No, it cannot. Not according to Bible prophecy. And while sorrows and tribulation are prophesied to happen prior (Matthew 24:4-12) to the "great tribulation" (Matthew 24:21), the Great Tribulation (the final times of the Gentiles) itself cannot start in 2013 nor prior to 2016.
Related each individual year beginning in 2008, I have denounced false prophets as well as those that speculated on each of those years when they were much to close to that date/year to be possible.
At this moment it is now impossible that the Great tribulation can begin in 2013, or 2014 or 2015. 2016 is the earliest possible start date, with a later date more likely at this stage (you may also wish to watch a YouTube video titled Can the Great Tribulation Begin in 2013?).
There are various clues in the Bible, and specifically in the Book of Daniel that makes the prospective of the Great Tribulation happening anytime that soon impossible. This article will discuss the earliest timing of the Great Tribulation, the Beginning of Sorrows, some of what happens in the Great Tribulation itself, and the Day of the Lord.
One reason that the Great Tribulation will not begin yet is that one known as the final King of the North needs to rise up.
The Bible shows that the coming "the King of the North" will make a deal of some sort with one called the King of the South just before the appointed time of the end:
27 Both these kings' hearts shall be bent on evil, and they shall speak lies at the same table; but it shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time (Daniel 11:27).
Daniel chapter 11 tells much about the end times and it involves both a King of the South and a King of the North. And while there was a president of the South and a president of the North in the Union for the Mediterranean (see Deal Leading to Psalm 83?), these individuals have not held the type of power (nor prerogatives) of the prophesied King of the North and the King of the South. Nor will the current head of the post-Lisbon European Union, Herman Van Rompuy, likely be the final King of the North as he does not seem to fit that description. However, if he raises taxes, he may fulfill the role of the person listed in Daniel 11:20 (Herman Van Rompuy: Might He Fulfill Daniel 11:20?).
Since the Great Tribulation will not start before there is an actual King of the South and an actual final King of the North)--and while the "prince" will apparently confirm a peace deal with Israel (probably somewhat including the United States and some Arab lands as part of the "many" in Daniel 9:27), Daniel 11:27 requires two kings, which suggests that the future "prince" will gain more and more importance after the deal in Daniel 9:27 (for more information on the sequence of Daniel 11, please see the article the King of the North). It may take a regional or other war in the Middle East to trigger a peace deal. And if Isaiah 17:1 concerning the destruction of Damascus is to be fulfilled prior to the start of the Great Tribulation, the destruction of Damascus in Syria should be a clear sign to those who discount biblical prophecy that Bible prophecy will come to pass. Damascus has claimed to the longest continuously inhabited city on the earth and its destruction would be unprecedented.
As far as the King of the South goes, there simply is not a confederation of Islamic nations that work close enough together yet in order to be led by the King of the South. While it is true that there are two groups that ultimately may ultimately allow this (see Iraq & the King of the South and Mediterranean Union Makes Deal With Israel and Arab States), the Islamic Mahdi/Caliph has not yet been recognized. And while this is possible to occur in 2013, the King of the South also will not be ready militarily to fulfill prophecies such as those in Daniel 11:40.
Perhaps it should be mentioned that there is an old 17th century Shiite prophecy that when a black man will lead the government of the "strongest armies" of the West (see also Who is the King of the West?), he will do something that results in the rise of an Islamic Mahdi, who is probably the final King of the South (see Barack Obama in Islamic Prophecy?). So, the end, even according to that "prophecy" seems to be getting close. But the great tribulation itself will not start in 2013.
As alluded to earlier, the Bible shows that prior to being referred to as "the King of the North", there is an individual who initially appears to be referred to as a "prince" in Daniel 9:26-27 (one is normally a "prince", or rising leader, before one becomes a "king").
Since this deal has still not been made, this would suggest that contrary to claims of various false prophets (Ronald Weinland of CGPFK and Harold Camping comes to mind) the great tribulation has not already began. Nor cannot it start around late 2013 or in 2014 as James Malm seemed to claim in October 2012 that it could:
Scripture tells us that no agreement can be concluded and ratified until a miracle working final false prophet called “A Desolating Abomination” is set up in the Papacy, Rev 13, 2 Thess; and calls for the new European Order; which will amount to a revival of the unHoly Roman Empire.
Once this false prophet is set up in the Vatican [Due to the advancing age and health problems of Benedict this is now highly likely to be a NEW pope], and he uses his influence to set up the New Europe, he will go to the Holy Place within 75 days of the date he is set up and the tribulation will begin as he visits the Holy Mount and Peace and Safety is proclaimed to be achieved.
It is an interesting note that IF this abomination were to be set up around 6 Oct 2013, then he would go to the Holy Place around Dec 25 2013 to declare peace in the Middle East.
There is NO likelihood that the final abomination will be set up in 2013. Nor will the Great Tribulation start prior to 2017. The reality is that his blog has repeatedly provided incorrect dates and still does so. Perhaps I should add that on February 10, 2013, James Malm confirmed with me that he believes that 2013 or 2014 are possible dates for the Great Tribulation to start. He also stated that the actual date is entirely dependant on when the biblical signs are present, and on God's will. But, I do not believe that it is biblically possible for the Great Tribulation to start prior to 2016, with 2017 a more likely earliest possible start date. And I will, again, be proven right about when the Great Tribulation cannot begin (and when it gets closer, proven right about when the Great Tribulation actually will begin, presuming I publicly comment about that--which is the current plan).
Notice that in the book of Daniel there is a prophecy related to the end times that states:
26 And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate (Daniel 9:26-27).
There are several reasons that this "prince" is referring to the leader of the developing European empire (see King of the North and Europa, the Beast, and the Book of Revelation). One is that it was the people of the Roman Empire of the 1st century that fulfilled the portion of Daniel 9:26 as they destroyed the city (Jerusalem) in 70 A.D. The European Union includes much of the land and peoples that were part of the ancient Roman Empire. And it is the "prince" coming from that people that verse 27 is referring to. Thus, this prophecy tells us that a lower level European leader will officially start to rise up about 3 1/2 years before the great tribulation (and yes, according to Jesus, some "tribulation" does happen prior to the start of the Great Tribulation). Another is the fact that the "beast of the sea" (Revelation 13:1) fits with the beasts from the "great sea" (Daniel 7:2)--and that is the Mediterranean Sea according to the Old Testament--hence this is an empire like the old Roman one (for more details, please see Europa, the Beast, and the Book of Revelation).
This portion of scripture in Daniel seems to be discussing some type of peace deal that the Europeans will either propose or at least one from Europe will endorse. Such a deal did not exist as of December 0f 2012, or at least was not confirmed by the "prince" then (some have speculated that an earlier deal, like the Oslo accord could be confirmed, and while that is remotely possible, it has not been confirmed by the "prince" as far as can be told as of late 2012).
Since this Middle East peace deal has not been completed (at least not publicly), then if one adds 3 1/2 years to now, the earliest this could be would be the year 2016 (and if the prophesied peace deal is not until September 2013 would push this to 2017, which would seem to be the earliest possible date). We are simply not yet to the part that a "prince of the north" has come on the scene in that major way. Which of course means that there still is no final King of the North--though he is alive now, but not yet in that role.
While there have been various understandings of the above passage in Daniel 9 (and many falsely believe it requires a third temple to be built, please see Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?), notice what two commentators somewhat correctly state (bolding/italics in source):
Shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself (or, and shall have nothing, ASV): and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. It is agreed by almost all evangelical interpreters that these two events, the cutting off of the Messiah (Anointed One) and the destruction of the sanctuary refer to the crucifixion of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. These two events were separated by a period of nearly forty years (29-70 A.D.). Yet, in the literary order of the passage, they are both after the sixty-ninth week and before the final "one week" mentioned in the next verse. Thus the very syntax, grammar, and word-meaning indicate a gap in the succession of the seventy weeks.
Other important reasons for supposing a gap here are: (1) Jesus placed the culminating week, with its "abomination" in the times of final Antichrist, just before His second advent (Matt 24:15). (2) Dan 7:25, which describes what appear to be the very same events as those of 9:27, the seventieth week, is certainly a prophecy of the times of final Antichrist. (3) The period of three and one-half times or years (the second half-week of v. 27) is often mentioned elsewhere in Scripture and always in an eschatological setting (Rev 11:2-3; 12:6,14). (4) The six things to be accomplished in the seventy weeks (see Dan 9:24 and comments) require the second advent of Christ, and the restoration and conversion of Israel.
These considerations show that the idea of a gap in the weeks at this point is a matter of exegesis. Considerations of theology are not primarily involved. It is not this author's opinion that the Church is a mere provisional consideration thrust into this hiatus or gap. Both 'dispensational' and 'covenantal' theologians, doubtless, find more in this prophecy than is properly there. Let us stay by what the passage says. C. F. Keil (Comm., in loco) is correct in asserting that the prince is said to be coming (habba'), because he has already been introduced and discussed in the prophecy of chapter 7 as the final Antichrist. The Romans who destroyed Jerusalem (A.D. 70) were his people because they and he belong to the fourth stage (the Roman) of world empire (chs. 2; 7)...
