Jehovah’s Day and Armageddon
There is a day coming, belonging to Jehovah.” (Zech. 14:1,7) This day is variously referred to as “the day of Jehovah”, “the day of Jehovah’s fury”, “the great day of Jehovah”, “Jehovah’s day”, or even “the great day of God the Almighty”, “Armageddon”. (Isaiah 13:9; Ezekiel 7:19; Zephaniah 1:14; 1 Thess. 5:2; Revelation 16:14,16) Concerning that day Jehovah says: “And I shall certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah. —Ezekiel 38:23
How will Jehovah magnify himself and sanctify himself before the eyes of many nations on the day that belongs to him? The situation will come about when “expressions inspired by demons . . . go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” at Armageddon. (Rev. 16:14,16) These "expressions" inspired by demons come from their ruler, Satan the Devil, the enemy of God and his people. (Matt. 9:34; 1 Peter 5:8) In the book of Ezekiel Satan, under the cryptic or symbolic name of Gog, is seen massing all of earth's nations against God, his Son, and God’s faithful servants. The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge comments: “Gog appears as the leader of the last hostile attack of the world-powers upon the kingdom of God.” —see Ezekiel 38:14-22
In the book of Revelation we have a picture of that war of Armageddon where God’s heavenly armies of angels are led by a rider on a white horse, identified by the names “the Lamb,” “The Word of God” and “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (Rev. 17:14; 19:11-16) The war will be decisive. It will mean the end of all God’s enemies.
And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse and with his army. And the wild beast was caught, and along with it the false prophet that performed in front of it the signs with which he misled those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who render worship to its image. While still alive, they both were hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulphur. But the rest were killed off with the long sword of the one seated on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth. And all the birds were filled from the fleshy parts of them. —Revelation 19:19-21
Not a person on earth will be able to avoid being involved in the events brought on by Jehovah’s day. His war will be against all the wicked on earth. (Psalms 37:10,20; 2 Peter 3:5-7) Listen to how the prophet Zephaniah describes it:
The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much. The sound of the day of Jehovah is bitter. There a mighty man is letting out a cry. That day is a day of fury, a day of distress and of anguish, a day of storm and of desolation, a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick gloom, a day of horn and of alarm signal, against the fortified cities and against the high corner towers. And I will cause distress to mankind, and they will certainly walk like blind men; because it is against Jehovah that they have sinned. And their blood will actually be poured out like dust, and their bowels like the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury; but by the fire of his zeal the whole earth will be devoured, because he will make an extermination, indeed a terrible one, of all the inhabitants of the earth. —Zephaniah 1:14-18
The prophecy says that Jehovah’s day of fury will bring distress and anguish, storm and desolation, darkness and gloominess. It will result in the “extermination, indeed a terrible one, of all the inhabitants of the earth.” This will be by far the most distressing time in human history.
The Great Tribulation
Jesus also spoke of this time of distress or tribulation. He emphasizes the severity of it by saying that this tribulation will be unique in human history.
for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short. —Matthew 24:21,22
The great tribulation describes what Jehovah’s day is about. Never before in all human history was there such a time of distress, or tribulation, brought upon all mankind, and neither will there ever be such a time again. It will be so severe, so terrible, so far reaching that unless God intervened in order to shorten that time there would be no survivors, but as Jesus says, on account of his chosen ones he will cut short his day of fury, the time of the great tribulation. That indicates that there will be survivors. The prophet Isaiah also indicates that there will be those who will escape Jehovah’s day.
Look! The day of Jehovah itself is coming, cruel both with fury and with burning anger, in order to make the land an object of astonishment, and that it may annihilate [the land’s] sinners out of it. . . I shall make mortal man rarer than refined gold, and earthling man [rarer] than the gold of Ophir. That is why I shall cause heaven itself to become agitated, and the earth will rock out of its place at the fury of Jehovah of armies and at the day of his burning anger. —Isaiah 13:9-13
Earthling man will become “rarer than the gold of Ophir.” The gold of Ophir would be a fitting symbol of any survivors for it was renowned for its finest quality. (Job 28:15,16; 1 Kings 9:27,28) Through Zephaniah his prophet, Jehovah tells “mortal man” what action we must take before that fear-inspiring day arrives in order to be concealed.
