Does the Tribulation begin in 2013 or later?

I expect the events described in the secrets of Medjugorje and Garabandal to begin in 2016. The first event is the Warning of Garabandal, which I think is also the first secret of Medjugorje. And that event, as I now believe, will occur on Good Friday of 2016. But does the tribulation begin with that event (or shortly thereafter), or does the tribulation begin first, with the secrets unfolding afterward?

Formerly, I thought that the secrets began first, and these events prompted the first events of the tribulation. However, I now believe that the tribulation begins first, and the secrets unfold a few years later. The reason is complex. Basically, the timing of subsequent events in my eschatology implies that the tribulation begins sooner, rather than later. How soon? Perhaps this very year: 2013.

The first event of the tribulation (not the first secret) is World War 3:

[Revelation 6]
{6:1} And I saw that the Lamb had opened one of the seven seals. And I heard one of the four living creatures saying, in a voice like thunder: “Draw near and see.”
{6:2} And I saw, and behold, a white horse. And he who was sitting upon it was holding a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he went forth conquering, so that he might prevail.

This is the same war described by Daniel:

[Daniel 8]
{8:1} In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king, a vision appeared to me. After that which I had seen in the beginning, I, Daniel,
{8:2} saw in my vision, that I was in the capital city of Susa, which is in the region of Elam, yet I saw in the vision that I was over the gate of Ulai.
{8:3} And I lifted up my eyes and saw, and behold, a single ram stood before the marsh, having two high horns, and one was higher than the other and growing higher still.
{8:4} After this, I saw the ram brandishing his horns against the West, and against the North, and against the Meridian, and all the beasts could not withstand him, nor be freed from his hand, and he did according to his own will, and he became great.

{8:19} And he said to me, “I will reveal to you what the future things are in the earlier tribulation, for the time has its end.
{8:20} The ram, which you saw to have horns, is the king of the Medes and Persians.

The ram is a group of nations (the Arab/Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa) united together under two leaders, represented by the two horns. These are the leaders of Persia (Iran) and Media (Iraq). Although Iraq is not currently in the hands of extremists, it soon will be. Thus Iran has a major role to play in the onset of the tribulation.

The “West” is the U.S. and other western nations; the “North” is Europe; the “Meridian is the northern part of Africa, down to the Equator. These are the lands that will be attacked in this war.

Now if you have been following the news about Iran, the nation is currently close to obtaining nuclear weapons. Once they obtain a few nukes, I believe they will initiate a war (World War 3) by nuking New York City. Iran could possibly have a few nuclear bombs by sometime this year (2013). See my previous posts on Iran.

Is it possible that this war will not begin until after the secrets of Medjugorje and Garabandal begin to unfold? It is possible, but in my view not likely. There would not be enough time between the start of the war and subsequent events of the tribulation.

What will be the signs that the tribulation has begun?

The first four events of the tribulation are the four horsemen of the apocalypse:

1. War
2. Civil Unrest
3. Famine
4. Death

More specifically, the war is World War 3 and it is a war between the Arab/Muslim nations, led by Iran, and the U.S. and Europe. But those nations can only hope to wage such a war against us, if they have nuclear weapons. So one indication, other than the actual start of the war, would be if/when Iran obtains nuclear bombs. Unfortunately, our first indication that Iran has nukes might be their use. But if we find out that Iran has nuclear bombs, prior to their use, this would be a clear indication that the tribulation is about to begin.

The civil unrest will be worldwide. Its cause will be fear at the start of the war, fear at the use of nuclear weapons by Iran, as well as the consequent economic problems. The current economic problems of the world are merely a prelude to the severe economic downturn that accompanies the war. Since the war starts by a nuclear attack on NYC, an economic center of world commerce, it is easy to see how the war would harm the economy, from its very start.

The famine is unusual; it is a famine that afflicts wealthy nations much more than developing nations. The war and economic problems and the civil unrest all result in a disruption of the food production and distribution system. The current severe drought in the U.S. is a providential preparation for that famine. The drought began in late 2010/early 2011, but it has been very severe since June/July 2012. And it continues to be severe even today.

The fourth event is death, not merely the many deaths caused by the previous three events, but also the fear of death. This fear disrupts society, travel, commerce, the economy and more. The world will begin to realize that the end times have begun, and fear will grip the world: the fear of death.

{6:7} And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying: “Draw near and see.”
{6:8} And behold, a pale horse. And he who was sitting upon it, his name was Death, and Hell was following him. And authority was given to him over the four parts of the earth, to destroy by the sword, by famine, and by death, and by the creatures of the earth.

The “creatures of the earth” that destroy are viruses and bacteria, in other words, disease. There will be one or more major epidemics during these first years of the tribulation. The destruction “by the sword” includes the war and the civil unrest. The expression “to destroy…by death” means by the fear of death, which wreaks havoc in society.