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (make a firm covenant, ASV). The language higbir from gabar, "be strong") does not signify confirmation of a covenant but causation of a firm covenant. And he shall cause to prevail is an excellent translation. The most natural antecedent for he, the subject of the clause, is the wicked "prince" of verse 26. This is the nearest noun in grammatical agreement, and it fits the sense. The many here, as elsewhere, is a reference to the Hebrew people, the subject of discussion throughout chapter 9 (cf. vv. 2,12,18,19, esp. 24, "thy people ... thy holy city"). Evidently the covenant is to be made between Antichrist and Israel when the Jews are back in their homeland in the last days. The exact nature of the covenant is unknown.
The evil and destructive events described in the remainder of this verse should be interpreted as summary information concerning the final "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer 30:7 and context) set forth rather more fully in Dan 12:1 ff; 2 Thess 2:1 ff; Rev 13; 14; and other passages (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press).
The final revelation in Daniel 9:27 states, "He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven,' but in the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to the sacrifice and offering..."...the covenant of Daniel 9:27 is not the covenant of grace...this refers to the coming world ruler at the beginning of the last seven years...He will make a covenant with Israel for a seven-year period. As Daniel 9:27 indicates, in the middle of the seven years he will break the covenant, stop the sacrifices offered...and become their persecutor instead of their protector (Walvoord JF. The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook. Victor Books/SP Publications, Wheaton (IL), 1990, pp. 256,257).
And the portions cited above appear to be the case. A prophetic week is generally understood to refer to seven years. And half a week is 3 1/2 years (approximately 1260 days).
The idea of this being a seven-year end-time deal was also understood by the Catholic theologian Hippolytus (died 235) in the third century:
...the iron and the clay shall be mingled together. Now Daniel will set forth this subject to us. For he says, "And one week will make a covenant with many, and it shall be that in the midst (half) of the week my sacrifice and oblation shall cease." By one week, therefore, he meant the last week which is to be at the end of the whole world of which week the two prophets... will take up the half. For they will preach 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth, proclaiming repentance to the people and to all the nations...(Hippolytus. On Christ and Antichrist, Chapter 43. Online edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight).
While the leader in Daniel 9:27 is only referred to as a prince when he confirms the one week covenant, he probably will not be known as the "King" until shortly before he breaks the covenant at the mid-week point (most likely he will be considered simply one of several leaders negotiating a treaty when this deal in Daniel 9:27 is initially made). The two witnesses (who are prophets) rise up around the mid-point of the week. The iron and clay mingled together refers to a power (like Europe) that is not totally cohesive.
(It may be of interest to note that within Islam, there does exist the idea that an Islamic leader, Imam Mahdi, will be part of a seven-year golden age and will make a peace deal with the Europeans, that the Europeans will break--for details, please see The Arab and Islamic World In the Bible, History, and Prophecy).
Although he has several events out of sequence, even the famed Protestant theologian John Walvoord understood the importance of the deal in Daniel 9:27:
The seven-year peace treaty with Israel; consummated seven years before the second coming of Christ (Dan. 9:27; Revelation 19:11-16). (Walvoord J. The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook. Victor Books, 1990, p. 551)
Why is this believed to be a peace deal? There are several reasons, but notice some other scriptures that discuss this leader:
25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. (Daniel 8:25, KJV).
23 And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. 24 He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time. (Daniel 11:23-24, NKJV)
So this leader gives people the impression that there will be "peace" and is involved in some type of deal. Term is translated as "peace" in Daniel 8:25 is from the Hebrew term shalvah and essentially means security. In other words, this leader will destroy "many" who are under the impression that they are secure because of some type of security arrangement. Such arrangements are now commonly referred to as peace deals. But as the prophesied one has not been confirmed, at least not publicly, the Great Tribulation would seem to be at least 3 1/2 years away (you may also wish to watch a YouTube video titled Can the Great Tribulation Begin in 2013?).
But does not the Bible teach that sudden destruction comes when a peace deal is made?
Not exactly. Notice what the Bible says:
3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
Does this not mean that there will not be a peace deal in place for 3 1/2 years prior to the start of the Great Tribulation?
There are at least two reasons.
The first is that there are multiple times in the Bible where it shows that people will declare times of peace. And not all of them have the sudden destruction element to them. For example, in my book 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect I mentioned at least three of them. And I wrote (see page 246 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect) that it appears that the declaration of peace related to the visions of certain false prophets as well as the peace deal in Daniel 9:26b-27 is the following:
10 "Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace — and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar — 11 say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. 12 Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, 'Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?'"
13 Therefore thus says the Lord God: "I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it. 14 So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 13:10-14, NKJV)
The second reason is that the sudden destruction that the Apostle Paul warned about in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 seems to be tied to the events of Daniel 11:31 and Daniel 9:27. Notice that Jesus tied a suddenness to the events that Daniel was referring to:
15 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), 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 anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 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. (Matthew 24:15-21)
Consider that Daniel was inspired to write that a seven year deal was made, that in the middle of the deal it would be broken, and that this break happens when the abomination is set up. The elements of something happening in the middle of the seven year deal (which is 3 1/2 years after the deal), combined with Jesus' warnings in Matthew 24, suggest it is then that the suddenness is a factor. And when you consider that the King of the North destroys after a "league" (probable peace deal) is made, this supports the idea that there would be a gap between the peace deal of Daniel 9:27/11:23 and the destruction that comes later (Daniel 11:31-39; Matthew 24:15-22).
Thus, if we look at all the scriptures, we see that there will be a peace deal that will precede the establishment of the abomination of desolation being set up and that once that abomination is set up there will be a new urgency as that is when the Great Tribulation will be ready to commence. As I have written in both my 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect book as well as my article about the King of the North, the King of the North will pretend to be promoting peace even though he will be a military leader according to Bible prophecy (Daniel 11:24; 29-43; Revelation 13:3-4).
The prophesied peace is to proceed sudden destruction for about 3 1/2 years. And when the faithful proclaim this is what is happening, many will not like to hear that (see Who is the King of the North?).
So, the sequence is that sometime after the peace deal is confirmed (Daniel 9:27), sacrifices begin (cf. Daniel 9:27), the gospel will have been preached enough to the world as a witness for the end to come (Matthew 24:14), Jewish sacrifices will be stopped (Daniel 9:27), the abomination of desolation will then be set up because of the King of the North (Daniel 9:27; 11:31), a decree is issued (Zechariah 2:1), then the most faithful Philadelphians will flee per Jesus' statements in Matthew 24:15-19 (see There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra), and the Great Tribulation will begin (Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1b). This should be about 3 1/2 years after the peace deal is confirmed, and right after the King of the North tries to proclaim peace and safety (1 Thessalonians 5:3) to throw people off (cf. Daniel 11:24) for his invasion plans.
Another reason that now is not quite the time for the start of the Great Tribulation (though the peace deal could happen very soon), is that I have traveled to Europe many times in the past several years, and can state that the Europeans are simply not unified enough to be ready to fulfill their role as the supporters of the King of the North – the Final Beast military power, yet. But they are looking at proposing peace deals in the Middle East (http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-11-13-voa26.cfm). Much of Europe is so irreligious that it is likely that Europeans will need to see "signs and lying wonders" to get fully ready--but that is expected according to biblical (2 Thessalonians 2:7-9; Revelation 13:11-17; 18:23) and even non-biblical prophecy.
Now, in order to be able to destroy the United States and its Anglo-allies (which will start the Great Tribulation), the Europeans would also benefit from having their own military satellite tracking system--and while that may not be an absolute requirement, they will not have enough of their own ready until around 2013 or later (see EU Approves Galileo For Military Use). And oddly, the USA has decided to let the European Galileo system link to GPS (see US Cites China as Reason to Link to Galileo! and USA GPS and EU Galileo linking was expected), this will give the Europeans a unique military capability in a few years.
Additionally, Europe still has not benefited enough militarily from its Large Hadron Collider project--which may be where it will develop a major military advantage (September 10th is Not the End of the World), which it would seem to need to fulfill biblical prophecy (cf. Revelation 13:4) (for more details, also see Large Hadron Collider may result in military applications). And as mentioned before, since the deal in Daniel 9:27 has not been made, it will be at least 3 1/2 years before the King of the North can stop the sacrifices.
Of course, the sacrifices must start before they stop (Daniel 9:27; 11:31). And while it is remotely possible that regular sacrifices will start in 2013, that is remote (see also Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?). But even if they do, they will not be stopped by the King of the North in 2013 in a way to fulfill the prophecies in Daniel.
Furthermore, notice when the 1290 days (roughly 3 1/2 years) of Daniel 12 begins:
And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days (Daniel 12:11).
Thus, both Daniel 9:27 and 12:11 seem to be referring to a common event, and 12:11 shows that this begins a period of roughly 3 1/2 years.
Notice the sequence of events that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24, the only place in the Bible where the expression "great tribulation" is used with when it will begin (it is also similar to Luke 21, which is also shown below):
15 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), 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 anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 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 (Matthew 24:15-21).
20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)
So Jesus shows that after you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel (Daniel 9:27;11:31;12:11) it is time to flee (for more details on where, please see the article There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra) and THEN THERE WILL BE GREAT TRIBULATION! Also, many will be taken captive (see Will the Anglo-Nations be Divided?) This is during a time of the Gentiles--a time when the Israelite Anglo-descended nations have lost their major power in the world (see also Who is the King of the West? Why is there no End-Time King of the West in Bible Prophecy?).
Since the peace deal with the confirmation of the future King of the North has not yet occurred, the abomination involved with removal of the sacrifices (which have not even started yet) cannot happen for at least 3 1/2 years from now. Thus the great tribulation will not occur until after the faithful flee. Then this means that (unless this agreement occurred secretly and prior to July 1, 2012, an idea that various news reports suggest is impossible), that the intense 3 1/2 year period of the great tribulation cannot occur before 2016! For details on the 1335 days of Daniel, please see the article on the King of the North.
