It is generally proclaimed that the Tribulation, described in the Revelation, will be seven years long. First, there are no seven-year periods in the Revelation. There are several three and one-half year periods; “42 months,” “1260 days,” “times, times and half a time.” The concept of seven years of tribulation comes from the Book of Daniel.
There are many, many parallels between the prophecy of Daniel in the Old Testament and the Revelation at the end of the New Testament. It is from Daniel that we get the idea of seven years of tribulation. This is derived from chapter nine of the Book of Daniel. While in prayer and supplication for the people of Israel, Daniel was visited by the angel Gabriel.
In Daniel 9:24-27 the prophecy of “Seventy Weeks” was given to Daniel. The prophecy is divided into seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and finally, one week, totaling seventy weeks. These are weeks representative of years, or seven year periods. In the last week of years, Daniel was told that the Messiah would be “cut off.”
The troublesome passage for me is Daniel 9:26-27. In verse twenty-six it is prophesied that the Messiah will be cut off (killed) “but not for Himself,” and “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” This indicates that the coming “prince” would possibly be Roman because the Romans (the people) destroyed the city and the Temple in 70 A.D.
Then it is prophesied in verse 27 that “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice … to cease.” And who is the he? The rules of grammar indicate that the pronoun points to the last singular subject. The preceding singular subject was the Messiah, Jesus; not the people or the “prince to come.”
The ministry of Jesus here on earth is believed to have been three and one-half years. This fits the prophecy that at the mid-point of the last week of years, Jesus caused sacrifice to cease. At the end of His ministry, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. There is no need for another. Therefore, Jesus confirmed the Covenant with His precious blood.
There is more. In the Bible, seven is the number representing completion. Three and one-half is only half of seven. The ministry of the Lord Jesus here on earth was incomplete. I believe that there will be a three and one-half year period (the Great Tribulation – Matthew 24:21, Revelation 2:22, and 7:14) before the Return of the Lord, when He comes in power and great glory. This three and one-half year period will be the final portion of the ministry of Jesus when He releases the wrath of God toward a rebellious world led by the person we call the “Anti-Christ.”
It is possible that there will be final a seven-year period. The common interpretation of Daniel 9:27 is that the “Anti-Christ” will cause sacrifice to cease. From this we get the idea that this person will go into the Temple at the mid-point of the last seven years and declare himself to be god. We are told that he will make this declaration in Second Thessalonians 2:4. This also tells us that there will be a Temple at that time. Whether or not it is the Temple remains to be seen.
In my opinion, there will be at least a three and one-half year period, the final part of the ministry of Jesus, in which the wrath of God will be seen by “earth dwellers.” (Revelation 3:10, 6:10) The declaration of the “Anti-Christ” in the Temple may be the trigger for the last three and one-half years, inviting the wrath of God. At what time the “Anti-Christ” goes into the Temple to declare himself god, we are not told.
The ways of the Lord are so far above our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) At the appropriate time He will reveal all to us. Praise His name for His protection over us until that Day!