THE GREAT TRIBULATION
by Norman Manzon
This study is an attempt to convey the nature of the Great Tribulation, place it in its prophetic setting and present an outline of its key events; but even more so to explain the why of it. Why will the Lord bring such a terrible judgment? What purposes will He accomplish by means of it? May the reader be built up in his understanding and appreciation of this aspect of it especially.
It is impossible in this brief study to prove the context of every passage presented or to connect all the dots in regard to the sequence of events. It is suggested that the reader remember these limitations when formulating his or her own doctrine - not rejecting what is presented, but holding it in abeyance until he or she gathers more information. For this purpose, I cannot recommend better sources than The Seventy Weeks of Daniel by Dr. David Cooper and The Footsteps of the Messiah by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, both of which are noted in the Recommended Reading section at the end of the study.
Immediately preceding this study in our series on future things is a study entitled, The Rapture. It is suggested that it be studied or reviewed before preceding further as much foundational material for this study will be found there.
We’ll begin with our entire AMC Statement on Last Things. Some details were covered our recent studies, The Destinies of the Dead, and The Rapture, some will be covered in this present study, and the rest will be covered in the next study, The Second Coming and the Kingdom.
Tribulation simply means "pressure (literally or figuratively): - afflicted, (-tion), anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble" (Strong), and can refer to anything from the daily trials of life to very severe trials including persecutions for the faith (1 Thessalonians 1:6; Revelation 1:9; 2:9-10); but what we refer to as the Great Tribulation is derived from Matthew 24:21: For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will, Revelation 2:22: Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds, and Revelation 7:14: And he said to me, These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
A review of other designations for the Great Tribulation should impress upon us its essential character.
The nature of the Great Tribulation is summed up in the
How much of the world will the Great Tribulation encompass? Enclosing Matthew 24:21, just quoted, are these verses: 14. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come, and 30. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn. Each places the Great Tribulation in a worldwide context. Isaiah 24 does the same: 19. The earth is broken asunder, The earth is split through, The earth is shaken violently. 20. The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard And it totters like a shack.
The Great Tribulation will be an event which encompasses the whole world.
Placement in the Seventy Weeks
Seven weeks means seven groups of seven years, or 49 years, and sixty-two weeks means sixty-two groups of seven years, or 434 years, for a total of sixty-nine weeks or 483 years.3 Using the Bible’s method of counting “regular solar years"4 from the creation of Adam,5 Dr. David Cooper determined that from the year of the decree of Cyrus the Persian to permit the Jews who were captive in Babylon to return to Judea to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until Jerusalem was rebuilt, was 49 years; and that 434 years later, Messiah was cut off. “From all the data, we see that the terminal date of the 483-year period is the time of Messiah's being cut off or executed for the sins of His people. From this conclusion there cannot possibly be any escape."6
Connected with the end of the sixty-ninth week (the sixty-second week after the first seven weeks) when Messiah will be cut off is the following event: The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Who is this prince? He could not be Messiah as it was not Messiah's people who destroyed the city and the sanctuary . . . with a flood (a symbol of a military invasion, e.g., Isaiah 8:5-8 and Nahum 1:8). It was the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. The Prince is the one we've come to know as the Antichrist, and he will be a Roman, for the people of the prince are Romans.
Now, even to the end of the period between the destruction of Jerusalem and the beginning of the seventieth week, there will be war in the Promised Land. True to the prophecy, since 70 A.D. numerous wars have been fought over the trans-Israeli trade routes that join Egypt and the rest of Africa with nations north and east, and over possession of the entire Land; and because of the wars, desolations are determined. The Promised Land has been made desolate and will remain so until the end of the seventieth week. Despite the agricultural and industrial wonders that have taken place in modern Israel, one is still struck by the desolation of vast areas of it.
To sum up, within the seventy weeks of Daniel, the Tribulation will begin at some point after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. during which the land of Israel will be decimated by warfare.
Specific Event Will Mark Its Beginning?
But how will he be revealed? Daniel 9:27: And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.
The verse reveals three things: 1. He will make a covenant with Israel. 2. It's duration is to be a full week, or seven years. 3. Its nature: We can determine from the but clause of the verse that the covenant is one by which Antichrist will guarantee Israel's security so that the Temple sacrifices and offerings may carry on unhindered: but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering. In other words, after three and a half years, he will put a stop to that which he guaranteed. It is by virtue of this unique seven year covenant that Antichrist will be revealed and the Tribulation will begin.
