The Time of Great Tribulation
This topic of great tribulation is a central time to understand if you are going to grasp Bible prophecy. Many people have many interpretations, some focusing on a seven year tribulation period or even focusing on all the fire and brimstone and plagues that will befall the earth as the tribulation.
What I’ve found the Bible to be saying is that the great tribulation is not defined by God’s wrath, it is defined by the dragon’s wrath. Revelation 12:13 It is marked by a beginning, defined by Daniel and referred to by Christ, called the abomination of desolation, and a length of time that revolves around the antichrist’s reign for 42 months, Revelation 13:5. It is the dragon’s wrath against God’s chosen people, Jew first, then anyone with the testimony of Christ. Since the time of great tribulation starts as the result of the dragon’s wrath, we can also see that it must end at Armageddon when Christ ends the rule of the antichrist, throws him and the false prophet in the lake of fire and chains the dragon for 1,000 years. Revelation 19:20-20:3
How Long is the time of Great Tribulation?
The time of great tribulation is a 1260 day (3½ year x 360 days) period of time. Here I will present the scriptures that define this time period. For more detail on the kingdoms defined in history in the following passage, see Daniel 7. What this tells us is that this time period is in the end-times yet future.
A time and times and the dividing of time is another way of saying 3½ years, time (1) + times (2) + dividing of time (½) = 3½. This passage is speaking of the time of the fourth kingdom and it’s master, the antichrist. At the abomination of desolation the man of sin is allowed to reveal himself speaking great words against the Most High and blaspheming the True God. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 At this point, the saints are given over to him for 3½ years. This is the same time that the beast is given his power by the dragon.
So the whole time the dragon gives the beast power, the beast will be going after the saintsH6922. I would like to point out that a saint is one who is appointed, consecrated, undefiled, and purified. All these are only possible through Christ. We should keep in mind that we are limited by not knowing men’s hearts and not seeing beyond our own time. So there are many “saints” who may not act it now, but will come to Christ and be saved. In God’s mind outside of time, they are already His. Ephesians 1:4-10 We should also keep in mind that the Lord used this same word many times for individuals in Israel and Israel will be saved. Romans 11:26 I believe “saint” is referring to anyone, Jew or Gentile, that belongs to Christ during the time period mentioned. Furthermore when Paul wrote in Romans 11:25-26 that all Israel shall be saved, it is in regards to those written in the book, who have accepted Yeshua as the Messiah that took away their sins. Natural Israel that was broken off the root, which is Christ, is no longer spiritual Israel and it is the combined Jew and Gentile spiritual reborn Israel who have accepted Christ that is the true Israel. It is imperative that Gentile Christians begin to think in a more Hebrew context when looking at Bible prophecy, understanding that we are grafted onto that root and joined with Christ along with natural Israel. Much of prophecy is about Christ's plan for Israel and the earth when they are unblinded and see Him.
My point is that Israel is not precluded from this group. Many Christians leave the Old Testament alone and focus on the New Testament only. However, when you do this, you lose much understanding because to understand the big picture, you must realize that, as Chuck Missler says, “The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed, and the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.”
This 3½ years contains both the initial “time of Jacob’s trouble” and the remainder of the beast’s rule when his focus isn’t just those in Judea. As we will see in this study, we must also look at the term “saints” in light of the promise to escape the time of God’s wrath. Not all “saints” will be on the earth during God’s wrath. Those saints that are the bride of Christ will be at the marriage of the Lamb during that time. However, I believe there will be saints on the earth for the duration of Satan’s reign over the kingdoms of the earth as well. Matthew 25:1-13 It's all a matter of understanding we are in space-time, locked to a sequential order of fulfillment and prophecy is talking about those points in time.
