Mainline Christian view – The Great Tribulation

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.

Why don’t you have a look and see whether you too may be one of the anointed? Take this easy Bible-based quiz to find out.

(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.

”Bad associations spoil useful habits”

In a recent Watchtower study we had this gem:

While a bit creepy, it does point out that parents have responsibility for their children. Fair enough. But what I’d like to focus on is the scripture referenced to support this. A scripture you’ve probably heard a million times and always used to prevent you from broadening your perspectives:

1 Corinthians 15:33 — Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.

On its own it seems quite clear and is always used to warn you against associating with unapproved people. But since the Watchtower is notorious for using proof text and take things out of context we are going to look at the context today, because “if you take the text out of context, the result is a con.” And we do not want to be conned, do we?

So let’s start in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 to understand what Paul is writing about.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 — Now I remind you, brothers, of the good news that I declared to you, which you also accepted, and for which you have taken your stand. 2 Through it you are also being saved if you hold firmly to the good news I declared to you, unless you became believers for nothing. 3 For among the first things I handed on to you was what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; 4 and that he was buried, yes, that he was raised up on the third day according to the Scriptures;

The topic of discussion in 1 Corinthians 15 is the good news of salvation:

  • Jesus died for your sin
  • He was buried for 3 days
  • He was resurrected, defeating death
  • Through faith in his sacrifice and resurrection we are saved from death

This is a “first thing” or the basics of Christian faith. This is what saves you (and not your membership in a society belonging to a printing corporation.)

But Paul goes on to belabor the third point, the resurrection of Jesus and how important it is.

1 Corinthians 15:12-14 — Now if it is being preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how is it that some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If, indeed, there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised up. 14 But if Christ has not been raised up, our preaching is certainly in vain, and your faith is also in vain.

If Christ was not raised from the dead, our faith is in vain, completely pointless. And how was Jesus raised from the dead?

1 Corinthians 15:20,22 — But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. […] 22 For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive.

So everyone will be resurrected in the same manner Jesus was resurrected. And how was that? What did Jesus say?

Luke 24:39,40 — See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you see that I have.” 40 And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

John 20:27,28 — Next he said to Thomas: “Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your hand and stick it into my side, and stop doubting but believe.” 28 In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!”

John 2:19-21 — Jesus replied to them: “Tear down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said: “This temple was built in 46 years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was talking about the temple of his body.

Jesus said he was to be resurrected bodily. The same body he died in was resurrected fleshly, with one difference, which Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians 15:

1 Corinthians 15:35,42,44 — Nevertheless, someone will say: “How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what sort of body are they coming?” […] 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised up in incorruption. […] 44 It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.

The resurrected body is incorruptible, spiritual. So how does this harmonize? Jesus was raised in a physical body, but Paul talks about a spiritual…

  • Either Jesus was a spirit and he lied about not being a spirit and deceived the apostles by manifesting a fake body complete with wounds they could see and handle. Hence Jesus is a liar, deceiver and a fraud.
  • Or Paul didn’t mean “a spirit”, but a body that is elevated above the physical, given incorruptibility. And Paul didn’t say “spirit body” but “spiritual body” meaning that it has spiritual qualities a regular physical body doesn’t have.

The Watchtower society believes it’s the first one: That Jesus life to his disciples and defrauded them. The Jesus that the Watchtower promotes is a deceiver, fraud and liar. That’s qualities of Satan, not of God.

Jesus was resurrected in the same body, only it was immortalized, glorified and spiritual. It had the capability to travel vast distances instantly, appear and disappear anywhere, even in locked rooms, and of course it’s immortal.

If the Watchtower is correct then it also means that you will not have a physical resurrection, since everyone will be resurrected in the same manner as Jesus.

However if the idea of a spiritual glorified immortal physical body that can freely move through time and space, such as Jesus and Paul describes, is true then you are looking forward to an amazing future!

And this is what 1 Corinthians 15:33 is all about. It means “have nothing to do with people who say that Jesus wasn’t resurrected, or that his resurrection wasn’t a physical one.” They are the “bad associations” and “false witnesses”.

So the next time you hear 1 Corinthians 15:33 quoted, think about who teaches falsehood about Jesus’ resurrection, how it distorts the resurrection hope, how you should avoid such bad associations, and also how they are trying to con you by taking the text out of context.