Dear Readers, Beloved of God,
Before pressing into a chapter by chapter teaching, I believe it necessary and highly beneficial to discuss the “Tribulation Period”. This subject by far, has been one of the most controversial concerning the Book of Revelation, especially the “rapture” of the church. Personally, I don’t see the reasons for argument and contention other than Satan wanting to stir strife, and willing people letting him come on in, to steal, kill, and destroy! But, that certainly is his ways and it has caused many people to be “off track” concerning what this period is and how it came to be.
In my opinion, understanding this event is foundational to the understanding of Revelation as a whole. Remember, I mentioned that Revelation was a book of the past, present, and future, meaning the history within is completely harmonized and supported by other scripture. The “Tribulation Period” is a prophesized future event as is the “rapture” of the church. I will teach more about the “rapture” later in our study.
I would also like to bring to remembrance, that I stated that this study is not an exhaustive work, and the subject at hand is no exception. There is much more scripture to support the biblical facts of the tribulation than what I will point out here. I only wish to lay a basic foundation here, and if you study with an open heart and mind, allowing the Holy Spirit to bear witness, you will be supplied with enough information to carry you through eternity!
“The Tribulation Period”
What is it and how did it come to be?
A quick and simple answer to this question is that it is the seven year period of time remaining before the return of Jesus Christ, to rule and reign in His unending kingdom on the earth. This is a great answer, but it does not answer the second part of our question, how did it come to be?
In Leviticus 25, God commanded Israel to set aside the seventh year of each agricultural cycle to allow the land a “Sabbath Rest”. Leviticus 26 warns Israel of punishments if they did not obey the commandment. Israel lacked proper spiritual response to God’s command and as a result, for 490 consecutive years, Israel never let the land have a “Sabbath Year’s” rest. This totaled 70 missed Sabbath Year’s rest for the land. As a result of Israel’s disobedience, God allowed them to be taken into Babylonian captivity for 490 years.
“Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions. And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”
(2 Chronicles 36:17-21) NKJV (Emphasis mine)
The Babylonian captivity was prophesied by the Prophet Jeremiah. I know that 2 Chronicles comes before the Book of Jeremiah, but allow me to point out that 1 and 2 Chronicles is more or less a summary of 1 and 2 Kings. Therefore, Chronicles contains “chronological” events of the Kings of Israel although they may not have come to pass yet. Remember that the Bible is not necessarily in chronological order from cover to cover. Now let us look at Jeremiah’s prophecy:
“And as the bad figs which cannot be eaten, they are so bad ‘—surely thus says the Lord —’so will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the residue of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will deliver them to trouble into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their harm, to be a reproach and a byword, a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them. And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, till they are consumed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.”
(Jeremiah 24:8-10) NKJV (Emphasis mine)
“I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
(Jeremiah 25:10-11) (Emphasis mine)
In the above scripture, “the bad figs” represent Israel, and all of the above scriptures show that God allowed Israel to fall victim to Babylonian captivity for a “490 year period”. The Prophet Jeremiah is again used to prophesy concerning the “Tribulation Period” during which Israel will severely be under attack, but this time also speaks of its eventual restoration.
This particular prophecy is known as “Jacob’s Trouble”. Remember that “Jacob”, was the son of Isaac, twin brother of Esau, and the grandson of Abraham. His name was changed by God to “Israel” and out of his loins came “the twelve tribes of Israel”. I point this out because “Jacob’s Troubles” actually mean “Israel’s Troubles” symbolically.
Now, we shall introduce the Prophet Daniel into the equation. It is of utmost importance to give a definition of a prophetic term before we continue. In the Daniel prophecy we read the word “week or weeks”. As used in prophecy, one “week” equals seven years, so seventy “weeks” equals 490 years. Also, remember that God operates on a lunar calendar, and has from the beginning of Genesis. His calculation of “time” only allows each month 30 days, where our civil calendar allows for a 28 and 31 day month.
