Great Tribulation

by Friend 14 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Friend


    Great Tribulation

    The biblical text of Matthew 24:21 speaks of a great tribulation that, unless cut short, no flesh would be saved from.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses have often applied that scriptural text as having a major and minor fulfillment; one fulfillment associated with Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD and a later fulfillment just prior to the end of this world’s system of things. Chiefly the influence toward that understanding stems from two things, 1) that Jesus was answering two questions, one of which related to an event beyond Jerusalem’s destruction, namely his parousia and the end of the age and, 2) that the Bible book of Revelation refers post-Jerusalem-destruction to a yet future event where salvation would depend upon suffering through a great tribulation. (See Revelation 7:14)

    Strictly using the text of Matthew 24 and 25, leaps in logic are made to conclude that the text of Matthew 24:21 has a second, major fulfillment beyond the tribulation leading up to Jerusalem’s fall in 70 AD. To a large extent those conclusions are to satisfy the text of Revelation 7:14. The idea is that, since both Matthew 24 and Revelation 7 refer to “great tribulation” and since both accounts speak to ultimate salvation at the hands of Jesus then the two texts must be referring to the same event. Since the text of Revelation was evidently written after the destruction of Jerusalem then it is concluded that the “great tribulation” of Mathew 24:21 must have two fulfillments, a minor and major fulfillment. The question is, need the two accounts be bound together in that manner, a manner that wreaks havoc with the flow and explicit language of Matthew 24 and 25? (That effect is what I referred to earlier as “leaps in logic”.)

    One huge problem with concluding that the text of Matthew 24:21 has a minor and major fulfillment is language used later in Matthew’s account that refers to events “immediately after the tribulation of those days.” (Matthew 24:29) The problem is, if we hold that the great tribulation of verse 21 is speaking of the same tribulation as that prior to the sign of the Son of man then we must explain away the clear intention of some “immediate” event said to occur after it. Well, no sign of the Son of man occurred “immediately after” the great tribulation associated with Jerusalem’s destruction. We must then explain away why Jesus would have used such confusing language for an otherwise clear enough response (confusing in that “immediately after” was to be understood as applicable to one fulfillment of the great tribulation but not the other, future great tribulation). Since Jesus made no distinction in his reply then reading that into the text becomes a leap of logic. The question becomes, need the “great tribulation” of Matthew 24:21 be the same event as the “tribulation” preceding the sign of the Son of man or the “great tribulation” of Revelation 7:14?

    If we look at what Jesus was replying to it becomes rather obvious that some sort of tribulation would naturally occur prior to each event questioned. One question related to a capital city’s destruction (Jerusalem) and another to “the end of the age” associated with Jesus gaining power as a king (his parousia), what you might call an overthrow. Historically both types of events are preceded by tribulation, even great tribulation depending upon who and where you are. That basic and simple perspective puts an entirely different light onto the text of Matthew 24:21 and later texts where Matthew’s account refers to tribulation associated with the sign of the Son of man, which sign immediately precedes the end of the age.

    Having in mind the two questions Jesus asked it is easy enough to conclude that Matthew 24:21 is referring to an event specific to Jerusalem’s imminent destruction, which is one of the events he was asked about. Likewise, having in mind that Jesus was also asked about a second event, it is easy enough to see that language use in verse 29 about tribulation is referring to an entirely different event, an event that would also be preceded by tribulation. Again, we have mention of tribulation specific to an event. As indicated, each event would have its own tribulation, Jesus just happened to apply the term “great” to the first. But, that does not rule out that tribulation associated with “the end of the age” would be less than great! In fact, considering the extent of that latter event (affecting all the tribes of the earth) and the other descriptors in Jesus’ reply regarding it, it is easy enough to realize that the term “great” is more than appropriate also for that tribulation.

    Of that latter event Matthew’s account describes people of all the tribes of the earth beating themselves in lamentation. Luke’s account describes the same event as causing anguish among nations with people not knowing the way out and extremely fearful of looming catastrophe! (See Luke 21:25,26) If that is not describing “great” tribulation then I don’t know what would describe it! So, with other words Jesus, in his reply to the second question asked, also spoke of great tribulation preceding the end of the age. So, there is no need to make leaps in logic to apply Matthew 24:21 to any later fulfillment, a second or major one, nearer the time of “the end of the age”. The same is also true of the text of Revelation 7:14. That is, since Jesus’ reply for a sign of his parousia and the end of the age did speak of great tribulation preceding the ultimate event of “the end” then language used at Revelation is easily understood as connected with that event, also an event depicting ultimate salvation from a corrupt and satanic system.


  • Greenpalmtreestillmine


    Hello! May I ask a question please?