The U.S. drought is one indication that the great famine of the tribulation is near. Another indication that the tribulation is near is the current economic problems of the U.S. and the world. And the fact that Iran is close to obtaining nuclear weapons is yet another indicator.

Finally, there is the election of the new Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis. He is speaking and acting in a way that indicates, to my mind, that he will soon rebuke unfaithful Catholics for rejecting Church teaching on many different topics. The result will be the great apostasy, in which most Catholics leave the Church. I believe that the great apostasy will begin this year, during the Year of Faith. God is calling the members of the Church to repent and return the fullness of faith; their rejection of that call begins the great apostasy. And this, too, is an indication that the tribulation is near, at the very threshold.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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22 Responses to Does the Tribulation begin in 2013 or later?

  1. Matt says:

    How do you see the normal day to day life for a typical American during the tribulations? For example, going to work, paying bills, grocery shopping, taking kids to soccer practice, vacationing, or simply taking a bike ride?

    • Ron Conte says:

      People will still be able to live a more or less normal life during the early years of the tribulation. But there will be disruptions and limitations, more and more as time passes. There will be much suffering for the world, and the Church will be in great turmoil. Toward the end of the first part of the tribulation, normal living will be impossible; people will become convinced that the end of the world has arrived, but they will be mistaken. After the Three Days of Darkness, there will be a time of peace and rebuilding.

  2. John Platts says:

    Although World War 3 did not start yet, the United States has had a few tragedies in the last few months that have been publicized in the media nationwide, including the following:
    (a) the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on December 14th, 2012,
    (b) the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15th,
    (c) a shooting at the Pinewood Village apartment complex in Federal Way, Washington last night that resulted in the death of the suspect and killed 4 other people.

    Are the recent tragedies that have been publicized in the American media part of or a precursor to the upcoming tribulation?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t think that those tragedies are related to the tribulation. These types of tragedies have always occurred in human history, due to grave sin without repentance by so many persons.

  3. John Platts says:

    The bombing of New York City by Iran can still be stopped if enough people did pray. Are you making your prediction of Iran bombing New York City on the belief that not enough people will pray to stop this event from happening, or on the belief that Iran will choose to do it anyway despite the prayers from Americans and other people?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Scripture informs us of certain events in the future, from the infallible knowledge of God. So there are certain events that will not be avoided by prayer, such as the war that begins the tribulation. Hypothetically, if everyone repented, there would be no tribulation at all. But Scripture clearly teaches that is not the case.

  4. Denise Robson says:

    I think that you’re getting a lot closer to the time when these events you talk about are meant to occur. The man Joey Lomangino is 83 this year and Our Lady is meant to cure him and give him his sight back. Joey asked St Padre Pio if it was true that Our Lady was actually appearing at Garabandal, and St Padre Pio told Joey that Our Lady was. By 2016, Joey Lomangino will be an amazing 86 years old! I just watched a video about Garabandal on YouTube. Joey had lost his sense of smell for 16 years because of his accident. St Padre Pio touched the top bridge of Joey’s nose, and Joey said St Padre Pio cured him and he could smell again! I don’t think that St Padre Pio would lie about Our Lady being at Garabandal. Love you’re writings. Definitely interesting and instructive. God bless.

  5. Firas says:

    Ron..I agree with the 2016 time frame…I always thought it was 2016…and we know at the time of the Garabandal Warning , that things will be at their worst..therefore, I believe the tribulation should start before the warning…that makes good logic. My question is this, when the Warning comes, why on earth would anybody continue to sin, cause war, not repent…must be that the warning will not be so crytal clear in the eyes of many…but why? Why would the Warning be experienced by someone( e.g. muslims) and they continue to rage war. I guess I don’t want to believe that people are evil. What I believe is that people are mislead by satan, but when the Warning happens, it would seem to me that God is erasing all the misinterpretations and letting all start with a new road map…

    • Ron Conte says:

      By definition, actual sin is the deliberate choice of an act that you yourself realize is wrong. People sin all the time, even gravely. They freely choose to do what they themselves realize is gravely immoral. So it is conceivable that many persons could fall back into sin after the Warning. Some persons accept correct from God, and repent. Others reject this correction from God, refusing to repent. Some who repent later fall back into serious sin.

      I also think that the Warning and the Miracle have an impact on the tribulation, causing the first four events to quickly diminish in severity. So it is not as if these blessings are without effect.