3. Who Are the Many?
The entire passage has to do with
Daniel's people, the Jews, and focuses primarily on events in Jerusalem.
Therefore, the treaty must be with the nation of Israel; but is the nation of Israel the many?
Compared with the rest of the world, they
are the few. There are two other views that I am
aware of. One is that the many are
the Israeli leadership. At least today, any treaty that Israel
enters into must be made with the support of its Knesset (Parliament) -
but how can such a tiny percentage of Israel's population can be
the many? The other is the view held by Dr. Cooper, that
the many are those Israelis who agree with
Keil and Delitzsch agree with this. They comment, "the
many, i.e., the great mass of the people in contrast with the few,
who remain faithful to God; cf. Mat_24:12." (Matthew 24:12-13 reads,
Because lawlessness is increased, most people's
love will grow cold. But the one who
endures to the end, he will be saved.) Dr. Cooper writes,
"Should one speak of this section of the Jewish race in terms of
present-day phraseology, he would say that those making the covenant are
the modernistic crowd, which has given up largely the national hope and
has abandoned faith in the inspiration of the Scriptures and the plan of
God. One also comes to the conclusion that the faithful, orthodox Jews
who believe in the Scriptures as the Word of God are the ones who hold
aloof from such an alliance." To my mind, the best solution seems
to be a combination of the latter two views, but I would say that
the many will be those Israelis who
favor the proposed treaty after having rejecting any spiritual insight
that the Lord may offer. How can a treaty be made with them? Through
their representatives in the Knesset who would carry the vote.
1. Placement in the Prophetic Feasts of Israel
2. How Soon After the Rapture?
At first glance the passage seems to indicate that the Tribulation will begin right after the Rapture on the same day. The reasoning is thus: On the day that Noah entered the ark . . . the flood came and destroyed them all. . . . on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Therefore, the Tribulation will begin right after the Rapture on the same day. But there is a problem here: It is true that on the same literal day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven (Genesis 19:12-25. The day was reckoned from sundown to sundown); but it is not true that on the same literal day that Noah entered the ark . . . the flood came. Genesis 7:7-10 states that it was seven days after Noah entered the ark that the rain began. According to Strong, the Greek for day can refer either to a literal twenty-four hour period or "figuratively a period (always defined more or less clearly by the context)." As Genesis reveals, the Luke passage contains an example of each. The passage cannot therefore be used to prove that the Great Tribulation will begin on the same literal day as the Rapture, nor can any other passage. There may be a significant "period" of time between the two events.
In light of certain events prophesied to
take place relevant to the Tribulation, at least these three things need
to be in place:
It is easy to see how the Lord is setting the stage for the Great Tribulation.
Two other signs are these:
2 Thessalonians 2:3: Let no one in any way deceive you, for [the day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first.
1 Timothy 4:1: But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.
2 Timothy 3:1-5: But realize this, that in the last days . . . men will be . . . holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.
There are those who believe that the Great Tribulation encompasses only the last three and a half years of Daniel's week because it is during that period that Antichrist attempts to annihilate all Jews as well as all those alive who have come to believe the Gospel (Daniel 2:25, Revelation 12), but consider these key facts:
1. Tremendous judgments of God are exercised on all of mankind for the full seven years. An examination of the judgments of both halves of the week should convince anyone that what the Lord characterized in Matthew 24:21 as one of great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be, and is that which is called the great tribulation in Revelation 7:14, lasts for the full seven years .
2. The seventy weeks are concerned with your people, that is, the Jews.
3. This point alone should carry the day: The saints who are said to come out of the great tribulation in Revelation 7:14, came out of it by means of martyrdom during the first half! This, combined with the fact that the Bowl judgments of the second half are more severe than the judgment of the first half can hardly limit the designation, the great tribulation, to the first half. Cf. Revelation 16.
The seven years of unprecedented judgment coinciding with the seven years of the Lord's final dealings with Israel to fulfill the new covenant that He made with them (Jeremiah 31:31-34) should leave no doubt that the Great Tribulation encompasses the full seventieth week of Daniel.
The Rapture made it abundantly clear that no church saint will miss the Rapture and endure the Great Tribulation; but whom does Scripture say the Great Tribulation is for?
1 Thessalonians 5:3-5
The Great Tribulation is not for church saints, who are all sons of light and sons of day, but is for those who are in darkness, a reference to those who have not received the Lord as Savior.
