The coming tribulation
by Daniel Ausbun, First Baptist Church, Moreland
By Daniel Ausbun First Baptist Church, Moreland firstname.lastname@example.org
Televangelist John Hagee predicted a series of "blood moon" lunar eclipses signals a "world shaking event."
A complete lunar eclipse is called a "blood moon" because the earth blocks direct sunlight from striking the moon, leaving the moon illuminated by refracted light which gives it a red hue. Earlier this month on April 15, we experienced a “blood moon.”
Jesus declared in Mark 13:24, “But in those days, after that tribulation: The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light.” Christ also stated in Matthew 24:21, “For at that time there will be a great tribulation.” What’s a tribulation?
Are “blood moons” a sign of the tribulation?
Will Christians live through it?
Matthew 24 describes the signs of the end of the age. In this chapter Christ discusses an event called the “tribulation.” The word “tribulation” can also be translated “distress.”
The Jewish historian, Josephus, understood the tribulation as the destruction of Jerusalem along with the temple in AD 70 by the Romans. But the description Jesus provided of the tribulation appears far worse than the destruction of Jerusalem. Matthew 24:22 says, “Unless those days were limited, no one would survive.” Jesus is describing a future event that is so bad every person on earth would die, unless God intervened.
The “blood moon” earlier this month occurred on Passover. Acts 2:20 indicates a “blood moon” will be a sign from the Lord, “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and remarkable Day of the Lord comes.” The Apostle Peter is quoting this verse as a biblical basis of the events that just occurred during Pentecost. This is when God gave His Holy Spirit to the church. Not only could the “blood moon” reference be about the Holy Spirit, it most likely has a fuller fulfillment in Christ’s second coming.
Jesus said He’s returning at an unknown hour (Matt. 24:44). We don’t know when Christ is returning, but He left signs throughout Matthew 24. The main sign of the tribulation will not be a “blood moon” but rather, “the abomination that causes desolation” (Matt. 24:15; Daniel 9:27). Daniel 9:24 describes 70 periods of 7 years, the final one being in Daniel 9:27 also known as the “great tribulation.” It is during this time, the antichrist comes to power (2 Thess. 2:4).
Christians have been warned about false teachings, miraculous signs and the coming antichrist. The Bible does not clearly say the church will be taken out of the world before the tribulation. Instead there will be a very visible “caught up” (1 Thess. 4:17) of the church just moments prior to Christ’s second coming.
Some Christians believe only Jewish people will remain on earth for a seven-year tribulation. They would interpret Matthew 24 for Jewish converts who were saved during the seven-year tribulation. In Matthew 24, Christ is talking to His disciples (Matt. 24:1). Would Christ really be talking to His disciples, whom are about to become leaders in the new church, about a future earthly kingdom of Jewish people who would be converted during the tribulation? How could the disciples have known He had such a meaning in mind?
Matthew 24 teaches us the church will go through a period of “great tribulation.” Suffering and trials is one of the primary ways we identify with Christ (1 Peter 2:21). Christians should be prepared to suffer in order for consideration as fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Revelation 7:14 describe believers as “coming out of the great tribulation.” They’re coming out of it because they had to endure it.
Tough times are coming for Christians. Signs in the sky and blasphemy against God’s Word will accompany the tribulation, and believers need to utilize patient and perseverance. We know the ending of the Book.