God’s Plan For The Ages – 11 – The Tribulation

Left Behind II Tribulation Force

Click onto any blue letter, number or symbol to see the video and text on the blog.

Eschatology is the study of the teachings in the Bible concerning the end times and of the period of time dealing with the return of Christ and the events that follow. Those events are not in the order as shown: the Resurrection, the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Millennium, the Binding of Satan, the Three witnesses, the Final Judgment, Armageddon, and The New Heavens and the New Earth. In one form or another most of the books of the Bible deal with end-times subjects.

My study of the end times goes back to the year of 1976. There have been many people who have helped me to understand this exciting part of God’s Holy Word. There have also been many credible source documents that I have studied, “over and over.” The following individuals (some alive, and some deceased) are recognized as being highly knowledgeable of matters that relate to the end times. Their study materials have helped me to prepare this series of posts on “God’s Plan For The Ages.” Their names are presented below in no special order of importance.

Drs. C.I. Scofield, Merrill Unger, Charles C. Ryrie, Henry Morris, J. Dwight Pentecost, David Jeremiah, John MacArthur, Frank Charles Thompson, Grant R. Jeffrey, John F. Walvoord, J. Vernon McGee, Charles Swindoll, John Phillips, Ed Hindson, Tim LaHaye, Ron Rhodes, David Reagan, Jimmy DeYoung, Renald Showers, John Ankerberg, Carl Broggi, and others.

The video that is shown in this post deals with the time of the tribulation. Many people, including those who say that they have a serious relationship with “the Christ,” “the Messiah,” have never seriously considered any of the teachings that relate to the end times. However, God’s Holy Word has great encouragement for His people, as it relates to a proper study of the end times. At the end of the video it is very “soul-stirring,” showing a young woman and a dying man coming to faith in Christ. Other tribulation saints, those that were “left behind,” (red and yellow, black and white – you know the song) and had accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior during the tribulation, are seen singing “Amazing Grace” in a way that will definitely “stir your soul.”

Consider the words of the following verse of Scripture:

Revelation 1:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Consider the following notes that come from the MacArthur Study Bible (everyone should own a MacArthur Study Bible)

1:3 Blessed. This is the only biblical book that comes with a blessing for the one who listens to it being read and explained and then responds in obedience. This is the first of 7 beatitudes in the book (v. 3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). time is near. “Time” refers to epochs, eras, or seasons. The next great epoch of God’s redemptive history is imminent. But although Christ’s coming is the next event, it may be delayed so long that people begin to question whether He will ever come (cf. Matt. 24:36–39; 2 Pet. 3:3, 4).

Let’s consider the Words of Jesus, as they relate to the events that will lead to the time of the tribulation. There are many other scriptures that relate to the tribulation, and will be discussed in future posts.

Matthew 24:3-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Signs of the End of the Age

3 While He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached Him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”

24:3 Mount of Olives. The hill directly opposite the temple, across the Kidron Valley to the E (see note on Luke 19:29). This spot affords the best panoramic view of Jerusalem. At the base of this mountain is Gethsemane (see note on 26:36). what will be the sign of Your coming. Luke 19:11 records that the disciples still “thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.” The destruction of the temple (v. 2) did not fit the eschatological scheme they envisioned, so they asked for clarification. Jesus addressed their questions in reverse order, describing the prophetic sign of His coming (actually a series of signs) in vv. 4–35 and then addressing their question about the timing of these events beginning in v. 36. When they asked about His coming (Gr., parousia; lit. “presence”), they did not envision a second coming in the far-off future. They were speaking of His coming in triumph as Messiah, an event which they no doubt anticipated would occur presently. Even if they were conscious of His approaching death, which He had plainly prophesied to them on repeated occasions (see note on 20:19), they could not have anticipated His ascension to heaven and the long intervening church age. However, when Jesus used the term parousia in His discourse, He used it in the technical sense as a reference to His second coming.

4 Then Jesus replied to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. 6 You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet.

24:6 but the end is not yet. False prophets, as well as wars and rumors of wars, characterize the whole of the present age, but will escalate toward the end (cf. 2 Tim. 3:13).

7 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these events are the beginning of birth pains.