2 Thessalonians 2:8-13
The Tribulation is not for those who have been chosen . . . for salvation, but is for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For what reason is the Tribulation for them? That they all may be judged who did not believe the truth.
Both passages clearly distinguish between believers, who will not experience the Tribulation, and unbelievers at the time of the Rapture who will be left on Earth to be judged during the Tribulation because they chose darkness and wickedness over light and salvation.
Though multitudes will be saved during the Tribulation, all on Earth when the Tribulation begins will be unbelievers.
This question will be addressed in two stages. The first will be an overview of the key areas of rebellion prior to the Great Tribulation, and the second will be with a view toward the goals of the Great Tribulation.
When one considers the epochal, dispensational (age-related) dealings of God with mankind, he finds that they progress in a logical manner. (This is not to judge what might have been God's best courses of action, but we can see the logical progression in what He has chosen to do.)
God began by giving our first parents every possible advantage to make the right choice. He created Adam and Eve without a sin nature and placed them in an Eden. Everything they needed for sustenance and enjoyment was at their fingertips and they had an untainted and glorious relationship with one another and with God; yet they broke the one "thou shalt not" that He had given them to demonstrate their recognition of their dependence upon Him for all good things. God necessarily applied judgment, set in motion the process by which He would send His Son to die for the sins of the world, and consistent with their choice to lean on their own understanding, withdrew the sweetness of His fellowship and close guidance from them and left them and their descendants in a state in which they would be tested to see if they would obey Him on the basis of the dictates of their own consciences.
But man refused to live by the dictates of his conscience. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). God therefore destroyed the entire race by means of a flood, sparing only righteous Noah, his wife, their three sons and their three wives. Having begun afresh with a righteous patriarch, God took the next logical step to bring the wild dog of man's sin nature to heel: He put the fear of capital punishment in them for murder: Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man (Genesis 9:6). In so doing, it is implied that God authorized the establishment of a police force to make arrests, a judicial system to conduct fair trials, executioners to carry out their duty, etc., and an overseer or body of overseers to manage these activities. In other words, to promote respect for human life because of the image of God in man, God authorized the establishment of human government or, shall we say, human governments, because He also commanded them to be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it (Genesis 9:7), repeating what He had commanded Adam and Eve before their Fall: Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Genesis 1:28). This "dominion mandate" was a commission to man to take stewardship of the resources that God had provided for the blessing of mankind and the glory of God.
True to form, man defiantly spurned the command to fill the earth, and subdue it. "Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4). The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:9) represented an active rejection of God Himself. It was an astrological observatory built for the purpose of seeking guidance from the stars instead of the Creator; and Romans 1:21-23 in conjunction with 1 Corinthians 10:19-20 tells us that it is only a step from the turning to creation for guidance to idolatry and the worship of Satan and demons. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. The Tower of Babel, then, was the institutional fountainhead of all the false and demonic religions and philosophies in the world. (The woman of Revelation 17:3 is called BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. Babylon and Babel are translated from the same Hebrew word, bavel, which means confusion; abominations is a common term for idols; and harlotry is a common term for idolatry.) God therefore confused their languages to scatter them for the purpose of restraining their collusion in evil and that the earth might be filled and subdued. This scattering also divided mankind into the first nations, which served another purpose: 26. and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27. that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:16-17).
Mankind again proved himself unwilling to seek or obey God, so God took the next logical step. He called out one nation, Israel, to be His channel of revelation to all the nations (Genesis 12:1-3). Yet even Israel rebelled against Him continually, sinking even into Baal worship, which required them to lay their children in the red-hot metal arms of the idols of Baal where they burned to death. God expelled them from the Land for this by the hand of cruel conquerors, but returned them to the Land that they might receive their incarnated Messiah and be saved from their enemies and from their sins. True to form, however, they turned Yeshua over to the Romans to be crucified; and yet, this was the next logical step that God took to shock Israel and mankind into the conviction of sin and repentance toward God. However, Israel hardened their hearts even after the miraculous events surrounding the crucifixion, not the least of which was Messiah's resurrection; and these same Romans whom the Israelites turned to for deliverance from their Deliverer proved to be the rod of God's judgment upon them. They destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple with a great slaughter and scattered the survivors from the Land.
