The Tribulation being 7 years, Where does that come from?
The tribulation being 7 years comes from Daniel ch. 9. The phrase, the tribulation, is what the Church has come to use to describe the last 7 years allotted to Daniels people, the Jews. Just like the word Rapture has come to be the word to describe the catching up of the Church and Trinity is used to describe God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The 7 years of the tribulation are the last 7 years before the 2nd coming of Christ where he returns back down to the earth.
Dan. 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.
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. 26 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.
27 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.
The Hebrew word translated weeks (or sevens) refers to a period of 7 years, like our word decade refers to a period of 10 years. It literally means "a week of years."
So 70 weeks (or sevens) is 70 x 7 years or 490 years. This period is divided into three parts, 7 sevens (49 years) and then 62 sevens (434 years) for a total of 69 sevens or 483 years. Then there’s the last week (or seven), 7 years. Gabriel's revelation to Daniel was that the full allotted amount of time would extend for "seventy "weeks", 490 years (verse 24). The final "week,” the "seventieth week" of verse 27 will be fulfilled when the Temple is rebuilt and later desecrated by the abomination of desolation. Since all the conditions of the prophecies concerning the abomination of desolation cannot be found in history, this requires that the seventieth week of Daniel be understood as eschatological, that is, having its fulfillment in the end time. This is made clear by Jesus’ reference to verse 27 in Matthew 24.
Mt. 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— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
We can see there is a clear prophecy of the Coming of the Messiah. Counting forward for 7 weeks of years (49 years) and 62 weeks of years (434 years), each from a decree giving the Jews permission to restore and rebuild Jerusalem and its walls which had been destroyed by the Babylonians, they should expect the Messiah. That's a total of 483 years after the decree is issued. It was 483 years from this decree of (444 B.C.) that Jesus rode into Jerusalem and proclaimed himself to be the Messiah. That same week he was crucified, cut off. With the 444 BC decree of Artaxerxes, If one uses "prophetic years" of 360 days each, it is exactly 483 years from the day of Artaxerxes decree in 444 BC (Neh. 2:1) to the day of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem during the last week of His earthly life (Mt. 21). It was on that day in AD 33 that Jesus officially announced to the Israelites that He was the Messiah. Later that week He was "cut off" or crucified. The use of a 360-day prophetic year is taken from the Jewish calendar. Daniel's prophecy clearly reveals is that the Messiah had to come in the time predicted in verses 25-26, that is, 483 years into the 490 years. So we see with Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem that 483 years of the 490 years prophesied had been fulfilled leaving 7 years.
The 7 years of the tribulation, Verse 27 “He (the ruler to come, the anti-Christ) 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.”
It is with this prophecy that Bible scholars find that the tribulation, in which Revelation chapters 6 thru 19 gives details of will be 7 years. The Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 tells us that the day of the Lord, this last 7 years allotted to Israel will not come until the man of lawlessness is revealed.
2 Thes. 2: 2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, (concerning the rapture) we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord (the tribulation) has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day (the tribulation) will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 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. … Verse 4 is describing the abomination of desolation.
By the way, the day of the Lord is a phrase used to describe a period of time. Just like we could say, the day in which we live or back in my parent’s day etc. If you look at numerous verses in the Old and New Testaments describing events that will be taking place during these 7 years you can see they are referring to more than just a single day. You see this from Jesus in Mt. 24.
With the first seal in the 6th chapter of Revelation we see the releasing of the anti-Christ.
Rev. 6: 1 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
Verse 1 and 2 are seen as the release of the anti-Christ. With him riding on a white horse shows his deception, he is on a white horse like we see described with Jesus returning in Revelation chapter 19. The anti-Christ will claim to be the Messiah; later once Satan has entered him he will claim to be God. He has a crown, which shows him to be as a king, and he goes out as a conqueror bent on conquest. This would be the little horn mentioned in Daniel. This is the start of the tribulation when Israel signs the covenant agreement with the anti-Christ.
With Jesus’ death on the cross, the prophetic stopwatch stopped leaving a gap in time. Since there has not been a 7 year peace agreement made with Israel that allows Israel to rebuild the Temple and with other nations by ‘the ruler that will come’ this gap is still continuing today, this gap is what we know as the Church age. Obviously, the last 7 years did not immediately follow the 483 years. There are 7 years still yet in the future. In the scroll handed to Jesus by God the Father in Rev. ch. 5, it’s these 7 years that we are told the details of in chapters 6 through 19 of the book of Revelation. Daniel was told to seal up the scroll, Dan. 12: 4 But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. .. In Rev. ch. 6 we see Jesus unrolling it and breaking the seals.
We see an event that relates to the temple and to the people (the Romans) who destroyed the Second Temple must occur during the last week. A ruler will make a covenant with "the many", Israel and other nations, the so called Palestinians and the Islamic nations. While the specific nature of this "covenant" is not made clear here, it is clear that it relates to the Temple in some way. Verse 27 “He (the ruler to come, the anti-Christ) 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.” This did not occur historically with the Roman general Titus who destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D. They destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem. And he did not make a covenant with Israel and the many.
If the entire Church age can be interposed between references to the first and second comings of Jesus in the Old Testament, it certainly sets a precedent for having a time gap between the 69th ‘seven’ and the 70th ‘seven of Daniel. See Isaiah 61 and Lk. 4:16-21. Isaiah foretells Jesus’ first and second comings and the earthly kingdom of God all in one prophecy. When Jesus read this in the synagogue he stopped before reading the second half that deals with his 2nd coming and the kingdom of God. Just like with Isaiah’s prophecy, Daniels prophecy spans the time from the issuing of the decree in 444 B.C. to the second coming of Jesus.
There seems to be a clue to the time gap with the descriptions after the second part of verse 26. First notice, after the 483 years have completed it says, “The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary”. Notice he said ‘the people’ of the ruler, not the ruler, not the anti-Christ. This would be referring to the destruction in 70 a.d. by the Romans. Then with verse 27 he goes into describing the last 7 years. 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. Remember, this is what Jesus referred to in Matthew 24 and Paul in 2 Thes. 2.
Obviously, if the fulfillment of the last 7 years immediately followed the 483 years, then you could not consider the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d. as part of the fulfillment. But Daniel has it after the 483rd year and before the last 7 years. He includes it as part of the 490 years. So once again, this shows that the last 7 years does not immediately follow the 483rd year.
So we see there are events described that take place after the 483 years but before the last 7 years. It just doesn’t tell us how long this will be. Since the destruction in 70 a.d. happened almost 40 years after the end of the 483 years, we see there is still a gap of time. So it can’t be argued that the 70th week immediately followed the 483 years. Since there has not been a 7 year peace agreement made with Israel and other nations by ‘the ruler that will come’ this gap is still continuing today, this gap is The Church age.
Paul said this present Church age of Jews and Gentiles being one was a mystery to the Old Testament Saints and Prophets. This is why there is no mention in Daniel of the time period between the 483 years and the last 7 years. What we do have are numerous scriptures on the last 7 years allotted to Israel and the Holy City Jerusalem. The prophetic stopwatch for Israel’s last 7 years will start ticking again when Israel signs the covenant with the little horn, the anti-Christ.
Maranatha, Our Lord Comes.