! The Greek calendar treats a year as 360 days, so 1260 days would equal 3½ years. While the Bible does not specifically state that the Great Tribulation will be 3½ years, the use of the above terms suggests that it will be 3½ years long, concluding with the war of Armageddon Re16:16, the return of Jesus Christ to defeat the Beast and the False Prophet Re19:20, and to establish His kingdom on earth!
In Revelation chapter 6, the Great Tribulation begins with the opening of the 7 seals. In Re6:9-11, they state ‘And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled’. Those slain for the Word of God and given white robes are very similar to those mentioned in Re7:14 ‘these are they which came out of Great Tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’. However before then, faithful believers in Christ will already be ‘taken out’ in a pre-tribulation Rapture. Re4:1 states a voice said ‘Come up hither’, which signifies the Rapture! In Re11:12, the phrase ‘Come up hither’ is also used, when two witnesses of God who had prophesied for 1260 days are killed, but after 3½ days, brought back to life and ‘ascended up to heaven in a cloud’.
End of Part I. To Be Continued Soon….