The Tribulation

The word tribulation is used in a general sense to denote participation in distress without regard to time.  From the Greek of the New Testament the word is translated into the English by the words "tribulation" (Acts 14:22) ; "anguish" (John 16:21) ; "affliction" (Acts 7:10-11) ; "burdened" (II Cor. 8:13) ; "persecution" (Acts 11:19) ; "trouble" (I Cor. 7:28) .
But here we are using the word to describe a particular period of time. Jesus said concerning the future of Israel: "For then there shall be great distress (tribulation), such as has never been since the beginning of the world to this time, no,  nor shall ever be" (Matt. 24:21) . Similarly, John is told, "These are the ones which came out of the great tribulation"  (Rev. 7:14).

It is known as the Day of the Lord. (Zech. 14:1; Mal. 4:1,5; Isa. 11:10-11).

A Time of Trouble (Dan 12:1); It is "... the time of Jacob's (Israel) trouble" (Jer 30:7); The Indignation (Isa. 26:20); John calls it "the wrath of the Lamb" and the great day of his wrath" (Rev. 6:16-17); Paul refers to this period as "the wrath to come"  (I Thess. 1:10).

Other expressions are also used in the Bible: "...the latter years" (Ezek. 38:8); "...the latter  days" (Ezek. 38:16); "...the time of the end" (Dan. 11:40); "...the end of the age (Matt. 13:39) ; "...the latter times" (1 Tim. 4:1) ; and "...the last days" (2 Tim. 3:1).There are many other references which could be added.

The tribulation occurs at the end of this present age when all things have worked to a conclusion (Rom 2:6, 8-9) and will be the beginning of major events leading to the final judgement of God upon evil (Rev 20:11-15). It is linked to the return of Jesus (2 Thess 1:7; 2 Thess 2:2-4). It is the time of trial upon society and the world which will have descended into moral corruption, idolatry and complete abandonment of God. It is my view that this period will be initiated by the removing of believers from the Earth in what is popularly called the 'rapture' (Rev 3:10).

The tribulation period is identified with Daniel's seventieth week (Dan 9:24-27). The seventieth week parallels the future history of Israel in the tribulation. There is the appearance of a prince (antichrist) who will have a definite relation to Israel (Dan. 9:26-27; Rev. 6:1-2; Dan. 11:36-38). Israel will receive this prince as her own and will make a firm covenant (treaty) with him  (Dan. 9:27; John 5:43; Dan. 11:37) . He will then break this covenant and turn against Israel (Dan. 9:27; Rev. 11:7; 12:6-17; 13:7) . This persecution will involve total war upon Israel and the supplanting of worship with abomination (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15, 21).

The seventieth week incorporates experiences constituting the climax of the nations during the tribulation period. "The people of the prince that shall come" (Dan. 9:26) belong to the Roman Empire. This is the final empire of history (Dan. 7:23, 26) , with which "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24) come to a close in one universal empire dominated by this prince that shall come (Rev. 13:5, 7; 19:19-21) . With indignation "... the LORD comes from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity" (Isa 26:20-21).

During this period there is no mention of the Church because believers will have been removed from Earth (Rev 4:4; 13:6; 19:7-8, 14).

The seventieth week provides the framework for the interpretation of the book of Revelation.  Daniel's prophecy was sealed till the time of the end (Dan. 12:4, 9) . Christ at His first coming initiated the end, and so in the book of Revelation the prophecy of Daniel was unsealed (Rev. 22:10) . The great burden of the book of Revelation, chapters 4-19, is an expansion and elucidation of the seventieth week as set forth in Daniel 9:27. Christ at His second coming will terminate the end and, in the formal and more absolute sense, the seventieth week, the period of tribulation, is that end. Within the chronological framework of the seventieth week the book of Revelation unfolds in detail the movement of events belonging to that period.

The tribulation period comes to an end at the parousia - the physical and spectacular return of Jesus to Earth with angels and believers to set up his kingdom and rule over the world (Dan 9:24; Matthew 24:21-30; Matt 25:31).