There are some Bible prophecy teachers out there who are teaching that we are currently living in the Tribulation. All the way back since World War 1, they claim, the prophetic judgments of Revelation have been pouring down upon the earth. Sadly, the only thing predictable about their predictions is that they’ve scared a whole lot of people senseless.
Are we currently living in the Tribulation?
Let’s define “Tribulation,” for there’s tribulation, and then there’s THE Tribulation.
How one defines tribulation is often tied to where they’re coming from. Some people think of tribulation as having to endure…
We’re obviously not talking about First World problems here. The rest of the world defines tribulation much more severely, such as having to endure…
These are the severe trials and afflictions that much of the world suffers from on an ongoing basis. Then, there are the Christians, who live under an extra level of persecution.
For Jesus warned, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you,” therefore “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 15:20; 16:33). The world hates Jesus and His moral law, and so will of course also hate and persecute His followers (John 16:33; Philippians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Pet. 4:12-13).
But, when talking about tribulation, as Bible prophecy describes, we’re not talking about the inevitable day-to-day sufferings we all share caused by Satan and our fellow man. Rather, prophecy is talking about an event — The Tribulation.
The Tribulation: Terminology
The Tribulation goes by a number of different names and descriptions in the Old Testament:
The Day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12)
The Terror of the Lord (Isaiah 2:19)
A Day of Reckoning (Isaiah 2:12)
A Day of Wrath (Zephaniah 1:15)
A Day of Trouble and Distress (Zephaniah 1:15)
A Day of Destruction and Desolation (Zephaniah 1:15)
The Time of Jacob’s Distress (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1)
The Great and Terrible Day of the LORD (Joel 2:11,31)
“For then there shall be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Revelation 6-19).
Think of modern-day movies which often mislabel the Tribulation as Judgment Day, Armageddon, and the End of the World. They’re close, but woefully nowhere near as intense in scope.
The Tribulation: Purpose
God has a four-fold purpose for the Tribulation:
To pour out His wrath upon the nations of the world for all their evil, as He did during the Flood.
To bring multitudes of people to finally accept Jesus as Savior.
To gather a remnant of Jewish people who finally accept Jesus as Messiah.
For Jesus to defeat evil and set up His Kingdom.
(Deuteronomy 4:26-31; Isaiah 13:6-13; 17:4-11; Jeremiah 30:4-11; Ezekiel 20:33-38; Daniel 9:27; 12:1; Zechariah 14:1-4; Matthew 24:9-31)
The Tribulation: Length
The Tribulation will last for seven excruciatingly long years (Daniel 9:27). It begins when the ascending one-world ruler — the Antichrist — makes a peace covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:24-27). The seven years are split into two periods of 3 1/2 years each, with the division occurring when the Antichrist enters into the newly built Jewish Temple and declares himself to be God (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:2-3,7; 12:14; 13:5-6). He then engages in genocide, killing two-thirds of the Jews in a second holocaust (Zechariah 13:8-9). And that’s why the second half is often referred to as the Great Tribulation, for it truly is the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).
The Tribulation: Conditions
So how do we know we are not currently living in the Tribulation? Well, just look out your window. Do you see the following conditions Revelation describes, conditions so horrific that Jesus declared, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).
A one-world ruler risen to power who rules over a global government.
The Antichrist making and breaking a peace covenant with Israel.
A one-world religious system being implemented.
A new world war being waged so great that a quarter of the world’s population — almost 2 billion people — are slaughtered.
Death by mass starvation and rampant plagues.
The worst evils let loose from people’s hearts so that they sin exceedingly.
Violence, theft, and witchcraft are the norm.
Demons run reckless, no longer obscured.
The planet cracked apart by earthquakes, meteors, and fire so that the entire biosphere teeters on the brink of collapse.
Christians and Jews hunted down like animals to be slaughtered.
The Antichrist’s name tattooed on his people’s right hand or forehead, or face starvation.
The world’s leaders crawl into caves and cry out for the mountains to fall upon them to protect them from God’s anger.
“When the Tribulation begins, the people who are on earth will not have to call anyone to find out for sure whether or not it has begun. The Tribulation will be a living hell with a degree of violence that is unparalleled in all of history.” – Dr. David Reagan, Lamb & Lion Ministries
The Tribulation: Exemption
Clearly, we are not currently living in the Tribulation, but eventually it will come. But, don’t lose hope, for there are a people who will not have to endure the horrors of the Tribulation. While the Tribulation, like the Flood was, is God pouring out His judgment upon mankind for our sins (Isaiah 24:22; Zephaniah 3:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:12), believers in Christ are promised exemption from God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:4; Revelation 3:10).
The wrath of God is meant only for those who live in rebellion against Him, and not for those who have accepted Jesus as Savior (Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). They have kept His command to persevere through the tribulations of this life, and so He will also keep them from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth (Colossians 3:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; Revelation 3:10).
So, no matter how bad the world gets today, it is nothing compared to what life will be like during the Tribulation. Make sure you never have to face those terrible days. Accept Jesus’ lifeline of salvation.
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).