by Paul Benson
The Great Tribulation
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24:21
When Jesus was teaching on the end-time events which would precede his Return he spoke of a period of tremendous woe upon mankind. He described a coming time of war, famine, plague, natural disasters, great religious deception and persecution of the followers of Christ on a scale never seen before.
Many Bible teachers are claiming this time of great tribulation is actually the wrath of God being poured out upon mankind. And that because God has promised to ‘save us from the wrath to come’ the Church will be taken to Heaven before this woe begins. But where did anyone get the idea that when the Bible speaks about being saved from God’s wrath it is referring to the ‘great tribulation’? Is this a notion that is actually presented by the Scriptures? Let’s take a look.
Is Tribulation Wrath?
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 1Thessalonians 5:9
… even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 1Thessalonians 1:10
One of the most popular reasons given for supposing that the Church could not possibly go through this time is that the ‘Great Tribulation’ is the wrath of God; with one of the above verses of Scripture normally quoted as support for this line of thinking.
In the first verse we see wrath and salvation are presented as being diametrically opposed to each other: not WRATH but SALVATION. Now let’s ask ourselves: is ‘tribulation’ the opposite of salvation? No, it is not. I would say damnation is the opposite of salvation, wouldn’t you? Also, is tribulation synonymous with damnation? I don’t think we could properly say that either.
Neither of these verses in the context which they were given speak of being removed from the danger of tribulation in this world. In the second one Paul had just spoken to them of receiving the Word in much *affliction (1Thess 1:6). The word affliction there is translated from the Greek word ‘thlipsis’; the exact same word which is translated 18 times as ‘tribulation’ including ‘great tribulation’ in Matthew 24!
(*SIDE NOTE: Matthew gave us Jesus’ comment on the period of trouble as ‘ a tine of great tribulation’. How did Mark word it?
For in those days shall be affliction (Thlipsis), such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. Mark 13:19
This verse describes a day of affliction worse than the people of God had ever experienced or ever would. The Church was already in affliction (1Thess 1:6), just not yet the coming ‘great affliction’ (Thlipsis). Quite a leap to go from affliction to the vengeful wrath of God, don’t you think?)
Here is the listing in Strong’s Definitions for the Greek word from which we get the words tribulation and affliction in our Bible:
G2347 θλίψις thlipsis thlip’-sis
From G2346; pressure (literally or figuratively): – afflicted, (-tion), anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble.
Total KJV occurrences: 45
There is nothing in this definition that points to the wrath of God. A word study on thlipsis and its usage in Scripture is very enlightening! It clearly shows we are not exempt from tribulation as believers, but rather called to endure it!
…and that we must through much tribulation (Thlipsis) enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22
That no man should be moved by these afflictions (Thlipsis): for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation (Thlipsis); even as it came to pass, and ye know. 1Thessalonians 3:3-4
Paul said that we are appointed to thlipsis and that we will suffer thlipsis! Let’s look once more at the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:
For then shall be great tribulation (Thlipsis), such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24:21
As we shall see, the very words of Christ himself dismiss the notion the ‘great tribulation’ is the wrath of God! Sometimes I wonder if those who insist it is have ever really given this verse from Matthew a good looking over. Seriously! Whatever this ‘great tribulation’ is, the Lord Jesus said it will be the worst expression of it that ever has been or ever will be! Could this possibly be describing God’s wrath? Absolutely not! Please pause and ponder this:
1.) If the great tribulation WAS the wrath of God it would have to be worse than the wrath of God which destroyed the entire world in Noah’s day leaving only eight people alive. How could that be true? Where would the armies at Armageddon come from, or the wicked upon whom Jesus vents God’s wrath at his Return, if the great tribulation was God’s wrath worse than has ever been before?
2.) If it were God’s wrath it would have to exceed the wrath to be poured out at the Return of Christ:
…when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 2Thessalonians 1:7-9
The Second Coming of Christ is when the vials of God’s wrath are poured out (Revelation 15:1), This is the day God visits his wrath upon his enemies (not before). What events listed as occurring during the great tribulation are greater than the wrath of Christ’s Return? I sure don’t see any in the Bible, do you?
3.) Finally we must ask here: Is the great tribulation going to be worse than Hell, or the eternal Lake of Fire? Remember Jesus said: ‘such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be‘. Do you honestly believe that the events of the great tribulation, as fearsome as they might be, could ever compare to the wrath of God expressed by eternal damnation? Come on, let’s get real here. Let’s get this right!
