The doctrine of the Tribulation is important and should be understood by every Christian. There is more space in the Bible given to this 7-year time than the 1,000 year Millennial kingdom, heaven, hell, or just about any subject except salvation and the promise of Christ’s second coming. It is mentioned at least 49 times by the Hebrew prophets in the Old Testament and at least 15 times in the New Testament.
So what is the Tribulation? Here is a concise chronology:
- Antichrist. A world leader (Antichrist) will make a peace treaty with Israel. This world leader will unify all governments and through his Prophet, all religions. Only those with his ‘mark’ will be able to do commerce.
- Evangelists. God will send 2 evangelists (Moses & Elijah) into the world. Possibly through their efforts, 144,000 Jews will be saved and help evangelize the world. In the middle of the 7 years, the evangelists will be killed then resurrected. All will see it.
- Temple. The Antichrist will rebuild a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and sacrifices made. But he will suddenly proclaim that he is God and his Prophet will demand worship of his image in the Jewish Temple. Jews will run and hide in the mountains surrounding Jerusalem.
- Terror. Continued worldwide catastrophes, natural and supernatural, will reduce the world population. Earthquakes, meteors, floods, sickness, drought, demonic attacks will plague the people of the world.
- Return. Armies of the world will converge near Jerusalem in the Valley of Megiddo. Jesus will appear from Heaven with his angel army and destroy the armies of the earth, including the Antichrist.
Mark13:14 talks about one event in the middle of this 7-year period (3 ½ year mark). It is called the ‘abomination of desolation’. In simple terms, it is an act of sacrilege that results in widespread destruction. Mark tells us to understand this in light of the prophecy of Daniel (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11).
‘Abomination’ refers to pagan idolatry and sacrifice (Deuteronomy 29:16-18; 2 Kings 16:3-4; 2 Kings 23:12-14). Daniel’s ‘abomination’ refers to pagan idolatry that would occur in the Temple and cause the Temple to become ‘desolate’ or empty. The first fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy occurred in 168 BC by Antiochus Epiphanes. He sacrificed a pig to Zeus on the sacred Temple Altar. This act incited the Maccabean wars.
A future fulfillment is yet to come. Jesus’ language in Mark 13:14 is interesting. The Greek word used for ‘abomination’ is neuter’ while the word used for ‘standing’ is masculine.’ We don’t catch the meaning in English. But listen to it this way: “When you see the abomination that causes desolation stand where he does not belong….” The abomination is ‘he’, not ‘it.’
In the middle of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will proclaim himself God. The False Prophet will set up His image (possibly a statue) in the Holy of Holies in the rebuilt Temple. When that happens, the Jews are told to run from the city because destruction will be next.
I believe this passage is given so that those living during the Tribulation will have some instruction on how to live and survive. Bible prophecy will be coming to life right before their eyes.
But what about us? If it is true that Christians go through this time of Tribulation, what can we apply to ourselves?
Objections to Obedience
Jesus instructions include running when the ‘abomination of desolation’ takes place (Mark 13:14-23). The state of urgency brought by the ‘abomination of desolation’ was not only a sign to run, it was also a test. People would have to choose to obey Jesus’ warning and run from Jerusalem. But some might have difficulty. Jesus speaks of four obstacles that might prohibit their escape. Today, we have the same obstacles that keep us from obeying Jesus.
1- Possessions. Time will be short. A person on a housetop will have to move as if escaping a burning building, taking the outside stairs instead of going through the house to pick up valuables. Laborers in the field must never go back to the end of the furrow to retrieve an outer garment. To let possessions reduce the urgency by a split second is to flirt with destruction.
2- Family Obligations. Pregnant women and nursing mothers will be unable to respond as fast as necessary because of the burden of children. In danger, love often overrules the natural instincts of survival. Families refuse to leave behind the elderly, pregnant, young or sick. Sensitive to the reality of mother love and family loyalty, Jesus can only sigh ‘woe’ for pregnant women and nursing mothers whose delay will mean the difference between life and death.
3- Physical Nature. Because the seasons are out of human control, Jesus warns of winter weather. The flight from the city might be blocked. Again, timing is critical.
4- Public Pressure. In time of tribulation, desperate people grab for false hopes. Anyone who promises salvation becomes a savior and public opinion will say, “Here He is!” False Christs will fool people because of the human tendency to hold onto the thinnest thread of hope. Spectacular signs and wonders performed by false Christs add to the deception.
Are your ready for Jesus’ return? Are you living a life of obedience? If not, run to Him without delay. Don’t let any of these obstacles keep you from obedience.