The Tribulation Explained
End time events can be perplexing, owing primarily to the number of opinions
voiced on the issue.
What is important to realize is that NO-ONE will know the day nor the hour (Mark 13:32), but we MUST be prepared, waiting and have oil in our lamps. Part of being prepared is to study things as they were explained in Scripture, from which we can glean some understanding.
The following passage is not only proof to Jews
that the Messiah has already come, but is also an important Scripture that
informs us about the Tribulation:
Daniel 9: 24 Seventy sevens [490 yrs] are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up [fulfil completely] the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [Nehemiah 1:1-4; Nehemiah 2:1-8] unto the Messiah the Prince [Jesus] shall be seven sevens [49 yrs], and threescore and two sevens [434 yrs, Total = 483 yrs]: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26And after the threescore and two sevens shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27And he [the Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many for one seven: and in the midst of the seven [3.5 yrs] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations [abomination of desolation] he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
The Seventy Sevens of Daniel
Here, in an excerpt from Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s detailed study on this subject, we examine God’s timetable for the First Coming of Messiah and its surrounding events. We will see that the first 483 years of this 490-year timetable are now history, having been fulfilled at Yeshua’s First Coming. However, there are seven years left in God’s prophetic time clock for Israel, a period elaborated on by Daniel’s prophecy, which we will now study in depth.
THE DECREE OF THE SEVENTY SEVENS
In the first part of verse 24, we find the decree of the seventy sevens: Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city. One of the greatest tragedies in biblical interpretation occurs here with the translation into weeks. In fact, the Hebrew word does not mean weeks, but “sevens.” As such, it could refer to “seven” of anything, just as the English word “dozen” means 12 and can be 12 of anything (a dozen apples, a dozen eggs, etc.). Dozen is a quantity of 12, and the context must be studied to determine the what of that quantity. The same thing is true with the Hebrew word, shavuim; it simply means “sevens,” and can refer to seven of anything. In Daniel’s context, obviously, it must be seven in regard to years, as the prophet has been dealing with years. He has been counting up the 70 years of the Babylonian captivity, assuming that the Kingdom would be established after this 70 years. Clearly, Daniel has been thinking in terms of years. And what we have in the Hebrew text is a play upon words: Daniel is told that not “seventy years” but “seventy sevens” of years must pass before the introduction of the Kingdom. In this passage, then, it means seventy sevens of years or a total of 490 years. The angel is telling Daniel that a 490-year period is decreed upon the Jewish people.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a biblical year is not 365 days as in our calendar. A year in the Scriptures is 360 days with 30 days per month. This is revealed by verses elsewhere in the Old Testament (e.g., Gen. 7:11, 24; 8:3-4), and what is true historically in the Old Testament is also true prophetically in the New Testament (e.g., Rev. 11:2; 12:6; 13:5). The Hebrew word for decreed means “to cut off” or “to determine.” Throughout his book, Daniel has been dealing with the theme of the Times of the Gentiles, the lengthy period that began with Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and will end with the close of the Tribulation and the Second Coming. Daniel was the prophet who was given lengthy and detailed revelation regarding the nature of the Times of the Gentiles, and it was Daniel who revealed that the Times of the Gentiles would undergo a history of four Gentile empires. In the seventy sevens passage, Daniel is told that a period of 490 years is being cut out or decreed out of the Times of the Gentiles for the accomplishment of the final restoration of Israel.
One final note regarding this verse concerns the center of the program of the seventy sevens, which is decreed upon thy people (Daniel’s people, the Jewish people) and upon thy holy city (Jerusalem). The centerpiece of the seventy sevens is, specifically, the Jewish people and the Jewish city of Jerusalem.
THE PURPOSE OF THE SEVENTY SEVENS
The second part of verse 24 states the sixfold purpose of the seventy sevens, this 490-year period that God has decreed upon the Jewish people.
