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Can the Great Tribulation start this year?  Can the Great Tribulation begin in 2017? Can the Great Tribulation begin in 2018? Can the Great Tribulation begin in 2019?
No, it cannot. Not according to Bible prophecy. And while sorrows and tribulation are prophesied to happen prior (Matthew 24:4-12) to the "great tribulation" (Matthew 24:21), the Great Tribulation (the final times of the Gentiles) itself cannot start in 2016 nor prior to 2021, and even that seems to soon.

Related to nearly every individual year beginning in 2008, I have denounced false prophets as well as those that speculated on each of those years as the start of the Great Tribulation as all who did so were much too close to that date/year for it to be possible.

At this moment it is now impossible that the Great tribulation can begin in 2017 or 2018 or 2019. The Great Tribulation will come relatively soon, but 2021 is the earliest possible start date, with a later date more likely at this stage (you may also wish to watch a short YouTube video titled: Will the Great Tribulation Start in 2017?; there is also a sermon video titled The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives, as well another sermon titled Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020?).
Jesus' disciples specifically asked Him how to know when this would happen (Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:4; Luke 21:7)--and He responded with details. Several of those details are yet to be fulfilled.

But sadly, many overlook what Jesus taught, but instead try to point to other things--but in this article I have striven to draw conclusions from what the Bible actually teaches.

Consider, for example, that although some claimed that the blood moons in 2014 and 2015' may have marked the beginning, I correctly denounced that years ago (Blood Moons, Eclipses, and Prophecy; a related YouTube video is also available: Blood Moons, Prophecy, 2014, and 2015) and was proven right. I also denounced the so-called Shemitah year and the claimed devastation that was supposed to hit the world economy, etc. in late 2015 (ee also 6000 years up and Jesus to return in 2016? and September ‘convergence’: a harbinger of potential disaster?), and again was right. And in 2017, blasted the idea that the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 (see Solar Eclipse and the Apocalypse) or Planet Nibiru would begin the tribulation or destroy the Earth (see Doomsayers: Planet Nibiru to destroy Planet Earth in four weeks).
Because according to the Bible, other events needed to occur first.
There are various clues in the Bible, and such as in the books of Daniel and Matthew, that make the prospective of the Great Tribulation happening in the next three years impossible. This article will discuss the earliest timing of the Great Tribulation, the Beginning of Sorrows, some of what happens in the Great Tribulation itself, and the Day of the Lord.

Some are Claiming that the Great Tribulation Will or May Begin in 2017 or 2018 or 2019
Before going into the reasons why the Great Tribulation cannot begin in 2017 or 2018 or 2019, let's look at the claims of some who have said 2016 or 2017:
Nostradamus Prophecy 2017: Who Is The 3rd Anti-Christ? WW3, End Of The World Coming? ...
Another prophecy by Nostradamus stated that the third Antichrist could rise in 2016. This rise could actually result in the beginning of World War 3 – a nuclear war or biological warfare that really sustain for 27 years. 11/10/16 http://www.morningnewsusa.com/nostradamus-prophecy-2017-who-is-the-3rd-anti-christ-ww3-end-of-the-world-coming-23120740.html

The fact that no one knew this during the life of Christ does not contradict Revelation 4-5 where Jesus is found qualified to UNSEAL these things AFTER his resurrection! “No one knows” does not mean that no one will ever know!
As Dan 12 tells us these things were sealed until the end time and at that time Jesus Christ will unseal [As per Rev 4-5 and Daniel 12] these things and reveal them in a large increase of spiritual knowledge.

There is an extremely high probability [at least 90%] that Christ will come in early 2020 and that the abomination will be set up in the Vatican in early Oct 2016 with the tribulation beginning by the end of 2016. (Malm, James. Shining Light. October 30, 2014)
The 2,300 Day Prophecy
According to the 2,300 Day Prophecy which reveals that exactly 2,300 years after Alexander’s empire is divided into four parts; IF the starting date is correct for the count: Messiah the Christ will come in 2021 and will set up the Kingdom of God on Pentecost; meaning that the tribulation will begin in the winter of 2017-2018. 
I am proclaiming a warning of high probabilities; I am not setting any date in stone and I emphasize again that this may be out by a year or two, due to  difficulties in dating the original event for the  countdown; but it is definitely an excellent Bible based;  ball park date. ...
Now counting forward 2,300 years and adding 1 for the year zero; we end up with Christ coming in early 2021 and the tribulation beginning in Dec 2017 – Jan 2018. ...

These events are right in line with a date of late 2017 for the start of the tribulation; followed by the coming of Messiah 42 months later; in 2021 AD!
 Brethren, the writing is on the wall! (Malm, James. Shining Light. July 30, 2016)
The Nostradamus prognosticators and James Malm are 100% wrong. Those who understand Bible prophecy realize that there is NO POSSIBLE WAY THAT THE GREAT TRIBULATION CAN BEGIN PRIOR TO 2021 NOR JESUS RETURN PRIOR TO 2024. And until certain events occur, even those dates would seem too early.
In a post in 2014, James Malm added:
Brethren the time of our judgment for following men blindly and without question is at hand, within the next months.
I can proclaim zeal for God; but the choice is yours. (Malm, James. Shining Light. October 30, 2014)
Brethren, ‘the choice’ is easy. You can allow yourself to be deceived and believe James Malm and others falsely claim or you can see what the Bible teaches.
Then James Malm was claiming 2016 or 2017 or 2018:
The prophecy is for our day, NOW!
How long shall be the VISION?
Dan 8:14  Unto 2300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed .
Margin 2300 evenings and mornings. What is an evening and morning?
The evening and morning were the first day Gen 1:5. The evening and morning were the second day Gen 1:8. The evening and morning were the third day Gen 1:13. One evening and one morning together are one day.  Two evenings and mornings are two days. Three evenings and mornings are three days.  One hundred evenings and mornings are one hundred days. And, twenty-three hundred evenings and mornings are twenty-three hundred days!

Suddenly from the four divisions of Alexander’s kingdom and the founding of the king of the North in Dan 8:8, the prophecy leaps forward to the last days and the cleansing of the sanctuary Dan 8:9. Shown in the explanation; are the four divisions in verse twenty-two and then leaping forward to the LATTER TIME and the cleansing of the sanctuary in verse twenty-three.

In the LATTER TIME a fierce king shall appear, understanding secret [occult and highly technical matters] things and  he shall destroy and prosper Dan 8:23-24.
He shall destroy many while they are AT PEACE Dan 8:25, 1 Thes 5:3.
He shall stand up against the Prince of Princes, Jesus Christ at His coming Dan 8:25, but he shall be broken Dan 2:35 and thrown into the fire Rev 19:20 and Dan 7:11.

This final fierce appearing king of the Babylonian system centered in Europe, and at its later end moving to Jerusalem; shall have power to make war,  and to occupy Jerusalem; for forty two months or 1260 days Rev 13:5. When he and the false prophet are destroyed the sanctuary will be CLEANSED!
The whole vision about this competition between Babylon [the North] and Egypt [the South] is covered in Dan 11.

The vision about the king of the North, would last for a total of 2300 days from the partition of Alexander’s empire into four parts in 280 BC, and then [at the end of the 2,300 years] shall the sanctuary be cleansed Dan 8:13-14.
The explanation is this:
From the time that Alexander’s empire is divided into four parts, there will be 2300 days [years] until the sanctuary is cleansed and the destruction of the final seventh resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire of  Babylon as described in Dan 2, Dan 7.
At a day for a year this 2300 days shall be 2300 years.
Provided the Calendar data is correct the highly probable year of the coming of Christ and the cleansing of the sanctuary is: 
Coming forward 2300 years from 280 BC and adding 1 for year zero, arrives at spring 2021 AD,  when the sanctuary shall be cleansed by the coming of Jesus Christ.
Now subtracting 42 months (1260 days) shows that this final beast emperor  will occupy Jerusalem, beginning at the end of 2017.
Given the historical difficulties of the Greek struggles it is possible that this date might be in error by a year or two, but one thing is certain; IT IS VERY CLOSE INDEED!
These are indications of the nearness of the times; they are not dates certain until proved by the appearance of ALL of the Biblical signs.
At the present time the British people have been  promised a referendum on continued EU membership before the end of 2017 with French and German elections scheduled for Sep / Oct 2017.
Britain is highly likely to leave the EU, but exactly how long that process takes is unclear; and certain other countries are likely to follow, creating a crisis in the EU and opening the way for the setting up of the miracle working deceiver in the Vatican in late 2017, who will immediately call for and bring about the  rise of a New Europe; the seventh revival of the Scarlet Beast of the Holy Roman Empire.
This man of sin will then go to the Holy Place [Temple Mount] 75 days after being set up in the Vatican and the great tribulation of Mat 24:15 will begin.
Along with this is the coming defeat of radical Islam and a move towards a Mideast peace deal 1 Thess 5:3.
These events are right in line with a date of late 2017 for the start of the tribulation; followed by the coming of Messiah 42 months later; in 2021 AD!
Brethren, the writing is on the wall! (Malm, James. Shining Light. October 20, 2015)
2016 was obviously wrong. Also, it is NOT possible that the 42 months for the Beast to reign can begin in 2017 plus or minus one year (which the above allows for). This is too early. The deal of Daniel 9:27 has not yet been confirmed (see also The ‘Peace Deal’ of Daniel 9:27), and until it is, there is at least 3 1/2 years before the 42 month reign of the Beast (Daniel 7:25) can take place. (Furthermore, his explanation of the 2300 days is in error--more information on that can be found in the article Who Are The Two Witnesses?)
James Malm later came up with another wrong date:
I think it highly probable that Israel will go to war with Gaza and Hezbollah destroying the remaining power of Syria and bringing regime change to Syria; and the US coalition will attack the Revolutionary Guards in Iran.

The general falling away in the COG Groups (Mat 24:3-5, 2 Thess 2:3, 2 Ti 4, Jude) is also moving ahead, more on that after the UCG GCE conference.
If events do not slow down or pause, all signs now point to the setting up of the abomination to do miracles in the Vatican in October of 2018, with the tribulation beginning 75 days later.  (Malm J. Personal. Shining Light. 04/20/17)
The 2300 Day Prophecy [see the 2300 Day Prophecy] indicates that the great hour of trial could begin as early as late 2018 or within a few years after that.  Presently the trends indicate that late 2018 is possible.

Then WITHIN 75 days of being set up doing miracles, this roman pope will go to the holy mount and the radical Jewish Settler Movement will sabotage the peace deal and bring the nations of Psalm 83 down on the Jewish State.

The New Europe will intervene, perhaps answering calls of Jewish and other leaders to stop the slaughter.  They will secure the massive Israeli weapons caches and the surviving Jews will be crowded into ghettos awaiting deportation.  
As for America, the Arabs will join with Europe and abandon the Petrodollar while hiring European countries to do the unimaginably massive rebuilding throughout the region.

During the first winter America will lose economic traction and conditions will begin to decline,  ...
This 42 months of famine, riots and economic collapse will be accompanied by other natural disasters, one of the chief being great earthquakes which will be so great as to  change the surface topography of the earth.  (Malm, James. Shining Light. The State of the Work, 3 Sept 2017)
He, and others, who claim 2017, 2018, or 2019 are in error.
Notice some others claiming dates that are not possible:
2017 to 2024 Tribulation Theory
November 19, 2015
This is a theory regarding the Tribulation beginning in Fall 2017 and ending in Fall 2024. ...
If the UN mandate for the reestablishment of Israel in 1947 and the rebirth of Israel in 1948 are a beginning point of sorts, then 2017 and 2018 have been the big years to watch for all along.  Had 2014 or 2015 been the beginning of the Tribulation, then the perfect symmetry of 70 years (a Biblical generation according to Psalm 90:10) would have fallen around the time of the Abomination of Desolation... the time of antichrist's greatest power, rather than the time of Christ coming for His Church.  The antichrist is not the star of the show.  Jesus is. ...
Here is a rundown of reasons the Tribulation could begin in 2017:

1.) It is 70 years from the United Nations' decree to reestablish Israel (Resolution 181).

2.) It is a complete Jubilee-cycle from the 1967 conquest of Jerusalem (1967 + 49 + Jubilee year = 2017).

3.) If the Tribulation starts in Fall 2017, then that is in the 70th Jewish year from the rebirth of Israel in 1948.  Alternatively, it is in the 69th biblical year from the rebirth of Israel, which would be a powerful symbol of the fact that the world would be about to enter Daniel's 70th week.

4.) 2017 to 2024 offers the only timeline in recent memory where the Tribulation of 2550 days could begin unquestionably on a Fall Feast date and end on a Fall Feast date. ...
9.) 12th-century Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel predicted 2017 as the year of Messiah. ...
12.) The Shemitah year may actually be 2016/2017.  Though Jonathan Cahn found an amazing pattern, he was looking at when economic crashes began, not when they reached their worst point.  In the previous two cycles, the crashes reached their worst points in 2009 and 2002, respectively, not 2008 and 2001.  According to what many think is a more accurate Shemitah and Jubilee cycle, the next Shemitah year is actually 2016/2017 and the next Jubilee year is 2017/2018. ...

13.) 2017 is 50 years (a full jubilee cycle) from 1967 (conquest of Jerusalem), 70 years (a complete generation) from 1947 (decree to reestablish Israel), 100 years ( two complete jubilee cycles) from 1917 (Balfour declaration), and 120 years (see Genesis 6:3) from 1897 (First Zionist Congress, the first Jewish government since 70 AD). ...
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wayofpeace: ... recently, i found how 2016 is made up of these 666 x 3, plus 3 6's ... add to that Donald Trump, the most anti-christian person ever to run for president, and the fact that 4 out of 5 white evangelicals are voting for him IN a year that has those strange 666s... and it has got me wondering. http://www.unsealed.org/2015/11/2017-to-2024-tribulation-theory.html accessed 11/29/16
Many Prophetic Clues Warn Us -- This Worlds Final Years End in 2019
Donald Trump in Prophecy? “The Last Trump”
May 12, 2016
I am not suggesting that Donald Trump absolutely IS the last trump – but since the LAST TRUMP is one of the most clear and final signs in end times prophecy, can we overlook the possibility that a presidential candidate named Trump is being used as a sign by God?  I have been explaining that evidence points towards everyone knowing the real identity of the politician who has not yet been revealed as the Antichrist in 2016.  (I suspect one politician in particular, but then again I thought this would have been much more clear by now already…)
As for biblical clues on an end times TRUMP:

First, Paul wrote to the Church at Thessalonica, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thess. 4:13-18).

Second, Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth, “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:51-53). ...
I strongly suspect that 2016-2019 will wrap up the fulfillment of all end times Bible prophecy.  ... Steven Ben DeNoon of Israeli News Live explains how officials of the Temple Institute in Israel have already started Temple sacrifices (which the Antichrist will stop) and that Donald Trump COULD be a sign of the imminent domination of the Antichrist and the start of the final 3.5 years of Great Tribulation. https://endtimesand2019.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/donald-trump-in-prophecy-the-last-trump/

There is NO relationship between the president-elect's last name and those scriptures in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. It is not biblically possible for the world to end in 2019.
A Solar Eclipse Marks the End in 2017?
Believe or not, some claim that a massive solar eclispe means that the end will happen in 2017:
Apocalypse 'coming in 2017' after total solar eclipse hits US and UK
A TOTAL solar eclipse will plunge Britain and America into darkness - and bring on the end of the world next year.

4th September 2016
Or so it's claimed by one group of hardcore Christians, who believe they will soon be raptured into heaven.
And in their bid to prove it, they've rallied a series of bizarre calculations to their cause.

The enormous eclipse, set for next August 21, will spread from one US coast to the other.
Western Europe, including the UK, Ireland, France and Spain will then experience a partial eclipse.
Crossing 12 US states, it'll be the first total solar eclipse to travel coast to coast for nearly a century.

Several major cities in the Bible Belt will lose all sunlight, including Nashville, Tennessee and St Louis, Missouri.
It's a coincidence that has got doomsayers at Christian website UNSEALED spooked, with many predicting the end times in 2017.

They're pointing to verses in the apocalyptic Bible book, Revelations, describing a woman clothed in the sun, with the moon at her feet.
According to Scripture, this pregnant woman will be hunted by a Satanic seven-headed dragon eager to eat her unborn child.

But the child will be born and taken unto god, the verses foretell, before the dragon is defeated by an angel army.

