There seems to be a common misconception concerning the Rapture of the Church and the Tribulation, or as Jeremiah calls it, a time of Jacobs's troubles, concerning the final days of Earth's history. (Jeremiah 30:7)
There have been hundreds of books written about this subject, and there abounds as many varying opinions as there are books, with views ranging from dispensational, premillennialism, historic premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism, pre-trib, and post trib.
With all these different views, which is correct?
It is not the intention of this writer to debate these views, but rather attempt to arrive at a Biblically based answer from God's Holy Word, as the true answer is found only in the Bible.
Several years back, a series of books referred to as "Left Behind", was published, and took the Christian world by storm. A large number of people, including Pastors and teachers, considered them as fact rather than fiction. Pastors, teachers and lay people alike clamped onto these books as though they were the gospel truth, but unfortunately the books are not biblically correct and have given people a false sense of hope with a non-biblical message. Our hope and trust should only be in the Lord Jesus Christ and what his Holy Word has to say about these times of the end. The Bible will give us the answers we are seeking if we search the scriptures diligently asking God in earnest prayer for wisdom and understanding as we study, He will open his word to our understanding, "and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free". John 8:32
The tendency of the human nature is to follow the crowd and/or leader, never questioning their knowledge, integrity, or any logical reasoning behind their actions. By taking this position, we place ourselves into the servitude of someone else's agenda or doctrine and completely miss the truth. Jesus talking to the disciples said in Matthew 24:4 Take heed that no man deceive you. If we follow and listen to others without researching and studying God's word we open ourselves up to complete deception.
There are teachers and pastors which never research their views, but rather rely on someone else's views and logic as truth; and this is a problem in and of itself, when it comes to end times doctrine and opinions being taught and spread around the world. If we don't research and verify, we begin following a false doctrine based merely on someone else's conjecture, and not on the Holy Bible. Over the years this has led to various mistakes and false teachings in the Church. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 24:11; And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Look around at the television preachers predicting different dates and mistakenly ascribing world events to Biblical prophecy. We have to be careful when we hear of date setting and attempting to tie world events to prophecy. God is in control and when his time table is complete he will take action. Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. If these date setters and prophecy preachers would read and study the teachings of Jesus, they would be less likely to try and set dates.
By ascribing to this form of doctrine we face the possibility of being lost into eternal damnation without realizing it until it is too late. In my writings I make every effort to base my findings on God's Holy Word and give Biblical references for the readers to research for themselves. I urge you to take the initiative to research and prove my points, be they right or wrong, as I am only human and humans make mistakes, I am merely attempting to get God's true message to his people as well as the lost before the dark days, which are fast approaching, overtake us unawares, with a ferociousness and vengeance that is unimaginable and too horrific to put into words. Jesus Said in Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Dan 12:1, Mark 13:19) Verify through God's word, everything a pastor, writer or teacher has to say before you accept it as Biblical fact.
So just what is this seven year tribulation period everyone is obsessed with?
Tribulation is defined in Webster's dictionary as: distress or suffering caused by persecution; the tribulation is God's wrath on the wickedness of this world just prior to the second coming of Jesus as foretold by John the Revelator in the 16th chapter of Revelation. The true Christians who follow Jesus keeping his commandments and not compromising with worldly traditions will be persecuted, but God will protect them because they follow the Sheppard wherever He leads. Jesus said in John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
These plaques will fall on this Earth and take place just before Jesus returns to claim his bride, the Church. Now, there are those who claim the Church will not go through this tribulation period, but will be raptured out before these plaques begin. As I wrote earlier, there are many varying opinions and contentions on this one subject, but let's allow the Bible to give some answers.
When God sent the plaques on Egypt as recorded in Exodus 7-12, were the Hebrews present during the plaques?
When Daniel was cast into the Lion's den, were these real live, hungry lions? Daniel 6:16-22 When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were cast into the fiery furnace, was it a real furnace with real fire? Daniel 3:19-27 .
The answer in each case is "YES"; they went through the events, but in each case, God protected them from any harm. These are just a few of the many instances in the Bible where God's servants and his people have gone through tribulations in which God protected them from the effects rather than removing them from the tribulations. Psalm 91:7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. God will protect those that love him and keep his commandments.
