THE NATURE AND DURATION OF THE TRIBULATION
At Matthew 24:9 Jesus taught that the disciples - or more specifically -
those of the church that will be built by the disciples; the apostles and
prophets, And of course, with Christ Jesus as the foundation stone.
So Jesus taught that the church will at some time in the future be delivered
up to a time of tribulation.
He was not referring to tribulation in general as at John 16:33, "In the
world you have tribulation, but take courage. I have overcome the world."
Although, the promise of finding courage in Jesus applies to any time of
trial and tribulation.
Nor is it what Paul mentioned 15 years later at Acts 14:22, "through many
tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."
But Jesus was referring to THE specific time of tribulation that will begin
when abomination of desolation is placed in the Jewish Holy Place in
At verses 9-14, He gave a summary of what will happen during that time of
He said, THEY will deliver you up to tribulation.
The THEY refers to the unbelievers of the world system and more specifically
to the future antichrist and the people who will worship him.
They will hate you and kill you because of your devotion to Christ.
Literally, because of My name; that is because of who I am; My divinity and
This attack on God, on Christ and on Christians is all part of the angelic
If Satan can somehow discredit the character and plan of God, he will obtain
a reprieve from his assigned destiny in the lake of fire.
Verse 10 tells us that -
During that time many will be intimidated and ashamed because of any
association they have with Jesus.
This refers basically to false believers who claimed to be Christians but
were so - only in name.
These had never truly trusted in Christ as their savior and will be easily
swayed to deny Him.
And through that denial of Christ, they will become betrayers of those who
are true believers.
They will deliver up one another and hate one another.
Mark 13:12, records it this way,
And brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
Yes - friends and family who are not believers in Jesus will turn upon true
Christians and turn them over to the storm troopers of the antichrist; the
man of lawlessness who is the beast of Rev. 13.
Now -the question that needs to be asked is WHY?
Why will such as these turn upon their loved ones; their own friends and
There are two reasons:
First: the beast's religious system will control the economy; that is, all
the material resources that people need for both peace and security.
According to Rev. 13:17, "and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or
to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or
the number of his name."
In other words, only through worship and allegiance to the beast will people
be able to secure for themselves any kind of material comfort and security.
And when it comes to the need for food and shelter, people's religion and
morals will be greatly challenged.
During that time, there will be a great influence of deception from the
antichrist and the many false teachers who are associated with him. Jesus
taught at Mat. 24:11, and many false teachers will arise and deceive many.
And Paul wrote at 2Thes. 2:9-11.
The coming of the antichrist, the man of lawlessness - is in accord with the
activity of Satan, with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with
all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not
accept the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God
will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is
Now it is at this time that a very serious and controversial issue needs to
These betrayers of those who are Christians, will be unbelievers who have
taken the mark of the beast and sworn allegiance to him. These betrayers
will not be true believers in Jesus.
However, it is very possible for Christians also to be deceived by false
teachers and the economic attraction of beast worship.
Jesus said at Mat. 24:24, For false christs and false prophets will arise
and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even
The charisma and the false miracles of these false teachers will be very
persuasive. The phrase, “if possible” does not mean that believers will NOT
be influenced, but it means that it will be with difficulty that believers
will be deceived. Some will.
But most will either
(1) have the knowledge of God's word already within them or
(2) be convinced of God's truth by other believers.
But for those who do become deceived and WANT to align with the beast - I
suggest that such an action will simply not be possible.
Now here's the controversy. I believe that the Bible teaches salvation
That is the view that once a person trusts in Christ as Savior, it is
impossible for that person to lose his salvation.
But - for anyone who will take the mark of the beast, their eternal destiny
is "cut in stone" as it were.
“If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his
forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of
God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be
tormented with fire and brimstone in the sight of the holy angels and in the
sight of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and
ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his
image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
Since a believer cannot lose his salvation, no believer will be ABLE to take
I believe that in such a case where a believer is deceived into thinking he
can take the mark, God won't let it happen.
He will simply remove that child of His from the situation.
The Bible teaches that - as the ultimate stage of divine discipline on His
children, God will take the erring believer out of this life through
There are two alternative views that I will mention just to fairly represent
(1) A believer can take the mark and thus lose his salvation.
