do not purpose here to enter a full discussion of this subject, but wish to
devote the greater part of this chapter to the establishment of some disputed
points in connection with The Great Tribulation.
Let us notice:
1. Its Purpose.
2. Its Effect.
3. Its Relation to the
4. Its Nature.
5. Its Duration.
Let us study with Bible in hand.
1. Its Purpose. The best I
can gather from the Bible, the purpose of The Great Tribulation is not simply
to punish men for their wrong deeds, but to punish them with the view of
leading them to accept salvation. It
is often the case that God sends a punishment upon individuals for the purpose
of causing them to do right. Such
was the purpose of the ten Egyptian plagues.
God sent plague after plague upon Pharaoh, but every time that he
consented to let the Israelites go, God stopped the plague; and it was not
until God had suffered long that He overthrew the Egyptians in the sea.
God sent Moses to ask kindly that the children of Israel might go.
Pharaoh refused. Then God
sent the judgments. Even so, the
Spirit of the Lord pleads tenderly with each individual. Many refuse.
The Great Tribulation is coming as God’s last effort to lead this
world to Jesus. Let us notice a
few Scriptures. “I am the
Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the
earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”—Jer. 9:
24. In the verses
this one, the Lord speaks of The Great Tribulation, and so this is the subject under discussion in this verse. It is here made clear that God will mingle His loving kindness with His judgments; His mercy with His wrath; and as a result some will accept His righteousness. “By fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh.”—Isa. 66: 16. The Great Tribulation is the subject under discussion in this chapter. So we read that by fire and by His sword (these are great features of The Tribulation) will the Lord plead with all flesh. So we may understand that the purpose of it is to plead with men if haply they might find the Lord. “There shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.”—Isa. 4: 6. Here again, in this chapter, we have a direct reference to The Tribulation. The Lord speaks of Mount Zion, and says that on it shall be a tabernacle for a place of refuge during The Tribulation.
“That man of sin . . . . who opposeth and exalteth himself above
all that is called God . . . . sitteth in the temple of God.”—2 Thes. 2:
3, 4. This passage proves that
there will be a temple of God on earth during the reign of the Antichrist,
and hence, the possibility of worshipping God during that period.
In Rev. 9: 20, 21, we read of men who suffer under The Tribulation
plagues, but will not repent; and this statement indicates the possibility of
repentance, as well as the purpose of God in allowing the plagues to come.
In Rev. 14: 6, 7, we read of an angel flying in the midst of heaven,
having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth,
saying fear God and worship Him. This
will occur during The Tribulation, and indicates the possibility of serving
God. “And I will show wonders
in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before
the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the
SECOND COMING OF JESUS.
delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the
Lord hath said.”—Joel 2: 30‑32.
This does not mean that the sun will be turned into darkness and the
moon into blood before Jesus comes for His Bride, but before the great and
terrible battle of Armageddon. Such
signs belong to the tribulation period only.
It shall come to pass during The Tribulation that whosoever shall call
on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.
This should be conclusive that salvation during The Great Tribulation
are accused of teaching a second probation.
Those who so accuse us, do so through ignorance of the subject in
question. We teach that when a
person dies, his eternal destiny is fixed.
I do say, however, that as long as a person lives he has an opportunity
of salvation, unless he has committed the unpardonable sin.
I teach further, that there will be many people living during The Great
Tribulation who will have an opportunity of being saved.
2. Its Effects. A glance
at a few verses will show the effect that The Great Tribulation will have upon
people. “God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be
wounded. And all men shall fear,
and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of His
doing.”— Psa. 64: 7, 9. (Compare Rev. 6: 2.)
This passage refers to The Great Tribulation, and indicates that it
will bring great fear upon all men, and that they will, at least, consider
wisely the workings of God. “In
that day shall a man cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which
they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go
into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear
of the Lord, and for the glory of His Majesty, when He ariseth to shake
terribly the earth.”—Isa. 2: 20, 21.
Here Isaiah speaks of the tribulation period, and says that men will
turn away from their idols of silver and of gold, and cast them to the moles
and bats. This will certainly be
a great step towards God. “When
thy judgments are in the earth, the in-
of the world will learn righteousness.”—Isa. 26: 9.
Here it is clearly stated that the inhabitants of the earth will learn
to do right during The Great Tribulation.
Of course, according to other Scriptures, many will still rebel against
God; but, thank God, some will learn to serve the Lord.
