Some Bible scholars believe that the bible distinguishes between the Tribulation Period (seven years) and the Great Tribulation (the final three-and-one-half years).
The Great tribulation is thought to begin with the "Abomination Of Desolation."
Matthew 24:15 "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel-- let the reader understand--
It is thought that after this abomination of desolation the wrath of God will greatly increase
Matthew 24:21 for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.
The are at least two purposes to the Great Tribulation.
1) It is a time of God's wrath. As Matthew 24:21 states above, it will be so bad it will be an unprecedented time of suffering and tragedy. Rev. 9:3-6 teaches that it will be so bad men will want to die rather than be punished and yet death will escape their reach.
2) It is a time of Grace and mercy. Part of the reason of the punishment is to move others to repentance. Even though the world will be in turmoil there will still be those people who come to faith in Messiah. This will be a time of one of the largest soul gatherings in history. Many people will be saved during the tribulation. Sometimes these people are referred to as tribulation saints. See Revelation 7:9-14.
The day of the Lord is a term that refers to a period of time, not necessarily just one calendar day. Sometimes when used by a prophet it refers to an event that is soon to occur (the near view). Other times the term is used when talking about future prophetic end-time events that have not happened yet (the far view). It usually involves Israel in some way, often involving judgment. When used for the the far view purpose, the day of the Lord in the Old Testament is often the same as John's prophetic visions in the New Testament (Book of Revelation).When this happens, it is the time of the coming of the Messiah in judgment.
More on the Day Of The Lord
Sometimes referred to as the Time of Jacob's Trouble.
JewishRoots.Net tribulation pages of interest include:
The last 42 months of the 7 year Tribulation (The great Tribulation) is the same 42 months of Revelation 11:1-2 which is also the same 1290 days of Daniel 12:11.
The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy by Tim Lahaye.
Midnight Call Oct.2005 p.11