“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” - Matthew 24:14
During this stay-at-home order, as we hold our online church services, I’ve launched a new message series called “You Asked For It!” For this series, our attenders have been voting on some of their top questions about God, the Bible, and our Christian faith. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest vote-getters has been this one: “Has the Great Tribulation Begun?” So, last Sunday, I rolled up my sleeves and tackled it.
Tribulation is defined as “a great trouble or cause of suffering; a hardship, an affliction, a tragedy, a trauma, a misery.” Tribulation has been in this world from the moment Adam and Eve sinned. The doorway to suffering was flung open the instant sin entered God’s perfect world. All of us deal with tribulations such as health issues, the death of loved ones, divorce, financial hardships—the list goes on.
But the GREAT Tribulation is something else again. It’s mentioned twice by name in the New Testament: once by Jesus in Matthew 24:21 and a second time in Revelation 7:14. And it’s also called by a couple other names in Scripture. In Revelation 6:17 it’s called “the great day of God’s wrath.” In Jeremiah 30:7 it’s called “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” There are dozens of references to the Great Tribulation throughout the Bible. But what is it?
Jesus gives us a short, sweet answer in Matthew 24:21-22: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” To break that down quickly, the Great Tribulation is characterized by three things: 1) the greatest suffering in human history; 2) mass casualties that far surpass body counts of previous wars, natural disasters and diseases; and 3) a fixed time frame of seven years. God will shorten its length so that some followers of Christ can survive.
So, are we there yet? Are people across the globe experiencing the greatest suffering and death in human history? Well, there are certainly a lot of wars and conflicts taking place around the world. And obviously, we’re dealing with the worst worldwide pandemic we’ve seen in many years. Over 3 million people worldwide have contracted COVID-19, and there have been almost 200,000 deaths. And worldwide, people are also dealing with famine, starvation and natural disasters. But we need to ask ourselves: Is this suffering and death of biblical proportions? Is it the greatest level of suffering and death in the history of the world? And the answer is: No.
Don’t get me wrong. The coronavirus is a really bad virus. It may end up claiming the lives of half a million people worldwide. But the Bible describes the Great Tribulation as a seven-year period of hell on earth. Revelation 6:8 says, “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” Try to wrap your mind around that: over a fourth of the earth will be killed. One-fourth of the world’s population, at this time, would be about 2 billion people. That’s about six times the population of the
—4,000 times greater
than the approximate death toll of COVID-19. United States
No wonder Jesus says in Matthew 24:22, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive.” The suffering in our world today is bad … but not nearly as bad as it will be during the Great Tribulation. There are certain places in the world today that feel like hell on earth. But during the Great Tribulation, ALL places in the world will feel like hell on earth.
The Great Tribulation has not yet begun, but there are three signs, foretold in the Bible, to watch for. You’ll know the time is here when you see these three world events: 1) Many nations will come together and make a seven-year treaty with
Israel (prophesied in Daniel 9:27). 2)
God’s two witnesses will arise, prophesy and perform amazing signs and miracles
like Moses in Egypt (Revelation 11:3-6). 3) God will pour out His Holy Spirit on all
people, and every people group on earth will hear the gospel (Acts 2:17-21 and
And it seems clear that millions of people around the world will turn to Christ. When Christians discuss the coming Great Tribulation, we tend to focus on the disastrous signs of its arrival—wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and billows of smoke. But we shouldn’t overlook the positive and encouraging signs that the Great Tribulation is at hand. When Jesus’ return is close and the Great Tribulation is about to begin, we will experience the greatest revival in the history of the world. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
So, when you start fearing the worst, think of this: A worldwide revival is closer than it’s ever been. And we are closer than we’ve ever been to penetrating every nation, every tribe, and every language on planet earth with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our online worship service tomorrow at
10 a.m. at Live.GreaterImpact.cc or on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.