The events in each case lasted only a short time, the plaques on Egypt lasting approximately 45 to 60 days, basing this on the details of each plaque described in the book of Exodus.
It is widely taught and assumed by many Pastors, Professors and other learned Theologian's, that the tribulation is a period following the rapture of the church, of seven years; a 3 1/2 years period of peace followed by a 3 1/2 years period of strife, in which a second chance of redemption is offered for those not taken in the first rapture. I am amazed that anyone who claims to study the Bible could even conceive of such a scenario. I have searched diligently for a reference to a "seven year tribulation period", and a second chance at redemption and as of this writing I have not uncovered it, so let's look at this seven year period of which a majority seems to be fixed upon and see if we can better understand what this seven year period represents.
One more point before I go any further, let's look back at Noah. Noah preached and warned the people for 120 years of a coming judgment on the wickedness of the world to culminate into a worldwide flood, destroying everything which God had made, except for the ones which repented and followed his bidding, namely Noah and his family, eight human souls to be saved out of millions. The people laughed at him, mocked him and made fun of a man building a ship on dry land. Much like today, people go about without a thought for tomorrow, or where they will spend eternity, as if they are immortal and will live forever, making fun of the true Christians which are attempting to warn of the coming perils.
Genesis 7:1-10 tells us Noah and his family went into the ark and were in the ark for seven days before the rains began and all who were not in the ark were destroyed. The probation period had ended when God closed the door of the ark and absolutely no one else was allowed to enter the ark. God allowed Noah to warn the people for 120 years before the devastating floods were to come upon the wicked inhabitants of Planet Earth, they could have been saved up until the closing of the door, but they rejected God for worldly pleasures. God was giving the Jewish people this last chance for repentance in this 70th week. Daniel had given them a 490 year warning, but they would reject it.
God's hand closed the door to the ark and by doing so closed off any hope of redemption from the inhabitants of Noah's world. God did not give these lost souls a second chance at redemption, why would he give today's people a second chance. Let's get back to the study.
We have to go to the book of Daniel and read Daniel 9:24-27. Here, Daniel is told that a period of seventy weeks is determined for the Jewish people to finish their transgressions and make an end to sin. From the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah would be 69 weeks and the Messiah would be cutoff, and in the midst of the 70th week He will cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.
What does all this mean, 70 weeks, sixty nine weeks, midst of the week, cause the sacrifice to cease? A lot of questions, but the answers are in the Bible, so let's see if we can come up with some answers that are Biblical.
The 70 weeks are listed as 7 weeks, 62 weeks and lastly 1 week for a total of 70 weeks. In this prophecy you have three divisions and a further division of the final year into 2 parts. In prophecy, a day is commonly equated to one year, as indicated in Numbers 14:34, and Ezekiel 4:6. So if a day in prophecy is equal to 1 year, then the 70 weeks would be 70 times seven, as there are seven days in a week, therefore we have a total of 490 years for the length of time in this prophecy, but the prophecy indicates 69 weeks or 483 years until the Messiah, we therefore are left with another week which is the week most refer to as the seven year tribulation period. I will explain this later, but let's look at some history and see if it matches the timeline.
In Daniel 9:24, the Angel Gabriel is telling Daniel, the Jewish people had 70 weeks from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, (or 490 years) to make an end to sins, and bring in everlasting righteousness. The Jewish people had become rebellious and God had caused them to become captives of another nation in order to gain their attention for the acceptance of the coming Messiah. This prophecy was given for the Jewish nation to prepare for the coming Messiah, and the timing of His arrival. Sadly the Jewish people were looking for a conquering king rather than a lowly servant, which they crucified.
Question, can the Jewish or any other nation or people make an end to sin and bring in everlasting righteousness? I hope your answer is no. Only God can make an end to sin and bring in everlasting righteousness. If only God can bring in everlasting rightousness then Daniel 9:24 is referring to the Messiah, (or Jesus) who would make an end to sin. Then we can say the prophecy is indicating the Messiah (Jesus), would make his appearance 483 years after the commandment is issued to restore and build Jerusalem.
