Many fail to see that there are two distinct periods of tribulation in the second half of the seventieth week. The first is great tribulation upon the elect and Israel by the Beast and his followers. The second is tribulation from God upon the unbelieving Beast worshipers. The passages below emphasize this fact.
2Th 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
2Th 1:10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
When Jesus returns, the great tribulation, that time of trouble that Daniel spoke of (Dan 12:1) will be cut short (Matt 24:22). It is at that time that He will resurrect the dead in Christ (Dan 12:1-2, Rev 20:4-6, 1Cor 15:23, 51-52) and send the angels to catch up those who are alive and remain together with them, into the clouds (Rev 1:7), to be with Him (1Thes 4:15-17; Matt 24:31). It is after we are safely at the Father's house (John 14:3), before the throne of God (Rev 7:9-17) that His wrath begins to be poured out (Rev 8, 9, 16-19) suddenly (1Thes 5:2-3) on the very same day (Luke 17:26-30).
It can be shown that there are two periods of tribulation which make up the second half of the week, the last 3½ years prior to Christ's literal, physical, millennial reign, upon the throne of David in Jerusalem.
The explicit statements of the Scriptures below make it clear that there are two distinct unparalleled periods of tribulation in the second half of the week.
When does the great tribulation begin? In the middle of the week
Mat 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Mat 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
What comes after the great tribulation? The cosmic sign spoken of by Joel which is the precursor to Christ's return.
Mat 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Joe 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
Isa 13:6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
Isa 13:7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt:
Isa 13:8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
Isa 13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
Isa 13:10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
Isa 13:11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
Rev 6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
Rev 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Rev 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
Rev 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
Rev 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
Rev 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Isa 2:12 For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
... Isa 2:17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
... Isa 2:19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
Isa 2:20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;
Isa 2:21 To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
“If these passages describe the cosmic sign of Joel 2:31, and they do, then it is an indisputable fact that the day of the Lord cannot begin until the great tribulation is over.”
God's wrath, at the beginning of the day of the Lord, doesn't begin until the elect (all believers in Jesus Christ) are removed from the earth, after the great tribulation.
God’s tribulation upon the unbelieving, Beast worshipers, who will persecute the church and Israel in the great tribulation, is referenced in Rev 3:10. The persecuted saints are said to be kept from the hour of temptation, that is, removed from the sphere of God’s, day of the Lord, wrath.
Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
When considering this verse, it is very important to understand the focus of the trial in context. It is that which will allow you to rightly understand what the notable hour of temptation is. Here, the focus is said to be upon the earth dwellers, “them that dwell upon the earth.” “The earth dwellers” is a technical term throughout the eschatological portions of the New Testament. The term is the combination of two Greek words (ghay and katoikeo). It always refers to those dwelling on the earth that worship the Beast and receive his mark (even in Rev 12:12).
Jesus says concerning the Day of the LORD:
Luk 21:35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Note: Paul clearly teaches that the Day of the LORD will not overtake the watching believer as a thief.
1Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
1Th 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
So “them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” excludes the watching saints.
John records concerning the two witnesses:
Rev 11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. ...
Rev 11:10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
Note: The earth-dwellers here rejoice at the death of God’s two witnesses, which no believer would do.
Again, John uses this technical term concerning those who are deceived by the false prophet:
Rev 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
Note: The earth-dwellers here are deceived by the False Prophet into worshiping the Beast and receiving his mark, but Jesus said that it was not possible for the “very elect” to be deceived (Matt. 24:24).
Eleven verses in the book of Revelation contain this technical term for those who worship the beast and receive his mark.
Recognizing that the focus of the temptation is upon the earth dwellers, we know that it refers to God's fierce wrath at the beginning of the day of the Lord and not Satan's wrath (Rev 12:12) upon the elect and Israel in the great tribulation.
What verses show that the great tribulation is the persecution of the elect and Israel?
The persecution of Israel can readily be seen in many passages. The most spoken of today is likely Jer. 30:7 where the term “Jacob’s troubles” appears. Dan 12:1 can also rightly be speaking of the believing remnant of Israel. Jesus’ instruction in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24, 25) has a decidedly Jewish flavor which must include the Jews. However, we must remember it is only believers who listen to the Master’s voice. Rev 12, decidedly shows us that Satan persecutes both the Israelites and believers in Jesus Christ when he is cast from Heaven to the earth in the middle of the week.
There are many references to Christians being persecuted in the great tribulation. Rev 6:9-11 describes those martyred souls under the alter in Heaven crying out for vengeance, that would have to wait, until the rest of their brethren and fellowservants should be killed as they were. The innumerable multitude in Rev 7:9-17 are said to have come out of great tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. They are saved by the blood of the Lamb just like we are. The saints are said to overcome the wrath of Satan “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony and loved not their lives unto death” (Rev 12:11). The deliverance is to be for those whose names are in the book (Dan 12:1). He will come the second time without sin unto salvation (Heb 9:28). Jesus said that those that endured to the end shall be saved, and the context was the great tribulation. Again and again, we see deliverance or salvation in a physical sense for those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord (1Th 4:16-).