CovCon24′ and the Great Tribulation | Sam Waldron

by | May 6, 2024 | Systematic Theology


We are thankful for the blessings of CovCon 24. In particular, we thank God for the blessings that came from the public ministry of the Word.

But a couple of things happened, which might be the occasion for questions and speculation. What am I talking about? First, when the question was raised about the “Great Tribulation” in the Q&A, all of us speakers responded with “crickets.” Why? Someone might ask. Second, in the last session, I was scheduled to preach on the Tribulation and the Second Coming. But then I changed my subject to Conquering and to Conquer—The Eschatology of Revelation 6. Again, someone might ask, Why? And it might be easy to connect this with our failure to respond to the question about the “Great Tribulation.” Is there some issue or doubt about the Tribulation and the Second Coming?

I decided to blog to prevent anyone from putting two and two together and getting five. I want to answer the questions raised by the two events just mentioned.


Why the Failure to Answer in the Q&A

Concerning our failure to answer the “Great Tribulation” question in the Q&A, I must take some of the blame. In a panel like that we had in the Q&A, nobody wants to appear like Mr. Talkative or Mr. Know-It-All. Everybody wants to defer to their esteemed brothers. I know that this was the case with me. The problem was that this was the subject I was scheduled to address in the conference program. I should have laid aside my diffidence and responded to the question.

But there may have been another reason for our failure to answer. Perhaps the issue of the “Great Tribulation” is, well, complicated. Let me explain why.

  • First, this phrase occurs in Matthew 24:21. The interpretation of that passage is famously difficult. In particular, the identity of its “Great Tribulation” is controversial. The Futurists believe it is a future tribulation before the end of the age. The Preterists believe that it was the “Great Tribulation” of AD 66-70 in which Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed under the judgment of God. The advocates of a double fulfillment view think that it is both. For myself, though I am not a Preterist, I believe that it was descriptive of the “Great Tribulation” of AD 66-70, in which Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed under the judgment of God. But in all of this you can see that the answer to this question is in this way debatable.
  • Second, affirming a “Great Tribulation” immediately associates one with the mythology of popular eschatology. Even asserting a special period of tribulation before the end of the age seems to do this. This makes us, like those on the panel who reject such sensational nonsense, reluctant to affirm a future tribulation in any sense. None of us subscribe to Pretribulationism and its trappings, which is often associated with the “Great Tribulation.”
  • Third, as one of our speakers made clear, this entire age is one of tribulation for God’s people. Even if one affirms a future period of intense tribulation for the church, this further truth must not be denied.
  • Fourth, I affirm a future period of global tribulation for the church and the appearance of a personal antichrist before the return of Christ. But I hope you can see how carefully I need to qualify my view so that I am not associated with the sensationalism and doctrinal nonsense that is associated with such a view.


Why the Change in Subject for the Last Session

Why did I change my mind? It was not because of any doubts about the Post-tribulational Second Coming of Christ that I argue from 2 Thessalonians 2, but because it seemed to me that someone should actually address the meaning of the text that provided the title of our conference. That was, you remember, provided by Revelation 6:2: “I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.” Addressing this, our theme text seemed a greater priority than preaching my message from 2 Thessalonians 2.

But to remove any doubt about my view of this subject, in my next blog, I will publish the manuscript of that unpreached sermon.

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