The Great Tribulation (Greek: θλιψις μεγαλη, thlipsis megalē) refers to tumultuous events that are described during the "signs of the times", first mentioned by Jesus in the Olivet discourse. The Great Tribulation is also referenced in the Book of Revelation.
Views of the Tribulation 
Futurist view 
In the futurist view of Christian eschatology, the Tribulation is a relatively short period of time where anyone who chose not to follow God up until the Rapture and was therefore left behind (according to Pre-Tribulation doctrine, not Mid- or Post-Tribulation teaching) will experience worldwide hardships, disasters, famine, war, pain, and suffering, which will wipe out more than 75% of all life on the earth before the Second Coming takes place.
According to Dispensationalists who hold the futurist view, the Tribulation is thought to occur before the Second Coming of Jesus and during the End Times. Another version holds that it will last seven years in all, being the last of Daniel's prophecy of seventy weeks. This viewpoint was first made popular by John Nelson Darby in the 19th century and was recently popularized by Hal Lindsey in The Late Great Planet Earth. It is theorized that each week represents seven years, with the timetable beginning from Artaxerxes' order to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (the Second Temple). After seven plus 62 weeks, the prophecy says that the messiah will be "cut off", which is taken to correspond to the death of Christ. This is seen as creating a break of indeterminate length in the timeline, with one week remaining to be fulfilled.
This seven-year week may be further divided into two periods of 3.5 years each, from the two 3.5-year periods in Daniel's prophecy where the last seven years are divided into two 3.5-year periods, (Daniel 9:27) The time period for these beliefs is also based on other passages: in the book of Daniel, "time, times, and half a time", interpreted as "a year, two years, and half a year," and the Book of Revelation, "a thousand two hundred and threescore days" and "forty and two months" (the prophetic month averaging 30 days, hence 1260/30 = 42 months or 3.5 years). The 1290 days of Daniel 12:11, (rather than the 1260 days of Revelation 11:3), is thought to be the result of either a simple intercalary leap month adjustment, or due to further calculations related to the prophecy, or due to an intermediate stage of time that is to prepare the world for the beginning of the millennial reign.
Among futurists there are differing views about what will happen to Christians during the Tribulation:
- Pretribulationists believe that all Christians (dead and alive) will be taken bodily up to Heaven (called the Rapture) before the Tribulation begins. According to this belief, every true Christian that has ever existed throughout the course of the entire Christian era will be instantaneously transformed into a perfect resurrected body, and will thus escape the trials of the Tribulation. Those who become Christians after the rapture will live through (or perish during) the Tribulation. After the Tribulation, Christ will return to establish His Millennial Kingdom.
- Prewrath Tribulationists believe the Rapture will occur during the tribulation, halfway through or after, but before the seven bowls of the wrath of God.
- Seventh Trumpet Tribulationists believe the rapture will occur during the tribulation, halfway through or after, but before the seven bowls of the wrath of God. Specifically, at the sound of the Seventh Trumpet (Rev. 11:15, 1 Cori. 15:52).
- Midtribulationists believe that the Rapture will occur halfway through the Tribulation, but before the worst part of it occurs. The seven-year period is divided into halves - the "beginning of sorrows" and the "great tribulation".
- Posttribulationists believe that Christians will not be taken up into Heaven, but will be received or gathered by Christ into the Kingdom of God on earth at the end of the Tribulation. "Immediately after the tribulation ... then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man [Jesus] ... and he shall gather his elect" (Matthew 24:29–31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27). Posttribulationists argue that the seventh trumpet mentioned in Revelation is also the last trumpet mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:52, and that there is a strong correlation between the events mentioned in Isaiah 27:13, Matthew 24:29-31, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16- thus creating a strong parallel, proving that the rapture occurs after the tribulation. Therefore, Posttribulationists see the rapture happening during the seventh trumpet, which would only mean that the rapture can never happen before the tribulation- according to this view. The idea of a post-tribulation rapture can also be read into 2 Peter 3:10-13 where Christ's return is equated with the "elements being melted" and "the earth also and the works therein shall be burned up."[improper synthesis?]
In pretribulationism and midtribulationism, the Rapture and the Second Coming (or Greek, par[a]ousia) of Christ are separate events, while in post-tribulationism the two events are identical or simultaneous. Another feature of the pre- and mid-tribulation beliefs is the idea that after the Rapture, Christ will return for a third time (when also counting the first coming) to set up his kingdom on the earth.
