by Paul Benson
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. -Jesus the Christ
In a comment concerning last weeks guest post ‘The Rapture of the Church is after the Tribulation – by Rob Miller’ brother Roy Peterson brought up the question of the length of the tribulation and the later outpouring of God’s wrath at the Second Coming. Since answering this issue led to many associated thoughts I have put them into this weeks article.
Here is Roy’s comment:
Brother Paul, another very good post…I have now subscribed to The Sum of All Truth. However, that does not mean I agreed with all of his teaching on the false doctrine of Pretrib. My eyes rolled around in their sockets when he wrote that the trib lasted 7 years & THEN another year of God’s wrath…? What think ye?
Here is my response:
First off, let’s make sure we all ‘get it right’ on one point. We should understand by the Scriptures that Jesus administers the wrath of God at his Second Coming. NOT BEFORE! What transpires prior to that event is not God’s wrath but a clarion call to repentance for Planet Earth. Clarity on that point will help one to avoid much error that is commonly taught about end-times prophecy.
We certainly do see both 3½ years and 7 years spoken of repeatedly in prophecies concerning the end-times. But many are claiming an association between these time-spans and the time of great tribulation Jesus spoke of. I just do not see that presented in the Bible. I also do not see any firm reference to the duration of the outpouring of God’s wrath this world will experience at the Return of Christ.
The Bible speaks of ‘the day of Christ’ (2Thess. 2:2), and also ‘the year of the Lord’ (Luke 4:19). And it also says that a day is as a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is as a day (2Peter 3:8). It would be quite easy to grasp on to one of those time-spans and attempt to quantify the outpouring of God’s wrath, but I am not sure we have enough info in the Scriptures to see that clearly.
But, yes, the Wrath of God IS coming! Just as this planet was purged by a great flood in the days of Noah the Lord Jesus is going to cleanse this world with a fiery indignation at his Return. Will this take a day, a week, a month, or even a year? I do not claim to know. How long this will take we can only speculate, as there is no clear indication given in the Scriptures. (On this I could be wrong. Maybe I just haven’t seen it yet.) But we DO know we will be safe with our Christ when that divine wrath is poured out.
God has not destined his people to suffer his wrath!
The pre-tribbers have that correct. We are not appointed to wrath. The problem is that they mistakenly declare the time of tribulation is the outpouring of God’s Wrath. This mistaken notion is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to them properly understanding eschatology. And that error of understanding leads to much more doctrine that is not only incorrect, but dangerous to believe and preach. Teachings that deny or alter what the Word of God says can actually bring the Curse of God upon you!
Many think we are given indication of a seven year tribulation by Daniel speaking of a covenant confirmed for that span of time (Daniel 9:27). I do think this is probably associated with end-time events; but where is the time-span of this ‘confirmation of covenant’ tied by Bible verse to the length of the great tribulation that Jesus prophesied of? I just don’t see it.
I personally do not link the time of great tribulation to a seven year time frame, as dispensational theology dictates, and many non-dispensationalists also teach. I actually see good reason to suspect it may be closer to ten years! (More on that speculation later.)
I also do not think the tribulation coincides exactly with the 3 1/2 year reign of Antichrist as others claim. That just does not fit! Please let me explain my reasoning.
I think the events Jesus referred to as great tribulation will begin much before Antichrist takes his throne. The ongoing chaos and catastrophe of those days will be one of the major reasons he will be granted his dominion. He will be the ‘answer man’ the world is desperately in need of. There is no biblical reason to assume the tribulation begins that day Antichrist ascends to his throne. In fact we have much indication to the contrary.
And also, the chaotic events of the time of great tribulation must end sometime before the 3½ year reign of Antichrist comes to a close. Jesus destroys Antichrist after his Return to Earth; and that Return comes after people have started saying peace and safety (1Thess. 5:2-5). They would not be saying ‘peace and safety’ in the midst of cataclysm and world war! Those things would have to be over and past for the world to be lulled into this false sense of security. Also it says in Daniel that Antichrist’s war on the Saints will seemingly have come to a climax.