More is made of Israel's birth as a state, a process which began when the UK announced its withdrawal from Palestine in 1947. (Havis S. The Star. http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/543062/Total-solar-eclipse-2017-apocalypse-end-times-world-US-America-UK-Europe-Bible-revelations)
First, solar eclipses do not cause the end of the world:
Dangers to Earth during an eclipse??

Could an eclipse spell doom for all mankind??
In a word - no. There is no danger at all to the Earth from solar rays, cosmic cataclysms, volcanic or tectonic eruptions, or any other eclipse-induced phenomenon that any self-anointed "authority" writes a book about. Eclipses have been happening on earth for a VERY long time, and we're all magically still here. The world didn't end during the total eclipses of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, or 2016. And there simply isn't any chance that the 2017 eclipse will be any different from any of its predecessors: Cool to observe, and that's about it.  http://www.eclipse2017.org/2017/danger.htm

And secondly, Revelation 12 is not related to a solar eclipse. Notice it:
1 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. 6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. (Revelation 12:1-6)

This pointing to a solar eclipse reminds me of the blood moon nonsense that people pointed to a few years ago.
There is No Final King of the North or King of the South Yet
One reason that the Great Tribulation will not begin yet is that one known as the final King of the North needs to rise up.

The Bible, in the Book of Daniel, shows that the coming "the King of the North" will make a deal of some sort with one called the King of the South just before the appointed time of the end:
27 Both these kings' hearts shall be bent on evil, and they shall speak lies at the same table; but it shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time (Daniel 11:27).

Daniel chapter 11 tells much about the end times and it involves both a King of the South and a King of the North. And while there has been a president of the South and a president of the North in the Union for the Mediterranean (see Deal Leading to Psalm 83?), these individuals have not held the type of power (nor prerogatives) of the prophesied King of the North and the King of the South.

Nor will European Union's Herman Van Rompuy likely be the final King of the North as he does not seem to fit that description. However, if his successor raises taxes, he may fulfill the role of the person listed in Daniel 11:20; but again that would not make him the final King of the North.

I have been specifically asked why I can be so certain that the Great Tribulation cannot begin for at least 3 1/2 years by various ones.
Why can YOU and I be certain?

Because of what Jesus taught about the end.
In Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14, Jesus specifically referred to an event in the writings from the Prophet Daniel as the SIGN to know when to flee--a fleeing that takes place BEFORE the Great Tribulation begins (Matthew 24:21). The sign Jesus referred to had to do with actions of a prince (Daniel 9:27) who will become the King of the North (Daniel 11).

Here is that sign that comes AFTER the deal in Daniel 11:27--this is essentially the sign Jesus said to look for:
31 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. (Daniel 11:31)
The “him” is the final King of the North--the Great Tribulation takes place AFTER that event (cf. Matthew 24:15; Matthew 24:21).

Not only will the Great Tribulation not start before there is an actual King of the South and an actual final King of the North, a prince who will later become that King of the North will first confirm a deal (probably a peace deal) with Israel (probably somewhat including the United States and some Arab lands as part of the "many" in Daniel 9:27).

Daniel 11:27 itself requires two kings, which suggests that the future "prince" will gain more and more importance after the deal in Daniel 9:27 (for more information on the sequence of Daniel 11, please see the article the King of the North). It may take a regional or other war in the Middle East to trigger a peace deal. And if Isaiah 17:1 concerning the destruction of Damascus is to be fulfilled prior to the start of the Great Tribulation, the destruction of Damascus in Syria should be a clear sign to those who discount biblical prophecy that Bible prophecy will come to pass.  Damascus has claimed to the longest continuously inhabited city on the earth and its destruction would be unprecedented. But with all the news about Syria, it is certainly possibly that the destruction of Damascus can come soon (for some details, please watch Damascus and Syria in Prophecy).

As far as the King of the South goes, there simply is not a confederation of Islamic nations that work close enough together yet in order to be led by the King of the South.  While it is true that there are two groups that ultimately may ultimately allow this (see Iraq & the King of the South and Mediterranean Union Makes Deal With Israel and Arab States), the Islamic Mahdi/Caliph has not yet been recognized by a major amount of Muslims. And while this is possible to occur in 2017, the King of the South also will not be ready militarily to fulfill prophecies such as those in Daniel 11:40. The Muslim Brotherhood is a group that seems to want to end up with the biblical King of the South. Although the Muslim Brotherhood gained some prominence for a time, it also has problems. Nor does it yet have the type of confederation that could fulfill Daniel 11:40-43. The same goes for the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and Boko Haram at this stage.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that there is an old 17th century Shiite prophecy that when a black man will lead the government of the "strongest armies" of the West (see also Who is the King of the West?), he will do something that results in the rise of an Islamic Mahdi, who is probably the final King of the South (see Barack Obama in Islamic Prophecy?). So, the end, even according to that "prophecy" would seem to be getting close. Plus both the Obama Administration and others have pushed for a confederation like the one the Bible says will be led by King of the South to form--and one day, relatively soon, it will. But the great tribulation itself will not start before 2021.

A "Prince" Comes First
As alluded to earlier, there is something that takes place 3 1/2 years before the Great Tribulation. Furthermore, the Bible shows that prior to being referred to as "the King of the North," there is an individual who initially appears to be referred to as a "prince" in Daniel 9:26-27 (one is normally a "prince", or rising leader, before one becomes a "king").

Since this deal has still not been made, let alone confirmed, this would suggest that contrary to claims of various false prophets (Ronald Weinland of CGPFK and Harold Camping come to mind) the Great Tribulation has not already began.
Notice that in the book of Daniel there is a prophecy related to the end times that states:

26 And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.

27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate (Daniel 9:26-27).
The ‘one week’ has generally been understood by prophecy watchers to mean a seven year deal, that is broken in the middle of it (after 3 1/2 years). It has long been my view that Israel will not agree to the type of seven-year covenant what the Bible mentions in Daniel 9:27 without pressure and that the Europeans will be involved.
For more details on this deal and why it would involve a European, please check out the article: The 'Peace Deal' of Daniel 9:27.
Since this Middle East peace deal has not been completed (at least not publicly), then if one adds 3 1/2 years to now, the earliest this could be would be the year 2021. We are simply not yet to the part that a "prince of the north" has come on the scene in that major way. Which of course means that there still is no final King of the North--though he is alive now, but not yet in that role.
Again, for more details on this deal, please check out the article: The 'Peace Deal' of Daniel 9:27.

Brief Sequential Prophetic Summary
Since the Great Tribulation cannot happen yet, what are some specific events to look for which occur prior to the Great Tribulation?

The basic sequence is that certain sorrows and troubles will continue (Mark 13:7-8). This is happening.
The 'peace' deal of Daniel 9:27 is confirmed. Deals have been proposed, but the biblical one has not yet been made nor confirmed. 
A King of the North (who was a 'prince' in Daniel 9:27) and a King of the South (Daniel 11:27) will arise. We are seeing the foundations for this now.
Animal sacrifices will begin (cf. Daniel 9:27). (Note: It is possible that the King of the South could rise up prior to Daniel 9:27 or even after the sacrifices resume as could the King of the North).

The gospel then will have been preached enough to the world as a witness for the end to come (Matthew 24:14). This seems to be related to the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28 (see also Preparing for the 'Short Work' and The Famine of the Word). 
Jewish sacrifices will be stopped (Daniel 9:27).  Some Jews would like to start them now, but the Israeli government will not currently allow it. Europe will reorganize into ten 'kingdoms' (not necessarily ten currently existing nations as some have improperly insisted upon and give power the Beast (see Must the Ten Kings of Revelation 17:12 Rule over Ten Currently Existing Nations?)--some of this could happen earlier.

The abomination of desolation will then be set up (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14) because of actions of the King of the North (Daniel 9:27; 11:31). The most faithful expect to continue to tell what is happening until they are somehow stopped (cf. Amos 8:11-12; see also Preparing for the 'Short Work' and The Famine of the Word).
A decree is to be issued (Zephaniah 2:1-3) and then the most faithful Philadelphians will 'fly' to the wilderness (Revelation 12:14-16) and those in Judea should flee per Jesus' statements in Matthew 24:15-19 and Mark 13:15-18 (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra). Prior to the time the Great Tribulation starts, the two witnesses will support the work, and near its start, they will get power to do their job (Revelation 11:3; see also Who Are The Two Witnesses?).

Bolstered by the Antichrist, then the Great Tribulation will begin (Matthew 24:21-22; Mark 13:19-20; Daniel 11:39, 12:1b; cf. Habakkuk 2:7-8). This will eliminate the USA and its Anglo-Saxon descended allies as nations (Daniel 11:39; Jeremiah 30:7; Habakkuk 2:7-8). The King of the South will shortly later push against the King of the North and get eliminated (Daniel 11:40-43).

About a month or so less than 2 ½ years after the Great Tribulation began, the sixth seal will be opened, there will be a 'blood moon' and a darkened sun (Revelation 6:12; Joel 2:30-31; see also Blood Moons and Prophecy), then the 144,000 of Revelation 7:1-8 will be sealed.

Shortly thereafter, the seventh seal will be opened (Revelation 8:1-6) and year long Day of the Lord (Isaiah 34:8) will begin with trumpet blasts, plagues, etc. (Revelation 8-7-13; 9:1-21; 11”13-14).  Then at the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15) Jesus will return to establish the millennial kingdom.
The Great Tribulation should begin about 3 1/2 years after the peace deal (Daniel 9:27) is confirmed, and right after the King of the North tries to proclaim peace and safety (1 Thessalonians 5:3) to throw people off (cf. Daniel 11:24) for his invasion plans.

Europe is Not Quite Ready to Support the King of the North Yet
Another reason that now is not quite the time for the start of the Great Tribulation (though the peace deal could happen very soon), is that I have traveled to Europe many times in the past several years, and can state that the Europeans are simply not unified enough to be ready to fulfill their role as the supporters of the King of the North – the Final Beast military power, yet.

But they are looking at proposing peace deals in the Middle East (http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-11-13-voa26.cfm) and to takeover the leadership of the West (see ‘America Has Abdicated Its Leadership of the West’). Much of Europe is so irreligious that it is likely that Europeans will need to see "signs and lying wonders" to get fully ready--but that is expected according to biblical (2 Thessalonians 2:7-9; Revelation 13:11-17; 18:23) and even non-biblical prophecy.
Now, in order to be able to destroy the United States and its Anglo-allies (which will start the Great Tribulation), the Europeans would also benefit from having their own military satellite tracking system--and while that may not be an absolute requirement, they will not have enough of their own ready until around 2018 or later (see also EU Approves Galileo For Military Use, which first thought it could be sooner). And oddly, the USA has decided to let the European Galileo system link to GPS (see US Cites China as Reason to Link to Galileo! and USA GPS and EU Galileo linking was expected), this will give the Europeans a unique military capability in a few years.

Furthermore, while Europe is getting information about USA surveillance, it has not received enough to be ready yet, but the USA has announced steps that will help the USA here (Will USA Spying Help the Beast Power? and The Snowden Leaks are Leading to the Destruction of the USA).

Additionally, Europe still has apparently not benefited enough militarily from its Large Hadron Collider project--which may be where it will develop a major military advantage (The Large Hadron Collider has Military Potential), which it would seem to need to fulfill biblical prophecy (cf. Revelation 13:4) (for more details, also watch the video Could the Large Hadron Collider lead to destruction?). And as mentioned before, since the deal in Daniel 9:27 has not been made, it will be at least 3 1/2 years before the King of the North can stop the sacrifices.

Of course, the sacrifices must start before they stop (Daniel 9:27; 11:31).  Some believe that the identification of a 'red heifer' is needed for those sacrifices to be started and one was pubicly announced in 2014 (see The Red Heifer, Jewish Beliefs, and the End of the World), sacrifices could resume (some Jews believe that the red heifer needs to be three years of age, which it should be by 2017). And while it is remotely possible that regular sacrifices will start in 2017, that is remote (see also Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required? and The Red Heifer, Jewish Beliefs, and the End of the World).  But even if they do, they will not be stopped by the King of the North in 2017 in a way to fulfill the prophecies in Daniel.

Europe, by the way, will have to reorganize. And by more than the Brexit.
The Bible shows that ten kings, who have not yet a kingdom, will rise up:
12 "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. (Revelation 17:12)
As I write this, the above has not happened yet. Apparently, somewhat shortly after the above happens, something will trigger another reorganization for them to give power to the Beast (King of the North):
13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will make war with the Lamb ... (Revelation 17:13-14)
The Beast will then reign for 3 1/2 years (forty-two months):
3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. 4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.
6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:3-8)

So, when we see Europe reorganize into ten districts/kingdoms, this could be a sign that the Great Tribulation will start soon, and the persecution, the fifth seal of Revelation, is about to open.

However, many COGs and others misunderstand this (for some details, see Must the Ten Kings of Revelation 17:12 Rule over Ten Currently Existing Nations?).
No Deal Yet, Matthew 24, Luke 21, and the Days of Daniel 12
Furthermore, notice when the 1290 days (roughly 3 1/2 years) of Daniel 12 begins:
11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days (Daniel 12:11).
Thus, both Daniel 9:27 and 12:11 seem to be referring to a common event, and 12:11 shows that this begins a period of roughly 3 1/2 years.
Notice also the following:
"...And the abomination that maketh desolate set up." What is this abomination? This refers to Daniel 11:31 and Matthew 24:15. In Daniel 11:31, the armies of Antiochus Ephiphanes were at Jerusalem, and some commentators have interpreted it as Antiochus placing a statue of Jupiter in the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Not only does Matthew 24:15 also refer to this, but in a parallel New Testament scripture, Luke 21:20 speaks of the same thing as "Jerusalem compassed with armies." This is the correct meaning of this "abomination." It is the armies--not a statue--that make Jerusalem desolate. From this time (Dan. 12:11) to Christ's coming will be 1290 days. Now, verse 12, "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the 1335 days. Never before have we understood these periods of 1260, 1290, and 1335 days. But it seems evident, now, a blessing is pronounced on us-- GOD'S CHURCH--who wait and endure until the 1335 days--approximately 1335 days prior to Christ's coming. But since no one can know the day or the hour of His coming, we probably shall not be able to know the exact day that this 1335 days begins. But apparently that is the time when OUR WORK SHALL END. That will be a time when the UNITED EUROPE shall appear --the revival of the medieval "Holy Roman Empire." We shall then be warned, and readied to be taken to a place of refuge and safety from the Great Tribulation. Forty-five days later "the beast's" armies will surround Jerusalem. Thirty days later the Great Tribulation will probably start... (Armstrong HW. The Time We Are In, Now. Pastor General's Report-Vol 1, No. 15, November 20, 1979, Page 2)
Notice the sequence of events that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24, it is the only place in the Bible where the expression "great tribulation" is used with when it will begin (it is also similar to Luke 21, which is also shown below) and it also says when to flee if you are in Judea:
15 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matthew 24:15-21).
20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)
So Jesus shows that after you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel (Daniel 9:27;11:31;12:11) it is time to flee for any in Judea (for more details on where, please see the article There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra) and THEN THERE WILL BE GREAT TRIBULATION! Also, many will be taken captive (see Will the Anglo-Nations be Divided?) This is during a time of the Gentiles--a time when the Israelite Anglo-descended nations have lost their major power in the world (see also Who is the King of the West? Why is there no End-Time King of the West in Bible Prophecy?). As far as an idea of where the abomination of desolation may be set up, check out the article Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill.

Daniel also wrote about this time. Here is one specific quote:
1 "At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book. (Daniel 12:1)
Daniel and Jesus were referring to the same event. The time that Michael stands up is a reference also to the sequence in Daniel 11:35 (for details, see also King of the North).

Since the peace deal with the confirmation of the future King of the North has not yet occurred, the abomination involved with removal of the sacrifices (which have not even started yet) cannot happen for at least 3 1/2 years from now. Thus the great tribulation will not occur until after the faithful flee. Then this means that (unless this agreement occurred secretly and prior to July 1, 2016, an idea that various news reports and world events suggest is impossible), that the intense 3 1/2 year period of the great tribulation cannot occur before 2021! For details on the 1335 days of Daniel, please see the article on the King of the North.

If one adds 3 1/2 years to any current or future date, then a date of 2021 or later is the only period possible (and I believe it will be later than 2021). Thus, the Great Tribulation CANNOT occur in 2017 nor prior to 2021! And I do not believe it is possible before 2022 as I do not believe that the deal of Daniel 9:27 will be confirmed until the Fall of the year.

