Second Purpose for The Tribulation: To Bring Judgment on All Unbelievers

There are three great purposes for the Tribulation: 1) to prepare Israel for her Messiah; 2) to bring judgment on all unbelievers and unbelieving nations; and 3) to bring salvation to the repentant lost.

To Bring Judgment on All Unbelievers and Unbelieving Nations

This second purpose falls close behind in rank to the first; for all of the Tribulation is full of the judgments of God. We will look at a few key passages that describe God’s judgment, with a few comments (bold text for emphasis).

Deuteronomy 30:7

And the Lord your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.

Here we see a very early promise of judgment on unbelievers, but more specifically on Israel’s enemies.

Isaiah 13:9-12

Behold, the day of the Lord is coming,

Cruel, with fury and burning anger,

To make the land a desolation;

And He will exterminate its sinners from it.

10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations

Will not flash forth their light;

The sun will be dark when it rises,

And the moon will not shed its light.

11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil,

And the wicked for their iniquity;

I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud,

And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.

12 I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold,

And mankind than the gold of Ophir.

In this passage God shows us how he will judge the unbelieving and proud sinners. He will first terrify them with earthquakes and cosmic disturbances. Then he will exterminate most of them; he will make them scarcer than pure gold.

Isaiah 24:19-22

19 The earth is broken asunder,

The earth is split through,

The earth is shaken violently.

20 The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard,

And it totters like a shack,

For its transgression is heavy upon it,

And it will fall, never to rise again.

21 So it will happen in that day,

That the Lord will punish the host of heaven, on high,

And the kings of the earth, on earth.

22 And they will be gathered together

Like prisoners in the dungeon,

And will be confined in prison;

And after many days they will be punished.

Here we have revealed to us judgment on the earth, and also judgement on the evil angels and on humans. Verse twenty-two describes the judgment of angels and humans. I believe the gathering together “like prisoners in the dungeon” is what happens after death. They (evil angels and humans) will be held in a place of holding until the final judgment, called the Great White throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). This place of holding I believe is described for us in Luke 16:19-31, where we have the story of the rich man and Lazarus. So, it appears that the holding place is full of torments, and they will be tormented even before they come to the final and eternal judgment of hell.

Jeremiah 25:32-33

Thus says the Lord of hosts,

“Behold, evil is going forth

From nation to nation,

And a great storm is being stirred up

From the remotest parts of the earth.

33 “And those slain by the Lord on that day shall be from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, gathered, or buried; they shall be like dung on the face of the ground.

Here is described for us the tremendous evil on the earth in that day; it will spread from nation to nation. And the Lord’s anger and judgment will come quickly in response, and there will not be any time to lament them, gather them or bury them. They will lie there to rot, and the rotting bodies will be as dung spread over the earth.

Zechariah 13:2

“And it will come about in that day,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land.

Here we have the prophecy that all idols, false prophets and unclean spirits will be removed from the earth. This will happen during the fires of the Tribulation; all evil will be removed and cleaned off the earth to make room for the coming kingdom of Messiah Jesus.

Matthew 25:31-46

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 “And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? 38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ‘And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ 41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 “Then they themselves also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

This passage describes the judgment of those who are alive immediately after He returns and before His millennial kingdom. It is often called the judgment of the nations. I would say that the judgment here is the sentence, where He says, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” But I don’t believe they go directly to the Lake of Fire. I think they will go to that holding place where the rich man is. Then after the millennial kingdom is over, they will appear at the Great White Throne judgment seat and be sentenced again and cast into the Lake of fire for eternity.

Revelation 3:10

‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.

The “hour of testing” is referring to the Tribulation, the 7-year period when God’s divine wrath is expressed as seals, trumpets, and bowls.

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