Why There Will Be A

Great Tribulation

From the Main Message of

Bread Upon The Waters Ministry

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Nightmarish Possibilities

We have all heard the term, "Judgment Day". We have all heard of "prophets of doom" predicting the "end of the world". It has only been within this century that we have learned about how such a thing could really happen. We now know that there are a number of possibilities; nuclear war being the one that has received the most publicity. We have also conjured the nightmare of global warming producing a catastrophic "Greenhouse Effect". (Note: This may be starting to happen.) Then there's the fear of a runaway epidemic wiping us out, perhaps from the use of biological weapons. There is the science fiction cum UFO Phenomenon idea of space aliens attacking, doing a lot of damage, and perhaps wiping us out. Lately, we have added the possibility of an asteroid or comet collision to the list. Yet another real-world possibility is the eruption of a "super volcano" which could destroy our civilization. At the most extreme is the possibility of the sun "going nova" and destroying the earth.

For all of the publicity these ideas have received, the truth is that most people don't really expect anything to happen that really constitutes the end of the world. But what if something actually happens that in some way includes all of these nightmarish possibilities? The Bible predicts just such an event, or more precisely, a series of events. It's called the Great Tribulation.

The Great Tribulation

The term "The Great Tribulation" comes from the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:21; "For then shall be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world, no, nor shall ever be." The same idea is found in the Old Testament in Daniel 12:1. In both passages, the context links it with the Second Coming of Christ. What Jesus said, and what is said in Daniel, indicate that the Great Tribulation will be the worst thing that will ever happen to the human race. Taking these statements in the context of the entire Bible, we must conclude that, in its overall impact on humanity, it will be worse than even Noah's Flood. Like the Flood, it will threaten the extinction of all life. In fact, Jesus uses the Flood as a parallel to the Tribulation, but, again, the Tribulation has to be worse.



In this page, we will not discuss exactly what is going to happen. For that, see "The Three Great Woes" pages in the "Great Tribulation" section. Here we are going to look at the question of "Why?"

Why will God do this to the human race?

The God Who Creates Evil

Fundamental to believing in the Great Tribulation is believing in a God who punishes sin. Modern evangelical preaching, especially the more liberal variety, tends to focus too much on the loving, merciful and forgiving side of God, while tending to ignore or belittle what might be called His "dark side": His wrath!

But there are many references in the Bible to the wrath of God, and they are by no means limited to the Old Testament:

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness", (Romans 1:18).

St. Paul starts his presentation of the Gospel by reminding us of God's wrath.

The Bible shows that God is patient, and will allow sin to continue for a time, but the day must come in any sinful situation when He steps in and puts a stop to it. When He does, He often makes terrible things happen. Movies and novels are full of stories of some form or other of serious evil ending in fire and deadly violence. This idea is one of those truths that God has somehow imbedded deep within our minds; that there will be a "Judgment Day" when His wrath falls on the evildoers, and it will be true justice when it happens. As stated, there is a "dark side" to God. Not that God sins; that is the one thing He cannot do. But His standards of right and wrong can be quite different from ours:

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways"
, says the Lord.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And my thoughts than your thoughts".

Isaiah 55: 8 & 9

Therefore, God may do something that we would consider terrible and evil, and from His point of view be perfectly righteous in doing so.

This idea is also expressed in the Scriptures in Isaiah 45:7, where God says,

"I form the light and create darkness.
I make peace and create evil.
I the Lord do these things".

It must be noted that there are two ways of defining "evil". One is evil in the sense of sin. The other is evil in the sense of bad, especially very bad, things happening. Things like earthquakes and tornadoes, like floods, hurricanes, and severe droughts. The latter definition is the one God means. Modern translations of the Bible often give witness to this by translating the Hebrew word "ra", rendered "evil" in the quotation above, with words like "calamity" and "disaster".

God will make the Great Tribulation happen. It is prophesied in the Bible. In this we are reminded that Jesus said, "...the Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35) and "heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away" (Matthew 24:35).

Jesus said it will happen.

It will happen!


The Reasons Why

1. Punishing the Sins of the World

The first, and the best known reason for the Great Tribulation, is to punish the human race for its sins.

The Bible suggests that in the years just prior to the Second Coming of Christ, sin will be at its all-time worst, worldwide. We find this, for example, in Matthew 24:12, And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold". Another reference to this is found in II Thessalonians 2:3, "....for that day will not come unless the great falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed". Many Christians believe that the moral decline that is infecting the entire world is the "great falling away". Evangelist Billy Graham said in a sermon years ago that if God does not punish the United States for its sins, He is going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. Actually, the moral situation has gotten much worse in the United States since Billy Graham said that (1969), and it isn't just the United States. Again, its the whole world. When God brings about the Great Tribulation, it will be to punish the whole human race. Christians who are familiar with the doctrine of the Great Tribulation are aware of this.

2. Chastising The Church

The second reason for the Tribulation, not nearly so well known, is to chastise the Christians for their failure to live the kind of lives they should have been living in the years prior to the Tribulation. More is said about this failure in the pages on "The Church of Laodicea" and "What's Worth Arguing About?". According to the Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia, there may be as many as 1.7 billion (thousand million to the British) Christians in this world. If these Christians were truly obedient to God and acted in unity, they could take spiritual, social and political control of the world without a shot being fired. They could put an end to most of the world's troubles. They could probably bring about the Millennium without there having to be a Tribulation. In fact, there is a line of doctrine being taught that says we will! But there is so much compromise with the world, so much disputing and division over doctrine, so much apostasy, and so much failure of Christians and Churches to really do what Jesus told us to do, that this is a practical impossibility.