If one adds 3 1/2 years to any current or future date, then a date of 2016 or later is the only period possible (and I believe it may be later than 2016). Thus, the Great Tribulation CANNOT occur in 2013 nor prior to 2016!
Perhaps that it should be noted that even though Israel now seems to be moving towards an agreement like the one in Daniel 9:27, that news items suggest it did not have it in 2008 or in early 2011 or late 2012:
Israel is increasingly "plugging into" EU institutions and, in turn, allowing European political and economic influence to play a greater part in its diplomatic and economic processes, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The thinking within the Foreign Ministry is that it is time to reassess the Jewish state's traditional line that Israel's survival rests on two pillars only: a strong IDF and an unbreakable alliance with America. What is becoming evident is the increasing understanding of the importance the European Union plays in world events and in the Middle East particularly, officials say (Israel sees ties with EU as crucial Jerusalem Post - Feb 22, 2008; http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1203605149734&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull).
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev drove into Israel-occupied West Bank on Tuesday, for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on reviving the moribund Middle East peace process. His convoy, from Amman airport in Jordan, crossed over the historic Allenby Bridge, in an unusual route for a head of state. The route was charted as a result of an Israeli foreign ministry strike which forced him to cancel the Israel leg of his trip...
"It is crucial for us to continue our work with the Middle East quartet ... to revive the talks," said a Kremlin official, speaking on the eve of Tuesday's talks in Jericho. The quartet -- the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations -- is due to meet next month, in Munich, to discuss ways to revive the Middle East peace process, which has been a foreign policy priority for U.S. President Barack Obama. (Medvedev in West Bank to resume middle east peace deal. Reuters. January 18, 2011 http://www.hindustantimes.com/Medvedev-in-West-Bank-to-resume-middle-east-peace-deal/Article1-651916.aspx)
Ramallah: Israel believes that the EU may try to force it and the Palestinian National Authority to reach a peace agreement in 2013, according to a report published in the Israeli daily Haaretz. (December 26, 2102 http://gulfnews.com/news/region/palestinian-territories/israel-fears-eu-may-push-for-peace-in-2013-1.1124121)
Notice that the press in Israel sometimes has hinted that it needs a peace/military deal involving the Europeans (though they will not like how it will turn out). Notice:
The idea of the Greater Land of Israel lives on only in the political faction to the right of Likud. The leaders of the national majority, like their voters, have also accepted the idea of parting from Shuafat, Abu Dis and the Golan Heights.
The stumbling block that prevents Israel's departure from the territories is not the demarcation of the final border between us and our neighbors. The only obstacle seen as impassable today on the way to an agreement is the security issue after the territories are vacated. As long as this dilemma has no answer that is convincing to most Israelis, no government, weak or strong, will be able to implement an agreement with our neighbors, even if it dares to sign one...
There is little doubt that most Palestinian people, as well as the government in Ramallah, would accept such an army willingly, if not enthusiastically. The Gaza Strip is a different story, and some arm-twisting would be required, not on the people but certainly on Hamas.
Such a force cannot be established without Israel's agreement. Israel would of course demand as part of that agreement, and would undoubtedly receive, close cooperation with the international force, first and foremost in matters of intelligence and counterterrorism. The foreign force should be here temporarily, its task will include helping to set up an effective Palestinian administration and Palestinian security forces who would eventually serve as a reliable counterterrorist force. All this will ultimately allow for the departure of the foreign army from the West Bank without Israel's security being endangered.
The question is, who will take on this mission?...
At this moment the European Union appears to be the only option. The EU, under French and German leadership, could be persuaded to accept the responsibility (A foreign army at the gate Haaretz, Israel, October 7, 2008).
An interesting 2011 news development in Israel was a survey that found that 81% of Israelis want to become part of the European Union (for details, see 81% of Israelis Want to Join the EU). Because of such strong support, it would seem that the Israelis would be highly likely to accept what would otherwise be considered an unacceptable "peace deal" if the Europeans wanted them to accept it (perhaps by telling the Israelis that their acceptance could lead to EU membership).
And it should be noted that the Vatican itself wants an agreement with Israel related to local Catholic matters in Israel:
ROME: The Vatican has warned Israeli officials that the Holy See will not sign an agreement that cannot be sustained locally...That's according to Archbishop Antonio Franco, the Apostolic Nuncio in Israel (who is also the Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, as well as Apostolic Nuncio in Cyprus) during a recent visit through Rome. Speaking to Terrasanta.net, the archbishop said he was "not making any forecasts" on the duration of the negotiations on tax and property of the Church in Israel, but stressed that both parties were working "with a great deal of good will" and there was progress because "the State of Israel is showing great understanding". But he added it was essential the negotiators understand "it is a question of life or death", because the "very survival of the Church of the Holy Land" is at stake (Nuncio Franco: "Church's Survival in the Holy Land at Stake". The Holy Land Review - February 26, 2008; http://www.theholylandreview.net/holyland/att_det.jsp?wi_number=889&wi_codseq=).
Thus, it may be that since Israel wants closer agreement with the Europeans and the Vatican (which supports increased European unity) wants a more comprehensive agreement with Israel than it has had in the past, that one will happen relatively soon.
And in late 2008, Europe was hinting that it may try to make a deal--though since many Arabs opposed it as originally proposed, any deal proposed or even made will ultimately change to fulfill Daniel 9:27:
The Arab League's chief says he is dismayed by the European Union's plans to strengthen its relations with Israel. Amr Moussa says the European Union must adopt an "honest" position and immediately oppose Israel's policy of building settlements, instead of rewarding it with preferential treatment. Moussa says that others in the Arab World are also astonished and dismayed by the EU plan, which would encompass political, economic, scientific, security, health and other spheres. The Czech Republic takes over the EU rotating presidency in January. It said earlier this month it was keen to boost ties between the EU and Israel. Moussa spoke Wednesday at a Vienna conference aimed at promoting dialogue between Europe and the Arab world. (Arab League upset at plan to boost EU-Israel ties Associated Press - Dec 17, 2008 http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/12/17/europe/EU-Arabs-Israel.php)
Yet, in 2010 Arab nations, like Jordan are encouraging the Europeans to be part of the process:
AMMAN — Jordan’s King Abdullah II told the foreign ministers of France and Spain on Monday that Europe has a key role to play in the Middle East...
“Europe plays a key role in supporting peace efforts to overcome problems facing the Palestinian-Israeli talks,” the king told France’s Bernard Kouchner and Miguel Angel Moratinos of Spain at a meeting…
Speaking to reporters, Moratinos said Israel recognised Europe was playing a growing role in efforts to resolve the Middle East conflict. Habib R. Jordan backs Europe role in Mideast after Israel snub. AFP, 11 October 2010, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jIdlxuA_nEOehq0EdrFfn3FMvZlQ?docId
We in the genuine Church of God have tended to believe that a peace deal involving the Middle East and the EU would be confirmed, and probably in some autumn. Evangelist Dr. Meredith even mentioned in a sermon (Prepare for the Fast, Given, February 6, 2010) that such a deal (Daniel 9:27) could happen soon. It is a fact that the Europeans intend to confirm some type of Middle East peace deal.
In 2011, an "interim peace deal" was proposed by the Israelis (Israel’s Lieberman charts interim peace deal- report. Reuters, January 23, 2011. http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCATRE70M0EM20110123). Since the apparent peace deal of Daniel 9:27 has a time period on it, it is an interim deal! So, while the current "interim" deal will likely not be the final one, the idea of having a temporary peace deal in the Middle East is being proposed.
Also notice that the EU only hoped to get a deal in 2011:
EU’s Ashton targets Palestinian state by September
By Steve Weizman (AFP) – 15 February 2011
JERUSALEM — EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday said the international community still sought to achieve a peace deal and a Palestinian state by September, despite the region’s political turmoil.
Despite the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the resignation of the Palestinian cabinet as well as Saab Erakat, their chief negotiator, Ashton said the goal was still achievable.
“It’s a timeframe that everybody has signed up to,” she told reporters in Jerusalem ahead of talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
“I think that we have to try and reach that target,” she said, while admitting it would be “challenging.” (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i2SXFoczv0eZ3e57W1SuNfoGOtvg?docId=CNG.45ed54b37a8da7196eec4d99230b920e.51
But again, since the deal of Daniel 9:27 has not been made yet, it does not seem possible that the Great Tribulation can begin prior to 2016 (and probably not until later)--even though the Europeans still hope for a deal. It may be that some type of regional war or other conflict may have to happen before there is the biblically-indicated peace deal.
Furthermore, that although the Bible warns about the coming King of the North and this deal, it may be interesting to realize that certain Roman Catholic prophecies seem to look forward to this individual, who they tend to call "the Great Monarch" or "the prince of the north" (this is documented in the article Who is the King of the North?). But he does not have that type of power yet.
Thus, even though the stage is being set for the end, contrary to the claims of various self-appointed ones, the Great Tribulation WILL NOT begin in 2013 (nor did it begin prior as some have falsely claimed).
A point that few seem to recognize is that Matthew 24:14 still needs to be properly fulfilled. Recall that Jesus said:
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).
Although God did use Herbert W. Armstrong as a witness, the 21st century world as a whole has not had an adequate witness for the end to come (see also Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?).