Is a Peace Deal like Daniel 9:27 Under Consideration?
Perhaps that it should be noted that even though Israel sometimes seems to be moving towards an agreement like the one in Daniel 9:27, one is not yet in place:
July 01, 2015
Solving the Israeli-Arab conflict could send a signal of “peace and stability” to the region, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Tuesday, softly contradicting Israel’s oft-stated position that the current regional turmoil shows the Palestinian issue is not key to a calm Middle East.

Gentiloni, at a photo opportunity at the Prime Minister’s Office before meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that the way to “find peace and security” is through the “traditional way” of a two-state solution, “where the Palestinian people and the Jewish people could live in peace.” http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Italian-FM-Peace-deal-could-send-signal-of-stability-to-Middle-East-407646

The press in Israel sometimes has hinted that it needs a peace/military deal involving the Europeans (though they will not like how it will turn out). Here is one such item:
The idea of the Greater Land of Israel lives on only in the political faction to the right of Likud. The leaders of the national majority, like their voters, have also accepted the idea of parting from Shuafat, Abu Dis and the Golan Heights.

The stumbling block that prevents Israel's departure from the territories is not the demarcation of the final border between us and our neighbors. The only obstacle seen as impassable today on the way to an agreement is the security issue after the territories are vacated. As long as this dilemma has no answer that is convincing to most Israelis, no government, weak or strong, will be able to implement an agreement with our neighbors, even if it dares to sign one...
There is little doubt that most Palestinian people, as well as the government in Ramallah, would accept such an army willingly, if not enthusiastically. The Gaza Strip is a different story, and some arm-twisting would be required, not on the people but certainly on Hamas.

Such a force cannot be established without Israel's agreement. Israel would of course demand as part of that agreement, and would undoubtedly receive, close cooperation with the international force, first and foremost in matters of intelligence and counterterrorism. The foreign force should be here temporarily, its task will include helping to set up an effective Palestinian administration and Palestinian security forces who would eventually serve as a reliable counterterrorist force. All this will ultimately allow for the departure of the foreign army from the West Bank without Israel's security being endangered.

The question is, who will take on this mission?...
At this moment the European Union appears to be the only option. The EU, under French and German leadership, could be persuaded to accept the responsibility (A foreign army at the gate Haaretz, Israel, October 7, 2008).

An interesting 2011 news development in Israel was a survey that found that 81% of Israelis want to become part of the European Union (for details, see 81% of Israelis Want to Join the EU). Because of such strong support, it would seem that the Israelis would be highly likely to accept what would otherwise be considered an unacceptable "peace deal" if the Europeans wanted them to accept it (perhaps by telling the Israelis that their acceptance could lead to EU membership).
And it should be noted that the Vatican itself wants an agreement with Israel related to local Catholic matters in Israel (WND: Kerry proposed deal to give Vatican control of at least one ‘holy site’ in Jerusalem), and made one in June 2013 (watch Does the ‘Cenacle’ deal have prophetic ramifications? or check out Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill), though it still does not have all that it wants.
Thus, it may be that since Israel wants closer agreement with the Europeans and the Vatican (which supports increased European unity) wants a more comprehensive agreement with Israel than it has had in the past, that one will happen relatively soon.

In 2010 Arab nations, like Jordan were encouraging the Europeans to be part of the Middle East peace process:
AMMAN — Jordan’s King Abdullah II told the foreign ministers of France and Spain on Monday that Europe has a key role to play in the Middle East...
“Europe plays a key role in supporting peace efforts to overcome problems facing the Palestinian-Israeli talks,” the king told France’s Bernard Kouchner and Miguel Angel Moratinos of Spain at a meeting…
Speaking to reporters, Moratinos said Israel recognised Europe was playing a growing role in efforts to resolve the Middle East conflict. Habib R. Jordan backs Europe role in Mideast after Israel snub. AFP, 11 October 2010, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jIdlxuA_nEOehq0EdrFfn3FMvZlQ?docId
We in the Continuing Church of God have tended to believe that a peace deal involving the Middle East and the EU would be confirmed, and probably in some autumn.

LCG Evangelist Dr. Meredith stated in a sermon (Prepare for the Fast, Given, February 6, 2010) that such a deal (Daniel 9:27) could happen in 2010--and when I told him within a week or so of watching that sermon that he was premature and what he said did not appear possible, he agreed, though he sadly never told his congregants. Though he was wrong about the year, it is a fact that the Europeans intend to confirm some type of Middle East peace deal.

In 2011, an "interim peace deal" was proposed by the Israelis (Israel’s Lieberman charts interim peace deal- report.  Reuters, January 23, 2011.  http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCATRE70M0EM20110123). Since the apparent peace deal of Daniel 9:27 has a time period on it, it is an interim deal! So, the idea of having a temporary peace deal in the Middle East has at least been proposed.
The EU had hoped to get a deal in 2011 (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i2SXFoczv0eZ3e57W1SuNfoGOtvg?docId=CNG.45ed54b37a8da7196eec4d99230b920e.51).

It, along with the USA, has tried to get a deal since. Negotiations fell apart in April 2015. The Russians were hoping to try to broker a deal in late 2016 (see Russia arranging peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians–is this the Daniel 9:27 deal?)--but that did not work out that year.

But again, since the deal of Daniel 9:27 has not been made yet, it does not seem possible that the Great Tribulation can begin prior to 2021 (and probably not until later)--even though the Europeans still hope for a deal. It may be that some type of regional war or other conflict may have to happen before there is the biblically-indicated peace deal (see also The 'peace' deal of Daniel 9:27).
Furthermore, that although the Bible warns about the coming King of the North and this deal, it may be interesting to realize that certain Roman Catholic prophecies seem to look forward to this individual, who they tend to call "the Great Monarch" or "the prince of the north" (this is documented in the article Who is the King of the North?).  But he does not have that type of power yet.
Thus, even though the stage is being set for the end, contrary to the claims of various self-appointed ones, the Great Tribulation WILL NOT begin in 2017 (nor did it begin prior as some have falsely claimed).

The Gospel Still Needs to Be Proclaimed
A point that few seem to recognize is that Matthew 24:14 still needs to be properly fulfilled. Nor are enough portions of the Final Phase of the Work over. 
Recall that Jesus said:
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).
Although God did use Herbert W. Armstrong as a witness in the 20th century, the 21st century world as a whole has not had an adequate witness for the end to yet come (see also Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work? and The Final Phase of the Work).

I strongly believe that God will more powerfully use part of the most faithful part the surviving remnant of the Philadelphia era of the Church of God, currently the Continuing Church of God (CCOG), to lead the final phase of the work and proclaim the good news of the The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

The "short work" of Romans 9:28 will still happen--but CCOG will not be able to complete this work, that part of the final phase of the work, before 2021.
Related to the "short work," the late evangelist John Ogwyn wrote:
God states clearly: “He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness” (Romans 9:28). Who will He use to do it? According to Daniel 11:32 it is “the people who know their God [that] shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Ogwyn J. God’s Church Through the Ages, p. 58)
And of course, since the 6000 years of God's plan apparently has several years left (see Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?) combined with the fact that all the other signs mentioned in this update are not ready yet (though events seem to be working towards that objective), the Great Tribulation simply cannot begin in 2017, nor has the final portion of the short work began.
Yet, sometime after the deal in Daniel 9:27 is completed people like me and other Philadelphia remnant Church of God leaders will proclaim it as well as the gospel message. Matthew 24:14 will be fulfilled and the identification of the "prince" will likely enrage him enough to get him to try to stop the work, and through government pressure he may get internet and other media suspended for us (see Who is the King of the North?).
Remember, the Bible warns:
12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.  (Amos 8:12, KJV)
With FCC "net neutrality" rules and other regulations, we are getting close to that time when governments will be too offended by the truth and some will take steps to stop it from being proclaimed. "Warning"

So What is Happening Now? We Are in the Beginning of Sorrows
There has been an increase in natural disasters in some recent years and an accelleration of certain types of earthquakes (more details as well as most recent information on earthquakes can be found in the article Earthquakes Today and Bible Prophecy):
About 42 million people were forced to flee their homes because of natural disasters around the world in 2010, more than double the number during the previous year...The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said the increase from 17 million displaced people in 2009 was mainly due to the impact of "mega-disasters"...
It said more than 90 percent of the disaster displacements were caused by weather-related hazards such as floods and storms that were probably impacted by global warming, but it couldn't say to what extent.

"The intensity and frequency of extreme weather events is increasing, and this trend is only set to continue. With all probability, the number of those affected and displaced will rise as human-induced climate change comes into full force," said Elisabeth Rasmusson, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. (Amland BH. Millions displaced by natural disasters last year. Associated Press, June 5, 2011. http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/millions-displaced-by-natural-968478.html)

A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an "unprecedented" and "almost certainly manmade" increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That's six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century. While the changes in the area's seismicity began in 2001, the trend has really accelerated since 2009, the geologists note. (Madrigal A. Middle America Is Experiencing a Massive Increase in 3.0+ Earthquakes. The Atlantic, April 6, 2012. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/04/middle-america-is-experiencing-a-massive-increase-in-30-earthquakes/255568/

There has also been more extreme weather in 2011 and 2012 and 2013 and 2014 and 2015 and 2016, including droughts around the world as well as across the USA (an article of related interest may be Weather Blessings and Sorrows).
Some will say, why all the problems now? Surely they mean something.
And surely they do. The Apostle Paul warned that in the last days, perilous times would come:
3:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
We seem to be in those perilous times.
With all of the natural disasters such as earthquakes (Earthquakes Today and Bible Prophecy), floods, related food shortages, recessions, and emerging pestilences in the past few years, perhaps this would be a good time to show people that these are to start PRIOR to the “great tribulation.”
Some do not believe that it is at all possible to know when the Great Tribulation will begin. Various ones will cite the following from Jesus:
32 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Mark 13:32).
But is that proof that we cannot know about when it will occur?
No. There are several scriptural proofs, three of which I will bring up here now.
First of all, the Apostle Paul made it clear that true Christians would know about when it would occur:
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6)
And second of all, the disciples asked Jesus the sequence:
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3)
Jesus did NOT respond with, there is nothing to look for, you cannot possibly know. Instead, notice what Jesus taught in response:
4 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

15 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matthew 24:4-21).

Thus, recent items such as earthquakes, economic turmoils, and food shortages should, at most, be considered as related to “the beginning of sorrows” (which may or may not yet have started in their final intensity) and not the “great tribulation” itself.  The “great tribulation” does NOT begin until verse 21.  And while “tribulation” is involved in verse 9, this seems to be referring the persecuting tribulation that true Philadelphia Christians will face just prior to the great tribulation. But when the sacrifices stop and the abomination is set up (Daniel 9:27; 11:31), it will be time for the faithful to flee (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra).
FWIW, I have suspected that the beginning of sorrows may have begun on September 19, 2009 or shortly thereafter. During the Feast of Tabernacles, in the first week of October in 2009, a sense came over me that something just happened. Like what? That we were then in the 'beginning of sorrows." I had not been watching the news, but sensed that it either began right then or perhaps it had began on the Feast of Trumpets that year.

After returning from the Feast of Tabernacles, I did some research to look to see if any major ecumenical event could have happened around then.
Well, there was a meeting of the Eastern Orthodox that included that date which seemed to embrace the ecumenical agenda of the white horseman of Revelation 6:1-2. And that seemed to be consistent with the first sorrow Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24:4-5. I perhaps should mention that I also told the presiding evangelist of my former church in November of 2009, that the beginning of sorrows may have started on September 19, 2009 or shortly thereafter, and then that church put out several writings that the beginning of sorrows had begun.

During the period of September 15-22, 2009, the Eastern Orthodox held a significant pan-Orthodox conference; working towards unity was one of the objectives (World Council of Churches Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Consultation Towards the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) Leros, Greece. 15-22 September 2009).  Notice the following from an official Eastern Orthodox website:

  1. Responding to the invitation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) to offer a theological contribution to the process leading to the 2011 International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in Kingston, Jamaica, an Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Consultation was held in the island of Leros, Greece, 15-22 September 2009.
  2. The gathering was graciously hosted, on behalf of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, by H.E. Metropolitan Paisios of Leros, Kalymnos and Astypalaia, in the Dodecanese islands, Greece.
  3. The meeting brought together twenty-five participants from nearly all Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, hierarchs, priests, members of monastic communities, university professors, lay persons male and female, and WCC staff. (World Council of Churches. Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Consultation Towards the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) Leros, Greece. 15-22 September 2009. 09/22/09 https://www.patriarchate.org/world-council-of-churches/-/asset_publisher/jSr7xbXp3kBW/content/world-council-of-churches-inter-orthodox-preparatory-consultation-towards-the-international-ecumenical-peace-convocation-iepc-leros-greece-15-22-septe)
    By itself, the meeting did not seem like too much, but it was partially in response to the World Council of Churches. Later Orthodox statements and developments have demonstrated that it might have been quite important.
    After that meeting. 0n October 15, 2009, the Vatican’s then top ecumenical official reported:
    The official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the mainline Protestant Churches — Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed and Methodist — is entering a new phase, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.  Cardinal Walter Kasper pointed this out Thursday during a press conference at the Vatican…(Cardinal Kasper on 40 Years of Dialogue Says Catholic-Protestant Relations Entering New Phase.Zenit, October 16, 2009)
    Notice this was called “a new phase” in the official dialogue, suggesting that major changes were occurring.   On the next day, the Vatican and the Orthodox began a new round of ecumenical negotiations.

The eleventh meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church took place in Paphos, Cyprus, a city with a rich history, having received three Apostles, Paul, Barnabas and Mark. The meeting took place from 16-23 October 2009…The Orthodox meeting discussed among other things the negative reactions to the Dialogue by certain Orthodox circles, and unanimously considered them as totally unfounded and unacceptable, providing false and misleading information. (Comminique. JOINT INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THEOLOGICAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH  AND THE ORTHODOX CHURCH. 11TH PLENARY SESSION.Paphos, Cyprus, 16-23 October 2009.  Paphos, Cyprus, 22 October 2009.  http://www.ec-patr.org/docdisplay.php?lang=en&id=1124&tla=en).

The International Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church has progressed in its reflection on the role of the bishop of Rome. The meeting was attended by 20 Catholic members; all Orthodox Churches were represented, with the exception of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria. The commission worked under the guidance of two co-presidents: the Catholic representative was Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; and the Orthodox representative was Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamum. (Orthodox-Catholic Commission Studies Primacy of Peter Concludes 11th Plenary Session in Paphos.Zenit, October 23, 2009)
Because of these actions, I have speculated that the ‘beginning of sorrows’ that Jesus spoke of (Matthew 24:4-8) may have actually began on or near September 19, 2009–during the WCC and Eastern Orthodox meeting. The actions of Patriarch Bartholomew may have triggered this.

Consider that this first seal is to be (or even was) opened around the time when the one who will become the False Prophet successfully works with groups which will re-connect with Rome. At least one significant re-connection happened in 2009 with some of the Anglicans (Messia H, Hanna J.  Vatican welcomes Anglicans into Catholic Church.  CNN, October 21, 2009. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/10/20/vatican.anglican.church/ viewed 10/25/09). This has been followed by one or more declarations involving the Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, and others related tothe Church of Rome. Expect to see more declarations/deals beyond those which have already happened.

Interestingly, years later, on September 20, 2016, a Catholic publication referred to Patriarch Bartholomew as a "great ecumenist" (see Patriarch Bartholomew praised as a ‘great ecumenist’–will this end in disaster?). The sun-worshiping Roman Emperor Constantine is considered “great” for his compromising and blending of religions. He claimed to see a vision of the sun-god and then later a cross in the sky. Constantine impacted world history and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople seems to be as well, though a but more subtly as far as the world is concerned. Could Patriarch Bartholomew tipped the scales for many of the Eastern Orthodox to work towards ecumenical unity at that time? It certainly seems so.
With all the troubles we have had, we certainly seem to be in the beginning of sorrows. Signs and wonders are expected (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11) and this may be what helps drive other religions without a Greco-Roman background to be “conquered” by the first horseman (cf. Revelation 18:23).
Now third of all, notice also Jesus' words:
13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. (Matthew 25:13)
36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36)
3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. (Revelation 3:3)
33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming — in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning — 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch! (Mark 13:33-37)
So, Jesus said to watch, because otherwise we would not know. In Mark's account, He said this RIGHT AFTER saying He did not then know the date and hour. Thus, if we watch as He taught, we certainly can have an idea that the great tribulation is close--otherwise Jesus would not have repeatedly stated to His followers to watch.
Since the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7) first affects the descendants of Jacob (and particularly, Ephraim and Manasseh, see Anglo - America in Prophecy), it would be expected that the USA and some of its Anglo-allies will be first weakened during the "beginning of sorrows." And we have seen some of this already. Because many DO NOT understand the modern identity of Jacob's descendants, they do not realize the significance of the final time of the Gentiles. The past couple of centuries have been dominated by the decendants of Jacob's on Joseph, British-Ephraim and the American-Manasseh. But that will change.

