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Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Tribulation: A Trial in Two Parts

Since I've been talking a lot about the Tribulation on here, I wanted to go ahead and explain a few things about the concept, briefly. Enjoy.

What is the Tribulation?
A depiction of the judgments during the Tribulation.
Image here.


The Tribulation is the period traditionally held to be the 7 years immediately preceding the Second Coming. This is obviously not an LDS site so read with the Spirit and everything, but this site explains the Biblical reasoning for the assumption of a 7-year Tribulation period. It comes down to things like Daniel's prophecy of seventy weeks of years, and the mention in Revelation 11:2 of "42 months," which obviously equals three and a half years--and if 42 months is the middle of the Tribulation, that means the whole period is seven years long.

The event takes its name from Matthew 24:21:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

What Happens During the Tribulation?

The Tribulation is the time of the wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences and plagues, and everything else we hear about at church all the time as "signs of the times." Re-read Matthew 24 (and go ahead and compare with JST-Matthew 1, which is an inspired translation of Matthew 24). The Tribulation is also associated with a completion of the Gospel being preached to all the world, the murdering of the prophets in Jerusalem but also the murdering of Saints elsewhere, per the book of Revelation, and other very intense things.

The Tribulation in Two Parts


Now, it's important to note that Biblically, the Tribulation is divided into two parts: the Beginning of Sorrows (see Matthew 24:8) and the Tribulation, as mentioned above in verse 21.

So while the overall seven years is known generally as the Great Tribulation, or the Tribulation, the first three and a half years are the Beginning of Sorrows. The Bible explains:

6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
The second part is the true Tribulation half of the Tribulation:
Jerusalem. Image here.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Jud├Ža flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
So if the Tribulation is near, we are truly nearing the first half of it, what non-Mormon Christians refer to as the Beginning of Sorrows. So we could expect an uptick--possibly a sharp, fairly sudden uptick--in worldwide plagues, natural disasters, and famines, possibly corresponding with this year and next, as we transition into the final set of seven years out of the 21 years in the "half hour of silence" described in the scriptures.

However, the Joseph Smith Translation is significantly less cut-and-dry on this timeline. In that translation, it seems like all seven years will be essentially made of the same stuff. The separation between the two halves is much less distinct there. But I believe it's good to be aware of both interpretations of the text.

Feeling Scared? Don't.

Christ commands us in Matthew 24:6 to "see that [we] be not troubled." It's our job to have faith! Note Matthew 24:44-46:
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
If we are keeping the commandments diligently, we will be blessed.


Exact Timing

I want to be very clear that no one here is claiming to know any specific dates or anything like that. On this blog, I examine patterns and their implications. I don't pretend to know anything specific. I'm just looking at the scriptures and at history.

Fig tree. Public domain.
Remember JST Matthew 1:38-43 (corresponding to Matthew 24:36-39):

38 Now learn a parable of the fig tree—When its branches are yet tender, and it begins to put forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh at hand;
39 So likewise, mine elect, when they shall see all these things, they shall know that he is near, even at the doors;
40 But of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only.
41 But as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man;
42 For it shall be with them, as it was in the days which were before the flood; for until the day that Noah entered into the ark they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage;
43 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
In other words, for people actively scouring the scriptures for clues and searching for the leaves of the fig tree, things will make sense and they will be prepared. For everyone else, life will go on basically as normal until the very end, and they will not realize what is going on until it is too late.

This all goes along with the Parable of the Ten Virgins, as well.
The Ten Virgins.

Conclusion

The Tribulation is a thing; scripturally we would appear to be swiftly approaching its beginning; it pays to be diligent in keeping the commandments and building our faith. No one can know the exact timing, but we are commanded to learn the parable of the fig tree and seek out the signs that it is beginning.

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