Jesus has foretold in His Olivet Discourse “a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will”. As we have seen, while such words certainly describe a time of unprecedented distress, such as happened when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman army in 70 AD, they are not necessarily limited in meaning to just one particular event, for throughout history there have been many such times of suffering that are singular in nature, including the great flood of Noah’s day to which Jesus also likens His coming in judgment (Mat 24:37-39, Luk 17:26-27).
In what way was the sin of the Jews so great as to bring so great a tribulation upon them? See Mat 27:17-26, and consider who among all the peoples of the earth ought to have known better; cf. Amos 3:1-2 and note. What does this principle portend in regard to a great tribulation for those in the church today who have likewise been false to their profession and prostituted themselves with the world? See Heb 10:26-31, Rev 17:1,5,16, 18:2.
How does Jesus describe the severity of such great tribulation in Mat 24:22? By “no life would have been saved” does Jesus mean spiritual or physical life? See the NAS text note and the KJV and cf. Mat 16:17, Mar 14:38, Joh 1:14. Because the severity of that tribulation is so great that it would result in the physical death of even His elect, what does Jesus say would be for their benefit? Would that seem to indicate that God’s elect are raptured away to heaven to escape the tribulation as some suppose?
How often does Scripture describe God’s wrath being poured out to the point of a complete destruction of all flesh but stopping short so that a righteous remnant is saved out of that judgment? In addition to the flood in Noah’s days, see 1Ch 21:9-15, Isa 1:9, 6:8-13, 10:20-23, Eze 9:3-8, 11:13, Zec 13:8-9, Rom 9:27-29, 11:5; cf. Pro 10:25.
How often was God’s hand of judgment stayed from a complete destruction because of the intercession of someone? See Gen 18:22-32, Exo 32:9-14, Num 14:11-20, Amos 7:2-9. What does this remind us about the importance of intercessory prayer? Cf. 1Ti 2:1-4, Heb 7:25. Do we realize that our interceding on behalf of others may be all that stands between them and their destruction?
Is there a point past which people may go in their sin and rebellion for which even the intercession of the most righteous will not avail? Consider that from Sodom only Lot and his two daughters were spared by the intercession of Abraham; see also Num 14:21-23, 26-38, Jer 15:1-4, Eze 14:13-21; cf. Jer 7:16, 11:14, 14:11-12, 1Jo 5:16. In the history of the world, how many civilizations have been completely destroyed, except for perhaps a tiny remnant left in subjugation? Think: how many Hittites, Assyrians, Amalekites, Goths, Incas or Aztecs are left today compared to the greatness that at one time marked these civilizations? Could the same thing happen to our own? What does this remind us about our need to fear the Lord, give heed to His commandments, and not put the Lord to the test by delaying to repent of our sins?
1. No wonder that the ruin of Jerusalem was an unparalleled ruin, when the sin of Jerusalem was an unparalleled sin—even their crucifying Christ. The nearer any people are to God in profession and privileges, the greater and heavier will his judgments be upon them, if they abuse those privileges, and be false to that profession. Matthew Henry.↩