(About the time to flee, which is after the beginning of sorrows has been going on for years, Michael will stand up and then the great tribulation will follow, "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book" Daniel 12:1.)
Notice Mark's account of the beginning of sorrows:
5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 6 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and will deceive many. 7 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows (Mark 13:5-8).
There have been earthquakes in various places (see Earthquakes Today and Bible Prophecy), limited famines, and troubles in the years since 2009--so perhaps the sorrows are beginning (and possibly may have began on September 19, 2009).
Jesus spoke of events starting with the beginning of sorrows/troubles, then the great tribulation and the day of the Lord, and then His return in places like Matthew 24. He said that a particular generation would see all these events, and that generation which has seen the start of the beginning of sorrows would seem to be that generation.

In Mark's account the great "tribulation" does not start until verse 19 (essentially after the same events as Matthew's account lists). Economic recessions and even depressions can be considered as "troubles."
Even secular sources warn that things are lining up for famines and major disruptions in the first half of the 21st century.  Notice one such source from March 19, 2009:
Food and energy shortages will create 'perfect storm', says Prof John Beddington
Growing populations, falling energy sources and food shortages will create the "perfect storm" by 2030, the government's chief scientist Professor John Beddington has said.
The demand for resources will create a crisis with dire consequences, Prof Beddington predicts.

Demand for food and energy will jump 50 per cent by 2030 and for fresh water by 30 per cent, as the global population tops 8.3 billion, he is due to tell a conference in London.

Climate change will exacerbate matters in unpredictable ways, he will add.
"It's a perfect storm," Prof Beddington will tell the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference… Prof Beddington said the "storm" would create war, unrest and mass migration…
He said food reserves are at a 50-year low but the world requires 50 per cent more energy, food and water by 2030.
Prof Beddington said climate change would mean Northern Europe would become new key centres for food production and other areas would need to use more advanced pesticides.

The United Nations Environment Programme predicts widespread water shortages across Africa, Europe and Asia by 2025. The amount of fresh water available per head of the population is expected to decline sharply in that time.
(Alleyne R.  Food and energy shortages will create 'perfect storm', says Prof John Beddington.  Telegraph, March 19, 2009.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/5015051/Food-and-energy-shortages-will-create-perfect-storm-says-Prof-John-Beddington.html viewed 03/19/08)

During this time, physical preparation, while not as helpful as spiritual preparation, does make sense. We all know the Bible prophecies famines. Should we do something physically? See, Physical Preparation Scriptures for Christians. Various pestilences, food shortages, and terrors are expected PRIOR to the Great Tribulation (see also Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse).

Perhaps it should be mentioned that there are at least 13 Ways President-Elect Trump is Apocalyptic. The end is getting near, especially for the Anglo-American nations (see also Anglo - America in Prophecy) but is not yet.
Sometime during the beginning of sorrows, a prince will start to rise up who will be the final biblical King of the North. The Orthodox seem to realize that he may be identified around then. Near the end of the 4th century, there was an exchange between two important Orthodox leaders pertaining to the beginning of sorrows:
Epiphanius: When will come the end of the world?  What are the ‘beginning of sorrows’ and when shall they take place?  From what signs and events shall humanity be able to know that the end of the world is near and what signs will be manifest?...
Andrew the Fool-for-Christ: Now son, how can I relate to you without tears the events of the beginning of sorrows and the end of the world?  During the End Times, God will reveal as King a certain poor man…This king will rule...Happiness will reign in the world as it did in the days of Noah.  People will become very rich...The entire world will fear this king...he will pursue all persons of the Jewish religion out of Constantinople...and the people will rejoice like in the time of Noah until the deluge came (Tzima Otto, pp. 111, 113,114)
So, some ancient Orthodox writings indicate that the Great Monarch will rise up during the time of the beginning of sorrows—and that is correct--and he will go right into the time of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.  The comment about “persons of Jewish religion” may refer to persecution of the Nazarene sect as Orthodox and Roman Catholics have often indicated that those with Nazarene practices are actually Jews pretending to be Christian.  However, it also needs to be understood, that while the above Orthodox discussion indicates that having things as they were in the days of Noah is a positive thing, the Bible warns that this occurrence comes after the tribulation has began and is a sign that Jesus is about to return (Matthew 24:37-44).

There is also something, from the Book of Ezekiel, that seems to begin during the beginning of sorrows (famine and pestilences) and last until the Great Tribulation (the start of Jacob's trouble, which likely will begin with an attack on the Anglo-nations, please see Daniel 11:39 and Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel):
15 'So it shall be a reproach, a taunt, a lesson, and an astonishment to the nations that are all around you, when I execute judgments among you in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I, the Lord, have spoken. 16 When I send against them the terrible arrows of famine which shall be for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, I will increase the famine upon you and cut off your supply of bread. 17 So I will send against you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I, the Lord, have spoken.'" (Ezekiel 5:15-17)

So, it may be that the Anglo-nations will experience some real hunger as well as disease and/or other pestilences (that could possibly at least partially be triggered by excessive reliance on genetically-modified organisms as part of their agricultural production--for more details, see the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse) that will weaken them enough so that the USA and its Anglo-allies will then be considered attackable by some of their enemies.
Israel and 'This Generation'
Israel became independent on May 14, 1948, and this was officially recognized May 1, 1949. This independence has affected the views of many Protestants related to prophecy. Many base a lot of their prophetic understandings on it.
Many Protestants believe that the modern nation Israel, along with Jews scattered around the world, is ALL OF ISRAEL.
As shown by other scriptures (e.g. Genesis 48:11,15-16,19-20; cf. 1 Chronicles 5:1-2), the name Israel was to be placed on the descendants of Joseph–this made 13 tribes (see also Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel). Later, the Bible shows that God separated ten tribes of Israel (1 Kings 11:31) from those of Judah (1 Kings 12:20).

Yet, it was prophesied that most would call the Jews ‘Israel’:
1 Hear this, O house of Jacob, Who are called by the name of Israel, And have come forth from the wellsprings of Judah (Isaiah 48:1)
This has happened today.
However, because of not understanding other scriptures, many overlook the scriptures that teach that there are other tribes of Israel in other places.  Notice the following from the New Testament:
1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.  ( James 1:1)
So, the idea that there were still other tribes that were not in the area of Judea/Palestine was still recognized in the New Testament.
What might any of this to do with the nation now called Israel?
Some, mainly Protestants, have pointed to the formation of the small nation of Israel as the fulfillment of many end time prophecies.  And this has frequently been overstated. Many consider that the final generation to see the great tribulation and Jesus' return started with 1948.

The Christian Research Journal published the following:
Many Christians in the United States believe that it is their biblical responsibility to support the contemporary Jewish State of Israel for specific theological reasons (as opposed to general political ones), a view known as Christian Zionism. The Pew Research Center put the figure at 63 percent for white evangelicals. This view holds that the regathering of Jewish people to Israel since 1948 is the miraculous fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham to establish Israel as a nation forever in Palestine. Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind novels, together with books written by Hal Lindsey, Pat Robertson, and many others, which propound this view, have sold well over 100 million copies. 

A growing number of Christians, however, are left increasingly uneasy about the idea that God would bring the Jewish people back to Palestine while they are in unbelief, since that was why they were exiled from it in the first place. The methods Israel has used, moreover, to colonize the land and subjugate the Palestinians— many of whom are Christians—do not match the picture of a God‐fearing Israel that Christian Zionists find in their literal interpretation of the ancient prophecies.
(Christian Research Journal, volume 29, number 06, 2006 http://www.equip.org/article/modern-israel-in-bible-prophecy-promised-return-or-impending-exile/#christian-books-1 accessed 04/18/15)
In other words, many Protestants believe this even though Protestants writers have made claims that are not backed up by the literal interpretation of the prophecies in the Bible.

Many claim that the Jews returning to that land from around the world fulfills biblical prophecies. Here is one such claim:
What the scriptures say (just a few of them-more at the end):
Isaiah 43
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, Give them up!’ and to the south,Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth-
In Isaiah 43:5-6, the prophet said that the people of Israel would return to their homeland from the east, the west, the north and the south. Isaiah lived 2700 years ago. Beginning at that time, a succession of empires conquered the land of Israel and forced many into exile. This led to a worldwide scattering of Jews. But, during the past century, millions have returned to Israel.–
Jeremiah 23:3-6
“I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord. “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.  https://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/jewish-return-to-israel-in-end-times/ accessed 04/18/15
But, people in the modern nation of Israel are afraid, David has not been raised up as king of Israel, and only a relatively small percentage of the total Israelite-descended population has ended up in the nation of Israel.  The same source as the above had the following:
… 93.5% of Jews in the world will end up in Israel by 2012. I wonder how true this will turn out to be……..  https://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/jewish-return-to-israel-in-end-times/ accessed 04/18/15
That prediction was in error.  It is currently estimated that there are between about 14 to 18 million Jews (and I suspect much higher, along with at least hundreds of millions of descendants of Israel from the other tribes), with about 6 million living in the nation of Israel.

Even ignoring the other tribes of Israel, it is clear that since most Jews do not live in Israel, that the prophecies some interpret related to the Jews returning to Israel are in error.  These particular prophecies are for a time after the Great Tribulation (see Will the Anglo-Saxon Nations be Divided and Have People Taken as Slaves?) and not prior to it as certain Protestants have claimed.
Notice also another claim from an article titled 10 Prophecies Fulfilled in 1948:
The people of Israel would return to “their own land”
Bible passage: Ezekiel 34:13
Written: between 593-571 BC
Fulfilled: after May 14, 1948
In Ezekiel 34:13, the prophet said that God would gather the people of Israel scattered throughout the world and bring them back to “their own land.” After many centuries of dispersion, hundreds of thousands of Jews returned to their ancient homeland beginning in the late 1800s. But, millions more returned after Israel declared independence in 1948. In other words, millions of exiles returned to their ancient homeland which was now truly “their own land” in the sense that it was now a sovereign Jewish state. (10 Prophecies Fulfilled in 1948 Last Updated: 07/31/2013 21:28  http://watchmanbiblestudy.com/articles/1948propheciesfulfilled.htm accessed 04/18/15)
But is what happened in Israel a possible fulfillment?
Notice the verse mentioned above then others:
13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”
17 ‘And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats. 18 Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture — and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet? 19 And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet.”
20 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. 21 Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, 22 therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them — My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.
25 “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. 27 Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid. 29 I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. 30 Thus they shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord God.’” (Ezekiel 34:13-30)
The tiny nation of Israel since 1948 has NEVER truly dwelled safely. Furthermore, Israel is regularly ‘shamed’ by Gentiles via United Nations’ resolutions, terrorism, and various international statements and actions.
But most importantly, overwhelmingly number of Jews in Israel do not know the true God now as God. This has NOT yet been fulfilled, but will be later (see also Will the Anglo-Saxon Nations be Divided and Have People Taken as Slaves?).
What about the nation of Israel supposedly fulfilling the prophecies claimed to be related to Jesus’ parable of the fig tree?
Here are comments from two Protestant/Baptist prophecy interpreters:
Prophecy,…why is the subject so popular today? One word: Israel.
You see, none of the prophecies concerning the end times were relevant — much less understood — until Israel became a nation again in 1948.
In His parable concerning the fig tree, Jesus told His disciples that when it begins to put forth leaves, they would know that summer is near. In the same way, He said that the generation that saw all of the signs He listed occurring within the same time span, and increasing in frequency and intensity, should recognize that His coming is near.

Many of those “signs” involved the nation of Israel. But before there actually existed a nation of Israel, none of them made sense.  (Lindsey H. The Hal Lindsey Report. 11-01-2013. http://www.hallindsey.com/the-hal-lindsey-report-11012013/)
And there is one main event in bible prophecy that had to happen to usher in the time that the bible calls the “Last Days”, or the “time of Jacob’s trouble”, and that event happened on May 14, 1948 … ”Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer [is] nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, [even] at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
Matthew 24:32-34
This is what’s known as the Fig Tree Prophecy.  (The Fig Tree Prophecy of Matthew 24: How The Rebirth of Israel Signals The Last Days. http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/pages/the_fig_tree_prophecy.htm viewed 05/06/14)
Israel the fig tree has put forth its leaves and been reborn as a nation therefore the coming of Christ draws near. Luke 21:32 also states that a generation would not pass. A generation is between 70-100 years, Israel was established again on May 15, 1948. Jews are still immigrating back to Israel from nations far and wide, just like the Bible said they would. https://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/jewish-return-to-israel-in-end-times/ accessed 04/18/15
Here is one of the passages of scripture that certain ones believe relate to the 1948 formation of the State of Israel:
2 One basket had very good figs, like the figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten, they were so bad. 3 Then the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
And I said, “Figs, the good figs, very good; and the bad, very bad, which cannot be eaten, they are so bad.”
4 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans.  (Jeremiah 24:2-5)
Notice that the above ties Israel with figs, but only claims to bring the good figs back.  Although I have seen the above shown as scriptural evidence that Jesus’ parable of the fig tree relates to the modern nation of Israel (https://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/jewish-return-to-israel-in-end-times/ accessed 04/18/15), that makes little sense as the modern Jews do not seem to be any closer to God than those in Jeremiah’s time. Furthermore, look at the other passages that follow:
6 For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. 7 Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:6-7)
The above clearly has not happened.  Not only has the nation of Israel NOT returned to God with their whole heart, that nation has also lost some of the land that it had in various ‘peace’ negotiations.  Jewish settlers have been plucked up. Hence it is not appropriate to tie Jeremiah 24:2-7 to the modern nation of Israel.