Before [the] statute gives birth to anything, before the day has passed by just like chaff, before there comes upon YOU people the burning anger of Jehovah, before there comes upon YOU the day of Jehovah’s anger, seek Jehovah, all YOU meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably YOU may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger. —Zephaniah 2:2,3
One would have had to already been worshipping the true God, and seeking his righteousness along with meekness, before the arrival of the day of Jehovah’s anger, in order to be concealed and survive. (Psalms 37:11, 29; Matt. 5:5; 6:33) A large crowd with such fine qualities is shown to survive this greatest of tribulations. In the book of Revelation the apostle John sees them in vision:
After these things I saw, and, look! A great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: Salvation [we owe] to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb. . . . These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. —Revelation 7:9-14
In obedience to God’s instructions for survival, as told by Zephaniah, this great crowd had been seeking Jehovah and accepted the ransom of his Son, having washed their robes and made them white in his blood, before the day of Jehovah’s anger. They had been part of God’s household prior to this time of tribulation and were “saved with difficulty” when God’s judgment started with his own house. —1 Peter 4:17,18
After God judges his own household there will be no further need for him to judge them again at some future time, as if there would still be a large influx of others who would also need to be judged. Jehovah will at this time have a cleansed people whom he will “conceal” in the day of his anger. His day of fury and anger will start immediately after having judged his own household when he will turn his attention to Babylon the Great. Any who are then still found within her midst will share in her fate, for they will have ignored his warning to “get out of her.” (Rev. 18:4) Her destruction will come suddenly and be swift, as if within one hour. (Rev. 17:15-17; 18:8, 10, 17, 19) It will turn out just as the apostle Peter asked, “And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the godless and wicked?” —1 Peter 4:18, Amplified Bible
Obedience to God and heeding his warnings will have been the key for survival. The apostle Paul says in this regard,
This takes into account that it is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for YOU, but, to YOU who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength, at the time he comes to be glorified in connection with his holy ones and to be regarded in that day with wonder in connection with all those who exercised faith, because the witness we gave met with faith among YOU. —2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
Having destroyed Babylon the Great, that age-old system of demon worship Jehovah will next war with the nations —1 Cor. 10:20
For the day of Jehovah against all the nations is near. In the way that you have done, it will be done to you. Your sort of treatment will return upon your own head. —Obadiah 15
Look! There is a day coming, belonging to Jehovah, and the spoil of you will certainly be apportioned out in the midst of you. And I shall certainly gather all the nations against Jerusalem for the war . . . And Jehovah will certainly go forth and war against those nations as in the day of his warring, in the day of fight. —Zechariah 14:1-9
Yes, Jehovah will war against all the nations in his battle of Armageddon, with his Son leading the heavenly armies. This will turn out to be the worst time of tribulation the world has ever seen in all the thousands of years of its existence, and it will never be repeated. Nothing will be able to deliver them. Valuables, that turned the engine of the economy and in which mankind had trusted, will prove useless.
Into the streets they will throw their very silver, and an abhorrent thing their own gold will become. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury. Their souls they will not satisfy, and their intestines they will not fill, for it has become a stumbling block causing their error. —Ezekiel 7:19
We cannot even imagine, at the present time, the severity of Jehovah’s day. But it will come, for our Creator has forewarned us. In clear to understand language he has explained what he is about to do, for we need to take action before his day of fury arrives. Jehovah has provided a means of escape, and it is dependent upon our obedience to act upon what he has told us.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days”
Because of Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days,” many, because of their interpretation of the events Jesus mentions would follow, believe that the great tribulation and Armageddon must be two distinct and separate events. That is not possible. What I am presenting here is an alternative scriptural view of those events. Since what Jesus said was in symbolic language, such as “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven,” the correct understanding will become clear only when the time of their fulfillment arrives. We may even come to realize that we did not apply Jesus' words correctly, when he said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days.”
