The Bible and the Future- Part 2
The Great Tribulation
In the first installment of the Bible and the Future we talked about the end of the present age in which we now live called the Dispensation of Grace. It is sometimes also referred to as the Church Age because it is during this period that God is saving people from among all men and placing them in a body of believers called the Church, or the Body of Christ. Every true believer during this age is a member of the Body of Christ.
This period is a mystery period because it was never revealed to former generations (Ephesians 3:1-10). Therefore it was not part of the prophecies of the Old Testament. But after the Body of Christ is caught up or raptured to meet Jesus Christ in the air, there comes a seven year period of time that was prophesied. That period of time is known as the Great Tribulation.
The Great Tribulation is a time when God's wrath will be poured out on a sinful humanity. Jesus talked of this time in Matthew 24:21. He said that it will be a time "such as has not occurred since the beginning of time until now," In other words, if we think we have problems now, they aren't anything compared with what is to come. It will be a worldwide and not just a localized time of great disasters and trouble. It will be so bad that many will want to die rather than continue living in the wrath that is being poured out. People today talk as though it is the end of the world. Yet they go on marrying, having children, going to work and conducting business as usual. But when the Tribulation comes, people will hide in bomb shelters and not look forward to the future because they won't see any thing that will look attractive about it.
The major prophecy in the Old Testament for this period is Daniel 9:24-27. This talks about seventy weeks which is actually seventy weeks of years. To make things less complicated, all but one of those seventy weeks was already accomplished when Jesus Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. After that Jesus was cut off or killed, as prophesied. He died on the cross a week later. After His resurrection, Israel rejected her risen Messiah, so God interrupted His plan for Israel, temporarily. However, that final week is still to come. Each day of the week represents a year, so there are actually seven years of Tribulation ahead.
Since there are a lot of details that I'm leaving out, I will continue the look at the Tribulation in the next installment, but for now let's answer the question: "Why the Tribulation?" At least two reasons can be gleaned from Scripture. The first is that it is a time of judgement on the earth's inhabitants for sin. God is a God of grace, mercy and love, but He is also a holy God who cannot let sin go unpunished. Therefore, the wrath of God upon sin is seen during this time.
The second reason is that during the Tribulation, Israel, as a nation, will be enticed to turn to their Messiah, whom they rejected so many centuries earlier. And as Paul says in Romans 11, "all Israel will be saved." That is not to say that every individual Israelite will turn to Christ, but national Israel will turn to Him, thus leading the way for Christ's promised earthly Kingdom.
The Great Tribulation is not a time in history in which any person would want to live. Prophecy is given to warn us so that we can make changes now. Those who accept Christ will be delivered from the wrath to come, according to Paul. Now is the time to make sure that happens.