By Nathan Jones
What is the purpose of the Tribulation?
We asked this question on our television show Christ in Prophecy of Dr. Noah Hutchings, considered "The Dean" of American Bible prophecy experts. He is the director of a Bible prophecy ministry in Oklahoma City called Southwest Radio Ministries, the author of over 100 books, and at 90 years old continues to serve the Lord in his decades long call to proclaim the Gospel.
The Terrible Period
Dr. Reagan: What in the world is the Tribulation? How long do you think it will last? What is its purpose? Dr. Hutchings, please talk about the Tribulation for a few minutes.
Dr. Hutchings: The Tribulation comes some time after the Church is taken up to Heaven in the Rapture. According to the Scriptures in Revelation 11:2-3; 12:14 and 13:5, we are given 42 months and then another 42 months. From that Scripture context along with Daniel 9:27, we know that the Tribulation period will be 7 years long.
Jesus said those years would be a time such as the world has never seen, or never would see again. We just can't begin to imagine what it's going to be like. That will be the time when the Antichrist is ruling all the nations of the world, and the people are commanded to worship the Antichrist. We read about those who will not have food, and those who will be killed. It's going to be the most awful period, as Jesus said it would be.
The Bible gives no reason for the Church to have to go through this period, and so we don't believe it will.
There will be a one-world government, with all the nations being under the authority of just one person — the Antichrist and his kingdom. Everyone will be commanded to worship this person on the threat of death. Everyone will have to take his mark, which is the Antichrist's name and number, or they can't buy or sell. Already we see there is a big controversy now about mandatory computer chipping. Down in Texas one schoolgirl refused to wear a computer chip on her person. The kids are made to wear it at a particular school, and she said to the effect, "Well, I don't believe I should take that because the Bible says I shouldn't take it." Whether chips are involved, we don't know, but required marking we're already beginning to see.
So, the Tribulation is going to be a terrible period. We read about the hunger, the wars, all the people who will die. We just can't begin to imagine the horrors which lie in store soon for the whole world.
Purpose for the Jews
Dr. Reagan: What's the purpose of the Tribulation then?
Dr. Hutchings: One, Israel will be brought to an understanding that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
Dr. Reagan: They are going to be brought to the end of themselves and finally turn to God.
Dr. Hutchings: We read, "Behold He comes with the clouds and every eye shall see Him, and also they which pierced Him. And they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son." That is not happening widespread among the Jews today.
Purpose for the Gentiles
Dr. Reagan: What is the purpose for the Gentile nations during the Tribulation? What purpose does God have for them?
Dr. Hutchings: The Gentile nations of course right now are all separate and worshipping different gods. It's not the world that God intended for it to be. It's a world where Satan runs rampant. The world will be prepared through the Tribulation period for the coming of Jesus Christ. The nations won't be nations anymore as such, being dissolved into the Antichrist's one-world empire. But, it won't last long, for the Lord Jesus Christ will come back to destroy that human kingdom and so will reign for a thousand years, according to Revelation 20.
God of Love, God of Justice
Nathan Jones: With the Tribulation, we read about the 21 judgments from God. We read about most of the earth environmentally being decimated. Most of the human population will also be decimated in just that seven year time span. If God then is a God of love and mercy, why would He do such a horrible thing?
Dr. Hutchings: God is not only a God of love, He is also a God of justice. It's not a matter of God doing this, but Man bringing judgment upon himself. God has been storing up His judgment very patiently, giving people every chance possible to repent. But, when this period is over, the world will be ready for the coming of Christ. The world right now would not want Jesus Christ to come.
Dr. Reagan: One of the things that has always really touched my heart in my study of the Tribulation is that the Bible clearly teaches that even when God pours out His wrath, His ultimate purpose is not to punish. His ultimate purpose is to bring people to repentance so that they might be saved. A lot of people are going to be saved during the Tribulation period because they are going to be brought to the end of themselves and so repent and turn to God.
Dr. Hutchings: That is certainly true. We read in Revelation 7 about the 144,000 Jews who at the onset will evidently be believe and be saved. They will go out into all the world as witnesses for Jesus Christ. You just don't see that happening today, but it will happen during the Tribulation period.
Dr. Reagan: That's right. It's just amazing to think that even when God pours out His wrath that His fundamental purpose is to bring people to repentance.
Nathan Jones: It's a shame that it takes that much horror to bring people to finally accept God, though.
Dr. Reagan: Well, it is, but that's just the nature of Man. Sometimes God has to hit us over the head with a 2x4 to get our attention.
Dr. Hutchings: As you can look over the world today, especially here in the United States, 24 hours a day there's the Gospel being taught on the radio and on television. The churches are still open, even though according to the latest statistics church membership and attendance has been declining, not only in this country, but in other countries as well. Christians such as Dr. Franklin Graham recently brought out the fact that Christians are now coming under increased attacks, especially those who are believers from other nations all over the world.
Dr. Reagan: Every time I think of the Tribulation I think of this verse in Isaiah 26:9, "When the earth experiences the judgments of God, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness."
In the third part of this interview with Dr. Noah Hutchings on end time events, he'll explain what the Millennial Kingdom is all about.