The Great Tribulation: Matthew 24:15-28
““15) Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16) then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17) Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 18) Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 19) But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20) But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21) For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22) Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” Matthew‬ ‭24‬:‭15‬-‭22‬
Jesus now describes the Great Tribulation. Many believe that Matthew describes the seven years of tribulation from the perspective of Israel and not the church. It is a view that has strong validity.
Revelation 12:14-16 points out that God has a place in the wilderness prepared for faithful Israel during the tribulation. Meanwhile, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 notes that believers will be “caught up” together with Jesus in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. This is commonly referred to as the rapture.
It is difficult to argue against these two positions. God always takes care of His own. When Moses called down Gods judgement signs on Egypt in the book of Exodus, those who obeyed God were spared. The same held true for Noah and His family. They were spared from the ravages of the flood because they were “in” the ark.
In the broader context of these verses in Matthew 24, the warning is leveled against those who do not obey. The next chapter repeatedly warns the godly to be ready because the Master is coming back.
It can be observed that Jesus makes a distinction between the “birth pangs” (Matthew 24:4-14) and the “Great Tribulation.” (Matthew 24:15-28) The times of the birth pangs will unfold in one generation. The actual Great Tribulation will be a shorter period of time and will include the manifestation of the anti-Christ on earth. (See 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12)
So where are we today? If you have been reading my commentary on Matthew 24:4-14, you will note that I believe we have seen all of the birth pangs fulfilled since Israel became a nation in 1948. I believe we are ready for the “Great Tribulation” to start at any time.
This will be accompanied by special but slightly different events for both the nation of Israel and the church comprised of all born-again believers. Faithful Israel will have a place prepared for her in the wilderness (Revelation 12:14-16), and the church will be caught up to be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global