Special Note: There is a false doctrine being taught to the effect that Christians will go through the "Tribulation" but be taken up in the "Rapture" before the "wrath". Unfortunately, this a fantasy. The "Tribulation" is the "wrath"! Matthew 24:21 & 22 should be enough to tell you that. See the  Introduction to the Tribulation page.

When Jesus gave the Great Commission, He was in effect telling His disciples to do just that, take over the World. The famous words "make disciples of all nations", contrary to popular opinion among Christians, does not mean, "make a few disciples here and a few there". If read in the original Greek, it means, "disciple all the nations". Period! In other words, "disciple everybody". Furthermore, His statement, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth", suggests that through Him we have the power to do it. One of the big reasons for the Tribulation is to chastise Christians for their failure to get the job done, and all the other disobedience that contributes to that failure. During the Tribulation, the Christians who live long enough (many won't) will realize how badly they have failed and repent. See Zechariah 13:8 & 9.

3. Bringing The Surviving Jews To Christ

As we know, there are many Jews turning to Christ in our time. You, the reader, may well be one of them. But sadly, the majority of the Jewish people still reject their Messiah. The religious attitudes of unsaved Jews range from out-and-atheism, on one extreme, to expecting an unscriptural Messiah, as do the ultra-orthodox Hasidim. A Jewish person who turns to Jesus can still expect to be ostracized by his family. 

Yet the Jews are still God's chosen people (Isaiah 49:14-16, Romans 11:1). In Romans 11:25 & 26, Paul speaks of a time when "the full number of the gentiles has come in", and after that has happened, "so all Israel will be saved". The full number of the gentiles will not have come in until the Tribulation begins, at least, and possibly not until it is well under way. Somehow, when the Tribulation is in progress, the events that are taking place, the reign of the Beasts, and the ministry of the Two Witnesses, and probably the witness of other Christians as well, will combine to achieve what even the ministries of Jesus and the Apostles could not do; namely bringing about the mass conversion of the Jews. When Jesus finally returns, He..."will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son" (Zech 12:10).

4. Breaking the Power of the Nations

A fourth Scriptural reason for the Tribulation, also not well known, is to break the power of the nations. If Jesus came back right now, the way the Bible describes, and said in so many words, "I've come to take over", the nations of the world probably wouldn't submit. The nations have too much "independence" and "national sovereignty" on their minds. National leaders have too much pride. More than that, such is the sinful nature of man, that many sinners would not believe in Him if He slapped them in the face! (Figuratively speaking.) No matter how one - sided it might be, Jesus would have a fight on His hands.

But, for the most part, God will take care of the problem during the Tribulation. In the Bible it is prophesied that "the earth shall fall and not rise again" (Isaiah 24:19 - 22; the whole passage supports this doctrine.) Again, God says, "I will destroy the strength of the gentile kingdoms". Even so, the Bible suggests that the Battle of Armageddon will be a last-ditch effort by the Beasts and their followers to overthrow the Kingdom of God with military force (see Psalm 2:1-6). God allows this to isolate the last of Christ's real enemies from the rest of the surviving human race (yes, there will be survivors) and destroy them. What remains of the flesh and blood human race after that will be so beaten up by the Tribulation that they will accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ just to survive. This will result in the blessed period of peace that we call the Millennium.

5. To Destroy the World

The destruction of the world as it presently exists is an end in itself, as far as God's reasons for the Tribulation are concerned. As shown in the "BABEL RISING!" pages, we are living in a world that we have created for ourselves, with science and technology. Yet this science and technology, the vast outpouring of human creativity that has occurred within the past century, is a manifestation of our desire and efforts to be our own god. Our creativity is corrupted by evil (Genesis 6:5 and 8:21) and therefore everything we create is also corrupted by evil. As good as much of it seems to us, the present world order, in the technological sense, is something that God cannot allow to go on existing. It would be tantamount to His allowing ongoing rebellion against Himself. Therefore, one of the purposes and effects of the Tribulation will be the virtual erasing of our technical civilization. When the Tribulation is over, the survivors will probably be "back in the Stone Age".


God Destroys!

It must be emphasized, again; God does destroy! Again, modern Christian teaching often presents an inaccurate, unbalanced concept of God, focusing on His love, mercy and grace, but largely ignoring all the references to His wrath. This writer actually once heard a Bible teacher tell his listeners (a fair sized group) that God wouldn't chastise them! (See Hebrews 12:5-11 and Revelation 3:19.) But the Bible clearly shows, especially in the Old Testament, that God indeed has a "dark side". For example, in a little known Bible verse, Isaiah 54:16, God says (NIV), "See, it is I who created the blacksmith who ... forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc". Hardly the sweet, merciful God who will forgive anything! Remember, one of the last things God said about Himself in the Old Testament was, "I change not." During the Tribulation, the world is going to have a reunion with the God of the Old Testament.

For more insight on the issue of God's wrath, see also:

Tormented With Fire
(Guest Page)


So you know now that there is something you have to be ready for. But what do you do to be ready? See the following page:

What Does It Take To Be Ready?


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Contact Author, William D. Brehm: bready@interport.net