    In Luke 21 after the encamped armies surround Jerusalem there is, I believe, a lesser degree of urgency to leave than is spoken about at Matthew 24. Also as was mentioned Luke does not use the term Great Tribulation but Matthew does. There are as you know other differnces between Luke 21 and Matthew 24.

    My question is: Could Luke be speaking about the events of the 1st century only, while Matthew by inspiration spoke of events in the last century?

    Thank you,
    little green tree

  • larc

    Since the average life span has gone up steadily for the past 100 years, I don't think we are living in a great tribulation. We have had our problems, but there have been periods in the last 2000 years that were a lot worse.

  • Greenpalmtreestillmine

    Hello larc,

    I apologize, if my post was poorly worded.
    By the term "last century" I did not mean the 20th century
    but the last century in this system. I do not think that the great
    tribulation has started.

    Thanks for replying,
    little green tree

  • yeldell2

    To: GreenPalmTreesStillMine

    I agree with you, I do not think we are in the Great Tribulation as
    yet either. From what I remember, I think the bible describes the
    physical condition of the earth as being different from what it is now
    as being a time of doom and gloom in our weather conditions - I think,
    but am not sure, as well as a change in the disposition and mentality
    of humans not associated with Jehovah's organization and animals also.
    I recall a talk a brother gave many years ago, explaining this to the
    full. Indeed, it does sound like a very fearful time. It seems sort
    of hard to imagine it now but it will be happen. Exactly how, no one
    but Jehovah knows. Most peoples lives are relatively peaceful now
    but many of the friends are undergoing "health problems," that might
    provide a challenge to their faith. However, it is also a time when
    one learns that they must rely on Jehovah even more than ever.



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  • neyank

    Hi yedell2,
    I've been reading your posts and I can see that you still feel that the WTS is Gods chosen orginization.
    I'm not da'd nor df'd but I am inactive.
    And that is because I can't see how they can be Jehovahs Orginization when they have gotten so many things wrong.
    i.e. biblical teachings,pophecies,ect.......
    I used to think that it was because they were human and were prone to make mistakes but they (WTS) have claimed to be Jehovahs mouthpiece.
    They have said that Jehovah is using them to dispense spititual food.
    They have said that they are the Faithful and Discreet Slave. Part of the 144,000 that they say will be in Heaven with God.
    They have said that the Org. is Jehovahs wife.
    So to make such claims does indeed put them on a level equivelent with the prophets of old.Does it not?
    And they have stated that one must be part of the orginization in order to be saved in the "Great Tribulation" and basically they're saying we must go thru them to get to Jehovah. Correct?
    What did Jesus say?
    "No one comes to the Father a except through Me".
    So the org. is putting themselves on the same level as Jesus. Correct?
    Don't get me wrong. I'm not putting you down for believing that they (WTS) are who they say they are.
    I'm just wondering what you think about all of the flip flops in their teachings over the years? About the failed time prophecies? And about them making themselves the bridge between us and God?

  • Greenpalmtreestillmine


    Hi, thanks for responding. I made that statement about the Great Tribulation in order to make more plain a statement I made on an earlier post on this same thread.

    In that post I asked a question about Matthew 24 and Luke 21. When comparing the two could the differences between them be more easiy understood or explained if we looked at Matthew 24 as only applying to the last century in this system and Luke 21 primarily applying to the first century?

    For instance, the Great Tribulation is mentioned in Matthew but not in Luke. It has been hard to explain how this Great Tribulation which "has not occurred since the world's beginning until now, no, nor will occur again," could have applied both to the first century and the last days. But if Luke was primarily speaking about the first century and Matthew about the last days then it becomes plain as to what is meant.

    There are other comparisons that can be made between the two accounts that when looked at in this light can be more easily understood.

    I look forward to possibly hearing your comments on this, if you find the subject of interest.

    With Christian Love,

  • logical

    I am convinced that the Great Tribulation has not yet happened, but it could very well be linked to the fast approaching Third World War.

    Think about it, it will destroy so many people, If atomic warfare carries on to its full extent, the earth will become totally uninhabitable. Hence, if its not cut short, no flesh will be saved. WW3 WILL be nuclear, it will be orchestrated by Satan in an attempt to totally destroy Jehovah's creation.

    The aftermath will be devestating, all the sicknesses and diseases from the fall out. The climate will be destroyed. Thankfully, the earth is able to regenerate itself.

    But faith in Jehovah should get us through this when it happens. I dont think ANYTHING can be worse than a global atomic war. And Jehovah will NEVER allow it to be repeated. Bringing truth to Jesus words.

    Thats just my opinion. It makes sense though.

  • waiting

    hey logical,

    Well, to add to your opinion. I live in South Carolina. Occasionally the news channels show a map of which major cities, states, will be hit on a first wave in case of a nuclear attack.

