For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will.
Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.
I want to attraction your attention today to the word tribulation. Yeshua uses it here in vs.19, For those days will be a time of tribulation… This word tribulation is very loaded as it describes this time to come. In secular Greek, the word flipsis means to afflict, to distress. It is from a root meaning to press, to squash. This gives us a pretty good idea of the nature of the judgment of the tribulation times.
In the Hebrew Scriptures and in the New Testament, the term commonly used by the prophets is the Day of the Lord. This is a term mainly describing the moments preceding the Second Coming of the Lord. Zephaniah hammers home the message that the Day of the Lord is a day of final judgment. Joel’s theme is about the Day of the Lord. It is a term used over 80 times throughout the Bible to describe the final wars and the Second Coming.
Our English word, tribulation is very descriptive. It comes from the Latin word tribulum, which means a threshing sledge. The ancient farmers would use the tribulum to beat the heads of the grain, separating the chaff from the wheat. Tribulation, therefore, by the very meaning of its word is a judgment designed to separate the chaff from the wheat. And this same process of threshing and winnowing is the picture that is used to show how Yeshua will come at the end and sort out the sheep from the goats.
This is how John the Baptist describes the works of Yeshua at His Second Coming. In Luke 3:17 we read, “His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” When the Lord comes, He will separate the good seed from the chaff, the wheat from the tares. It is a time of judgment.
In the book of Daniel, the prophet has another term for this period, one which Yeshua will quote more than once in our text. In Yeshua’s quotation of this very passage in Mark 13:19, Daniel uses the word distress to describe the tribulation. Daniel 12:1 reads, Now, at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. Here the time of tribulation is described as a time of distress. This also is a very loaded word in Hebrew.
In Hebrew, the word distress is tzaraas, the same term used to describe leprosy, which was believed to be a God-sent disease, for they knew He is the only one who could cure it. The rabbis understood from the cases of leprosy in the Scriptures, that it is a disease caused by sin of rebellion for such is the time of the tribulation. This is a time when nations will rise, and the common name given to these nations in Revelation is Babylon. There man will again try to build his tower to reach heaven, but this will be their last time.
And there is something powerful that many rabbis in the Talmud have seen and understood from this word tzarras. They said that Messiah Himself will be afflicted by leprosy, but not because of His sins, but because of the sins of Israel. We read this in b.Sanh 98b that they even named Him the Leper. What they are saying is that the remedy for the tribulation, for this time of stress is found in the Messiah. The Talmudic passage reads: Rabbis said, “His name is ‘the leper of the school house,’ as it is written, ‘Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God and afflicted” (Is. 53:4).” And so, that time of tzaraas, of leprosy, of tribulation, has already been taken by Yeshua the Messiah Himself. This is the message: He took all the sins upon Himself; He is the way to avoid going through this very severe time of judgment.
It is after these two powerful verses of Mark 13:19-20 where He says in vs.21, “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him”. Here, Yeshua again warns the people not to believe in false messiahs or false religion, because the more the people will suffer, the more they will likely turn to religion, and unfortunately, false religious beliefs will spread and reach its peak during this period of time. One can understand this by the description of false Babylon in Revelation 17 called the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth. That is the false religions of the world.
The word abomination is the same as the one in the abomination of desolation. False religions and beliefs will grow to its highest level, and so Yeshua warns, don’t believe them. What Yeshua calls false messiahs and false prophets in vs.22 cannot be confined to Israel only, but all other religions of the world which deny who Yeshua is.
When He said in John 14:6b, “No one comes to the Father but through Me” it included then and includes today all beliefs apart from the one which gives exclusive sovereignty to Yeshua. How can we believe Him if He is just one among many ways. But He said; I am the way, and the truth and the life (John 14:6a) and He, the LORD said previously, “There is no one besides Me”. Isaiah 45:5