It is my personal experience from attending several recent Bible studies that there is much confusion and misconception about what the Bible terms “Tribulation”. The general conception in most of the mainstream denominational and evangelical churches, and also among some of our Israel Truth believers, is that this “Tribulation” is some definite time period at the end of this Church Age, lasting some seven years in total but after the first three and a half years the Church will be raptured, in order to escape the final terrible tribulation that will take place at the culmination of this age.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
The word “tribulation” is found 19 times in the New Testament and 3 times in the Old Testament. The plural, “tribulations” is found 3 times in the New Testament and once in the Old Testament. In each case, it is talked about in a general way, such as a condition or an affliction, but, at no time is it depicted as a time period. The word “the”, such as “The” Tribulation or “The” Great Tribulation”, is only in the mind of some preachers and some of the transliterations of the newer Bible versions, but nowhere is it found in the original texts and translations. For those of you who want to verify this, the word tribulation is found in the following verses in the New Testament, Mt. 13:21; 24:21,29; Mk. 13:24; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rom. 2:9; 5:3; 8:35; 12:12; 1Thes. 3:4; 2Thes. 1:4,6; Rev. 1:9; 2:9,10,22; 7:14. In the Old Testament we can find it in Deut. 4:30; Judges 10:14; and 1Sam. 26:24.
In a discussion about tribulation, the text most often referred to is found in Mt. 24 where Christ is answering the disciples’ questions about the coming end of the age. We read in verse 21 “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no not 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.” And then in verse 29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” Now, if we read the whole of chapter 24 of Matthew, you will understand that Jesus is explaining to His disciples all that will come to pass, from the time that He was speaking to them until the time of His Second Coming, that is, not some distant pre-determined time period, but through-out all of the Church Age.
If we look to Webster’s New World dictionary for the definition of the word tribulation we will find: (1) Great misery or distress, as from oppression; deep sorrow. (2)Something that causes suffering or distress; an affliction or trial.
Under affliction we find: (1) Anything causing pain or distress; calamity.
Tribulation describes severe affliction continuing over a long and trying period.
So, with this said, let us see what Jesus is predicting, as to the commencement and completion of this tribulation period. He said that such tribulation had not taken place in the whole world from the beginning of the world until this time. What time? This time, the present, Jesus time, when He was with His disciples! And how long would it last? Until His second coming! (Mt. 24:29,30). So, you can see that it is, and has been throughout the entire Church Age. The early followers of the Way were persecuted relentlessly and thrown in jail, or, killed. Saul’s (Paul’s) persecutions of the Saints are a case in point. In Rome they were thrown to the lions or crucified. Later on the believers were burned at the stake by the counterfeit Church of Rome, all because of believing and living according to the Word.
And now look at the situation of today! The electronic age is upon us. The enlightened generation has no use for the things of God, church attendance is dwindling, including our True Israel groups. Foreign religions, with their false gods, are rapidly growing throughout our lands, and we Bible believing Christians are losing our religious rights. Laws are being enacted that are totally contrary to our Biblical principles, and if not in our face, then behind our backs, we are being laughed at and considered simple minded and out of touch with reality and the real world. Yet, the foreign religions are being catered to and appeased at every turn, so as not to insult anyone. Well, brothers and sisters, if you think that this is not persecution or calamity or tribulation, then you better think again. And it will only get worse as time continues, for we are in that time period that St. Paul terms, “the great falling away” (2Thes. 2:3). In Matthew 24:6,7 we read about wars and rumours of wars, about nations rising against nations, about famines, pestilences and earthquakes, not to mention floods, droughts and violent storms. These are all calamities, afflictions, tribulations that an indignant God is laying on a corrupt and sinful world.
Now, all this should not be confused with “Jacob’s Trouble,” as found in Jer. 30:7, for that is an entirely different subject, although often brought up in conjunction with the question of tribulation. Jacob’s Trouble is the struggle for the Birth-Right between Jacob-Israel and Esau-Edom, a struggle that has been going on for centuries. Over the last one hundred years Esau-Edom has gained the upper hand and are now in a very strong position to oppress and dominate Jacob-Israel, and it is from this condition that Jacob-Israel will be saved out of (Jer. 30:7), but not out of tribulation, for that will run its course until the Lord returns. Though Jacob’s Trouble is part of Israel’s tribulation, tribulation is not part of Jacob’s trouble, from which we will be saved when the Israelites wake up to the fact as to who they are and exposes the Esau-Edomites for their fraud and their identity theft. This cannot be too far into the near future. This tribulation, sad to say, will continue to worsen, until it will climax in a catastrophic event, of which the prophets testify. It is then that the Lord will intervene, for He promised that for the Elect’s sake those days will be shortened (Mt. 24:22). Who are the Elect? Israel (Isa. 45:4) and those written in the Lamb’s book of Life (Rev. 21:27). Those are the Elect.
But dear friend do not despair for “…when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your head; for your redemption draweth nigh.” “…for it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” (Lk. 21:28; 12:32).