If Israel would have received Yeshua during His earthly ministry He would have established His earthly Kingdom (Matthew 3:2, 4:17, 23:37-39) and Israel would have been His ministers to the rest of the world (Zechariah 8:23), but they did not; and though God did not reject Israel as His chosen nation (Romans 3:6, 11:1,11) and will yet fulfill all His promises to them and purposes for them, He orchestrated the crucifixion and resurrection, and then took the next logical step beyond that. On the Day of Pentecost He began to call out a new man (Ephesians 2:15), the body of Messiah, the church, composed of all believers, whether Jews or Greeks (1 Corinthians 12:13) to be His ministers to the world. He commanded, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Corollary to this command to the church is this command to the hearers of the Gospel: God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent (Acts 17:30); but despite the fact that the Gospel has already penetrated most of the world, only a small percent of the world's population has received it. Indeed, major world religions and numerous national governments oppose it. As for the visible church, its history is rife with self-aggrandizement and has engaged in such horrors as military conquests, forced conversions, mass persecutions of Jews and true believers; and, as has been pointed out, gone apostate to a great degree, denying the very basics of the Gospel.
Two other principles need to be addressed:
1. The integrity of the family unit. A healthy family unit is necessary for the optimum well-being and spiritual influence of its members, and is most conducive for the bearing and nurturing of future generations who can, by number and spiritual health and maturity, best fulfill the dominion mandate and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). The family unit begins with one man and one woman committed to be sexually and emotionally faithful to one another and to bless one another "for as long as they both shall live." While monogamous marriage is not explicitly mandated in Scripture, it is that form of marriage that God established in Eden, honored when He selected four monogamous couples to board the ark, upheld as the picture of marital happiness in Psalm 128:1-6 and Proverbs 31, honored by the births of John the Baptist and Yeshua, upheld as the picture of Messiah and His church in Ephesians 5:22-31, and is, without exception, that form that is upheld as ideal by Yeshua and the New Testament writers (Matthew 19:8-9; Ephesians 5:22-27; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). In contrast, Deuteronomy 17:17 says that a king shall not multiply wives for himself, and Scripture graphically reveals the strife that is so easily engendered in polygamous or polygamy-like relationships in the story of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah (Genesis 16-18, 21) and in the childbearing olympiad between Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29:31-30:24).
Has man adhered to the ideal model of marriage and of wholesome child-rearing? Of course he hasn't. The world is filled with fornication, homosexuality, adultery, polygamy, divorce, abortion and infanticide, all of which are destructive of the family unit and the carrying out of the dominion mandate and Great Commission, and all of which are denounced by Scripture or, in the case of polygamy, shown in a negative light. It should be noted that God destroyed Sodom, Gomorrah and the cities of the Dead Sea valley because of widespread homosexual practice (Genesis 18:16 - 19:29), and that by May 14, 2013, fourteen nations of the world had legalized same sex marriage.8
2. The necessity of blessing Israel. God declared to Abram, I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. Scripture records that God did bless and curse individuals and nations according to the manner in which they treated Israel and individual Jews (e.g., Genesis 39:1-5, 41:55-57; Obadiah 1:10; Zechariah 12:9), and Yeshua prophesied that He will judge the sheep and goat Gentiles on the basis of how they will treat these brothers of mine (Matthew 25:31-46).
How have the nations treated Israel? Ancient Israel was invaded by Assyria, Babylon, Greece and Rome, and was dispersed by Rome to the four corners of the earth where it has, in turn, suffered persecutions unmatched by any other nation in scope and frequency. Since Israel's reestablishment as a nation in 1948 they have fought four major defensive wars and are continually defending themselves against attacks of lesser scope. At the time of this writing (Spring, 2013), virtually the entire Arabic and Islamic world is in favor of Israel's disappearance, and a significant portion of that world is actively pursuing that end. Anti-Semitism is rising at a rapid rate in Europe and other parts of the world and is manifesting itself in forms ranging from insults to lies to physical attacks to academic and economic divestitures and boycotts. In one week in December of 2012, the United Nations General Assembly issued twenty-two resolutions condemning Israel, and only four for the entire rest of the world while all the while, in Syria alone, forty thousand people have been killed, more are being killed, and millions of Syrian refugees are suffering the cold of winter.9 Surely the overall level of anti-Semitism through the ages will be a factor in God's judgment of the world. Zechariah 2:8: For thus says the LORD of hosts, "After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple [pupil] of His eye; and Joel 3:2: I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land. Note the last phrase in light of today's political efforts to further divide the Land of Israel.
As a whole, man has rejected every opportunity that God has given him to demonstrate his trust in Him by obedience to Him.
