The Great Tribulation is "Jehovah’s Day"
“For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.”
Jehovah’s Day and Armageddon
“There is a day coming,
belonging to Jehovah.” (Zech. 14:1,7) This day is variously referred to as
“the day of Jehovah,” “the day of Jehovah’s fury,” “the great day of
Jehovah,” “Jehovah’s day,” or even “the great day of God the Almighty,”
Concerning that day Jehovah says: “And I shall
certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before
the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”
How will Jehovah magnify himself and sanctify himself before the eyes of many nations on the day that belongs to him? The situation will come about when “expressions inspired by demons . . . go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” at Armageddon. (Rev. 16:14,16) These "expressions" inspired by demons come from their ruler, Satan the Devil, the enemy of God and his people. (Matt. 9:34; 1 Peter 5:8) In the book of Ezekiel Satan, under the cryptic or symbolic name of Gog, is seen massing all of earth's nations against God, his Son, and God’s faithful servants. The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge comments: “Gog appears as the leader of the last hostile attack of the world-powers upon the kingdom of God.” —see Ezekiel 38:14-22.
In the book of Revelation we have a picture of that war of Armageddon where God’s heavenly armies of angels are led by a rider on a white horse, identified by the names “the Lamb,” “The Word of God” and “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (Rev. 17:14; 19:11-16) The war will be decisive. It will mean the end of all God’s enemies.
"And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse and with his army. 20 And the wild beast was caught, and along with it the false prophet that performed in front of it the signs with which he misled those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who render worship to its image. While still alive, they both were hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulphur. 21 But the rest were killed off with the long sword of the one seated on the horse, which [sword] proceeded out of his mouth. And all the birds were filled from the fleshy parts of them.” —Revelation 19:19-21.
Not a person on earth will be able to escape Jehovah’s day. His war will be against all the wicked. (Psalms 37:10,20; 2 Peter 3:5-7) Listen to how the prophet Zephaniah describes it:
“The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying [of it] very much. The sound of the day of Jehovah is bitter. There a mighty man is letting out a cry. 15 That day is a day of fury, a day of distress and of anguish, a day of storm and of desolation, a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick gloom, 16 a day of horn and of alarm signal, against the fortified cities and against the high corner towers. 17 And I will cause distress to mankind, and they will certainly walk like blind men; because it is against Jehovah that they have sinned. And their blood will actually be poured out like dust, and their bowels like the dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury; but by the fire of his zeal the whole earth will be devoured, because he will make an extermination, indeed a terrible one, of all the inhabitants of the earth.” —Zephaniah 1:14-18.
The prophecy says that Jehovah’s day of fury will bring distress and anguish, storm and desolation, darkness and gloominess. It will result in the “extermination of all the inhabitants of the earth.” This will be by far the most destructive event in human history.
The Great Tribulation
Jesus also spoke of this time of distress or tribulation.
He emphasizes the severity of it by saying that this tribulation will be
unique in human history.
“For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since
the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.
In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on
account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.” —Matthew
The great tribulation describes what Jehovah’s day is about. Never before in all human history was there such a time of distress, or tribulation, brought upon all mankind, and neither will there ever be such a time of destruction again. It will be so severe, so terrible, so far reaching that unless God intervened to shorten that time there would be no survivors; but as Jesus says, on account of his chosen ones he will cut short his day of fury, the great tribulation. That indicates that there will be survivors. The prophet Isaiah also tells us that there will be those who will escape Jehovah’s day.
“Look! The day of Jehovah itself is coming, cruel both with fury and with burning anger, in order to make the land an object of astonishment, and that it may annihilate [the land’s] sinners out of it... 12 I shall make mortal man rarer than refined gold, and earthling man [rarer] than the gold of O´phir. 13 That is why I shall cause heaven itself to become agitated, and the earth will rock out of its place at the fury of Jehovah of armies and at the day of his burning anger.” —Isaiah 13:9-13.
