There Will Be Great Tribulation

grey white clouds

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Reading the Word

Matthew 24:15–22 (ESV)

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 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. 22 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.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:14-20; Luke 21:20-24

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this passage, Jesus speaks of the future time preceding his return (cf. vv. 29-31). He refers to the Book of Daniel and mentions an “abomination of desolation”. In 167 B.C., Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs on the altar. Daniel 8 speaks of that event, but Jesus speaks of another, future event. He describes it as a time of “great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now.” It will be a time foreshadowed by Antiochus, but it will be much worse. During that time, believers will suffer greatly.

As bad as it will be, Jesus assures his followers that evil will not win the day. Christ will return and end the suffering of his people. He will defeat the tyrant, who is known as the Antichrist, and he will establish his own kingdom.

As those who belong to Christ, believers may sometimes become concerned with the way the world seems to be heading. We may wonder if the end is near and if persecution will increase for Christians. We know that our brothers and sisters around the globe often find themselves in great difficulty because of their faith. What should we do?

Christ’s words here should encourage us. Evil may continue for a time. It may even become extremely great. But God has a plan. The days will be cut short. Christ will return and defeat his enemies and the enemies of his people. We must find strength and confidence in these promises as we pray for our fellow believers in the line of fire and as we pray for our Lord’s coming.

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In Those Days

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do included a Scripture reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

Mark 13:19–23 (ESV)

19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

Satan Thrown Down

Revelation 1211 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Revelation 12:7–12 (ESV)

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

One question the interpreter must answer about this passage is if it describes a future or past event. If past, this is a description of the original upheaval in heaven when Satan and his followers were cast out. From that time on, they work to deceive mankind.

Many, if not most, would interpret this passage as speaking not of Satan’s original fall, but of a future battle against the forces of heaven. In this view, Satan and his followers wage one last battle in heaven, but are defeated and cast out of heaven completely. However, Satan and his followers then work furiously to disrupt things on earth.

This passage tells us that Satan, the accuser of believers, will one day be defeated. He will have a time when he disrupts the world, but his time is short. God will end his ways once and for all at a future date and Satan and his angels will be cast into the lake of fire (cf. Revelation 20:7-10). God’s plans are set and the deceiver of this world’s days are numbered. Let us rejoice in that truth!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

A Great Multitude

Revelation 79 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Revelation 7:9–17 (ESV)

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After speaking of the 144,000 Jewish believers who are sealed in verses 1-8, now we get a picture of the people of God from outside of the Jewish community. The group is so great that it cannot be numbered and it is made up of people from every nation, tribe, and language. This group represents those who hear the gospel during the Great Tribulation and are redeemed through Jesus Christ (cf. verse 14). The great multitude and all of heaven gather in worship.

A fitting response to our salvation, in every age, is worship. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, has taken our sin and given us his righteousness. This is all done by grace, not because we somehow deserve it. What a great salvation we have in Christ. What a great God and Savior!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!