There are three kinds of great tribulation mentioned in the Bible. In order of occurrence they are Sickbed Great Tribulation, Heptad Great Tribulation and Jacob’s Great Tribulation.
Bible expositors seem to be familiar with only one great tribulation. This would appear to be the root cause of the division in opinion regarding the timing of the rapture of the church.
Pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation and post-tribulation rapture adherents are vehement in their timing, which they believe derive from their interpretation of some scriptures on the second coming of Christ.
There are three groups of people on earth – Gentiles, Jews and Christians. Every group on earth has a great tribulation period peculiar to it. Although each great tribulation will affect the whole world at varying degrees, it will be particularly devastating for each targeted group.
For the three great tribulations, let us consider them from the perspective of the mostly affected group, duration of judgment, purpose for the judgment and the ensuing result starting with
Sickbed Great Tribulation – Rev 2:18-25
22 “Indeed I will cast her [Jezebel] into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.
23 “I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”
The church of Jesus Christ is the target of this tribulation judgment. The church began on the Day of Pentecost and will exit earth after the sickbed great tribulation. The ekklesia are those called out of Jews and Gentiles who are disciples of Jesus Christ. Eligible members of the ekklesia will be evacuated to heaven as the culmination of the sickbed judgment.
Sickbed great tribulation was designed to begin towards the end of church era. As it is written “judgment shall begin at the house of God.” The difference between the dispensation of the church and the dispensation of grace is seven years. However, the duration of sickbed great tribulation is not disclosed in the Scriptures but is unlikely to last for too long.
Sickbed great tribulation is a final call to backsliders to repent and return to their first love. Many believers have strayed from the faith and entangled themselves with many winds of doctrine. The purpose of this great tribulation is to compel backsliders to denounce the pernicious doctrines of the Nicolaitans, Balaam and Jezebel and repent in time to be included in the rapture event.
Genuine followers of Christ who are walking along the narrow way will not be victims of the sickbed great tribulation. “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. (Rev 2:24-25)
Many lukewarm Christians will heed the call to repent and return to the Lord before He returns to rapture His church. Those who are not ensconced with the deeds of the Nicolaitans shall not be victims of the sickbed tribulation.
Next post – part 3