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What did Jesus mean in Matthew 24:29 by “Immediately after the tribulation”?

Matthew 24:29 NIV

Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

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The events described in Matt 24:2927-31 are straight forward. The context is exactly given in V27 - "the coming of the Son of Man (ie, Jesus) in the clouds of heaven"

Jesus them sets out exactly what would happen and when:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days:

  • The sun will be darkened,
  • and the moon will not give its light;
  • the stars will fall from the sky,
  • and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’
  • At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,
  • and all the tribes of the earth will mourn [because] they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. [compare Rev 6:15-17]
  • And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, [compare 1 Thess 4:13-18]
  • and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

That is, the coming of the Son of man (V27) will immediately follow the great tribulation and it will be accompanied by the eight events as listed by Jesus.

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The events described in Matthew 24:29-31

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:” s shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Are the same events as described in:

Revelation 8:7-13

7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. 8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. 10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. 12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. 13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!

Revelation 7:1-3,9-10

1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

9 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; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

Jesus told them what John would later write in Revelation but since that vision wouldn’t be given to John for another 50-60 years he didn’t quote it using the language that we are most familiar with now.

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My answer will consist of two parts: 1) world events leading to the Great Tribulation (GT or Jacob’s Trouble); and 2) the great and frightening Day of the Lord that begins after the GT.

Part I – Events leading to GT

The iron legs in Daniel 2nd chapter, the 4th Beast in Daniel 7th chapter and the Beast (coming from the Sea) in Revelation 13th chapter are all the same. They all point to the Roman Empire.

The first coming of Jesus Christ occurred during the initial stage of this Roman Empire. But the prophesy is about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ that must occur during the final stage of the same Roman Empire.

So Roman Empire has to continue in TEN successive stages until Jesus’ coming. Remember, the 4th Beast “had ten horns” (Dan 7:7) with “ten diadems” on them (Rev 13:1).

“And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings; they shall (in future tense) rise” (Dan 7:24).

Since the Roman Empire rose in Europe, these ten Kings/Kingdoms will also be in Europe. I would dare say that the 9th horn was the Axis power of Hitler-Mussolini that culminated in the Second World War. The 8th horn was the Napoleon’s European Empire.

The tenth horn that again is to rise from Europe, will be a Great Dictator, the real Beast!

Daniel calls him “the King of the North” (when looked from Jerusalem) and describes:

“And at the END TIME………the king of the north shall come………….And he shall enter into the glorious land (Jerusalem)………….And he shall plant his palace tents between the seas, in the glorious holy mountain (in Jerusalem)” (Dan 11:40, 41, 45).

Daniel is very clear: this last Great Dictator will establish his International Peace Keeping Force in Jerusalem “between” the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea. He will construct a great Headquarters for this IPKF.

Joel describes this Force as:

“a great and a strong people. There has never been the like, nor shall there ever be again (they all say the same thing; a one-time occurrence, “the end time”) to the years of many generations” (Joel 2:2)

This is what Luke describes:

“And when you see Jerusalem being encircled by armies, then recognize that its destruction has come near” (Luke 21:20).

Though they came in as a peace keeping force, they will change their colour and will devastate the Holy Land as described in the subsequent verses in Joel (2:3 onwards).

This is what is known as “Jacob’s Trouble”:

“Alas! For that day is great, for none is like it (they all say the same thing; a one-time occurrence, “the end time”). And it is a time of *Jacob's trouble, but he will be saved out of it” (Jer 30:7).

This is the Great Tribulation in the New Testament as Jesus explains:

“for then shall be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world to this time; no, nor ever shall be (they all say the same thing; a one-time occurrence, “the end time”)” (Matt24:21).

The same event is described in Revelation when the fifth seal is opened:

“And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those having been slain (during the 1260 years)…………….And it was said to them that they should rest yet a little time, until ………….. their fellow-slaves and their brothers, those being about to be killed (1260 days= 3 ½ years of Great Tribulation), even as they” (Rev 6:9, 11).

This is the end of the human management that began in the Garden of Eden.

Part II - the Day of the Lord

This begins the time when God interferes directly in the human affairs.

Jesus Christ describes:

“And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matt 24:29).

This is the beginning of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord:

“The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of Jehovah” (Joel 2:31; also 2:10, 3:1).

“Behold, the day of Jehovah comes, cruel and with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land waste. And He shall destroy its sinners out of it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations shall not give light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not reflect its light” (Isaiah 13:9-10).

“The great day of Jehovah……….is a day of wrath, a day of distress and pressure, a day of waste and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zeph 1:14, 15).

There are so many verses that describe the great Day of the Lord in the OT. This again is described in Revelation as the sixth seal:

“And I saw when He opened the sixth seal. And behold, a great earthquake occurred. And the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair; and the moon became as blood; and the stars of the heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree being shaken by a great wind casts its unripe figs” (Rev 6:12-13).

The world events move so fast and furious culminating in the Second Advent.

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