It is necessary to understand the time period of the Great Tribulation, in order to understand the prophecy of the 144,000. The Great Tribulation is the tribulation of the Antichrist, the war against the saints, that began as Jesus said, “when you see standing in the holy place, the one who sets up the abomination of desolation.” It began through the Bishop of Rome, who desolated the Church in 193 AD, when he exalted himself as high as Christ. Jesus described the ending of the tribulation, when He said, “straight from the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall.” This is the fourth trumpet of Revelation 8:12, when the kingdom of heaven is cleansed, after 2,300 days (as years), according to Daniel 8:14. As Daniel said, “even until the end there will be war and desolations are determined”(Daniel 9:26). These desolations refer to the saints who are unable to receive the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth, because of the corruption of the kingdom of heaven. But once all lawlessness has been removed from the kingdom of heaven, all the saints will be sealed by the Spirit of God. In the last days, the True Gospel will be preached, therefore, Jesus said, “unless those days (of desolation) were cut short, no flesh would be saved.”
The Great Tribulation was one “such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will” (Matthew 24:21). It is the greatest torment of the saints, that came from the Antichrist, who became as “exceedingly great” (Daniel 8:9). This tribulation was prophesied to last for 2,300 years (Daniel 8:14). It was incredible from the perspective of the world, that saw “the Church” inflict great suffering upon the saints, through the power of Satan.
The spiritual attack began when “the place of his (Christ’s) sanctuary was cast to the ground,” (Daniel 8:11). An army was given over to Satan to oppose the daily sacrifice, and “fling truth to the ground” (Daniel 8:12). The Spirit of truth no longer sanctified the Church, and the power of the Church to remit sins through baptism was taken away. The saints lost the Holy Spirit, which was the “seal” of their inheritance (Ephesians 1:13). So Satan accused them “day and night,” (Revelation 12:10). The penances, indulgences, and so on, that the Church claimed would remove sins, were useless. Daniel 12:7 described this as the “shattering of the power of the holy people.”
But the saints overcame Satan’s accusations “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, and did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11).
The Reformation brought the correction, “salvation is by faith.” But the saints still lacked “the seal” of “the guarantee of their inheritance” which could only come through receiving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). Satan’s tribulation of the saints did not end until “the stone that struck the statue grew into a great mountain” (Daniel 2:35); the Sanctified Church was re-established.
Asides from the Great Tribulation, the Bible does not prophecy any further tribulation of the saints. There will be a tribulation against the people of this world, called “the Day of the Lord,” which is the Battle of Armageddon, and the flaming fire of God’s judgment. Regarding this Day, Paul wrote, “it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation, those who trouble you” (2 Thessalonians 1:6). The saints will not suffer any further persecution, but “those who do not know God, and do not obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8) will suffer God’s tribulation.
Below we compare Christ’s message in the Gospels, with the Books of Daniel, and Revelation.
15 When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)
Matt 24:15/Mark 13:14Luke 21:20DanielRevelation
Therefore, when you see the Abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet – see explanations under Daniel.
standing in the holy place – Christ’s Church was desolated by the “man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3); the Antichrist was “given a mouth,” and desolated the Church. The “place of his Sanctuary was cast to the ground,” Daniel 8:11.
when you see Jerusalem surrounded by Armiesyou know her desolation is near– in Luke, especially in verse 24, we understand the desolation is spiritual. This is the desolation of New Jerusalem, by the forces of the Antichrist, Satan and his Angels. As Paul said: “the coming of the lawless one is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders” (2 Thess 2:9).
The Antichrist exalted Himself as high as Christ, and the place of his sanctuary was cast to the ground (Daniel 8:9-12), this was the sin that caused the desolation of the Church, the departure of the Sanctifying Spirit. In Daniel 9:26, the Angel prophesied that this desolation would come by “the People of Ruler to come,” and by the forces of the Antichrist, his Angels (Daniel 8:9 11:31). This began the “time, times and half a time” 1290 days, (Daniel 12:9-12).