Now that we have an overview of the time frame of the time of great tribulation, we need to further dig into the Word of God to understand the details and what that means to our understanding of Bible prophecy. First and foremost, we must define which aspect of “great tribulation” we’re talking about. There are three verses in the New Testament which use this exact term, they are labeled “Great tribulation” below, but they are not all focused on the same time frame. To whom is this “great tribulation” happening? There are two perspectives we need to take into account, Israel and the church. They are both contained within the 3½ year “great tribulation” period, but they show the two distinct perspectives of that 3½ year period. The distinction in time frames comes from Revelation 12. Here’s a quick scripture layout for reference:
Great Tribulation 1260 days/42 months/3½ years
Notice that all three scriptures which state a time unparalleled in history all directly refer to Israel/Judah/Judea. This is a very specific people and place called out in the focus of this time initially.
Israel & The Start of the Great Tribulation - The “Time of Jacob’s Trouble”
This study is focused on defining the details of the time of great tribulation. In that regard, I will follow the flow of time in referencing the scriptures. In other words, I will start at the beginning and end at the end, showing how the different perspectives come into play. This all revolves around the events of the abomination of desolation. If you haven’t read that study, it will help you understand the pivotal nature of this event. Much changes in heaven and earth at this point in history. What we must understand about it for this part of the study is that the abomination of desolation is when Lucifer is cast out of heaven by Michael after the war in heaven. Revelation 12:7-12
What we see from this scripture is that Israel, the woman of Revelation 12, is the primary focus of the dragon’s wrath. She’s the first one he goes after when he’s cast out of heaven. Since the dragon gives the beast his power for 42 months, Revelation 13:4,5, the beast is his puppet so seeing the dragon go after Israel is the same as seeing the antichrist go after her. This all revolves around the time of the abomination of desolation I mentioned earlier. Notice how clearly this defines Israel as the focus of this time. We will see that mirrored in what Daniel, Jeremiah and Christ all said about this time. God does delineate between Gentile believers and His chosen people, Israel. Romans 11:16-27 speaks of natural and wild branches grafted onto the root, which is Christ. That distinction is regardless of time in history. Israel is always the natural branches and the Gentiles are always the wild branches. In Christ they are grafted to the same root (Christ), but there is still a distinction. As Christians, our spiritual head is Christ, so what did Christ have to say about this time after the abomination of desolation?
This time of “great tribulation” in this passage is describing this particular time that is unparalleled. It is imperative that we keep in mind the distinction of Revelation 12:13-16 and Revelation 12:17. The first group the dragon goes after are Israel, and Christ even made it clear by only specifying that those in Judea run to the mountains. This unparalleled time is clearly localized in Israel initially.
Applying logic, we also know that if a particular time is described “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” then any other claim of a time being similar would have to equate to the same period of time. You can’t have two different times both claiming they’re the worst in history. Now again, look at who these verses are focused on. Who’s going to have the worst time in history at some future point?
Christ was referring to the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” Israel was Jacob’s God-given name and passed down through Jacob’s seed becoming the name of their nation as scripture states. Genesis 28:13-14 | Genesis 48:4 Here’s another Old Testament prophecy about this same unparalleled time in all of history. Notice again who the subject of this time is.
What “people” did Daniel belong to? I don’t think there’s any argument that he was from the tribe of Judah of Israel. Daniel 1:1-6 Also note that not all of Daniel’s people will be delivered, just those found written in the book. Notice the similarities of these three verses:
Why is this time so unparalleled?
And now we see from scripture, just why this time is unparalleled in all of history. At no point in history has 2/3 of Israel been killed suddenly in attempted genocide perpetrated by the dragon’s hatred for the the woman who delivered the Meshiach Nagid (Messiah the King). Revelation 12 Hitler tried, many of the nations want nothing more, but God is still with Israel for His namesake.
It may also be that this 2/3 that are cut off is not about the mass murder of Jews in Judea, but rather harkens back to Romans 11 and Paul’s comparison between Jew and Gentile and the final cutting off of the natural branch from the root, the point in time of history with no return for those of Israel who reject Yeshua and accept the man of sin. I still believe anyone who doesn’t accept the antichrist in Judea at this time will be killed as that trend is a major piece of his reign, but the 2/3 may not be killed right away, just lost for eternity and perhaps even participants in the murder of those who do not accept the antichrist at that time.
Either way, there is also a promise that 1/3 of Israel will be brought through the fire and refined. God’s wrath is described as an all-consuming fire.
