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The idea of tribulation firstly must be separated from the idea of God pouring out his wrath on unbelievers. While the two may or may not occur at the same time, tribulations (greek 'diwgmos' and 'thlipsis') predominantly refer to the persecution and affliction of believers by non-believers. Conversely, wrath (thumos and orgay) predominantly address the wrath of God against the unrighteous or people's anger against each other. With this in mind (also keeping in mind that there are many theories on when the 'Great Tribulation' will take place), then verses on the tribulation can be examined. Matt 24:1-33 (also Mark 13:1-27, Luke 21:8-27) Here is an interesting passage that could be a double prophecy. Matt 24:3-29 have already been fulfilled once, it is possible they will be fulfilled again in a Great tribulation leading up to the true end of the passage - the return of Christ. Examining the first fulfillment can give clues as to the sequence of the future Great Tribulation [though a second fulfillment is not necessary]. The disciples asked several questions: A) "when will this happen? (not one stone left on another)" - This happened in 70 AD with the destruction of the temple. B) What will be the sign of your coming? (A sign of the son of man in heaven, the son of man coming in clouds and great glory, a trumpet call) - This has not occurred yet! C) What will be the sign of the end of the age? (false messiahs, wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, famines, earthquakes, persecution, believers put to death, apostasy, the gospel preached to the whole world, implications of the end of jewish government and the incursion by romans). The destruction of the temple ended the jewish/old covenant age and brought in the church age. Matt 24:30-33 cannot take place until Matt 24:2-29 have taken place (which they have once, in 66-70 AD). The events surrounding the siege of Jerusalem included the Christians fleeing to the mountains, earthquakes, jews fighting jews, famine, false messiahs, etc. The Romans were the vultures surrounding the carcass of the temple (also the wings of desolation from Daniel), and "Vespasian rose to the supreme power (Emperor of Rome) and destroyed Jerusalem, and desolated the holy place” (Clement of Alexandria). The prophecy of the gospel being preached to the 'whole world' has also been fulfilled (Col 1:23). Yet, the end hasn't come (such as Christ returning or the end of the world). However, the end of the age did come. Often when scripture speaks of the 'end' of something or the distant future, it is referring to the end of an age, not the end of time. As scripture specifically references this one as having happened, it is doubtful this portion is a double prophecy. As such, theoretically Jesus could return at any time! If the tribulation and destruction of the temple of Jerusalem were part of a double prophecy, then it is quite possible there is another Great Tribulation yet to come. If so, we can expect it to follow a similar pattern (preceded by false messiahs, earthquakes and wars, then during it the believers will be persecuted, the gospel preached, and false prophets arise - and it will culminate with the return of Christ). So, when will the Tribulation occur? It may have already occurred, it may be in the future. Mark 13:24-25 and Matt 24:29 would imply it already has happened, as the jewish system has already fallen. (Also, Rev 6:9-11 which implies others will be martyred after the great trib). We know it comes 'after' birth pains: earthquakes, rumors of war, false messiahs. (Luke 21:8, Matt 25:5, Mark 13:6) These are frequent enough that it could be anytime! It must happen before the return of Christ: (Matt 24:30, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27) This is an unknown time, but after the trib (Mark 13:32-36) It must happen before Christ gathers the believers to him: (Matt 24:31, Mark 13:27, Luke 17:34-36) Conversely, when God pours out his wrath, believers will be protected (Rev 9:1-4).
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