3 Ways of Looking at the Great Tribulation

About two years ago a friend asked me what I thought about the tribulation.

My response: “The what?”

I obviously hadn’t thought about it.

The question is, should I have thought about it?

More importantly, is this a doctrine that promotes a healthy, meaningful Christian life?

Or is this simply a speculative future event that causes nothing but fights?

I want to argue that it will indeed help Christians live a vivid, meaningful Christian life. That it can actually encourage us. And, combined with other doctrines of the last things, provide comfort.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s define the Great Tribulation real quick.

What Is the Great Tribulation?

The Bible talks about a time in the future of great anguish–tribulation–exceeding anything we’ve ever known:

…And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:14

However, this is not to be confused with the general tribulation of common people [think childbirth] or believers [think torture] or God’s specific wrath found in hell.


This is a short but dramatic burst of intense moral evil and natural disasters that will cover the globe. [See .]

How short? Seven years. But WHEN will it happen? In general, there are three positions on this doctrine of last things that describe the when:


Some people believe that the church will be present during the entire 7-year tribulation. Christ’s second coming will occur at the end of this period.


A belief that simply sees Christ coming to rapture his church [read: remove them from the world] before the tribulation.


This position sees the church present during the first 3.5 years of the tribulation…before the severe anguish starts.

As you can see, we don’t have exact dates. That should tell us something: We aren’t supposed to calculate exact dates.

To do so–and then fail–will unnecessarily jeopardize our faith.

But it tells us something else: We are to be ever watchful and faithful. This is one of the redeemable qualities of this doctrine.

Here’s another: When combined with Christ’s second coming and the general resurrection, it provides comfort and encouragement.

To be honest, I don’t have a position on when the great tribulation will occur. Like the doctrine of the millennium, the when is not so important as the why.

Besides, this is not an issue Christians should die on the hill over. Neither is it something to quibble with unbelievers.

What about you: Ever think about the Tribulation? Ever read The Left Behind books? [I haven’t.]

Did I miss something in the positive benefits this doctrine provides?

Also, can anyone tell me the place and date of the above photo?  will shine your shoes if you get it right.

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