There is no question this world will yet experience a time of “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time,” as predicted by our Lord in Matthew 24.21. In Revelation 3.10, He promised to keep believers from “the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
Such a time will have to be worse than anything ever known in human history; far worse than the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. where there were one million casualties; than the Black Plague, when there were nine million killed; than World War I, 20 million killed; than the devastation of World War II and Hitler’s holocaust, six million Jews killed and at least four million Christians killed.
The Scriptures give more space to describing the coming Tribulation period than to any other prophetic event. The Hebrew prophets mention it 39 times, calling it a “time of Jacob’s trouble,” Jeremiah 30.7; “tribulation,” or distress in Deuteronomy 4.30; and many other titles denoting distress. The New Testament calls it “the day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5.2; “the wrath of God” in Revelation 14.10; 15.1,7 and 16.1; and “the wrath of the Lamb” in Revelation 6.16,17. Revelation 6 – 19 describes the events of that Tribulation period, the best description of this terrifying, close-at-hand time which will try the whole world.
Daniel, the Hebrew prophet Jesus quoted most, predicted troublous times would last seven years and be started by the signing of a seven-year covenant between Israel and “the prince that shall come,” elsewhere called antiChrist or the beast. Then he predicted this beast or governmental ruler would break that covenant in the middle of the Tribulation and desecrate the temple: Daniel 9.26,27. Again, Daniel predicted when the antiChrist arises, he will be empowered by Satan himself with “all power, signs and lying wonders,” 2 Thessalonians 2.9, and will desecrate the temple and set up an image of himself, demanding people worship him!
There is little doubt as to when this Tribulation occurs nor how long it will last. Daniel predicts it will last “one week,” or seven years according to Daniel 9.27. John in Revelation divides it into two periods of three and one-half years each or 1,260 days each, a total of seven years. During the first three and one-half years, more than half the world’s population dies. During the second half, conditions get even worse after Satan is cast out of Heaven, indwells the antiChrist’s body and demands the world worship him. Our Lord Jesus predicted this Tribulation would end immediately prior to His return to this earth to set up His earthly Kingdom for 1000 years: Matthew 24.29 and Daniel 9.24.
We should never lose sight of the true purpose of that Tribulation period: a divine expression of His mercy and grace. For in that brief seven-year period, at a time when the world’s population is at its largest, God will shake the earth in an attempt to lessen man’s false sense of security. He will send 144,000 Jewish witnesses filled with the Holy Spirit, Revelation 7 and Joel 2.28-32; and other witnesses. God will go to the most extreme measures in all of history during the final days of man’s life on earth to bring a massive number of souls to faith in Him so multitudes of people may enjoy the blessings He has prepared for their eternal future.