I strongly believe that God will more powerfully use part of the the surviving remnant of the Philadelphia era of the Church of God to proclaim the good news of the The Gospel of the Kingdom of God and that the "short work" of Romans 9:28 will still happen--but they will not be able to complete this work in 2012. The late evangelist John Ogwyn wrote:
God states clearly: “He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness” (Romans 9:28). Who will He use to do it? According to Daniel 11:32 it is “the people who know their God [that] shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Ogwyn J. God’s Church Through the Ages. LCG booklet, p. 58)
And of course, since the 6000 years of God's plan apparently has several years left (see Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?) combined with the fact that all the other signs mentioned in this update are not ready yet (though events seem to be working towards that objective), the Great Tribulation simply cannot begin in 2013/2014/2015, nor has the final portion of the short work began.
Yet, sometime after the deal in Daniel 9:27 is completed people like me and other Philadelphia remnant Church of God leaders will proclaim it as well as the gospel message. Matthew 24:14 will be fulfilled and the identification of the "prince" will likely enrage him enough to get him to try to stop the work, and through government pressure he may get internet and other media suspended for us (see Who is the King of the North?).
Remember, the Bible warns:
12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. (Amos 8:12, KJV)
With FCC "net neutrality" rules (which they were approved to start to use in late 2010), we are getting close to that time when governments will be too offended by the truth and some will take steps to stop it from being proclaimed.
There has been an increase in natural disasters in 2010 0ver 2009 and an accelleration of certain types of earthquakes (more details as well as most recent information on earthquakes can be found in the article Earthquakes Today and Bible Prophecy):
About 42 million people were forced to flee their homes because of natural disasters around the world in 2010, more than double the number during the previous year...The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said the increase from 17 million displaced people in 2009 was mainly due to the impact of "mega-disasters"...
It said more than 90 percent of the disaster displacements were caused by weather-related hazards such as floods and storms that were probably impacted by global warming, but it couldn't say to what extent.
"The intensity and frequency of extreme weather events is increasing, and this trend is only set to continue. With all probability, the number of those affected and displaced will rise as human-induced climate change comes into full force," said Elisabeth Rasmusson, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. (Amland BH. Millions displaced by natural disasters last year. Associated Press, June 5, 2011. http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/millions-displaced-by-natural-968478.html)
A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an "unprecedented" and "almost certainly manmade" increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That's six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century. While the changes in the area's seismicity began in 2001, the trend has really accelerated since 2009, the geologists note. (Madrigal A. Middle America Is Experiencing a Massive Increase in 3.0+ Earthquakes. The Atlantic, April 6, 2012. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/04/middle-america-is-experiencing-a-massive-increase-in-30-earthquakes/255568/
There has also been more extreme weather in 2011 and 2012, including droughts around the world as well as across the USA (see, for example, Drought Affecting India and Its Food Supply; Europe too and 2012 Drought Declared USA’s Largest Ever Natural Disaster).
Some will say, why all the problems now? Surely they mean something.
And surely they do. The Apostle Paul warned that in the last days, perilous times would come:
3:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
We seem to be in those perilous times.
With all of the natural disasters such as earthquakes (Earthquakes Today and Bible Prophecy), floods, related food shortages, recessions, and emerging pestilences in the past few years, perhaps this would be a good time to show people that these are to start PRIOR to the “great tribulation.”
The disciples asked Jesus the sequence:
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3)
Notice what Jesus taught in response:
4 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
15 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), 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 anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 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 (Matthew 24:4-21).
Thus, recent items such as earthquakes, economic turmoils, and food shortages should, at most, be considered as related to “the beginning of sorrows” (which may or may not yet have started in their final intensity) and not the “great tribulation” itself. The “great tribulation” does NOT begin until verse 21. And while “tribulation” is involved in verse 9, this seems to be referring the persecuting tribulation that true Philadelphia Christians will face just prior to the great tribulation. But when the sacrifices stop and the abomination is set up (Daniel 9:27; 11:31), it will be time for the faithful to flee (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra).
Since the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7) first affects the descendants of Jacob (and particularly, Ephraim and Manasseh, see Anglo - America in Prophecy), it would be expected that the USA and some of its Anglo-allies will be first weakened during the "beginning of sorrows."
(About the time to flee, which is after the beginning of sorrows has been going on for years, Michael will stand up and then the great tribulation will follow, "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book" Daniel 12:1.)
The LCG has taught (bolding in source):
Peace and plenty for all mankind will be achieved only when the Kingdom of God is established on the earth. Until then, you can expect greater disasters and you will see that what we are experiencing now is but, "…the beginning of sorrows." (Crockett JD. The beginning of sorrows. LCG Commentary, January 29, 2010)
We are living in the “end-time” or “the time of the end,” an expression emphasized five times in the book of Daniel. Outlining the sequence of prophetic events, Jesus stated, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6-8). In these dangerous times, we need to live with active faith and ensure that we “are not troubled” as we experience “the beginning of sorrows.” We all need to draw close to God for His protection. (Ames R. LCG Co-worker letter, July 20, 2011)
So it seems that the "beginning of sorrows" has certainly been escalating in Ephraim and Manasseh! Maybe it will help some few people to actually "wake up"! (Meredith RC. LCG Co-worker letter, August 15, 2011)
Today’s headlines are just “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). (Winnail S. Amorality: Will the Carnage Ever Cease? LCG Commentary, September 20, 2011)
Jesus warned us to WATCH for a series of events that would signal the end of the age. He said increasing turmoil within nations and threats of wars between nations, spreading droughts, famines, disease epidemics, earthquakes and natural disasters would be the “beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8)...We are watching these prophesied events happening today! (Winnail D. LCG World Ahead Weekly Update, September 22, 2011)
Dr. Meredith was referring specifically to debt and rioting troubles in the USA and UK in his letter above.
Notice Mark's account of the beginning of sorrows:
5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 6 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and will deceive many. 7 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows (Mark 13:5-8).
There have been earthquakes in various places (see Earthquakes Today and Bible Prophecy), limited famines, and troubles in 2011 and 2012--so perhaps the sorrows are beginning (and possibly may have began on September 19, 2009). In Mark's account the great "tribulation" does not start until verse 19 (essentially after the same events as Matthew's account lists). Economic recessions and even depressions can be considered as "troubles."
Here are some comments from Richard A. Wilson:
Matthew 24:6-8 never seemed more pertinent than now. “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
It’s pretty difficult not to be troubled...
If, in the plan of God for mankind, we are truly at that point where, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8), then we need to acknowledge that things are going to get worse. The earthquake tragedies in Japan, in New Zealand, and in Haiti are just the beginning. The political upheavals in the Middle East and the religious radicalism that is gripping the entire world will continue. Economic turmoil that seems to be spreading from nation to nation is not going to go away.
As Christians (believers in Jesus Christ), are we changing our lives so we can be acceptable in the eyes of God to gain His love and protection in these perilous and evil days that are before us? Are we bearing the good fruits that make us His children of light? Are we walking circumspectly (carefully) in this world and, finally, are we redeeming the time? (Wilson RA. Redeeming the Time. LCG Commentary, April 14, 2011)
Even secular sources warn that things are lining up for famines and major disruptions in the first half of the 21st century. Notice one such source from March 19, 2009:
Food and energy shortages will create 'perfect storm', says Prof John Beddington
Growing populations, falling energy sources and food shortages will create the "perfect storm" by 2030, the government's chief scientist Professor John Beddington has said.
The demand for resources will create a crisis with dire consequences, Prof Beddington predicts.
Demand for food and energy will jump 50 per cent by 2030 and for fresh water by 30 per cent, as the global population tops 8.3 billion, he is due to tell a conference in London.
Climate change will exacerbate matters in unpredictable ways, he will add.
"It's a perfect storm," Prof Beddington will tell the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference…
Prof Beddington said the "storm" would create war, unrest and mass migration…
He said food reserves are at a 50-year low but the world requires 50 per cent more energy, food and water by 2030.
Prof Beddington said climate change would mean Northern Europe would become new key centres for food production and other areas would need to use more advanced pesticides.
The United Nations Environment Programme predicts widespread water shortages across Africa, Europe and Asia by 2025. The amount of fresh water available per head of the population is expected to decline sharply in that time.
(Alleyne R. Food and energy shortages will create 'perfect storm', says Prof John Beddington. Telegraph, March 19, 2009. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/5015051/Food-and-energy-shortages-will-create-perfect-storm-says-Prof-John-Beddington.html viewed 03/19/08)
During this time, physical preparation, while not as helpful as spiritual preparation, does make sense. We all know the Bible prophecies famines. Should we do something physically? See, Physical Preparation Scriptures for Christians. Various pestilences, food shortages, and terrors are expected PRIOR to the Great Tribulation (see also Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse).
Perhaps it should be mentioned that there are at least eight reasons why Barack Obama is Apocalyptic. There may even be Kenyan writings that seem to be about Barack Obama, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States. The end is getting near, especially for the Anglo-American nations (see also Anglo - America in Prophecy) but is not yet.
Sometime during the beginning of sorrows, a prince will start to rise up who will be the final biblical King of the North. The Orthodox seem to realize that he may be identified around then. Near the end of the 4th century, there was an exchange between two important Orthodox leaders pertaining to the beginning of sorrows:
Epiphanius: When will come the end of the world? What are the ‘beginning of sorrows’ and when shall they take place? From what signs and events shall humanity be able to know that the end of the world is near and what signs will be manifest?...
