The Great Tribulation

 

The assumption of a great tribulation period with a seven-year duration, common to the pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, post-tribulation, and pre-wrath positions, derives from equating the tribulation with the seventieth week of Daniel. When Daniel prayed in Daniel 9, the archangel Gabriel informed him that seventy weeks are determined upon your people and upon your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most HolyDan 9:24 What is translated seventy weeks is actually seventy sevens, referring to 490 (70 x 7) years. The time between the commandment to restore Jerusalem and the coming of the Messiah, which was 483 years (J Dwight Pentecost, Bible Knowledge Commentary), was given as seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, or a total of 69 weeks or 483 years: Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.Dan 9:25 It is one of the scriptures contributing to the expectations of the coming of the Messiah at the time of His first coming.John 1:19-21 Since what was prophesied by Daniel for Israel to culminate in the seventy weeks, to bring in everlasting righteousness,Dan 9:24 is realized when He returns and since the Messiah was to be cut off after sixty-nine weeks instead of in the seventieth week: And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off,Dan 9:26 a gap has been interpreted between the first sixty-nine weeks and the final seventieth week, which occurs at the time of the end. Scripture confirms the interpretation, for sin is removed from Danielís people after all the gentiles have entered the kingdom: blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant to them, when I shall take away their sinsRom 11:25-27 However, there is nothing in scripture equating Danielís seventieth week with a seven-year tribulation. It is an assumption that the great tribulation is a period at the end and that it is the seventieth week of Daniel, but, when the assumption is made, scriptures related to the seventieth week, are used to reinforce the assumption.

 

There are a number of arguments made to conclude that the church is removed before the assumed great tribulation. It is argued, for example, that the church is removed before the great tribulation because we arenít appointed to wrath: For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Thess 5:9 What is obvious to those of us, who do not hold the pre-tribulation view, is that what scripture says is that we are not appointed to wrath. It does not say that we are not appointed to tribulation; in fact, elsewhere scripture does tell us that we are appointed to tribulation: In the world you shall have tribulation.John 16:33 It is argued that, since the church isnít mentioned after the third chapter in Revelation, the church has been removed from the earth. The reason the word church isnít used after the third chapter is that it is only used in Revelation while dictating what John is to write to the seven churches and that is completed in the third chapter. Further, the church is addressed after the third chapter when it is warned: If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.Rev 14:9-10 The church, alone, is exempted from His wrath and this is a warning to those who otherwise would not face His wrath, not idle words on part of the Author. Matt 12:36

 

The time of the rapture in the pre-tribulation position is generally put at the point of Johnís ascending into heaven to see things which must be hereafter.Rev 4:1 The come up here, is assumed to be the command at which the church rises for the rapture of the church, and His wrath is assumed to occur as those hiding in the rocks exclaim to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Rev 6:15-17So, it is asserted, the rapture must occur before this point. The problem with this interpretation is that the imperative to come up here [anaba hode] addresses one person, John, for it is singular. Furthermore, the coming of His wrath is announced later: And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.Rev 11:18 In the first instance the Author is revealing what the men hiding under the rocks are saying, and in second instance He is revealing the coming of His wrath. He returns with His wrath,Rev 19:11-15 and we are told that His wrath is contained in the vial judgments: And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. Rev 15:1

 

The Lord returns with His wrath And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. Rev. 19:11-15 And the church departs at His coming as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 1 Cor. 15:22-23And the victims of the antichrist are among the rapturedAnd I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands.Rev 20:4

There is also a scriptural conflict when it is assumed that the great tribulation is a period before which the Lord gathers His elect, for scripture tells us it would be preceded by greater tribulation: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall beMatt 24:21 Ö Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.Matt 24:29-31 The conflict is resolved by dropping the assumption of the seven year tribulation and realizing the word great is being used in two different senses of the word. When Jesus refers to great tribulation [qliyiV megalh], such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be,Matt 24:21 He is speaking of a tribulation of the greatest intensity before the gathering of His elect. However, the great tribulation [thV qliyewV thV megahV] out of which the multitude in heaven have comeRev 7:14 is great in another sense. It is great in duration, not in severity. It is the tribulation we have in the world, as noted above: In the world you shall have tribulation, John 16:33 and it includes the intense tribulation, which immediately precedes His coming for the church. It began at the fall of Adam and ends when its cause is cast into the lake of fire: And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire.Rev 20:10