THE STARTING POINT OF THE SEVENTY SEVENS
The starting point of the seventy sevens is given in the first phrase of verse 25: know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem. Verse 24 already stated that the seventy sevens concern not only the Jewish people but the Jewish city of Jerusalem. Now we learn that the program will begin with a decree, one that involves the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
There is much thought and disagreement as to the decree to which this passage refers. [For greater detail, please refer to the manuscript in its entirety.] My own view is that the decree which Daniel is speaking of is the decree of Cyrus, and I base this on five reasons: First, this is a real decree, in the actual form of a decree. Second, this is the one given the same year as the vision of the seventy sevens. The year Daniel received the seventy sevens vision was the same year that Cyrus passed his decree. Third, this is the decree that is emphasized in Scripture. It was spoken of prophetically (Is. 44:28; 45:1, 13) about 150 years before it happened. In fact, Isaiah actually named the giver of this decree (Cyrus) at least 150 years before it occurred, and his prophecy is recorded in fulfillment four times (II Ch. 36:22-23; Ezr. 1:1-4; 6:1-5, 6-12). This is clearly the decree that is emphasized in Scripture. The fourth reason why I believe this to be the decree of Cyrus is that this decree did include the building of the city. The fifth reason why I think the Cyrus decree is the one of which it speaks is because it is clear from parallel passages that the Jews did rebuild the city. In fact, they rebuilt the city before Nehemiah ever came to rebuild the walls. In Haggai 1:2-4, 70 years before Nehemiah arrived, the Jews were already living in private homes in Jerusalem though the Temple itself had not as yet been rebuilt. Certainly they would not dare to rebuild Jerusalem if they did not have permission to do so. According to Ezra 4:12, the city was being built even in Ezra’s day, and Ezra preceded the time of Nehemiah. I do believe the decree of which Daniel speaks is the decree of Cyrus, and that the seventy sevens began with the issuing of this decree. The first 483 years, i.e., the first 69 sevens, ended with Yeshua's birth.
THE SEVEN SEVENS OR 49 YEARS
The seventy sevens are subdivided into three units: seven sevens; sixty-two sevens; and, one seven. The second part of verse 25 speaks of the first 69 sevens, combining the first two of the three subdivisions – the seven sevens and the sixty-two sevens.
The first subdivision, the seven sevens, is a total of 49 years, and refers to the 49-year period that it took to rebuild Jerusalem.
THE 62 SEVENS OR 434 YEARS
The second subdivision of the seventy sevens is the 62 sevens, comprising a total of 434 years. Insofar as this passage is concerned, there was no break between the first subdivision and the second subdivision of the seventy sevens. The 62 sevens immediately followed the seven sevens, or the 434 years immediately followed the 49 years. Combining seven sevens and 62 sevens gives a total of 69 sevens, or combining 49 years with 434 years gives a total of 483 years. A total of 483 years will transpire from the time that the decree is issued until the coming of the Messiah the Prince. The expression unto the anointed one, the prince does not point towards a triumphal entry but only points towards His appearance; I believe that the reference is to His birth and not to His triumphal entry. From the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the birth of Jesus would be a total of 483 years. Regardless of whether you believe the decree to be that of Cyrus or, as most evangelical scholars do, the decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah, the first 69 sevens must come to a completion before the year A.D. 70.
THE EVENTS BETWEEN THE 69TH SEVEN AND THE 70TH SEVEN
In verse 26, the events between the 69th seven and the 70th seven are prophesied. After saying exactly how many years would transpire before the First Coming in verse 25, Daniel in verse 26 is now told of events coming between the 69th seven and the 70th seven. While there was no gap of time between the first subdivision of the seventy sevens and the second subdivision of the seventy sevens, there is a gap of time between the second subdivision and the third subdivision. Notice how verse 26 starts out: after the sixty-two weeks. The third subdivision begins in verse 27. But in verse 26 after the 62 sevens, i.e., after the second subdivision, we learn that certain things must occur before the third subdivision begins. When he says after the 62 sevens, he means after the conclusion of the second subdivision of the seventy sevens and before the start of the third subdivision of the seventy sevens. This phrase clearly shows a gap of time exists between the second and third subdivisions, that is, between the 69th seven and the 70th seven. In this gap of time three things are to occur. First, the Messiah shall be cut off, and shall have nothing. The expression be cut off means “to be killed.” This occurred in A.D. 30, approximately 35 years after the birth of Jesus. Regarding the phrase, and shall have nothing, the noun may mean “nothingness” to explain His state at death, but the Hebrew noun may also mean “but not for Himself,” meaning He did not die for Himself but for others. That is probably the intent of the passage. The first thing that is to happen in this gap of time between the 69th seven and the 70th seven is that the Messiah would be killed, not for Himself but for others.
