To answer this question, let us first of all look at some definitions.
In a previous Q&A we wrote:
“…the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) is followed by the Heavenly Signs (Revelation 6:12-14; Joel 2:30-31; Matthew 24:29) and by the Day of the Lord (Revelation 6:17). The indication is, from Scripture, that the Day of the Lord begins one year before Christ’s return (compare, for example, Isaiah 34:8). But even as the Day of the Lord does not end with Christ’s return, but is ongoing, so the Great Tribulation (which begins approximately 2½ years prior to the Day of the Lord) does not end, either, when the Day of the Lord starts. Rather, it continues until Satan, who causes the Great Tribulation to occur, is removed from his throne.
“Christ returns to cut the Great Tribulation short (Matthew 24:21-22). This means, the Great Tribulation is still ongoing — it overlaps for one year, in that sense, with the Day of the Lord. So, all in all, the Great Tribulation lasts approximately 3½ years, but during the last year of the Great Tribulation, God starts to intervene — approximately one year before Christ’s actual return…” We also understand that God could shorten these days to less than 3 ½ years. (Compare our free booklet, “When and How Will Christ Return?”)
In the above-quoted Q&A, we also pointed out that the Day of the Lord is the day of GOD’S wrath, while the Great Tribulation is the time of Satan’s wrath.
There have been many disastrous and catastrophic wars down through the ages. In World War 1 and World War 2, many millions were killed or injured as we can read below.
On the historyonthenet.com website, we read:
“World War One was one of the deadliest conflicts in the history of the human race, in which over 16 million people died. The total number of both civilian and military casualties is estimated at around 37 million people. The war killed almost 7 million civilians and 10 million military personnel.”
On the worldwar2-database.blogspot.com website, these figures are given: “… most suggest that some 60 million people died in World War II, including about 20 million soldiers and 40 million civilians. Many civilians died because of disease, starvation, massacres, bombing and deliberate genocide. The Soviet Union lost around 27 million people during the war, almost half of all World War II deaths. One of every four Soviet citizens was killed or wounded in that war.”
We rightly think of the horrors that both sides of the war suffered, but we read in Matthew 24:21-22 about a time in the not-too-distant future, which will dwarf anything that has happened in the last 6,000 years of mankind on earth: “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. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”
God does not mince His words. Mankind will be on the brink of extinction when Jesus Christ returns to stop that happening.
Why is this happening? God who created all things through Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 3:9) has given instructions on how and how not to live. God instructed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and they were deceived by Satan the devil. Mankind then continued on the wrong path so much so that “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God was sorry that He had made man on the earth and was grieved in His spirit” (verse 6). This seems to be about 1,650 years after man was created.
About a thousand years later, God gave Israel the choice between blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience (see Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28). History shows that Israel, generally, made a mess of such opportunities. The Old Testament is replete with examples of some kings of Israel and Judah who had the right approach but following David and Solomon, only a few kings of Judah lived righteous lives, while none of the kings of Israel did. Usually, the leaders lived in opposition and rebellion towards God, and the people followed their bad example. In short, God’s Way was usually superseded by men who thought that they knew better.
Fast forward to the New Testament when Jesus Christ was listened to and sought after by many thousands, but on the day of Pentecost, there were just 120 disciples (Acts 1:15) awaiting the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). Since that time, the true Church of God has been a small, persecuted group and mankind has, in general, been a God-defying race.
Down through the ages, we have seen behavior and attitudes that are incompatible with God’s Way of Life, with man always seeming to think that he knows better than the One who created us all.
Do our present societies around the world reflect the Way of Life that God would have us live, and always for our own benefit? The answer to that question can be seen by the mess that the world is currently experiencing.
Many pages could be used in showing how evil this world is, and it is getting worse by the day. Wars and military conflicts abound; atheism seems to be a “religion” on its own; blasphemy by the young and the old; perversion in many sexual areas has become the norm; and abortion annually murders millions of innocent unborn children. The Ten Commandments are shunned by most of the world, and man makes up his own laws and rules, usually in direct opposition to God’s expressed Will. The list could go on for many pages.
Mankind today, generally, has no interest in God, most certainly not in the true God of the Bible, many denying that He even exists. To give one of so many examples that could be used, let us quote, selectively, the words that a British actor and entertainer made in 2015. This famous atheist described what he would say if he got to heaven – of course we know that we don’t go to heaven when we die and he doesn’t believe in God and so this would never happen anyway – but it is quite a blasphemous attack against God that he made. He said:
“I will say bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you, how dare you create a world that has such misery that is not our fault. It is not right. It is utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is full of injustice and pain?”
He added: “Because the God who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac. Totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him?! What kind of god would do that?
“Yes, the world is very splendid but it also has in it insects whose whole lifecycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind. They eat outwards from the eyes. Why? Why did you do that to us? You could easily have made a creation in which that didn’t exist. It is simply not acceptable.
“It’s perfectly apparent that he is monstrous. Utterly monstrous and deserves no respect whatsoever. The moment you banish him, life becomes simpler, purer, cleaner, more worth living in my opinion.”
We quote that as a dire example of those who categorically refuse to see the hand of a great Creator God, but would add that there are many others who can be just as objectionable in their blasphemous approach. Statements like the one quoted above do reflect an utter ignorance of the fact that this is not God’s world, but that it is ruled by Satan the Devil who has also had tremendous influence on the nature of the animal world. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Heavens and Earth… Before and After the First Man.” Other booklets, which address the issues raised by the above-quoted atheist, are “Punishment for Our Sins,” “Sickness and Healing—What the Bible Tells Us,” and “Human Suffering—Why… and How Much Longer?”
In the 16th chapter in the Book of Revelation are further telling examples of man’s rebellious “intractability” – a word that can mean: unmanagableness, defiant, rebellious, obstinate, stubborn, disobedient – which is the trait of beings unwilling to obey. Here we see the horrors of the seven bowls – the first one being malignant or loathsome sores on the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image, which shows the result of ignoring the Way of God (verse 2).
In the third verse, we read about the second bowl with the sea turning to blood.
The third bowl in verse 4 reveals that the waters turned to blood.
The fourth bowl (verses 8-9) reveals that men will be scorched and instead of repenting, “they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.”
The fifth bowl is about darkness and pain (verses 10-11), and again, men were unrepentant and “they gnawed their tongues because of the pain and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.”
With the sixth bowl, the Euphrates dried up, and when the seventh bowl is poured out, the earth was utterly shaken, “And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great (Verse 21).”
In spite of such terrible events, some, or many, will blaspheme God’s Name, and will refuse to repent and simply will not give God the glory. Of course, these events are right at the end of the time of terrible trouble, but the attitude manifested even at a time of very great distress shows how stubborn, defiant and obdurate man can be.
It should be become obvious why a loving God will allow the Great Tribulation and why He will bring about the Day of the Lord on the human race except for His people whom He will protect at that time. It is because there is no other way of getting their attention and even at such a time of unprecedented horror, some will still not be entreated. Rather, they will still curse God and be disobedient and rebellious. Man will have brought this upon himself by his continuous rejection of the Way of God.
God wants to get the attention of man and show him the right way to live, but a 6,000 year history, under the evil sway of Satan, has twisted and distorted many minds; so much so that even in the most adverse of conditions, some will still go the way of the evil one. Man has to learn, once and for all, that the only right way of living is the Way of God which will be a loving, joyous and righteous way, and any who refuse to repent and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will ultimately be as if they had never existed.
There is so much more on this subject. We have several additional booklets, addressing these important questions, including “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord” and “How Can We Know that Christ’s Return Is Near?” All our booklets are free for the asking.
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)