…and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. Daniel 12:7
Apparently the Antichrist will see his purge of Christianity as mission accomplished. The Two Witnesses will have been killed. The Christian Church will have been decimated. He will think he has silenced the Body of Christ forever (Daniel 8:24).
Plus, we don’t know how long it will take Antichrist to gather the world together to fight against Christ at his Coming (which is AFTER the tribulation Matt 24:29). SO… there is not only a cessation of the chaos of those last days (peace and safety) but also a span of time where the armies of the world will gather and join forces against our Lord. Military maneuvers do not happen in short order. It takes time to coordinate the logistics of troop and machinery transport, as well as the establishment of supply chains and such.
Considering all this there has to be somewhat of a period of time between the end of the tribulation and the destruction of Antichrist at the battle of Armageddon at the end of his 42 month (3½ year) reign. This demise of the Man of Sin occurs after Christ Returns which is after the great tribulation. Therefor the time-span of the great tribulation does not perfectly overlay the 3½ year or 42 month span the Bible speaks of describing certain end-time events.
The Number Ten
Here is some speculation on my part that I haven’t feel strongly enough about to teach as doctrine, but have given much thought to: Why is so much focus placed upon a seven year span, and yet the biblical number associated with testing (the number ten) is given so little consideration in our discussions of the end-times?
Folks that study biblical numerology will tell you that the number Ten is used throughout the Scriptures in association with trials and testing. Should we not expect to see this number play a prominent role in the end-time scenario? Aren’t the final years of this age truly a testing of mankind?
The Prophetic Feasts of The Lord
We can see in hindsight that the spring Feast Days were a prophetic pattern of the events that surrounded the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus; and that the feast of Pentecost foreshadowed the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. The fall Feast Days are also a pattern that the Second Coming must fit into.
There is a ten day span from the beginning of the Feast of Trumpets to the end of the Day of Atonement. I think this is significant in the proper grasp of end-time prophecy.
Many try to portray the arrival of the Feast of Trumpets as symbolizing the day we are caught up to meet Christ (the first trump? come on people!); but I believe we should see the Day of Atonement (and its final great trumpet blast) as typifying the day we are awaiting. The Feast of Trumpets was also called the Days of Awe or the Days of Repentance. I see this as a very apt description of the days which this world (and the Church!) will see before the Return of our Lord. A call to repentance! Most preaching on the end-times completely devastates the pattern of the fall Feasts in relation to the Return of Christ.
I am working on an article that expounds on the relation of the fall Feast Days (and the number ten) to the day in which Jesus will return. I hope to have it completed soon.
Cut Off In The Midst?
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in gaining a proper understanding of biblical prophecy is getting beyond preconceived notions and letting the Scriptures speak for themselves. We have heard so many notions parroted so very many times from so many pulpits that we just assume that these notions are true. But we must always ask ourselves: is that really what the Scriptures are speaking to us? Often we are just hearing presumptions and presuppositions being presented as if they were truths firmly stated in the Bible.
Such are the oft spoken notions about the ‘confirmation of covenant’ spoken of in Daniel chapter 9. Much of what is taught on this subject really has very little foundation in Scripture, and is just mere *speculation!
*Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer that speculation over biblical issues is not only acceptable, but is often quite helpful in leading us to further our understanding by additional prayer and study. But speculation should ALWAYS be presented as such. When we allow our speculations to become doctrine without foundation we run the risk of deceiving ourselves; or worse yet deceiving others. (For which there WILL be accountability!)
