Millennial Series: Part 22: Premillennialism and the Tribulation -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 111:443 (Jul 1954)
Article: Millennial Series: Part 22: Premillennialism and the Tribulation
Author: John F. Walvoord


Millennial Series:
Part 22: Premillennialism and the Tribulation

John F. Walvoord

In the memorable Olivet Discourse, our Lord Jesus Christ answered the searching question of His disciples, “What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?” (Matt 24:3). The major event predicted by the Lord as a sign of the second advent was the great tribulation. He urged those living in Palestine in that day “to flee unto the mountains” (Matt 24:16). He exhorted them, “Let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in his house: and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak. But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on a sabbath: for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world unto now, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt 24:17–22).

For those anticipating eagerly the coming advent of Christ, these words are fraught wth tremendous meaning. Does there lie between us and the consummation of the age this awful period of trial? Must the church remain on earth through the great tribulation?

The Tribulation a Major Problem of Eschatology

While Eschatology is at present enjoying revived interest among liberal theologians, the trend among conservatives seems to be to minimize its importance. It is frequently

argued that in a day when the authority of the Bible as a whole is being disputed there is little profit in debating the fine points of Eschatology. If this is the case, an inquiry into the relationship of the tribulation to premillennialism is wasted effort. The question of whether the church must continue on earth through the predicted time of trouble, however, is neither trivial nor academic. It can be demonstrated that the issue is fraught with tremendous practical and doctrinal implications. While not as far-reaching in Biblical interpretation as premillennialism as a whole, the decision concerning the character of the tribulation is important to any detailed program of the future and is significant in its application of principles of interpretation far beyond the doctrine itself.

Importance of the doctrine of the tribulation. There are at least three reasons why the relationship of the tribulation to the coming of the Lord is important. It is first of all an exegetical

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