When Jesus said, concerning the great tribulation, that it would be "such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again", he ruled out any future such tribulation. It would prove to be the greatest tribulation of all times. That is very clear. We are not given that information in symbolic language. But what will happen before, during and immediately after the tribulation is given in signs, which will not be understood until the time of their fulfillment. There is no shortage of those who claim to have special insight into interpreting these symbolically described events. Through the centuries, and especially in our own time, these have had to be continually discarded for more up-to-date explanations. The truth is, though, that these "times or seasons" do not belong to us to get knowledge of. As Jesus said, "You don't need to know the time of those events that only the Father controls." —Acts 1:7, CEV)
For that reason, Jehovah has seen fit to have those matters written in "signs" and symbols; made "secret" and to be understood only during the actual fulfillment, or even after all things have taken place. (Daniel 12:4, 9, NWT) At Revelation 1:1 we are told that Jesus presented the revelation, that he received from God, to his servant the apostle John, in "signs" (from the Greek "semaino," which, according to Strong's Dictionary means "to give a sign, to signify, indicate;" to sema is a "sign" or "signal.")
Therefore, rather than fix the time of the great tribulation according to our personal understanding of the events which are symbolically described by Jesus, including the book of Revelation, we must place the foretold events in the timeframe of what is known for certain about the great tribulation. If it is the greatest of all tribulations then a separate Armageddon can not be possible, can it? When Jesus said, “unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short,” we might ask: Who survives the great tribulation? Does Jehovah cut short the days of the tribulation in order to preserve the nations so that he can destroy them after this, at a separate war of Armageddon? If there were a separate battle of Armageddon in which all the nations would be destroyed, would that not make it greater than the great tribulation?
Zephaniah said, "Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury; but by the fire of his zeal the whole earth will be devoured, because he will make an extermination, indeed a terrible one, of all the inhabitants of the earth.” (Zephaniah 1:18) If this describes Armageddon then it is far worse than the great tribulation, is it not, for "all the inhabitants of the earth" will be exterminated. But if this describes the great tribulation, then who will be left to perish at Armageddon?
Jesus’ prophecy concerning the great tribulation is clear, plainly explained, for in order to come out of it, the survivors needed to have taken action ahead of time. But once the tribulation is over, having being cut short by God, there is nothing further those survivors can do to influence what will happen next, concerning "events that only the Father controls." That is why, in his prophecy, Jesus speaks in symbolic language,
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity. —Matthew 24:29-31
Although, it does not at this time belong to us to understand all the details of this prophecy, we can consider the significance of the time immediately after the tribulation. Just as Jehovah had brought about his foretold day of vengeance upon all the nations, it will now be the time when he will carry out his purpose towards this earth and bless all obedient mankind. Those who trusted in Jehovah, and had acted upon his warning proclamation of the good news of the kingdom, will now be in a unique situation. Never before had so many survived a global destruction of the wicked to have a fresh start in worshipping Jehovah, without any influence of wicked spirit forces. By means of the established kingdom rule of Christ Jesus the benefits of the ransom will now be applied to all mankind.
What will await the survivors of the great tribulation? In symbolic language Jesus tells them:
the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light
Jesus said that “immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.” We all agree that this will not happen literally. When Peter was addressing the crowd at Pentecost and explained what they had just witnessed by the outpouring of the holy spirit, he quoted from the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32:
But Peter stood up with the eleven and raised his voice and made this utterance to them: “Men of Judea and all YOU inhabitants of Jerusalem, let this be known to YOU and give ear to my sayings. These [people] are, in fact, not drunk, as YOU suppose, for it is the third hour of the day. On the contrary, this is what was said through the prophet Joel, ‘“And in the last days,” God says, “I shall pour out some of my spirit upon every sort of flesh, and YOUR sons and YOUR daughters will prophesy and YOUR young men will see visions and YOUR old men will dream dreams; and even upon my men slaves and upon my women slaves I will pour out some of my spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. And I will give portents in heaven above and signs on earth below, blood and fire and smoke mist; the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and illustrious day of Jehovah arrives. And everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.”’ —Acts 2:14-21
Did Jehovah on that occasion actually produce blood and fire and smoke mist? Was the sun turned into darkness and the moon into blood? But, if this did not literally take place and this part of Joel’s prophecy did not apply to this historic day of Pentecost, as some claim, then why did Peter quote it? Was it a misapplication of prophecy? Or are we reading things into Jehovah’s symbolic prophecies that are not intended? The supernatural phenomena that Joel spoke of and Peter quoted applied at Pentecost, otherwise Peter would not have mentioned them; but not in the way that many students of the Bible would expect. For example, could the moon turning into blood perhaps refer to Jesus' shed blood on the day of the full moon, Nisan 14?