So if we are engaging in speculation let’s admit it, and be clear about it. There are many things I don’t teach on because I don’t yet feel I have a solid foundation in the Word upon which to base my claim. I’m not afraid to admit that; and I am not worried about how that makes me look. It’s OK to say I’m not sure about this or that. It doesn’t make you look stupid; it shows humility! (My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. James 3:1)
In a follow-up comment brother Roy speculatively raised the possibility that the first half of Daniel’s ‘seventieth week’ may have been fulfilled in the 3½ years of Christ’s ministry; and asked my thoughts on this prospect. This is a possibility I have given thought to a number of times myself. That the first half of the seventieth week may have been the 3½ year ministry of Christ, and the second half the ‘manifest sons’ ministering in a world-wide revival during the final 3 ½ years. Though I do believe in a coming world-wide revival I have pretty much gotten beyond that speculation over the 70th week. Let’s look at that ‘seventieth week’ and the ‘confirmation of covenant’ spoken of by Daniel.
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 Holy. 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. 26 And after threescore and two weeks 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. 27 And 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, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. Daniel 9:24-27
I think what got me beyond my speculations about Christ’s ministry fulfilling the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week is that is says after 62 weeks Messiah would be cut off, not after 62½ weeks. And applying the words ‘in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease’ to refer to Christ’s death is too big of a stretch. Christ’s sacrifice was a one-time event! It was not something on-going that had been caused to cease. I just couldn’t make that connection. So I put away that line of speculation.
Also I have a great deal of trouble connecting ‘he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week’ to a supposed peace treaty in the Middle East. Many preachers and teachers speak of a coming peace treaty in the Middle East like it is a prophetic benchmark that will herald the beginning of the final seven years of this age. I personally don’t see any such peace treaty as the hinge upon which the door of end-time prophecy swings!
Notice it does not say he will ‘MAKE a covenant’ it says he will ‘confirm THE covenant’. I would say it more than likely this is referring to an acknowledgment of the Old Testament Covenant between God and the Jews. Religious tolerance seems to be the mantra of the globalist push to control the world. Should we not expect to see some acquiescence of Judaism, as well as all other faiths, in the primary stage of this effort to meld the religions of the world into one global religion? Once again mere speculation on my part.
Jesus gave us the Parable of the Fig Tree to exhort us as what to look for in the time just prior to his Return. He said, ‘when you see these things’. I don’t see a peace treaty (or the rebirth of Israel 7 decades ago) in the list of things he gave that would signal the season of his Coming. But what we do clearly see is the emphasis Jesus placed upon the ‘abomination of desolation’ that happens in the middle of that final ‘week’. He didn’t say, ‘when you see a peace treaty signed by Antichrist’; he said, ‘when you see the abomination of desolation’. And that is where we should also place our emphasis – on the things Jesus said his followers WILL SEE before he comes for them.
But those who hold to the idea of a pre-trib rapture must alter the focus of the Fig Tree Parable, and steer you away from his exhortation to look for the fulfilment of his words about what we will yet see, as that contradicts their doctrine. That is why they steer you off to the rebirth of Israel, and act like the parable has already had its fulfilment. But let’s get it right! A prophecy fulfilled 70 years ago is not a sign of a specific season that is yet to come 70 years later! Nor was it what Jesus said we are to look for in the season of his Return.
As I said, speculation can lead to a greater understanding of God’s ways if it prompts us to look deeper into his Word. But pridefully clinging to warrant-less presuppositions without questioning them can turn us aside from the truth if we are not careful. Let’s not allow speculation without foundation to cause our focus to stray. Let’s stay on target and look for the signs Jesus clearly spoke of.
Otherwise we are liable to be turned aside to embrace nonsense like the pre-tribulation rapture fable. A teaching which is the epitome of ‘speculation without biblical foundation’ and ‘fanciful presuppositions’; all taken to frightening extremes!
So, in spite of what many are claiming, we don’t know the exact time of either the beginning or the end of the tribulation. But we can firmly conclude saying it coincides perfectly with the 3½ or 7 year model contradicts the timeline of events the Scriptures give. That synchronicity is not presented in the Scriptures!
And, all in all, I think we should grasp tightly those things the Scriptures clearly do teach; not worry so much about things the Lord did not see fit to make clear.
Jesus IS coming. The day of God’s Wrath approaches. I hope you will be tucked safely under his wing on that coming Day of Atonement!
Blessings upon all who love our Christ;
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