"Matthew 24 - The Rapture Dilemma" (Part Seven)
Is the Tribulation a seven-year Wrath of God?
Implied in all classic pre-trib/seven-year tribulation teachings, is that the word "tribulation" whenever discovered – including of course Matthew 24 – MUST refer to seven years of abject persecution, torment and destruction for Israel before Jesus comes.
Although this is so easily disproved, nobody seems to attempt it. The current belief is set in stone, and to have the courage to investigate beyond the norm seems to be beyond the ability of most Christians.
So, when Jesus said in Matthew 24:29 that his coming happens "immediately AFTER the Tribulation" it is believed to be after a full seven years, and only to affect Israel. That of course could not then be the Rapture, but the Second Coming in glory and power.
I challenge you to show me anywhere, in any bible text, that "tribulation" lasts seven years, or that it refers to the entire events of Revelation. (That is, using the actual word 'tribulation' and not making an assumption based on other words or ideas!)
The word "tribulation" is more often used by Jesus and the apostles to refer to the troubles and hardships of being a Christian, than to Israel or the endtimes!
Here are the instances of the word in scripture:
- Matthew 13:21 Yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
- John 16:33 In the world you shall have tribulation but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
- Acts 14:22 We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God
- Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
- Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
- Romans 2:9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.
- Romans 5:3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance.
- 2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them who are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God.
- 2 Corinthians 7:4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.
- Ephesians 3:13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
- 1 Thessalonians 3:4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
- Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmo.
- Revelation 2:9 I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
- Revelation 2:22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works.
- Revelation 2:10 Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation.
The length of the Tribulation
As seen in the previous page, the events described in Revelation (backed-up by Daniel) last for three and a half years, never seven.
Whatever happens previous to that can be a matter of speculation as to the length of time, because in truth we are not given a timescale for it. Even the "beginning of sorrows" that Jesus mentioned (identical to the first six seals) are not set into any kind of timeframe in scripture but are clearly a big and lengthy build-up to the appearance of the "Man of Lawlessness."
We are told specifically that the Beast is given authority only for three and a half years! (Rev 13:5) Daniel refers to the time of trouble as "a time, times, and half a time", a biblical way of saying three and one half years. (Daniel 7:25). Again in Daniel 12:7, the angel speaking with Daniel declares that it will be "a time, times, and half a time" before the persecutions stop and everything comes to an end.
It's not the Tribulation
Furthermore, not EVEN that three and a half years is described as "The Tribulation", because in Revelation we are also told specifically that the Great Multitude, the saved of all nations who appear in Heaven after Seal Six have "come out of the great tribulation" – and if this is the one Jesus spoke about (Matt 24:9), then the "cutting short" has already happened, and the events of the WRATH to come are ready to take place. (See Revelation 6:17)
From that verse we learn that the Great Day of His WRATH is due to begin when the elect, the saints of God, the believers are gathered out. Just as Jesus prophesied. Those left behind cry out in fear, "the great day of his wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?"
IMMEDIATELY after this we see the Firstfruits of Israel sealed and the Great Multitude suddenly appear in Heaven, having come out of the Great Tribulation. Is that speculation? NO, we have it on the authority of one of the 24 Elders in Heaven, who tells John exactly that. (Rev 7:14)
"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, Who are these who are arrayed in white robes? and from where did they come? And I said unto him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are they who came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb".
Just as Jesus said, this miraculous rescue happens "immediately after the tribulation" showing that what follows is the WRATH of God, not "The Tribulation".
Tribulation Correctly Interpreted
TRIBULATION in the bible NEVER refers to the Day of Wrath or reign of the Antichrist. The word THLIPSIS in Greek means "persecution, affliction, distress" and literally means PRESSURE, being hemmed in, rubbed up the wrong way, in dire straits, especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel they have no options.
Strongs concordance says, 2347 thlípsis ("compression, tribulation") carries the challenge of coping with the internal pressure of a tribulation, especially when feeling there is "no way of escape" ("hemmed in"). By contrast, 4730 (stenoxōría) focuses on the external pressure exerted by circumstances.
See that? EXTERNAL pressures are a different Greek word.
The Endtimes Tribulation for Christians
No doubt the Christian's experience of "tribulation", which Jesus says will indeed be GREAT, is brought about by a situation so very dangerous to faith, and so very trying to all that is biblically true, that there almost seems no way to escape without denying the Lord.
THAT is the great danger of the latter-day for the Church! The very first warning Jesus gave to his followers, regarding that time, was the danger of DECEPTION, followed by many grave warnings not to become complacent, unready, lax and unheeding, nor to give way to the temptation to deny the Lord under pressure. Because in that day, "whoever seeks to save his life will lose it".
These pressures (falling away, denying the Lord and so on) are problems of the Church, not so much Israel. And Jesus takes time to explain it to the questioning disciples simply because they ARE the "Church"!
- Did the Church Exist in the Day of Jesus?
- Can Prophecies Refer to More than One Event?
- The Rapture or the Second Coming - or both?
- When and What is the Day of Jacob's Trouble?
- Are the Elect Exclusively Israel?
- Is the Tribulation a seven-year Wrath of God? (this page)
- Do we Need to Endure, as Christians?
- Are there Distinct and Absolute Dispensations of History?
- Replacement Theology
© 2016 Tricia Tillin-Booth. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website: http://www.birthpangs.org/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.