I. The First Purpose.
A. The first purpose of the tribulation is to prepare the nation Israel for her Messiah. The prophecy of Jeremiah (30:7) makes it clear that this time that is coming has particular reference to Israel, for it is “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” Gerald Stanton (Kept From The Hour,” pp.30-31) shows the Jewish character of the period by saying:
The tribulation is primarily Jewish. This fact is borne out by Old Testament Scriptures (Deut 4:30; Jer 30:7; Ezek 20:37; Dan 12:1; Zech 13:8-9), by the Olivet Discourse of Christ (Matt 24:9-26 ), and by the book of Revelation itself (Rev 7:4-8; 12:1-2; 17, etc.). It concerns “Daniel’s people,” the coming of “false Messiah,” the preaching of the “gospel of the kingdom,” flight on the “sabbath,” the temple and the “holy place,” the land of Judea, the city of Jerusalem, the twelve “tribes of Israel,” the “son of Moses,” “signs” in the heavens, the “covenant” with the Beast, the “sanctuary,” the “sacrifice and the oblation,” of the temple ritual — these all speak of Israel and prove that the tribulation is largely a time when God deals with His ancient people prior to their entrance into the promised kingdom. The many Old Testament prophecies yet to be fulfilled for Israel further indicate a future time when God will deal with this nation (Deu 30:1-6; Jer 30:8-10).
B. God’s purpose for Israel in the Tribulation is to bring about the conversion of a multitude of Jews, who will enter into the blessings of the kingdom and experience the fulfillment of all Israel’s covenants. The good news that the King is about to return will be preached (Matt 24:14) so that Israel may be turned to their deliverer. As John the Baptist preached such a message to prepare Israel for the first coming, Elijah will preach to prepare Israel for the second advent:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse (Mal 4:5-6 ).
C. This witness is seen to be effective in that multitudes of Jews are converted during the tribulation period and are waiting for the Messiah (Rev 7:1-8, and the wise virgins of Matt 25:1-13). It is also God’s purpose to populate the millennium with a multitude of saved Gentiles, who are redeemed through the preaching of the believing remnant. This is accomplished in the multitude from “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues (Rev 7:9) and in the “sheep” (Matt 25:31-46) that enter the millennial age. God’s purpose, then is to populate the millennial kingdom by bringing a host from among Israel and the Gentile nations to Himself.
II. The Second Purpose.
A. The second great purpose of the tribulation is to pour out judgment on unbelieving man and nations. It is stated in Rev 3:10 “I will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” This passage has been considered earlier. That this period will reach out to all nations is clearly taught in other Scriptures as well:
1. Jer 25:32-33 (New English Translation).
32 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says,
‘Disaster will soon come on one nation after another.
A mighty storm of military destruction is rising up
from the distant parts of the earth.’
33 Those who have been killed by the Lord at that time
will be scattered from one end of the earth to the other.
They will not be mourned over, gathered up, or buried.
Their dead bodies will lie scattered over the ground like manure.
2. Isa 26:21 (New English Translation).
For look, the Lord is coming out of the place where he lives,
to punish the sin of those who live on the earth.
The earth will display the blood shed on it;
it will no longer cover up its slain.
3. 2 Thes 2:12. (New English Translation).
And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned.
B. From these Scriptures it will be seen that God is judging the nations of the earth because of their godlessness. The nations of the earth have been deceived by the false teaching of the harlot system (Rev 14:8) and have partaken of the “wine of wrath of her fornication.” They have followed the false prophet in the worship of the beast (Rev 13:11-18). For this godlessness the nations must be judged. This judgment comes on “…the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains of the mighty men, and evey bondman, and every freeman…” (Rev 6:15), all of whom “blasphemed the name of God … and they repented not to give him glory” [Rev 16:9]). Since the kingdom to follow is a reign of righteousness, this judgment must be viewed as another step in the process of God’s program in dealing with sin so that the Messiah may reign. This program of judgment on sinners constitutes the second great purpose of the tribulation period.
III. The Times Of The Gentiles.
A. Scripture Reference (Luke 21:24, New English Translation).
They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
B. the times of the Gentiles. This expression is unique to Luke. It identifies the era from Israel’s captivity (ca. 586 B.C. to Babylon; cf. 2 Kin 25) to her restoration in the kingdom (Rev 20:1-6). It has been a time during which, in accord with God’s purpose, Gentiles have dominated or threatened Jerusalem. The era has also been marked by vast spiritual privileges for the Gentile nations (cf. Isa 66:12; Mal 1:11; Matt 24:14; Mark 13:10).
IV. The Fullness Of The Gentiles.
A. Scripture Reference (Romans 11:25, New English Translation).
For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.
