The period of time called the tribulation is a seven year period which is described in detail in several sections of the bible. This teaching page is divided into three sections: 1) The beginning of sorrows – the first 31/2 years of the tribulation 2) The abomination of desolation – the middle of the tribulation and 3) the great tribulation – the second 31/2 years of the tribulation. By comparing scripture with scripture we can determine a proper outline for this time period and determine how things fit together.
The first question that needs to be answered is, “How do we know that this is a seven year period of time?”
In Daniel 9:24 – 27, seventy weeks or seventy periods of 7 years are given for “thy people” – the Jews, and “thy holy city” – Jerusalem to accomplish several things. In these seventy weeks, God will finish the transgression, make an end of sins, and make reconciliation for iniquity, and He will bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up the vision and prophecy, and anoint the most Holy.
Verses 25 – 27 give a more detailed breakdown of the weeks or seven year periods. The starting point for these seventy weeks is 454 BC – the 20th year of Artaxerxes reign. After 69 weeks or 483 years in 30 AD, Messiah was cut off or crucified but not for Himself. In His atoning sacrifice, Christ finished the transgression – “It is finished”, He made an end of sins, and He made reconciliation for iniquity.
Verse 27 describes the 70th week. At the end of the 70th week is when Christ brings in everlasting righteousness, seals up the vision and prophecy, and is anointed King. The second coming of Christ is the consummation described in verse 27. The seven years before the second coming of Christ, the 70th week of Daniel, is the tribulation and is divided into two periods of 3 1/2 years here in Daniel 9:27 with the abomination of desolation being the midpoint, “the midst of the week.”
This division of the tribulation into 2 – 3 1/2 year periods is verified in Revelation 11:2,3, Revelation 12:14 (Daniel 12:7) and Revelation 13:5. The abomination of desolation marks the beginning of the second 3 1/2 years (times, time, and half a time), forty and two months, or 1260 days (42 months of 30 days each).
The second question that needs to be answered regarding this time period is, “Why do you place this seven year period of time after the church age or rapture of the church?” There are a couple of other ways of asking the same question: “Why do you place a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel 9?” or “Why do you hold to a premillennial, pretribulation rapture of the church view of eschatology?”
The answer to the second question posed in this study is developed by comparing scripture with scripture ,looking at the structure of the bible and as a final confirmation – paying attention to how numbers are used in the bible.
Daniel 9 makes a distinction between the 69th and 70th week. It places the crucifixion of Christ at the end of the 69th week. Daniel 9:25 lists several things that are not accomplished until the second coming of Christ. Daniel 9:27 mentions “the consummation”, which is the second coming of Christ. Daniel 9 has a gap between the 69th and 70th week which logically is the church age. This same type of structure, the church age as a gap in time in a passage of scripture, is used when Jesus in Luke 4:18,19 quotes Isaiah 61:1 and a portion of Isaiah 61:2. Jesus stopped at the comma we have in our bibles right in the middle of verse 2. That comma represents the time period between the first and second advents, the church age. The church age was a mystery not revealed in the Old Testament but revealed to the Apostle Paul (see Ephesians 3). Peter, when preaching at Pentecost, quoted Joel which is a book describing the second coming of Christ. The church age, the gathering of a gentile bride for the Son of God, was a mystery in the beginning of the book of Acts.
Those who hold a preterist view of Revelation or a postmillennial view of eschatology usually apply the 70th week of Daniel, Matthew 24, and most of Revelation to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. They have their own gap of 40 years which is not supported by other scripture and the number one problem of their interpretation of scripture which is the second advent did not happen in 70 AD.
The seven Jewish feasts of Leviticus 23 which are prophetic markers point to a premillennial, pretribulation rapture view of eschatology. Please see my explanation in the A BASIC OUTLINE section of the Bible Prophecy teaching pages. In the description of the Feast of Pentecost, please see the new paragraph in the scriptures at Leviticus 23:22. Verse 22 is the tribulation. There are 7 verses (Leviticus 23:15-21) for the church age. Other views of eschatology do not take into account the order of events foreshadowed by the seven Jewish feasts.
The structure of the book of Revelation leads to a premillennial, pretribulation rapture of the church view of eschatology. The book of Revelation has its own table of contents, Revelation 1:19. There is a threefold division of the book: 1) the things which thou hast seen – the vision of Christ glorified, Revelation 1:1 – 18, 2) the things which are – the Church age typified by the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3, and 3) the things which shall be hereafter – the rapture of the Church in Revelation 4:1,2, the tribulation described in Revelation 6 – 18, the second coming described in Revelation 19, the millennial reign of Christ from Jerusalem described in Revelation 20, and the new heavens and new earth described in Revelation 21 and 22. The “hereafter” is what happens after the Church age (see the direct cross-reference from Revelation 1:19 to Revelation 4:1 in both Greek and English).
In the book of Revelation, the Church as typified by the 24 elders around the throne is not seen on the earth from Revelation 4 until the second coming as described in Revelation 19. During the tribulation which is Jewish in nature (the time of Jacob’s trouble), the gentile bride is in heaven and God is dealing once again with the nation of Israel. Please notice even certain phrases are different to mark this reality. In Revelation 2 and 3, the phrase, “let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” is used 7 times, but during the tribulation in Revelation 13:9, the phrase is changed to “If any man have an ear, let him hear.”
The arrangement (order) of the books of the bible in both the Old and New Testaments and even the number of chapters associated with these books leads to a premillennial, pretribulation rapture of the Church view of eschatology. For my discussion on how the order of the O.T. books leads to this view see my teaching on the number 17 and its usage in the scriptures. For my discussion about the order of the books in the N.T. and how it supports this eschatological view see the Church teaching page in the Bible Prophecy section. Also, please see the last portion of the use of the number 13 in scripture.
The remaining part of this teaching will look at the 3 parts of the tribulation described in the first paragraph by comparing scripture with scripture. Below are links to each teaching page. Although there are several ways to look at the tribulation, for the purposes of this study I will use Matthew 24 as a guide and fill in the details with the books of Daniel and Revelation.