(2) A professing Christian who takes the mark was never a true believer in
the first place.
Now, the SECOND reason why this massive betrayal will occur is because the
moral compass of most people will simply go berserk.
Mat. 24:12, And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will
The word, lawlessness, is anomia and refers to the general rejection of the
divine laws of morality that have been established by God for the proper and
orderly function of the human race.
Even among the cults and some religions there is a strong observance of
these moral standards.
However, those standards will be greatly challenged by the economic system
of the beast.
Lawlessness is anarchy, which can be described from Judges 21:25, “In those
days there was no king in Israel; EVERY MAN DID WHAT WAS RIGHT IN HIS OWN
And this is why the beast of Rev. 13, is called “the man of lawlessness,” (anomia)
at 2Thes. 2:3.
Here at Mat. 24:12, Jesus said, "most people's love will grow cold."
The partner of anarchy is the absence of “love,” Love for others. That is,
basic love for humanity in general.
A person who becomes lawless will do anything and everything to promote his
own interests, comforts and security,
no matter what the cost to other people within his society.
This refers then, to the absence of common love for humanity and one’s
fellow citizens within his society.
It applies primarily to the unbeliever, although, as already discussed, even
a true believer can be deceived.
At Mark 7:21-22, Jesus describes this moral lovelessness and lawlessness,
with a long list of attitudes and actions.
“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual
immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, sensuality,
envy, slander, arrogance and folly.”
So whether it is an unbeliever (religious or not) who does not have - or who
discards - moral love for his fellow man -
or a believer who does not have - or who forsakes genuine love for God -
both will be ripe for deception.
At Mat 24:13, Jesus said that the one who endures to the end will be
The END, in this case looks specifically to the end of the tribulation.
That end will occur when a sovereign decree from God the Father will cut it
short from its EXPECTED duration of 3 ½ years.
And when the tribulation is cut short and brought to an end, the second
coming of Jesus will happen.
This will begin the time period known as THE END OF THE AGE and THE DAY OF
The day of the Lord is the TIME PERIOD during which God will carry out the
several steps to His Messianic agenda of ultimately establishing and ruling
over the 1000 year earthly reign of Jesus.
Now as to the statement, will be delivered - this refers to physical
deliverance for Christians through the visible return of Jesus as described
at Mat. 24:30-31.
He will send forth His angels and they will gather His elect out from the
earth into heaven.
At 2Thes. 1:7, Paul describes this as Christ's revelation from heaven with
his mighty angels in flaming fire.
Endurance here, refers to believers who stay alive during the great
persecution of the tribulation. Of course, those who are killed for their
faith, will go into the presence of Christ in the third heaven, and will
will await the rapture from there.
Later at Matthew 24:22, Jesus taught that if the tribulation is not “cut
short,” then no flesh would be delivered, that is, left alive. This refers
to all PEOPLE who had NOT as yet taken the mark of the beast.
BUT - more on that later.
However, it does not, in fact it CANNOT refer to “salvation,” for the length
of the tribulation has nothing to do with HOW someone is saved.
As I mentioned earlier, controversy rages around the issue of whether this
“endurance to the end” is the basis for SALVATION, or is limited to physical
deliverance through the rapture.
If a person doesn't accept the doctrine of salvation security, then he will
have the tendency to apply this statement to salvation. If a person accepts
the doctrine of salvation security, that is, the fact that no believer can
lose his salvation, then this statement must refer to the physical
deliverance from the earth. In view of these differences, it must remain
unresolved except as presented here.
So now, let's look at THIS RESCUE OF BELIEVERS
The nature of the tribulation and the rescue of believers from it - is
described by Paul at 2Thes. 1:6-10.
”Since indeed it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict
you, 7and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well at the
revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming
The word, affliction, is from the word group, thlipsis and indicates the
severity of the persecution they were enduring.
Now concerning these Thessalonian believers, Paul wrote about their strong
"We ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your
perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions
which you endure.
It is the faithful consistency in the face of affliction that is a
testimonial beacon to the believer's status as a child of God, and to God's
grace provision to endure the trials and afflictions of this life.
