Continuing our study on where is the church in revelation (Part 1 – Where is the Church in Revelation?), we will examine the meat here – “coming out of great tribulation”.
Coming Out Of, erchomenoi ek
Ok now here’s the part you’ve been waiting for… “coming out of great tribulation”. Let’s examine these individually, with the help of concordances!
Coming, erchomenoi, Strong’s 2064
- This verb is defined as meaning “I come, go”.
- The NAS Exhaustive Concordance translates it as:
- arrival (1), arrived (1), brought (1), came (225), come (222), comes (64), coming (87), entered (2), expected (3), fall (2), falls (1), give (1), go (1), going (2), grown (1), lighting (1), next (1), turned (1), went (18).
- Thayer’s Greek Lexicon describes it further as:
- “to come from one place into another”
- “to make one’s appearance”
- “of time, in a future sense”
- “equivalent to to come into being, arise, come forth, show itself, find place or influence”
- Source: http://biblehub.com/greek/2064.htm
Out of, ek, Strong’s 1537
- This word is a preposition, meaning “from out, out from among, from”
- HELPS Word-studies adds “1537 ek (a preposition, written eks before a vowel) – properly, “out from and to” (the outcome); out from within. 1537 /ek (“out of”) is one of the most under-translated (and therefore mis-translated) Greek propositions – often being confined to the meaning “by.” 1537 (ek) has a two-layered meaning (“out from and to“) which makes it out-come oriented (out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object).”
- The NAS Exhaustive Concordance adds that it is a primitive preposition denoting origin
- after (1), against (1), among (18), based (5), basis (2), because (10), belonged* (1), belonging* (1), depends (1), depends* (1), derived (1), grudgingly* (1), heavenly* (1), inspired (1), means (1), over (1), reason (1), result (4), say* (1), since (1), some (3), through (1), under (1), utterly* (1), way (1), without* (1).
- Source: http://biblehub.com/greek/1537.htm
Thus the phrase “coming out of” would seem to suggest this great multitude would come out from among something, arising and showing itself, and finding place. They are coming out of or away from the earth, and finding place in heaven before the throne of God. Let’s examine what else they are coming away from – Great Tribulation.
Great Tribulation, thlipsis megales
Now here’s the crux of the matter. Is this THE period of time known as the “greatest tribulation”?
Great, megales, Strong’s 3173
- An adjective meaning large, great, in the widest sense
- Thayer’s Greek Lexicon adds:
- predicated of the external form or sensible appearance of things or of persons
- of number and quantity, equivalent to numerous, large, abundant
- used of intensity and its’ degrees, equivalent to violent, mighty, strong (it lists Revelation 6:13 here as a reference)
- things to be esteemed highly for their importance; of great moment, of great weight
- on a grand scale
- Source: http://biblehub.com/greek/3173.htm
Tribulation, thlipsis, Strong’s 2347
Original Word: θλῖψις, εως, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Phonetic Spelling: (thlip’-sis)
Short Definition: persecution, affliction, distress
Definition: persecution, affliction, distress, tribulation.
2347 thlípsis – properly, pressure (what constricts or rubs together), used of a narrow place that “hems someone in”; tribulation, especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined (restricted, “without options”).
2347 /thlípsis (“compression, tribulation”) carries the challenge of coping with the internal pressure of a tribulation, especially when feeling there is “no way of escape” (“hemmed in”).
[By contrast, 4730 (stenoxōría) focuses on the external pressure exerted by circumstances.]
- Source: http://biblehub.com/greek/2347.htm
From these definitions we can see that besides “great tribulation”, other possible meanings include “intense pressure, feeling that there is no way of escape”, “hemming someone in without options on a grand scale”, “numerous, or abundant, afflictions or distresses”, “intense persecution”, among others.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. Matthew 24:21 ESV
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus describes a time of “great tribulation” (thlipsis megales), which will begin at the abomination of desolation event. From studying parallel scriptures, we know that this is the period of time in which the saints are delivered into the antichrist’s hand.
Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:17 ESV
Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. Revelation 13:7-8 ESV
This group of saints are those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus, aka true believers. I would assume these also come from all the tribes, peoples, languages, and nations and thus globally represent the Gentiles (the Woman represents believing Israel). The beast (antichrist) is not given authority over the saints, he is given authority over everyone whose name has NOT been written in the Lamb’s book of life. He is, however, allowed to make war on them and conquor (kill) them.
In Matthew 24:21 I believe it is clear from the context that the translation of “thlipsis megales” is equivalent to intense persecution, including martyrdom.
Does Great Tribulation = Intense Persecution?
The question is, does the “great tribulation” that the great multitude comes away from equal the “great tribulation” that the saints will face after the abomination of desolation event? Many scholars (no matter rapture timing stance) say yes, and place Revelation 7 after the abomination of desolation. Is this consistent with the Bible’s other teachings on “great tribulation”? You know I love to dissect things so here goes…
We know that the great multitude arriving in heaven is monumental, and what they are coming away from or out of is also monumental.
We saw that “coming out of” would seem to suggest this great multitude would come out from among something, arise and show itself, and find place. They are coming out of or away from what is happening on the earth, and finding place in heaven before the throne of God.
We saw above that besides “great tribulation”, other possible meanings for thlipsis megales include “intense pressure, feeling that there is no way of escape”, “hemming someone in without options on a grand scale”, “numerous, or abundant, afflictions or distresses”, “intense persecution”, among others.
There is nothing to suggest that the combination of these words together MUST refer to the same period of time, event, or exact meaning.
The Cause of Great Tribulation
If the description of the great multitude was given in Revelation chapter 4, I don’t believe we would be having this discussion. The reason that we are, is that traditionally pre-tribulation scholars place the rapture in Revelation 4 and then don’t know what to say when we clearly show up in heaven in Revelation 7. Hence, we have the prewrath rapture model to contend with.
I am suggesting to you that there IS a way to have us be seen in heaven in Revelation chapter 7, and that it is pretribulation. This should give you a great sigh of relief! If the Seals are a picture of the removal of the Restrainer from the earth, Seals 5 and 6 describe the resurrection and rapture event. The cause of the calamity unfurling upon the earth in Seal 6 is the resurrection and rapture itself.
- Seals, Sealing, and the Ministry of the Holy Spirit
- The Four Horsemen – Seals 1-4
- The Martyrs Under the Altar – Seal 5
- The Blood Moon – Seal 6
Since we go when all the Seals are opened – that the seals opening are part of our escape – we do not experience “great tribulation or wrath”, but those left behind sure do! And we are snatched (one might say, harpazo’d), violently and with great force, out of cataclysmic afflictions raining down upon the earth in our wake. Remember that the dead in Christ kickstart the event. You might want to read about the connections between resurrections to immortality and violent earthquakes:
It seems that the great earthquake discussed in Seal 6 (Revelation 6) is either caused by the resurrection/transformation of believers or immediately follows their resurrection/transformation. I personally believe the global earth shaking may start as the dead in Christ are first raised, and continue as the living are transformed, carrying on while we are all caught up together. The world will then deal with the devastation of the aftershocks, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions while we are safely tucked away in heaven.
I want you to consider that the great multitude showing up in heaven in Seal 6 is a result of the vast resurrection and rapture of the dead and alive in Christ. These are coming away from, or out of, the time and place of intense, abundant, and severe afflictions and distresses coming upon the world. These are coming upon the world BECAUSE of the resurrection / rapture event and the removal of the Restrainer.
Those who are left behind will experience an intense pressure, feeling that there is no way of escape from the monumental catastrophe unfolding. They might even cry something like this:
Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Revelation 6:15-17 ESV
I believe this is clearly pictured in other rapture passages:
While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape… For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:3, 9-10 ESV
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36
I want you to consider that WE are pictured escaping all these things that are going to take place, and standing before the Son of Man in Revelation 7 (Seal 6).
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
For further reading on this I *highly* recommend Douglas Berner’s book “When God Intervenes” as well as David Lowe’s book “Earthquake Resurrection”. A summary of the Earthquake – Resurrection pattern is in my post HERE. A detailed description of the Red Moon Rapture is also given at Beginning and End.
The Bible is infallible. I am not. I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture. I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details. I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!