Growing up in Southern California, I experienced a number of earthquakes including several severe ones. In a few short moments amazing destruction can take place and that without any warning at all. People don’t know that an earthquake is coming and are simply going about their daily routines giving no thought to a disaster that would come upon them just minutes later. It is the sudden unexpected arrival of an earthquake that adds to the terror of the event.
Today people are going about their daily routines (as they should) but very few are giving serious thought to the great disaster that is coming upon this planet; the period commonly known as “the tribulation.” And just like you cannot stop an earthquake from hitting, so no man can stop the Tribulation from taking place. It will be an unprecedented time of trouble for earth’s inhabitants. Jesus, following several O.T. prophets, taught the unprecedented trouble of this time.
“…for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor every shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.” Matthew 24:21-22
The Apostle Paul spoke of the sudden, devastating arrival of this period of time when he stated the following.
“While they (the unsaved world) are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pains upon a woman with child; and they will not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3
The Scriptures have a large volume of material about this period of time and in this article, and several that will follow, our purpose will be to blend many of these passages together and attempt to present the order of events of the Tribulation period. But before we do that, it is probably helpful to be reminded of several key facts.
Five Key Facts About the Tribulation Period
- THE LENGTH OF THE TRIBULATION. From Daniel 9:24-27, we learn that this period of time will last for 7 years. However, the period if divided neatly into two part of 3½ years each. But the two halves, while equal in length, are not equal in the intensity of activity and judgments. In fact, Jesus referred to the second half as “the tribulation, the great one. In this study, however, we will be looking at the three distinct parts of this period: the first half, half time and the second half.
- THE CHURCH AND THE TRIBULATION. The true church (the body of Christ) will be removed out of the Tribulation period before it begins. It is not within the scope of this study to detail the reasons why the church is removed, but basically the church will not experience the “wrath of God”, and the entire 7 years is the wrath of God. And furthermore, this period is said to be dealing with the Covenant people of Israel.
- THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF THE TRIBULATION. The main reason for having a tribulation time is to bring God’s salvation to His people Israel. God made the New Covenant with Israel and they, as a nation, have never been brought into it, thus fulfilling God’s stated purpose of their salvation. After almost 2000 years, Israel nationally is no closer to their redemption. But the Tribulation will change all that and God’s stated purposes will be fulfilled (cf. Daniel 9:24; Jeremiah 31:31-34). It is this period of trouble that will cause Israel’s spiritual blindness to be removed and “all” Israel shall be saved (cf. Romans 11:25-30).
- THE SECONDARY PURPOSE OF THE TRIBULATION. Most often, when the Tribulation is discussed, it is the terrible judgments and destruction that are emphasized. God will indeed deal with wicked men and nations who have turned their backs on His grace. It will be, as Jesus declared, the worst of times on this earth, unlike anything that has ever taken place. It is so terrible that it is likely that upwards of 80% will die of those who entered this period of time. But we must remember that God does not need seven years to bring judgment on men (He does, however, need time to save men). He could execute His fierce wrath in a matter of seconds (as He did with Sodom, Gomorrah and the cities of the plain). But judgment is secondary to His work of saving millions of people during this time. But great will be the judgments upon the wicked.
- SUPERNATURAL ACTIVITY IN THE TRIBULATION. This will be a time in which occurs the greatest display of supernatural activity since the creation itself. The great miracles and sign events come from God and they also come from Satan and his forces. (cf. Matt. 24:24; 2 Thes. 2:8-10; Rev. 13:13; etc.). The scriptures are quite clear that this is not “business as usual” on the planet. The outpouring of the supernatural will be breathtaking as God and Satan fight for the souls of men. It is unlikely that anyone will claim to be an atheist or an agnostic during the Tribulation period. The great issue will not be “is there a god?” but rather will you believe and follow Him, or will you align yourself with the Antichrist and Satan. These are going to be very different days on planet earth.
In the upcoming articles, we will be approaching the Tribulation by looking at the people and events found in the first half of the time; and then our focus will turn to the game changing events at the mid-point of the Tribulation; and finally to view the last half, the “great Tribulation.”
It is good to be informed and make preparations for coming events. And as with earthquakes where we just don’t know exactly when they will occur, so it is with the Tribulation. And, yes, spiritual preparations need to be made and truth shared with those who right now face the prospect of entering this amazingly horrible period. One of the emphases that Jesus made in concluding His prophetic discourse (Matt. 24 and 25) was on making personal preparations in light of these coming events. We would be wise to follow His advice.