“The Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion,
and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the
spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.”—Isa. 4: 4.
Here it is declared that the Lord will wash away the filth of the
daughters of Zion by the spirit of judgment, or by The Great Tribulation.
Of course, sin is washed away by the blood, but judgment is the agent
through which God will seek to lead men to Jesus for salvation.
In the midst of The Tribulation we see 144,000 Israelites turning to
God in such a way that the Lord seals them, and preserves them from many
judgments that are to follow. (See
Rev. 7: 1‑8; 9: 4.) Thus we
see that The Great Tribulation causes some to turn to God, and to seek His
Its Relation to the Saints. Some
teach that all the saints will have to enter The Great Tribulation, while
others teach that all the saints will escape it.
I am sure that both theories are erroneous.
Jesus said, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be
accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to
stand before the Son of man.”—Luke 21: 36.
This certainly indicates that there is a possibility of escaping all
The Tribulation. Will there be
any who shall attain unto this standard of Christian living and escape those
judgments? “As it was in the
days of Noah . . . Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot . . . . even
thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. . . . .There
shall be two men in one bed . . . .Two women shall be grinding together. . . .
Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other
left.”—Luke 17: 26‑30.
Noah and Lot escaped all the tribulation of their day, and so there
will be some who will escape all The Great Tribulation.
SECOND COMING OF JESUS.
so, Paul says, “Sudden destruction cometh upon them . . . . and they shall
not escape. But ye, brethren, are
not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. —1 Thes. 5:
3, 4. This teaches that sudden
destruction will come upon some, but that others will escape.
Jesus says, “Because thou has kept the word of my patience, I also
will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the
world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” —Rev. 3: 10.
So in Rev. 4: 4, 6. We see
a company of saints who are “caught up” at the sounding of the trumpet
(Rev. 4: 1), escaping all The Tribulation, for it does not begin till we reach
Rev. 6. I am just as sure that
there will be saints who will not escape all The Tribulation as I am that
there will be some who will escape. “These
are they which come out of The Tribulation, The Great.” —Rev. 7: 14.
(R. V.) “The dragon was
wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which
keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
—Rev. 12: 17. “Say ye to the
righteous, that is shall be well with him; for they shall eat the fruit of
their doings.” —Isa. 3: 10. All
of these verses apply in connection with The Great Tribulation.
I conclude, therefore, that a number of the saints will escape all The
Tribulation, and that a number of them will enter into it.
4. Its Nature. We do not
purpose here to enter a full discussion of the nature of The Tribulation.
Perhaps all of its features are brought out in order of their
occurrence in the Book of Revelation. We
have there the principal characteristics: War, famine, martyrdom, violent
shaking of the solar system, earthquakes, moving of the mountains, darkening
of the sun, turning of the moon into blood, making the water of the rivers and
wells bitter, turning loose of infernal creatures upon the earth, reign of the
Antichrist, overthrowing of his kingdom, and the battle of Armageddon.
Whatever else we shall say concerning the nature of The Great
Tribulation we leave for future chapters.
Its Duration. The duration of The
Great Tribulation is unknown, for the Bible nowhere gives its length.
Jesus said, that unless it should be shortened, no flesh could live
through it, but for the elect’s sake it shall be shortened. (Matt. 24: 22).
That there are certain fixed periods included within The Tribulation no
one can deny. The very fact that
the Bible fixes the duration of certain features of The Tribulation, and does
not fix the duration of other features is proof conclusive that all the
features of it do not have a fixed duration.
It is very clearly brought out that from the events mentioned in Rev.
11: 3, until the close of The Tribulation there will be, at least, seven
years. The Antichrist is
mentioned first in Rev. 11: 7, and according to Dan. 9: 27, he will continue
seven years, the last half of which time he will reign as king of the world.
(Rev. 13: 5). The events
mentioned in the 9th chapter of Revelation will continue eighteen months and
twenty‑five hours. (Rev. 9:
5, 15.) So we can say with
confidence that from the sounding of the fifth trumpet (Rev. 9: 1) until the
close there will be at least eight and one‑half years.
Just how long a time the events mentioned under the opening of the
seven seals and the sounding of the first four trumpets will occupy I do not
this chapter we have shown that God’s purpose of The Great Tribulation is
His last effort to save men from hell; that during that period some will turn
to the Lord; that a number of the saints will escape it, while others will be
left in it; that the nature of it will be wars, famines, pestilence, etc., and
that its duration no one knows.