"But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 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: 20, 21KJV)
"And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them." (Revelation 7: 15NIV)
Prior to the appearing of Christ thesecond time, to set up his earthly reign and millenial kingdom (Revelation chpt. 20), there will be a short period of time, probably seven years, that is called the time of "The Great Tribulation."
Jesus spoke of it and Johnrecorded his vision of its actual occurrence. The Old Testament prophets also spoke of this horrific time, generally in regard to its effect upon the nation of Israel, calling it the "time of Jacob's trouble."
"Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it." (Jeremiah 30: 6, 7KJV)
All these passages speak of the Lord' s people coming "out of" the"great tribulation," which they could not do if they were not "in" it. But, they also speak of special and miraculous protection that Lord God will give to his peopleduring this awful period of time.
"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." (John 17: 15KJV)
"Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." (Revelation 3: 10 NIV)
During the The Great Tribulation there will be worldwide suffering and death on a scale never known before. During this time the Lord will bepunishing the "earth dwellers" for their sins. Also during this time the "Anti-Christ" will be in power and using all his might to oppose the people of God, even putting many to death. (See Revelation 13)
Yet, at the same time, the Lord will also be at work miraculously deliveringhis peopleduring this time, wondrouslyprotecting them in a manner similar to the way he protected the Israeliteswhen they were in the midst of the great tribulation that was sent upon the land of Egypt, just prior to their "exodus."
"And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be." (Exodus 8: 20-23KJV)
One cannot help see the striking correlation between the Exodus of the Israelites and the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation. Before the Lord took his peopleout ofslavery in Egypt, he sent the ten plagues of judgmentupon Egypt. Yet, his own people were miraculously spared, for the Lord "severed the land of Goshen," where his peoplelived, and they were not harmed by the plagues.
So too will it be in the end of the age. Great tribulation will come upon all the world, and the wicked will be judged, tried, and sorely vexed with trial and plague, while the Lord's people, are defended by the Lord.
During theExodus from Egypt, the Lord instituted in Israel the"feast of tabernacles"("booths" or "tents"). This spiritual "camping out" experience is described in these verses.
"Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD." (Leviticus 23: 39-44KJV)
"And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and causedthem to understand the reading. And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God;mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy;neither be ye grieved. And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them. And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law. And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth daywas a solemn assembly, according unto the manner." (Nehemiah 8: 6-18KJV)
"Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths." (Leviticus 23: 22NIV)
Now that the "feast of booths" is understood, notice how these verses associate this spiritual and literal "camping out" experience with the time of the "great tribulation."
"And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain." (Isaiah 4: 3-6KJV)
"And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast. I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets."(Hosea 12: 9, 10KJV)
Do we see this happening in the Apocalypse? Notice these verses that seem clearly to allude to the ancient practice of dwelling in tents in a religious sense and during a time of great tribulation.
"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying,Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." (Revelation 7: 9, 10KJV)
Why the "palm branches"? Yes, it is a symbol of victory, but from whence came they? Were they not used in the making of the booths and tentsduring the time of the "great tribulation,"when the church has "fled into the wilderness" from the persecution of Anti-Christ?(Revelation 12)
Some of the Lord's people, those who "are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4: 15) will dwell safely in these booths, in the wilderness. Others, who have died, will in body, lay safely in their graves, in booths for their bodies.
"But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. Go, my people,enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer." (Isaiah 26: 19-21NIV)
Notice this pattern in regard to the coming day of wrath and tribulation. When the land is being judged, the Lord's people are safe in booths! "For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock." (Psalm 27: 5KJV)
"The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly." (Psalm 118: 15KJV)
Christians ought not to fear the coming "great tribulation"; certainly no more than Israel was to be fearful of what Lord God was doing to the Egyptians around them. Jesus said - "when you see these things come to pass," then "know that the time is near, even at the doors."(See Mark 13: 29) They should be as Daniel and his three Hebrew brothers, who all faced great tribulation in Babylon, but who nevertheless were miraculously delivered, and say, during the great tribulation, like they did, - "our God is able to deliver us." (Daniel 3: 17KJV)