    If memory serves me: New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, Los Angeles(?) amongst other major metropolitan areas. For obvious reasons.

    The East coast will be destroyed - no shipping.

    South Carolina, among several states, will be wiped out because of the military installations here (many.)

    As to an opinion as whether Satan will cause this war: well, I think people are quite capable of initiating their own hell with/without his help.

    As to an opinion as to what Jehovah will do, no one knows for sure, do they?


  • Frenchy

    I read with interest your post dealing with the Great Tribulation. I can appreciate the time and effort you have evidently expended on this version of yours. My comments which follow are by no means an attempt to belittle what you believe nor to imply that I have a more exalted understanding of this most complex issue. Please do not view these comments as a personal attack. Since this is a discussion board I will assume that you want to discuss this.
    In reading your post several things come to mind, some of which I will address now. You stated: "Jesus was answering two questions". Actually he was answering Three (3)questions:
    "Tell us, (1) When will these things be, and(2) what will be the sign of your presence and (3)of the conclusion of the system of things?"–Matt 24;3 NWT
    The first apparently dealing with Jesus' statement of the destruction of the temple. The second question dealt with the sign of his presence or coming. The third question deals with the end of the world.
    A comprehensive and satisfactory explanation would have to consider all three as separate occurrences and would at the same time also have to satisfactorily explain why the account in Matthew does not differentiate between these three questions but rather treats them as one.
    Next, your point about:
    "One huge problem with concluding that the text of Matthew 24:21 has a minor and major fulfillment is language used later in Matthew's account that refers to events "immediately after the tribulation of those days...Well, no sign of the Son of man occurred "immediately after" the great tribulation associated with Jerusalem's destruction."
    Good observation. However one must keep in mind that the Scriptures seem to take great liberties with language and words and so we must be very careful in isolating a particular word and resting an argument upon it. Note the wording below:

    Immediately on that day Phar'aoh commanded those who drove the people to work and their officers.. Ex 5:6 –NWT

    If ‘immediately' meant immediately why the redundant phrase ‘on that day'? The New Jerusalem Bible renders the verse this way: "That same day, Pharaoh..." So we cannot build an argument on such a questionable foundation as to the use of a particular word. We are dealing with translations.
    You also said:

    ...We must then explain away why Jesus would have used such confusing language for an otherwise clear enough response...

    Jesus' answer was anything but a clear response. True to his usual form, Jesus was being vague in many ways in his response to that famous set of questions. Some examples (all taken from Matt 24, NWT):

    "For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another."–Name a period of history when this has not been the case.
    " And many false prophets will arise and mislead many;" Again, what period has not had this?
    "And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come." Depending on who's definition you use to describe ‘this good news of the kingdom' this has been going on now for some two thousand years.
    "and the stars will fall from heaven" Stars falling???
    "Likewise also YOU, when YOU see all these things, know that he is near at the doors." Seemingly Jesus is telling his disciples that they will be able to recognize the signs he has given them and as a result will be able to discern the time of his coming. He speaks of them knowing that he is near. YET three verses later we read: ""Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son," Now not even He knows the ‘day or the hour'. What happened in such a short period of time? Further statements indicating that the ‘signs' given are a far cry from being clear:
    " Keep on the watch, therefore, because YOU do not know on what day YOUR Lord is coming"
    "On this account YOU too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that YOU do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming." –Now we are told that it will be at ‘an hour that you do not think it to be'. So we may conclude from this that it will not come when we are expecting it therefore we have no way of knowing (no clear evidence) of when this will be. Why would we be given clear evidence of the time of its coming and then be told that it will come when we do not expect it?
    You also spoke of ‘leap of logic'. I think that this is a good point to keep in mind when we attempt to interpret prophecies. We all make quite a few ‘leaps in logic' when we attempt to explain the Prophetic Word. Case in point: Your words: " Jesus just happened to apply the term "great" to the first." Just happened? If we can ‘leap' to that conclusion then we may apply that term to any number of aspects of that prophecy to make it fit our neat little synopsis of its meaning, i.e., he just happened to use the phrase ‘immediately after...", etc. The fact of the matter is that Jesus did NOT use the term ‘GREAT' in both instances, did he? Why not? The latter would indeed be greater than the former inasmuch as it would encompass the whole earth. So now we have to EXPLAIN away with ‘other words' those parts of the account that do not precisely fit our explanation. So what we have here is but one more version in addition to the several already in circulation which do no more or less than yours in presenting a completely finished puzzle with a few of the pieces conveniently left out while others are whittled down or expanded to fit the gaps.
    This prophecy will, like all the others, become clear only after it has been fulfilled. That is the nature of prophecy.
    It's good to see you again here.

    -Seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it-

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