3) The Purpose And Length Of The Great Tribulation
Adapted from – A Bible Study by Jack Kelley (Reformatted and complete scripture quotes added by myblessedhope.com)
How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it. I am with you and will save you,’ declares the LORD . ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’ (Jeremiah 30:7,11)
Jesus said that the Great Tribulation would be the most intense period of judgment the world has ever seen, greater than the World Wars, and even greater than the Flood of Noah. He said that if it were left to run its course, not a single human being would survive. But for the sake of His people He would stop it at its appointed time. (Matt. 24:22)
“If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Matt. 24:22
The purpose of the Great Tribulation is two-fold. It’s explained in the Jeremiah passage above, where it’s called by its Old Testament name, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. God will use it to completely destroy the unbelieving nations who’ve all persecuted His people down through the ages and to discipline Israel, purifying them to dwell with Him in the Promised Land. The Church, having been purified at the cross, requires neither destruction nor discipline and has no business being in the Great Tribulation.
No matter where you place the Rapture in the End Times Scenario, if you believe in the Lord’s all-sufficient work on the cross, then you know that the Church has to be protected from the End Times judgments, not purified by them. If you don’t believe that the Lord’s work was sufficient, but that the coming judgments are needed to finish what He only began, then you have much bigger problems than figuring out when the Rapture will occur.
The length of the Great Tribulation is variously given as:
3 1/2 years (Daniel 12:7),
“The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” Daniel 12:7
42 months (Rev. 11:2),
“But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.” Rev. 11:2
or 1260 days (Rev. 12:6).
“The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.” Rev. 12:6
If you use a 12 month 30 day calendar for a total of 360 days in a year, these three measurements all turn out the same. This is one of the clues leading us to believe that Earth’s original calendar consisted of 12 months of 30 days each, and in fact it appears that prior to about 700 BC all the Earth used such a calendar. (The calendar we use today is only about four hundred years old.)
In addition, Daniel 9:27 records that an Abomination That Causes Desolation will occur in the middle of the last seven years, or 3 1/2 years from the end.
“He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Daniel 9:27
In Matt. 24:21 Jesus identifies this event as the beginning of the Great Tribulation.
“For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.“ Matt. 24:21
Paul confirms this and adds detail by describing the anti-Christ standing in the Temple proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thes. 2:4) This is also further evidence of a Temple in Israel at the end of the age.
“He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” 2 Thes. 2:4
The Abomination That Causes Desolation is a particular defilement of the Temple that’s happened only once before. In 168 BC. Syrian King Antiochus Epiphanes captured the Temple and converted it into a pagan worship center. He erected a statue of Zeus with his own face on it in the Holy Place, thereby proclaiming himself to be God, demanding that the Jews worship it on pain of death. It was called the Abomination That Causes Desolation, the only event in history so named. It made the Temple unfit for use and triggered the 3 1/2 year Maccabean Revolt. The Jewish re-capture and cleansing of the Temple is celebrated in the eight day Feast of Hanukkah.
So Daniel spoke of an Abomination That Causes Desolation that would mark the middle of the last 7 years. An event called the Abomination That Causes Desolation in 1st Maccabbees took place in 168 BC, over 300 years later. But 200 years after that, Jesus told His Disciples that the people of Israel should watch for a future Abomination That Causes Desolation that would kick off the Great Tribulation. Paul also described a future event similar to the one in 168BC saying the “Day of the Lord” could not precede it.
The Abomination That Causes Desolation that took place in 168 BC was a partial fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. We know this because other events surrounding it didn’t unfold according to the prophecy. It took place so people in the end times would be able to recognize the complete fulfillment when they saw it. They’ll know to look for a man standing in the Temple calling himself God and demanding that his image be worshiped. Jesus told those living in Judea (Israel) that when they see it to flee into hiding immediately, for the Great Tribulation will have begun.
Next Up: 4) The Purpose Of The Rapture
Additional Scripture – from the discussion area above. (Listed at end due to length.)
No additional scripture needed – all referenced scripture listed above.
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