Matthew 24:21-31 (BSB) 21 For at that time there will be great tribulation, unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short.
23 At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you in advance.
26 So if they tell you, ‘There He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days:
‘The sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’
30 At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Mark 13:19-27 (BSB) 19 For those will be days of tribulation unmatched from the beginning of God’s creation until now, and never to be seen again. 20 If the Lord had not cut short those days, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom He has chosen, He has cut them short.
21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There He is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance.
24 But in those days, after that tribulation:
‘The sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’
26 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And He will send out the angels to gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
In the prior lessons on Luke's gospel about the end times, we've talked about the birth pangs and how they began in the early days after Jesus' resurrection and ascension into Heaven. They have continued throughout our history, growing stronger with each ebb. But in these verses we see that just before Jesus comes back things will be worse than any time in history. Unprecedented terrors. Let's look at the descriptions of human reactions:
"Dismay among the nations"
"Bewildered by the roaring of the sea and the surging of the waves"
"Men will faint from fear and anxiety"
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
dismay - συνοχὴ (synochē) - Noun - Nominative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 4928: Distress, anguish, anxiety. From sunecho; restraint, i.e. anxiety.
bewildered - ἀπορίᾳ (aporia) - Noun - Dative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 640: Perplexity, anxiety, doubt. From the same as aporeo; a quandary.
will faint - ἀποψυχόντων (apopsychontōn) - Verb - Present Participle Active - Genitive Masculine Plural
Strong's Greek 674: To faint, breathe out life, die, be dismayed. From apo and psucho; to breathe out, i.e. Faint.
fear - φόβου (phobou) - Noun - Genitive Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 5401: (a) fear, terror, alarm, (b) the object or cause of fear, (c) reverence, respect. From a primary phebomai; alarm or fright.
προσδοκίας (prosdokias) - Noun - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 4329: Expectation, waiting. From prosdokao; apprehension; by implication, infliction anticipated.
Things will be happening that are so scary and frightening that people will faint, swoon, or have a heart attack and die of fright!
Yes, we have seen things in this world that have frightened us. But the scripture here is saying it will be "unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again" and "unmatched from the beginning of God’s creation until now, and never to be seen again".
Just think about the horrors humanity has witnessed since the beginning of the world and realize it will be worse than any of those. Because of modern science and technology, we have more human beings in this world than ever before. So these judgments will end with the loss of more lives than any other time in history. For instance, the first known incidence of the Bubonic Plague was the Justinian Plague of 541-542 with re-occurrences up to 750 AD. They estimate that 25–50 million people, during two centuries of recurrence, died which was equivalent to 13–26% of the world's population at the time of the first outbreak. Today's world population is estimated at 7.8 billion people. What would 13% of 7.8 billion be? 1,014,000,000 people. So you see, simply because of the increase in population, the percentage of deaths would be far above the Bubonic Plague of Justinian. World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. It affected every country in the world. There were an estimated 75 million people, military and civilians, that died which was 3% of the world's population at that time. With today's population of 7.8 billion people, what would 3% be? 234,000,000! If you want to see the death tolls of natural disasters over history click HERE.
But the Bible says it will be worse than anything in history. Not only in intensity, but in deaths. Lets look at what Revelation says:
Seals of Judgment
1st seal is a rider on a white horse, the anti-Christ. He deceives many and will wage war against the saints.
2nd seal is a rider on the red horse who slays many people through war.
3rd seal is a rider on black horse which spreads famine.
4th seal is a rider on a pale horse who kills with plagues and disease.
5th seal is martyrs asking God how long until God judges the earth.
6th seal are catastrophic natural disasters.
7th seal is silence before the beginning of the Trumpet Judgments
1st Trumpet is hail, fire, blood raining down on earth
2nd Trumpet is a burning mountain which falls into the sea killing 1/3 of the sea life.
3rd Trumpet is a star called Wormwood which falls and poisons 1/3 of the freshwater life.
4th Trumpet is 1/3 of the moon, stars and sun will darken.
5th Trumpet is demonic "locusts" who sting non-believers for 5 months.
6th Trumpet is the release of 4 demons (fallen angels) to kill 1/3 of the remaining population.
7th Trumpet is the beginning of the Bowl Judgments
1st Bowl are painful sores breaking out on people.
2nd Bowl is the death of every living thing in the sea
3rd Bowl is turning rivers into blood.
4th Bowl is intensifying the sun's heat which burns people.
5th Bowl is great darkness.
6th Bowl is the advance of the anti-Christ's armies around Jerusalem.
7th Bowl is a devastating earthquake with huge hail.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be easily disconcerted or alarmed by any spirit or message or letter seeming to be from us, alleging that the Day of the Lord has already come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way, for it will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness—the son of destruction—is revealed. 4 He will oppose and exalt himself above every so-called god or object of worship. So he will seat himself in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
5 Do you not remember that I told you these things while I was still with you? 6 And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one who now restrains it will continue until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the breath of His mouth and annihilate by the majesty of His arrival.
9 The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by the working of Satan, with every kind of power, sign, and false wonder, 10 and with every wicked deception directed against those who are perishing, because they refused the love of the truth that would have saved them. 11 For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, 12 in order that judgment will come upon all who have disbelieved the truth and delighted in wickedness.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will be the first to rise. 17 After that, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.
Others believe we will be raptured mid-Tribulation (when the anti-Christ places the "abomination of desolation" in the Temple to be worshiped) and others believe we aren't raptured until Jesus Christ comes to establish is Millennial Kingdom at the end of the Great Tribulation).
I believe that after the rapture, the Tribulation begins and lasts for 7 years. During that time, others, left behind, will become believers in Jesus Christ. These are the elect, the ones saved during the Tribulation. They are part of the remnant that Jesus comes for. "But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short."
The anti-Christ will come upon the scene taking control during these days of horror. Most of the population left standing will be eager to accept a leader who takes control and promises peace, security, provision and a return to prosperity. They will see him as a savior as he establishes a one-world government, but he is a "false Christ". They will accept him as a Messiah. Since he re-builds the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount and allows the Jews to re-create their priesthood and religious sacrifices, even the Jews will see him as their long-awaited for Messiah UNTIL He throws them out, puts up the "abomination of desolation" in the Temple and demands all people worship him. He will establish a one-world religion with his false prophet as priest. They will realize they've been duped and many Jews will then accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Messiah. They are the remnant of God's people. "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible."
Jesus answered His disciples questions with enough information so they would be prepared AND to give future believers enough information to be prepared. If we but listen to the Bible, we have the warnings we need to escape.
Luke 21:34-36 34 But watch yourselves, or your hearts will be weighed down by dissipation, drunkenness, and the worries of life—and that day will spring upon you suddenly like a snare. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 So keep watch at all times, and pray that you may have the strength to escape all that is about to happen and to stand before the Son of Man.”