After Jehovah has annihilated all the
wicked, earthling man will indeed become “rarer than the gold of Ophir.” The gold of
Ophir is a fitting illustration of any survivors for it was renowned for
its finest quality, a fitting description of the righteous ones who, like
Noah, will survive. (Job 28:15,16;
Gen. 6:9; Psalms 37:10,11, 34; Luke 17:26,27)
What is required of us, if we are to survive the coming great tribulation? Jehovah's prophet Zephaniah tells us: “Before [the] statute gives birth to [anything], [before the] day has passed by just like chaff, before there comes upon you people the burning anger of Jehovah, before there comes upon you the day of Jehovah’s anger, seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.” —Zephaniah 2:2,3.
One would have had to already been worshipping the true God, and seeking his righteousness along with meekness, before the arrival of the day of Jehovah’s anger, in order to be concealed and survive. (Psalms 37:11, 29; Matt. 5:5; 6:33) A large crowd with such fine qualities is shown to survive this greatest of all tribulations. In the book of Revelation the apostle John sees them in vision:
”After these things I saw, and, look! A great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. 10 And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: Salvation [we owe] to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb. 14 ...These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” —Revelation 7:9-14.
In obedience to God’s instruction for survival, as
told by Zephaniah,
this great crowd had been seeking Jehovah before his day of
judgment arrives. (Acts 17:30,31) They had already put faith in the
blood of Christ Jesus; and upon their baptism in water for forgiveness
of their sins
— having "washed their robes and made them white in
the blood of the Lamb"
— they became reconciled to
God and members of his household. (Matt. 28:19,20; Acts 2:38; 22:16;
Rom. 5:8-10; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 9:13,14)
Before Jehovah executes his judgment upon this world, he will first judge his own people, removing any wicked ones from among them. (Matt. 13:40-43, 49; 1 Peter 4:17,18) There will be no further need for him to judge them again at some future time, as if after this there would still be a large influx of others who would also need to be judged. Jehovah will at this time have an approved cleansed people, and he will “conceal” them in the day of his anger. (Mal. 3:16-18; 4:1-3) He will then direct his attention to Babylon the Great, and execute his judgment upon all the religions of this world of which Satan is the god. (1 Cor. 10:20,21; 2 Cor. 4:4) Any who are at that time found within her midst will share in her fate, for they will have ignored his warning to “get out of her.” (Rev. 18:4; 2 Cor. 6:14-18) Her destruction will come swiftly and suddenly, as if in one hour; "and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong." (Rev. 17:15-17; 18:8, 10, 17, 19)
After "Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots" — "with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication" — has been devastated, the time will have arrived for "the war of the great day of God the Almighty, "called in Hebrew Har-Magedon," that is, Armageddon, when God's fury will turn against all the nations of the earth, over whom Satan had been the ruler. (Rev. 16:14, 16; John 12:31)
“Look! There is a day coming, belonging to Jehovah, and the spoil of you will certainly be apportioned out in the midst of you. 2 And I shall certainly gather all the nations against Jerusalem for the war... 3 “And Jehovah will certainly go forth and war against those nations as in the day of his warring, in the day of fight.” —Zechariah 14:1-9.
Yes, Jehovah will war against all the nations in his battle of Armageddon, with his Son leading the heavenly armies. (Rev. 19:11-21) The Scriptures describe this war of Armageddon as the worst tribulation to ever come upon mankind, and which will never be repeated. There will be no place to hide. Nothing will be able to deliver them. Valuables; modern technology with its powerful weaponry; organizations; or whatever else men has come to trust in, will all prove to be of no benefit.
“‘Into the streets they will throw their very silver, and an abhorrent thing their own gold will become. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury. Their souls they will not satisfy, and their intestines they will not fill, for it has become a stumbling block causing their error." —Ezekiel 7:19.
We cannot even imagine, at the present time,
what Jehovah’s day will be like. But it will come, for our Creator has
forewarned us! In clear-to-understand language he has explained what he is
about to do, and therefore we need to take action before his day of fury arrives.
Jehovah has provided a means of escape, and it is up to us to act upon his
warning. We don't want to be like the people who were living before the
Flood in Noah's day, concerning whom Jesus said: "For as they were in
those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women
being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark;
and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away."
