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THEN SHALL BE GREAT TRIBULATION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, October 17, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).


Several years ago tropical storm Camille was headed toward a beach community in Mississippi. A number of wealthy people gathered in one of the expensive apartment houses near the beach to have a "hurricane party." The police chief pulled up and yelled, "You all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can. The storm is getting worse." A drunken man yelled back at him from the party, "If you want me off, you'll have to arrest me." The police chief didn't arrest him, or any of the other people at that party. But he took down their names, to notify their next of kin, as they laughed and told him they were not going to leave.

At 10:15 PM the full force of that storm hit the shore with winds greater than 205 miles per hour. Raindrops struck with the force of bullets. Waves over twenty-five feet tall hit the apartment. Nothing was left but the foundation. The only survivor was a five-year-old boy they found clinging to a wet mattress the next morning.

They had been warned. But they failed to pay attention. And that's the way it is with most people today. Most people "laugh it off" when they hear of Christ's warning,

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee made these comments about Christ's warning:

"For then shall be great tribulation" - in Revelation 7:14 the literal translation is "the tribulation the great one," placing the article before the noun and adjective for emphasis. In other words, this tribulation is unique; there has been nothing like it in the history of the world, and there will never again be anything like it… "Such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." Since that is true, believe me, people will know it when it gets here!...When the Great Tribulation gets here, there will be nothing to match it in the past or in the future…We read in the Book of Revelation that during the Tribulation one third of the population of the earth will be destroyed (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, volume IV, p. 129).

The Bible predicts this terrible, seven-year period. It is called "the great tribulation." I believe that this awful time is rapidly approaching our nation and our world. And Christ told us,

"Be ye also ready" (Matthew 24:44).

The Bible says,

"Prepare to meet thy God" (Amos 4:12).

If there was ever a time when you need to prepare for judgment it is now! Yet most people act like those who were having a "hurricane party." They laughed while the storm was coming that would soon destroy them all. How about you?

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).

The Bible gives us a great deal of information concerning this coming time of judgment. We need to pay attention to the warnings God gives us in the Scriptures.

I. First, the signs that Christ gave.

The Disciples were interested in the signs. They said,

"Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3).

And Christ answered them by giving them not one, but a number of signs.

He told them that many counterfeit Christs would appear.

"Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:5).

"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets"
      (Matthew 24:24).

Buddhists say Christ was a great teacher, a philosopher. Hindus say He was one of many enlightened ones. Muslims say He was a prophet. Mormons say He was one of three separate gods. Others think of Him as the Holy Sprit, or a great force or power. But the Bible itself tells us that Jesus Christ is the Word, the only begotten Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity.

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

Jesus Himself said,

"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

Jesus gave us another sign of coming Tribulation judgment when He said,

"Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars…For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" 
      (Matthew 24:6-8).

Dr. McGee said,

…wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes characterize the entire church age, but they will apparently be intensified as we draw near the end of the age. Right now the population explosion has the world frightened and rightly so. People are starving to death by the…millions. And the situation is going to increase…What we see today is just the beginning of sorrows (J. Vernon McGee, ibid., p. 126).

Jesus gave another sign when He said,

"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax [grow] cold" (Matthew 24:12).

We see coldness, sin, and lack of love in the world - and in many churches. This is a sign of the coming Tribulation judgment. This is the time to draw close to God. The Bible says,

"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (James 4:8).

Every sign seems to indicate that the judgment of the Tribulation is very near. If there was ever a time to get serious about Christ it is now!

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).

II. Second, the great illustration that Christ gave.

Please turn to Matthew 24:37-39. Let us stand and read these three verses out loud.

"But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe [Noah] entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be"
      (Matthew 24:37-39).

You may be seated.

Jesus gave the Great Flood of Noah's time as a graphic illustration of this coming judgment. The people in Noah's time were like those wealthy people who laughed as the hurricane approached. They laughed "until the flood came, and took them all away" (Matthew 24:39). What a tragedy! No one lived through it but a five-year-old child clinging to a wet mattress!

I remember back in 1980 when scientists said that Mount St. Helens, in Washington State, was going to erupt. They gave that warning weeks in advance. The police went door to door, warning people who lived on the mountain to leave. But there was one old man, I remember his name, Harry Truman, who refused to go. He said, "I've lived on this mountain all my life. I don't believe it. I'm not going." They begged him to get out - but he refused to listen. Then, suddenly, that volcano erupted. It blew sky-high, like an atomic bomb. Then red-hot lava poured down its sides. It blew that old man to "kingdom come." There wasn't even a piece of his house left. The whole house was blown away, with him inside it, and the ground was covered by several feet of molten lava. The old man didn't believe it was coming - but he was wrong. What a mistake!

That's the way it was in Noah's day. They didn't believe that judgment was coming - but it did come, "and took them all away" (Matthew 24:39). The Bible says,

"Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1).

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).

III. Third, the way to escape that Christ gave.

Please turn to Matthew 24:44. Let us stand and read this verse aloud.

"Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44).

You may be seated. Christ told us to be ready! Are you ready? The Bible says,

"Prepare to meet thy God" (Amos 4:12).

Are you prepared?

Not long ago I heard a college-age boy talking to his friend about retirement. He won't retire for about fifty years, but he was already thinking about it. There's nothing wrong with that. But it's even more important to prepare for eternity. What will happen to you when judgment comes? What will happen to you when the Tribulation comes? What will happen to you if you die without being converted to Christ? Those are the really big questions of life. Jesus said,

"Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).

Have you come to Him? Are you saved?

In times like these, you need a Saviour,
In times like these, you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.
This rock is Jesus, Yes, He's the One.
This rock is Jesus, The only One.
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.
    ("In Times Like These" by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).

Jesus Christ came and died on the Cross to pay for your sins. He arose physically from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of God, up in Heaven. Come to Christ! Do it! "Be very sure, be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock." The great evangelist George Whitefield often said, "Do not rest until you have found rest in Jesus Christ."


(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 24:3-21.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"In Times Like These" (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).

THE OUTLINE OF

THEN SHALL BE GREAT TRIBULATION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).

(Matthew 24:44; Amos 4:12)

I.   The signs that Christ gave, Matthew 24:3, 5, 24; John 1:14;
John 14:6; Matthew 24:6-8, 12; James 4:8.

II.  The great illustration that Christ gave, Matthew 24:37-39;
Proverbs 27:1.

III. The way to escape that Christ gave, Matthew 24:44;
Amos 4:12.