Deuteronomy 9 talks about Israel’s crossing over Jordan into the promised land. God says, “Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.” Israel is taken to the wilderness 3½ years before the end of the 70th week of Daniel to be protected from the dragon. Revelation 12:14 That means they will be taken to the wilderness and the wrath of God will start, beginning the day of the Lord. Another potentially linked study is the sealing of the 144,000 of the 12 tribes of Israel prior to the wrath of God.
This all reveals some very important things from the Bible.
Using logic, we can deduce several things. The time of Jacob’s trouble is an Israel-specific prophecy that is centered not only on the people of Israel, but also the physical land since only those in Judea are told to flee. This all takes place immediately after the abomination of desolation and this is 1,290 days before the end of the 70th week of Daniel. Daniel 12:11 If you examine the chart I put together from the specific day prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, you see how this looks in a timeline. God gave us exact day prophecies for this time period and if we lay those days out, we are given a detailed account of this time period.
How Long is the Time of Jacob’s Trouble?
Does scripture tell us when this time of Jacob’s trouble is over? Some facts to re-iterate, The time of Jacob’s trouble is Satan’s wrath focused on the nation of Israel living in the land of Judea. It is the dragon, Lucifer, that gives the beast his power for 42 months. Revelation 13:2-5 It starts with the beast’s persecution of the Jews after the abomination of desolation. Christ connects for us the abomination of desolation to the beginning of a time of great tribulation which focuses first on the people in Judea, the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” If that is what starts this time as spoken by Christ, then it’s end will be when the beast is no longer able to persecute Israel or those holding the testimony of Christ.
Revelation 12 shows us that the 3½ year time of Satan’s wrath is split into two focuses. First Satan’s wrath is on Israel in Judea, which is the time of Jacob’s trouble. Then once they’re protected from him, the remnant of Israel in the world as well as those holding faith in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile. When the abomination of desolation happens you know the time of Jacob’s trouble, beginning the great tribulation, has started. This is where the Bible study of Daniel’s 70 weeks comes into play. It tells us when in the big picture this will take place. As we will see, Christ refers to an Old Testament prophet, Daniel, to teach us what the abomination of desolation is. What this also does is place the event on the timeline of prophetic events because that’s when we’re told the great tribulation starts. Matthew 24:15-22 You can read that study for more of the scriptures, I’ll just share the two related to the timing.
The context of Daniel 12 is in the 70th week, starting with the abomination of desolation. So we know that from the time of the abomination of desolation, there will be 1,290 more days before the end of the 70th week of Daniel. We also know the beast has his power from the abomination of desolation for 1,260 days. Revelation 19:20 tells us when the beast’s reign ends, at Armageddon, when Christ returns in glory and throws him into the lake of fire with the false prophet. This leaves a 30 day period of time after Christ returns in glory before the 70th week ends.
The End of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble
The dragon has no power to reach the woman any longer once she is taken into the wilderness. This brings us back to Revelation 12:13-16 that we started out with in this study. The woman is protected from the dragon for 1,260 days. That’s the same time the beast has his power. How is this possible? The answer lies in the combination of Daniel 12:11 and Revelation 12:14. Since we know the dragon goes after Israel first and it starts at the abomination of desolation, The 3½ years Israel is protected from the dragon must start 30 days after the abomination of desolation started.
Let me clarify. The great tribulation Yeshua speaks of in Matthew 24:15-22 is specifically that time in which Israel is persecuted by the beast after the abomination of desolation, the time of Jacob’s trouble. We define “great tribulation” by what causes it to begin from scripture, Satan’s wrath against God’s people, Israel and Christians. Revelation 12:13-17 Both will exist on the earth when the beast has his power, so not all Jews are going to be living in Judea to be taken to the wilderness. So that is why the remnant of the seed is still under persecution. However, that isn’t what Christ was referring to as the time of great tribulation in Matthew 24:15-22. It was specifically tied to the time of Jacob’s trouble with the language of a singularly horrible and unparalleled time from which they will be saved out of. This is the time when 2/3 of Israel is cut off just after the abomination of desolation. That time is over once they’re protected from the dragon. Since that is for 1,260 days that they’re protected Revelation 12:14 and that’s exactly how long the antichrist has influence Revelation 13:5, it’s only resolved with the above chart as laid out in scripture. That means that when “the tribulation of those days” is said later in Matthew 24, it’s referring to the end of those specific days from Matthew 24:15-28 in which Israel is the focus of Satan’s wrath, the time of Jacob’s trouble.
