The Tribulation refers to a future 7-year period of great suffering and turmoil that will take place prior to Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. The Tribulation is described in detail in the biblical prophetic books, especially in Revelation chapters 6-19. Here is an overview of key events that will occur during this 7-year period:
The Tribulation period will begin when Jesus Christ removes his church (all true believers in Christ) from the earth in an event known as the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). This will likely cause chaos and panic around the world as millions of people suddenly disappear.
The Rise of the Antichrist
With the restraining power of the Holy Spirit and the church removed from the earth, a satanically-empowered charismatic leader known as the Antichrist will rise to power promising peace and unity but delivering tyranny (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). He will sign a 7-year covenant with Israel but break it halfway through the Tribulation when he sets himself up as God in the rebuilt Jewish temple (Daniel 9:27).
The earth will experience unprecedented natural disasters – environmental chaos, deadly plagues, famines, diseases, earthquakes, meteors hitting earth (Revelation 6, 8). God will begin pouring out his wrath on the unbelieving world.
Persecution of Believers
While all true Christians will have been raptured before the Tribulation begins, many people will come to faith in Christ during this time. However, the Antichrist’s global government will persecute and martyr all who refuse to take his mark or worship him (Revelation 13). Many believers will be put to death for not renouncing Christ.
Supernatural Signs & Wonders
In addition to the catastrophic events taking place, supernatural and unexplained signs will occur: the sun will turn black, the moon will appear blood red, stars will fall from the sky. Demonic entities will be unleashed from the Abyss to torment humans (Revelation 9). Two witnesses of God will prophesy in Jerusalem for 3.5 years with supernatural power until the Antichrist kills them (Revelation 11).
The Abomination of Desolation
At the midpoint of the 7 years, the Antichrist will enter the rebuilt Jewish temple and declare himself to be God, demanding worship (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The image of the Antichrist will be set up in the temple for people to worship (Revelation 13:14-15). Jesus referred to this event as the “abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15).
The Mark of the Beast
The Antichrist’s government will require all people to pledge allegiance to him and receive his mark (name or number) on their right hand or forehead in order to buy or sell anything (Revelation 13:16-17). Those who refuse will be unable to participate in the economy. The mark represents allegiance and worship of the Antichrist.
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
At some point around the midpoint of the Tribulation, Jesus Christ will return to resurrect and reward Old Testament saints and Tribulation martyrs, and celebrate the Marriage Supper of the Lamb with his bride, the church, in heaven (Revelation 19:7-9). The church will return with Christ later at the Second Coming.
The Great Tribulation
The last 3.5 years are designated as the “Great Tribulation”, distinguished by even more intense suffering and God’s wrath (Matthew 24:21). The Antichrist will launch an all-out war to annihilate any resisting his authority, especially Jews (Revelation 12:13-17). Satan recognizes his time is short and persecution of believers reaches a fever pitch.
The Campaign of Armageddon
As Jesus Christ prepares to return, the Antichrist will gather a coalition of armies to the valley of Megiddo to try and prevent Christ from setting up his earthly kingdom. This gathering of armies is known as Armageddon (Revelation 16:13-16).
The Second Coming
As the Antichrist leads the armies of the world against Israel, Jesus Christ will suddenly return in power and great glory with his saints and angelic armies to defeat the Antichrist at the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-21). Christ will throw the Antichrist and his False Prophet into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20). This event is the Second Coming, the return of Jesus Christ to earth to establish his kingdom.
The Binding of Satan and the Millennial Kingdom
With the Antichrist and False Prophet disposed of, an angel will bind Satan and throw him into the Abyss so that he can no longer deceive the nations (Revelation 20:1-3). Jesus Christ will then establish his literal 1000-year reign on earth – a time of peace, justice and prosperity known as the Millennial Kingdom. The survivors of the Tribulation will repopulate the earth.
The Final Rebellion and Satan’s Doom
At the end of Christ’s 1000 year reign, Satan will be briefly released from the Abyss and deceive people into rebelling against Jesus’ rule. But God will send down fire to consume them. Satan will then be thrown into the Lake of Fire to be tormented forever and ever (Revelation 20:7-10).
The Final Judgment
All the unrighteous dead of all the ages will then stand before the Great White Throne where God will judge them according to their works and sentence them to eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire since their names are not written in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:11-15).
The New Creation
Finally, God will create a New Heaven and New Earth – a restored and perfect paradise – where God will reign forever with his people in the eternal state (Revelation 21-22). There will be no more sin, suffering, sorrow or death.
In summary, the Tribulation is a future 7-year period when God will pour out his wrath on an unbelieving world led by the Antichrist, but believers during this time will refuse to take his mark or worship him, trusting fully in Jesus as Savior and Lord despite horrific persecution and martyrdom. The Tribulation culminates in Jesus Christ returning to defeat evil and establish his righteous rule and reign over the entire earth for 1000 years.