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Revelation Bible Study Notes & Aids

The Great Tribulation – Part 2

Mark 13:14-23 (ESV)

The Abomination of Desolation

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

The Tribulation is a future time period when the Lord will accomplish at least two aspects of His plan:

  • 1) He will complete His discipline of the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24), and 2) He will judge the unbelieving, godless inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 6 – 18).
  • Within eschatology (the study of future things), the Tribulation refers to the full seven-year period while the “Great Tribulation” refers to the second half of the Tribulation.


  • Jesus gives the sign that will identify this period of time. Matthew 24:15–44 (NKJV)    
  • What is the abomination of desolation? Daniel 11:31; Dan. 12:11, an image of Antichrist which will be set up in the temple; speaking of the temple rather than the church, because the church has no holy place.

“whoever reads, let him understand” which means the people who are living at that time will understand.

  • This will not be a time to sit around and wait to see what happens; it’s time to get out of Dodge and HIDE, get away from population centers
  • Things will get so bad so fast, that worrying about your property or belongings will be a waste of time and foolish
  • If you are at work, don’t be concerned with going back to get anything from your home. Just run!
  • It will be particularly difficult and tragic for expectant mothers and those with little babies to protect and care for

Revelation 7:14 the literal translation is “the tribulation the great one,” for emphasis; this tribulation is unique.

  • Notice that our Lord is the One who labels the end of the age as the Great Tribulation. If this prophecy was fulfilled in the 1st century by the Romans invading Jerusalem and destroying it, Jesus is guilty of false prophecy or gross over exaggeration

THERE WILL BE NO DOUBT IN ANYONE’S MIND THAT THIS IS BEING FULFILLED WHEN IT HAPPENS… that’s how we know that it has never been fulfilled!

  • We read in the Book of Revelation that during the Tribulation one third of the population of the earth will be destroyed; on another occasion one–fourth of the population will be destroyed.
  • However, there is comfort in this verse—“but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” God will not let mankind commit suicide. That is the reason this will be such a brief period.


One big reason the ability to work miracles in our day should be looked upon with suspicion because the next great miracle worker will not be Christ; he will be Antichrist with his false prophets.

  • “If it were possible they shall deceive the very elect.” Who are the elect? In the Scriptures there are two elect groups: the elect of the nation Israel and the elect of the church.
  • When we simply take Scripture at face value (“the Church” means the Church, and “Israel” means the people and nation of Israel unless the passage CLEARLY defines otherwise, then the Bible remains literal and plain, rather than forcing us to take much of it as conceptual, symbolic and spiritual

Who has Jesus been talking about up to this point? Israel.

  • When He comes, there will not be any John the Baptist to announce Him.
  • When He comes, the whole world will know and it will be as public as lightning.
  • When Jesus comes the second time, with the angels and His Bride The Church, to establish His Kingdom on earth, everyone will know He is coming.

28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.    Two things to consider here:

  • First, it is a sign, a pointer, the evidence of that something is happening and where it is happening…
  • Could also refer to Christ’s coming in judgment: Revelation 19:17–19; birds that feed on carrion seem to be agents of divine judgment.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those …” like at a show when the lights go down, and the music starts

“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven”; In the Old Testament, the nation Israel was given the glory, the Shekinah presence of God. No other nation or people has ever had that, nor does the church have it.

“they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

This is His return to earth to set up His kingdom. There will be no mistaking it.

“they will gather together His elect from the four winds”

  • The elect spoken of in this verse is still the nation Israel. The prophets in the Old Testament foretold of a miracle that would bring the Jews back into their land.
  • When has the Church ever been gathered back into its “promised” land? This speaks of Israel
  • Again, taking the Bible plainly and literally keeps all this from being confusing
  • Jesus doesn’t need angels to gather the Bride for Him… we are waiting expectantly and will be instantly snatched away to be with Him
  • When Jesus says that the “angels … shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,” we can be sure that He is talking about the nation Israel, not the Church will already be with Jesus as His Bride.


  • Fig trees grow in abundance in Israel; fig trees and grapevines identify the land; the fig tree is a symbol.
  • A generation is about twenty years, and certainly the predicted events will take place in a much briefer time.
  • Most likely it refers to either one.
  • “Heaven and earth will pass away” Jesus puts on an exclamation point, a double
  • “But of that day and hour no one knows”   No one will know the specific day and hour but just like people in Noah’s day knew for a hundred years judgment was coming, all of creation will know time is drawing near 

Christ will come in a day which will be like the days of Noah.

  • The population before the Flood was CONSERVATIVELY six to eight billion, the same as today; every imagination of man’s heart was only evil continually (see Gen. 6:5).
  • “Eating and drinking” and “given in marriage”. Living as though God did not exist. Living as if nothing mattered except their physical desires and self-gratification.
  • “marrying and giving in marriage.” getting married implies that you think there is a future ahead
  • They did not believe that He would judge them and scorned the warning that a flood was imminent.“ and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be

40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.   41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.

  • Seems to refer to the Rapture, and many Christians use this verse as such; “well it says right there that….”
  • Pulls the verse out of context… there is nothing about the Rapture in this passage… it’s talking about the DAYS OF NOAH and judgment
  • The meaning here is that some will be judged and some will not. God’s judgment will fall on those who are unsaved even as they are standing next to something who is saved

“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”  

  • Today we are to wait and long for His coming as our Blessed Hope, the return of the Groom for His Bride
  • In that future day they will watch with anxiety for His return because they will be anxious for the horrible times to be over

The remainder of the Olivet Discourse is giving parables to illustrate the attitude of folk to His coming and what will happen when He does come.

“Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing”

This parable reflects the attitude of some folk in that future day.

  • “The Lord delays His coming, I’ll just live carelessly.”
  • When Christ returns, He will judge that man.
  • You and I ought to live our lives in the light of the fact that we are to stand in the presence of Christ.
  • Regardless of whether Christ comes a hundred years from today or a thousand years, you and I will stand in His presence.
  • Whether you are saved or lost, you will stand in His presence.
  • If you are saved, you will have to give Him an account of your life to see if you receive a reward.
  • If you are lost, you will stand there to be judged.
  • Therefore, every person should live his life in light of the fact that he is to stand in the presence of the Lord.
  • This is the great MESSAGE of Jesus from the Mount of Olives.

While not specifically written to US, the Bride, the Church, it certainly has application to us.


“Where the Bible makes plain sense,
seek no other sense,
lest you turn it into nonsense”.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy BibleEnglish Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Biblecopyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.