Whenever a believer radiates the love and righteousness of God in his life,
it serves as a further indictment on Satan who rebelled against God's love
and righteousness and challenged His justice.
At Verse 6, Paul wrote of God's character as the righteous judge.
“Since indeed, it is just for God to repay with affliction those who are
The word repay, is antapodidomi, and means to give back to someone in
recompense for actions or service rendered. On the one hand God is paying
back something to the persecutors, and on the other hand, he is paying back
something to the believers. Both paybacks will be initiated by the same
event of the revelation of Jesus from heaven. At that time, He will give
rest to the believers by removing them out from the affliction, and he will
give affliction to the unbelievers by pouring out his wrath upon the world.
This truth is taught by language of principle rather than a specific promise
to the Thessalonians that it would occur in their lifetime.
The principle here, is - that the justice of God applies to whatever group
of believers are alive on the earth at the time that Jesus returns. At the
time of writing, the affliction (tribulation, thlipsis) that is being
endured by the Thessalonians, and indeed, by other believers in other
locations (including Paul, 2 Thes. 3:2; 1 Thes. 3:3-4) is not THE
tribulation that Jesus taught about (Matthew 24:9-22). But based on the
context surrounding "the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven," this
thlipsis could possibly escalate into that future time of persecution if the
man of lawlessness were to be revealed. In such a case, the principle stated
in verses 6 and 7, would be applied and Jesus would return to both deliver
the believers out from the world, and to render affliction on the
unbelievers left in the world.
However, it never did escalate into the tribulation that Jesus prophesied.
And in about 40 years after Paul wrote this, God gave information to John in
the book of the Revelation,
that strongly suggests some very advanced technology needs to be in place
before that tribulation could begin.
Now, as seen quite often in other episodes, the general severity of the
tribulation is described at Mat. 24:21-22
For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since
the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will again.
“And unless those days are cut short, no life would be delivered.
BUT what is the nature of this - cutting short?
The Bible indicates that the beast will begin his reign at the midpoint of
the 70th week and will have an official reign of 42 months - which is 1260
days - using the 30-day = 1 month measurement.
His official reign will go from the midpoint of the week until the end of
At Dan. 11:36 through 12:12, the angel Gabriel explains to Daniel some of
the events that will occur in reference to the king of the West who is the
beast and antichrist.
Those events will begin with the rise of the beast at the midpoint of the
week and culminate with his destruction 30 days after the end of the week.
At Dan 12:6-7, the question is asked,
“How long will it be until the end of these wonders?”
That is, how long from Dan. 11:36, "then the king will do as he pleases."
until Dan. 11:45, "yet he will come to his end and there will be no one to
And that period will include the time of distress mentioned at Dan. 12:1.
The answer is given as, “It would be for a time, times and half a time."
First, the GENERAL length is stated as being 3 and 1/2 time periods; that is
around 3 1/2 years.
This does not refer to JUST the tribulation of verse 1. It refers to all the
events that were described starting at 11:36.
Those events will begin at the midpoint of the 70th week and will be
completed 1290 days later.
Dan 12:7 continues, And as soon as they finish shattering the power of the
holy people, all these events will be completed.”
This then gives a specific situation that will occur before all the events
It will not be until 1290 days from the midpoint of the week; that is 30
days after the end of the week that the oppression of the holy people will
The holy people in the immediate context refers to the Jewish people.
And the focus at the end-times will also be on them. The beast will set up
his headquarters in Jerusalem and basically take control of the Jewish
temple, which of course will abominate it.
At Dan. 12:11, the ending of these events is indicated by the removal of the
abomination of desolation from the temple area in Jerusalem.
"And from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the
abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days."
The time frame for the effects from the beast is stated to be a period of
It is 3 1/2 years in GENERAL, but it is specifically 1290 days.
Rev. 13:5 tells us that the reign of the beast will be 42 months.
That is 1260 days using a 30-day = 1 month measurement.
This also indicates that the tribulation mentioned at Dan. 12:1 will begin
at the mid point of Daniel’s 70th week and not the BEGINNING of the week.
