"For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be...Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven (1), and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven (2), and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (Mt 24.21, 29-30)
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself predicts that immediately before He returns to earth to be our King of kings, this world and all who live in it will experience "great tribulation". This season of "pressure" and consequent "affliction" has to be distinguished from that general tribulation which Christians have always understood is a normal part of everyday faith-life. For example, in the Gospel of John (16.33) the Lord explains that "in the world you have tribulation". The Apostle Paul tells Believers in Thessalonica (2 Th 1.4) that "we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions (tribulations) which you are enduring". And the Apostle John (Rev 1.9) addresses the Church as their "brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance".
The root of the term which Jesus employs to describe history on the eve of His Second Coming, means to greatly and unusually "squeeze, press, compress, crush"! This of course perfectly describes the scenario, thus helping people understand what's happening to us...both the Church and the world. The ingredients of this time of intense pressure are numerous. For example:
(A) The intensification of God's punishment of sin, which has been described as "the avenging fire of rejected divine love". (3)
(B) The intensification of His correction and reformation of the Church, when "with a loving lack of mercy God rains down His blows" (4) upon us so that He might present us to Himself as "a glorious bride without stain or wrinkle". (Eph 5.27)
In this essay however, I especially want to emphasise the following elements of this "great tribulation":
(1) The pressure in between a moving and immovable object increases massively and dramatically immediately before they collide. In terms of Christian eschatology, there is going to be a day when today becomes The Day.
"They will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven...Of that day and hour no one knows." (Mt 24.30&36)
"Each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it." (1 Co 3.13)