Now why would anyone try?  Well they do to attempt to prove that the nation of Israel is the fig tree that Jesus referred to in the gospels.  Here is what Jesus said:
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.  33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near — at the doors!   34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.  35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.  (Matthew 24:32-35)
28 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.  29 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near — at the doors!  30 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. (Mark 13:28-30)
29 Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.  30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near.  31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.  32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. (Luke 21:29-32)
We will get to what the “all things” Jesus referred to were.  Before going there directly, perhaps it should be mentioned that although he believed that the 1948 recognition by the UN was a prophesied prophetic event, the late Protestant/Baptist scholar Dr. Walvoord wrote:
Matthew 24:32-35; Mark 13:28-21; Luke 21:29-33 … A common interpretation has been to interpret the fig tree as a type of Israel and the revival of Israel as the budding of the fig tree … there is no scriptural basis (Walvoord JF. Prophecy Handbook. Victor Books, 1990, pp. 390-391)
Not only was Dr. Walvoord correct that there is no scriptural basis, I will take it a step further.  Unless a generation is over 70 years, it is NOT POSSIBLE THAT THE FORMATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL IN 1948 FULFILLED THE PARABLE OF THE FIG TREE IN MATTHEW, MARK, OR LUKE.
Jesus noted that the events in Matthew 24. Mark 13, and Luke 21 would all happen within the same generation.  Biblically, a generation was normally considered only 30 or 40 years according to what seems to be Smith’s Bible Dictionary’s understanding of Job 42:16 (Smith W. Smith’s Bible Dictionary. Originally written 1863, Hendrickson Publishers, p.  211).  Here is that scripture:
16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. (Job 42:16)
Essentially, 140 years divided by four generations equals what may be considered 35 years per generation, with 40 years more probable as that would make the grandchild of the last generation 20 years of age.
Even if a generation is biblically longer, it would not seem to be over 70 years or maybe 80:
10 The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.  (Psalms 90:10)
70 years would seem to be the maximum length of a biblical generation.  Since the Great Tribulation cannot possibly start prior to 2021 (and likely later) and Jesus cannot return until 3 1/2 years later, if Jesus reference to “this generation” meant 70 years or less, then it is not possible that the view that the formation of the State of Israel was the first sign to count the fulfillment of much of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 could be biblically possible.
Getting back to Jesus’ statements about the parable of the fig tree, in the gospel account He specifically says that you need to look at the signs He listed earlier.
So, let’s look at the account in Matthew 24:
4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.  5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.  6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.  8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.  10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.  11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.  12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.   (Matthew 24:4-15)
Some have apparently concluded that the State of Israel needed to form for the event in verse 15 to occur.  And while that may well be, that was not the first of the items to be fulfilled in "this generation." The generation either starts with the start of the “beginning of sorrows” or verse 9.  And because Jesus said, "this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place" (Matthew 24:34), and those things included the sorrows, this really does not point the formation of the nation of Israel as the starting point.
As I wrote years ago, I have suspected that the beginning of sorrows may have begun on September 19, 2009 or shortly thereafter. There was an meeting of certain leaders in the Eastern Orthodox church around then that seemed to embrace the ecumenical agenda of the white horseman of Revelation 6:1-2, which is consistent with the first sorrow Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24:4-5. I perhaps should mentioned that I also told the presiding evangelist of my former church in November of 2009, that the beginning of sorrows may have started on September 19, 2009 or the next month, and not too long thereafter that church put out several writings stating that the beginning of sorrows had began.
If the beginning of sorrows began in 2009, then there is time in “this generation” to see the signs further fulfilled. The ecumenical agenda has really been pushed since that time, which is a sign that many Protestants have difficulty seeing. Certain Protestants have sadly also accepted that agenda themselves (e.g. Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, etc.).
Notice the following that may have necessitated having an Israeli nation in the Palestine/Judea region:
31 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. (Daniel 11:31)
This is something that Jesus did refer to in Matthew 24:15. Of course, that prophecy about the sacrifices stopping will not be fulfilled until after the sacrifices are resumed, which having a Jewish nation could (and at some point in time will) do (see also Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?).
So, while the formation of the State of Israel was needed for the fulfillment of some aspects of prophecy, the 1948 formation itself did NOT trigger the time of “this generation.”  However, it may well be that the events for the generation that Jesus spoke, started to formally occur around six or so years ago.
But to claim that a ‘generation’ needs to be over 70 years is a stretch that I do not believe should be looked at related to Israel in 1948.  The start of the nation of Israel, because of its allusion in Matthew 24:15, was not the start of sorrows.  The prophecies in Jeremiah and Ezekiel do not possibly point to what happened when Israel was formed in 1948.
Jesus is coming and Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.  But do not rely on ‘traditions’ that are not in full accordance with the Bible.
A video of related interest is titled Israel, 1948, and Prophecy.
The Great Tribulation: Final Time of the Gentiles, then Jesus Returns
When the Great Tribulation starts it will not be a good time for the USA or its Anglo-Allies (see also Anglo - America in Prophecy).
Many will be complacent and not really think it will happen, but that will be a mistake:
9 Rise up, you women who are at ease, Hear my voice; You complacent daughters,Give ear to my speech. 10 In a year and some days You will be troubled, you complacent women; For the vintage will fail, The gathering will not come. 11 Tremble, you women who are at ease; Be troubled, you complacent ones; Strip yourselves, make yourselves bare, And gird sackcloth on your waists. 12 People shall mourn upon their breasts For the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. 13 On the land of my people will come up thorns and briers, Yes, on all the happy homes in the joyous city; 14 Because the palaces will be forsaken, The bustling city will be deserted. The forts and towers will become lairs forever, A joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks — (Isaiah 32:9-14)
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites:
"Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Isaiah 33:14)
While it is important not to discount that the Great Tribulation is coming, one should also not believe it is coming before it can (cf. Revelation 22:18-19).
Notice the following:
The fifth seal pictures a time of great tribulation — including a martyrdom for religious convictions. The New Testament, along with Revelation, emphasizes its impact on the spiritual people of God — his own Church. The great tribulation also falls on what was God's physical nation — the House of Israel, or the descendants of Jacob's 12 sons. Jeremiah wrote of this period and the events that immediately follow. He cried out: "Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7). Daniel called it "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation" (Daniel 12:1). It is the same time described by Jesus in Matthew 24:21. This distress would climax in the death of mankind if Christ failed to intervene in human affairs (verse 22). Immediately following the great tribulation of the fifth seal come the cosmic disturbances of the sixth seal. These herald the beginning of the very last days. As Robert H. Mounce put it, this is the "grim announcement that the end of the world was at hand." (Inside the Book of Revelation Ambassador College Production)
Notice what happens during the “great tribulation” according to Jesus:
22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. 23 Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together (Matthew 24:22-28).
And that it starts with the fifth seal of Revelation:
9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. (Revelation 6:9-11)
Notice that the fifth seal is open and is related to persecutions. There are persecutions just before the Great Tribulation starts per Daniel 7:25a, 11:28-35; Revelation 12:13, and then during the time of the Great Tribulation per Daniel 7:25b, Revelation 12:17; 14:12-13. For more on persecution, please check out the article Persecutions by Church and State.
Notice more about what happens from the Book of Lamentations:
Notice the following from Jeremiah:
1 How lonely sits the city
That was full of people!
How like a widow is she,
Who was great among the nations!
The princess among the provinces
Has become a slave! (Lamentations 1:1)
5 Her adversaries have become the master,
Her enemies prosper;
For the Lord has afflicted her
Because of the multitude of her transgressions.
Her children have gone into captivity before the enemy. (Lamentations 1:5)
17 Zion spreads out her hands,
But no one comforts her;
The Lord has commanded concerning Jacob
That those around him become his adversaries; (Lamentations 1:17)
2 The Lord has swallowed up and has not pitied
All the dwelling places of Jacob.
He has thrown down in His wrath
The strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
He has brought them down to the ground;
He has profaned the kingdom and its princes.
3 He has cut off in fierce anger
Every horn of Israel;
He has drawn back His right hand
From before the enemy.
He has blazed against Jacob like a flaming fire
Devouring all around.
4 Standing like an enemy, He has bent His bow;
With His right hand, like an adversary,
He has slain all who were pleasing to His eye;
On the tent of the daughter of Zion,
He has poured out His fury like fire. (Lamentations 2:2-4)
1 My eyes fail with tears,
My heart is troubled;
My bile is poured on the ground
Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
Because the children and the infants
Faint in the streets of the city.
12 They say to their mothers,
“Where is grain and wine?”
As they swoon like the wounded
In the streets of the city,
As their life is poured out
In their mothers’ bosom. (Lamentations 2:11-12)
19 “Arise, cry out in the night, At the beginning of the watches; Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children, Who faint from hunger at the head of every street.”  (Lamentations 2:19)
1 “Young and old lie
On the ground in the streets;
My virgins and my young men
Have fallen by the sword;
You have slain them in the day of Your anger,
You have slaughtered and not pitied. (Lamentations 2:21)
8 Now their appearance is blacker than soot;
They go unrecognized in the streets;
Their skin clings to their bones,
It has become as dry as wood.
9 Those slain by the sword are better off
Than those who die of hunger;
For these pine away,
Stricken for lack of the fruits of the field.
10 The hands of the compassionate women
Have cooked their own children;
They became food for them
In the destruction of the daughter of my people.
11 The Lord has fulfilled His fury,
He has poured out His fierce anger.
He kindled a fire in Zion,
And it has devoured its foundations. (Lamentations 4:8-11)
15 The joy of our heart has ceased;
Our dance has turned into mourning.
16 The crown has fallen from our head.
Woe to us, for we have sinned!
17 Because of this our heart is faint;
Because of these things our eyes grow dim; (Lamentations 5:15-17)
Since Jesus said this will be the greatest tribulation of all time, it will be at least as bad as what Jeremiah was inspired to write.
Although many in the Church of God have experienced economic and social persecution in their walk with Christ, future severe persecution, beginning first with the Philadelphia remnant of Christians, is expected (Daniel 7:25a, 11:28-35), it is then followed by persecution on all Christians once the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) begins.
Is all hopeless?
Jeremiah also wrote:
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:25-26)
Although your nation probably will not repent (Anglo or otherwise), you can.
Some, but not most, Christians will be protected (cf. Revelation 3:7-17; 12:14-17)
While many like to focus on the idea that the Philadelphians will flee to a place of protection, it needs to be understood that there will apparently be a time of severe persecution just prior to the fleeing and the start of the Great Tribulation.
This will be also be a time of demonic signs and lying wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; Revelation 16:12-16; 13:13-15; 18:23; 19:20).
Notice some other accounts of events that will happen:
47 “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you. 49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young. 51 And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you. (Deuteronomy 28:47-51)
16 Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, surely I will cut off the supply of bread in Jerusalem; they shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and shall drink water by measure and with dread, 17 that they may lack bread and water, and be dismayed with one another, and waste away because of their iniquity. (Ezekiel 4:16-17)
1 "And you, son of man, take a sharp sword, take it as a barber's razor, and pass it over your head and your beard; then take scales to weigh and divide the hair. 2 You shall burn with fire one-third in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are finished; then you shall take one-third and strike around it with the sword, and one-third you shall scatter in the wind: I will draw out a sword after them. 3 You shall also take a small number of them and bind them in the edge of your garment. 4 Then take some of them again and throw them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire. From there a fire will go out into all the house of Israel.
5 "Thus says the Lord God: 'This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her. 6 She has rebelled against My judgments by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against My statutes more than the countries that are all around her; for they have refused My judgments, and they have not walked in My statutes.' 7 Therefore thus says the Lord God: 'Because you have multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around you, have not walked in My statutes nor kept My judgments, nor even done according to the judgments of the nations that are all around you' — 8 therefore thus says the Lord God: 'Indeed I, even I, am against you and will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations. 9 And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. 10 Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments among you, and all of you who remain I will scatter to all the winds.
11 'Therefore, as I live,' says the Lord God, 'surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. 12 One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. (Ezekiel 5:1-12)
The bolded portion is consistent with Jesus' comments in Matthew 24:21 and Mark 13:19, hence much of the above has to do with the Great Tribulation.
Yet, despite what some think, the Great Tribulation will initially mainly be directed to those who are descended from Jacob/Israel:
6 Ask now, and see,
Whether a man is ever in labor with child?
So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins
Like a woman in labor,
And all faces turned pale?
7 Alas! For that day is great,
So that none is like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble,
But he shall be saved out of it. (Jeremiah 30:6-7)
25… Gentiles, who do not know You…they have eaten up Jacob, Devoured him and consumed him, And made his dwelling place desolate. (Jeremiah 10:25)
So, we see that Gentiles will consume Jacob/Israel. The descendants of which have been the dominant peoples in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (see also Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel).
The final time of the Gentiles coincides with the time of the Great Tribulation and the time of Jacob's troubles.
Let's look at the following prophecies from the Old and New Testaments:
23 ‘Make a chain,
For the land is filled with crimes of blood,
And the city is full of violence.
24 Therefore I will bring the worst of the Gentiles,
And they will possess their houses;
I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease,
And their holy places shall be defiled.
25 Destruction comes;
They will seek peace, but there shall be none. (Ezekiel 7:23-25)
23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:23-24)
2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:2)
Notice that Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jesus (whose words are recorded in Luke), and John (who penned Revelation) were talking about the same time. Also notice that “it is the time of Jacob’s trouble” and that the “Gentiles” are dominating. This means those that are descended from Israel or have the name of Jacob (cf. Genesis 48:14-16) will be mainly be trampled. One of the peoples that God says He will use to punish the descendants of Israel, Assyria (Isaiah 10:5-11), are a Gentile people–they will normally lead during the time of the Gentiles. This will be a terrible time.
Here is some of what the old Radio Church of God taught about it:
In Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24, He was answering the question about the TIME of the end of the world, and the second coming of Christ to rule the world.
WHOSE Tribulation?
Next, WHOSE trouble will this be? WHO will plunge the world into it? We have the what and the when. Now notice the who! The prophet Jeremiah speaks of this SAME time of greatest trouble. “For lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Eternal : and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it” (Jer, 30: 3)…
Continue Jeremiah’s prophecy: “For thus saith the Eternal: we have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. A TIME OF WAR! “Alas! for that day is GREAT, so that none is like it. Notice-the same GREATEST time of trouble-so great that NONE IS LIKE IT! Now , upon WHOM? ” .. it is even the time of JACOB’ S TROUBLE but he shall be delivered out of it (Jer. 30: 5,7). It is a world trouble UPON JACOB! …
No WHO is Jacob? …
Who is Jacob today? …
One of the original twelve tribes, Joseph, was given “a double portion,” and became two tribes -Ephraim and Manasseh-so named from the two sons of Joseph. And they were tbe Birthright tribes…
And it was these two tribes who were to bear the NAME Israel: “Let my name be named on them’ said the aged Israel ( Gen. 48:16 ), in passing on the Birth· right promises JUST before his death. And so, in prophecy, the NAME Jacob or the name Israel, often refers to the two great nations descended from Ephraim and Manasseh. These are Great Britain and the United States. The prophesied YOKE of invasion, defeat in war , and slavery, then, is to fall on Britain and the United States! (Armstrong HW. BRITAIN’S DOOM Prophesied for Common Market Seeking Membership! Plain Truth, July 1962)
Common Teachings in Error
It is the common assumption that the times of the Gentiles are a period of blessing on the nations. It is argued that since God took away the blessing of being great and dominant nations from Israel and Judah and since the Gentiles for centuries have been dominant nations, that human rule is a blessing bestowed upon the Gentiles.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Then again, many claim that the times of the Gentiles are synonymous with the times of Judah’s punishment, that the Gentile times have already ended-some say in 1914, others say in 1917 or 1936. Some even think that it might end this year. But all these supposed dates for the ending of the times of the Gentiles are mere guesses! The truth is that almost no one really knows what the times of the Gentiles are. And yet without an understanding of the meaning of this prophetic period, you can not grasp the real significance of present day world-shaking events or understand what’s going to happen in the next twenty-five years. Let’s not assume, let’s study the Bible itself to see what these times really are.
Times of Israel’s Punishment a Key to Understanding
Israel was promised great national blessings, including national greatness if they would obey God. But God also promised that if they obstinately refused to obey Him, if they refused to follow His laws and let Him rule their lives, then He would punish them for a period called seven times (Lev. 26).
The Bible itself defines this period of seven times for us. If you turn to Revelation the twelfth chapter, and compare verses 6 and 14 you will see that the word time in prophecy simply means a year, hence seven times would be seven years or 2520 days.
Now let’s notice another key. In Numbers 14:34, God said Israel would bear their iniquities in the wilderness after the number of days they searched the land of Canaan, forty days, each day for a year.
Then seven times or 2520 prophetic days would equal 2520 literal years! This period of seven times or 2520 years punishment did come upon Israel because they went their own ways and would no: submit to the rule of God. Israel went into captivity about 721 B.C. and did not become a great people again until their times of punishment ceased about 1800 A.D. At that time the descendants of the ancient House of Israel -America and Britain and the democratic peoples of the world--began to rise to such wealth and power as the world has never enjoyed before all because of the promises made to Abraham.
Also Palestine, after a punishment against the House of Judah, that began about 604 R.C., was brought back from the Gentile Turks in 1917-exactly 2520 years later, when it came under the control of Great Britain, and finally the Jews. The seven times of Israel’s punishment was a period of great privation and suffering, of slavery and war because they would not submit their wills and their ways to God, because they would not allow Him to rule their lives by His perfect laws, which could have brought them peace and prosperity and dominion.
The Original Prophecy Found in Daniel
Now that we understand the seven times punishment on Israel, let’s understand the meaning of the times of the Gentiles.
The original prophecy to which Jesus had reference is found in the fourth chapter of Daniel. Jesus understood that this prophetic vision of the great tree had reference to the times of the Gcntiles as well as to Nebuchadneztar’s literal punishment.
Notice Daniel 4: 17. This striking vision was not only ta teach Nebuchadnezzar that God rules, but it is also “to the intent that THE LIVING may know th.it the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the basest of men.” ...
Remember what Jesus said in Luke 21:24? That Jerusalem would be trodden down of the Gentiles until the very completion of the times of the Gentiles!
Since Zechariah 14: 1-3 shows that Jesus Christ will return in order to deliver Jerusalem from the Gentiles, it is plain that THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST WILL OCCUR SHORTLY BEFORE THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES ARE FULFILLED! (Isaiah 27:13; I Cor. 15:52) (Hoeh H. What are the Times of the Gentiles? Plain Truth, September 1955)
It was essentially after 2520 years that the Anglo-American powers rose up. That 2520 year time of the Gentiles is over. In 1970, the late evangelist Herman Hoeh wrote a similar article and added to it:
The Bible itself defines this period of seven times for us. If you turn to Revelation the twelfth chapter, and compare verses 6 and 14, you will see that the word "time" in prophecy simply means a year. Hence seven "times" would be "seven years," each containing twelve 30-day months — or a total of 2520 days (7x12x30). ...
God was dealing with the Gentiles in Daniel's day. The Gentile king Nebuchadnezzar had been sinning — living contrary to God's law. He had been taking his people on the road to world conquest and the enslavement of other nations and peoples. He had been traveling the way of war, not of peace.
God had sent His warning. The king did not heed. So God punished the nation seven years (569 to 562 D.C.) by cursing King Nebuchadnezzar with madness — till he acted and thought like a beast of the forest!
No punishment like that had ever come on any king before! No nation had ever been so cursed!
After these seven years Nebuchadnezzar's mind returned to sanity. He now repented, admitted that his ways were wrong, and actually wrote a great public document admitting before all nations what had happened to him and to his people!
After those seven years of punishment, the kingdom of Babylon was given the heart of a man. The leaders began to think in ways of peace instead of war. Notice Daniel 7:4. The kingdom of Chaldea (or Babylon) — here symbolized by a ferocious lion — stood "upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given it."
Notice the parallel. King Nebuchadnezzar, because of his sins, was punished seven literal years. At the end of that time he regained his sanity and began for the first time in his life to repent and to give up the ways of war for the way of peace. ... As He punished Israel and Judah for seven prophetic "times" — 2520 years — so would be the punishment of the Gentiles! God began to punish the nation by cursing their king for seven literal years. (Hoeh H. There is a Way of Escape. Plain Truth, 1970)
Interestingly there are 2520 days in 7 years of 360 days. Hence that also seems to point to the time when the seven-year 'peace deal' of Daniel 9:27 will be confirmed for. But it is only for 1/2 that time (42 months) that the Gentiles "will tread the holy city" of Jerusalem for (Revelation 11:2). Then Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), will return and destroy the predominantly Gentile powers that will be united to fight against Him (Revelation 19:19-21).
Notice also the following, which shows that the remnant of Israel will be shamed, for a time, by Gentiles but then the Lord will come:
25 “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. 27 Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid. 29 I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. 30 Thus they shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord God.'” (Ezekiel 34:25-30)
7 "Therefore, behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "that they shall no longer say, 'As the Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,' 8 but, 'As the Lord lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.' And they shall dwell in their own land." (Jeremiah 23:7-8)
The time of Gentile domination is prophesied (Ezekiel 7:24, 30:1-3, 34:25-30; Jeremiah 10:25; Luke 21:23-24; Revelation 11:2). The old Worldwide Church of God taught:
With the second coming of Christ, the “times of the Gentiles” will at last come to an end. (Stump K. The Arab World in Prophecy. Plain Truth, December 1979, p. 38)
As mentioned earlier, the Great Tribulation itself is further described in Revelation 6:9-11 (the fifth seal, that seems to occur because the faithful church has suffered martyrdom, cf. Daniel 11:31-35; Matthew 24:9-10), Lamentations, Daniel, and other parts of the Bible. It starts with Matthew 24:21 and Daniel 11:39. Some would call this World War III (WWIII; see also World War III: Steps in Progress and/or watch Is World War III About to Begin? Can You Escape?).
Some wonder why the USA would be destroyed. Well, for one example because of politics, the USA has promoted the LGBTQ agenda around the world (though less so recently under the Trump Administration). For another, because of short-sighted economic problems, the USA has become the most indebted nation of all time. Also, because of sin, greed, and ignorance, America has been into abortion as well as producing genetically-modified foods. These "foods" are genetically identical which makes them susceptible to total elimination via famine-causing pestilential organisms. I have long suspected that the time will come when some type of pestilence will hit America's genetically-modified grain crops like corn and wreak havoc on the land. Enough so, that this may embolden its enemies to attack Britain and/or the USA to begin the Great Tribulation (for more details, see the article Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse).
Nations will betray the USA, who has been “great among the nations”:
1 How lonely sits the city
That was full of people!
How like a widow is she,
Who was great among the nations!
The princess among the provinces
Has become a slave!
2 She weeps bitterly in the night,
Her tears are on her cheeks;
Among all her lovers
She has none to comfort her.
All her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
They have become her enemies. (Lamentations 1:1-2)
4 We pay for the water we drink, And our wood comes at a price. 5 They pursue at our heels; We labor and have no rest. 6 We have given our hand to the Egyptians And the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread. 7 Our fathers sinned and are no more, But we bear their iniquities.  8 Servants rule over us; There is none to deliver us from their hand”. (Lamentations 5:4-8)
Notice that the above passage mentions Assyria, which is who God will use to punish the certain descendants of Israel, such as the U.S.A., etc. (see also Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel).
Notice further that there is a Catholic prophecy that shows the taking over of North America:
Zachary the Armenian (published 1854 and summarized in 2010): And then there would be the war that the prophecy refers to as “the struggle of the strong, against the strong”. This empire of the north…will go to war against North America and North America will be fall and be conquered and brought into bondage. The next phase is the most frightful thing of all. It is then that Zachary says this text published in 1854, “and then the whole world fell under the dominion of the first born of hell.” (Originally by Priest Fattecelli, Day of Anger: The Hand of God Upon an Empire, 1854, as paraphrased by Priest P. Kramer, What are the missing contents of the third secret? Fatima Crusader, 95, Summer 2010, pp. 45-46)
North America would clearly include the USA and Canada. Since Zachary is discussing the dominion of the first born son of perdition (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12), the above is clearly teaching that this would happen at the start of the Great Tribulation.  This is consistent with the understanding of the Philadelphian remnant of the Church of God on these matters (though we do not believe that God inspired this Zachary).
Anyway, for the final time of the Gentiles to arise, the Gentiles will need to cooperate together against the USA and its Anglo-Saxon descended allies. The BRICS, EAEU, SCO, EU, and Silk Road arrangements are all intended to do that (see SCO, EAEU, and BRICS defining a ‘new world order’?) and are all taking steps which align with properly understood biblical prophecies (see BRICS, Silk Road, SCO, Eurasian Union, and European Union: Final time of the Gentiles?). A block of nations from North Africa and the Middle East, which US President Donald Trump and others have encouraged (see How Will Middle East Peace be Brought About?), will also be involved (cf. Daniel 11:27, 40-43).
Yet, most in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand do not understand what is now happening on the world scene and how they will be affected.
Destruction will come to the highly indebted suddenly (the USA is the most indebted nation of all time):
8... A plunderer at noonday; I will cause anguish and terror to fall on them suddenly. (Jeremiah 15:8)
6 "Will not all these take up a proverb against him,
And a taunting riddle against him, and say,
'Woe to him who increases
What is not his — how long?
And to him who loads himself with many pledges'?
7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly?
Will they not awaken who oppress you?
And you will become their booty.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
All the remnant of the people shall plunder you (Habakkuk 2:6-8)
The late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote the following in 1979:
What is this abomination? This refers to Daniel 11:31 and Matthew 24:15...That will be a time when the UNITED Europe shall appear--the revival of the medieval "Holy Roman Empire." We shall then be warned, and readied to be taken to a place of refuge and safety from the Great Tribulation. Forty-five days later "the beasts armies" will surround Jerusalem. Thirty days later the Great Tribulation will probably start with a nuclear attack on London and Britain--and possibly the same day or immediately after, on the United States and Canadian cities. The GREAT TRIBULATION, we shall fully then realize, is the time of "Jacob's Trouble," spoken of in Jeremiah 30:7. And Jacob's name was named on Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 48:16). At that time a third of the people in our nations will die, or shall have died, by famine and disease epidemics; another third will dies of the war--our cities being destroyed (Ezek. 6:6), and the remaining third will be carried to the land of our enemies as slaves (Ezek. 5:12). (Armstrong HW. The Time We Are In, Now. Pastor General's Report-Vol 1, No. 15, November 20, 1979, Page 2).
The Bible states:
33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste (Leviticus 26:33).
Nuclear and other high-tech weapons (as well as emp, electromagnetic pulse, bombs), as well as devastating solar flares, are ways to make land desolate and modern cities waste (for more on emp-weapons and solar flares see Nuclear EMP Attack on UK Called ‘Quite Likely’).
Events that resembles nuclear or similar devastation are part of the prophesied curses mentioned in the Bible:
23 'The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning (Deuteronomy 29:23).
19 Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts
The land is burned up,
And the people shall be as fuel for the fire; No man shall spare his brother.
20 And he shall snatch on the right hand
And be hungry;
He shall devour on the left hand
And not be satisfied; Every man shall eat the flesh of his own arm. 21 Manasseh shall devour Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh; Together they shall be against Judah (Isaiah 9:19-21).
6 In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste (Ezekiel 6:6).
It remains likely that many of the Protestants that survive the tribulation (whether or not they believed in a pre-tribulation view of Christ’s return) will be part of the great multitude of those converted during the tribulation (c.f. Revelation 7:9) through the Continuing Church of God message which will mainly then be brought to the world by The Two Witnesses (a lot of Greco-Roman Catholics and those of non-biblically-claimed faiths will be as well; cf. Revelation 7:9-10).
How do we know that the Anglo-nations in general, and the USA in particular, and not just the land of Judea are the target of the great tribulation? One reason is Daniel 11:39:
39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain. (Daniel 11:39)
The "he" is the final King of the North, the Beast of Revelation 13. The "strongest fortresses" in the world belong to the USA, and to a lessor degree, its Anglo-allies (see USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses also and/or watch Do these 7 prophesies point to the end of the USA?). The strongest fortresses, by the way, cannot be referring to China or Russia as they do not get involved until verse 44 of Daniel 11 (for more details, see King of the North); nor the Arab lands which are invaded in verses 40-43. The current nation of Israel, of course, does not have the strongest fortresses. And dividing the Anglo-lands would bring much more gain, than the land of Judea (see also Will the Anglo-Nations be Divided?). Thus, this is pointing to the Anglo-nations, which currently harbor many in the faithful church.
Much more information on the times of the Gentiles can be found in the article: The Times of the Gentiles. A related sermon is also available and is titled: The Times of the Gentiles.
The Great Tribulation Starts Prior to Daniel 11:40
It should be noted that certain Laodicean COGs (LCG and PCG come to immediate mind) improperly hold to the sequence that the King of the North attacks the King of the South, then the time of Jacob's trouble begins with the Great Tribulation and the USA and/or UK is attacked. This is illogical for several reasons. Notice the following from the Statement of Official Beliefs of the Living Church of God (LCG) that was viewed online at its cogl.org website 9/20/15:
The Bible speaks of a time of great catastrophe, called the "Great Tribulation" (Matthew 24:21-22; Daniel 11:40-45; 12:1; Luke 21:19-36)—also called "Jacob’s trouble" (Jeremiah 30:3-7).
The above contains multiple contradictions. First, an attack against a confederation of nations in the Middle East and North Africa (which is what the King of the South will rule) is not part of JACOB'S TROUBLE. Secondly, the nations mentioned in the King of the South passages are not the USA nor UK nor their Anglo-Saxon descended allies. And third, LCG teaches that the 'Day of the Lord' lasts one year and comes after the Great Tribulation--yet Daniel 11:44-45 come towards the END of the Day of the Lord (which other LCG literature teaches). Hence, there are at least three errors in that one sentence that LCG holds to.
In the sequence of Daniel 11, the Great Tribulation begins in verse 39, not verse 40. Now there appear to be two reasons that LCG and PCG misunderstand the sequence. First is that the late Herbert W. Armstrong originally taught that sequence because of events related to WWII and a mistranslation of verse 39 in the KJV (which was corrected in the NKJV). Although Herbert Armstrong clearly changed his position by 1979, the leaders of LCG and PCG have overlooked/discounted that. The second reason could be based upon a misunderstanding of a translation of Daniel 11:39-40:
39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.
40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. (Daniel 11:39-40, KJV)
The above does not make it clear that the King of the North (the 'he' in verse 39) is going against the 'strongest fortresses like the NKJV and other translations do. Notice a Jewish translation:
39 And he shall deal with the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god; whom he shall acknowledge, shall increase glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for a price.
40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him; and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow, as he passes through. (Daniel 11:39-40, Jewish Publication Society, 1917)
Some seem to believe that the 'time of the end' does not begin until verse 40, but that is a misunderstanding of how the Hebrew text should be understood. The 'and' in verse 40 is not the start of the end, but a continuation of what began in verse 39. This is known by others. For example, the Barnes Notes on the Bible states:
And at the time of the end .... The "time of the end" must properly denote the end or consummation of the series of events under consideration, or the matter in hand, and properly and obviously means here the end or consummation of the transactions which had been referred to in the previous part of the vision. It is equivalent to what we should say by expressing it thus: "at the winding up of the affair."
The ONLY way to reconcile that the time of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) starts with the beginning of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) is to realize that it begins with verse 39 of the sequence in Daniel 11. Those who hold to a start of the Great Tribulation AFTER the King of the North attacks the King of the South will not know until it is too late.
Some Christians will be Protected During the Great Tribulation, Other Christians will be Persecuted
It should be noted that Jesus also called this period the hour of trial and that He promised to protect only the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God from it:
7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": 8 "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Revelation 3:7-11)
The Bible also makes it clear that the only ones who will be protected will first 'gather together' (Zephaniah 2:1-3; watch also Zephaniah's 'Gather Together' Prophecy). For more details and scriptures about the place and who goes, please see There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra.
And while some erroneously feel that Revelation 3:10 has to do with a pre-tribulation rapture for all Christians (see Is There A Secret Rapture for the Church? When and Where is the Church Protected? or the YouTube video Did Jesus Teach a Pre-tribulation Rapture?), the reality is that is NOT what Jesus said. The Bible is clear that rest of the Church will face persecution for 3 1/2 years:
17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17).
Many Christians will be affected by the Great Tribulation as John Ogwyn wrote:
Because of their faithful endurance, Philadelphians are promised protection from the great time of severe trial that will come upon the whole world in the end time (Revelation 3:10). By contrast, Christ rebukes the Church at Laodicea, representing the final era, for its lukewarm spirit. Lacking in zeal, Laodicea is beset by compromise with the world, unaware that it is spiritually impoverished and naked. Because of its attitude, the living Christ will have to spew Laodiceans out of His mouth and right into the Great Tribulation, to wake them up and bring them to ultimate repentance and complete surrender to Him. Understanding this distinction between the final two eras allows us to understand prophecies in Revelation 12 that describe Satan’s attempt to make war with the "woman"—the true Church…
Jesus warned us of the Great Tribulation—a time unique in all history (Matthew 24:21–22). The Great Tribulation begins shortly after the "abomination of desolation" (v. 15)…
This future time of trouble will clearly be a time of intense religious persecution, when all will be forced to conform to false religious practices that will be portrayed as "Christian." All will be required to give their devotion to the great false church and its hierarchy, labeled in Revelation 13:15 the "image of the beast." An outward sign of conformity called the "mark of the beast" will identify those whom Scripture labels as the children of disobedience.

