Delivered From the Wrath to Come
The Great Tribulation period of seven years is deeply misunderstood by most Bible students.
The distinction between tribulation in general and what Jesus calls the Great Tribulation is extremely important. Much of the confusion about the Rapture of Christ’s church, His Bride, and when it occurs could easily be solved if we clarify what actually happens during this seven-year period. It is not just tribulation as the church has experienced during the past 2,000 years. Saints have been martyred by the thousands, sawn asunder, fed to the lions, had their own children slaughtered before their eyes, and suffered untold deprivations. The gates of hell have beaten the church with indescribable vengeance, but have not prevailed to eliminate her testimony. The true church of Jesus Christ lives on as a remnant of blood-washed saints, who still love holiness and who fear the Lord with great joy.
To think of the Great Tribulation as simply more of the above is to totally miss the truth of Holy Scripture. The devil has beat up on God’s saints with indescribable hatred and that hatred will grow as the end approaches. Satan will continue to hate anyone who confesses Jesus Christ after the seven years begin. The Jewish Nation will reap their last great sorrows during this period as Satan and his cohorts, the Antichrist, and the false prophets, unleash vengeance against the chosen nation through which Christ came 2,000 years ago. Satan’s primary hatred has always been the Jews first and then the followers of Jesus Christ.
The Wrath of God
But the Great Tribulation will be more, much more than Satan’s anger against the Jews and those who confess Christ after the Rapture. This period is the time of God’s wrath. To this day the only precedents in history are the worldwide flood of Noah’s generation and the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Of course, this event of God’s wrath will be the ultimate judgment of wickedness and will certainly surpass those two prior events as named above. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 24 that this is the finale of judgment against the vileness of human sin. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).
The First Testament prophets gave a clear description of this time. Isaiah prophesied, “Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire: And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err. Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel. And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones. For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod” (Isaiah 30:27-31).
Again, he prophesied, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth” (Isaiah 63:1-6).
Such language has no kinship to what we understand as tribulation. This is the kindled fury of a holy God that has given perfect judicial opportunity for man’s redemption. Now, His spurned holiness has become a full cup and He will march through His creation to cleanse it of every defilement. It is indeed a beautiful sight to see the glory of God in holiness as He goes forth to punish sin and purify His earth.
Imagine a courtroom scene as a white-haired judge listens to the cry of a mother, whose daughter has been ravaged by a maniacal man until her life is snuffed out. The mother is absolutely devastated, her beautiful daughter is gone. Her young pure life has been needlessly destroyed. This mother keeps asking if there is any justice in the world. Finally, the evidence is complete and he is guilty beyond question. Hell has spewed its fire on another home, but the Judge sees the truth. His verdict is finally stated: Death by hanging at sunrise the next morning. A grieving mother arises from her seat and with strong determination leaves the courtroom. Her entire person finally feels relief. Justice has won the day. Her daughter did not die in vain. A serial killer will never kill again. She sleeps after months of torment.
That’s the beauty of this day of God’s vengeance. Evil has stalked the land like a thousand rapists. Dark deeds of the night have filled the world with sorrows. Good people have had to endure endless attacks because they chose to be different. Sin has no satisfaction except in destruction, but now the judge of the world will put this beast out of business. It’s a beautiful sight indeed to see the Light of the World coming with justice to put out the darkness and bring the world back to sanity.
Judgment Because They Rejected His Son
This terrible day of tribulation has an ultimate purpose beyond the previous description. Yes, our Holy God does hate sin. In fact, He hates it so much that He gave His Only Son to save the world from sin and its consequences. But, now most of the world has rejected that Only Begotten Son and has chosen a thousand paths other than the one that streams from Calvary. God will judge the world because they rejected His Son and His ultimate love to man. Jesus describes this judgment Himself, “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city” (Matthew 22:1-7).
When the picture of this event Jesus called the Great Tribulation is understood biblically, it bears no resemblance to the present tribulation that all believers endure to some degree. The gas chambers of Hitler were hell on earth and snuffed out millions of lives. At least six million Christians died, along with six million Jews. But this judgment to come is not the death of men to yet be raised in resurrection to face God in judgment. This tribulation is the wrath of God Himself to which there are no claims of higher appeal.
