Some claim the great tribulation already happened, but I believe this teaching contradicts many scriptures. No previous events in history fulfill the requirements for this monumental event. Here are seven reasons why I believe the great tribulation has not happened yet.
1. The Enemies of God Are Destroyed in the Great Tribulation
Many scriptures confirm the great tribulation will be a time of great destruction for the enemies of God. Here are some of them:
- Hail and fire, mixed with blood are thrown to the earth. (Revelation 8:7)
- A third of the earth is burned up and a third of the trees are burned up and all of the green grass is burned up. (Revelation 8:7)
- A great mountain burning with fire is thrown into the sea causing a third of sea becomes blood and a third of the creatures in the sea die and a third of the ships are destroyed. (Revelation 8:8)
- A great star falls from heaven burning like a torch on a third of the rives and on the springs of the earth making the waters bitter. Many people die from drinking the waters. (Revelation 8:10)
- A third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars are struck so they become darkened. (Revelation 8:12)
- Locusts are released throughout the whole earth harming people for five months. (Revelation 9:3-5)
- An army of 200 million are released to kill one third of mankind. (Revelation 9:15-16)
- The antichrist requires everyone, both great and small, to take his mark on their hand or their forehead. No one could buy or sell without taking the mark. (Revelation 13:16-18)
- The Lord slays the evil one with the breath of His mouth. (2 Thessalonians 2:8)
- The Lord destroys the beast and the kings of the earth. (Revelation 19:19-20)
- The antichrist and the false prophet are both thrown into the lake of fire to live in the place that burns with sulfur (Revelation 19:20).
Obviously these things have not happened yet because if they had the spirit of antichrist would no longer be operating in the world, but it is very much alive and well today. Therefore we can conclude the great tribulation has not happened yet.
2. Jesus Identified the Great Tribulation Happens in the End
Jesus taught us about the great tribulation in Matthew 24. Throughout his discourse, he refers to the end three times.
- He describes birth pangs leading up the end, but he said, “that is not yet the end.” (Matthew 24:6)
- Then he tells about a time of trouble coming in the future, but says, “the one who endures to the end will be delivered” (Matthew 24:13).
- Then he tells them “the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14)
In the same discourse, he tells us the signs to recognize his return to earth, an event which happens only one time in history and has not happened yet.
- “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27).
- “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
Did Jesus already return and somehow we all missed it? Of course not! It would be impossible to miss a lightning flash from east to west with the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the sky, all people on earth mourning at the sight of it, and the Son of Man coming on the clouds with power and great glory. Obviously, this event has not happened yet. Jesus repeatedly said he was talking about the end and that is when it will happen.
Since he was talking about the end of the age and his return during the great tribulation, we can conclude the great tribulation has not happened yet.
3. The Trouble During the Great Tribulation Will Be Unlike Anything that Has Ever Happened or Ever Will
Jesus said “There will be a great tribulation, such as has never occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.” (Matthew 24:21)
By making this statement, Jesus confirmed what the angel Gabriel said to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 12:1). However, Jesus took it a step further by adding, “nor ever will.” So the trouble that is coming will be unique in all of history. That means it will be impossible to miss it.
We now have the benefit of 2,000 years of added history since Jesus made this statement. There have been many terrible events, but none that stands out as being unprecedented and impossible to repeat. The world has endured mass murders of millions of people many times in many different places including Germany, Russia, China, Cambodia, and others. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD fails to meet this requirement because far worse things have happened many times since then. Even the Jewish people have experienced far worse trouble since then, such as during the Nazi concentration camps of World War 2
Since the world has not yet seen the fulfillment of this prophecy, we can conclude the great tribulation has not happened yet.
4. The Rescue of All of God’s People from a Time of Unprecedented Trouble Has Not Happened Yet
Jesus describes the great tribulation in Matthew 24:21 by repeating the words of the angel Gabriel spoken to Daniel.
“And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time. And at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.” (Daniel 12:1)
Since Jesus was describing the great tribulation we can conclude Gabriel was also describing the great tribulation. We also know the trouble Gabriel spoke about has not happened yet because he said at that time everyone who is found written in the book would be rescued. That is an important key to understanding the timing of the great tribulation.
Daniel was told to “conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time” (Daniel 12:4). What book is he talking about? It is the same book revealed to John, which has been sealed up until the end. John saw the seals are finally broken just prior to the day of the Lord (Revelation 5-8). Only Jesus, the lamb of God, was found worthy to break the seals of the book to open it because he is the only one who paid the price for the sins of the people whose names are recorded in the book. It is the book of life.
The rescue of everyone whose name is found written in the book would be an enormous operation that would involve millions of people all over the world. We know it has not happened yet because an event of this magnitude would be impossible to miss. Nothing like it has ever happened before, but it will happen on the day of the Lord. This is the rapture.
Another reason why we know the rapture has not happened yet is because Gabriel told Daniel it was for the time of the end when people would go back and forth and knowledge would increase.
“But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” (Daniel 12:4)
Jesus tells us this rescue happens during the great tribulation.
And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Matthew 24:31)
During the first century some believers were concerned that perhaps it had already happened and they missed it. To reassure them, the Apostle Paul wrote to tell them two other events must happen before the rapture.
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so- called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4)
First comes the apostasy, the great falling away from the faith. Jesus tells us this event occurs during the tribulation, which he put in the context of the other end-time events (Matthew 24:9-10). Second, the man of lawlessness, must enter the temple in Jerusalem and take his seat there, displaying himself as being God.
