The tribulation is divided into two parts:
A. the first part of the tribulation (also called the lesser tribulation) begins soon (21st century).
Events include World War 3, civil unrest, famine, death from a variety of causes, a great Christian Holocaust, World War 4 (an all-out nuclear war), and then a series of even more severe catastrophes, ending with the Three Days of Darkness (at the end of March in 2040 AD).
During the first part of the tribulation, a great schism occurs: first many conservatives, then many liberals leave the Church. Afterward, most of the schismatics fall away from Christianity altogether, resulting in the great apostasy. (A second great apostasy occurs during the second part of the tribulation.) Eventually, many of the apostates and schismatics repent and return to the Church.
B. The first part of the tribulation is followed by about 25 years of peace, holiness, and rebuilding.
C. As society rebuilds and technology with its modern comforts resume, old sins return and the world gradually becomes more and more disordered. This inter-tribulation period lasts several hundred years.
Four successive kingdoms rise and fall during this time:
1. the kingdom of the great Catholic monarch followed by his divided kingdom,
2. the kingdom of the bear (Russia),
3. the kingdom of the leopard (Africa, India, China, plus one other area),
4. the kingdom of the ten kings:
The end of the inter-tribulation period sees a great set of wars which results in the world being divided into ten kingdoms only, each led by a single powerful ruler. These kingdoms rule the world for about 100 years.
D. the second part of the tribulation begins with the rise to power of the Antichrist, in the 25th century AD.
The Antichrist begins as one ruler within one of the ten kingdoms, the kingdom of the north (Europe). Having gained full power over that kingdom, he goes to war against the kingdom of the south, which includes the Holy Land and northern Africa. The south is the only kingdom which tolerates Christianity; the other kingdoms outlaw and/or persecute Christians greatly. The north defeats the south by means of betrayals, leaving the military forces of both kingdoms largely intact.
The Antichrist then begins negotiations with the next two most powerful kingdoms. By means of betrayal and deception, he gains control over those kingdoms as well. Once he controls the four most powerful of the ten kingdoms, the other six submit to his rule, and he gains control over almost the whole world. (There will always be rebellions against him, from time to time and place to place.)
The Antichrist attempts to cause the world to worship him in two ways. First, he uses force and threats. This obtains the exterior worship of most of the world, except faithful Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Second, he takes council with the false prophetess (an apostate Catholic woman) and they develop a false religion, patterned after Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam, to try to cause the world to worship him.
The true Church continues to exist during the reign of the Antichrist, though without a Pope and without control over any church buildings. Worship occurs in secret, as all religions will be outlawed except that of the Antichrist. The two prophets, Enoch and Elijah, prophesy during this time, and the Antichrist is unable to stop them.
The reign of the Antichrist lasts nearly seven years, then he loses power, and the whole world realizes that he is not a god. The ten kingdoms then try to revive their former power. Ten new wicked leaders rise up, but they never succeed.
E. Christ returns and establishes His kingdom on earth. He then ascends to Heaven, and the Church rules over the whole world for about 1200 years. The first Resurrection occurs at this time. The Saints and martyrs of the past as well as those martyred under the Antichrist return to life (in a true permanent resurrection). They assist the Church in teaching and governing the whole world. However, the people of the world, other than the resurrected just, are still fallen sinners.
F. At the end of the 1200 years, Satan is released and allowed to tempt the nations. A great number of wicked persons rise up against the Church, attempting a great war. But God destroys the wicked without a battle and they are cast into Hell (where the Antichrist and the false prophetess were also sent many centuries earlier).
G. Jesus Returns a second time for the general Resurrection and general Judgment.