Great Tribulation? No?
It appears that eschatology, the study of end-times, has become the great "no,no" in the attentions of the Church. Christians do not want to fight or to appear to be arguing, and consequently they have wandered away lately from this area of great controversy and challenge.
Personally, I also see much more fruitfulness in a sincere study of Luke's Gospel than in, say, the Book of Daniel or Zechariah, or even Revelation. Back in the 80's things were much different. Everyone was fascinated in mysteries and in the sense of power which seemed to come from "knowing" the future. But a couple of decades later things have cooled to the point that churches and teachers avoid the mere reference to concepts of rapture, Great Tribulation, Millenial Kingdom, New Jerusalem.
This evasiveness can be just as damaging to the Church and its sense of urgency in missions and in "fleshing out" Godly living. 'Things are O.K. and probably going to get better. Tomorrow will be soon enough to reach out to that neighbour concerning the hope which we have in Jesus.'
But without getting into the prophetic time-charts and endless arguments about what comes first, what comes second...I must caution that the scripture is full of warnings that a much worsening moral climate is coming; a time of deception and oppression. Great platforms and mystifying New Spirituality will draw many into darkness who thought that they were living in the light. The net is drawn slowly and imperceptively around the school of fish. When the cords are drawn and raised the catch will be limp and lifeless.
Listen to what is said in The Message about such a time of tribulation. The words are a warning from the Apostle Paul:
2 Thessalonians 2:
1-3Now, friends, read these next words carefully. Slow down and don't go jumping to conclusions regarding the day when our Master, Jesus Christ, will come back and we assemble to welcome him. Don't let anyone shake you up or get you excited over some breathless report or rumored letter from me that the day of the Master's arrival has come and gone. Don't fall for any line like that.
3-5Before that day comes, a couple of things have to happen. First, the Apostasy. Second, the debut of the Anarchist, a real dog of Satan. He'll defy and then take over every so-called god or altar. Having cleared away the opposition, he'll then set himself up in God's Temple as "God Almighty." Don't you remember me going over all this in detail when I was with you? Are your memories that short?
6-8You'll also remember that I told you the Anarchist is being held back until just the right time. That doesn't mean that the spirit of anarchy is not now at work. It is, secretly and underground. But the time will come when the Anarchist will no longer be held back, but will be let loose. But don't worry. The Master Jesus will be right on his heels and blow him away. The Master appears and—puff!—the Anarchist is out of there.
9-12The Anarchist's coming is all Satan's work. All his power and signs and miracles are fake, evil sleight of hand that plays to the gallery of those who hate the truth that could save them. And since they're so obsessed with evil, God rubs their noses in it—gives them what they want. Since they refuse to trust truth, they're banished to their chosen world of lies and illusions.
...And, no, this great Enemy of Christ is not Emperor Nero, or Napoleon, or the Kaiser, or Hitler, or Joe Stalin, or Chairman Mao. He is yet to come.
Some preparation of the heart is now necessary. Some steeling of resolve. Some quality decision to stand for Christ and his words of truth, and to urge others to do the same.