2 Timothy 3: 1. But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3. unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4. treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5. holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.
So what will be the next logical step? God delayed Israel's exodus from Egypt, return to Canaan and the conquest of its inhabitants because the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete (Genesis 15:16). The day will come when the iniquity of our present world will be complete and man will have demonstrated that he is hopelessly wicked and incapable of establishing anything approaching an edenic earth without God - yet, he will not repent. Then will come the Great Tribulation, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). It will be a judgment so severe as to destroy every ungodly man-made institution and humble mankind to the point where multitudes will to turn to God, including every Jew alive at the end of it.
Therein lies the why of the Great Tribulation.
1. For the Nations in General
God's goals for the nations in general may be summed up as follows:
1) The destruction of every ungodly man-made institution, philosophy and religion. Hebrews 12: 26. "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN." 27. This expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain (cf. Haggai 2:6).
2) That they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness (2 Thessalonians 2:12. Also Isaiah 13:11).
3) The humbling of the proud and the exaltation of Himself. The pride of man will be humbled and the loftiness of men will be abased; And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day (Isaiah 2:17).
4) The completion of the Great Commission. Matthew 24:14: This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
5) The salvation of multitudes. Revelation 7: 9. I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count from every nation and tribe and people and language standing before the throne and before the Lamb . . . 14. “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Also Revelation 5:9 and 14:6.
6) The setting of the stage for the Millennial Kingdom.
2. For Israel in Particular
Daniel 9:24 declares the six purposes of the 490-year period for your people - Daniel's people - the Jews: Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.
1) One purpose, which laid the foundation for all the rest, has already been accomplished: to make atonement for iniquity. Iniquity refers to the sin nature. In the context of your people, the phrase refers to the atonement made for the sin nature of Israelites after the sixty-two weeks following the first seven weeks when the Messiah [was] cut off. The other five will be completed either during, or as a result of, the events of Daniel's seventieth week. They are:
2) to finish the transgression. Transgression is the committing of a known sin. The phrase addresses the transgression, the one transgression that towers above the rest: Israel's rejection of Messiah. With all the first-coming prophesies and pharisaic benchmarks for recognizing Him,11 there was no excuse for Israel's rejection of Him. This ongoing transgression will be finished by Israel's reception of Him at the end of the seventieth week.
3) to make an end of sin. Considering the phrases immediately preceding and following, the very least this phrase could mean is that Israel will permanently be made a holy, godly people. However, a case can be made from Ezekiel 27:23 that it means that they will be made absolutely sinless in deed. The NASB translation is representative of many: They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions.
4) to bring in everlasting righteousness. The bringing in of everlasting righteousness will commence with the Lord's establishment of His Messianic or Millennial Kingdom.
5) to seal up vision and prophecy. Old Testament prophets did not see beyond the Messianic Kingdom. The eternal ages beyond the Kingdom is a New Testament revelation. Therefore, from Daniel's perspective, what the phrase means is that by the end of the Kingdom Age, which the Great Tribulation will prepare the way for, all Old Testament prophecy will be fulfilled.
6) to anoint the most holy place. There will be a new Temple in the Millennium (Ezekiel 40:5-43:27), and its anointing will also be brought about on the foundation of the events of the seventieth week.
I am no expert on Tribulation prophesies. Therefore, with bibles, commentaries and the very scholarly studies of Drs. Cooper and Fruchtenbaum in front of me, I have compiled the following sequence of Tribulation highlights with as much critical judgment as I could muster. Both men point out that chapters six through nineteen of the Book of Revelation describe those Tribulation events that Revelation deals with. In addition, Dr. Fruchtenbaum writes, "The value of the Book of Revelation is not that it provides a lot of new information, but rather that it takes the scattered Old Testament prophecies and puts them in chronological order so that the sequence of events may be determined."12 Dr. Cooper writes, "Those chapters which give the chronological order of events are: 6, 8, 9, and 16. The other chapters give details concerning the conditions which will then obtain upon the earth."13
The following sequence is not to be taken as "gospel," but as a best effort.
There will be a brief transitional
period between the Tribulation and the establishment of the Kingdom.