When Jehovah gave Israel the Law at Mount Sinai and made the covenant with them, he made his presence evident by literally causing the mountain to tremble and smoke. There was thunder and lightnings, heavy smoke and fire, and a heavy cloud causing darkness and thick gloom, "due to the fact that Jehovah came down upon it in fire." —Exodus 19:16-18
So YOU people came near and stood at the base of the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire up to midheaven; there was darkness, cloud and thick gloom. —Deut. 4:11
It might be good to pose the question at this time, why did Jehovah cause those fear-inspiring events at Mount Sinai? Was it just to impress on the people the fact that he is all powerful? Or was there more to it? We know that Jehovah employs symbolisms to a very large extent when communicating with his people. His word the Bible is abounding with symbolisms. Why did he cause the mountain to burn with fire, which lit up the darkness? What did the darkness, cloud and thick gloom symbolize? Did it perhaps represent the fact that he is the source of light, and apart from him there is only darkness, cloud and thick gloom? That he gives light amidst the darkness and thick gloom? (Isaiah 60:2) That the law he was giving to his people on that occasion would mean light and life for them? (Psalms 119:105; Proverbs 6:23; Isaiah 51:4) To understand Jehovah's symbolic language we must be able to discern what he represents by it. We must see it from Jehovah's viewpoint. Failing to interpret it correctly would cause us to look in the wrong direction and have false expectations.
Do the phenomena, mentioned by the apostle Peter, as he quotes from the prophecy in Joel, symbolically refer to the fact that Jehovah made his presence felt at Pentecost, like he did at Mt. Sinai, when the new covenant replaced the old one? Does the sun turning to darkness and the moon into blood represent the same as did the darkness, cloud and thick gloom on that first occasion? And when he poured out his holy spirit upon the 120 disciples was he now enabling them to let their light shine brightly, the same his son had done while he was with them? (Matt. 5:14; John 12:35,36) Is that what the “tongues as if of fire” represented? —Acts 2:3
The disciples could not have foreseen the events that took place on that day, although having the prophecy of Joel available, and neither can we know in advance the detailed fulfillment of certain events “immediately after the tribulation.”
All of earth's governments will be gone after the greatest of all tribulations. That is clear. Daniel's prophecy regarding God's kingdom, pictured by the stone that was cut out of the mountain, not with hands, crushed all these kingdoms and became a large mountain and filled the earth. Yes, God's kingdom, that Jesus taught us to pray for, will now be in power, ruling. (Daniel 2:34-45; Matt. 6:10) His kingdom will shine as brightly as did Mount Sinai when it "was burning with fire up to midheaven." In Isaiah this kingdom rule is pictured as so bright that it can be said, in comparison: “The full moon has become abashed, and the glowing sun has become ashamed, for Jehovah of armies has become king in Mount Zion.” (Isaiah 24:23) In this way it can be said that immediately after the tribulation it will be as if "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light."
and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken
There is still one battle remaining for the now ruling king, Christ Jesus. Mankind will also need to be freed from the rule of Satan and his demon angels before there can be any peace. (John 12:31) Therefore, immediately after the tribulation upon all the nations, Satan and his angels will be put out of action.
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed [it] over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while. —Rev. 20:1-3
Could Jesus be referring to this when he says, “and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken?” —compare Revelation 12:3,4, 7-9; Ephesians 6:12
And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven,
The apostle John had seen in vision a great sign in heaven at the birth of the Messianic kingdom. (Rev. 12:1-15; Dan. 7:13,14) By the time of the great tribulation that kingdom had already been born, and now exercised its power and authority by removing all other kingdoms. The great crowd of survivors will have seen and understood what that great sign in heaven was. They will now also understand the sign of the Son of Man that will appear in heaven, when their king, Christ Jesus, will make himself known to the tribulation survivors, for he "will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life." —Rev. 7:17
and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation
Who might "all the tribes of the earth" be who "beat themselves in lamentation"? Most translations render it, "all the nations of the earth will mourn." (KJ, NIV, NRS, NASB, NLT, ESV) Please note, there is no mention of any further destruction of the nations after the great tribulation. Therefore, these "nations of the earth" must refer to those who survived. Who will be left after the great tribulation? The chosen ones, on whose behalf Jehovah cut short the days, and the great crowd that came out of it. This great crowd is said to be out of "all nations and tribes and people and tongues." (Rev. 7:9, 14) Why would they be spoken of as mourning? Do they not have reason to rejoice, having survived the greatest of all tribulations?
