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Read Matthew 24:15-28.
In AD 70, Satan instigated the Romans to attack and destroy Jerusalem, the birthplace and epicenter of the Christian faith. As terrible as those days were, they cannot compare to what's coming next. Jesus revealed to His disciples that just before His return there will be a great tribulation "unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again" (Matthew 24:21). This tribulation is going to encompass the whole globe. No one will be able to escape it. And this will be a great indicator that the return of Christ is near. Now, Jesus also said that no one knows the day of His return. It could be today, or it could be one hundred years from now. Only the Father knows when it will be. So we are to live every day in anticipation that today could very well be the day of His return.
When it comes to this great tribulation, we must confess that we don't know all we'd like to know.
When it comes to this great tribulation, we must confess that we don't know all we'd like to know. There are essentially three ways to look at what the Bible says about this distressing period, and there are godly believers who hold to each of the positions. First, there are those who believe Christians will be raptured prior to the seven-year tribulation. In other words, Jesus' followers will be spared from the suffering that will take place. Second, there are those who believe we'll be here on earth for the first half—the first three and a half years—of the tribulation. Finally, there are those who believe that, while God's hand of protection will be upon the church, we will be here to endure the tribulation until the end.
Whichever view you hold—or even if you're not sure what to think—it does not affect your salvation. Still, you may be wondering, What am I to do? Jesus said, "See, I have told you ahead of time" (v. 25). Isn't it just like our Lord to give us a warning? He's saying, "Be ready. Be prepared. Don't let those days take you by surprise."
Those of us who are praying and watching, serving and preparing, we are not going to be surprised. We're going to be delighted. We're going to be thrilled. Why? Because when the day of tribulation comes, we know Jesus will be here soon. And that is good news to all of us who long for His appearing.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for warning us about the days leading up to Your return. Help me to live in joyful anticipation, remembering that my Savior is coming soon. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:27).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon series Is the End Near?: WATCH NOW