Saturday, July 26, 2014

The term "Great Tribulation"

On The Rapture I've mostly settled into a Mid-Trib position. But your typical Mid-Trib believer says that the "Great Tribulation" refers only to the second half of the 70th Week (and so from their POV their Pre-Trib) and is basically synonymous with The Wrath/Day of The Lord.  I'm different however, I view the term "Great Tribulation" as not such a specific term at all.

The Pre-Wrath position also believes both "Great Tribulation" and "Wrath" are only the last 3 and half years. But they divide it up, with the Rapture being were the split is.

Chris White, who's Pre-Wrath, makes an amusing mistake, he says the term "Great Tribulation" occurs only twice in The Bible, in Matthew 24, and Revelation 7. There is in fact another usage of the term I shall discus.

The word "Tribulation" alone occurs a lot, and is a term that most serious students of The Bible realize is synonymous with persecution, and is not at all limited only to a specific End Times time period. It is the term "Great Tribulation" that we tend to insist on making more specific, to some it refers to the entire 70th week, to some only the first half. And as I pointed out above some view it variantly as the second half or part of it. Some Pre-Tribbers would also say the entire 70th week is Tribulation but only the second half the "Great Tribulation".

The usage of the term that gets overlooked is in Revelation 2:22, where it's part of the message to the Church at Thyatira. "Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds."

Typically people insist this should still be viewed as strictly end times because of the typological applications that clearly make Thyatira characteristic of The Catholic Church (I actually see Pergomos as equally or more Catholic in character), and perhaps also other Paganized "Christian" religions, like the Orhtodox, or Anglicans, or Mormons, ect. And I see some validity to those typological views, but it still must also apply to the original immediate context, or else the type tells us nothing. I think this was first fulfilled by the Christian persecutions that broke out in Asia Minor early in the reign of Hadrian.

And even looking at the type, it doesn't fit the way many Protestants want to see the Catholic Church's role in the Tribulation period. If it applies to the Vatican's End Times role then they will be victims of The Beast's persecution as much as any other Christians. Of course Revelation 17 does say the Beast will turn on Mystery Babylon. I don't view Mystery Babylon as the Catholic Church alone however, but as all Pagan religion.

One could say this has happened to the Catholic Church via Henry VIII's persecutions, or the massive Christian Persecution during the French Revolution, which was mostly against Catholics because the Protestant Reformation never made much ground in France. But those Atheists and Deists certainly hated other Christian sects just as much.

The point is, when we take this verse seriously the term "Great Tribulation" is no longer just one time period.

Some may point out that "the" is in the Greek text in Matthew 24 and Revelation 7 but not Revelation 3.  But Greek used it's definite article far more loosely then English.  Including using it before personal names.  As a KJV only believer in principle I trust they had good reasons grammatically to leave it out of the English Translation.

Matthew 24:21 is the main basis for insisting that the term applies specifically to the second half "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." the timing of this verse being what's happening in the wake of the Abomination of Desolation.

First off, I feel the wording can indeed work as saying we were already in Great Tribulation, but now it's escalating to it's most severe phase. Indeed Jesus had clearly already described a massive worldwide persecution before he reached the Abomination of Desolation.  In fact to me the wording, "such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time", absolutely implies there was "Great Tribulation" before.  But this shall be even greater.

The typical Pre-Wrath position seems to be that he describes the persecution then looks back to describe how it began. But it's funny because there are other places were their main objection to other views is their not interpreting the Olivte chronologically. I make no absolute claim that the Olivte Discourse is strictly chronological, as I've explained elsewhere Revelation is the key to how to unlock the Chronology of other Bible passages that summarize the End Times.

Revelation 7:14 "And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes   , and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

The Pre-Wrath position is that Matthew 24 tells us when "Great Tribulation" is, so we must be in the second half of the 70th week already here. To me it's absurd to think Revelation has reached the midway point of the 70th week any sooner then the 7th Trumpet in Revelation 11. I've explained why elsewhere.

I agree that this Multitude is the same as we see in The Fifth Seal.  And I agree the Fifth Seal's opening correlates to the specific End Times persecution Jesus warned of in Matthew 24.  But the multitude isn't limited to those, it's clearly defined as all the Martyrs of The Church Age starting with Stephen.  They all came out of "Great Tribulation".

Western Christians tend to view persecution of the Church as limited to specific eras of Church History.  But there have always been believers being persecuted, either by non Christians or fellow professing Christians.  Even today, most of the Body of Christ is under the threat of death, in China, North Korea and various Islamic and other third world countries.

"Great Tribulation" is a term describing severe persecution. I view there as being two great  End Times persecutions coming.

1. A persecution of The Church during the first half, which will have a corresponding "Falling away" Paul describes in 2 Thessalonians 2, and clearly placed before the unveiling of the Man of Sin.

2. A massive attempted Genocide of Israel, that begins as soon as the Abomination of Desolation happens which is why Jesus warned Israel to flee immediately (see my Olivite Discourse study). Revelation 12 likewise describes God as having a hiding place for her in the wilderness. Isaiah 63 hints at that place being in Edom. Petra is a popular theory.

Now the persecution of Israel we know for certain has The Beast and The False Prophet (The Antichrist) as the force behind it. The Church's persecution earlier may or may not be also, it isn't clear. The original Antichrist heresy may be what we're being persecuted for not accepting or maybe not. I've explained in other threads why I feel there may be decoy Antichrists during the first half of the 70th week.

But that's besides the point, the point is there will be a major worldwide persecution of Christians BEFORE the Abomination of Desolation happens. The Pre-Wrath people think their the ones most prepared for the coming persecution, but the ones I've studied at least (like Chris White) are clear that it doesn't happen till after the unveiling of the Man of Sin, and that the first half of the 70th week will be a seemingly good time for all Judeo-Christians. So to me their unprepared just as much as people thinking we'll be taken out first, because they think they'll be safe so long the Abomination of Desolation hasn't happened yet.

But it can also be valid to view this escalated "Great Tribulation" of Matthew 24 as simply a very brief time period between the Abomination of Desolation and His Coming.  It may seem like a lot happens in Matthew's account between those, but it's all described pretty broadly, and sometimes a lot can happen in very little time.  To me this could all fit easily into the three and a half days the Two Witnesses are lying dead in the streets of Jerusalem.

So that's why to me "Great Tribulation" characterizes the entire 70th week in a sense but also the entire Church Age. But there is no single individual "The Great Tribulation", that three word phrase is never in The Bible.

Based on Matthew 24:29, The Great Tribulation of The Church by definition ends at The Parusia.  No matter when The Parusia happens.

Post-Tribbers love to keep citing "immediately after the tribulation of those days" as if it proves their model, because they as much as Pre-Tribbers are in the habit of viewing "tribulation" and the 70th Week as synonymous.  But in fact that isn't Biblical.  The verse simply tells as the a tribulations has ended when the Rapture happens, alone it tells us nothing of the Rapture's timing.

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