Think of the survivors of the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers in New York, on September 11, 2001. Did they rejoice for having escaped with their lives, or were they not rather traumatized? Can you imagine the pain that will be felt by those who will have witnessed and survived the greatest of all destructions the world has ever seen? Perhaps they lost friends or relatives, acquaintances and neighbors. And maybe they were in a constant state of fear for the duration of the tribulation, worrying whether they were worthy of Jehovah's protection. The emotions of the survivors may well be like those who witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day,
My heart, my heart--I writhe in pain! My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still. . . I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless. I looked at the heavens, and there was no light. I looked at the mountains and hills, and they trembled and shook. I looked, and all the people were gone. All the birds of the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness. The cities lay in ruins, crushed by the LORD's fierce anger. —Jeremiah 4:19-26, New Living Translation
Jeremiah survived the destruction of Jerusalem and yet lamented,
Is it nothing to all you who are passing along the way? Look and see. Does there exist any pain like my pain that has been severely dealt out to me, with which Jehovah has caused grief in the day of his burning anger? —Lamentations 1:12
We should not imagine that the earth will be a paradise immediately after the tribulation. Everything will look desolate and gloomy, as the prophets describe it. Jehovah did not want to destroy the wicked, but rather that they would repent and turn back from their ways and keep living. (Ezekiel 18:23) Do we not feel like Jehovah in that? For a certainty, the survivors of the great tribulation will be in need of being comforted. Jehovah has promised to do that in connection with his day of executing his enemies.
”I will comfort you there as a child is comforted by its mother. … When you see these things, your heart will rejoice. Vigorous health will be yours! Everyone will see the good hand of the LORD on his people--and his anger against his enemies. See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his swift chariots of destruction roar like a whirlwind. He will bring punishment with the fury of his anger and the flaming fire of his hot rebuke. The LORD will punish the world by fire and by his sword, and many will be killed by the LORD. As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear," says the LORD. —Isaiah 66:13-16,22, New Living Translation
Yes, the mourning of the survivors of the great tribulation will soon turn to rejoicing, when Jehovah comforts them with vigorous health, and when they see "the good hand of the LORD" upon them, in contrast to what Jehovah did to his enemies.
Also Jeremiah speaks of Jehovah comforting his people at that time,
At that time the virgin will rejoice in the dance, also the young men and the old men, all together. And I will change their mourning into exultation, and I will comfort them and make them rejoice away from their grief. —Jeremiah 31:13
Regarding the great crowd of tribulation survivors, it says that Jehovah "will spread his tent over them... and [he] will wipe out every tear from their eyes." Yes, immediately after the tribulation Jehovah will need to comfort the mourning survivors. (Rev. 7:15-17)
and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory
Back in Moses' day Jehovah had delivered his people out of Egypt and brought them to Mount Sinai where he made a covenant with them. The prophet Malachi draws our attention to that occasion in connection with Jehovah's day.
For, look! the day is coming that is burning like the furnace, and all the presumptuous ones and all those doing wickedness must become as stubble. And the day that is coming will certainly devour them,” Jehovah of armies has said, “so that it will not leave to them either root or bough. And to YOU who are in fear of my name the sun of righteousness will certainly shine forth, with healing in its wings; and YOU will actually go forth and paw the ground like fattened calves.” “And YOU people will certainly tread down [the] wicked ones, for they will become as powder under the soles of YOUR feet in the day on which I am acting,” Jehovah of armies has said. “Remember, YOU people, the law of Moses my servant with which I commanded him in Horeb concerning all Israel, even regulations and judicial decisions. —Malachi 4:1-4
Why would those "who are in fear of my name," the survivors of the great tribulation, have their attention drawn to the time when God's people received the law of Moses at Horeb, that is, Mount Sinai? Perhaps because of the events that took place on that occasion. Jehovah used terrifying manifestations of his presence to instill fear in the people, in order for them not to forget how they received the law and that they would be sure to obey it throughout their future.