There is another aspect of this coming Great Tribulation that is often overlooked. It is not only a time of religious persecution but it is also identified as "the time of Jacob’s trouble" in Jeremiah 30:7. We know that this is identical with the time of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 24:21, because in both places we are told that it is a unique time, a time such as never was before nor ever again shall be. There cannot be two separate times like that! (Ogwyn JH.  Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled! 2006, pp. 17-18, 25, 26 )
John Ogwyn pointed out that it is not initially the world as a whole, but those now trying to be followers of Christ (the Laodiceans mainly, see The Laodicean Church Era) and those who are physical descendants of Israel who are the initial targets of the Great Tribulation (see Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel).  And notice that they are persecuted by the Beast power and those supporting him.
The Laodicean Churches of God have so many prophetic misunderstandings that unless they repent they will NOT know when the Great Tribulation will happen until it is too late--over 30 prophetic errors held by Laodiceans are in the article The Laodicean Church Era.
It should be noted that Jesus only taught that the Philadelphians (Revelation 3:7-13; see also The Philadelphia Church Era) would be protected from this 'hour of trial' (Revelation 3:10), but He did not make that promise to the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-22); because of wrong priorities and wrong prophetic teachings, the Laodiceans will have to go through the Great Tribulation (see also The Laodicean Church Era which has a listing of dozens of Laodicean errors in prophetic understanding which will prevent any who insist on them to not possibly know when the Great Tribulation will begin). The Bible is clear that there are true Christians that will have to go through the 3 1/2 years of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord (Revelation 12:17; Daniel 7:25).
Notice also what Daniel writes about two coming persecutions that the Beast king will use during this time:
24 The ten horns are ten kings
Who shall arise from this kingdom.
And another shall rise after them;
He shall be different from the first ones,
And shall subdue three kings.
25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time (Daniel 7:24-25).
There are two times of severe persecution. The first where, "persecute the saints of the Most High," which happens prior to the Great Tribulation, and then afterwards "the saints shall be given into his hand" for 3 ½ years (1 time + 2 times + ½ time = 3 ½ times or years). This perseucting Beast king is the final European King of the North. Christians, have been persecuted in the past, and will be in the future--for details check out Persecutions by Church and State.
But what about others, the non-Christians?
In addition to the warnings given by His two witnesses for 3 ½ years (Revelation 11:3), God is going to provide a warning of repentance to the world by way of three angels:
6 Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth--to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people-- 7 saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water." 8 And another angel followed, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." 9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name" (Revelation 14:6-11).
God wants people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) and though most will not listen in this age, He still wants them to be warned (and a great multitude will respond per Revelation 7:9-10).
The final time of the Gentiles is near the Day of the Lord:
2 "Son of man, prophesy and say, 'Thus says the Lord God:
"Wail, 'Woe to the day!'
3 For the day is near,
Even the day of the Lord is near;
It will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. (Ezekiel 30:2-3)
Shortly after the above verses is when the King of the South will be defeated by the King of the North (Daniel 11:40-43; cf. Ezekiel 30:4-7).
Also notice the prophecy for this latter time tribulation in the Hebrew scriptures:
29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice 31 (for the Lord your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them. (Deuteronomy 4:29-31)
Thus, help from God during these hard times will be available to the truly sincere who really strive for it.
Jesus will come a second time:
28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)
20 He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly."
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)
The Catholics Changed Their View of the Great Tribulation
What do Catholics teach about the Great Tribulation?
First it may be best to read what early supporters of the Greco-Romans taught. In the third century, Hippolytus wrote:
62. The Lord also says, "When you shall see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place (whoso reads, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains, and let him which is on the housetop not come down to take his clothes; neither let him which is in the field return back to take anything out of his house. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved. " And Daniel says, "And they shall place the abomination of desolation a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waits, and comes to the thousand two hundred and ninety-five days." (Hippolytus. On Christ and Antichrist. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0516.htm viewed 12/17/08)
Now notice what Cyril of Jerusalem taught in the late middle portion of the fourth century:
16. For this cause the Lord knowing the greatness of the adversary grants indulgence to the godly, saying, Then let them which be in Judæa flee to the mountains. But if any man is conscious that he is very stout-hearted , to encounter Satan, let him stand (for I do not despair of the Church's nerves), and let him say, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ and the rest? But, let those of us who are fearful provide for our own safety; and those who are of a good courage, stand fast: for then shall be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be. But thanks be to God who has confined the greatness of that tribulation to a few days; for He says, But for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened ; and Antichrist shall reign for three years and a half only. We speak not from apocryphal books, but from Daniel ; for he says, And they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time. A time is the one year in which his coming shall for a while have increase; and the times are the remaining two years of iniquity , making up the sum of the three years; and the half a time is the six months. And again in another place Daniel says the same thing, And he sware by Him that lives for ever that it shall be for a time , and times, and half a time. And some peradventure have referred what follows also to this; namely , a thousand two hundred and ninety days ; and this, Blessed is he that endures and comes to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days . For this cause we must hide ourselves and flee; for perhaps we shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come (Cyril of Jerusalem. Catechetical Lecture 15. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310115.htm viewed 06/12/11).
The above appears consistent with what we of the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God still teach.
The Catholic "saint and doctor of the Church" Jerome wrote:
But the more reasonable understanding of the matter is that in the time of the Antichrist there shall occur a tribulation such as there has never been since nations began to exist (Jerome. Commentary on Daniel, Chapter 12, Verses 1-3. Translated by Gleason L. Archer. (1958).  http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/jerome_daniel_02_text.htm viewed 04/14/2010).
Jerome's position above is consistent with what Jesus (Matthew 24:21-25) and the rest of the Bible teach.
Yet, even though they consider them be saints, some of those associated with Rome now seem to teach that the Great Tribulation was over by the time that Cyril and Jerome wrote what they did (earlier writers such as the Shepherd of Hermas, Cyprian of Carthage, and Tertullian also considered that the Great Tribulation was a future event and tended to tie it in with the time of the final Antichrist).
Notice what two modern "Catholic" priests have written:
Priest W. Kurz (21st century):  …great tribulation…probably already a horrific past event by the time Matthew wrote down his gospel (Kurz W. What Does the Bible Say About the End Times? A Catholic View. Servant Books, Cincinnati. Nihil Obstat: Kistner H., Schehr T.P. Imprimi Potest: Link F., Paul J.M. Imprimatur: Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxillary Bishop, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 19, 2004. Servant Books, Cincinnati, 2004, p. 96).
Priest H.B. Kramer (20th century): The "great tribulation" is a stereotyped phrase used often in the Apocalypse and elsewhere in the New Testament (Mt. XXIV. 21) for the Roman persecutions.  (See VII. 14)....
THE GREAT TRIBULATION.  The definite article used refers to something which had been mentioned before and was presumed to be known.  In chapter I.  9 and II.  10, St. John states it and warns the Christians in Asia of its coming.  He calls it the "hour of temptation" in II.  10.  It is bloody persecution.  In this verse, the stress placed on "the great one" points to the imperial persecutions, especially to the last one under Diocletian.  This scene is then in the fourth century, when the Roman persecutions had been abolished.  "The great tribulation" had passed away to return no more, and since then the Church had grown to grand proportions. (Kramer H.B. L. The Book of Destiny. Nihil Obstat: J.S. Considine, O.P., Censor Deputatus. Imprimatur: +Joseph M. Mueller, Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, January 26, 1956. Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), pp. 81,181-182)
This is a change in prophetic understanding that is not consistent with the teachings of the Bible nor the traditions of the early church. The fact is that much persecution against the true Church began after Constantine protected the Greco-Romans.  Actually, Constantine began persecutions against all who did not accept his militaristic view of Christianity (see also Persecutions by Church and State).
But the doctrinal truth is that the Great Tribulation that the Bible speaks about is NOT over.  Even the Rheims translation of the New Testament (the first major Catholic accepted translation into English) teaches:
[20] But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the sabbath.
[21] For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. (Matthew 24:20-21).
Thus, the time of the great tribulation comes at a particular time of fleeing. It has not yet happened.
It should be noted that it is not only many Catholics, but various Protestants, and a group called Church of God Seventh Day teach that the Great Tribulation has already occurred and was over by 70 A.D. Those who hold that view are referred to as preterists. For details about their arguments and how the Bible and facts of history prove them wrong, please check out the article The Dangerous Rise of Preterists.
Herbert W. Armstrong's Summary of the Seals
Here is some of what the late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about the first sixth seals:
"And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind" (Rev. 6:12-13).
"For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Verse 17.)
Will you read it with your own eyes, in your own Bible?
Here in this 6th chapter of Revelation, as these six seals are opened, we have 1st false preachers; 2nd, wars climaxing in world wars; 3rd, famines; 4th, disease epidemics; 5th, GREAT TRIBULATION — martyrdom of saints; 6th, the heavenly signs, in the sun, moon, and stars.
And then WHAT NEXT — what is to follow this sixth seal? THE GREAT DAY OF GOD'S WRATH — and that, as I shall show you, is the great DAY OF THE LORD!
Now quickly turn to the prophecy of Joel in the Old Testament. "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2:31).
THERE IT IS! In Matthew 24:29 you read in your own Bible that the heavenly signs in the sun, moon, and stars would occur immediately after the Great Tribulation. In Revelation 6 you saw with your own eyes that the heavenly signs in the sun and moon of the sixth seal follow immediately AFTER the Great Tribulation, or the martyrdom of the saints, of the fifth seal. Also you saw there, that following these heavenly signs of the sixth seal was to come the terrible day of GOD'S WRATH. Now here in Joel 2:31 we see that these heavenly signs in the sun and moon must occur before the great and terrible DAY OF THE LORD! ...
A trumpet is an instrument into which one blows. A trumpet sounds by blowing wind through it. These seven trumpets, which compose the seventh seal, follow immediately after the sixth seal. At the time of the sixth seal, described in the last of the 6th chapter of Revelation, it was announced that "the GREAT DAY OF GOD'S WRATH was come. These symbolic TRUMPETS portray, then, THE DAY OF THE LORD — the day of GOD'S WRATH! (Armstrong HW. The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last).
The first seal, which relates to the first event in the 'beginning of sorrows,' already seems to be opened. The fifth seal pictures the start of the Great Tribulation.
What About the 'Jubilee' and 2017?
There is a group that has claimed for some time that the end will occur in 2017. Notice the following report:
The "Sword of God Brotherhood" believes that Armageddon will occur in 2017. The Prophet Gabriel has told them this. Only their own members will survive to repopulate the world. All of the others (including you and me) will "perish in hellfire."
Daniel's Timeline bases their calculation on the concept of Jubilee years which occur every 50 years. The most recent three Jubilees were: bullet 1867 when the Jews were emancipated in Austria and Hungary. bullet 1917 when the Ottomon rule ended and the Balfour Declaration was created. bullet 1967 when the Six Day War occurred. They predict that the next and final Jubilee year will be 2017 "the time of the restitution of all things." (http://www.religioustolerance.org/end_wrl18.htm viewed 09/27/14)
A current theory is that Jesus will return in 2017, based on the idea that 2017 is a Jubilee year that will fulfill a medieval rabbi’s prophecy. … there is no way to be certain that 2017 is an actual year of Jubilee. And, even if it is, it would not signal the return of Christ. … In ancient times, the Jubilee year began with the Sanhedrin’s blast of the shofar (ram’s horn).  http://www.gotquestions.org/Jubilee-2017.html
The Jehovah's Witnesses have used 1914 as an important date. Various Protestants have pointed to 1967 as a date to base calculations from. However, because the deal of Daniel 9:27 has still not been confirmed, it is simply NOT possible that 2017 could be the end.
The editor of World News Daily, Joseph Farah, posted the following:
November 8, 2015
JERUSALEM – Several years ago, Ludwig Schneider, a German-language scholar, discovered an amazing prophecy dating back to 1217 by a scholarly and highly respected rabbi by the name of Judah Ben Samuel.
…in the year Judah Ben Samuel died in 1217, he prophesied that the Ottoman Turks would rule over the holy city of Jerusalem for eight Jubilees. Now, keep in mind, he made this prediction 300 years before the Turks seized control of Jerusalem in 1517. In fact, the Ottoman Empire, as it would become to be known, did not even really exist yet in 1217.
According to Judah Ben Samuel, 1217 was a Jubilee Year. If he was right, that would also make 1517 a Jubilee Year. …
The rabbi also prophesied that during the ninth Jubilee, Jerusalem would be a “no-man’s land.” This is exactly what happened from 1917 to 1967, due to the fact that the Holy Land was placed under British Mandate in 1917 by the League of Nations and literally “belonged” to no nation. …
The rabbi also prophesied that during the 10th Jubilee, Jerusalem would be under the control of the Jews and the Messianic “end times” would begin. The 10th Jubilee began in 1967 and will be concluded in – 2017.
What should we expect to happen in 2017? I will leave that to your imagination.
But one thing is certain: Judah Ben Samuel made some truly remarkable prophecies that came to pass. http://www.wnd.com/2015/11/will-2017-be-a-jubilee-year/#TYEyp5EYgHULig9h.99

