Thy Kingdom Come – The Tribulation
Although this subject has been touched on briefly in a previous connection, it is
necessary to set forth the teaching of the Scriptures on this important eschatological doctrine.
A. The Nature Of The Tribulation.
There is no better way to come to an understanding of the Scriptural concept of
the tribulation than to let Scripture speak for itself. It is impossible to set forth all the declarations of the Word on this subject. A few will suffice. The line of revelation begins early in the Old Testament and continues through the New.
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in
the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shall be obedient unto his
voice; he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of
thy fathers which he sware unto them [Deut. 4:30,31].
And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth [Isa. 2:19].
Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it
upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof (1). The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled; for the Lord hath spoken this word (3).
Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are
desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left (6). [Isa.24:1, 3, 6].
The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth [Isa. 24:19-21].
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain [Isa. 26:20, 21].
Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it [Jer. 30:7.]
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst
of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the
overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the
consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate [Dan.
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time [Dan. 12:1].
Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come [Joel 1:15].
The day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations [Joel 2:1-2].
Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it [Amos 5:18, 20]?
The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealosy [Zeph. 1:14-15, 18].
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened [Matt. 24:21-22].
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and
upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken [Luke 21:25-26].
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape [1 Thess. 5:3].
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].
And the kings of the earth and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief
captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid
themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the
mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is
come; and who shall be able to stand [Rev. 6:15-17]?
From these Scriptures it is inescapable that the nature or character of this period is that of wrath (Zeph. 1:15, 18; 1 Thess. 1: 10; 5:9; Rev. 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19), judgment (Rev. 14:7; 15:4; 16:5, 7; 19:2), indignation (Isa. 26:20-21; 34:1-3), trial (Rev. 3:10), trouble (Jer. 30:7; Zeph. 1:14-15; Dan. 12:1), destruction (Joel 1:15; 1 Thess. 5:3), darkness (Joel 2:2; Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:14-18), desolation (Dan. 9:27; Zeph. 1;14-15), overturning (Isa. 24:1-4, 19-21), punishment (Isa. 24:20-21). No passage can be found to alleviate to any degree whatsoever the severity of this time that shall come upon the earth.
B. The Source Of The Tribulation.
The tribulation period will witness the wrath of Stan in his animosity against Israel (Rev 12:12-17) and of Satan’s puppet, the beast, in his animosity against the saints (Rev 13:7). Yet, even this manifestation of wrath does not begin to exhaust the outpouring of wrath of that day.
The Great Tribulation is the wrath of God against the Jewish people for their rejection of Christ. According to Scripture, it is the Devil’s wrath against the saints for their rejection of Antichrist, and adherence to Christ (Rev 13:1-10, Antichrist; Rev 13:11-18, False Prophet).
Scripture abounds in assertions that this period is not the wrath of men, nor even the wrath of Satan, but the time of the wrath of God; the Lord maketh the earth empty [Isa. 24:1].
The Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for
their iniquity [Isa. 26:21].
As a destruction from the Almighty shall it come [Joel 1: 15].
Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath [Zeph. 1:18].
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand [Rev. 6:16-17]?
And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come [Rev. 11:18].
Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him [Rev. 14:7].
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God [Rev. 14:10].
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God [Rev. 14:19].
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name; for thy judgments are made manifest? [Rev. 15:4].
And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever [Rev. 15:7].
Go your way and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth [Rev. 16:1].
Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments [Rev. 16:7].
Give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath [Rev. 16:19].
Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged [Rev. 19:1-2].
From these Scriptures it cannot be denied that this period is peculiarly the time when God’s wrath and judgment fall upon the earth. This is not wrath from men, nor from Satan, except as God may use these agencies as channels for the execution of His will; it is tribulation from God. This period differs from all preceding tribulation, not only in intensity but also in the kind of tribulation, since it comes from God Himself.
C. The Purpose Of The Tribulation.
1. The first great purpose of the tribulation is to prepare the nation of 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.” Stanton 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 the children 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 (Deut. 30:1- 6; Jer. 30:8-10, etc.)
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].
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.
2. The second great purpose of the tribulation is to pour out judgment on
unbelieving man and nations. It is stated in Revelation 3:10 “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.” This passage has been considered earlier. That this period will reach out to all nations is clearly taught in other Scriptures as well:
Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation,
and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried [Jer. 25:32- 33].
For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the
earth for their iniquity [Isa. 26:21].
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should
believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had
pleasure in unrighteousness [2 Thess. 2:12]
From these Scriptures it will be seen that God will be 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 the 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, and the mighty men, and every 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 progress 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. About This Series Of Articles.
IV. Article References.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, Th. D. (1871-1952). J. Vernon McGee, Th. D. (1904-1988). Merrill F. Unger, Ph. D. (1909-1980). Charles L. Feinberg, Ph. D. (1909-1995). John F. Walvoord, Th. D. (1910-2002). J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D. (1915-2014). Charles C. Ryrie, Ph. D. (1925-2016). Robert L. Thomas, Th. D. (1928-2017). Stanley D. Toussaint, Th. D. (1928-2017). Robert P. Lightner, Th. D. (1931-2018). Harold W. Hoehner, Ph. D. (1935-2009). Thomas S. McCall, Th. D. (1936-2021). Edward E. Hindson, Ph. D. (1944-2022).
A. One of the most difficult and most important factors of writing an article is related to sources of information. A writer must ensure that such sources have a high degree of knowledge on the subjects that are being written, and also must have a high degree of respect from other writers. A second factor that must be considered relates to how to lawfully use material of other writers. In this web site, copyright statutes are not violated. Also, “public domain,” is to be considered. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain
B. In this article I have chosen, as references, theologians whom have proven themselves to be highly respected by others in the Biblical doctrine of eschatology (the study of what Scripture teaches about the end times), and other doctrines of scripture. All of the references for this article have a connection with Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) as graduate or instructor. By being an independent seminary, the faculty and staff of DTS are not beholden to any denomination who might “lord over them ” and withhold funds from the Seminary, should DTS not tow a particular denominational line of biased instruction. Consider the credentials of J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D., who taught at DTS for 58 years, close to his 100th birthday, and died, shortly thereafter. John F. Walvoord, Th. D., taught at DTS for 50 years, during which time he was President of DTS for 34 years, dying at age 92. Charles C. Ryrie, Ph. D., taught elsewhere for 40 years, and 20 years at DTS, dying shy of his 91st birthday. Many other examples of teaching longevity can be found in the bios of DTS instructors. In addition to the sources of information of DTS, the following non-denominational Biblical seminaries have sources of information that are considered, and that are consistent with the values and curriculum of DTS: Chafer Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, and Scofield Biblical Institute and Theological Seminary.
C. For education and other supporting data for each source of information in this article, please refer to my Page, “About My References.” The following links show information about Dallas Theological Seminary; I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Seminary. It is important to understand that DTS is not a denominational seminary, and is totally independent of such.
D. About Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS).
1. General Info. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Theological_Seminary
2. Doctrinal Statement. https://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinal-statement/
a. Mark Yarbrough. Th. M., Ph. D.
b. Professor of Bible Exposition. Author. Church Pastor/Elder.
4 thoughts on “The Tribulation”
You have some excellent material here. I have been studying this subject a while myself. I have relied mainly on the text of the bible–old and new testament. But there have been other authors very helpful. Dwight Pentecost in his Things to Come is always helpful, and a few others. Thanks.
Thank you very much. You might consider checking my other sources of information; they were tied closely to Pentecost.
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Yes I will. Pentecost was a professor at Dallas for many years. He died a few years ago.
I rely heavily on his studies, and never doubt anything that he concluded.
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