It is often stated that the Tribulation period will be seven years long. In the Revelation, that complex, multi-layered overview of the End Times, there is no indication that this period will be seven years long. There are several events described as lasting 3˝ years, or 42 months, or 1260 days, but no seven years.
The concept of a seven year period comes from the Book of Daniel chapter nine, which contains the prophecy of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks. These are actually weeks of years, or shabuwas (Strong’s H7620). The Seventy Weeks are divided into periods of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, for a total of sixty-nine weeks with one week remaining. Daniel 9:26 tells us that after the sixty-nine weeks the Messiah will be cut off, or will die. This verse also tells us that the people of the prince who will come will destroy the city and the Temple.
The concept of a seven year Tribulation comes from Daniel 9:27. “He” will confirm a covenant for one week, the seventieth week. Here it is assumed that “he” is the anti-Christ who will commit the “Abomination of Desolation.” (Matthew 24:15) But look at the subject of the previous verse; it is the Messiah. The only other subject is “the people of the prince who will come.” “He” would not be used as a pronoun in that case; it would be “they.”
Here we have a prophecy with more than one meaning. The same thing occurred in Matthew 24. Bible students argue over whether the Lord Jesus was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem or the End Times. Why could not the Creator of the Universe weave a prophecy that spoke of both occasions?
Likewise, Daniel 9:27 could speak of the End Times, and it could be prophesying about Jesus, the Messiah. “He shall confirm a covenant for one week.” Jesus confirmed the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah 31:31. “In the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” The ministry of Jesus was 3˝ years long (in the middle of the “week”) and He brought an end to sacrifices and the offering of the blood of animals. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, and within forty years of His death there was an end brought to sacrificing animals and their blood in the Temple. This was the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Jesus fulfilled Daniel 9:27.
Following this we have the description thought to be the action of the anti-Christ; “And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate.” This person could possibly confirm a covenant, but it may not be so. At some point he will set himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (Second Thessalonians 2:4) This person will be given authority for 42 months, or 3˝ years. (Revelation 13:5) This could be the second meaning of Daniel 9:27.
If this is so, there may be no confirmation of a covenant or peace treaty by the anti-Christ. If this is so, there may be no seven-year Tribulation, but rather one of 3˝ years. Of course, I do not know. The Lord has not spoken to me.
The Word of God is so complex, we cannot read over it and assume we understand all the nuances contained within. Study the Lord’s Word. You will be blessed. And may you be found searching His Word when He calls us Home. Praise His name!