**Before going further, I would add that WND’s editor pushed the false idea that the so-called Shemitah year ran from September 25, 2014 through September 13, 2015.  **Global economic collapse was predicted to occur on September 13, 2015 according to items his site posted (see Does end of Mark Biltz’s Shemitah mean that the Tribulation starts tomorrow?).  That was wrong (see Jonathan Cahn defends ‘The Mystery of the Shemitah,’ whereas COGwriter denounces it).

Furthermore, if the Shemitah year really was from September 25, 2014 through September 13, 2015, and then followed by a Jubilee, then we would not be in the Jubilee for over four decades from now as the Jubilee year begins ten days after the seventh Shemitah year in that cycle ends.

I would also point out that there are a lot of opinions about when the next jubilee year will be and I do not believe there is sufficient evidence to conclude it is 2017 (for details, see Jubilee section in the article The Day of Atonement--Its Christian Significance and/or the news post Is 2017 the ‘Year of Jubilee’? Will Jesus return then?
The 144,000 Who Are Sealed After the Sixth Seal is Opened
There is a lot of confusion about the 144,000 who are sealed in Revelation 7.
Please notice the timeframe in the Book of Revelation:
12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Revelation 6:12-17)
7: 1 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:
5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;
6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;
7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;
8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed. (Revelation 7:1-8)
These people apparently have responded to the preaching of The Two Witnesses and/or otherwise refused to worship the Beast (cf. Revelation 11:3,7; 13:8) and have physical and/or spiritual descendancy from twelve of the tribes of Israel. Various 'European-descended' peoples will respond (see also Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel).
Those who claim that the above 144,000 were sealed before the sixth seal was opened seem to have overlooked what the Bible appears to be teaching here; some believe that it is the final remnant of the 144,000 that are sealed then, so that the total reaches 144,000 truly converted people from the time of Abel until then (cf. Jude 14; Exodus 20:5-6; Romans 9:27; 11:5).
Here are the next several verses from Revelation 7:
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" 11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
"Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?"
14 And I said to him, "Sir, you know."
So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. (Revelation 7:9-15)
Notice also some of what the old WCG used to teach:
The 144,000 are 12,000 from each of the literal tribes of Israel. (Rev. 7:4). (Armstrong HW. The key to the Book of Revelation. WCG, 1972, p. 10)
The 144,000, as well as the great innumerable multitude from all nations referred to in verse 9, repent of their old sinful ways and turn to Almighty God in personal surrender. God then put their sins under the blood of Jesus Christ-the Passover Lamb (verse 14). "These are they," states one of the elders at God's throne, "which came out of great tribulation." These multitudes will receive eternal life, and serve God day and night in His Temple (verse 15). (Sound the Trumpet. Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. Lesson 28. 1986, page 9)
Some believe that only the 144,000 are saved in this age, whereas the others will be saved after the start of the millennium--but the English translation does not fully point in that direction.
Now, there is also a group of 144,000 mentioned later in the Bible:
1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Revelation 14:1-5)
These are firstfruits, and since the fact that the Bible says they stand on the Mount of Olives, this suggests that these would seem to have returned with Jesus Christ (cf. Zechariah 14:4).
Notice something from the old Radio Church of God:
What else is promised as a reward to the Philadelphia Church era? Rev. 3:12. Is all of this dependent upon being an OVERCOMER? Same verse. Through the work of preaching and publishing the gospel by the Philadelphia era of God's Church will there be a special 144,000 who also repent, endure tribulation and overcome? Compare Rev. 3:12 with Rev. 14:1.
4. What will the Philadelphia era of God's Church DO for eternity? Rev. 3:12. Note the word "pillar." Were Christ's leading disciples called "pillars"? Gal. 2:9.
COMMENT: Responsibility as "pillars" is what God promises to those in God's Church today. Each can qualify to be SPIRITUAL PILLARS OR LEADERS — THE MAIN SUPPORTS IN THE "CHURCH" SYMBOLICALLY CALLED "TEMPLE" IN REV. 3:12 FOR ALL ETERNITY. A PILLAR IS A MAIN SUPPORT IN A TEMPLE!
5. Where will the Philadelphia Church be stationed? Rev. 3:12. Note the words, "temple" and "New Jerusalem."
COMMENT: This Church -- the Philadelphia era -- is to have the name of the headquarters of the world -- the Capital City of the Universe.
The pillars of the Church ought always to be at headquarters so that everyone may appeal to it for decisions.
We, of the Philadelphia Era, are to have the name of God the Father and of the Son. God always places His name where He is. He will be dwelling in the new Jerusalem. So will we! That IS WHY we will have His name!
Notice, too, that Scripture reveals "He shall go no more out" (Rev. 3:12). We are never to be removed from that reward and responsibility.
Think of that!
We are to be at headquarters -- executing Jesus Christ's policies -- teaching those who need to come to headquarters for decisions throughout eternity as God expands the power and scope of His government! At headquarters we will have the opportunity to help with the master-plan for making a NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH! (Lesson 42 - Eternal Life. Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. Lesson 42. 1965, page 9)
The above seems to be tying the Philadelphians in with the 144,000 of Revelation 14:1.
While the late Herbert W. Armstrong long ago wrote that Revelation 7 and 14 were referring to the same group of 144,000 (Armstrong HW. The key to the Book of Revelation. WCG, 1972, p. 10), some like former WCG vice-president and his advisor Aaron Dean believe that the Bible is referring to two groups of 144,000 and that may be so.
If so, these could possibly be the pre-Great Tribulation firstfruits only, all saved from Abel until Jesus returned (which Aaron Dean suspects, but is not dogmatic about; cf. Jude 14; Exodus 20:5-6--if this is the case then the 'great multitude' is not sealed or truly converted in Revelation 7, which he also suspects) or the just the Philadelphian Christians (Revelation 3:12). One reason it could be a reference to the Philadelphian Christians is that there have been more than 144,000 who claimed to be part of the old Radio/Worldwide Church of God--but many of them apostatized. However, because of the prophesied coming "short work" (Romans 9:28; see also Preparing for the 'Short Work' and The Famine of the Word) it may be possible that there will end up being 144,000 Philadelphian Christians in total. The Book of Revelation distinguishes between 7 groups of Christians and most of the 4 that it shows will be around at the end have problems.
Thyatira: 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:20-23)
Sardis: 1 I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. (Revelation 3:1-3)
Laodicea: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:15-19)
Consider that the 144,000: "These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes" (Revelation 14:4). Not all the churches did--though some of the negative references could be to those that are not actual Christians. Now based upon the words in Revelation 2 & 3, it may be that some of the Thyatirans (Revelation 2:24-27), repentant Laodiceans (Revelation 3:19-21), parts of Ephesus and Smyrna (Revelation 2:1-19), and a few names in Sardis (Revelation 3:3), will be part of the 144,000, if that is mainly a Philadelphian firstfruits' group.
Therefore, the 144,000 would not seem to necessarily be all the saved as some have insisted upon.

