Luke's Account: Is It The Same Discourse?
Some commentators say that the account found in Luke 21 is a different teaching of Christ than that reported in the corresponding parts of Matthew and Mark. This idea is really a confirmation of what we have been saying for it means that they recognize that the "great tribulation" of Luke is talking about the fall of Jerusalem and "the abomination of desolation" is the armed Roman armies.
But the idea above is totally undefendable. According to each of the three writers the teaching happened just after Christ left the temple for the last time. According to each, it began with the same words: "not one stone shall be left upon another." In addition, the prophetic part was spoken in reply to the question of the disciples. The account in Luke follows the same order as the others, and uses in many passages exactly the same words. It is impossible that there should have been two different teachings on the same day, arising out of the same incident, and in response to the same question, from the same disciples.
The proof is conclusive that the three accounts refer to one and the same teaching. What Luke plainly identifies as the then approaching destruction of Jerusalem, the other two evangelists spoke of under the general term: "great tribulation."
Israel's Last Probation
We have tried to impress on our readers the fact that the destruction of Jerusalem, and the final breakup of the Jewish nation, was a matter of immense importance in the history of the world as viewed by God. Now we would like to point out that God, in grace, did not execute His righteous judgment upon the nation at once, but gave them a final period of probation, which lasted 40 years, from AD 30, when the Lord was crucified, to AD 70, when the city was destroyed and the nation exterminated.
The number 40 appears to be the measure of full probation. The Israelites were tested for 40 years in the wilderness at the beginning of their national career. That was under the Law. And at the end of it, God gave them another probation of 40 years, under the Gospel. Other periods of full probation are found in the Scriptures, as when Moses left the people to themselves, while he was in the mountain 40 days. The first three kings of Israel [Saul, David, and Solomon] reigned the full period of 40 years. And finally our Lord was tested for 40 days in the wilderness, with the wild beasts, and tempted of the devil.
42. What Luke plainly identifies as the then approaching destruction of Jerusalem, the other two evangelists spoke of under the general term: "___________ _______________________."
43. The destruction of Jerusalem, and the final breakup of the Jewish nation, was a matter of immense _______________________ in the history of the world as viewed by God.
44. God, in _______________, did not execute His righteous judgment upon the nation at once, but gave them a final period of probation, which lasted 40 years, from AD 30, when the Lord was crucified, to AD 70, when the city was destroyed and the nation exterminated.
45. The number _________ appears to be the measure of full probation.
The Time Of Jacob's Trouble
The reference to "the time of Jacob's trouble" is found in Jer. 30:5-7. From what appears in chapter 29:1, as well as from the immediate context, this prophecy was spoken after the captivity in Babylon had begun. It could not be the punishment inflicted by Nebuchadnezzar that the prophet was foretelling. This is made very plain by the verses before the prophecy of Jacob's trouble, in which God says that He will bring again the captivity of His people and cause them to return to the land of their fathers. So the predicted order of events was the return of the captivity from Babylon, and after that the time of Jacob's trouble, which is foretold in these striking words:
"For thus saith the Lord; we have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now and see whether a man doth travail with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it" [Jer. 30:5-7]
The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans is a complete fulfillment of this prophecy. Why then should we ignore an obvious historical fulfillment and guess about a fulfillment in the future, for which there is no proof?
The words "none is like it" establish the fact that "the time of Jacob's trouble," foretold by Jeremiah, is the same as the "time of trouble such as never was," foretold to Daniel, and the same as the "great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, nor ever shall be," foretold by the Lord, as coming upon His generation. For there could not be two such times of trouble.
Likewise the words of Jeremiah, "But he shall be saved out of it," agree with the words, "Thy people shall be delivered" [Dan. 12:1]; and with the words of Christ, "But he that shall endure to the end shall be saved" [Matt. 24:13]. The agreement is striking. Jeremiah, after prophesying the time of Jacob's trouble [but gives no details] proceeds to speak of another captivity for the nation, and of God's purpose to gather His people out of it, and to restore them again to their own land [vs 10-11]. This confirms the view that the captivity referred to in vs 3 is that in Babylon. Moreover, the terms used in describing the captivity spoken of in vs 10-11 show that it was a worldwide dispersion. For God says, "I will save thee from afar...and Israel shall return and be at rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid." So here we have a captivity in distant lands, to be followed by a restoration and blessing - not by another tribulation. Further, we read: "For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee" [vs 11].
According to these three great prophecies there was to be a time on unequaled trouble for Israel, followed by a worldwide scattering of the survivors. History is in perfect agreement with this. The time of trouble, such as never was, came with the generation specified by Christ, and was immediately followed by a worldwide dispersion of the Jews, yet God has not made a full end of them.
All this is completely reversed by a current system of interpretation of prophecy, which makes the dispersion of the people of Israel come first, and the time of trouble come second.
46. The words "__________________" establish the fact that "the time of Jacob's trouble," foretold by Jeremiah, is the same as the "time of trouble such as never was," foretold to Daniel, and the same as the "great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, nor ever shall be," foretold by the Lord, as coming upon His generation.
47. The time of trouble, such as never was, came with the generation specified by Christ, and was immediately followed by a worldwide ________________ of the Jews, yet God has not made a full end of them.
The Great Tribulation Of Revelation 7
In Rev. 7:9-17 we have the vision of a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and kindreds, and people, and tongues, of whom it is said that "These are they which come out of great tribulation [or "out of the great tribulation"] and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
There is nothing is this passage to show that the tribulation referred to is yet future, or to justify the expression "tribulation saints." What John is here permitted to see is, not a future tribulation, but the future blessedness of those who, while on earth, were in great tribulation. The time when the tribulation occurred is not indicated at all.
We do not identify the tribulation of Matt. 24:21 with that of Rev. 7:14. The former is a specific event in history, and one that pertained strictly to the Jewish people. The latter is general and indefinite. There were people out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and tribe, involved in it. The probability [though at present we cannot express a decided opinion about it] that the company referred to embraces all those who have suffered for the truth's sake, during all the centuries of persecution under imperial Rome and papal Rome. That tribulation, being of quite a different sort from the concrete tribulation which befell Jerusalem in AD 70, does not come into comparison with it. There was to be nothing of that sort to exceed it. We utterly reject the idea of a separate company of "tribulation saints," segregated from the main company of the redeemed, and appointed to some inferior sphere of blessing.
**Editor's comment: Through this course [and the Seventy Weeks and the Book of Revelation courses] we have referred to the horrors and the importance of the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70. Next we will look at this siege through the eyes of eyewitness Josephus.**
48. We do not identify the _____________________________ of Matt. 24:21 with that of Rev. 7:14.
Feed Yourself Students
1. Answer all the questions.
2. Write a comparison and a contrast between the Great Tribulation mentioned in the gospels and the one mentioned in Rev. 7
Return to The Great Tribulation Lessons.