The second thing to occur is the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood. The word people in the Hebrew text has a definite article. It is “the people,” a specific people, who are the subject of the action. In other words, it is not the prince that shall come who will destroy the city and the Temple, but the people of the prince. The point of that second phrase in verse 26 is that the nationality of the people and the prince that shall come are one and the same. The prince that shall come in this context is the Antichrist of whom Daniel has already spoken in chapters seven and eight. The prince that shall come (which is still future) is of the same nationality as the people who will destroy the city and the Temple. After Messiah is cut off, the city and the Temple will be destroyed. This occurred in A.D. 70, 40 years after the death of the Messiah. From history, it is known who the people are: The people who destroyed the city and the Temple in A.D. 70 were the Gentiles of Rome, the Romans. Because the Antichrist must be of the same nationality as the people who destroyed the city and the Temple, it is in this verse that we discover that the Antichrist will be a Gentile of Roman origin. It has often been taught that the Antichrist will be a Jew, but that is not the teaching of the Word of God. We then learn that the end thereof shall be with a flood, meaning that the end of Jerusalem and the Temple shall be the result of a flood. Whenever the figure of a flood is used symbolically, it always refers to a military invasion. Jerusalem was destroyed by a military invasion by Romans first under Vespasian and then under Titus.
The third thing to happen in this gap of time is even unto the end shall be war. For the remainder of the interval before the start of the 70th seven, the Land will be characterized by war. This has certainly been true throughout Middle East history. As a result of the wars, desolations are determined, a reference to the state of the Land as determined or decreed by God.
THE 70TH SEVEN
The third subdivision of the seventy sevens is the last seven, the 70th seven, and is dealt with in verse 27. This last seven, a total of seven years, is the Great Tribulation. In this verse, these seven years are subdivided into two equal halves of three-and-one-half years each.
The verse states he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week (or seven). This is the starting point of the 70th seven: when he makes a firm covenant. The pronoun he in verse 27 goes back to its nearest antecedent, which is the prince that shall come in verse 26; the he who makes a covenant in verse 27 is one and the same person, better known in Christian circles as the Antichrist. The prince that shall come, or the Antichrist, will make a firm covenant. He will make it firm; he will make it strong. The starting point of the 70th seven of Daniel, the last seven, is still in the future, and the starting point of the Great Tribulation is the signing of a seven-year covenant. It will not be the Rapture that will begin the Tribulation. The Rapture will come sometime before the Tribulation starts. It may come just before; it may come 10, 20, 30 years or more before the Tribulation starts. While the Bible teaches that the Rapture will precede the Tribulation, it never says that the Rapture begins the Tribulation. Rather, the event that begins the Tribulation is the signing of the seven-year covenant.
[Comment: Dr Fruchtenbaum believes in a Pre-tribulation rapture. I am not convinced that this is correct. My main contention is Rev 7:13, which I believe is a description of the great multitude that is raptured, that suddenly appear in heaven. They are described as having come out of great tribulation. To me, that represents the fact that Christians might have to go through at least a part of the Great tribulation. What's really important is that no-one actually knows just yet, but the danger is that if one believes exclusively in a pre-trib rapture, consider what might happen to their faith should it not happen??]
Furthermore, it says that the covenant is made with many, not with all but with many. The Hebrew text uses a definite article meaning “the many,” and “the many” are the leadership of Israel empowered to sign covenants of this nature.
The verse goes on to state that in the middle of the seven, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. In the middle of the 70th seven, that is, after the first three-and-one-half years, the covenant will be broken. When it is broken, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. There is going to be a forced cessation of the sacrificial system, a point also made in Revelation 11:1-2.