Remember, Daniel and the Jewish people were taken captive and exiled to Babylon after Judea fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC., and Jerusalem had been utterly destroyed by the Babylonian victory over the Jewish nation. With Judea in exile and in captivity under the Babylonian empire, how, who, and when would a decree for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple be issued?
There were several decrees to rebuild or restore as recorded in the book of Ezra chapters 1, 6, and 7. We must be careful of choosing the correct decree, as they were made by Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes at different times. The timing of the decree is essential in proving the accuracy of this prophecy.
We have to read the text of Daniel 9:25 carefully, paying very close attention to the wording of the prophecy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the GOING FORTH of the commandment to RESTORE and to BUILD Jerusalem UNTO THE MESSIAH the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.( emphasis is mine)
The decree issued by Cyrus in Ezra 1:2 was for the rebuilding of the temple only. The decree by Darius in Ezra 6:3 was merely a reimplementation of the decree by Cyrus to build the temple after work had ceased from dissention among the various tribes of Israel. The decree by Artaxerxes in Ezra 7 differs completely from the previous decrees in that it is a decree to completely rebuild the Jewish state, including their right to self-govern. The decrees other than Artaxerxes decree were for rebuilding the temple only, and not the Jewish state, as called for in Daniel 9:25. We now have a commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.
We must now find the date of this decree which Artaxerxes issued for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Jewish Nation in order to obtain our start date (from the going forth of the commandment to rebuid..) Daniel 9:25
From ancient records, documents, and the Bible, we find that Artaxerxes reign began in 465 BC after the death of Xerxes. Ezra 7:7, 8 records the decree being issued in the seventh year of Artaxerxes reign which would put the date at 457 BC. Now we have a starting point for the 70 week prophecy to begin, which is the seventh year of Artaxerxes reign in 457 BC.
If we count forward for the 69 weeks prophesied unto the Messiah we come to 27 AD. Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, three score and two weeks so 69 weeks x 7 = 483 years from the commandment to build the temple and Jerusalem. If we take 457 BC as a minus figure and add 483 years to it we arrive at 27 AD. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the autumn of 27 AD in the river Jordan, thus beginning his ministry, which lasted until the spring of 31 AD when he was crucified.
How long did Jesus's earthly ministry last?
Jesus's Ministry lasted for a period of 3 years; beginning in the autumn of 27 AD and lasting until the spring of 31 AD.
Recall that the Messiah was to appear after 69 weeks (483 years) from the going forth of the commandment to rebuild the temple and the city as Daniel 9:25-26 indicates? Precisely on time as the prophesy indicated, Jesus appeared and began his ministry (-457BC + 483 years= 27 AD.) Luke 3:23 tells us; And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age,
We know from historical records and Biblical accounts that Jesus was born sometime in late summer/early fall of the year 3 BC, since Herod the King was alive at Jesus's birth and died in 1 BC, and the narrative as given by the Gospel writer Luke giving Jesus's age at about 30.
In Daniel 9:27 we are told he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, Here a number of theologians have disconnected this final week from the prophecy, moved it forward to some future date placing the prophecy on hold and attributing it to be some sort of peace agreement between the anti- Christ and Israel during a seven year period which will be broken in the midst of the period (3 years) with a time of terrible persecution and tribulations following. Nowhere in this prophesy or anywhere else is there a reference for the final week to be put on hold and relegated to some future event that is inconsistent with end times prophecy.
Before we proceed let's back up and discuss this covenant to be confirmed.
The text implies a covenant, but does not imply breaking the covenant in the midst of the week, rather He will cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. A covenant is a contract or an agreement in which stipulations indicate what each party to the contract will do, and the contract can be nullified by the failure of either party to uphold their end of the contract. Ezekiel 16:58,59, Jeremiah 31:32 indicates the breaking of the old covenant of Sinai by the Jewish Nation, and then if we read Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 55:3, Jeremiah 31:31, and Ezekiel 16:62 we see the promise of a new covenant to be made with God's people. This new covenant will be everlasting and will not be broken.
So, then what is this new covenant which God has promised to Judah and the House of Israel? I will not go into a study of the house of Israel in this article as it entails a fair amount of undertaking to explain, but in a few words I will identify the house of Israel as the Church which Jesus established during his ministry. Don't go off on a tangent, but remember I instructed you at the beginning of this article to do your research and study of God's word to arrive at the truth.