B. mystery. This word is used to refer to NT truth previously not revealed (Rom 16:25; Eph 3:3; 1 Cor 15:51). This mystery has two components: 1) Israel has experienced a partial spiritual hardening, and 2) that hardening will last only for a divinely specified period of time. wise in your own opinion. Another warning to the Gentiles against spiritual pride and arrogance . blindness in part. The nation’s blindness does not extend to every individual Jew. Through all of history God has always preserved a believing remnant . until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. “Until” refers to a specific point in time; “fullness” refers to completion; “has come in” translates a Gr. verb often used to speak of coming to salvation (Mt 5:20; Mk 9:43 45, 47; Jn 3:5; Ac 14:22). Israel’s spiritual hardening (which began with rejecting Jesus as Messiah) will last until the complete number of elect Gentiles has come to salvation.
C. My note. “Fullness” is determined by God. At the time that God’s determined number of Gentiles comes to belief in Christ, the rapture of the Church will take place. This timing has nothing to do with the conduct of mankind, but of God’s plan. At the time that the Church has been removed from the earth, by the rapture (catching up of the saints, John 14:2-6; 1 Thes 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:50-54; 2 Thes 2:2-3), God will begin drawing left behind Jews to belief in Christ as Messiah; left behind Gentiles will also be drawn to belief in Christ as Lord and Savior. The tribulation will not begin until after “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” The starting point for the tribulation will be when the anti-christ confirms a treaty with Israel (Dan 9:27).
V. The Judgment Of The Individual Gentiles.
A. Scripture Reference (Matthew 25:31-46, New English Translation).
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ 46 And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
B. Mt 25:32. “All the nations.” Lit. All the Gentiles. This is a judgment of those Gentiles who survive the tribulation, and whose heart-relation to God is evidenced by their treatment of the Jews (Christ’s brethren, v. 40), especially during that time. Surviving Jews will also be judged at this time.
C. Mt 25:33. “on His right.” The place of honor.
D. Mt 25:35. To do these deeds of kindness to Jewish people during the Tribulation will undoubtedly expose the doers to persecution, and even death, at the hands of antichrist and his agents.
E. Mt 25:37. “when.” They are unconscious of their goodness, in contrast to the ostentation of the Pharisees. In verse 44, we see the opposite: the unconscious neglect of duty.
F. sheep. I.e., believers (10:16; Ps 79:13; Ez 34). They are given the place at “His right hand”—the place of favor. goats. These represent unbelievers, consigned to the place of dishonor and rejection.
G. Mt 25:31-32. He will sit on the throne of His glory. This speaks of the earthly reign of Christ described in Rev 20:4-6. The judgment described here in vv. 32-46 is different from the Great White Throne judgment of Rev 20:11-15. This judgment precedes Christ’s millennial reign, and the subjects seem to be only those who are alive at His coming. This is sometimes referred to as the judgment of the nations, but His verdicts address individuals in the nations, not the nations as a whole (cf. v. 46)
H. Mt 25:40. These “brethren” are Jews who suffer persecution during the tribulation and who receive help from Gentile believers at that time. (Re: “brethren,” Mt 25:40, “the least of these brothers or sisters of mine”NET).
I. Mt 25:46. everlasting punishment . . . eternal life. The same Gr. word is used in both instances. The punishment of the wicked is as never-ending as the bliss of the righteous. The wicked are not given a second chance, nor are they annihilated. The punishment of the wicked dead is described throughout Scripture as “everlasting fire” (v. 41); “unquenchable fire” (3:12); “shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12:2); a place where “their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mk 9:44-49); a place of “torments” and “flame” (Lk 16:23-24); “everlasting destruction” (2 Thes 1:9); a place of torment with “fire and brimstone” where “the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever” (Rev 14:10-11); and a “lake of fire and brimstone” where the wicked are “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:10). Here Jesus indicates that the punishment itself is everlasting—not merely the smoke and flames. The wicked are forever subject to the fury and the wrath of God. They consciously suffer shame and contempt and the assaults of an accusing conscience—along with the fiery wrath of an offended deity—for all of eternity. Even hell will acknowledge the perfect justice of God (Ps 76:10); those who are there will know that their punishment is just and that they alone are to blame (cf. Deu 32:3-5).
A. Paragraph I. Things To Come, 1958, Zondervan, J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D., pp. 237-238.
B. Paragraph II. Things To Come, 1958, Zondervan, J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D., pp. 238-239.
C. Pararaph III. NKJV MacArthur Study Bible, 2nd Edition, cut and pasted from Bible Gateway.
D. Paragraph IV. NKJV MacArthur Study Bible, 2nd Edition, cut and pasted from Bible Gateway.
E. Paragraph V. B-E. Ryrie Study Bible, 1986, Moody Bible Institute, Charles Ryrie, Ph. D.
F. Paragraph V. F-G. NKJV MacArthur Study Bible, 2nd Edition, cut and pasted from Bible Gateway.
G. Paragraph V. H. The Moody Bible Commentary, 2014, Moody Publishers, Michael G. Vanlaningham, Ph. D., p, 1505.
I. Paragraph V. I. NKJV MacArthur Study Bible, 2nd Edition, cut and pasted from Bible Gateway.
G. New English Translation scriptures were cut and pasted from Bible Gateway.