“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Matthew 24:21.
As we begin to discuss about the great tribulation, it is important we first understand the meaning of the keyword ‘tribulation’ as used in the opening text…
The word translated as ‘tribulation’ in the opening text, is from the Greek word ‘thlipsis’, meaning—pressure. It means pressure—either literally or figuratively. Other synonyms of the word tribulation as translated in the New Testament are: affliction, anguish, burden, persecution, and trouble.
All through the ages, since the fall of Adam and Eve, mankind has faced several kinds of tribulation and disaster. Some God-made—by his sovereign ideal; some man-made; and some others, devils’-made…
Even Israel—the chosen nation of God—also went through tribulations from God as a result of their evil deeds. Then the Church of Christ, since her emergence after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, has also suffered tribulations, especially in the form of persecution from non-believers.
But concerning the great tribulation, the Lord tells us in his own words that the great tribulation is a special kind of tribulation. That has never been experienced since the beginning of the world till the time he was speaking…
And that the great tribulation will not have its kind after it. Many Christian theologians are divided on their understanding and explanation of the great tribulation as mentioned by the Lord. Especially concerning its features and timing. So in this article, we want to see exactly what the scriptures say concerning the great tribulation.
The Features of the Great Tribulation
Having already known the meaning of the word ‘tribulation’, the great tribulation can therefore be explained as a period of great and unusual affliction. On the entire world and its inhabitants. And the major features of the great tribulation from scriptures are as follows:
- A Period of Great Deception: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect”—Matthew 24:24. A major feature of the great tribulation is an unusual emergence of deception.Which will be masterminded by the anti-Christ and his false prophet (see 2 Thessallonians2:9-11; Revelation 13:13-15) the bible says the deceptions at the great tribulation will be so strong that if it were possible, the very elect of God shall also be deceived.
- A Period of Great Persecution of the Saints: “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues and nations”—Revelation 13:7 (see also Daniel 8:24).Another prominent feature of the great tribulation is an unusual persecution of the Church. Yes, the church and saints of God of all ages have been persecuted and even martyred in large scale. But the persecution of the saints at the great tribulation will be far greater.The world will be subjected to many kinds of idolatry and rituals of which anyone that fails to follow suit, will be killed or ostracised (see Revelation 13:12, 14-15).
- A Period of God’s Wrath: The final stage of the great tribulation is a period of unusual disaster from God (Revelation 16:1-14). And this last phase of the great tribulation will happen after the rapture of the Church at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The bible says the true believers will not partake of God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).To better understand this fact, the words of our Lord Jesus give us an eye-opener. Here are his exact words: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered the ark; and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”—Matthew 24:37-39.So amidst the great tribulation, Christ will come and rapture his church and after that, the remaining inhabitants of the earth will face the wrath of God as it was in the days of Noah.
Admonishment to the Church Concerning the Great Tribulation
With the above three features of the great tribulation, it is very clear that the saints or believers will partake of the great tribulation. Especially the periods of great deception and persecution. But the believers will not partake of the last phase of the great tribulation which is the wrath of God or the judgement of God.
However, concerning the great tribulation, the Lord admonishes the believers thus:
“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.
From the above scripture, the Lord admonishes us concerning the great tribulation to be watchful and prayerful always. So we may be accounted worthy of escaping the things that shall come to pass at the great tribulation so that in the end, we will be able to stand before him—the Son of man.
Escape as used in the above scripture, can take either of two forms… Either escaping through death or martyr; or escaping through the rapture at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Those who do not escape the great tribulation will be taken in the tribulation. Either they are taken by the great deception or are taken by the great persecution through personal subjection…
And that is why the Lord admonishes us to be watchful and prayerful always. Because it’s only through these two spiritual tools we would be able to escape the great deception and persecution of the end-time at the great tribulation…
And finally be able to stand before our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ in paradise forever.