The world has always known times of tribulation. However, scripture points strongly towards a period of intense tribulation happening just before Christ Jesus returns.
Matthew 24:21 ‘For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equalled again.’
Daniel 12:1a ‘There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of the nations until then.’
Many believe that this period of tribulation will last seven years. This is deduced from an understanding of Daniel 9:25-27 which we will discuss in another essay.
Some of the elements of this period of time will be: persecution, martyrdom, betrayal, apostasy and judgement. The tribulation will be followed by the cosmic disturbances and the return of Christ Jesus.
Matthew 24:29 ‘Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light…they will see the Son Man coming on the clouds of the sky.’
Isaiah 13:6 graphically captures the horror of this time.
Isaiah 13:6 ‘Wail, for the day of the Lord is near, it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all hands will go limp, every man’s hart will melt. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them, they will writhe like a woman in labour. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame.’
Some have described it as being like the recent Syrian War, but far more intense and spread throughout the world.
However, one must hasten to add that in this time of extremes, there will also be the greatest revival the world has ever known. The light shall indeed shine brightly in the darkness.
Matthew 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.’
Isaiah 24:16 ‘From the ends of the earth we hear singing. Glory to the Righteous One.’
I discuss this further in the essay on end-time revival.
One promise that we can hold onto is that God will shorten this period of tribulation so that we might survive.
Matthew 24:22 ‘If those days had not been cut short, no-one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.’
We will also be comforted by knowing that Christ Jesus will shortly be returning.
Luke 21:28 ‘When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’
And Jesus will be with us every step of the way.
John 16:33 ‘I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome this world.’
The thrust of scripture is that we should be prepared in our hearts for this time that we might endure persecution, spiritually thrive in the difficulties and help others who might be struggling.
Matthew 24:25 ‘See, I have told you ahead of time.’
Daniel 11:33 ‘Those who are wise will instruct many…’
I once flew from Athens to Tel Aviv and we went through a storm. The passengers were panicking out of fear. Fortunately, the air-hostesses were confident and prepared and well-trained and helped everyone through their anxieties.
Some feel that they will prepare when the time comes. However, the enemy might use shock-and-awe tactics. The end-time persecution may come suddenly, leaving many unprepared and floundering.
Some disagree with the idea of an end-time tribulation. Preterists would argue that the tribulation described in Matthew 24, the Olivet Discourse, was fulfilled in AD70 with the fall of Jerusalem to the Roman armies. Idealists would argue that the tribulation simply describes all the difficulties and challenges that the world has known throughout history. Post-millennialists would generally ignore or dismiss the notion of any kind of end-time tribulation, believing that the world is getting better and not worse.
I firmly believe that we might be able to ignore the coming reality of an end-time tribulation but this coming tribulation, the perfect storm, will not ignore us!