Andrew the Fool-for-Christ: Now son, how can I relate to you without tears the events of the beginning of sorrows and the end of the world? During the End Times, God will reveal as King a certain poor man…This king will rule...Happiness will reign in the world as it did in the days of Noah. People will become very rich...The entire world will fear this king...he will pursue all persons of the Jewish religion out of Constantinople...and the people will rejoice like in the time of Noah until the deluge came (Tzima Otto, pp. 111, 113,114)
So, some ancient Orthodox writings indicate that the Great Monarch will rise up during the time of the beginning of sorrows—and that is correct--and he will go right into the time of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. The comment about “persons of Jewish religion” may refer to persecution of the Nazarene sect as Orthodox and Roman Catholics have often indicated that those with Nazarene practices are actually Jews pretending to be Christian. However, it also needs to be understood, that while the above Orthodox discussion indicates that having things as they were in the days of Noah is a positive thing, the Bible warns that this occurrence comes after the tribulation has began and is a sign that Jesus is about to return (Matthew 24:37-44).
There is also something, from the Book of Ezekiel, that seems to begin during the beginning of sorrows (famine and pestilences) and last until the Great Tribulation (the start of Jacob's trouble, which likely will begin with an attack on the Anglo-nations, please see Daniel 11:39 and Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel):
15 'So it shall be a reproach, a taunt, a lesson, and an astonishment to the nations that are all around you, when I execute judgments among you in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I, the Lord, have spoken. 16 When I send against them the terrible arrows of famine which shall be for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, I will increase the famine upon you and cut off your supply of bread. 17 So I will send against you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I, the Lord, have spoken.'" (Ezekiel 5:15-17)
So, it may be that the Anglo-nations will experience some real hunger as well as disease and/or other pestilences (that could possibly at least partially be triggered by excessive reliance on genetically-modified organisms as part of their agricultural production--for more details, see the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse) that will weaken them enough so that the USA and its Anglo-allies will then be considered attackable by some of their enemies.
The last President of the United States, who may or may not be Barack Obama, may help set the stage for this to begin (see Prophecies of Barack Obama?).And when it starts it will not be a good time for the USA or its Anglo-Allies (see also Anglo - America in Prophecy).
Notice what happens during the “great tribulation” according to Jesus:
22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. 23 Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together (Matthew 24:22-28).
And that it starts with the fifth seal of Revelation:
9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. (Revelation 8:9-11)
This will be a time of demonic signs and lying wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; Revelation 16:12-16; 13:13-15; 18:23; 19:20).
Notice some other events that will happen:
47 “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you. 49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young. 51 And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you. (Deuteronomy 28:47-51)
19 “Arise, cry out in the night, At the beginning of the watches; Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children, Who faint from hunger at the head of every street.” (Lamentations 2:19)
9 Those slain by the sword are better off than those who die of hunger; For these pine away, Stricken for lack of the fruits of the field. 10 The hands of the compassionate women have cooked their own children; They became food for them in the destruction of the daughter of my people. (Lamentations 4:9-10)
16 Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, surely I will cut off the supply of bread in Jerusalem; they shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and shall drink water by measure and with dread, 17 that they may lack bread and water, and be dismayed with one another, and waste away because of their iniquity. (Ezekiel 4:16-17)
1 "And you, son of man, take a sharp sword, take it as a barber's razor, and pass it over your head and your beard; then take scales to weigh and divide the hair. 2 You shall burn with fire one-third in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are finished; then you shall take one-third and strike around it with the sword, and one-third you shall scatter in the wind: I will draw out a sword after them. 3 You shall also take a small number of them and bind them in the edge of your garment. 4 Then take some of them again and throw them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire. From there a fire will go out into all the house of Israel.
5 "Thus says the Lord God: 'This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her. 6 She has rebelled against My judgments by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against My statutes more than the countries that are all around her; for they have refused My judgments, and they have not walked in My statutes.' 7 Therefore thus says the Lord God: 'Because you have multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around you, have not walked in My statutes nor kept My judgments, nor even done according to the judgments of the nations that are all around you' — 8 therefore thus says the Lord God: 'Indeed I, even I, am against you and will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations. 9 And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. 10 Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments among you, and all of you who remain I will scatter to all the winds.
11 'Therefore, as I live,' says the Lord God, 'surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. 12 One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. (Ezekiel 5:1-12)
The bolded portion is consistent with Jesus' comments in Matthew 24:21 and Mark 13:19, hence much of the above has to do with the Great Tribulation.
Yet, despite what some think, the Great Tribulation will initially mainly be directed to those who are descended from Jacob/Israel:
6 Ask now, and see,
Whether a man is ever in labor with child?
So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins
Like a woman in labor,
And all faces turned pale?
7 Alas! For that day is great,
So that none is like it;
And it is the time of Jacob's trouble,
But he shall be saved out of it. (Jeremiah 30:6-7)
25... Gentiles, who do not know You...they have eaten up Jacob, Devoured him and consumed him,
And made his dwelling place desolate. (Jeremiah 10:25)
23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:23-24)
2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:2)
Notice that Jeremiah, Jesus (whose words are recorded in Luke), and John (who penned Revelation) are talking about the same time. Also notice that "it is the time of Jacob's trouble" and that the "Gentiles" are dominating. This means those that are descended from Israel or have the name of Jacob (cf. Genesis 48:14-16) will be mainly be trampled. One of the peoples that God says He will use to punish the descendants of Israel, Assyria (Isaiah 10:5-11), are a Gentile people--they will normally lead during the time of the Gentiles.
The time of Gentile domination is prophesied (Ezekiel 30:1-3; Jeremiah 10:25; Luke 21:23-24; Revelation 11:2). Notice the following:
The Bible makes several references to the "times of the Gentiles" that reveal specific details about this period. Jesus said that just before His return, armies would surround Jerusalem and that the city would be "trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:20–24). Jesus did not pull this idea out of thin air. He was referring to a prophecy made 600 years earlier by Ezekiel, who wrote that "the day of the Lord is near; it will be a day of clouds [a foreboding period], the time of the Gentiles" (Ezekiel 30:1–4). Ezekiel links the time of the Gentiles with key events at the end of the age—a time when God dramatically intervenes in world history. The prophet Joel uses the same ominous language to describe severe drought, famine and war associated with the "day of the Lord" at the end of the age (Joel 2–3). In the Bible, the "times of the Gentiles" are clearly associated with the period just before the return of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle John states that Gentile powers will gain control of the city of Jerusalem, including the precincts around the temple, for 42 months (three-and-a-half years) just before Christ's return (Revelation 11:2). Zechariah is even more specific with his prediction: "Behold the day of the Lord is coming… I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken… Half of the city shall go into captivity" (Zechariah 14:1–4). This prophecy implies that when the Gentiles gain control of Jerusalem, the Jewish half of the population will be taken into captivity. This is to occur during the time of the Gentiles—just before Christ's return.
Jesus mentions another specific event that will occur during this time. He warned that, "when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place… then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains" (Matthew 24:15–16). According to Daniel, an evil end-time Gentile ruler (the king of the north) will make an agreement with Jews of Jerusalem to allow sacrifices to begin, but after three-and-a-half years he will break that agreement (Daniel 9:27). He will then set up an image that will defile the holy place (Daniel 11:31; 12:11). This will be a specific sign that Christ's return is imminent. It will occur during the "time of the Gentiles"—when Gentiles gain control of Jerusalem...
But what will this coming "time of the Gentiles" be like, and how will it affect the world? Jesus said that the end of the age will be an increasingly violent, calamitous and chaotic time (Matthew 24:1–8). The Apostle Paul states that "in the last days perilous times will come" characterized by selfishness, greed, self-gratification and brutality (2 Timothy 3:1–5). Modern secular scholars are voicing the same concerns! Huntington comments on the emerging Gentile-dominated world, noting that "a world without U.S. primacy will be a world with more violence and disorder and less democracy and economic growth" (The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski, p. 31). Regarding the global breakdown of law and order, increasing violence, anarchy and precipitous decline in morals, Huntington states, "On a worldwide basis Civilization seems… to be yielding to barbarism, generating the image of an unprecedented phenomenon, a global Dark Ages, possibly descending on humanity" (The Clash of Civilizations, p. 321). These are not the alarmist cries of a religious fanatic, but of a Harvard scholar and recognized authority on world affairs. His words echo Bible prophecies about "the times of the Gentiles"—that are a sign that Christ's return is near. We need to watch, because these prophecies are coming alive today! (Winnail D. Times of the Gentiles. Tomorrow's World, Jan-Feb 2005)
With the second coming of Christ, the "times of the Gentiles" will at last come to an end. (Stump K. The Arab World in Prophecy. Plain Truth, December 1979, p. 38)
We learn from Revelation 11:2-3 that the Gentiles will “tread the holy city under foot for forty-two months” and that the “two witnesses” will prophesy during that same 1,260-day period!...Jesus said that the abomination of desolation would be a sign for God’s people to flee before the Great Tribulation begins (Matthew 24:15-20). Those counted worthy (see Revelation 3:10) will then be taken to a place of safety God has provided for them (Revelation 12:14-16). Once God’s Church is in a place of protection, the 1,260 days (“a time, times, and half a time,” or 42 months) of tribulation and judgment will begin. At the end of the 1,260 days, Jesus Christ will return to this earth. (L187-1290 and 1335 Days. Personal Correspondence Department, Living Church of God. Copy received 6/20/11)
The Great Tribulation itself is further described in Revelation 6:9-11 (the fifth seal, that seems to occur because the faithful church has suffered martyrdom, cf. Daniel 11:31-35; Matthew 24:9-10), Lamentations, Daniel, and other parts of the Bible. It starts with Matthew 24:21 and Daniel 11:39.
