The preterist interpretation of the referent to the “great tribulation” in Matt 24 identifies it with the destruction and persecution associated with the events in Jerusalem in AD 70. Many of these preterists are postmillennial and some amillennial.
The futurist interpretation of the referent to the “great tribulation” in Matt 24 identifies it with the period of persecution of God’s people just before Jesus’s parousia in the future. The abomination of desolation in Matt 24:15 is viewed as Antichrist’s desolating activity in the future, not the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Many of these futurists (which I am) are futurist premillennial, including pretrib, prewrath, and some posttribs.
The historicist interpretation of the referent to the “great tribulation” in Matt 24 identifies it with the inter-advental period (i.e. the church age of all believers who are persecuted). Many of these historicists are amillennial and historical premillennial.
I want to address at least three problems with the historicist interpretation as it relates specifically to their construal of the great tribulation.
First, historicists view the abomination of desolation recorded in Matt 24 as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 resulting in the great tribulation that continues up to the present day. But how would the abomination of desolation in AD 70 associated with Titus’s activity become the cause for the great tribulation that ends up lasting over 2,000 years? Similarly, how is the martyrdom of a Christian in Pakistan today the result of Titus’s abomination of desolation 2,000 years ago? Jesus states that the great tribulation is an identifiable, distinct event: “after the suffering of those days” (Mat 24:29).
Second, how can the great tribulation that supposedly represents persecution of Christians during the church age considered a period “unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen“? Can it really be said in any meaningful sense that the church age in the last couple millennia fulfills this prophecy? That makes no sense. Jesus’s statement clearly refers to an intense period of time that is associated with the abomination of desolation, not something that unfolds over millennia unrelated to what happened in AD 70.
Third, how can Εὐθέως, “immediately,” (Matt 24:29) make sense of a 2,000 year great tribulation? The adverb indicates that the great tribulation is narrow in scope and intensity, which is why it must be cut short otherwise all elect will perish. This can hardly be said of the church age. In other words, how has the persecution caused by the abomination of desolation be the same persecution today?: “after the suffering of those days” (24:29)? The demonstrative “those” could hardly be speaking of the church age. If Jesus’s prophecy is to be understood in any meaningful sense, the great tribulation either was associated in a narrow scope of time around AD 70, or, as what makes much better sense, the great tribulation will occur just before Jesus returns in the future at his parousia.
There are other problems with the historicist approach to Matthew’s Olivet Discourse, but I wanted to draw attention to problems related to their interpretation of the great tribulation.