In previous posts I’ve talked about what is the tribulation and I’ve also talked about pre-trib, mid-trib and post-trib views. If you haven’t read this acticles, I’d certainly recommend you read them as background to what we are going to talk about in this article namely the question, will the church have to go through the tribulation? Of course if you hold to a pre-trib view, the answer to this question would be no. As we’ve seen in the articles I just referenced however, no where does the bible promise us protection for all trials and tribulations and neither does it promise us that we will not go through the great time of trouble.
If we read Matthew 24:19-22 we find Jesus melding two events, the destruction of ancient Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the great tribulation at the end of time. “And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 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. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”
Notice that Jesus isn’t telling his disciples not to worry because God was going to save them from this great tribulation. Instead we find Jesus telling them to pray that they don’t have to face the tribulation while pregnant, with small children, in winter or on a sabbath. This warning is in line with every other warning you’ll find in scripture about Jesus’ second coming. The great tribulation will come upon the world suddenly and at a time they least expect it. It will be so difficult and deadly that God is going to have to cut the time short otherwise no one would survive.
If you take the time to read the brief account of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70 you’d discover how truly brutal it turned out to be. It is estimated that over one million people lost their lives at that time. The Romans having a take no prisoner attitude and slaughtering everyone and completely razing the city except for a few towers and the west wall which stands today. In melding the two events, the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of time together, Jesus is clearly warning his hearers that the end time tribulation will truly be a terrible, terrible time.
With this in mind therefore, the question of whether the church must go through the tribulation begs an answer. As you’ve no doubt guessed by now, I believe that the bible teaches that the church must go through it. It will be a horrible time to be sure. Not something that any of us would willingly go through. Nevertheless, God will use this time to bring the last humans to repentance and finally bring the whole great controversy and the battle of good and evil to a close. As Jesus mentions in verse 22, thankfully, these days will be cut short. It won’t go on for years and years. God will mercifully bring it to a close as quickly as possible.
Why would God permit the church to go through the tribulation rather than sparing it? I believe that one reason has to do with a demonstration of God’s mercy with mankind and the freedom of choice he has given to human beings. The logical outcome of sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). The ultimate destination for this world is total chaos. God will allow it to happen in order to demonstrate the final bitter fruits of sin and its ugly results. The treatment of the church during this time will only help confirm to the onlooking universe the dark, ugly truth that rebellion against God only leads to this.
God has had to endure tremendous pain and suffering as a result of giving his creatures the freedom to choose. God will never violate our ability to choose. Having said that though, he will let us reap the consequences of our choices. The bitter, dark and nasty consequence of this final great global disobedience will be death. It will also help ensure that sin will never again rear its ugly head in the universe again. Everyone will have no doubt at all of its bitter results.
Now, even though the church will have to go through the tribulation, please don’t get discouraged! God will always be with us. He has promised us in Hebrews 13:5 that he will never leave us nor forsake us! God will also protect his people through this terrible crisis. Unfortunately though, the tribulation is a necessary evil to permit. In one final, wretched, twisted and evil lurch, human beings will forever prove that without Jesus Christ living inside of them, they do not deserve to live. The tribulation will finally seal the fate of every man, woman and child on earth. Either they will believe in Jesus and follow him unquestioningly or they will join the ranks of the enemy.
Which will you choose? Don’t wait until then to figure out what you will do! Only one side will win and it won’t be evil. Will you choose Jesus today?