And it further explains the breaking of the covenant at the midpoint of the
week as mentioned at Dan. 9:27.
"and at the midpoint of the 7-year period, he will put a stop to sacrifice
Although, not stated as such, this indicates that the length of the
tribulation by IMPLICATION will last for the 42 month period of the beast's
reign, and perhaps even through the whole 1290 days.
Dan. 12 indicates that the END of the beast’s reign will be in ABOUT 3 ½
Rev. 13:5 says that authority to act for 42 months was given to him.
Rev. 12:6 tells us that the Jews who flee from the beast will find
nourishment in the wilderness for 1260 days.
And 12:14 says that it will be about 3 1/2 years.
Rev. 11:2 tells us that the city of Jerusalem will be under Gentile control
for 42 months.
Now, according to Rev. 11:15-16 The end of the week will occur at the
sounding of the 7th trumpet.
And even though Jesus will have returned at least 5 months before that at
the 6th seal, His official reign over the kingdoms of the earth will not
begin until the end of the week.
That is because the 5th trumpet judgment will last for 5 months, and the
return of the Lord will occur before the trumpets, as is portrayed at the
So it is at that time that the official reign of the beast will be brought
to an end and the official reign of Jesus will begin. Rev. 11:15-16
Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven,
saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of
His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four
elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and
worshiped God, 17 saying,
“We give You thanks, Lord God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was,
because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.
And with the sounding of the 7th trumpet, Jesus will pour out the final
judgments from God's wrath through the 7 bowls.
And those will culminate with the battle of Armageddon 30 days later.
Now, although the beast's reign will be officially terminated by Christ's
assumption of HIS reign, the beast will still remain alive and continue to
defend his kingdom until he is destroyed
at the battle of Armageddon.
So, according to these factors, those who studied the OT Scriptures would
EXPECT the tribulation of Dan. 12
and of Mat. 24 to last for the same length of time as is the duration of the
70th week - and perhaps for the 30 extra days as well.
However, Jesus gives some NEW information never before revealed.
Jesus taught that the time of tribulation would be CUT SHORT or “amputated”
so that not every one would be killed.
The beast’s reign does in fact last for 1260 days. But his ability to
enforce his religious agenda of beast worship will be interrupted and
impeded by the arrival of Jesus.
The pouring out of the first 4 trumpet judgments will wreak havoc on the
earth's natural resources and the economy.
The beast will be unable to maintain supplies and control of resources. His
kingdom will be in chaos and his followers from all the various nations will
become troubled and antagonistic toward him.
The cutting short of the tribulation will happen at an unknown day and hour
prior to the end of the beast’s reign, and therefore, prior to the end of
the 70th week.
According to the teaching of Jesus, the tribulation will be cut short and
ended BEFORE He arrives.
It is then, immediately after that shortening of the tribulation
that the cosmic signs will announce the coming of Jesus and the arrival of
So, while the 70th week must continue for its established duration, the
tribulation itself will be interrupted.
It will be “cut short” and brought to an end by the sovereign decree of God
at some unknown day and hour before the end of the week.
Accordingly, it can be rightly said that “of that day and hour no one knows"
(Mat. 24:36, 42, 44).
Thus, the image of “the thief in the night” was taught by Jesus at Mat.
And verse 44 makes the application to His coming. “For this reason you be
ready TOO; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think.”
Because of this - the disciples and the apostles used the “thief in the
night” image in their writings.
“For you yourselves know accurately that the Day of the Lord will come just
like a thief in the night.” 1 Thes. 5:2
“But the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief.” 2 Pet. 3:10
Jesus said in John's: “Behold, I am coming like a thief” Rev. 16:16
Now Jesus said that if the tribulation is not cut short, NO FLESH would be
If God does not put a stop to the killing of people by the beast, it will
result in the death of EVERYONE who does not worship the beast. The only
ones left alive on the earth would be those who have taken the mark.
So - continuing at Mat. 24:22 -
“But for the sake of THE ELECT those days will be cut short.”