We know Paul was referring to the antichrist, not to any earlier figure, because he explains “Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
So this lawless one will be slain by the Lord when the Lord returns. While there have been other lawless ones in the past, none of them were slain by the Lord at his return because the Lord has not returned yet. So we can conclude the lawless one has not been revealed yet. Therefore the rapture could not have happened yet either.
Therefore, we can conclude the rescue of God’s people that both Jesus and Daniel identified is still in the future. Since the rapture happens during the great tribulation we can conclude the great tribulation has not happened yet. See my previous post: “Eight Proofs the Rapture Happens on the Day of the Lord.”
5. The Gospel Will Be Preached in the Whole World
Jesus said, “The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world, then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Never before in history has the gospel of the kingdom been preached in the whole world. Thanks to media broadcasting and satellite technology we are closer today than ever before, but there are still unreached areas. For those of us who live in civilized countries it is hard to imagine there are still people who have not heard the gospel, but the earth is a big planet. There are still many areas where people have never heard the gospel message. In some cases these are remote areas, but in other cases they are heavily populated areas with strong barriers blocking the entrance of the gospel, such as false religions and strict laws against evangelism.
God is moving on the hearts of his people to go into these areas with his good news. I recently heard of a lady who has been risking her life going deep into the jungles of Africa to minister to pigmies who live in trees. They had never heard the gospel before, but they are hearing it now. There are many examples of these kinds of things still happening.
Jesus identified the great tribulation would come when the gospel of the kingdom is preached in the whole world, but since that has still not happened yet we can conclude the great tribulation has not happened yet either.
6. The Great Tribulation Would Kill Everyone on Earth Unless God Intervened
Jesus revealed the worldwide magnitude of the great tribulation when he said:
“Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (Matthew 24:22)
No event in history has ever threatened the life of every person on earth, but the great tribulation will. The only reason anyone will survive is because the Lord will intervene to cut short those days for the sake of his people. So again we can conclude the great tribulation has not happened yet.
7. The Great Tribulation Begins with An Unprecedented Combination of Events that Have Never Happened Before
Jesus gave us the sequence of events for the end-times, including the birth-pangs leading up the end, the tribulation, and the great tribulation. He identified an unprecedented shaking of the heavens and the earth that would mark the beginning of the great tribulation.
“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 the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29)
The earth has experienced solar eclipses, lunar eclipses, and meteorites falling from the sky, but when have the heavens ever been shaken?
The earth has been shaken by many great earthquakes, but during the coming great tribulation the Lord plans to shake the heavens too.
Scientists have identified even small fluctuations in the activity of the sun or moon have a big impact on the earth’s temperatures, winds, tides, and seismic activity. Imagine what would happen if the heavens were shaken at the same time as stars falling to earth. These events would likely cause great earthquakes and explosions. On February 15 2013 the Chelyabinsk meteor fell on Russia recently causing an explosion that was estimated to be many times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Japan during World War 2. Today scientists are keeping a close watch on another meteor coming our way that is many times bigger than what hit Russia. So the events Jesus described would have unprecedented consequences for everyone on earth.
Jesus did not list all of the details of the coming shakings, but he listed enough for us to know he was describing the same events seen by many other prophets. We can find more details by reading other accounts.
Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation. And He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light. The sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity. I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken from its place at the fury of the Lord of hosts in the day of His burning anger. (Isaiah 13:9-13)
I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. (Joel 2:30-31)
I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand? (Revelation 6:12-17)
We can conclude Isaiah, Joel, and John all saw the same shaking of the heavens that Jesus saw because they all describe the same cataclysmic shaking of the heavens combined with the sun and moon going dark, a combination of events that has never happened before. If there was any doubt about the timing of the shaking described by Jesus, that doubt is removed after reading these other accounts because they clearly connect it with the day of the Lord, which happens only once in history at the end of this age.
Since this great shaking of the heavens has not happened yet and since it comes at the beginning of the great tribulation, we can conclude the great tribulation has not happened yet either.
In conclusion, here are the seven proofs that the great tribulation has not already happened.
- The enemies of God will be destroyed in the great tribulation, but they are still alive and well. Therefore, the great tribulation has not happened yet.
- Jesus tells us the events of the great tribulation in the context of the end of the age. He repeatedly mentions the end and his return to earth during this time.
- Before the great tribulation comes the gospel will be preached in the whole world. Since that has not happened yet we can conclude the great tribulation has not happened yet either.
- During the great tribulation the world will endure trouble unlike anything that has ever happened or ever will. There is no historical event that fits this description, so it has not happened yet.
- The rescue of God’s people from a time of unprecedented trouble is a monumental, worldwide event that happens during the great tribulation through the rapture, but has not happened yet.
- Jesus said the great tribulation would kill everyone on earth unless God intervened. There is no historical event that has ever even come close to threatening the life of everyone on earth, so the great tribulation has not happened yet.
- The great tribulation begins with an unprecedented combination of events, including a shaking of the heavens. Since nothing like this has ever happened before, we can conclude the great tribulation has not happened before either.
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Author: James Bailey
James Bailey is a blogger, business owner, husband and father of two grown children. In 1982, he surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. In 2012, he founded Z3news.com to broadcast the message of salvation by reporting end time news before it happens.