Anyone, be he Jew, Gentile, Greek, rich or poor, which confesses that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, crucified for our sins, and rose from the grave on the third day, ascended to heaven, and promised to return and redeem his church, is a child of the House of Israel. Galatians 3:28-29 ...'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the PROMISE (covenant)
We have now seen that the original covenant with the Jewish nation was broken and God has promised a covenant which will not be broken but be everlasting.
John 1:1 tells us the Word was God and John 1:14 tells that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth. John tells us that God took on the flesh of man to dwell among us. We interpret these scriptures to mean that Jesus is the true Messiah as prophesied in Daniel 9:25-27
I would encourage you to do a study of the Jewish Tabernacle and the ordinances of sacrifice commanded by God and carried out religiously by the Jewish people. By studying you will get a picture of what these sacrifices really mean, and the pointing forward to the coming of the Messiah to make an end to sin. This is a very in-depth study and I will not get into it in this article, but by studying the aspect of the Jewish traditions of sacrifices which God had set up through Moses, you will see the relationship between the final week of Daniel's 70 weeks and the sacrificial ordinances.
The Messiah was to confirm the covenant with many for one week. This would be the last week of the seventy, of which the Jewish Nation was given to accept the Messiah and bring in everlasting righteousness, but the Jewish people were looking for a conquering Messiah to overthrow the Roman occupation, not a lowly servant of the people.
The confirming of the covenant with many is indicating the last and final attempt to convince the Jewish people to repent and return to God. Jesus did not preach to the Gentiles or allow his disciples to preach to them, but only to the Jewish nation as this was the final week of the 70 week prophecy of Daniel; this is shown in Matthew 10:5 Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:, and in Matthew 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks 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 the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holyweeks. (Emphasis is mine) Are you still confused?
Jesus began his ministry in 27 AD (the 483rd year of the 70 weeks prophecy). His ministry lasted from the fall of 27 AD until the spring of 31 AD for a total of 3 1/2 years. 3 1/2 is one half of seven which would be in the midst of the week. Jesus's crucifixion took place in the spring of 31 AD exactly 3 1/2 years after his ministry had begun. Let's not forget that Jesus had instructed his disciples to not preach unto the Gentiles but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, (which are the 12 Tribes of Israel). At his death there were 3 years of the 490 years remaining, and the Disciples continued to preach to the Jews about Jesus and the new covenant until the stoning of Stephen, the last of the apostles.
Stephen was attempting to carry the gospel of Jesus and the new covenant to the Jews as Jesus had commanded in Matthew 10:5, and was completing his message, but as Acts 7:57-58 tells us 57 'Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. This was the final indication of a complete rejection of the new covenant and Jesus as the Messiah by the Jews 3 years after Jesus's death and resurrection, which sealed (finished) the seventy weeks that Daniel had prophesied to be allotted to the Jewish Nation to make an atonement for their sins and accept the Messiah.
At the crucifixion of Jesus we read in the books of Matthew 27:51, and Mark 15:38 concerning the tearing of the temple veil; And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; This tearing of the veil from top to bottom, opening and exposing the most holy place of the temple, where only the high priest was allowed in, was an indication of the ending of the sacrificial ordinances. No more sacrifices were necessary for the remission of sins as Jesus had become the final sacrificial lamb as atonement for sins. Daniel 9:27 and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease,
In Daniel 9:26 we read of the Messiah being cut off, BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF, and the people of the prince to come would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple with a flood and unto the end of the war desolations. Verse 27 tells us in the midst of the week (70th) he would cause the sacrifice to cease.
Cut off means to kill and Jesus was killed in the midst of the week, (3 1/2 years after his ministry began). BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF!! Jesus died, not for something he had done, but rather for the sins you and I have committed; in other words he was the final sacrifice to be made for the remission of sins, as this was the purpose of the sacrificial rites commanded by God to the Jewish Nation.
The Jews do not make sacrifices anymore and have not since 70 AD when the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed and over a million Jews were slaughtered by the Romans following a 4 year siege of Jerusalem. Jesus foretold this in the 24th chapter of Matthew
Looking further at verse 26 we see ..the people of the prince to come will destroy the city and the temple with a flood.