The “elect” refers to those who have trusted in Jesus or will trust in
Jesus. The inclusion of future believers in this designation, elect ones, is
based on the foreknowledge of God
and based on the principle found at John 17:20,
“I am not asking on behalf of these alone, but also for those who believe in
Me through their word."
If the beast’s oppression is allowed to continue - if it is not curtailed -
then he would eventually kill EVERYONE who is not a beast worshiper. This
would effectively prevent the Messiah from fulfilling God's promises to the
church, to the nation of Israel, and to the Gentiles alive after the
This is a major issue within the on-going angelic conflict,
which revolves around Satan's attempt to discredit the character of God.
As I mentioned earlier -
If Satan can succeed in neutralizing just ONE factor of God’s character and
plan, he will nullify the divine indictment that was placed against him when
he rebelled against God in the beginning.
He would escape his destiny with the lake of fire.
Now, the cutting short of the tribulation through the rapture is part of
It's the removal of all living believers (the elect) out from the midst of
the beast's persecution.
This promise will be a source of great confidence and comfort for those who
will be alive at that time.
That comfort is inherent in the promise of 1thes 4, where it is written,
"therefore comfort one another with these words."
And as Paul wrote at 2Thes. 1:6-7,
"Since indeed, it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict
you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted, along with us, at the
revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming
BUT - the deliverance of the elect refers not only to those who trust in
Christ BEFORE the rapture, even more so it refers to those who WILL TRUST in
Christ AFTER the rapture – the FUTURE “elect.”
After the rapture, there needs to be on the earth living Jews and Gentiles
who will be able to trust in Christ and become members of the elect. It is
for the sake of THESE that the days of the tribulation will be cut short.
However, the return of Christ will also initiate the day of the Lord
judgments of God's end-times wrath.
That wrath will be directed against all who do not believe in Jesus - not
only to the beast worshippers, but also to anyone who does not know God and
does not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus according to 2Thes. 1:8.
But because of God's great love for all of mankind, and the fact that He
desires all people to be saved, there will be a world-wide proclamation of
the gospel during the period of the tribulation and even after the
tribulation during the DOL judgments.
And this gospel of the kingdom: The gospel is the everlasting gospel of
The significance of everlasting is that it is the SAME gospel that was
proclaimed from Adam's fall and throughout all of history.
OT: people were saved by putting trust in the salvation promise that God
would bring the Savior into the world and accomplish redemption for all who
trust in Him.
NT: people are saved by looking back to the historical reality of Christ's
work of redemption on the cross.
The idea and term, “gospel of the kingdom,” refers to this entrance and
access into God’s kingdom through faith in the Messiah. That’s what Jesus
was talking about at John 3:3 and 5, when He told Nicodemus that one could
ACCESS the kingdom of God only by being born again.
Another description of the everlasting gospel is given at Rev. 14:6-7 - but
this refers specifically to the time after the rapture and is directed
toward all those who do not worship the beast - challenging them to believe
in the gospel.
And I saw another angel flying in midheaven with the everlasting gospel to
proclaim to those who live on the earth, and to every nation, tribe,
language, and people; 7 and he said with a loud voice, “Reverence God and
give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who
made the heaven and the earth, and sea and springs of waters.”
The gospel WILL be proclaimed in the whole world for a witness to all the
nations: The major point is that all nations will hear the good news of
salvation through Jesus Christ before the day-of-the-Lord judgments come.
And even after Christ's arrival, the promise is extended to all at all
times, for whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
Of course, the only exceptions are the beast worshippers who have already
sealed their everlasting judgment by taking the mark of the beast.
Continuing at Mat. 24:14, and then shall the end come: This indicates an
event that will follow upon the world-wide proclamation of the gospel. It
does not require an IMMEDIATE occurrence. However, it does indicate that
God’s justice has been satisfied at that point, and there is nothing to
delay His agenda from moving to its completion stage.
Now, since we of the church are left here on earth to proclaim the gospel,
let's be diligent to radiate Christian love and values in our life and give
the salvation invitation whenever we have the opportunity, just as Paul
stated to the Jailer, believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.
And - just as the angel ended the book of Revelation.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.”
And let the one who is thirsty come;
let the one who desires, take the water of life without cost.