This Wrath Is Toward Wicked and Ungodly Men
There is no place in Scripture that this day can be identified to affect the Godly servant of the Lord. Whenever the First Testament prophets spoke of judgment, they always showed that God provided a haven for the righteous. Isaiah spoke of “a day of indignation.” He clearly revealed the provision of the Lord for the saints, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain” (Isaiah 26:19-21).
Such language leaves no question that our God never judges the righteous with the wicked. Malachi spoke of this care, which the Father provides for His own, “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not” (Malachi 3:16-18).
The Holy Scripture is filled with this evident difference that the God of this earth makes between the holy and the unholy. “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). God would vent His wrath on the antediluvian world. The ark became his haven above the storm. Lot was told by angels, “Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither” (Genesis 19:22). Can you imagine the angels saying, “I cannot do anything till thou be come thither?” It is impossible in God’s kingdom of judicial perfection for a righteous person to be treated as an unrighteous individual. The God of this earth will do it right.
The Day of Wrath
The Apostle Paul identifies the Wrath of God in his inspired writings. This wrath is a specific action by the Creator and is always directed in a very narrow frame. Apostle Paul stated, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).
Paul then speaks of a specific day — “a day of wrath” — that was to be manifest at a future time, “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:5-6).
An important statement in verse 6 clearly reveals that this day will be just and it will be rendered to each person according to their deeds. The righteous will be rewarded as they have lived and the wicked will be judged as they have lived. The Apostle Paul also stated to the church at Colosse, “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience…” (Colossians 3:6).
The Biblical record is clear that the Great Tribulation Jesus spoke of is identical to the period, which commences in chapter six of the Book of Revelation. Apostle John calls this period the “Day of Wrath.” “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:16-17).
The Scripture is abundantly clear. The Day of Wrath and the Great Tribulation period are the same event in God’s economy. God will judge wickedness and a day has been established when that will transpire.
One of the final reasons for this Day of Wrath is to teach the inhabitants of the earth righteousness. The awesome day will instill the fear of God in mankind. The prophet Isaiah said, “With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).
The Righteous Will Escape This Day
It has never been the plan of God to pour out His wrath on His obedient children. While there is always a community effect of evil and judgment — the lives of everyone in any culture are affected by wickedness — that is distinctly different from a direct act of God’s wrath. The Scripture makes that abundantly clear. Apostle Paul wrote to the churches these words, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
If the Great Tribulation is the Day of His Wrath, and it certainly appears clear in Scripture, then the saints cannot be on earth during that period. To speak of Christ’s very Bride on earth during any portion of the Seven Years’ of Wrath is to defy every principle of Biblical harmony.
God hath delivered us “from the wrath to come” (I Thessalonians 1:10). The Spirit of prophecy boldly states, “We are not appointed unto wrath” (I Thessalonians 5:9). The Blood of Jesus was shed because Christ took upon Himself our wrath by a breathless act of substitution. It is impossible for us to identify with Jesus Christ in His Redemption and still be subject unto God’s Wrath.
Paul said, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:9-10).
The Rapture Before The Wrath of God
There will be a blessed day of escape for the righteous servants of our Holy God. Before the Son of God sends His angels to judge wickedness and right the multiplied wrongs of this world, He will come to get His Bride. John, the Revelator, spoke as the Holy Ghost gave him his vision. He promised, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
This is only one of many promises, but it is sufficient for the conclusion of this article. Before the “hour of temptation, which shall come” can begin, the faithful will be removed. This “hour of temptation” is synonymous with the Great Tribulation and the Day of Wrath. This world is about to see the “cup of God’s Wrath.” When it is concluded after seven years, there will be no doubters. The Scripture promises that all Israel will be saved in one day. The inhabitants of this earth will learn righteousness. The holy will be with her Bridegroom as this earth sees a picture of God’s Holiness that no man will ever forget.
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