Toward the end of the 490 years of captivity, the Prophet Daniel realizes that the time is almost complete and prays to God. This is known as “Daniel’s Prayer”, one in which he confesses Israel’s sin, failure of obedience to God’s commands, and failure to follow the messages that God’s prophets spoke. It also recognizes Israel’s captivity as being a direct result of God’s righteousness. God heard his prayer and sent the Angel Gabriel with an answer. Gabriel delivers to the world through Daniel, the “70 Prophetic Weeks” prophecy, or “Daniels Seventy Weeks”. Daniel’s prophecy was to run concurrent with that of Jeremiah, but with a slight difference as decreed by God.
God does not violate His Word nor repent of His promises and the 490 year price charged against Israel will be paid! With Daniel’s prayer and God’s prophetic answer, Israel was credited for their “time served”, but the “full” price would still be paid. As a nation they will go through the tribulation period and suffer the attacks from around the world, but they shall be delivered, restored, and saved. I will bring this prophetic picture into clearer focus with the following scripture and accompanying explanation:
“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty- two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. “And after the sixty- two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”
(Daniel 9:24-27) NKJV
Now, I will explain the symbolic, as well as the literal meaning of the above scripture. I will be explaining it from beginning to end as if told as a short story.
The “seventy weeks” are the 490 years that run concurrent with the prophecy of Jeremiah. From this point until the “end”, God will accomplish for all, finishing the transgression, make an end of sins, make reconciliation for iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up vision and prophecy, and anoint the Most Holy. He will accomplish these through His Son, Jesus Christ!
The command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem including the wall was given in Nehemiah 2:1-8 and was accomplished “Until” Messiah the Prince, meaning the first coming of Jesus. “Seven weeks” equals 49 years, the time that was needed to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls. The “sixty-two weeks” or 434 years, is the time from the completion of rebuilding to the coming of the Messiah. “After” “sixty-two weeks” (the 434 year period), Messiah will be “cut off”. This represents the literal time of Jesus’s birth, ministry, and dying on the cross for the sins of all humanity. It is also the beginning of the dispensation of the Grace of God, or the “church age”.
From the beginning of verse 24 to verse 26 we have accounted for 483 years of the determined 490 years decreed by God, therefore, we have a remaining balance of one “week”, or 7 years.
The “prince who is to come to destroy the city and the sanctuary (Temple)” is Satan through the powers of the Roman Empire. The Temple and city was again destroyed in 70 AD. Remember, Jesus spoke to His disciples about its destruction!
He (the Antichrist) will “confirm a covenant with many for one week” The covenant is a false “peace treaty” between Israel and unknowing to them, the Antichrist. The “one week” represents the remaining 7 years of the determined 490 years, or “The Tribulation Period”.
This period begins upon the signing of the “peace treaty” with Israel. “In the middle of the week” is the halfway mark or first 3 ½ years into the tribulation period. This is the point where the Antichrist shows his true colors to Israel and revokes the “peace treaty.” The only “exact” time frame we are not given here is the amount of time between the crucifixion of Jesus and the “rapture” of the church. It is an “unknown period of time” that God reserved only for Him to know. This is shown in “until the consummation (wedding of the Bridegroom to His bride) which is “determined”.
The “church age” occurs between the 69th and 70th weeks. It began with the ministry of Jesus and ends with the rapture of the church. Since the “church age” is the same as “the kingdom of God on earth, we know its beginning. We also know that it ends (church age) with the rapture, which precedes God’s last seven years of work with Israel. We are presently living in “this time of the end”, Daniel’s term for the closing of the church age, which does not imply “doom”. At the end of the church age the tribulation period begins.
I pray you will continue to join me in this study. God wants us to know and understand His Word and the Book of Revelation is the beautiful climax of His creation! Until we come together again, I pray you are filled with the peace of God that surpasses all understanding! ~Amen