Because of sin, greed, and ignorance, America has been into producing genetically-modified foods. These "foods" are genetically identical which makes them susceptible to total elimination via famine-causing pestilential organisms. I have long suspected that the time will come when some type of pestilence will hit America's genetically-modified grain crops like corn and wreak havoc on the land. Enough so, that this may embolden its enemies to attack Britain and/or the USA to begin the Great Tribulation (for more details, see the article Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse).
Nations will betray the USA, who has been "great among the nations":
1 How lonely sits the city
That was full of people!
How like a widow is she,
Who was great among the nations!
The princess among the provinces
Has become a slave!
2 She weeps bitterly in the night,
Her tears are on her cheeks;
Among all her lovers
She has none to comfort her.
All her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
They have become her enemies. (Lamentations 1:1-2)
4 We pay for the water we drink, And our wood comes at a price. 5 They pursue at our heels; We labor and have no rest. 6 We have given our hand to the Egyptians And the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread. 7 Our fathers sinned and are no more, But we bear their iniquities. 8 Servants rule over us; There is none to deliver us from their hand”. (Lamentations 5:4-8)
Notice that the above passage mentions Assyria, which is who God will use to punish the certain descendants of Israel, such as the U.S.A., etc. (see also Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel).
Destruction will come to the highly indebted suddenly (the USA is the most indebted nation of all time):
8... A plunderer at noonday; I will cause anguish and terror to fall on them suddenly. (Jeremiah 15:8)
6 "Will not all these take up a proverb against him,
And a taunting riddle against him, and say,
'Woe to him who increases
What is not his — how long?
And to him who loads himself with many pledges'?
7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly?
Will they not awaken who oppress you?
And you will become their booty.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
All the remnant of the people shall plunder you (Habakkuk 2:6-8)
Notice that there is a Catholic prophecy that shows the taking over of North America:
Zachary the Armenian (published 1854 and summarized in 2010): And then there would be the war that the prophecy refers to as “the struggle of the strong, against the strong”. This empire of the north…will go to war against North America and North America will be fall and be conquered and brought into bondage. The next phase is the most frightful thing of all. It is then that Zachary says this text published in 1854, “and then the whole world fell under the dominion of the first born of hell.” (Originally by Priest Fattecelli, Day of Anger: The Hand of God Upon an Empire, 1854, as paraphrased by Priest P. Kramer, What are the missing contents of the third secret? Fatima Crusader, 95, Summer 2010, pp. 45-46)
North America would clearly include the USA and Canada (the above and other prophecies are discussed in my new book, Fatima Shock! What the Vatican Does Not Want You to Know About Fatima, Dogmas of Mary, and Future Apparitions). Since Zachary is discussing the dominion of the first born son of perdition (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12), the above is clearly teaching that this would happen at the start of the Great Tribulation. This is consistent with the understanding of the Philadelphian remnant of the Church of God on these matters (though we do not believe that God inspired this Zachary).
The late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote the following in 1979:
What is this abomination? This refers to Daniel 11:31 and Matthew 24:15...That will be a time when the UNITED Europe shall appear--the revival of the medieval "Holy Roman Empire." We shall then be warned, and readied to be taken to a place of refuge and safety from the Great Tribulation. Forty-five days later "the beasts armies" will surround Jerusalem. Thirty days later the Great Tribulation will probably start with a nuclear attack on London and Britain--and possibly the same day or immediately after, on the United States and Canadian cities. The GREAT TRIBULATION, we shall fully then realize, is the time of "Jacob's Trouble," spoken of in Jeremiah 30:7. And Jacob's name was named on Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 48:16). At that time a third of the people in our nations will die, or shall have died, by famine and disease epidemics; another third will dies of the war--our cities being destroyed (Ezek. 6:6), and the remaining third will be carried to the land of our enemies as slaves (Ezek. 5:12). Armstrong HW. The Time We Are In, Now. Pastor General's Report-Vol 1, No. 15, November 20, 1979, Page 2).
The Bible states:
33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste (Leviticus 26:33).
Nuclear and other high-tech weapons (as well as emp, electromagnetic pulse, bombs), as well as devastating solar flares, are ways to make land desolate and modern cities waste (for more on emp-weapons and solar flares see Nuclear EMP Attack on UK Called ‘Quite Likely’).
Events that resembles nuclear or similar devastation are part of the prophesied curses mentioned in the Bible:
23 'The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning (Deuteronomy 29:23).
19 Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts
The land is burned up,
And the people shall be as fuel for the fire; No man shall spare his brother.
20 And he shall snatch on the right hand
And be hungry;
He shall devour on the left hand
And not be satisfied; Every man shall eat the flesh of his own arm. 21 Manasseh shall devour Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh; Together they shall be against Judah (Isaiah 9:19-21).
6 In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste (Ezekiel 6:6).
It remains likely that many of the Protestants that survive the tribulation (whether or not they believed in a pre-tribulation view of Christ’s return) will be part of the great multitude of those converted during the tribulation (c.f. Revelation 7:9) through the genuine Church of God message which will mainly then be brought to the world by The Two Witnesses (a lot of Greco-Roman Catholics and those of non-biblically-claimed faiths will be as well; cf. Revelation 7:9-10).
How do we know that the Anglo-nations in general, and the USA in particular, and not just the land of Judea are the target of the great tribulation? One reason is Daniel 11:39:
39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain. (Daniel 11:39)
The "he" is the final King of the North, the Beast of Revelation 13. The "strongest fortresses" in the world belong to the USA, and to a lessor degree, its Anglo-allies. The strongest fortresses, by the way, cannot be referring to China or Russia as they do not get involved until verse 44 of Daniel 11 (for more details, see King of the North); nor the Arab lands which are invaded in verses 40-43. The current nation of Israel, of course, does not have the strongest fortresses. And dividing the Anglo-lands would bring much more gain, than the land of Judea (see also Will the Anglo-Nations be Divided?). Thus, this is pointing to the Anglo-nations, which currently harbor many in the faithful church.
It should be noted that Jesus also called this period the hour of trial and that He promised to protect only the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God from it:
7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": 8 "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Revelation 3:7-11)
For more details, please also see There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra.
And while some erroneously feel that Revelation 3:10 has to do with a pre-tribulation rapture for all Christians (see Is There A Secret Rapture for the Church? When and Where is the Church Protected? or the YouTube video Did Jesus Teach a Pre-tribulation Rapture?), the reality is that is NOT what Jesus said. The Bible is clear that rest of the Church will face persecution for 3 1/2 years (Revelation 12:17).
Many Christians will be affected by the Great Tribulation as John Ogwyn wrote:
Because of their faithful endurance, Philadelphians are promised protection from the great time of severe trial that will come upon the whole world in the end time (Revelation 3:10). By contrast, Christ rebukes the Church at Laodicea, representing the final era, for its lukewarm spirit. Lacking in zeal, Laodicea is beset by compromise with the world, unaware that it is spiritually impoverished and naked. Because of its attitude, the living Christ will have to spew Laodiceans out of His mouth and right into the Great Tribulation, to wake them up and bring them to ultimate repentance and complete surrender to Him. Understanding this distinction between the final two eras allows us to understand prophecies in Revelation 12 that describe Satan’s attempt to make war with the "woman"—the true Church…
Jesus warned us of the Great Tribulation—a time unique in all history (Matthew 24:21–22). The Great Tribulation begins shortly after the "abomination of desolation" (v. 15)…
This future time of trouble will clearly be a time of intense religious persecution, when all will be forced to conform to false religious practices that will be portrayed as "Christian." All will be required to give their devotion to the great false church and its hierarchy, labeled in Revelation 13:15 the "image of the beast." An outward sign of conformity called the "mark of the beast" will identify those whom Scripture labels as the children of disobedience.
There is another aspect of this coming Great Tribulation that is often overlooked. It is not only a time of religious persecution but it is also identified as "the time of Jacob’s trouble" in Jeremiah 30:7. We know that this is identical with the time of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 24:21, because in both places we are told that it is a unique time, a time such as never was before nor ever again shall be. There cannot be two separate times like that! (Ogwyn JH. Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled! Living Church of God, 2006, pp. 17-18, 25, 26 )
John Ogwyn pointed out that it is not the world as a whole, but those now trying to be followers of Christ (the Laodiceans mainly, see The Laodicean Church Era) and those who are physical descendants of Israel who are the initial targets of the Great Tribulation (see Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel). And notice that they are persecuted by the Beast power and those supporting him.
Notice what Daniel writes about the coming persecuting king:
24 The ten horns are ten kings
Who shall arise from this kingdom.
And another shall rise after them;
He shall be different from the first ones,
And shall subdue three kings.
25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time (Daniel 7:24-25).
Thus the time of severe persecution, where “the saints shall be given into his hand” lasts 3 ½ years (1 time + 2 times + ½ time = 3 ½ times or years). This king is the final King of the North. Christians, have been persecuted in the past, and will be in the future--for details check out Persecutions by Church and State.
But what about others?
