This article series is not meant to convince, but to inform Jehovah’s witnesses about what most Christians actually believe.
If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness, the Great Tribulation and Armageddon is a central part of your life. It’s the time we all look forward to when Jehovah will come and kill 99.9% of the world population, but protect his people and let them live in a Paradise on earth.
Mainline Christians also believe in the Great Tribulation and Armageddon, but they are not as concerned about it. They’re more focused on the here and now and what they can do for Jesus than about getting their Go-Bag ready. Why is that?
The Great tribulation – For whom and how long?
Most Christians are not so concerned about the trials of the Great Tribulation, because of dispensations. Dispensations is the concept that God deals with different people in different ways at different times and different places. For example, the Israelites lived under the dispensation of the Law, or the Old Covenant, while Christians live under the dispensation of Grace, or the New Covenant, where our salvation is not because of works, but because of faith. The Dispensation of the Law targets the ethnic and cultural Jewish people, who were God’s chosen people from Moses until Jesus. God stopped dealing with the Jews and started dealing with the Christians around the time of Jesus’ death. BUT he is not done with the Jews yet.
In the Book of Daniel, chapter 9, there’s a prophecy about the Messiah, Jesus, which you may be well acquainted with. The Archangel Gabriel tells Daniel:
Daniel 9:24-27 – 24 “There are 70 weeks that have been determined for your people and your holy city, in order to terminate the transgression, to finish off sin, to make atonement for error, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and the prophecy, and to anoint the Holy of Holies. 25 You should know and understand that from the issuing of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem+ until Mes·siʹah the Leader, there will be 7 weeks, also 62 weeks. She will be restored and rebuilt, with a public square and moat, but in times of distress. 26 “And after the 62 weeks, Mes·siʹah will be cut off, with nothing for himself.
“And the people of a leader who is coming will destroy the city and the holy place.+ And its end will be by the flood. And until the end there will be war; what is decided upon is desolations. 27 “And he will keep the covenant in force for the many for one week; and at the half of the week, he will cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease. “And on the wing of disgusting things there will be the one causing desolation;+ and until an extermination, what was decided on will be poured out also on the one lying desolate.”
You may be well aware of the prophecy of the 70 weeks of years. It states that after 69 weeks, the Messiah would appear, and then be cut off (executed) “with nothing for himself”1. And please note that this whole prophecy concerns “your people”, i.e. the Jewish people. It does not concern Christians. This will be important later.
Also notice that after Messiah is cut off, there is a gap in the text, even though it is in the same verse number. This is where the 70th week begins. But since the Jews rejected their Messiah, God rejected the Jews, for a while. This gap is where the “church age” takes place, i.e. the New Covenant. God has saved the last week of Daniel for the end times. Right now we’re in the dispensation of Grace, but God has not given up on his Jewish people. He’s just giving them time to come back to him.
So the later part of verse 26 and 27 concerns the future of the Jewish people. There will be a period of 7 years where there will come a political leader. He will make a covenant with the Jewish people, which he will break after half the week (3.5 years) after which he will try to annihilate the Jews and the nation of Israel.
This ties in with what Jesus told his diciples (also Jews) about the end times and the Great tribulation in Matthew 24. That’s why he’s talking about the abomination causing desolation of the book of Daniel. He’s talking about this very verse of this prophecy. That is going to be the sign for them.
The book of Revelation also brings up thee things, speaking of two periods of 3.5 years (totally 7 years) during which the Antichrist will come and make himself out to be a God in the temple of Jerusalem. The Jews alive at that time must accept the true Christ and reject the Antichrist. If they reject the Antichrist they will be beheaded. But if they reject Christ they will end up in Gehenna.
So the Great Tribulation is going to be a period of 7 years, 3.5 not so bad and 3.5 really bad. And the Jews are going to have to accept Jesus as their Messiah and endure till the end of they want to get saved.
I know that this is the fate that you are looking forward to, or rather fearing. That’s why you prepare your Go-Bag, watch the dramatic videos of Witnesses hiding like cockroaches ina ttics and basements or being chased through the forrest. But Christians don’t believe that the wrath of God is to come upon his Children, so they are not even worried about this. The Christian hope is thus:
1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 – because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. 17 Afterward we the living who are surviving will, together with them, be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord.
So at the moment the Great Tribulation begins, all who put faith in Jesus will have their reward by being caught away into heaven without a scratch. The only ones left to fend for themselves for 7 years are the ones who rejected Jesus as their Saviour.
But you may think: That’s only for the Anointed. Well, why would God be so cruel as to treat a random selection of people with loving care and catching them out of harms way, while leaving you and your family behind to experience the horrors of the Great Tribulation? Christians believe that everyone who has faith in Jesus is in fact anointed and have this hope of salvation.
(Stay tuned for an upcoming article about Armageddon.)
1Some translations render it “cut off, but not for himself”, showing that Jesus would be killed not for his own sins, but for our sins.