Revelation 11:2 describes the desolated Church: “do not measure the outer court for it has been given to the Gentiles, for they will trample the holy City for 42 months.” The saints are described as two witnesses who prophecy wearing sackcloth for 1,260 days. Revelation 12, tells us the kingdom of God fled into the wilderness for “time, times and half a time.”
16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take out things that are in his house.18 Let him who is in the field not return back to take his cloak
Matt 24:16-18/Mark 13:15-16Luke 21:21-22Revelation
those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains – on the physical level, Jesus refers to the siege of Jerusalem, but on the spiritual level, Jesus refers to the Woman, New Jerusalem, that flew into the wilderness to escape from the serpent. (Revelation 12:6,14).
Let him who is on the housetop – the same expression is used also in Luke 17:31, where the appearance of Christ is described, but here in Matthew, we are describing the appearance of the Antichrist. In both cases, the warning is the same. We must give ourselves wholly to the attention of our salvation. This is explained in Luke 17:32, do not look back, as Lot’s wife did.
those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains – on the physical level, Jesus refers to the siege of Jerusalem, but on the spiritual level, Jesus refers to the Woman, New Jerusalem, that flew into the wilderness to escape from the serpent (Revelation 12:6,14).
New Jerusalem flew into the wilderness for time, times and half a time to be nourished away from the presence of the serpent (Revelation 12:6,14). No longer having the testimony of the Holy Spirit, the saints overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Rev 12:11;17).
19 But woe to those who are with child and to nursing mothers in those days! 20 Pray that your flight will not be in the winter, nor on a Sabbath,
Matt 24:19-20/Mark 13:17Luke 21:23Revelation
woe to those who are pregnant – referring to the spiritual birth of the children of the New Jerusalem, described in Revelation 12: “the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children” (Rev 12:17)
woe to those who are pregnant – referring to the spiritual birth of the children of New Jerusalem, described in Revelation 12: “the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children” (Rev 12:17).
New Jerusalem is described as a Woman in Revelation 12:1; the kingdom of the beast is described as a harlot in Revelation 17. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus warns of the attack of the serpent on the Woman, New Jerusalem, who is nursing the sons of God. New Jerusalem and the sons of God are called, “the elect Lady and her children” in 2 John 1:1.
21 for then will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever will be.
Matt 24:21/Mark 13:19 Luke 21:24DanielRevelation
then there will be a great tribulation – this is the spiritual tribulation of the saints by the Antichrist, who cast the true Church to the ground; taking away the assurance of salvation that comes by receiving the Holy Spirit. An army was given over to Satan to oppose the daily sacrifice (Christ’s blood had formerly washed away sins at water baptism, by the authority of the Holy Spirit) (Daniel 8:10-12; John 20:21-23).
such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will – this was the tribulation of the Antichrist, Satan, against the saints. It was incredible from the view of the world because the “Church” inflicted great suffering upon the saints, through religious wars and burning at the stake.
and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations – from Daniel 11:33; fall by the edge of the sword described the wars of the Reformation period (Rev 13:9) and wars against the Arian states. Nations and gentiles are the same word in Greek. The true children of God will be taken into captivity in “mystery Babylon,” the spiritual captivity of false religion described in Revelation 17:5.
The Great Tribulation is firstly spiritual, as from Daniel 8:12, “an army was given was given over to the horn to oppose they daily sacrifice (of Christ’s blood)”; “arms from him shall come up” (Daniel 11:31). Daniel 11:33 tells us “they will fall by sword and by flame,” by religious war and the burning at the stake; which was the most common attack against the saints for many centuries.
In Revelation, the phrase “Great Tribulation” is only found in Revelation 7, where we see two groups of elect: those from the Sanctified Church, the 144,000, and those who “came out of the Great Tribulation,” who Satan accused “day and night,” because they did not have the testimony of the Holy Spirit. – as from Daniel 8:12, “an army was given to him to oppose the daily sacrifice.”