In addition to the warnings given by His two witnesses for 3 ½ years (Revelation 11:3), God is going to provide a warning of repentance to the world by way of three angels:
6 Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth--to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people-- 7 saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water." 8 And another angel followed, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." 9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name" (Revelation 14:6-11).
God wants people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) and though most will not listen in this age, He still wants them to be warned (and a great multitude will respond per Revelation 7:9-10).
The final time of the Gentiles is near the Day of the Lord"
2 "Son of man, prophesy and say, 'Thus says the Lord God:
"Wail, 'Woe to the day!'
3 For the day is near,
Even the day of the Lord is near;
It will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. (Ezekiel 30:2-3)
Also notice the prophecy for this latter time tribulation in the Hebrew scriptures:
29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice 31 (for the Lord your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them. (Deuteronomy 4:29-31)
Thus, help from God during these hard times will be available to the truly sincere who really strive for it.
Jesus will come a second time:
28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)
20 He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly."
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)
What do Catholics teach about the Great Tribulation?
First it may be best to read what early supporters of the Greco-Romans taught. In the third century, Hippolytus wrote:
62. The Lord also says, "When you shall see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place (whoso reads, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains, and let him which is on the housetop not come down to take his clothes; neither let him which is in the field return back to take anything out of his house. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved. " And Daniel says, "And they shall place the abomination of desolation a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waits, and comes to the thousand two hundred and ninety-five days." (Hippolytus. On Christ and Antichrist. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0516.htm viewed 12/17/08)
Now notice what Cyril of Jerusalem taught in the late middle portion of the fourth century:
16. For this cause the Lord knowing the greatness of the adversary grants indulgence to the godly, saying, Then let them which be in Judæa flee to the mountains. But if any man is conscious that he is very stout-hearted , to encounter Satan, let him stand (for I do not despair of the Church's nerves), and let him say, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ and the rest? But, let those of us who are fearful provide for our own safety; and those who are of a good courage, stand fast: for then shall be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be. But thanks be to God who has confined the greatness of that tribulation to a few days; for He says, But for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened ; and Antichrist shall reign for three years and a half only. We speak not from apocryphal books, but from Daniel ; for he says, And they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time. A time is the one year in which his coming shall for a while have increase; and the times are the remaining two years of iniquity , making up the sum of the three years; and the half a time is the six months. And again in another place Daniel says the same thing, And he sware by Him that lives for ever that it shall be for a time , and times, and half a time. And some peradventure have referred what follows also to this; namely , a thousand two hundred and ninety days ; and this, Blessed is he that endures and comes to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days . For this cause we must hide ourselves and flee; for perhaps we shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come (Cyril of Jerusalem. Catechetical Lecture 15. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310115.htm viewed 06/12/11).
The above appears consistent with what we of the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God still teach.
The Catholic "saint and doctor of the Church" Jerome wrote:
But the more reasonable understanding of the matter is that in the time of the Antichrist there shall occur a tribulation such as there has never been since nations began to exist (Jerome. Commentary on Daniel, Chapter 12, Verses 1-3. Translated by Gleason L. Archer. (1958). http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/jerome_daniel_02_text.htm viewed 04/14/2010).
Jerome's position above is consistent with what Jesus (Matthew 24:21-25) and the rest of the Bible teach.
Yet, even though they consider them be saints, some of those associated with Rome now seem to teach that the Great Tribulation was over by the time that Cyril and Jerome wrote what they did (earlier writers such as the Shepherd of Hermas, Cyprian of Carthage, and Tertullian also considered that the Great Tribulation was a future event and tended to tie it in with the time of the final Antichrist).
Notice what two modern "Catholic" priests have written:
Priest W. Kurz (21st century): …great tribulation…probably already a horrific past event by the time Matthew wrote down his gospel (Kurz W. What Does the Bible Say About the End Times? A Catholic View. Servant Books, Cincinnati. Nihil Obstat: Kistner H., Schehr T.P. Imprimi Potest: Link F., Paul J.M. Imprimatur: Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxillary Bishop, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 19, 2004. Servant Books, Cincinnati, 2004, p. 96).
Priest H.B. Kramer (20th century): The "great tribulation" is a stereotyped phrase used often in the Apocalypse and elsewhere in the New Testament (Mt. XXIV. 21) for the Roman persecutions. (See VII. 14)....
THE GREAT TRIBULATION. The definite article used refers to something which had been mentioned before and was presumed to be known. In chapter I. 9 and II. 10, St. John states it and warns the Christians in Asia of its coming. He calls it the "hour of temptation" in II. 10. It is bloody persecution. In this verse, the stress placed on "the great one" points to the imperial persecutions, especially to the last one under Diocletian. This scene is then in the fourth century, when the Roman persecutions had been abolished. "The great tribulation" had passed away to return no more, and since then the Church had grown to grand proportions. (Kramer H.B. L. The Book of Destiny. Nihil Obstat: J.S. Considine, O.P., Censor Deputatus. Imprimatur: +Joseph M. Mueller, Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, January 26, 1956. Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), pp. 81,181-182)
This is a change in prophetic understanding that is not consistent with the teachings of the Bible nor the traditions of the early church. The fact is that much persecution against the true Church began after Constantine protected the Greco-Romans. Actually, Constantine began persecutions against all who did not accept his militaristic view of Christianity (see also Persecutions by Church and State).
But the doctrinal truth is that the Great Tribulation that the Bible speaks about is NOT over. Even the Rheims translation of the New Testament (the first major Catholic accepted translation into English) teaches:
 But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the sabbath.
 For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. (Matthew 24:20-21).
Thus, the time of the great tribulation comes at a particular time of fleeing. It has not yet happened.
There is a lot of confusion about the 144,000 who are sealed in Revelation 7.
Please notice the timeframe in the Book of Revelation:
12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Revelation 6:12-17)
7: 1 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:
5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;
6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;
7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;
8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed. (Revelation 7:1-8)
These people apparently have responded to the preaching of The Two Witnesses and/or otherwise refused to worship the Beast (cf. Revelation 11:3,7; 13:8) and have physical and/or spiritual descendancy from twelve of the tribes of Israel. Those who claim that the above 144,000 were sealed before the sixth seal was opened seem to have overlooked what the Bible seems to be teaching here.
The 144,000, as well as the great innumerable multitude from all nations referred to in verse 9, repent of their old sinful ways and turn to Almighty God in personal surrender. God then put their sins under the blood of Jesus Christ-the Passover Lamb (verse 14). "These are they," states one of the elders at God's throne, "which came out of great tribulation." These multitudes will receive eternal life, and serve God day and night in His Temple (verse 15). (Sound the Trumpet. Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. Lesson 28. 1986, page 9)
Now, there is a group of 144,000 mentioned later in the Bible:
1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Revelation 14:1-5)
These are firstfruits, and since the fact that the Bible they stand on the Mount of Olives suggests that these would seem to have returned with Jesus Christ (cf. Zechariah 14:4).
What or when is the final "Day of the Lord"?
Many Protestants also seem to confuse the “Day of the Lord” and the Great Tribulation. At least one book refers to the tribulation as “the terrible week of the Lord” (LaHaye T, Jenkins J. Are We Living in the End Times? Tyndale House, Wheaton (IL), 1999, p. 159--an expression that is not in scripture) and the “Day of the Lord”. Dr. LaHaye, J. Jenkins, (LaHaye & Jenkins, p. 105, 147) and Dr. Walvoord (Walvoord, pp. 491-492) teach that the “Day of the Lord” occurs after their hoped for pre-tribulation rapture.
Thus, in a sense, the Day of the Lord is something they and others of their view seem to be looking forward to.
Yet, the Bible teaches:
18 Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light. 19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion, And a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, Leaned his hand on the wall, And a serpent bit him! 20 Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18-20)
Since the Day of the Lord basically is a time that pre-tribulation Protestant rapturists look forward to, the above prophecy sadly, will most likely apply to many of them.
The fact is that the Great Tribulation involves horrors for physical and spiritual Israel. About 2.4 years after it starts there are to be the heavenly signs (Matthew 24:29), which are followed by the “Day of the Lord, a time of wrath and anger (Isaiah 13:9), which affects the whole world (cf. Matthew 24:30-31, Zechariah 14:1-4).
The Bible shows that the Beast power (also called the King of the North) will persecute the saints for 3 ½ years (Daniel 7:25) and a specific “Day of the Lord” lasts one year (Isaiah 34:8).
Here is some of what Isaiah was inspired to write:
9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine.
11 "I will punish the world for its evil,And the wicked for their iniquity;I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12 I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the Lord of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger. 14 It shall be as the hunted gazelle, And as a sheep that no man takes up; Every man will turn to his own people,And everyone will flee to his own land. 15 Everyone who is found will be thrust through, And everyone who is captured will fall by the sword. 16 Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished. (Isaiah 13:9-16)
The “heavenly signs” of the “sixth seal” and Day of the Lord are described in Revelation 6:12-17, Matthew 24:29, and other parts of the Bible.
Here are some comments by John Ogwyn on this matter:
When the sixth seal is opened, John sees dramatic signs in the heavens. He describes great meteor showers—so intense that it appears that the very stars are falling out of the sky! He also describes events, resembling eclipses, involving the sun and the moon. The sun becomes dark, just as during a solar eclipse, and the moon takes on a reddish hue, just as it often does during a lunar eclipse. These dramatic and frightening events, accompanied by massive volcanic and earthquake activity (cf. Joel 2:30–31), are the prelude to the time of the Creator’s intervention, called throughout Scripture "the Day of the Lord."