Look at Matthew 24:1- And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Dan 9:27, Mark 13:14 We have to understand that prophecy in some cases are dual in nature as is the case in Matthew 24. The disciples were questioning Jesus concerning the temple and the end times in which case it became dual as I will explain. In Matthew 24:1 the disciples are asking about the temple and in verse 2 Jesus is explaining the destruction of the Temple and emphasizing that not one stone shall be left upon another. Now if we look at Daniel 9:26 we see where the temple and the city of Jerusalem is to be destroyed by a flood. A flood in prophecy is not referring to a wall of water, but rather a massive army or people. Now let's look back at Matthew 24:34 This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. A generation in the Bible is generally a 40 year span. Jesus told the disciples this generation would not pass till these things were fulfilled; He was speaking of the present generation of the disciples and the destruction of Jerusalem during their time. Keep in mind, Jesus was speaking to the disciples in 31 AD.
In the year 66 AD the Jewish people rebelled against the Roman occupation and the city was under siege until 70 AD, when the Roman Army, led by the future Emperor Titus destroyed the city, killing and slaughtering Jewish men, women, and children. The historian Josephus, who witnessed the siege and destruction, narrates of the atrocities and horrors which took place during and following this four year siege of Jerusalem. Josephus estimated there were in excess of a million deaths as a result of the 4 year siege from starvation, sickness, diseases and the final assault on Jerusalem. The Roman soldiers showed no mercy on men, women, or children.
Along with the destruction and near annihilation of the Jewish people, the Temple was set ablaze and burned to the ground; and as Jesus had prophesied, not one stone was left upon another. The Temple had such a massive amount of gold in its designs, artifacts and sacrificial articles, the heat created from the inferno of the burning temple caused the gold to melt and run between the fallen stones. The Roman soldiers then went about moving each stone of the temple in order to recover the molten gold. (There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.) Matthew 24:2
Jesus gave this prophecy to his disciples in Matthew 24:2 around 31 AD and as history recorded, the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed in less than forty years after Jesus had spoken the prophecy to the disciples ( ..this generation shall not pass, til all these be fulfilled.).
Ironically not a single Christian died in this massacre, because they had remembered Jesus warning of the destruction coming within their generation. The Christians abandoned Jerusalem and fled to safer territories as Jesus had warned in Matthew 24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: The Christians living in Jerusalem at that time escaped the carnage by remembering and heeding the warnings Jesus had given them. We today much like those Christians need to heed the warnings and prepare.
"In AD66, when Cestius came against the city, but withdrew, the Christians discerned in this the sign foretold by Christ and fled, while 1,100,000 Jews are said to have been killed in the terrible siege in AD70." Eusebius, Church History, Book 3, Chapter 5
In Matthew 24 the Disciples are questioning Jesus as to the destruction of the temple and of the signs of his second coming. Jesus first explains the destruction of the temple and the siege of Jerusalem within the present generation and he then goes on to explain the rumors of wars, nations against nation and the troubles to take place just prior to his second coming. This gives the prophecy dual application, as it referenced the present generation as well as the end time generations.
We today much like those Christians need to heed the warnings and prepare.
In conclusion I pray I have cleared up some of the confusion surrounding the 70th week of Daniels Prophecy. I confess I don't have all the answers, as God's word can sometimes be a mystery not revealed until he is ready for it to be revealed to serve his purpose and glory.
As Noah warned the people of his day for 120 years of the coming destruction, and Daniel gave the Jewish Nation a 490 year warning of their judgment, we also have been given a nearly 2000 year warning to repent, turn back to God and follow his will and commandments, not conforming to the trappings and customs of this world. We are still in the probation period as the people of Noah's time were, so do we ignore as they did or do we turn back to our Creator God and abide in his wishes. Our time is running out, probation is about to end, there will not be a second chance and God has his hand on the door to shut us out of eternal life if we don't repent and turn back to him.
Jeremiah 8:20 The harvest is past, the summer is ended , and we are not saved
Rev.12/03/12- 1/03/13 1/11/13 Biblical references are KJV unless noted otherwise