22 Except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved. But for the elect’s sake, those days will be shortened.
Matt 24:22/Mark 13:20Luke 21:24Revelation
unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved – by the true Gospel. Of course, many, many, people died through the Inquisition and the Reformation. But, more significantly, unless this period ended, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ could not be restored to bring salvation to the elect. But for the sake of the elect those days were cut short.
Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled – this is repeated in Rev 11:2, “they shall trample the Holy City underfoot for 42 months.” This is the New Jerusalem, the spiritual Holy City, that the Gentiles trampled underfoot.
In Revelation 14:6-7, the true “everlasting gospel” is preached by the Sanctified Church of the end days, “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come (John 16:8), who made the heaven and the earth and springs of living water.” (The “springs of living water” refer to the Spirit of truth that testifies to the Gospel. Compare to Revelation 10:6, which omits “springs of living water.” In Revelation 10:6, John introduces the Angel from Daniel 12:7, who brings the story of time, times and half a time in the hands of the beast.)
23 Then if any man will tell you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There,’ don’t believe it. 24 For there will arise false Christs, and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you beforehand. 26 If therefore they tell you, ‘Behold, he is in the wilderness!’ don’t go out; ‘Behold, he is in the inner chambers,’ don’t believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes forth from the east, and is seen even to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there will the vultures be gathered together.
Matt 24:23-28/Mark 16:21-23
Then if anyone says to you, “Behold, here is the Christ”– referring to many false Christs, including the Popes who called themselves Christ on earth. Jesus warns the saints who await His return.
wherever the corpse is the vultures (eagles) will gather – His return will coincide with the Battle of Armageddon, as described in Isaiah 34:15-16; “the eagles/hawks (end time saints) will be gathered there” – “and His Spirit (Word, in the Targum) has gathered them” (to be taken to heaven)
29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give her light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken
Matt 24:29/Mark 16:24Luke 21:25-26Revelation
immediately after the tribulation of those days– literally “straight from the tribulation of those days.” Jesus tells us that we will go directly from the Great Tribulation to the seven trumpets described below. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit, “fire from the altar” in Revelation 8:5; brings the assurance of salvation to the elect, and ends Satan’s tribulation.
the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall – in the 4th trumpet we find: “a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck…” (Revelation 8:12); and the stars falling are in the 3rd and 5th trumpets (Revelation 8:10, 9:1).
In summary, Jesus prophesied two events that must precede His return:
The Great Tribulation from Satan, and
The Seven Trumpets from God
there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars – as described by the seven trumpets.
in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves– some might think this is a prophecy of anxiety regarding climate change in the last days; but is more likely the crashing of the waves of the sea in the second trumpet, in Rev 8:8-9.
As explained under Matthew 24:29/Mark 16:24, and Luke 21:25-26.
30 and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. 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.31 He will send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
Matt 24:30-31/Mark 16:25-27Luke 21:27DanielRevelation
the tribes of the earth will mourn -from Zechariah 12:10; Rev 1:7.
coming in the clouds – from Daniel 7:13.
shall gather His elect – from Isaiah 34:16.
then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds and great glory – from Daniel 7:13.
Daniel 7:13; 12:1-3.
Revelation 1:7, 11:15, 16:17, 20:9.
32 “Now from the fig tree learn her parable. When its branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near.
Matt 24:32/Mark 16:28Luke 21:29-30Revelation
when the branch has become tender and puts forth its leaves – the BRANCH refers to Christ throughout Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah. Some explain the putting forth of the leaves as the end time harvest. Some relate “the fig tree” to the end time salvation of Israel. In either case, we have arrived at the same time-period, introduced in verse 14: “this gospel…shall be preached in the whole world…and then the end will come.”
the message in Luke seems to take the emphasis away from the fig tree, but rather just focuses on the phenomenon of watching the signs as they appear, to know Christ’s coming.
Some relate the fig tree to the end time salvation of Israel. This message is throughout the Old Testament prophets, and of course, undeniably in Romans 11:25-26.