Saturday, July 17, 2021

A Study of Prophecy - The Great Tribulation Introduction

Names for the Great Tribulation

The most common name for the Tribulation period is "The Day of the Lord", occurring 28 times in the NIV. In addition, there are a number of other names for this time period mentioned in scripture.

The Time of Jacob's Trouble - Jer 30:7

The Seventieth Week - Dan 9:27

Jehovah's Strange Act and Jehovah's Strange Work - Isa 28:21

See Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps of the Messiah, 2018, Page 174 for a comprehensive list.

Purpose for the Great Tribulation

Make an End of Wickedness and the Wicked Ones

Daniel tells us that one of the primary reasons for the Tribulation is to "finish the transgression", "put an end to sin" and "bring in everlasting righteousness". To "finish the transgression" means that God will put an end to the rebellion against Him, and to "put an end to sin" means that God will end man's failure to obey Him. This will result in "everlasting righteousness". It is not God's intent that sin and unrighteousness go on forever, but He has a definite plan to deal with and put an end to it within a defined period of time.

Dan 9:24 "Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

Isaiah had also spoken of this period of time, and the intent of God to do away with sin. In vs. 9 he states God's intent to "destroy the sinners" during that "cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger".

Isa 13:9 See, the day of the LORD is coming --a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger-- to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.

In vs. 19:20 Isaiah writes that during this period of time, the Tribulation, it is God's intent to do away with rebellion so that it falls, never to rise again.

Isa 24:19-20 The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is violently shaken. (20) The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls--never to rise again.

Bring About a World Wide Revival

The intent of God through the Tribulation is not just to put and end to sin and wickedness, but to bring upon the world a great revival with the people of the world turning to Him. In Rev 7 we see the means and the results that bring about this great revival.

The means God uses to bring about this revival are the 144,000 Jewish evangelists. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum points out that there is a certain logic to using Jews to evangelize the world. They are already spread throughout the world, and so know the customs and language of the nations they are living in. This reduces the educational needs to bring a missionary up to speed. The only thing that Jewish evangelist at that time will need is regarding the New Testament and the gospel.

Rev 7:1-4 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. (2) Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: (3) "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." (4) Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

This sending of the 144,000 throughout the world to evangelize the people will result in the fulfillment of this passage:

Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The results of this evangelistic effort on the part of the 144,000 is a multitude of Tribulation saints, Jews and Gentiles, that could not be counted. This is the great revival.

Rev 7:9-17 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (10) And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (11) All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, (12) saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!" (13) Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?" (14) I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (15) Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. (16) 'Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,' nor any scorching heat. (17) For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; 'he will lead them to springs of living water.' 'And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'"

The 144,000 have pleased God, and earn special rewards.

Rev 14:1-5 Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. (2) And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. (3) And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (4) These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (5) No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.

It should be noted that this revival takes place in the Tribulation period. It does not take place before the Rapture, or before the arrival of the AntiChrist. As the church, this is not something that we will live through, since we are Raptured before all this occurs.

To Break the Power of the Holy People

The "Holy People" specifically is the unbelieving Nation of Israel. National Israel as a whole are either Orthodox or secular, both of which deny their Messiah. They are firmly set against Jesus as Messiah, it is a stronghold. One of the purposes for the Tribulation is to pressure Israel as a nation to the point where their resistance is broken down, and they are able to see Jesus for who He is, their Messiah.

Dan 12:5-7 Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. (6) One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?" (7) 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."

The method that God will use to break the stronghold on Israel is through reign with His mighty hand and outstretched arm and the outpoured wrath of the Tribulation.

Eze 20:33-38 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will reign over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. (34) I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered--with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. (35) I will bring you into the wilderness of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. (36) As I judged your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign LORD. (37) I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. (38) I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

In order for the Tribulation to come to an end, and Jesus to return and establish the Millennial Kingdom, Israel must cry out for their Messiah, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord".

Mat 23:37-39 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (38) Look, your house is left to you desolate. (39) For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

When Israel's powerful rebellion is broken down, they will mourn:

Zec 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

General Description of the Great Tribulation

The Little Apocalypse of Isaiah

To introduce the subject of the Tribulation, there are numerous passages that speak about it's nature. Keeping in mind the purposes for the Tribulation, to put an end to sin and rebellion, break the power of Israel's rejection of Messiah, and to bring about a world wide revival, let's look at what it will take to accomplish this.

It seems important to remember that the severity of the Tribulation period serves to illustrate the depth of rebellion on the part of Israel and the world. It seems that the Tribulation is only as severe as it is because Israel and the people refuse to budge until enough has happened to break them down.

Isaiah's description in Isaiah 24 resembles parts of the Revelation.

Isa 24:1-13 See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants-- (2) it will be the same for priest as for people, for the master as for his servant, for the mistress as for her servant, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. (3) The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The LORD has spoken this word. (4) The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. (5) The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. (6) Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left. (7) The new wine dries up and the vine withers; all the merrymakers groan. (8) The joyful timbrels are stilled, the noise of the revelers has stopped, the joyful harp is silent. (9) No longer do they drink wine with a song; the beer is bitter to its drinkers. (10) The ruined city lies desolate; the entrance to every house is barred. (11) In the streets they cry out for wine; all joy turns to gloom, all joyful sounds are banished from the earth. (12) The city is left in ruins, its gate is battered to pieces. (13) So will it be on the earth and among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, or as when gleanings are left after the grape harvest.

The judgments described above cause the earth to stagger.