And on the third day when it became morning it came about that thunders and lightnings began occurring, and a heavy cloud upon the mountain and a very loud sound of a horn, so that all the people who were in the camp began to tremble. Moses now brought the people out of the camp to meet the [true] God, and they went taking their stand at the base of the mountain. And Mount Sinai smoked all over, due to the fact that Jehovah came down upon it in fire; and its smoke kept ascending like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain was trembling very much. When the sound of the horn became continually louder and louder, Moses began to speak, and the [true] God began to answer him with a voice. —Exodus 19:16-19
Now all the people were seeing the thunders and the lightning flashes and the sound of the horn and the mountain smoking. When the people got to see it, then they quivered and stood at a distance. And they began to say to Moses: “You speak with us, and let us listen; but let not God speak with us for fear we may die.” So Moses said to the people: “Do not be afraid, because for the sake of putting YOU to the test the [true] God has come, and in order that the fear of him may continue before YOUR faces that YOU may not sin.” And the people kept standing at a distance, but Moses went near to the dark cloud mass where the [true] God was. —Exodus 20:18-21
Jehovah provided visible evidence of his presence; thunders and lightnings, a heavy cloud upon the mountain and a loud horn. The whole mountain trembled and there was smoke and fire, symbolizing Jehovah coming down to them. The purpose in this was, as Moses said, in order that “the fear of [Jehovah] may continue before your faces that you may not sin.” Although the people had witnessed what Jehovah had done to the Egyptians in the way of the ten plagues, and saw Pharaoh’s army destroyed in the Red Sea, they still needed a display of Jehovah’s power more personally, to have impressed on them the serious consequence of disobedience to the law they were now receiving. Could it be that Jehovah will once again provide fear inspiring events to the survivors of the great tribulation for the same reason?
The apostle Paul makes a modern application of that event at Mount Sinai to those who have approached a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem.
For YOU have not approached that which can be felt and which has been set aflame with fire, and a dark cloud and thick darkness and a tempest, and the blare of a trumpet and the voice of words; on hearing which voice the people implored that no word should be added to them. For the command was not bearable to them: “And if a beast touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” Also, the display was so fearsome that Moses said: “I am fearful and trembling.” But YOU have approached a Mount Zion and a city of [the] living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels, in general assembly, and the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens, and God the Judge of all, and the spiritual lives of righteous ones who have been made perfect, and Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling, which speaks in a better way than Abel’s [blood]. See that YOU do not beg off from him who is speaking. For if they did not escape who begged off from him who was giving divine warning upon earth, much more shall we not if we turn away from him who speaks from the heavens. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, saying: “Yet once more I will set in commotion not only the earth but also the heaven.” Now the expression “Yet once more” signifies the removal of the things being shaken as things that have been made, in order that the things not being shaken may remain. —Hebrews 12:18-27
If even Moses was fearful due to the mighty manifestations of Jehovah's presence at Mount Sinai imagine how much more so the people were. Is this what we can expect to happen “immediately after the tribulation?” Is this, in some way, an indication how the tribulation survivors “see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,” as Jesus says? (Matt. 24:30) Will there likewise be visible manifestations for a similar reason?
And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.
Jehovah had cut short the days of the great tribulation on account of the chosen ones, otherwise no flesh would have been saved, not even theirs, and it is now time for the Son of man to send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, (also reminiscent of the horn sounding at Mt. Sinai) to gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity. (Matt. 24:31) That definitely seems to indicate that there will be anointed chosen ones left on earth who survived the destruction of this system.
Jesus' mentioning "the four winds," from which his chosen ones are gathered, draws our attention to "the four winds" he spoke of in the Revelation he gave to his apostle John. There they are associated with the great tribulation.
