It is translated, “Great Tribulation,” but Jesus’ prophecy of His suffering church is megale thlipsis in Matthew 24:21. Thlipsis is the same Greek word used by the apostle Paul, writing to the Colossians about Christ’s body, the church, suffering persecution in A.D. 60.
In His Olivet Discourse (Mt 24–25), our Lord prophesies of the end of the present evil age, just prior to His second coming. The beginning of birth pangs will see an intensification of signs, in anticipation of the appearing of the man of sin.
The man of lawlessness will bring prosperity, peace, security to the world. His political prowess will be matched by his unifying presence for world religions to come together. No political, nor religious person, nor entity has ever been able to achieve these goals. It has not been for lack of attempts. Satan wants to bring this unity, and finally, God’s providence will permit this to occur. For a brief time, Antichrist will rule the world with ultimate success, but not perfection.
The false messiah will achieve an unparalleled level of success. His accomplishments will invite worship, which he will gladly receive, adding his image to his unified world religion. The deception will be great, and even the elect will be subject to his intrigue.
When the man of sin begins to target the elect with persecutions (Mt 24:9), the true church of Jesus Christ will be emptied of apostate hypocrites (Mt 24:10). These will join the world religion, and the remnant of Christians, called “saints” through the book of Revelation, will suffer great tribulation or mega afflictions.
At the same time the beast will unleash his wrath against God’s people (Rev 12–13; Mt 24:21–22), the Lamb, who sits on the throne of God (Rev 7:17), will break the seals on the books (Rev 6–18). Waves of wrath will be unleashed upon the world. The peace, prosperity, and unity achieved by Antichrist will be shattered. No doubt, as in Nero’s Roman inferno, the Christians will be blamed.
Death and destruction will be on a scale never seen before. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, General Titus, Nero, Domitian, Mohammed, Hitler, Stalin, Mao all slaughtered with significant effect, but nothing has been seen that will come close to the carnage caused by these two forthcoming, dueling wraths: Antichrist against the elect saints, and Christ Jesus against the people of the world.
There is nothing that would stop the destruction, were it not shortened by God’s providence, for the sake of the exhausted, exasperated, Christians (Mt 24:22). A study of the history of war serves to illustrate, typically, the events to come. The essence of which is man’s demonic-inspired quest to rule the earth apart from God and King Jesus.
The global reach of destruction, and great afflictions, represent the climax of man’s worship of Satan. The Dread Champion of heaven (Jer 20:11), our warrior King Jesus, will come in the nick of time (Rev 19). As the false messiah appears victorious in decimating the church and conquering the world, the return of Judge Jesus Christ will finish the man of lawlessness (2 Thess 2:8). As the final judgments fall on the beast and the whore of Babylon (apostate world religion), salvation will come to the elect (1 Thess 1:10), who will be gathered by angels from all over the earth (Mt 24:31).
At the coming of Christ, at the trumpet blast, and with a deafening shout, the war of the world will come to an end. All those who have lived and died will be resurrected body and soul (Jn 5:28–29) — the reprobate to eternal punishment, as judgment from Christ’s glorious white throne, His bema seat, is declared (2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:11).
The elect will be resurrected from the dead, and along with those elect saints who survived the great tribulation, will be transformed in a twinkling of an eye (1 Cor 15:52). Glorious, imperishable, indestructible bodies and souls will be granted to Christ’s elect, redeemed people (Rom 8:30).
The heavens and the earth will be torched with fire (purification), and a new heavens and a new earth will be created (Is 65, 66; 2 Pet 3:10–12; Rev 21, 22). Righteousness reigns for Christ’s glorified saints (2 Pet 3:13), elect from every nation (Rev 5:9), who worship God and the Lamb forever in sinless bliss.
After the birth pangs, a new child brings great joy (Jn 16:21). After the mega afflictions of the great tribulation there will be joy everlasting. All praise to our conquering King Jesus, who has overcome sin, death, the devil, and the world (Jn 16:33; 2 Cor 2:14). Hail Him!
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 4, 2021