The Great Tribulation

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Many prophecies of the Old Testament will then be fulfilled, which we cannot now enter into, deeply interesting as they are; the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30.), that is, "the great tribulation," will then take place (Dan. 12:11And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (Daniel 12:1); Matt. 24:2121For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:21)), and during this time the fiery persecution will be so severe that the elect remnant of the Jews shall with difficulty escape; many we know shall be slain, but "he that shall endure to the end" (that is, to the end of this time of great tribulation), "the same shall be saved." (Matt. 24:1313But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matthew 24:13))
During this time, too, the godly remnant of the Jews will preach the gospel of the kingdom in all the world, for a witness to all nations (i.e., the heathen). The gospel of the kingdom which will then be preached is very different from the gospel of the grace of God which is now being proclaimed. Now through the gospel God is telling poor sinners that Christ has come, and is offering them eternal glory with that Christ in heaven on the ground of the work He accomplished at Calvary's cross; but then. the Jewish remnant will announce that Christ is coming to set up His kingdom on the earth, and to reign as King. (Matt. 10:17, 22, 23; 24:1417But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; (Matthew 10:17)
22And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. 23But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. (Matthew 10:22‑23)
14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)
.)
When this gospel of the kingdom shall have been preached to all nations, and when the time of tribulation shall have reached its height, "then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (Matt. 24:3030And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30).) What a moment! The One whom this world crowned with thorns, rejected and crucified, shall then be seen returning girt with almighty power, arrayed in dazzling glory, and accompanied with all His glorified saints.
Let us now pass from Matt. 24:3030And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30) to Matt. 25:3131When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: (Matthew 25:31). "When the Son of man shall come in His glory... then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory, and before Him shall be gathered all nations." It is very clear that Christ here comes in glory to the earth; but when He so comes we shall come WITH HIM; for "when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." (Col. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4).) It is equally clear that He is here seen coming to judge the nations; but when He so comes we shall come WITH HIM. (Jude 1414And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, (Jude 14),15.) Now, if at this period we come with Him, He must previously have come for us; and, further, He does not here come to judge us, but we (i. e., believers) come with Him to judge the nations-"Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:22Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (1 Corinthians 6:2).)
Who then are these nations? perhaps the reader may ask. They are the Gentile nations, or heathen alive on the earth when Christ comes in judgment; they are the very nations to whom the Jewish remnant have preached the gospel of the kingdom, after that the Church has been taken away. We would beseech the reader to study these verses carefully; he will then see that the nations are judged according to the way in which they have treated these godly Jews, here called "these My brethren." (Matt. 25:40, 4540And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)
45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (Matthew 25:45)
.) They are divided into two companies-"the sheep" are those who have received these messengers of the coming King, and to them are addressed the gracious words, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:3434Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Matthew 25:34)); that is, they enter the millennium to enjoy all the blessings of Christ's earthly kingdom; "the goats," on the other hand, are those who have rejected these messengers and refused the mercy offered through them, and to them are uttered the awful words, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matt. 25:4141Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matthew 25:41).) This judgment of the living nations being over, the millennium will commence, and for 1000 years we (the glorified saints) shall live and reign with Christ. (Rev. 20:44And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4).)
Carefully observe that in this passage none but the living nations are judged: all here are alive, none of them have passed through death; this in itself is sufficient to show that a general judgment is out of the question.
Further, there are three companies spoken of, and not merely two. Now, if "the sheep" are all the redeemed, and "the goats" are all the lost, who then are "these my brethren"? Let none suppose that they are some of the sheep; had it been so the verse would have run thus: "Inasmuch as ye did it to one another," &c. The meaning of the passage will be involved in hopeless obscurity until the simple truth is seen that the nations here spoken of are the Gentile nations alive on the earth when Christ comes to set up His kingdom. Christians, i. e., the Church, are not mentioned in this portion of the chapter; they are spoken of in the parables of the Servants, the Ten Virgins and the Talents. (24: 45-25: 30.)