The “Tribulation”: Its Timing and Purpose

  1. What is the Tribulation? When does it take place?
    1. The term “tribulation” is not actually used to refer to the 7-year period mentioned in Daniel 9. Strictly speaking, it is called the “70th week.”
    1. The second half of this “week” is called by Jesus the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21). It is called the “time of Jacob’s trouble,” or persecution (Jer. 30:7).
    1. The Tribulation precedes the coming of Christ’s to set up His Kingdom, which will last for a thousand years (Daniel 12; Revelation 19-20).
  2. Why is the Tribulation about Israel and not the Church?
    1. Daniel’s prophecy concerns God’s covenant people, not the Church. The Church Age is a gap (after the 69th week and before the 70th).
    1. The Tribulation is a time of purifying judgment upon Israel (Mal. 3). It will end with Israel’s repentance (Zech. 12:10).
    1. Besides Israel’s repentance, the Tribulation concerns the Day of the LORD, a time for pouring out His wrath on the nations (Zeph. 1:18). The Church is promised exemption from this wrath (1 Thess. 5:9; Rev. 6).
  3. What about Matthew 24? Doesn’t it prove Christians will go through the Tribulation?
    1. Christians are in view in the passage. However, are these people part of the present Church Age or are they post-Rapture converts? They are the latter.
    1. In fact, a pre-Trib Rapture is implied in verses 36-51. How can Christ’s coming be preceded by signs but still be a surprise?
  4. Is the idea that Christians will not go through the Tribulation a recent idea?
    1. No. Pseudo-Ephraem (6th or 7th cen.) teaches a form of the pre-Trib Rapture and so does the Apocalypse of Elijah (4th cen.).
    1. In any event, the Bible talks about prophecy being “unsealed” until the end times (Dan. 12:4). It should not then surprise us that prophetic truths previously forgotten or rejected have become more prominent in our time.
  • Will unsaved people get a second chance?
    • 2 Thessalonians 2 is often appealed to in order to prove unsaved people who have rejected Jesus before the Rapture will not get a second chance in the Tribulation. Contrary to this idea, the whole context of 2 Thess. 2 is unbelief and blindness after the Rapture because of post-Rapture deception.

Given the large number of converts described in Revelation 7, it is likely that many people who formerly rejected Christ will come to faith considering all the signs taking place in the Tribulation (e.g., Rev. 14:6). Remember, Christ wishes that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9). And, again, don’t forget the Israelites, currently hardened in unbelief, will have a mass revival during the Tribulation (Rom. 11:25-26)

Author: James Buddy Smith
Ark of Hope
Jasper, Georgia