Please read this study on Matthew 24:29-31 if you have not yet. It very much affects the timing of the sixth seal and is directly connected to that time between the abomination of desolation and the sixth seal called the time of Jacob’s trouble.
The Church & The Shift of the Antichrist’s Focus
We saw with Revelation 12:13-16, how the beast, given power by the dragon, goes after Israel (those in Judea) when he is first cast to the earth. As we will see, several shifts take place now that he can no longer get her. This is still the great tribulation, but the time of Jacob’s trouble is over. The 1/3 remnant that were taken to the wilderness were already saved out of that time.
Taken literally it would be Messianic Jews. However, since the antichrist is going after anyone holding the testimony of Christ, then it could be Gentiles too because they are also given the gift of salvation through Christ. But another event plays into this time of transition.
Christ will be coming for His bride, the church in the catching away to the clouds, the harpazo. From scripture, we know that the harpazo must come before God’s wrath does. The day of the Lord is the beginning of God’s wrath. Several scriptures connect the day of the Lord with sudden destruction from the Almighty.
The Bible also tells us that we will not be in darkness about this time if we’re watching, that’s why it’s so important to watch.
I think this next scripture really sums it up. That “multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,” who are standing before the Son of man, the Lamb of God that was slain for the redemption of man are those which came out of great tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble. They are also the resurrected saints from all of history, believers who have died, but will be resurrected before we’re all caught up in the harpazo, or rapture.
The placement in time and in scripture of this passage is after the sixth seal in Revelation 6:12-17. Matthew 24:29 states that the sixth seal is “Immediately after the tribulation of those days,” referring to Matthew 24:15-28, which is directly connected to the nation of Israel and called the time of Jacob’s trouble. Jeremiah 30:4-7 & Daniel 12:1
Revelation 7:1-8 is the sealing of the 144,000 of the 12 tribes of Israel. Notice that before they are sealed and protected, an angel comes and tells the four angels to whom power was given to hurt the earth and sea not do do anything until these are sealed with the seal of God. The seventh seal is only ½ hour long and then the day of the Lord begins, which is after the sixth seal according to Joel 2:31, where the wrath of God starts with the first trumpet in Revelation 8. This sequence of events, I believe, shows the harpazo as happening around the sixth seal. We don’t know the day or hour of Christ’s coming to take us, but we know it’s before God’s wrath. When the world is hiding in the rocks from the face of Him who sits on the throne, the bride of Christ should be looking up because their redemption is at hand. Luke 21:25-28
But what great tribulation is being spoken of in Revelation 7:14 above? It can’t be the first one we looked at because that covers the final 3½ years which would place this, and the sixth seal, at the end of the 70th week of Daniel. Now post-trib harpazo proponents look at this and accept it on a surface level, but there is too much in the post-trib belief that counters scripture, so there is a deeper truth here because there is a True answer. The answer lies in the next scripture which defines the great tribulation according to what Christ said.
The reason I bring this up is because a part of the church is promised to be kept from the time of temptation (putting to proof). Revelation 3:10 What does this time of temptation mean? I had always just taken the hour of temptation we're kept from as being the wrath of God, but I was recently led into thinking about this and put my thoughts in the hour of temptation page.
It was after His baptism that Yeshua went into the wilderness to fast for 40 days prior to starting His ministry.
Here we see 3 temptations after 40 days.
So the three temptations seem to have to do with temporary reprieve from the physical suffering, like Esau giving his portion to Jacob for stew, or worshipping the beast to be able to buy and sell and participate in society and eat. It’s also about rejecting God in the midst of this to worship the antichrist, about giving up your eternal inheritance for your temporal comfort.
