Continuing our series on The Treasure in the Field, The Victory of the Kingdom
Jesus told us that in the world we will always have tribulation (Jn 16:33). Get used to it! This is an on-going reality throughout the church age. But he quickly added that this should not overly concern us, for he has overcome the world.
He also spoke of another more specific tribulation, widely known as “The Great Tribulation” (Mt 24:21). The prospect of this tribulation has plagued many believers with a dread of what is to come (perhaps alleviated by the hope of a ‘pre-tribulation rapture’ – because surely God loves us too much to let us suffer, so he will whisk us out of the way before it gets really bad?). A widely held view of the church age is ongoing tribulation culminating in the great tribulation.
But many would argue that what Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24 was a specific event that has already taken place. After all, Jesus did say at the time that the generation who was listening to him would not pass away until all this had happened (Mt 24:34). There is much evidence to indicate that he spoke of the horrendous events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
So a more accurate expectation would be that there was a Great Tribulation in the early days of the church age (the same period of which much of the book of Revelation speaks – “things that must soon take place” [Rev 1:1]). Jesus promised that there will never be such a bad tribulation again (Mt 24:21). So if the church survived and the gospel remained victorious through that great tribulation, we need not fear the ongoing tribulations that we face in our lives. He truly has “overcome the world”. In Him we are more than conquerors. And, more importantly, the triumph of the gospel regardless of our personal suffering, is assured. As Spurgeon preached: “The Gospel must succeed; it shall succeed; it cannot be prevented from succeeding; a multitude that no man can number must be saved.”