The concept that before
the end of the world there will be a seven year period of tribulation
comes to us from the Futuristic School of prophetic interpretation. J.
Nelson Darby, prominent in the Plymouth Brethren movement in England,
brought it to America during the 1800's. Although Darby made many trips
to the U. S. and Canada, the Brethren movement never took hold.
Futurism did take
hold and is very popular among conservative Christians. It is termed Futurism
because it teaches that the appearance of the anti-Christ is yet future.
Some liberal Christians maintain that the anti-Christ appeared during the time of the Roman Empire in the person of Nero or some other persecutor of the church. This is the Preterist system, that the anti-Christ is past.
A third method, sometimes called the Historic method, maintains that just as there are two comings of Christ, there are two comings of the anti-Christ; one past and one future. It leans heavily on the Protestant Reformer's teaching of the anti-Christ.
Futurism gets its
seven year period from the greatest time prophecy in the Bible found in
Daniel 9:24-27. It is the only place in the Old Testament where the word
"Messiah" is found. Generally speaking, it says that a period
of time (70 weeks of years or 490 years) have been cut off for the Jews
to seal up the vision and anoint the most Holy, who is the Messiah.
From the time that the decree goes forth to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince would be 69 weeks of years or 483 years. The Hebrews were in Babylonian captivity. After the fall of Babylon to the Medo-Persians, two decrees were issued for the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple. A third decree issued in 457 BC, to rebuild Jerusalem, is the starting point for the 69 weeks of years or 483 years which reach to 27AD, the very year Jesus began His ministry. See attachment for details of the prophecy.
Jesus, Himself said:
"The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand". Mark
Paul said: "But
when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son". Galatians
"That in the
dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all
things in Christ...". Ephesians 1:10
The time here is the time of Daniel 9:25.
The last week of years
of the 70 weeks, which were cut off for the Jews "... to bring in
everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and
anoint the most Holy" (verse 24) is described in verse 27.
"And he (the
Messiah) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (7 years):
and in the midst of the week (3 1/2 years) he shall cause the sacrifice
and oblation to cease.
Jesus began to preach
in 27 AD. He was crucified 3 1/2 years later in 31 AD. The animal sacrifices
which had pointed to His death were now to cease. This took place in the
midst of the 7 years of the 70 th week.
Jesus' followers preached
the message after His resurrection in and around Jerusalem until the stoning
of Stephen in 34 AD, which is 3'/2 years after the crucifixion. Because
of persecution, the believers fled from Jerusalem, eventually taking the
gospel to the Gentiles. Acts 8:1
So we see that in this last week, this last 7 years, the covenant was confirmed with many. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of His rejection and proclaimed, "... your house is left unto you desolate". Matthew 23:38; Luke 13:35
The covenant had been confirmed with many Jews for one week (seven years) but now the covenant with the Jews as a nation was over. The Spirit of God would no longer be present in the Temple, the Hebrew's house at Jerusalem. The gospel would go to the Gentiles and, of course, individual Jews, but as a nation Israel's house was left desolate. They had 490 years set aside for them but, as a nation, had failed.
The armies of Rome, the power that crucified Christ, which destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD, are called the abomination that maketh desolate spoken of by Daniel the prophet. Matthew 24:15; Luke 21:20
These historical events prove that the 70th week of the total 70 weeks, cut off for the Jews, was fulfilled during the 7 years between 27 and 34 AD.
For some obscure reason, Futurism places a time gap between the 69th week ending in 27 AD and the 70th week, which it is claimed will not begin until near the end of world history when the so-called Gentile kingdoms end and the heavenly kingdom begins. This is somewhat similar to the teachings of the Plymouth Brethren who made a distinction between what they termed the heavenly church and the earthly church. See the Scofield Reference Bible under Daniel, Chapter 9, for a fuller explanation of the Futuristic view.
Futurism claims that
the 70th week, which describes events which took place almost 2,000 years
ago, is yet future and will be 7 years of tribulation.
The Bible time period
concerning the future and tribulation is 3 1/2 years ... not 7.
When Jesus speaks
of tribulation in Matthew 24:21, He is quoting from Daniel 12:1 Neither
text specifies a period of time for the tribulations.
Three different wordings
are used to identify this 3 1/2 - not 7 - year period.
1. Forty and two months.
Revelation 11:2; 13:5
2. One thousand two hundred and three score days. Revelation 11:3; 12:6
3. Time, times, and
dividing of time or half a time. Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation= 12:14
The marginal reading
of Daniel 11:13 says "times even years".
Time = 1 year
Times = 2 years
½ Time = 1/2
Total Time = 3 1/2
Comparison of Revelation
12:6, "A thousand two hundred and three score days" with verse
14, "a time, and times, and half a time", indicate that these
time periods are one, and the same - 3 1/2 years. The same is true of
Revelation 11:2, "Forty and two months" and verse 3, "A
thousand two hundred and three score days", both meaning 3 1/2 years.
A future period of
3 1/2 years of oppression is mentioned 7 times in the Bible.
No future period of
7 years of oppression is mentioned in the Bible.
7 weeks + three score and two weeks + one week = 70 weeks
49 years + 434 years + 7 years = 490 years
It took 49 years to
rebuild the Temple. Then it was 434 years to the Messiah, 27AD. Beginning
in Eden, God's people had the promise of a Deliverer for thousands of
years but that was all they had, a promise.
Now, in 27AD, they had Him in the flesh, a real, live being for 3 1/2 years. They walked and talked with Him. The remaining 3 1/2 years they gave their testimony to fellow Jews of His life, death, and resurrection. The house of the Jews was left desolate and the gospel went to the Gentiles.
Unfortunately, many sincere, conservative Christians believe in the future 7 years of tribulation although they do not fully understand the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27, and just how the "gap theory" fits into this interpretation.
Article 14 explains where Darby got Futursim.
Bible Study in the Sunday Comics?
Jack D. Walker, 5353 Cane Ridge #115, Antioch, TN, 37013, 615.731.8795