During this period,
Notice how events involving Israel provide the framework of the Great Tribulation and its aftermath. Antichrist's treaty with them; the two witnesses in Jerusalem; the salvation and ministry of the 144,000; Antichrist's proclamation of his divinity in the Jewish Temple; his attempt to annihilate the Jews; the salvation of Israel, which triggers the Lord's return; the Lord's ascent up the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem; His destruction of Antichrist, the arch enemy of Israel; the Judgment of the Sheep and Goat Gentiles on the basis of whether they did or did not aid the persecuted Jews. Among the earth's nations, Israel is still the apple (pupil) of God's eye (Deuteronomy 32:10).
The passage originally appeared in Proverbs 3:11-12, where it is addressed to the sons of human fathers, and was quoted in Hebrews for the benefit of the sons of God by the new birth. However, it has an application for all who will endure the Great Tribulation, for all people are sons of God in another sense, by virtue of the fact that He created our first parents. It was to an audience of non-believers that Paul made this statement on Mars Hill: 29. Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent (Acts 17:29-30).
Whom does the Lord scourge? He
scourges every son whom He receives. Whom does the Lord
discipline? Whom the Lord loves He
does the Lord love? For God so
loved the world (John 3:16). Though God will severely chastise all on
Earth during the Great Tribulation, it will be because He loves them
that He might turn them to the Truth. He will appeal to them
thrice by preaching of such quality and power as perhaps only the
Lord Yeshua Himself displayed: by the two witnesses, the 144,000,
and the angel from Heaven. This principle of the chastisement of an
entire people for the purpose of turning them to righteousness is
seen in Hosea 5:15, which refers to God's chastisement of Israel for
the purpose of turning them to Himself: I
will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their
guilt and seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek
Me. In the passage, the Lord prophesied that He would
leave Earth because of Israel's rejection of Him, and will return
when Israel seeks Him because of their affliction; and indeed that
is what will happen at the end of the Great Tribulation. Cf. Matthew
There are those who believe that the Tribulation is to be taken as an allegory of the continued persecution of believers since the crucifixion. Yet, just as the decree of Cyrus, the subsequent return of the Jews to the Land, the 49-year rebuilding of Jerusalem, the crucifixion of Messiah and the continued warfare and desolation of the Land all took place literally, it is perfectly consistent to believe that the prophesies of the Great Tribulation and all of its details will likewise take place literally. If the first sixty-nine weeks and the subsequent period of desolations have been fulfilled literally, it defies logic to believe otherwise concerning the seventieth week.
There are three reasons that I am aware of for believing that the Tribulation prophecies are to be taken allegorically: being taught that they should; refusing to accept the fact that Israel is still God's chosen people according to natural generation; and because the Tribulation accounts, especially in the Book of Revelation, seem so inscrutable, containing such a multitude of symbols. Yet, the only cure is to realize and accept that each symbol is explained somewhere in Scripture and is representative of a literal thing or event. According to Dr. Fruchtenbaum, "The Book of Revelation has no direct quotations from the Old Testament, but it has about 550 references back to the Old Testament. The majority of the things found in the first twenty chapters of the Book of Revelation are found elsewhere in the Old Testament. Only the last two chapters deal with things totally new."14
God wrote the Bible to be studied and understood. It therefore behooves the student of prophesy to search out the literal meanings of the Bible's symbols wherever in Scripture they may appear and wherever their meanings may be found. For example, Revelation 12:1 introduces a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. The passage may seem that it is open to a variety of interpretations until it is realized that Genesis 37:9-10 makes it clear that the woman represents the nation of Israel.
It is important to know the prophetic placement of the Tribulation as there are those who hold impossible views. For example, some believe that the Tribulation was fulfilled with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. Yet it is impossible for the Tribulation to have already taken place because many of the events unique to it have never taken place. No world leader has ever signed a seven-year peace treaty with Israel, no group of 144,000 Jews has ever preached to the world, no group of Jewish evangelists has ever had the success that the 144,000 will have - nor has the Lord returned yet! It is also important to get a grip on the sequence of Tribulation events as such lessons can be learned from it as the extent to which the Lord will go to destroy the evil in the world, keep His promises with Israel and vindicate all who are His.
chosen by the author are in the New American Standard version
otherwise noted. Scriptures in quotes by others may be in
1. The entire We
Believe statement of the Association of
Messianic Congregations may be found at
By Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum: Dr. Fruchtenbaum's publications are available at
Ministries in various formats, many for free listening.
Dr. David Cooper. “The Seventy Weeks of Daniel.” http://ariel.org/dlc/dlc-bk-swd01.htm, esp. chaps. 4 and 5.
Dr. Henry M. Morris. God and the Nations. (Green Forest: Master Books, 2002).