At this point, there is a pause in the action before John sees the seventh seal opened. Revelation 7:1–4 makes plain that this pause is for a very specific purpose. Before the outpouring of God’s wrath, 144,000...from the 12 tribes of Israel are to be sealed so that they might be spared from what God is preparing to pour out on rebellious mankind.
A parallel can be found in Ezekiel 9, where Ezekiel saw a vision about God’s punishment on the rebellious people of Jerusalem. In the vision, he saw an angel clothed in linen with a writer’s inkhorn by his side standing beside the altar in front of the temple. The angel was told to go throughout the city, putting a mark on the foreheads of those who "sighed and cried" for all of the abominations of Jerusalem. In the wake of the angel with the writer’s inkhorn, the other angels were to go out as avenging angels to slay the rebellious and ungodly. In the same way, Revelation 7 describes...servants of God, and are to be set apart so that they might be spared God’s wrath that will be poured upon the children of disobedience during the coming Day of the Lord...
Many fail to notice that Revelation 7 records two different groups. They are both introduced by the same phrase, "after this I saw," recorded in verses 1 and 9. The 144,000 drawn from the 12 tribes precede the description of a multitude of indefinite number drawn from every nation and people. This great multitude is described in a victory celebration before the throne of God…(Ogwyn JH. Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!, LCG Booklet, p. 27)
While most Protestant scholars understand that the 1260 days and “the time, times, and half a time” refer to 3 ½ years, some wrongly teach that the “Day of the Lord” will apparently only “be a lengthened day”(Walvoord, pp. 333,579).
That particular Protestant position is wrong because this specific “Day of the Lord” itself is shown to be a year long in Isaiah where it is basically described as punishment for those who punished the church (called Zion):
For it is the day of the LORD's vengeance, The year of recompense for the cause of Zion (Isaiah 34:8).
1 To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion (Isaiah 61:1-3).
Within the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) it is understood that the seven trumpets plagues of Revelation 8, 9, and 11, and the seven plagues of Revelation 16 essentially constitute much of what will happen in the “Day of the Lord” (see also Ogwyn JH. Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!, pp. 22-23)--though certain events in Matthew 24, Zechariah 14, and other portions of the Bible are also fulfilled then.
Since the Day of the Lord includes the event that the "star" (probably a comet) called Wormwood is to hit the planet (Revelation 8:10-11), I do not subscribe to the theory of some that something to this magnitude or greater can happen in 2012. The staging for armies in Armageddon (Revelation 16:16, and related to the sixth trumpet of Revelation 8:13-17) happens shortly after Wormwood (third trumpet) hits, hence 'Armageddon' will not happen in prior to 2019.
Regarding the “Day of the Lord” John Ogwyn wrote:
Here we should note that Scripture identifies the true saints as those who actually obey God and keep His commandments. Revelation 14:12 emphasizes this point by describing the saints in comparison to those who will receive God’s punishment…
John records a vision of seven angels, with seven golden bowls that pour out seven final plagues, one after another. This pouring occurs rather quickly, as we see when we examine the nature of the plagues. If the second and third plagues, for instance, lasted more than a few days, all life would perish from the planet.
When the first bowl is poured out, a grievous sore comes upon those who had disregarded the third angel’s message and were still loyal to the Beast system. Then, when the second angel pours out his bowl, all the oceans become like "the blood of a dead man" (16:3). All sea life dies. With the pouring out of the third bowl, all the fresh water turns to blood, and sources of drinking water are destroyed. Then, the fourth angel pours his bowl, and scorching heat from the sun punishes rebellious mankind. Next, great darkness comes upon Europe ("the seat of the Beast") and its people are in agonizing pain and heat, engulfed in total darkness and lacking usable water all at the same time. The darkness results from the bowl poured out by the fifth angel.
After this, John sees the sixth angel pour his bowl upon the Euphrates. Demon spirits go forth to bring all the armies together north of Jerusalem. The huge Asiatic army that had previously been massed on the east bank of the Euphrates pours into the land of Israel, and converges in the area of Armageddon (Hebrew for "mount of Megiddo"). Megiddo is a hill that stands overlooking the Valley of Jezreel, about 55 miles north of Jerusalem. When the final seventh bowl is poured out, there will be a tremendous earthquake so massive that the very topography of the earth itself will be altered (vv. 18–20). Very likely this earthquake is the same one that is described in Zechariah 14:4, when the feet of Jesus Christ finally stand once more upon the Mount of Olives, located just east of Jerusalem…
It is important that we realize now, and in the crucial years ahead, that God’s victory is certain. This history has already been written in advance! Therefore, it is imperative that we come out of this world’s Babylonish system (18:4), and give our total and true allegiance to Jesus Christ and the message that He taught! (Ogwyn JH. Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!, pp. 38-39)
It should be noted since that apparently biggest of all earthquakes seems to take place near the end of the Day of the Lord, it probably cannot happen prior to 2018 (more on earthquakes, including a cool updated listing of major earthquakes around the world, please see Earthquakes Today and Bible Prophecy).
There are many details, but basically this “Day of the Lord” is God’s vengeance on the world for persecuting His people and not listening to His servants like the two witnesses.
1 The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, 2 "Son of man, prophesy and say, 'Thus says the Lord God:
"Wail, 'Woe to the day!'
3 For the day is near,
Even the day of the Lord is near;
It will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. (Ezekiel 30:1-3)
35 And say, "Save us, O God of our salvation;
Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise." (1 Chronicles 16:34-35)
22 I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms;
I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms.
I will overthrow the chariots
And those who ride in them;
The horses and their riders shall come down,
Every one by the sword of his brother. (Haggai 2:22)
But because of it (apparently referred to as "the day of affliction" below), many will learn and be prepared to repent:
19 O Lord, my strength and my fortress,
My refuge in the day of affliction,
The Gentiles shall come to You
From the ends of the earth and say,
"Surely our fathers have inherited lies,
Worthlessness and unprofitable things."
20 Will a man make gods for himself,
Which are not gods?
21 "Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know,
I will cause them to know
My hand and My might;
And they shall know that My name is the LORD. (Jeremiah 16:19-21)
31 For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men. (Lamentations 3:31-33)
Thus, there will be spiritual benefits from this time (see also Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis). And the millennium comes after the Gentiles have trampled for their 42 months (cf. Revelation 11:2; Ezekiel 34:21-29, see also Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).
Interestingly, there is a Catholic prophecy that indicates that at first their end-time two leaders will do well and turn the world Catholic (the first 2 ½ years or so) then their will be problems, leading to the destruction:
St. Caesar of Arles (6th Century): ...there will be a great Pope...This Pope shall have with him, the Great Monarch...This Great Monarch will assist the Pope in the reformation of the whole earth...All nations shall recognize the Holy See of Rome, and shall pay homage to the Pope. But after some considerable time fervor shall cool...which shall bring upon mankind the last and worse persecution of Anti-Christ...There shall be great carnage (Culleton, R. Gerald. The Prophets and Our Times. Nihil Obstat: L. Arvin. Imprimatur: Philip G. Scher, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno, November 15, 1941. Reprint 1974, TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 126-127).
It may be that the above Catholic prophecy is pointing to the Day of the Lord. For more information see the articles Europa, the Beast, and the Book of Revelation and Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666.
One of the reasons that Jesus is returning will be to stop humans from destroying the earth and to punish those that are doing that:
22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)
18 The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth. (Revelation 11:18)
Jesus will return at the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:52), the seventh one, during the time known as the Day of the Lord. The dead will be raised then (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This seems to have been understood by early second century leaders such as Polycarp and Polycrates who, respectively, wrote:
Wherefore, girding up your loins," "serve the Lord in fear" and truth, as those who have forsaken the vain, empty talk and error of the multitude, and "believed in Him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave Him glory," and a throne at His right hand. To Him all things" in heaven and on earth are subject. Him every spirit serves. He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead. His blood will God require of those who do not believe in Him. But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, chapter II. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1 as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885.)
For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. (Polycrates Letter to Victor as reported by Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).
The "Day of the Lord" includes the time of the return of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the saints. Jesus may very well return before the end of this decade.
We do live in perilous times. Many events are occurring that are changing the world as we have known it the past 50 or 60 years. But when will the Great Tribulation begin?
Since the deal involving the Daniel 9 prince (who is later to become the King of the North) has apparently not yet occurred, the Great Tribulation cannot possibly begin prior to 2016 (but many things of prophetic interest still are likely happen before then). And the Great Tribulation probably will not begin until after then. You may also wish to watch the YouTube video Can the Great Tribulation Begin in 2013?
But make no mistake about it--the end is coming and fairly soon--and most probably, sometime in next ten or so years. But the Great Tribulation will not start in 2013 nor in 2014 nor in 2015 nor, likely at this stage, in 2016.
Yet the Great Tribulation is coming and will start under the final administration of the United States as that nation (and its Anglo-allies) will be destroyed then (see also Anglo - America in Prophecy and Prophecies of Barack Obama). Jesus is coming second time (Hebrews 9:28) and that is after the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:37-44) starts (Matthew 24:21).
Sorrows (Matthew 24:7-8) and troubles (Mark 13:7-8) have begun.
What will you do about your spiritual condition before it is too late?
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Thiel B. Can the Great Tribulation Begin in 2013, 2014, or 2015? www.cogwriter.com/when-will-the-great-tribulation-begin.htm 2008, 2009, 2010/2011/2012/2013 0214