Some, including many Roman Catholic theologians, do not believe in a "time of trouble" period as usually described by tribulationists, but rather that there will be a near utopian period led by the Antichrist.
Many other groups, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, do not believe in a Rapture at any point. According to Jehovah's Witnesses, the Great Tribulation is soon to arrive. This period will see the fall of Babylon the Great, the Great Harlot, as spoken of in Revelation. After Babylon the Great has been removed, they say, the world powers shall move against God's chosen people for a short while. This will then usher in the ending of this "world" (not the earth, but the removal of all those who do not wish to follow God by standards) according to their understanding of Proverbs 2:21-22. The Great Tribulation ends with the battle of Armageddon.
Preterist view 
In the Preterist view, the Tribulation took place in the past when Roman legions destroyed Jerusalem and its temple in AD 70 during the end stages of the First Jewish–Roman War, and it only affected the Jewish people rather than all mankind.
Christian preterists believe that the Tribulation was a divine judgment visited upon the Jews for their sins, including rejection of Jesus as the promised Messiah. It occurred entirely in the past, around 70 AD when the armed forces of the Roman Empire destroyed Jerusalem and its temple.
A preterist discussion of the Tribulation has its focus on the Gospels, in particular the prophetic passages in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, rather than on the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation. (Preterists apply much of the symbolism in the Revelation to Rome, the Cæsars, and their persecution of Christians, rather than to the Tribulation upon the Jews.)
Jesus' warning in Matthew 24:34 that "this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" is tied back to his similar warning to the Scribes and the Pharisees that their judgment would "come upon this generation" (Matthew 23:36), that is, during the first century rather than at a future time long after the Scribes and Pharisees had passed from the scene. The destruction in 70 AD occurred within a 40-year generation from the time when Jesus gave that discourse.
The judgment on the Jewish nation was executed by the Roman legions, "the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet" (Matthew 24:15), which Luke presented to his Gentile audience, unfamiliar with Daniel, as "armies" surrounding Jerusalem to cause its "desolation." (Luke 21:20)
Since Matthew 24 begins with Jesus visiting the Jerusalem Temple and pronouncing that "there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (vs. 3), preterists see nothing in Scripture to indicate that another Jewish temple will ever be built. The prophecies were all fulfilled on the then-existing temple that Jesus spoke about and that was subsequently destroyed within that generation.
Historicist view 
The Historicist view applies Tribulation to the period known as "persecution of the saints" (Daniel 7, Revelation 13). This is believed by some to have been a period after the "falling away" when papal Rome came to power for 1260 years from 538 to 1798 (using the Day-year principle). They believe that the tribulation is not a future event. Matthew's reference to "great tribulation" (Matthew 24:29) as parallel to Revelation 6:12-13, having ended when the signs and wonders began in the late 18th century.
Historicists are prone to see prophecy fulfilled down through the centuries and even in today's world. Thus, instead of expecting a single Antichrist to rule the earth during a future Tribulation period, Martin Luther, John Calvin and the other Protestant Reformers saw the Antichrist as a present feature in the world of their time, fulfilled in the papacy.
See also 
- , ,
- Lahaye, Timothy and Ice, Thomas. Charting the End Times: A Visual Guide to Understanding Bible Prophecy. (Tim LaHaye Prophecy Library(TM)) Harvest House Publishers 2001 Pg. 66-67.[clarification needed]
- The Watchtower 1993 January 15 p.4 ‘Caught Away to Meet the Lord’—How?
- ARMAGEDDON A Happy Beginning
- THE LAST DAYS WHEN?
- Benware, Paul N. Understanding End Times Prophecy: A Comprehensive Approach. Moody Publishers (Chicago, IL, USA). Ch. 13: The Posttribulation Rapture View. pg. 240
- Smith, Uriah, Daniel and Revelation, pp.437-449
Further reading 
- The Great Tribulation: Past or Future by Thomas Ice and Kenneth L. Gentry Jr. (Kregel Publications, 1999) ISBN 0-8254-2901-3
- Four Views on the Book of Revelation by Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., Sam Hamstra Jr., C. Marvin Pate and Robert L. Thomas (Zondervan, 1998) ISBN 0-310-21080-1
- Great Prophecies of the Bible by Ralph Woodrow (Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, 1971) ISBN 0-916938-02-6
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