We get many questions from sincere believers who have been confused by the teaching that says we must be raptured before the Great Tribulation because we are not appointed to God’s wrath (1 Thess. 5:9). There is a clear difference between tribulation, which is also described as distress or trouble, and God’s wrath, which is described as God’s fury, anger and rage. Tribulation and even great tribulation are something we are intended to go through as overcoming believers. God’s wrath is stored up for His enemies. When God pours out His wrath on the unrepentant during the final judgments there is no mercy or escape.
To us, Jesus says … “in this world you will have trouble…” Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:35-37). If you’ve been a believer for any length of time, you realize that trial, trouble and tribulation are things we must go through and overcome on a regular basis. We are being trained for this purpose.
God’s wrath should be a well-known subject to God’s people, since all of us lived under God’s wrath before turning to Jesus:
- “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
- “Among them [the unrepentant] we too all formerly lived…and were by nature children of wrath…” (Eph. 2:3).
God’s wrath is not only toward individual unbelievers, but toward the wicked generation that covers the earth and has rejected His gospel, His Son Jesus, and the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus compares the days preceding His return to “the days of Noah” and “the days of Lot.” Now, leaders of our nation are urgently trying to stomp out the gospel message, its messengers and its central figure, the Lord Jesus Christ. In most countries around the world this goal has been accomplished. Together, they are quickly becoming the most wicked generation to ever live on this earth.
Unbelievers will go so far as to worship the beast of Revelation and serve this man that is possessed by Satan. “The whole world will worship the beast” (Rev. 13). Yet, the gospel and its power cannot be stopped. Not now or during the Great Tribulation. Jesus promises trouble, hardship, distress and tribulation to His friends and followers over and over in the New Testament. He says His gospel shall be preached to all nations and then the end will come.
In Revelation 7, John sees a great multitude from every nation, tongue and tribe, that no one can count. When asked “Who are these people?” by an elder, John answers in Revelation 7:14, “I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he [the elder] said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'” This is a vast multitude of believers who die as martyrs under the hand of the beast. This is not God’s wrath. This is tribulation that has been faced by martyrs throughout history. The great tribulation comes from Satan’s desire to be worshipped by mankind and the beast of Revelation carrying out his plan to murder everyone who refuses.
- “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21).
- “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matt. 24:29).
- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Maybe you just lost a spouse or a child, that’s tribulation. Or maybe you are facing divorce or a persistent sickness, or the stock market just crashed. That is also tribulation. These troubles are going to increase to the point where Jesus becomes our only refuge.
The end-time church is a conquering church that is not trying to hold on to this life but is looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth.
Tom Grossman Sr. was given an open vision of Jesus’ return in January 2000. The words “we’re not ready for this” pulled Tom into full-time prayer ministry and the study of God’s Word, especially on the subject of the end times. Since then, Tom has helped plant several prayer ministries, has authored two books and many resources for the praying church.