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days”
When Jesus said regarding the great
(θλίψις μεγάλη) that it will be "such
as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will
occur again," he ruled out any past or future such great tribulation.
In its immensity and severity, it will be like none other in human
For those who argue that the great tribulation is separate from Armageddon, please consider this: If it is the greatest of all tribulations, as Jesus calls it, then a separate Armageddon can not be possible, can it? When Jesus said, “unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short,” we might ask: Who survives the great tribulation? Does Jehovah cut short the days of the tribulation in order to preserve not only his chosen ones, but also the nations, only to destroy the nations after this at a separate war of Armageddon?
The prophet Zephaniah foretold: "Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury; but by the fire of his zeal the whole earth will be devoured, because he will make an extermination, indeed a terrible one, of all the inhabitants of the earth.” (Zephaniah 1:18) If this describes Armageddon, what can be said of the great tribulation, because "all the inhabitants of the earth" will be exterminated in the "day of Jehovah"? But if this describes the great tribulation, then who will be left to perish at Armageddon? (Rev. 19:19-21)
The "war of the great day of God the Almighty" at Armageddon will prove to be the greatest time of distress ever to come upon the whole of mankind. That is very clear, according to Jesus' words! But, some point out that Jesus spoke of another tribulation that would precede Armageddon, when he said: "Immediately after the tribulation (θλίψις) of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity." (Matt. 24:29-31)
Does, "immediately after the tribulation of those days," refer to events that immediately follow the "great tribulation"? No, for Jesus spoke of another tribulation, one that his disciples would suffer during the "conclusion of the system of things" (end of age), when he said: "Then people will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name. Then, also, many will be stumbled and will betray one another and will hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off. But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved." (Matt. 24:9; 10:17-22)
The apostle Paul explains the difference between the two tribulations: The tribulation brought upon Christ's disciples who have been persecuted; and the Great Tribulation which is brought by God as a retribution upon those responsible for the persecution, which will thus bring to an end the tribulation his disciples had suffered. (John 15:18-21; 16:1-4; Rev. 1:9) In his second letter to the congregation in Thessalonica, Paul writes:
"We are obligated to give God thanks always
for you, brothers, as it is fitting, because your faith is growing
exceedingly and the love of each and all of you is increasing one toward
a result we ourselves take pride in you among the congregations of God
because of your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the
tribulations that you are bearing.
is a proof of the righteous judgment of God, leading to your being
counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are indeed
6 This takes into account that it is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for you, 7 but, to you who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels 8 in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. 9 These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength, 10 at the time he comes to be glorified in connection with his holy ones and to be regarded in that day with wonder in connection with all those who exercised faith, because the witness we gave met with faith among you." —2 Thessalonians 1:3-10.
The brothers in Thessalonica, like those in
other cities, were bearing up under persecution and hardships, which Paul
calls tribulations [θλίψις]. (1
Peter 5:9,10) This tribulation ends "at the revelation of the Lord Jesus
from heaven with his powerful angels." Thus, when Jesus says, "immediately after the
of those days," he is not talking about the
greatest of all tribulations, but rather the tribulation his disciples
have had to endure, which now comes to an end to their relief. Blessed are all the
faithful ones who endured to the end and kept
their integrity under suffering. (Rev. 2:10,11; 22:12)
What will happen at the "revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven"?
The time will have arrived for Jehovah to repay the nations with his own tribulation, in retribution for the suffering that they had brought upon his people over the course of the many centuries. The prophet Obadiah tells us: ”For the day of Jehovah against all the nations is near. In the way that you have done, it will be done to you. Your sort of treatment will return upon your own head.” (Obadiah 15) The nations will suffer the same fate as Babylon the Great has already suffered by this time; which, until her destruction, was the foremost enemy of true worship. (Rev. 17:15-17; 18:4-8, 20, 24)
What did Jesus mean when he said that immediately after the tribulation of those days "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken"?
