The Great Tribulation
First thing I will say is that all of the pretrib lot out there are in for a nasty surprise. I have said it several times, when it comes to interpreting Scripture it must be in accord with itself as there is a divine continuity from cover to cover, so cherry picking a favorite dogma and trying to turn it into a doctrine and then claim that that is the way it is and can be no other way is the quintyesential essence of Gnosticism.
This is not an indepth lesson in Bible prophecy, however it is an overview particularly of the time descrtibed as The Great Tribulation.
Best place to satrt I suppose is with the 70 weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9). Most will agree that 69 are fulfilled which leaves the 70th week outstanding. Week is the Hebrew Shabua meaning 7, and in this case 7 years, so the last week of Daniel is equal to 7 years. A little further on in the same chapter we see that it is split in two,v 27, and this is the verse Jesus refers to in Matthew 24:15. Mt 24:21 tells us that that is the moment that Great Tribulation begins.
The key to understanding Jesus' prophetic timeline in Matthew 24 are the words "When" and "Then" that preface each verse. Another key is verse 29 "Immediately AFTER the tribulation" and it goes on in verse 30 "Then ... they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory". That puts an end to it, at the return of Christ. He does not return before, during or in the middle. His return is AFTER it is all done. The rest of it is pretty self explanatory.
The problem exists where people attribute an event that does not apply to this timeline. We are not appointed unto wrath, is the first thing that pops up in the pro pretrib crowd. And where does the Bible equate the wrath of God and the tribulation? A better question is why do Christians get to go through the tribulation at all ? And to get the answer we go where ? The bible. I will refer you to Daniel 11; and verse 35 in particular but read the preface to get context."And some of them " of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed." To purge and to make them white. This is not speaking of the unbelievers, it is specifically referring to "them of understanding", the guys who are to "instruct many", and that may or may not be you but it IS some of you.
Purging to make white in a blast furnace is to cleanse away impurities so that what you are left with is a strong, pure and sanctified product. Now if ever there was a bunch that needed to be purged, well ... not really much of a surprise there. The "religious" organized religion Christians have turned more people off to the Lord than any other single influence. At least in Tribualtion the masks will come off of the woves in sheep's clothing where “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” - Mt 10:21 All the in-name-only crowd will turn coat, deny Christ and betray what is supposed to be their brethren in order to save their own skin. We already see this at work today, howbeit in a lesser degree, but practice makes perfect. These half hearts will fall into thetrap of universal ecumenism and accept total pantheism just so as to not rock the boat and get on anyone's radar. And there you have it, the sheep on the one hand and the goats on the other. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."- Mt 22:22-23
Confused ? God wants a relationship,not just mathematical servitude. He wants you to not have ant other god before Him, and as things will have it the Tribulation is another means that that will be accomplished. What did King Solomon say? “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” - Ecl 1:9 So keeping that in mind let's have a look see at the pattern by remembering Gideon. Judges chap 6 and 7. What did God do to the armies of Gideon? Gideon started out with a great big army that was invincible and they were gonna go in there and open a can of whoopass and get the job done, but God had another plan. So's Gideon and his boys wouldn't go getting it into their heads that they were really hot stuff and that their might had saved the day God slowly whittled down Gideon's band to just a motley crew ( I had to) so that all glory would be to God and not to man in his never ending hubris.
And that brings us back to the subject at hand, The Great Tribulation. You's going through it, so might as well get with the program and prepare to spend a lot of time on your knees while seeking a "gimme shelter" moment or you in for a really really BIG surprise. But then every cause needs it's martyrs, I am just planning on puttig that off as long as possible, not that I mind partaking but I am not going to volunteer when I believe i can still be of use. If in that process the inquisition puts me on a pyre I expect that I will be given grace for the moment when that moment occurs. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” - Mt 6:34
Now, go back and read the other stuff in the Epistles where Paul talks about the times of tribulation ect. See the continuity in the inspired text rather than trying to find a way out of it. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” - Prov 1:7