After this I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow upon the earth or upon the sea or upon any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrising, having a 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, saying: "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads. —Revelation 7:1-3
Here we have pictured four angels holding back the four winds of the earth, in order not to harm the earth and the sea, until after the slaves of God have been sealed. Once the sealing has been accomplished the angels let loose the four winds, which unleashes the great tribulation. Later in the chapter, verses 9 and 14, a great crowd is seen as having survived this tribulation. Now, his chosen ones must be gathered together from the four winds. Obviously, that cannot happen until after they have been unleashed, for there are no four winds (the great tribulation) before then.
The Son of man now instructs his angels to gather together his chosen ones, on whose account the tribulation was cut short, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity. Undoubtedly, it will now be time for the marriage of the Lamb.
And I heard what was as a voice of a great crowd and as a sound of many waters and as a sound of heavy thunders. They said: "Praise Jah, YOU people, because Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king. Let us rejoice and be overjoyed, and let us give him the glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has arrived and his wife has prepared herself. Yes, it has been granted to her to be arrayed in bright, clean, fine linen, for the fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the holy ones. —Revelation 19:6-8
According to Revelation chapters 17 to 19, it appears that the marriage of the Lamb takes place right after the destruction of Babylon the Great, and before the destruction of the nations. But the book of Revelation is not written in the order of events. Neither was it written with chapters and verses. The destruction of Babylon the Great and the marriage of the Lamb, although written on the same scroll, was not included in the same chapter when it was recorded by the apostle John.
It would not seem reasonable that the marriage would take place before Jesus has defeated all his enemies on earth, and has hurled Satan and his demons into the abyss. (Rev. 20:1-3) Jesus had promised his disciples that he was going away to prepare a place for them and then return to receive them home to himself. It is only after everything has been prepared by him, and is ready, that the bridegroom returns to receive the bride. (John 3:29; 14:2,3) The marriage does not take place until after "Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king”, by means of his son. (Luke 22:29,30; Rev. 3:21; 19:6) Accordingly, in the prophetic description of events in Psalms 45, the enthroned king rides forth to the conquest of his enemies, (verses 1-7) and after that the marriage is performed (verses 8-15)
Someone may ask: Since the bride of the Lamb is said to be dressed in "bright, clean, fine linen," are they not shown, in the book of Revelation, to be fighting with her husband against "all the kings of the earth and their armies?" —Rev. 19:8, 14, 19
Who is it that is involved in fighting this war against the nations?
And I saw the heaven opened, and, look! a white horse. And the one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. His eyes are a fiery flame, and upon his head are many diadems. He has a name written that no one knows but he himself, and he is arrayed with an outer garment sprinkled with blood, and the name he is called is The Word of God. Also, the armies that were in heaven were following him on white horses, and they were clothed in white, clean, fine linen. And out of his mouth there protrudes a sharp long sword, that he may strike the nations with it, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron. He treads too the winepress of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty. And upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. —Revelation 19:11-16
The one leading the armies of the heavens is called "Faithful and True," also known as "The Word of God," and "King of kings and Lord of lords." That is none other than Jesus Christ. And who are "the armies that were in heaven," that were following him on white horses, "clothed in white, clean, fine linen?" Those are the angels, not his bride. The apostle Paul tells us,
This takes into account that it is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for YOU, but, to YOU who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. —2 Thessalonians 1:6-8
Jesus will fight the battle of Armageddon with his powerful, holy angels, who are shown "clothed with clean, bright linen".(see Rev. 15:5,6) It is a righteous war. (Matt. 25:31; Mark 8:38; Daniel 10:5) His bride will not be united with him until after all enemies have been vanquished. She will not participate in the war against the nations. The marriage will then be a joyous occasion.
As we have seen, Jehovah's day will mean an extermination of all the wicked. He will remove all the nations and kingdoms of the earth. (2 Peter 3:5-13; Dan. 2:44) It will be the most distressing time in all of human history, never to be repeated. Jesus' words will prove true, "unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved”. A great crowd, out of all nations, will survive that great tribulation. They will have been seeking righteousness and meekness before the day of Jehovah's anger arrived, by washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb; that is, exercising faith in the ransom that made salvation possible for them. (Zeph. 2:2,3; Rev. 7:14) They will witness exciting things “immediately after the tribulation.” But they will have to be present at that time to see how all of the prophecies, given in signs, will actually unfold in all their details.
