In our study of the book of Revelation, we have come to a pivotal moment. The church ages have ended. We have seen John taken up to heaven in Revelation 4:1 as a type of rapture. We have seen the throne room of God. We have seen that Jesus is the only One in the universe who is worthy to open the seals of the seven sealed scroll. We know from our intense study that as the seals are opened the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. But how will all of that happen? God has a plan but unfortunately, the world is going to face its darkest hour.
We know from various portions of scripture that this period is seven years long. As John beholds the Lord Jesus Christ breaking the first seal, we encounter the first events of the Tribulation. This seven-year span is described with a lot of detail in Revelation 6:1-19:21. This will be the darkest time the world has ever known.
HAS THE TRIBULATION PERIOD HAPPENED?
Jesus himself mentioned this period of time and it is from His words that we find the name of this horrible season on earth. Matthew 24:21 in the NIV it simply says a time of great distress, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” I have people give comments on my YouTube Channel or articles that I have written and they laugh at me saying that the world has always had troubles, trials, and tribulations. While that is true to a certain extent, this is going to be different from any other time period. Matthew 24:21 NKJV states the truth well in the worlds of Jesus, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” It is from this verse that this period of time has received its name. Jesus was referring to the later half of the Tribulation, but the name used in prophecy refers to the whole period. It is estimated by studying bible Prophecy that over half the world’s population will die during this period and about a billion Christians will be martyred. Believe me, we have not seen anything in the history of the world like will be seen during this period of time.
THIS EVENT IS PROMINENT IN SCRIPTURE
More space is dedicated to this little seven-year time period than any other comparable time frame in the Bible. It is mentioned over 50 times in the Old Testament by such expressions as:
The day of calamity
The day of wrath
The day of the Lord’s wrath
The day of Jacob’s trouble
The day of vengeance of our God
Time of trouble
The day of the Lord
The great majority of these verses are in relation to nation of Israel. We are going to discover that God is going to deal greatly with the nation of Israel and the Jewish people during the Tribulation. It is also mentioned at least a dozen times in the New Testament. One of the key passages describing the Tribulation is found in the book of Daniel.
THE SEVENTY WEEKS OF DANIEL
In this article, I am going to explain in detail the seventy weeks of Daniel. If you have no idea to what I am referring that is okay, as this article explains a great deal. In the Old Testament we read of how Israel had been taken into captivity in Babylon. Jerusalem had been ransacked, it’s gates burned and the walls of the city torn down. The city was in a state of complete desolation. Daniel was one of those who had been carried away, and then wound up being in service to various kings while in captivity. And after about 68 years of captivity, Daniel was studying the Word of God and saw that it was prophesied that Israel would be in captivity for 70 years. In Daniel 9:1-2 records this event, “In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.”
This is the scripture Daniel read: Jeremiah 25:11-12 NKJV “And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. ‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the Lord; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation.” Daniel realizes from his studies that the captivity will end and that the people will return to Jerusalem. As a spiritual man, Daniel begins to begins to pray and confess the sins of the nation of Israel. His desire is that Israel will be spiritually ready to receive God’s blessing in the future. After that the Lord sends the angel Gabriel with a special message.
Daniel 9:20-23 “While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill — 21 while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision:”
What we are about to study is a powerful prophecy that has been partially fulfilled. Just as it gave Daniel insight and understanding, it will also help us to understand the Tribulation period. The later part of this prophecy specifically deals with this troubled moment in human history so this is of vital importance.
HERE IS THE WORD GIVEN TO DANIEL
Before we look at the scripture, let me explain a particular word so that the scripture will make a lot more sense. We all know words in English such as a dozen. When you say a dozen, you mean twelve. When you say the word gross, it means a count of 144. We know as well of the word decade refers to a period of ten years. The word translated “sevens” in the NIV and translated in the KJV as “weeks” is the word “heptads”. It is a word that is used like dozen or gross and here it refers to years. So, when we say seventy sevens, we are saying, seventy heptads. A heptad is like in this instance is like a decade only it is seven years long. This refers to a seven-year period of time. Imagine we said, seventy decades, that would refer to seventy ten-year periods of time. Daniel says seventy “heptads” meaning seventy “seven-year periods”.
Daniel 9:24-27 “Seventy ‘sevens are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
Some scripture versions use the word weeks instead of sevens. So this is commonly called Daniels 70 weeks. Daniel’s seventy weeks are literally seventy units of seven years or 490 years. These 490 years are divided into three periods of time:
- 1st Time Period: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Jerusalem is rebuilt will be seven sevens of years equaling 49 years.
Daniel 9:25 “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.”
As Daniel describes this. He puts two periods of time together. As you study the Old Testament and Jewish history you will discover that from the going forth of the decree of Cyrus, it took the Jews under both Ezra and Nehemiah 49 years to complete the building of the walls of the city of Jerusalem. Thus, we have the first unit predicted.
Toward the end of these two periods of time is the appearance of the Anointed One. Who is the Anointed One? That is a reference to Jesus! So, at the end of these two groupings of seven, Jesus would arrive on the earth (for the first time).
- 2nd Time Period: From the completion of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple until the Anointed One is cut off. Sixty sevens of years equaling 434 years
These next 434 years were predicted to be times of trouble. These were not good days for Israel. This was a time period when God seemed to be silent. There was no revelation from God until John the Baptist came on the scene. It was a time when Israel was weak militarily and so it ended with Rome in control of the nation of Israel. This period was predicted to end when the “Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.” If the Anointed One is Jesus, the Anointed One being cut off would refer to his crucifixion. Thus, we see the second period of time from the rebuilding of Jerusalem to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a total of 434 years.