I think maybe someone has deceitfully inserted a false definition into Jesus’ teaching on the great tribulation. Let’s insert Strong’s definition into it and see what that speaks:
For then shall be great tribulation (pressure, affliction, anguish, burden, persecution, tribulation, trouble) such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24:21 Italics mine.
There is nothing in the definition of the word ‘thlipsis’ that has not always been common to true Christianity. The Body of Christ has been in tribulation for nearly 2000 years! Jesus was saying that at the end of this age would come a time when the tribulation (pressure, affliction, anguish, burden, persecution, tribulation, trouble) his followers will endure would be magnified to such an extent it would be like none ever seen before or ever will be. This was a heads-up warning, NOT a promise of exemption!
But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. Luke 21:23
Some folks point to this verse from Luke and say, “See, there is God’s wrath being poured out during the tribulation!” But is this passage referring to the wrath upon the Jews of A.D. 70; or maybe referring to the wrath of someone other than God during the great tribulation (or possibly both in a dual reference)?
… for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. … …17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 12:12-14+17
We see it is the wrath of the Devil coming down on these folks, and the place of refuge is to keep them from Satan’s wrath. Would God pour out his wrath upon them and at the same time make a place of refuge for them to be safe from him? How much sense does that make? None.
And notice God didn’t remove them from this planet to keep them safe. Also, if God made a place of refuge for the Jews to be safe during the great tribulation why couldn’t he do the same for us Christians? Why would we have to be taken out of this world; should we think God can preserve the Jews but not the Gentiles?
God’s Wrath Is AFTER The Tribulation!
And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. 2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. Revelation 15:1-2
Here, at the end of the great tribulation, we now see the Wrath of God; and as we see in Rev. 15 the vials these angels have contain this wrath. But nowhere can we find support for the notion the ‘great tribulation’ itself is his wrath. Notice that when this wrath is being prepared to be poured out heaven is filled with those who had gotten the victory over the Mark of the Beast. The battle of the Church with the Antichrist is past and now it’s time for payback!
The book of Revelation does speak of God’s wrath AFTER the Tribulation; but what takes place DURING that time are extremely serious Judgments along with a call to repentance. The wrath of God is not a call to repentance! Don’t let anyone deceive you into thinking you won’t be here because the time of great tribulation is in itself his wrath. The Bible teaches no such thing. That mistaken notion came from man.
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: And what about the (supposed) tribulation Saints the rapture teachers speak of who are found to be on earth during this horrible time; has God appointed THEM unto wrath? Are they not the same blood bought children of God we are? Did not the Cross of Jesus deliver them from the wrath to come? Do the promises of God not apply to them? Is 1Thess 5:9 (God has not appointed us to wrath) no longer true; did it expire?
If one group of believers has to endure this time why not another? Is God going to remove the lukewarm Church of our generation, who have had such an abundance of light given them, before this tribulation; but make a new generation of baby Christians go through it unsupported by any seasoned elders, mature teachers, experienced prayer warriors, or the guidance of the Holy Ghost because they have all been given an exemption and left the planet? Gee, thanks God!
A Purified People
Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. Daniel 12:10
Although referring to the hardships of the ‘great tribulation’ as a means to chastise a lazy and lukewarm Church is a very unpopular concept (few even dare to raise the point for discussion) it is not without Scriptural support.
There are many passages in the Bible which seem to indicate a purification taking place during this time in regard to the Body of Christ. And who could deny this to be needful, considering the state the Church is in today? Is the Bride ready for the Groom? Not hardly; but nobody wants to face that issue; they just want their ‘rapture’!
The truths the Bible teaches about the last-days are being thrown aside to make room for the fables of escapism!
Those who say the great tribulation is the wrath of God are turning the truth into a lie. Jesus was NOT saying that before the Second Coming there would be a time of God’s Wrath like never before or ever will be. The notion is not even a possibility!
Let’s not be putting our faith in made-up fables, but in what is actually taught plainly in the Bible. The Word of God clearly teaches the wrath of God is brought upon the wicked at the Return of Jesus Christ to earth immediately after the great tribulation! (Matthew 24:29-31, 2Thess 1:7-10, Rev.11:18)
The Bible does NOT teach that the great tribulation is the wrath of God.
And neither should YOU! If you have been promoting this error you now know better, and had better stop it and repent; or you will stand before God as a deceiver. I hope you can now see the folly of believing the great tribulation is the wrath of God, and will cast that falsehood in the trash where it belongs.
May God by his grace and mercy lead us all into his perfect truth.
Here are some other articles which clearly show why ‘the pre-trib rapture theory’ is NOT correct doctrine: https://pbenson.me/category/the-rapture-theory/
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