The above, under the heading “Immediately after the tribulation of those days,” has been written as an alternative explanation of the signs and symbolic language, to counter the many varied interpretations put forth by the self-appointed prophets, and to show that God's symbolic language can be interpreted in more ways than what they offer. I do not claim to have any special insight when it comes to understanding prophecies that the Father "has placed in his own jurisdiction" and has made secret and sealed up until the time of their fulfillment. When the appointed time comes we will all understand, without any need of help from private interpreters. —Dan. 12:4, 9; Acts 1:7
The evidence helps us to conclude that The Great Tribulation is Jehovah's Day, as is Armageddon. They are all referring to the same event. And the prophecies help us to understand enough as to know what action we must take in order to "come out of the great tribulation." (Rev. 7:9, 14) As to the actual fulfillment of events taking place "immediately after the tribulation of those days," according to Matthew 24:29, that remains to be seen. Personally, I believe that "the tribulation of those days," that Jesus refers to in this case, applies not to the great tribulation but rather to the days of distress, or tribulation, that lead up to Christ's coming. —Matt. 24:32,33
Then people will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name. Then, also, many will be stumbled and will betray one another and will hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off. But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved. —Matt. 24:9-13
The apostle Paul calls this period of tribulation the "last days," marked by "critical times hard to deal with," or "perilous times of great stress and trouble," according to the Amplified Bible:
BUT UNDERSTAND this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. [They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. [They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them]. —2 Tim 3:1-7, Amplified Bible
This defined period of time leading up to Christ's arrival will indeed be "perilous times of great stress and trouble," "hard to deal with and hard to bear." But it will pale in comparison to the great tribulation shortly after, when Jehovah will wage war against all his enemies. It will be the war to end all wars. Rev. 16:14, 16; 19:11-21; Zeph. 1:14-18
In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever. —Daniel 2:44, Holman Christian Standard Bible
The setting up of God's kingdom will mean the removal of all traces of Satan's system. Happy will all survivors be, a great crowd, who come out of that great tribulation. They had not lost sight of Jehovah's promises, nor lost faith in them, in spite of the days of tribulation, or time of great stress, that they had to endure while waiting for the arrival of their Master, Christ Jesus. Finally, the long yearned for and promised peace will come to all the earth by means of the Messianic kingdom.
For yet a little while, and the evildoers will be no more; though you look with care where they used to be, they will not be found. But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. —Psalms 37:10,11, Amplified Bible
Regarding the Great Tribulation
It is clear from Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts that Jesus was speaking about two distinct events, namely the coming “days for meting out justice,” where Jesus specifically mentions Jerusalem, Judea and the mountains to flee to, and “the great tribulation,” which he mentions in Matthew chapter 24. (Luke 21:20-24; Matt. 24:21) He again refers to this great tribulation almost thirty years after the destruction of Jerusalem, in Revelation chapter 7. (Rev. 7:14)
Please note what is said concerning any survivors of the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place in 70 C.E., that they would “be led captive into all the nations.” (Luke 21:24) But those coming out of “the great tribulation” are seen dressed in white robes, they are before the throne of God and are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple. —Rev. 7:14-17
The two events have two totally different outcomes. The outcome of the one event does not parallel the second event. Therefore, we cannot take everything that Jesus said concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and make a parallel application to the great tribulation yet to come. It takes discernment to distinguish what applied to the destruction of Jerusalem and what Jesus said would take place concerning the great tribulation. Lack of this discernment will lead to unfulfilled expectations and disappointment.
Contrary to what some are preaching, Jesus did not urge his disciples to leave God’s household and “flee to the mountains,” at some point before the great tribulation begins. Jehovah will not destroy his household of servants the way he destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Rather, Jesus promised that “in the conclusion of the system of things” he would “collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness.” (Matt. 13:40, 41) The apostle Peter tells us that the righteous within God’s house will be saved, while the ungodly and the sinners, those “who are not obedient to the good news of God,” will perish. (1 Peter 4:17, 18; 2 Thess. 1:7-9) The righteous “members of the household of God” will be “the ones that come out of the great tribulation,” having had God’s protection. —Eph. 2:19; Rev. 7:14; Ps. 37:37-39; Zeph. 2:3