Was the great tribulation in the past or is it still in the future?
In Matthew 24:21 Christ declares that the "great tribulation" will be the worst time in history (that "ever shall be.") The persecution of both Jews Christians and others under Hitler, Stalin, Mao who were godless atheists were in the hundreds of millions. Even the 1940ís the Jews suffered far worse than the Jews in A.D. 70 in the Roman invasion, so obviously this verse was not fulfilled then.
Christ then warns (v 22) that " except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved ." Obviously this was not fulfilled in A.D. 70, there was no danger at that time that all flesh would be wiped out. Of course Preterists explain this way by saying all the flesh in the Roman vicinity, which still did not occur.
We are looking at very significant events that are judgments from God (repeating many of the judgments of Moses on Egyptís Pharaoh which will be on the worldís last Pharaoh). These judgments have a two fold purpose:
1) To have an unbelieving world that refuses to repent understand there is a God, the God of Israel
2) And to turn Israel, Godís people (and those who are willing) back to Him.
As Scripture says, To bring an end to wickedness and the wicked ones Isa.13:9 Isa.24:19-20.
This includes both Jews and Gentiles.
After the Church is home with their savior and Lord (Jn.14), God will turn to the Jews to accomplish what he began and will use 144,000 Jews (Rv. 7:1-17) to bring about a worldwide revival (Mt.24:14) that will take place in the first half of the tribulation for 3 1/2 years.
Daniel 11 and 12 the prophet is given a vision for his people (Israel) during the tribulation. In Daniel 12:5-7 a question is raised as to how long this period will be allowed to continue. He is told ďfor a time, times, and a half; and when theyhave made an end of breaking in pieces the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.í
This will be done to bring about a national spiritual regeneration, that will fulfil Rom. 11:26-27 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins." (Jer.30:31)
Rom. 9:27 ď Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved .í
As Paul cited in Rom 10:9 ď that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved .Ē Why his name? Because he is the Messiah of Israel and he is the one that is coming again, not as a lamb, but as a lion. Itís not going to pretty.
Israelís national salvation is seen in Zech. 12:9-10 " It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem."And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn .Ē
Israel will come to the conclusion in unison who their Messiah is but this is only after going through the greater part of the Tribulation period. Not many but few will be left as the persecution will be worldwide led by the poser leader of the world and those who are under his authority.
Zech. 13:8-9 And it shall come to pass in all the land," says the LORD, "That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The LORD is my God .'"
There is a preserved faithful remnant, many go through the 7 years as unbelievers, until the end when all of Israel that has survived is converted together.
Daniel 9:24, to finish the transgression" refers to Israelís rebellion against God. Israelís rebellion will end coinciding with the 70th Week at the end of the tribulation. Jer.30:4-7 speaks of time of Jacobís (Israelís) troubles). The judgments which are the Day of the Lord extend throughout the Tribulation period, the Great Tribulation technically is from the middle to the end of the 70th Week.
Mt.24:15 Israel flees to a specific place prepared for her as Satan is then confined to the earth and has a short time to rule and cause chaos and death. He begins a Jewish annihilation campaign, because he knows the one condition for Christ to come back is for Israel to call upon him to come. As Jesus stated " for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! '" Matt 23:39 (Reciting Ps.118:26). Israel thought the time was upon them and spoke these words without repentance in Mt.21:9; Mk. 11:9; Lk.13:35) when Jesus entered Jerusalem for his crucifixion. He came as a lamb then but he is coming back as a lion.
The Bible teaches that the Tribulation is a time of preparation for Israel's restoration and conversion (Deut. 4:29-30; Jer. 30:3-11; Zech. 12:10). While the church experiences tribulation in a general sense during this present age and since its inception (John 15:18-25; 16:33; 2 Tim. 3:10-13), she is never mentioned as participating in Israel's time of Jacobís trouble, which is the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, and receiving the Wrath of God.
A spiritually regenerate nation will be allowed to enter the promised land - the Millennium, a literal one thousand years will begin under the King of kings, Yeshua, the returning Messiah of Israel. The world will have a time of peace and harmony, but this will not be perfection for there will still be people born sinful. According to Isa.65 the average lifespan will be up to 1,000 years.