Tribulation Confusion (Part 1)
Question: Do the terms “the Day of the Lord” and “The Great Tribulation” refer to the same event?
In all the discussion among Christians “concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him…” (2Thess 2:1), there is probably no greater point of confusion than the identification of these two terms: "The Day of the Lord" and "The Great Tribulation." This post will be the first of a three-part series. Please read all three before drawing conclusions. May God use His Word to bring glory to His name and encouragement to His people.
The “Great Tribulation” is a term used by Jesus and by the prophet Daniel in reference to the 3½ -year reign of terror of the Antichrist. Jesus said, referring to Daniel’s prophecy about the Great Tribulation (Dan: 9:27):
Matt. 24:15-21 So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress [“great tribulation”—KJV], unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
Jesus gives us a time reference in these verses (see underlines). The Great Tribulation, Jesus says, will take place when the Antichrist defiles the temple in Jerusalem by setting up an image of himself there to be worshiped (2Thess. 2:4). That is the “abomination of desolation” of Daniel’s prophecy. On that point nearly all Bible teachers agree. But notice what else Jesus says regarding the timing of the Great Tribulation (see underlines):
Matt. 24:29-31 “Immediately after the distress [Tribulation—KJV] of those days “ ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Nowhere else does Scripture give such a clear timeline of events regarding the Tribulation, Jesus Return and the Rapture of the Church as Jesus gives here. Notice Jesus says that He will visibly return in the air (30) “immediately after the Tribulation” (29), when the universe itself seems on the verge of collapse (29). “At that time” a great sound, like a trumpet blast heard around the world, will announce the Lord’s Return and the Rapture of the Church (30).