Jesus is confirming the words of the prophets prior to him, when they describe Jehovah's day as "a day of fury, a day of distress and of anguish, a day of storm and of desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick gloom. . . and they will certainly walk like blind men; because it is against Jehovah that they have sinned." (Zeph. 1:15, 17; Joel 2:1,2; Amos 5:18, 20; Jer. 13:15,16)
Jehovah's day at Armageddon will mean the complete destruction of all the governments and institutions of whom Satan has been the ruler. (John 12:31; James 4:4; 1 John 5:19; Rev. 19:11-21) The prophet Daniel foretold that during the rulership of the seventh and last world power, God's kingdom — the kingdom Jesus taught us to pray for — will bring all kingdoms to their end, and it itself will take over earth's rulership. Daniel wrote: "In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." (Daniel 2:44; Matt. 6:10; 10:7; Rev. 6:15-17; 11:15-18)
The arrival of Jesus with his powerful angels from heaven, when he comes at Armageddon to wage "the war of the great day of God the Almighty" — to repay tribulation to those who caused tribulation to his disciples, and to cleanse the earth of all wickedness — will certainly prove to be the darkest time in human history, for there will be no power on earth to deliver mankind out of God's hand. Neither will there be any place for the wicked to conceal themselves. The human rulerships which the people once looked to for guidance and protection, especially during times of trouble — the symbolic heavens, the sun, moon, and stars — will indeed prove to be darkness.
"Come here and listen, O nations of the earth; let the world and everything in it hear my words. For the Lord is enraged against the nations; his fury is against their armies. He will utterly destroy them and deliver them to slaughter. Their dead will be left unburied, and the stench of rotting bodies will fill the land; the mountains will flow with their blood. At that time the heavens above will melt away and disappear just like a rolled-up scroll, and the stars will fall as leaves, as ripe fruit from the trees." —Isaiah 34:1-4, TLB.
To add to their confusion, Jehovah may even cause a literal darkness to occur on earth, as he did during the ninth plague upon Egypt, when a "gloomy darkness" began to occur in the land for three days; "but for all the sons of Israel there proved to be light." (Exodus 10:21-23; compare Matt. 27:45; Amos 8:9) It will certainly be the darkest time in human history. Yes, it will be the greatest of all tribulations. (Rev. 16:14, 16; Psalms 37:10,11, 34)
* * * * * * * * *
It is clear from Matthew's and Luke's accounts that Jesus was speaking about
two distinct events, or tribulations, — one that would
come upon Jerusalem, namely the coming "days for meting out justice," where
Jesus specifically mentions Jerusalem, Judea and the mountains to flee to; and
"the great tribulation," which he mentions in Matthew chapter 24,
which would come upon all mankind. (Luke
21:20-24; Matt. 24:21) He again refers to this great tribulation almost thirty
years after the destruction of Jerusalem, in Revelation chapter 7. (Rev. 7:14)
Please note what is said concerning any survivors of the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place in 70 C.E., that they would "be led captive into all the nations." (Luke 21:24) But those coming out of "the great tribulation" are seen dressed in white robes, they are before the throne of God and are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple. (Rev. 7:14-17)
The two events have two entirely different outcomes. The outcome of the one event does not parallel the second event. Therefore, we cannot take everything that Jesus said concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and make a parallel application to the great tribulation yet to come. It takes discernment to distinguish what applied to the destruction of Jerusalem and what Jesus said would take place concerning the great tribulation. Lack of this discernment will lead to unfulfilled expectations and disappointment.
Contrary to what some are preaching, Jesus did not urge his disciples to leave God's household and "flee to the mountains," at some point before the great tribulation begins. Jehovah will not destroy his household of servants the way he destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Rather, Jesus promised that "in the conclusion of the system of things" he would "collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness." (Matt. 13:40, 41) The apostle Peter tells us that the righteous within God's house will be saved, while the ungodly and the sinners, those "who are not obedient to the good news of God," will perish. (1 Peter 4:17, 18; 2 Thess. 1:7-9)
The righteous "members of the household of God" will be "the ones that come out of the great tribulation." They will survive it because they have God's protection. (Rev. 7:14; Zeph. 2:3) Jesus said to Martha: "I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26) How about you? Do YOU believe this?