Due to the inexactness of history during these periods of times, exact dates are difficult to extrapolate. But if one believes the bible these things are true. There is a lot of discussion about various ways to come up with 483 years. We know the Word is true so 49 years plus 434 years equals 483 years.
So, we have one more period of time. We lack seven years to be able to fulfill this prophecy. Now that period of time has not yet taken place. I will explain in a minute why. This is the period we call the Tribulation.
- 3rd Period of Time: One seven-year period equaling 7 years, beginning when the Antichrist signs a seven year covenant with Israel and ending with the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ.
Before we deal with the timing of this seven-year period. Let’s see what will happen during it.
Daniel 9:26-27 “The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
We do see fulfilled prophecy here. It says that the people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. This happened in 70 AD. It was the people of the Roman Empire who destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.
Let us come to ask this question. How do we know that this seven-year period hasn’t been completed? There are references in this passage to a ruler who will come. This is a reference to a coming world leader that is called the Antichrist. It says very plainly that the ruler that will come will put an end to sacrifice and offerings in the temple. Here is the situation. There is no temple for sacrifice and offering in Jerusalem. The last temple was destroyed in 70 AD. It also says that the ruler who will come will make a treaty or a covenant with Israel for a seven-year period of time. History shows no such treaty. It also says that this ruler will on the wing of the temple set up an abomination that will cause desolation. This has not occurred because we have not seen the desolation spoken of in scripture.
This prophecy reveals some startling things about the Antichrist who is the rule who will come.
He will set up a covenant for seven years with the Jews.
(this is referring to the Tribulation)
He will break that covenant half way through.
He will stop the sacrifices.
(In order for that to happen there has to be a newly rebuilt temple.)
He will be from the revised Roman empire.
He will set himself up in the temple as God.
He will be the abomination that causes desolation.
None of this has happened. It will happen one day. Let me give you two scriptures that further describe this abomination that causes 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.”
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
One of the keys to understanding prophecy is to understand the concept of the Mountain Peaks of Prophecy. When God reveals the future to a prophet like Daniel. He uses words and word pictures to paint a vision of the future. It is not a complete picture. Imagine a man who is on a plain and he is looking toward the horizon and he sees three mountain ranges. He describes those mountain ranges. What he is not able to see is how big or long the valleys are in between. So, he gives an accurate portrayal of what he has seen but he misses the valleys.
This happens in prophecy when a prophet sees the future God is revealing. He does his best to write it down. He sees the mountaintops but not the valleys. It appears that God has stopped dealing with the nation of Israel, after Jesus died. But we know from many scriptures that he will deal with Israel as a nation again during the Tribulation. What Daniel could not see was that there was going to be a couple of thousand years known as the church age. And it would be at the end of the “valley” of the church age that God would deal with Israel as a nation.
That is why I say God’s super sign that we are approaching the Tribulation is the fact that Israel became a nation on May 14, 1948. God will soon allow prophecy to unfold.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE TRIBULATION PERIOD?
Daniel receives a revelation from God as to what God intends to happen during the Tribulation. Daniel 9:24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.”
God never does anything without a purpose and in these verses, we see he had six things in mind:
- “to finish transgression” – Israel has transgressed against God by rejecting Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The good news is that there is coming a great revival to Israel. During the Tribulation, the Jewish people will spiritually awaken and come to Christ. 144,000 of these Jewish people will preach the gospel around the world. This is a blessing not just to Jews, but to Gentiles. When it says, to finish transgression, it means they will no longer transgress by rejecting Christ.
- “to put an end to sin” – God is weary of the sinfulness of mankind. The words put an end literally mean to seal up. We know that this period will end with the binding of the great tempter named Satan and Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit for 1000 years. Every person on the earth will have made up their mind either to reject Jesus or accept Jesus. At the end of the Tribulation, there will be a judgement and the massive sin on earth will cease.
- “to atone for wickedness.” – It was the plan of God that Jesus would die for all humanity. It was however the Jews that asked Pilate to crucify Him. But the leadership in Israel did sin by not receiving Him. But during this time during the revival in Israel when people turn to Christ, Israel’s wickedness will be atoned for.
- “to bring in everlasting righteousness” – When Israel experiences the grace of God, and following all the events of the Tribulation, Jesus Christ will return to the earth in the Glorious Appearing and He will set up a millennial kingdom. That kingdom will be a kingdom of righteousness. Christ will rule with a rod of iron. Following a brief rebellion at the end of the 1000 years, we will enter the Eternal Kingdom, a kingdom of righteousness that will last forever.
- “to seal up vision and prophecy”- when Jesus Christ is reigning on the earth, there will no longer be a need for prophecy. So the prophets ministry will end as Christ rules.
- “to anoint the most holy”- this may refer to the millennial kingdom that will usher in a time of the holy reign of King Jesus.
HOW DO I KNOW THE TRIBULATION HAS BEGUN?
Daniel 9:27 speaks of the ruler who will come. This is in reference to the Antichrist. It says, “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;” This is the word heptad referring not to a week but to a seven-year period. The seven-year covenant with Israel signifies the beginning of the tribulation.
We do teach and believe that the rapture of the church will take place prior to the Tribulation Period. It is uncertain how soon the covenant with Israel will occur after the rapture. No one really knows that. It could be a day or it could be 10 years. But we know the Tribulation will occur when the Antichrist makes a treaty with Israel. That is why we should always keep our eyes on the news.
I don’t want anyone reading this article to go through that period, we know the promise Jesus has given to the church. We are not appointed to wrath. He will keep us from the hour of trial that comes upon the whole world. The church will go in the Rapture and not go through the Tribulation. It bothers me to think that so many millions of people on the earth today may very well have to face these seven years. Make certain that you accept Christ today and live for Him.