What is the difference between the "great tribulation" period and the "tribulation" period?
It seems that some prophecy teachers interchange the terms "great tribulation" period and "tribulation" period. This is confusing to me. Can you distinguish between the two?
Jesus was the first one to use the term "great tribulation" (Matthew 24:21). A few verses later, He used the phrase "tribulation of those days" (24:29). By saying "tribulation" in 24:29, He was referring to the "great tribulation" in 24:21. However, many have taken the word "tribulation" in 24:29 out of context and have applied it to the entire 7-year period, often referred to as the 70th Week of Daniel. But Jesus never said this.
The time of "great tribulation" is to begin after the abomination that causes desolation is set up (Matthew 24:15), which will occur at the beginning of the final 3Ĺ years. This is when Satan's wrath, not God's wrath, will begin. The entire 3Ĺ years will not be the great tribulation period, though.
Jesus indicated that, for elect believers. the days of the great tribulation would be "cut short" (Matthew 24:22). He said that after the "tribulation" of those days (meaning, after the days of the "great tribulation"), there would be distinct signs in the sun, moon, and stars (24:29). These are parallel with signs that are seen after the Sixth Seal is opened (Revelation 6:12,13).
This also is when the Pre-wrath Rapture (Matthew 24:30,31) will take place, and a great multitude of raptured believers will be seen praising God in heaven (Revelation 7:9,10). John was told that these will have been taken out of the great tribulation (7:14), referred to by Jesus.
After that, the Seventh Seal will be opened, and seven angels will begin doling out the trumpet judgments (Revelation 8:1,2). This is when the wrath and vengeance of God will begin, from which believers will be protected because they will have been removed in the Pre-wrath Rapture. I believe that God's "day of vengeance" period most likely will last for a year of time (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4). Many more details about these things are included in my two-part Rapture commentary
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