Isa 24:19-20 The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is violently shaken. (20) The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls--never to rise again.

While the judgments are ongoing, the righteous in the Tribulation await the sinless and righteous results sought by the Tribulation period.

Isa 26:8-10 Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. (9) My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. (10) But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the LORD.

Those righteous individuals in the Tribulation are protected by God as the judgments are poured out.

Isa 26:20-21 Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. (21) See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed on it; the earth will conceal its slain no longer.

The Day of the Lord Passages

The term "Day of the Lord" is the most common term for the Tribulation. It represents the 7 years between the confirmation of the covenant of peace and the second coming of Messiah. Some may include the Millennium in "the day of the Lord", but this is not likely because all of the passage that speak of the day of the Lord speak of it negatively with great destruction. See Isa 13:6-9, Jer 30:4-8, Eze 7:19, Eze 30:3, Joel 1:15, Joel 2:1-2, Joel 2:11, Joel 3:14-16, Amos 5:18-20, Zep 1:14-15, Zep 2:1-3, Zec 14:1-2, Mal 4:5, 1Th 5:1-3, 2Th 2:1-2 and 2Pe 3:10.

The following passages are not an all inclusive list of passages speaking of the Day of the Lord, but these deal with the effect of the Tribulation on the whole world. Passages dealing with Israel will be dealt with later in this study.

In this passage, Isaiah depicts the terror of the day of the Lord when "He rises to shake the earth". It is a time when people are fleeing to caves and holes in the ground.

Isa 2:12-22 The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), (13) for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, (14) for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, (15) for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, (16) for every trading ship and every stately vessel. (17) The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day, (18) and the idols will totally disappear. (19) People will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from the fearful presence of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. (20) In that day people will throw away to the moles and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship. (21) They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from the fearful presence of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. (22) Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?

In this passage Isaiah shows the the purpose of the Lord to "destroy sinners" and "punish the world". He will "put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and humble the pride of the ruthless". The words "I will make people scarcer that pure gold" are sobering. The "earth will shake from it's place".

Many of these details match with what is shown in the Revelation. If only people would turn to the Lord instead of remaining in rebellion.

Isa 13:6-16 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. (7) Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. (8) Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. (9) See, the day of the LORD is coming --a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger-- to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. (10) The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. (11) I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. (12) I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. (13) Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the LORD Almighty, in the day of his burning anger. (14) Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep without a shepherd, they will all return to their own people, they will flee to their native land. (15) Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. (16) Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated.

Rev 9:20-21 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood--idols that cannot see or hear or walk. (21) Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Rev 16:17-21 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, "It is done!" (18) Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. (19) The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. (20) Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. (21) From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

Ezekiel reveals the effects of the day of the Lord on the Middle East nations, especially Egypt. It is a "time of doom for the nations".

Eze 30:1-9 The word of the LORD came to me: (2) "Son of man, prophesy and say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "'Wail and say, "Alas for that day!" (3) For the day is near, the day of the LORD is near-- a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations. (4) A sword will come against Egypt, and anguish will come upon Cush. When the slain fall in Egypt, her wealth will be carried away and her foundations torn down. (5) Cush and Libya, Lydia and all Arabia, Kub and the people of the covenant land will fall by the sword along with Egypt. (6) "'This is what the LORD says: "'The allies of Egypt will fall and her proud strength will fail. From Migdol to Aswan they will fall by the sword within her, declares the Sovereign LORD. (7) "'They will be desolate among desolate lands, and their cities will lie among ruined cities. (8) Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I set fire to Egypt and all her helpers are crushed. (9) "'On that day messengers will go out from me in ships to frighten Cush out of her complacency. Anguish will take hold of them on the day of Egypt's doom, for it is sure to come.

Joel shows how the day of the Lord will effect crops and food. It will be a time of famine.

Joel 1:15-20 Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. (16) Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes-- joy and gladness from the house of our God? (17) The seeds are shriveled beneath the clods. The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up. (18) How the cattle moan! The herds mill about because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep are suffering. (19) To you, LORD, I call, for fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. (20) Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness.

Obadiah shows the effect on the land of Edom, which is present day Southern Jordan. "The day of the Lord is near for all nations"! "There will be no survivors from Esau".

Oba 1:10-20 Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever. (11) On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them. (12) You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble. (13) You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor gloat over them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster. (14) You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble. (15) "The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head. (16) Just as you drank on my holy hill, so all the nations will drink continually; they will drink and drink and be as if they had never been. (17) But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and Jacob will possess his inheritance. (18) Jacob will be a fire and Joseph a flame; Esau will be stubble, and they will set him on fire and destroy him. There will be no survivors from Esau." The LORD has spoken. (19) People from the Negev will occupy the mountains of Esau, and people from the foothills will possess the land of the Philistines. They will occupy the fields of Ephraim and Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead. (20) This company of Israelite exiles who are in Canaan will possess the land as far as Zarephath; the exiles from Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the towns of the Negev.

Zephaniah also speaks of a day of darkness and distress. He also mentions one of the purposes of the Tribulation, that of dealing with sin. This dark day is upon them "because they have sinned".

Zep 1:14-18 The great day of the LORD is near-- near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the LORD is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry. (15) That day will be a day of wrath-- a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness-- (16) a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. (17) "I will bring such distress on all people that they will grope about like those who are blind, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like dung. (18) Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD's wrath." In the fire of his jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth.

Peter describes the time as a "time of destruction by fire". The cause of this fire is described in the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments.

2Pe 3:10-12 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. (11) Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives (12) as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

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