I have spoken with Aaron Dean about this several times over the years. Also on May 1, 2017, he confirmed with me that Herbert W. Armstrong was uncertain about the 144,000 being the same group or two groups in the last couple of months of his life and had changes to his views of the 144,000 when he was alive.
The Final Day of the Lord is One Year Long. Will Jesus Return in 2020?
What or when is the final "Day of the Lord"?
Here is the first time it is mentioned by that name in the Hebrew scriptures:
2 For the day of the Lord of hosts
Shall come upon everything proud and lofty,
Upon everything lifted up —
And it shall be brought low —
13 Upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up,
And upon all the oaks of Bashan;
14 Upon all the high mountains,
And upon all the hills that are lifted up;
15 Upon every high tower,
And upon every fortified wall;
16 Upon all the ships of Tarshish,
And upon all the beautiful sloops.
17 The loftiness of man shall be bowed down,
And the haughtiness of men shall be brought low;
The Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
18 But the idols He shall utterly abolish.
19 They shall go into the holes of the rocks,
And into the caves of the earth,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
20 In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver
And his idols of gold,
Which they made, each for himself to worship,
To the moles and bats,
21 To go into the clefts of the rocks,
And into the crags of the rugged rocks,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily. (Isaiah 2:12-21)
Many Protestants also seem to confuse the “Day of the Lord” and the Great Tribulation.  At least one book refers to the tribulation as “the terrible week of the Lord” (LaHaye T, Jenkins J.  Are We Living in the End Times?  Tyndale House, Wheaton (IL), 1999, p. 159--an expression that is not in scripture) and the “Day of the Lord.”  Dr. LaHaye, J. Jenkins, (LaHaye & Jenkins, p. 105, 147) and Dr. Walvoord (Walvoord, pp. 491-492) teach that the “Day of the Lord” occurs after their hoped for pre-tribulation rapture.
Thus, in a sense, the Day of the Lord is something they and others of their view seem to be looking forward to.
Yet, the Bible teaches:
18 Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you?  It will be darkness, and not light.  19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion, And a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, Leaned his hand on the wall, And a serpent bit him!  20 Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18-20)
Since the Day of the Lord basically is a time that pre-tribulation Protestant rapturists look forward to, the above prophecy sadly, will most likely apply to many of them.
The fact is that the Great Tribulation involves horrors for physical and spiritual Israel.  About 2.4 years after it starts there are to be the heavenly signs (Matthew 24:29), which are followed by the “Day of the Lord, a time of wrath and anger (Isaiah 13:9), which affects the whole world (cf. Matthew 24:30-31, Zechariah 14:1-4). 
The Bible shows that the Beast power (also called the King of the North) will persecute the saints for 3 ½ years (Daniel 7:25) and a specific “Day of the Lord” lasts one year (Isaiah 34:8).   
Here is some of what Isaiah was inspired to write:
9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine.
11 "I will punish the world for its evil,And the wicked for their iniquity;I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12 I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the Lord of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger. 14 It shall be as the hunted gazelle, And as a sheep that no man takes up; Every man will turn to his own people,And everyone will flee to his own land. 15 Everyone who is found will be thrust through, And everyone who is captured will fall by the sword. 16 Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished. (Isaiah 13:9-16)
1 Come near, you nations, to hear;And heed, you people!Let the earth hear, and all that is in it,The world and all things that come forth from it. 2 For the indignation of the Lord is against all nations,And His fury against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them,He has given them over to the slaughter. 3 Also their slain shall be thrown out; Their stench shall rise from their corpses,And the mountains shall be melted with their blood. 4 All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down As the leaf falls from the vine, And as fruit falling from a fig tree. 5 "For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; Indeed it shall come down on Edom,And on the people of My curse, for judgment. 6 The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, It is made overflowing with fatness,With the blood of lambs and goats, With the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah,And a great slaughter in the land of Edom. 7 The wild oxen shall come down with them, And the young bulls with the mighty bulls; Their land shall be soaked with blood, And their dust saturated with fatness." 8 For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, The year of recompense for the cause of Zion. (Isaiah 34:1-8)
The “heavenly signs” of the “sixth seal” and Day of the Lord are described in Revelation 6:12-17, Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:25-26, and other parts of the Bible.
Here are some comments by John Ogwyn on this matter:
When the sixth seal is opened, John sees dramatic signs in the heavens. He describes great meteor showers—so intense that it appears that the very stars are falling out of the sky! He also describes events, resembling eclipses, involving the sun and the moon. The sun becomes dark, just as during a solar eclipse, and the moon takes on a reddish hue, just as it often does during a lunar eclipse. These dramatic and frightening events, accompanied by massive volcanic and earthquake activity (cf. Joel 2:30–31), are the prelude to the time of the Creator’s intervention, called throughout Scripture "the Day of the Lord."
At this point, there is a pause in the action before John sees the seventh seal opened. Revelation 7:1–4 makes plain that this pause is for a very specific purpose. Before the outpouring of God’s wrath, 144,000...from the 12 tribes of Israel are to be sealed so that they might be spared from what God is preparing to pour out on rebellious mankind.
A parallel can be found in Ezekiel 9, where Ezekiel saw a vision about God’s punishment on the rebellious people of Jerusalem. In the vision, he saw an angel clothed in linen with a writer’s inkhorn by his side standing beside the altar in front of the temple. The angel was told to go throughout the city, putting a mark on the foreheads of those who "sighed and cried" for all of the abominations of Jerusalem. In the wake of the angel with the writer’s inkhorn, the other angels were to go out as avenging angels to slay the rebellious and ungodly. In the same way, Revelation 7 describes...servants of God, and are to be set apart so that they might be spared God’s wrath that will be poured upon the children of disobedience during the coming Day of the Lord...
Many fail to notice that Revelation 7 records two different groups. They are both introduced by the same phrase, "after this I saw," recorded in verses 1 and 9. The 144,000 drawn from the 12 tribes precede the description of a multitude of indefinite number drawn from every nation and people. This great multitude is described in a victory celebration before the throne of God…(Ogwyn JH.  Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!, p. 27)
While most Protestant scholars understand that the 1260 days and “the time, times, and half a time” refer to 3 ½ years, some wrongly teach that the “Day of the Lord” will apparently only  “be a lengthened day”(Walvoord, pp. 333,579).
That particular Protestant position is wrong because this specific “Day of the Lord” itself is shown to be a year long in Isaiah where it is basically described as punishment for those who punished the church (called Zion):
8 For it is the day of the LORD's vengeance, The year of recompense for the cause of Zion (Isaiah 34:8).
1 To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion (Isaiah 61:1-3).
Within the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) it is understood that the seven trumpets plagues of Revelation 8, 9, and 11, and the seven plagues of Revelation 16 essentially constitute much of what will happen in the “Day of the Lord” (see also Ogwyn JH.  Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!, pp. 22-23)--though certain events in Matthew 24, Zechariah 14, and other portions of the Bible are also fulfilled then.
Since the Day of the Lord includes the event that the "star" (probably a comet) called Wormwood is to hit the planet (Revelation 8:10-11). The staging for armies in Armageddon (Revelation 16:16, and related to the sixth trumpet of Revelation 8:13-17) happens shortly after Wormwood (third trumpet) hits, hence 'Armageddon' will not happen in prior to the next decade (for more on Armageddon you can also read the article titled Armageddon).
The punishment during the Day of the Lord will come upon the spiritually desolate as God's wrath will be poured out (cf. Daniel 9:27b). Ten times in the Book of Revelation (NKJV) it speaks of God's wrath--many of those times speak of it being poured out (e.g. Revelation 16:1).
Now as far as will Jesus return in 2017 or will Jesus return in 2020? No, Jesus cannot return until seven years after the deal of Daniel 9:27a is confirmed (see also The 'Peace Deal' of Daniel 9:27). Since Jesus also does not return until after the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, the next couple of years is simply not possible.

Regarding the “Day of the Lord” John Ogwyn wrote:
Here we should note that Scripture identifies the true saints as those who actually obey God and keep His commandments. Revelation 14:12 emphasizes this point by describing the saints in comparison to those who will receive God’s punishment…
John records a vision of seven angels, with seven golden bowls that pour out seven final plagues, one after another. This pouring occurs rather quickly, as we see when we examine the nature of the plagues. If the second and third plagues, for instance, lasted more than a few days, all life would perish from the planet.

When the first bowl is poured out, a grievous sore comes upon those who had disregarded the third angel’s message and were still loyal to the Beast system. Then, when the second angel pours out his bowl, all the oceans become like "the blood of a dead man" (16:3). All sea life dies. With the pouring out of the third bowl, all the fresh water turns to blood, and sources of drinking water are destroyed. Then, the fourth angel pours his bowl, and scorching heat from the sun punishes rebellious mankind. Next, great darkness comes upon Europe ("the seat of the Beast") and its people are in agonizing pain and heat, engulfed in total darkness and lacking usable water all at the same time. The darkness results from the bowl poured out by the fifth angel.

After this, John sees the sixth angel pour his bowl upon the Euphrates. Demon spirits go forth to bring all the armies together north of Jerusalem. The huge Asiatic army that had previously been massed on the east bank of the Euphrates pours into the land of Israel, and converges in the area of Armageddon (Hebrew for "mount of Megiddo"). Megiddo is a hill that stands overlooking the Valley of Jezreel, about 55 miles north of Jerusalem. When the final seventh bowl is poured out, there will be a tremendous earthquake so massive that the very topography of the earth itself will be altered (vv. 18–20). Very likely this earthquake is the same one that is described in Zechariah 14:4, when the feet of Jesus Christ finally stand once more upon the Mount of Olives, located just east of Jerusalem…
It is important that we realize now, and in the crucial years ahead, that God’s victory is certain. This history has already been written in advance! Therefore, it is imperative that we come out of this world’s Babylonish system (18:4), and give our total and true allegiance to Jesus Christ and the message that He taught! (Ogwyn JH.  Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!, pp. 38-39)

It should be noted since that apparently biggest of all earthquakes seems to take place near the end of the Day of the Lord, it probably cannot happen prior to 2022 (more on earthquakes, including a cool updated listing of major earthquakes around the world, please see Earthquakes Today and Bible Prophecy).

It should be noted that the Euphrates river DOES not dry up until the seventh seal is open which is over 2 1/2 years AFTER the start of the Great Tribulation. Also, although some teach that ancient Babylon will be end time Babylon, this is in error. Some details on this are in the link: WND: Mecca is Mystery Babylon.
There are many details, but basically this “Day of the Lord” is God’s vengeance on the world for persecuting His people and not listening to His servants like the two witnesses.

Also notice:
1 The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, 2 "Son of man, prophesy and say, 'Thus says the Lord God:
"Wail, 'Woe to the day!'
3 For the day is near,
Even the day of the Lord is near;
It will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. (Ezekiel 30:1-3)
35 And say, "Save us, O God of our salvation;
Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise."  (1 Chronicles 16:34-35)
22 I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms;
I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms.
I will overthrow the chariots
And those who ride in them;
The horses and their riders shall come down,
Every one by the sword of his brother. (Haggai 2:22)
But because of it (apparently referred to as "the day of affliction" below), many will learn and be prepared to repent:
19 O Lord, my strength and my fortress,
My refuge in the day of affliction,
The Gentiles shall come to You
From the ends of the earth and say,
"Surely our fathers have inherited lies,
Worthlessness and unprofitable things."
20 Will a man make gods for himself,
Which are not gods?
21 "Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know,
I will cause them to know
My hand and My might;
And they shall know that My name is the LORD. (Jeremiah 16:19-21)
31 For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men. (Lamentations 3:31-33)
Thus, there will be spiritual benefits from this time (see also Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis). And the millennium comes after the Gentiles have trampled for their 42 months (cf. Revelation 11:2; Ezekiel 34:21-29, see also Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).
Interestingly, there is a Catholic prophecy that indicates that at first their end-time two leaders will do well and turn the world Catholic (the first 2 ½ years or so) then their will be problems, leading to the destruction:
St. Caesar of Arles (6th Century): ...there will be a great Pope...This Pope shall have with him, the Great Monarch...This Great Monarch will assist the Pope in the reformation of the whole earth...All nations shall recognize the Holy See of Rome, and shall pay homage to the Pope. But after some considerable time fervor shall cool...which shall bring upon mankind the last and worse persecution of Anti-Christ...There shall be great carnage (Culleton, R. Gerald. The Prophets and Our Times. Nihil Obstat: L. Arvin. Imprimatur: Philip G. Scher, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno, November 15, 1941. Reprint 1974, TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 126-127).
It may be that the above Catholic prophecy is pointing to the Day of the Lord. For more information see the articles Europa, the Beast, and the Book of Revelation and Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666.
One of the reasons that Jesus is returning will be to stop humans from destroying the earth and to punish those that are doing that:
22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)
18 The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth. (Revelation 11:18)
Jesus will return at the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:52), the seventh one, during the time known as the Day of the Lord. The dead will be raised then (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This seems to have been understood by early second century leaders such as Polycarp and Polycrates who, respectively, wrote:
Wherefore, girding up your loins," "serve the Lord in fear" and truth, as those who have forsaken the vain, empty talk and error of the multitude, and "believed in Him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave Him glory," and a throne at His right hand. To Him all things" in heaven and on earth are subject. Him every spirit serves. He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead. His blood will God require of those who do not believe in Him. But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, chapter II. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1 as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885.)
For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. (Polycrates Letter to Victor as reported by Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).
The "Day of the Lord" includes the time of the return of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the saints. Jesus may very well return before the end of the next decade.
Furthermore, notice:
13 So it shall be in that day:
The great trumpet will be blown;
They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria,
And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt,
And shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:13)
Jesus comes with the great sound of a trumpet (Matthew 24:31).
Concluding Comments on the Great Tribulation
We do live in perilous times. Many events are occurring that are changing the world as we have known it the past 50 or 60 years. But when will the Great Tribulation begin?
Since the deal involving the Daniel 9 prince (who is later to become the King of the North) has apparently not yet occurred, the Great Tribulation cannot possibly begin prior to 2021 (but many things of prophetic interest still are likely happen before then; see the Church of God Bible-News-Prophecy page). And the Great Tribulation probably will not begin until after then. You may also wish to watch the YouTube video titled: Will the Great Tribulation Start in 2017? There is also another sermon produced later titled The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives as well as another titled Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020?
But make no mistake about it--the end is coming and fairly soon--and most probably, sometime in the next ten or so years. But the Great Tribulation will not start in nor in 2017 nor in 2018 nor in 2019 nor in 2020 (if there is a major war in the Middle East that is resolved by the Fall of 2017, then maybe 2021).
Yet the Great Tribulation is coming and will start under the final administration of the United States as that nation (and its Anglo-allies) will be destroyed then (see also Anglo - America in Prophecy and/or watch 13 Ways President-Elect Trump is Apocalyptic.). Jesus is coming second time (Hebrews 9:28) and that is after the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:37-44) starts (Matthew 24:21).
Sorrows (Matthew 24:7-8) and troubles (Mark 13:7-8) have begun.
What will you do about your spiritual condition before it is too late?
Thiel B. Can the Great Tribulation Begin in 2016, 2017, or 2018? www.cogwriter.com

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