  6. Matt says:

    I am appalled at the speed of countries approving “homosexual marriage.” Last week New Zealand approved it. France is now poised to approve it this week and England soon to follow. I do not know if US Supreme Court will rule in favor of it this June. I know that Western countries are much to blame for allowing this type of marriage due to so much sin from high divorce rates, out of wedlock children, fornication, adultery, abortion, contraception, and pornography. Is “homosexual marriage” the final straw that brings God’s wrath on us all?

    • Ron Conte says:

      No, I don’t think there is a “final straw”. Every grave unrepentant sin will be punished by God, in perfect accord with His justice and mercy. But the world has already committed sufficient grave sin to bring down the tribulation on us all.

  7. DCorpus says:

    I don’t know that people should start throwing dates of when Christ’s return will be or when the tribulation will begin. It puts a bad label on Christianity when these events do not happen on these dates and people will react in a way as to having no interest in Christianity.

    • Ron Conte says:

      My approach to eschatology, which includes attempting to discern the dates of future events, is controversial. But I believe that, as the tribulation nears, we can perceive that it is imminent from the signs of the times:
      [Matthew 16]
      {16:1} And Pharisees and Sadducees approached him to test him, and they asked him to show them a sign from heaven.
      {16:2} But he responded by saying to them: “When evening arrives, you say, ‘It will be calm, for the sky is red,’
      {16:3} and in the morning, ‘Today there will be a storm, for the sky is red and gloomy.’ So then, you know how to judge the appearance of the sky, but you are unable to know the signs of the times?

    • DCorpus says:

      I believe this was to be a sign to the Pharisees and Sadducees, not to us living 2000 years later. The Pharisees and Sadducees did not understand the tribulation nor did they have any idea of a second coming.

    • Ron Conte says:

      All of Sacred Scripture is Christ speaking to us today. Nothing in Scripture applies solely to the past. And Christ himself, in His eschatological discourse, says that we can and should recognize that the tribulation is near:
      {24:32} So, from the fig tree learn a parable. When its branch has now become tender and the leaves have sprung forth, you know that summer is near.
      {24:33} So also, when you will have seen all these things, know that it is near, even at the threshold.

    • DCorpus says:

      Not necessarily. I do believe that the scriptures provide us with truth and principles by which we must live by but that does not mean that we were the original readers. When we read the epistles, we are in fact reading someone’s mail that was written to specific people. We obviously don’t need to sacrifice animals because they are not addressed to christians. So, not all scripture is meant for us in the same way as it’s original audience.

  8. Virginia says:

    Do you think the tribulation will start only after Pope BXVI’s death?
    Don’t you think that people will be so accustomed to what is happening that it becomes the norm like during the day of Noah that many will not really be prepared when it does come?
    Are there any credible prophecy that says that the Anti-Christ will be seated in the throne of Peter?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I think that Pope Benedict will live to see the start of the tribulation.

      Yes, it is already the case that most people are so accustomed to the increase in grave sin in the world that they don’t realize this is one sign that the tribulation is near. Most people will not be prepared, just as Christ said.

      It is very clear from Scripture and the prophecies of the Saints that neither the Antichrist nor the false prophet ever becomes or claims to be the Pope. The Antichrist wishes to be seen as God; he does not even covet the humble role of Pope, the servant of servants. What happens, in the distant future, is that the Antichrist and the false prophet set up a new religion, worshiping the Antichrist, and that religion competes with the Catholic religion. He sets up a false Church to compete with the one true Church.

  9. Matt says:


    “The war in the Middle East will become serious and will spread throughout the world” (Feb. 23, 2012; Our Lady of Medjugorje to Ivan).

    Ron, what do you makes of these messages in relation to this topic from Pope Benedict and to Ivan the visionary in Medjugorje?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Fatima prophesied the martyrdom of a future Pope. That Pope could be Pope Francis or a successor. The triumph of Mary’s heart occurs twice: once at the end of the first part of the tribulation, and again at the end of the second part of the tribulation.

      The Middle East is the source of the next World War, which is the first affliction of the tribulation (the first horseman and first seal). Iran will lead the other Arab/Muslim nations in war against the U.S. and Europe.

  10. GJun says:

    Ron, I’ve been following your eschatology and one thing I’d noticed is that the focus on the start if the war will be Iran. Do you think the communists like North Korea will help out Iran and the extremists? There has been microcosm incidents of unholy alliances between these communists & extremists, particularly in Asia, for the reason that both have common enemies. I had also read on a news that North Korea had invited scientists from Iran for its nuclear program. I mean, I had a hunch that the communists will distract the superpower in order for the Arab/extremists to launch nuclear weapons.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t think that North Korea has any major role in the approaching War (WW3). The impetus for war is mainly from extremist Muslims in the Middle East and northern Africa. Scripture indicates the war is led by the leaders of Persia (Iran) and Media (Iraq and the other Arab/Muslim nations).

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