The Great Tribulation| Past or Future?
Terry Cropper is a good Bible student and he recently posted the following article on FaceBook. I have taken the liberty of “stealing” his article. Let me recommend that for even more detailed study of the Great Tribulation, you get a copy of my book, Blast From the Past, The Truth About Armageddon. It contains a wealth of information on the Great Tribulation.
Matthew 24: 16-18 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. Parallel verses are in (Luke 21:22-23).
How did Matthew’s audience living in Judea and Jerusalem understand this warning? The answer here involves the way the homes were built back in ancient Jerusalem. The top of the houses was built flat, and the people used it in the same way that we would use a patio. In the cool of the evening, they went to the top of their house and sat there and talked to their neighbors on the adjacent rooftops.
So if a person was on his rooftop when the time came to get out of Jerusalem, he could literally run from housetop to housetop without ever coming down on the street for a long distance. This would not be an appropriate warning to anyone under a nuclear attack in our time as you can imagine.
This warning in Matthew 24 is obviously a local judgment, not a global judgment. The difference of a global judgement would be where you are on earth not your roof top. Jesus goes on to say, but woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.”
Again, we have to understand what Jesus is saying in its historical context. Jerusalem was a Jewish dominated city which kept 100% of the law of Moses up to 70AD. Therefore the Gates of the city would be closed and locked on the Sabbath day.
Nehemiah 13:15-22 In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day. Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.
Nehemiah found, on his return, that the Men of Tyre carried on their farm labour and also brought their produce to market to Jerusalem on the Sabbath. So he warned them about the Sabbath day. Not only did Jews break the Sabbath, but they let heathen do so too. He shows that Sabbath breaking was one of the sins for which God had brought judgments upon them; and if they did not take warning, but returned to the same sins again, they could expect further judgments. So to the prevent any merchants from selling all kinds of wares inside the city of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day Nehemiah ordered that the gates of the city are closed and locked until after the Sabbath.
So Jesus was not telling the Jewish pray that your flight not be on the Sabbath for fear of breaking the Sabbath. The gates being closed and locked on the Sabbath day would hinder the Lord’s instructions to the Jewish Christians to GET OUT OF THE CITY before the Roman armies surrounded the city as Jesus said in Luke 21:20-21 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 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.
Jesus also previously said of Jerusalem, Luke 19:43-44: “For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
So He ordered his followers to make their escape from Jerusalem. Matthew 24: 16-18 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! “And pray that your fight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
Jesus lists 3 things that would hinder fleeing the city:
1 Pregnant or Nursing mothers hindered for obvious reasons. The hardness of the season, the badness of the roads, the shortness of the days, and the length of the nights, will all be great impediments to a Pregnant or Nursing mothers
2 Winter would hinder because of exposure to cold and snow.
3 Sabbath day because the gates of the Jewish controlled city of Jerusalem would be locked and they could not get out!
(These three factors alone prove that the Great Tribulation is past, DKP)
But how was this escape accomplished? God provide a way for his saints to safely escape. In the twelfth year of Nero, Cestius Gallus, came against Jerusalem with a powerful army and besieged Jerusalem, on every side. During the revolt in Jerusalem, the Jewish rebels had defeated the pro-Roman civic leaders, the local Roman garrison, and the forces of King Agrippa. Now the report of the loss went up the chain of command to the Governor of the Roman province of Syria, Cestius Gallus, upon whom fell the responsibility to smother the rebellion.
Cestius was forced to lead an army against Judaea. But he was a civil administrator, with no battlefield experience historians are aware of; apparently Nero had only recently appointed him commander of the legions in Syria, succeeding the general Corbulo. His inexperience showed in a number of mistakes he made in the attack on Judaea that led to the destruction of the Twelfth Legion.
Although Cestius began his campaign in classic Roman style, observes Mordechai Gichon including the wholesale destruction of crops and buildings to undermine Cestius enemy’s ability to wage war, he erred several times. He delayed rather than acting, thus giving his opponents time to enact plans of their own.
Cestius did not place his baggage train in the center of his marching troops, but instead placed it at the end of the column, where it became subjected to ambush. This loss, which included important siege equipment, and severely weakened any possibility of assault on Jerusalem, which must be completed quickly in the face of the oncoming winter rains.
Most disastrous of all, and contrary to standard procedure, he failed to secure the heights of the hilltops beneath which the army had to pass, allowing instead the rebel seized these strategic positions. As a result, the Romans suffered heavily as they negotiated the pass at Beth-Horon, not once but twice — when advancing on Jerusalem and again on the retreat.
Now, that he put in a period of war he thought it was time to capture, city but through the treacherous persuasions of his officers, instead of pursuing his advantages, they fled from the city with the utmost precipitation. The Jewish rebels, however, pursued him and his army as far as Antipatris, and, with little loss to themselves, killing nearly six thousand men. After this disaster had befallen Cestius, (Josephus said) Cestius forsook Jerusalem as men does a sinking ship.
To the Jewish, rebels the defeat of an entire Roman Legion, augmented with auxiliary troops, seemed like a miracle from God. There can be hardly any doubt that the hand of Heaven was in the sudden and inexplicable retreat of Cestius. However the Jews never won another war.
The warning of Jesus was remembered and wisely followed by the Christians afterwards. All who believed in Christ left Jerusalem and fled to Pella, and other places beyond the river Jordan; and so they all escaped the doomed city and history does not record that even one CHRISTIAN perished in the siege of Jerusalem. All this happened during Jesus contemporary generation. This effectively answers the question: Was the Great Tribulation Past or Future?