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Billy HallowellOct 11, 2021 12:00:00 AM

What is the Tribulation? Bible Experts Explore Prophetic Time of Chaos

What is the great tribulation and the rapture? These are biblical concepts pertaining to the end times — the times leading up to the end of days and to the new heaven and new earth that are prophesied in the Book of Revelation.


What is Tribulation?

In a general sense, some might ask, "What is tribulation?" Generally speaking, it is a time period yet to come that is characterized by chaos and destruction that unfold as the end times kicks into high gear. But in this article, we'll go a bit deeper than that and explore what some theologians have to say about the issue.

Definition of Tribulation

In general, the word "tribulation" means, "a trying experience" or "distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution." These definitions definitely carry over to the theological details surrounding the great tribulation and the rapture.

As Great American Pure Flix notes in our end times guide (download it for free), the tribulation period will be a wildly unpleasant time in which those who remain on Earth will face intense struggles.


These trials and tribulations will be much more pronounced than mere unpleasantries. According to biblical scholars, the chaos will be intense.


What is the Meaning of Trials and Tribulations?

Trials and tribulations are synonymous with the elements of the great tribulation and the rapture. The general term "trials and tribulations" refers to difficulties we face as human beings. Trials are tough times and tribulations are times of suffering.

In a biblical sense, the great tribulation will manifest itself in war, pestilence and other forms of chaos, according to many theologians. 

What Happens During the Tribulation?

So, what happens during the tribulation and where does this concept actually come from? End-times expert Mark Hitchcock describes the tribulation as a “time of trouble” that will last seven years and will culminate with Christ’s Second Coming.

Some Bible experts believe that the concept of a seven-year tribulation period can be traced back in the Old Testament to Daniel 9:24-27 — the very chapter in which these same experts believe that Daniel prophesied about the Antichrist.

It is in verse 27 that the term “one ‘seven’” is taken to mean that a tribulation will unfold for seven years, during which the Antichrist will “confirm a covenant with many.” Read verses 24-27 below:

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.

The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” – Daniel 9:24-47 (NIV)

What Does the Bible Say About the Tribulation?

Hitchcock explained that the tribulation period — and, specifically, the time in which God’s wrath begins — is looked at very differently by a slew of Christians, depending on how individuals view the placement of the rapture.


“A pre-triber would say, ‘Look, the whole 70th week of Daniel, the whole tribulation period — that whole period’s wrath,” he said. “A mid-triber would say, ‘No, only the last half is God’s wrath, and the first half is the wrath of man, the wrath of Satan — a lot of bad stuff happening, but it’s not God’s wrath.”

Meanwhile, Hitchcock said that post-tribers would say that the wrath of God is at the end of the tribulation period.

“I would say the whole tribulation’s wrath,” Hitchcock said, though he called the overarching debate a “legitimate disagreement.”

Movies About the Great Tribulation and Rapture

Left Behind


This is the first of the "Left Behind" films. Here's the synopsis: After learning that millions have completely vanished, an airline pilot, his daughter, and others work together to unravel the mystery of those left behind.

Watch "Left Behind" right now on Great American Pure Flix.

Left Behind 2: Tribulation Force


The next of the "Left Behind" movies is "Left Behind 2: Tribulation Force." Here's the synopsis: Two weeks after the Rapture, those left behind must band together to form the Tribulation Force, preparing themselves for the worst seven years the planet will ever see in this exciting sequel to "Left Behind."

Watch the movie, which is now streaming on Great American Pure Flix!

Jerusalem Countdown

jerusalem countdown

In this "24"-like story of terror and the fight for peace, agent Shane Daughtry teams up with a CIA agent to stop an apocalyptic plot that will detonate nuclear bombs on American soil. Based on the best-selling novel by John Hagee.

Watch "Jerusalem Countdown" on Great American Pure Flix.

So, what happens after the great tribulation period? Find out more about what Christians believe in our end times guide, which you can download for free here.


Billy Hallowell

Billy Hallowell has been working in journalism and media for more than a decade. His writings have appeared in Deseret News, TheBlaze, Human Events, Mediaite and on, among other outlets. Hallowell has a B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York and an M.S. in social research from Hunter College in Manhattan, New York.