Following the breakdown of the covenant and the cessation of the sacrificial system, the next line states, upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate. What is the wing of abominations? The word wing refers to the pinnacle of the Temple, and it is a Hebrew word that means “an overspreading influence.” It specifically refers to the worship of the Antichrist, when the Antichrist declares himself to be the one true god (II Thess. 2:3-4). The word abomination in Hebrew refers to an image or idol, meaning that an image or idol of the Antichrist will be set up in the Temple compound on the pinnacle of the Temple itself. This is also spoken of in Daniel 12:11 and Matthew 24:15, with the image itself seen in Revelation 13:14-15.
Upon the wing of abominations, upon the overspreading influence of idol worship shall come one that maketh desolate. The one that maketh desolate is the Antichrist, who will cause desolations to fall upon the Jewish people.
The verse then states even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate. The phrase even unto the full end is translated from the Hebrew word that means “to finish or complete.” To the end, to the finish, to the completion of the 70th seven these things, these desolations, are determined. The word determined means to be decreed beforehand, because the events spelled out in Daniel 9:27 were already prophesied and decreed long before the Tribulation as seen in Isaiah 10:23 and 28:22. The phrase also means that the Tribulation will not go a single day beyond its predetermined duration. The same point is made in Matthew 24:22, where we read, And except those days be shortened, or more literally, “except those days had been cut short,” no flesh would have been saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. This reveals not that the Tribulation will last less than seven years, but rather that it will not be allowed to last a single day beyond its allotted seven years.
The last phrase is shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate. The word translated desolate can also be translated as “a desolator.” If taken as “desolate,” it refers to the Jewish people during the second half of the Tribulation. If taken as a “desolator,” it refers to the Antichrist and his destruction at the Second Coming on the very last day of the 70th seven.
Dan 12: 8And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? 9And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. 11And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. [1290 days = 43months = 3.5 years from the Abomination of desolation until Jesus comes back.] 12Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days [1335 days - 1290 = 45 days of Judgement]. 13But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.
Matt 24: 15When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
2 Thess 2: 3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. [Abomination of desolation].
Rev 13: 5And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. 6And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. [The Antichrist's reign = 42 months].
Rev 7: 13And one of the elders [in heaven] answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Rev 11:1And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. 3And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. [1260 days = 42 months]
The above passage identifies the same length of time for two different situations. The first 42 months, the length of time that the Antichrist will speak his blasphemies and deceive the people. The second is the length of time that the two witnesses of God will prophesy, 1260 days, (which is 42 months) and the time that the Gentiles will tread the holy city under foot. It's likely that these two times are concurrent to each other. During the time that the Gentiles have control of the Holy city and the outer court, is the time that the Antichrist will have dominion in the earth. It is also during this time that the two witnesses will prophesy.
THE END OF THE TRIBULATION
The Lords Appearing will mark the end of Antichrist.
Rev 19: 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
This would then indicate the end of the reign of Antichrist. It ends with the second coming of the Lord and His victory over the Antichrist. This will occur at the Battle of Armageddon. Also at this time, the kingdom and capital city of the Antichrist's empire will be destroyed. That city or empire is called Babylon the Harlot. But we also know that these two events are the wrath of God. These things happen at the very end of, (after) the Great Tribulation. During the Tribulation there are still people being saved. During the wrath of God, and in the place where His wrath is poured out, namely Babylon and Armageddon, there will be no survivors. This is the nature of Gods wrath. Just as in the days of Lot and Sodom. Just as was shown in Exodus, the Lords wrath was against the armies of Pharaoh, and the Lord drew them out to a place away from the rest of the innocent population of the Egyptians. He brought them out to the Red sea, using His own people as a sort of bait, for the hard hearted Pharaohs evil hatred and ego. Pharaoh couldn't resist the chance to win against God. So he pursued the Israelites into the sea. The most powerful army in the world was nothing but fish food in comparison to the mighty arm of God.
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