24:8 sorrows. The word means “birth pangs.” Famines, earthquakes, and conflicts have always characterized life in a fallen world; but by calling these things “the beginning” of labor pains, He indicated that things will get notably and remarkably worse at the end of the era as these unique tribulations signal the soon arrival of Messiah to judge sinful humanity and set up His millennial kingdom. Cf. 1 Thes. 5:3; Rev. 6:1–17; 8:1—9:21;16:1–21; see note on v. 14.

Persecutions Predicted

9 “Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name.

24:9 deliver you up. See note on 10:17.

10:17 deliver you up. This is a technical word, in this context, used for handing over a prisoner for punishment. Persecution of believers has often been the official policy of governments. Such persecutions give opportunity for testifying to the truth of the gospel. Cf. John 16:1–4; 2 Tim. 4:16.

10 Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another.

24:10 many will be offended. Lit. “caused to stumble”—suggesting professing believers who fall away—and even turn against “one another” in shocking acts of spiritual treachery. Those who fall away in such a manner give evidence that they never were true believers at all (see note on v. 13).

11 Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.12 Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be delivered.

24:13 endures to the end…be saved. Cf. 10:22. The ones who persevere are the same ones who are saved—not the ones whose love grows cold (v. 12). This does not suggest that our perseverance secures our salvation. Scripture everywhere teaches precisely the opposite: God, as part of His saving work, secures our perseverance. True believers “are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation” (1 Pet. 1:5). The guarantee of our perseverance is built into the New Covenant promise. God says: “I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me” (Jer. 32:40). Those who do fall away from Christ give conclusive proof that they were never truly believers to begin with (1 John 2:19). To say that God secures our perseverance is not to say that we are passive in the process, however. He keeps us “through faith” (1 Pet. 1:5)—our faith. Scripture sometimes calls us to hold fast to our faith (Heb. 10:23; Rev. 3:11) or warns us against falling away (Heb. 10:26–29). Such admonitions do not negate the many promises that true believers will persevere (John 10:28, 29; Rom. 8:38, 39; 1 Cor. 1:8, 9; Phil. 1:6). Rather, the warnings and pleas are among the means God uses to secure our perseverance in the faith. Notice that the warnings and the promises often appear side by side. For example, when Jude urges believers, “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21), he immediately points them to God, “who is able to keep you from stumbling” (Jude 24).

The Great Tribulation

21 For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again!

24:21 great tribulation. The words “has not been” and “nor ever shall be”—along with the description that follows—identify this as the yet-future time in which God’s wrath shall be poured out upon the earth (see note on Rev. 7:14). Jesus’ descriptions of the cataclysms that follow closely resemble the outpouring of divine wrath described in the bowl judgments of Rev. 16 and His subsequent appearing in Rev. 19 (see note on v. 30).

7:14 the great tribulation. See notes on 3:10; 6:1, 9, 12. These people didn’t go with the raptured church, since they were not yet saved. During the 7 year period they will be saved, martyred, and enter heaven. Though it is a time of unparalleled judgment, it is also a time of unparalleled grace in salvation (cf. Matt. 24:12–14). washed their robes. Cf. 19:8. Salvation’s cleansing is in view (see Titus 2:11–14). blood of the Lamb. This refers to the atoning sacrifice of Christ (cf. 1:5; 5:9; Rom. 3:24, 25; 5:9).

Please pay close attention to the words of the comment on 7:14: These people didn’t leave earth with the raptured church, since they were not yet saved; they had not been “born again.” This is the key to being saved from the time of the tribulation, “to be born again.” All people who have been born again will be removed from the earth at the time of the rapture of the church. (1 Thes 4:13-18). All people who have not been born again are known as “earth dwellers,” and will remain on earth during the time of the tribulation. The following verses in the book of Revelation addresses “the earth dwellers,” “those which dwell on the earth.” (3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10, 13:8; 13:13-14, 17:8. It is also important to remember that God is in control of every event that takes place during the tribulation (Psalm 103;19; Jeremiah 18:1-6).

Bible Study: Zechariah

Zechariah 1:1-1:20. Scofield Study Bible. All notes. Call to Repentance. A Series of 8 Visions to Comfort Jerusalem.

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