If my thoughts are correct that the abomination of desolation and the exact days framework places an approximate 30 day window before the 6th seal and our gathering to the Lord. Matthew 24:15-31 and Revelation 12:9-17 really does speak to an initial focus on Israel and Judea for the dragon’s wrath, only to be spread globally after the woman is protected from the dragon for the remainder of the 70th week of Daniel, then that might shine a whole new light on Revelation 3:10 and our promise to be kept from the hour of temptation.
Perhaps it isn’t equating temptation to God’s wrath, but temptation to capitulate to Satan’s wrath and save our own skin, worshipping the man of sin and rejecting God. Because the 5 wise virgins are already prepared, “keeping the word of my patience,” they are caught up before the time of the devil’s temptation spreads globally and saved from that hour of temptation while the 5 foolish virgins have the door to the wedding shut on them. Matthew 25:1-13.
So while we are still promised to escape the wrath of God, we will also not be tempted because we will be going to the wedding as the bride while the earth is both tempted to reject God for temporal things and the wrath of God is poured out on the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:1-16 | Colosians 3:1-17
A part of the church is also promised to be cast into great tribulation. I would recommend reading Chuck Missler’s study on the seven letters to the seven churches.
We can see the similarities in the kingdom parable of the 10 virgins. Matthew 25:1-13 In this parable, there are 10 virgins waiting for their bridegroom. However, when He comes, only 5 have oil in their lamps and the other 5 are left behind and the door to the marriage closed on them. Matthew 7:13-23 This parable is about the harpazo of the bride, which is the church, to the marriage of the Lamb. We see that not all of those who consider themselves to be the bride actually participate in the marriage. Instead, they are left behind to go through this time of great tribulation. However, this great tribulation is from the perspective of those left behind. They will be under the hand of the antichrist while God’s wrath is also being poured out. It will indeed be a time of great tribulation.
The End of the Great Tribulation
By defining the “great tribulation” as Satan’s wrath against God’s chosen people, Jew and Gentile believer, we know that the end is marked with the antichrist’s end. We know that to be when Christ returns in glory to take the kingdoms and defeat the armies gathered at Armageddon.
By this we also know that Christ returns in glory 42 months, or 1260 days, after the abomination of desolation. For those concerned with not knowing the day or hour of His coming, I am speaking of His return at the end of the week not when He comes for His bride before God’s wrath is poured out. I believe scripture lays out a pre-wrath harpazo. The one passage in Matthew 25:13 stating we won’t know the day or hour when the Son of man comes, is directly related to Him coming to gather his bride, not His return in glory to take the kingdoms of the earth.
Is the great tribulation God’s wrath?
From what I’ve read in scripture, the great tribulation is the direct result of the man of sin being given power by the dragon and the dragon going after the woman, Israel. Revelation 12,13
Understanding that, the great tribulation has nothing to do with God’s wrath, but rather it is the dragon’s wrath. The “great tribulation” starts when the dragon’s wrath is expressed against Israel, and in Revelation 12:17 that wrath is turned from Judea specifically to worldwide persecution by Satan of Jews and anyone holding the testimony of Christ. It is this scattering of the holy people by Satan and his minions that results in the great tribulation starting. Christ directly links the start of this great tribulation with the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet who placed this event in the midst of a 7-year period of time appointed to the nation of Israel. The 70th week is God’s plan, the covenant with many is the dragon’s plan.
The days of Noah was God’s wrath against the evil in the world. That same type of the days of Noah would then associate with the day of the Lord beginning rather than the dragon’s wrath against Israel and then all of God’s people.
Recognizing this difference, we know God’s wrath won’t come before the abomination of desolation because Joel 2:31 says the day of the Lord comes after the sixth seal.
And Matthew 24:29 places the sixth seal “immediately after the tribulation of those days” referring back to Matthew 24:15-28. That is the same unparalleled time prophesied specifically for Israel as mirrored in Jeremiah 30:4-7 and Daniel 12:1. This is the time of Jacob’s trouble, which is cut short so that the 1/3 remnant of Israel will remain as promised. Zechariah 13:8-9
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In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work herein is archived under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in reviewing the included information for personal use, non-profit research and educational purposes only. Ref.