Why I don’t believe in a future seven year tribulation

Regarding the “tribulation of the saints”…  First of all, burden of proof usually goes with the statement.  Where does a seven year tribulation come from?  What scripture is it based on and what understanding of that scripture?

There is no passage of scripture that speaks of a “seven year tribulation”, just like there is no passage in Revelation about an “antichrist”.  If this be true, which when I search the Scripture I find it true, then a seven year tribulation is a (false?) teaching derived from interpretation of a passage(s).  When I ask people what they base it on, I get a couple different answers, so if you’ll tell me what you’re basing a seven year tribulation on, I can answer it better that way and more specifically.

For now, here are some of my notes and my understanding of timelines and the tribulation.

First, when days and timing sequences are given in prophecy, we have to learn to ask who said it, to whom, and about what.  From that we’re able to discern how to interpret it correctly.  For example, the prophecies of Daniel are given by the prophet Daniel, at the time of Judah’s exile, to the Jewish people, about Jerusalem and the Jewish people.  From that we have guidelines for interpretation that look something like this:

  • The prophecies of Daniel concern the Jews. Why?  Because Daniel was a Jew living in exile, prophesying to the Jews.  This implies Daniel’s prophecy does not necessarily concern the whole world, in fact, probably does not concern the whole world.
    • This implies it deals directly with the people group of the Jews, which is the tribe of Judah, and the land of Jerusalem and perhaps the land around Jerusalem.
  • This also means the terms for days and years must be converted to a lunar calendar. If it happened in the Old Testament when the Israelites kept a lunar calendar, then the timetable has to be converted to a lunar calendar, as this is the language of the Jews in the day of this prophecy.
    • This further implies that prophecies given in the New Testament (e.g. Revelation) are based on a solar calendar, because at that time, that is the calendar those (e.g. John) giving the prophecy were living in. This also means that New Testament prophecies are written to the Church of Christ, His disciples and followers, (not necessarily the Jews, and probably not the Jews).
  • Please note: the book of Hosea is largely prophetic.  But Hosea was an Israelite, living in exile and prophesying to the Israelites.  So Hosea’s prophecies have to be understood for the ten tribes of Israel that are not Judah/Jews.  Please recall that the Hebrew/Israel nation was split from the days of King Rehoboam and everything from that day on is separated:  some things to Israel (the northern kingdom), and some things to Judah (the southern kingdom).  While their plights may be similar, they are not the same.

With these basic guidelines in place, let’s look at a prominent prophecy of Daniel’s, the seventy weeks of chapter nine.  We’ll highlight Daniel 9:24-27 from the KJV.

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 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.

So in this prophecy given through the words of the angel messenger, Gabriel, Daniel is given a timetable of sorts with three breakdowns:  Seven Weeks, Sixty-Two Weeks and One Week.  [This One Week is where one of the “seven year tribulation” theories comes from.]

*Remember this:  this prophecy was given to the Jews (“thy people”) about Jerusalem (“thy holy city”).  Don’t forget this point!

There were six things Gabriel told Daniel were supposed to be accomplished in the 69 sevens (see verse 24):

  1. “finish transgression”
  2. “make an end of sin”
  3. “make reconciliation for iniquity”
  4. “bring in everlasting righteousness”
  5. “seal up vision and prophecy”
  6. “anoint the most holy”

The next thing we’re given is the markers for the timetable.  (see verses 25-26)  The count is to start from “the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem”.  According to Scripture, the decree to restore Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes I to Nehemiah, and the years would have been 444-445 B.C.

To get the years and math correct, we have to convert to the lunar calendar, which means a lunar year is .9857 of a solar year.  (lunar year is 360 days, solar year is 365.24 days, with a  difference of .9857)

Gabriel said there would be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks, for a total of 69 weeks. (7 plus 62)  He made a separation of these weeks instead of just saying 69 weeks, so we’ll have to see what that means in a minute.  In the meantime, the math looks like this:  483 x .9857 = 476 (solar years).  If we break down the 7 weeks + 62 weeks, it breaks down to 48.3 years (for the seven weeks) and 427.7 years for the 62 weeks.

The math shows like this:

444 B.C. plus 476 (solar) years = 32 A.D.  the Cross of Christ

444 B.C. plus 48.3 years = 395.7 B.C.  the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, was written in 396 B.C.

Now we have the first 69 weeks of Daniel’s prophecy accounted for, with the fulfillment of the prophecy happening through the sealing up of vision in prophecy after the first seven weeks with Malachi’s prophecy, and then the fulfillment of the other five points through the Cross of Christ.  We did this by applying the principle of a day equals a year.

The principle of using a day for a year is prevalent in Hebrew customs.  I won’t get into it here, but you can see it in Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:5-6, Psalm 90:4, and 1 Peter 3:8.  Notable theologians have taught this for centuries (just not this modern century), such as Thieleman van Braght (1569) and the famous Matthew Henry.

Which brings us back to:

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.

Timeline is now 32 A.D. (by the math shown above).  At this time Messiah is indeed cut off when He is crucified.  Then “the people of the prince that shall come” refers us back to Daniel 7’s vision of the four beasts, and this refers to the fourth beast:  the dreadful and terrible beast.  Students of prophecy will know this is the Roman kingdom.  Indeed the Roman kingdom will “destroy the city and the sanctuary” (70 A.D.).

“The end thereof shall be with a flood” refers to a flood of people in the holy city that are not Jews or Israelites (historically accurate) and see Revelation 17:15.  Foreigners in Jerusalem is this reference.  The reference of wars and desolations (for Jerusalem) is accurate as well.

Which leads us to:

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.

This is where it gets a little tricky because there’s a word change that happens that doesn’t translate into the English correctly.  The Hebrew word for seven used for the 69 weeks is “shavuim”, while the word here in verse 27 for the seven (one week) is “shavua”.  Because they are different words, they should not be interpreted to mean the same thing.

[I didn’t figure this out, by the way.  I learned it from a very, very old man who has since passed away but taught it to me and countless others, Ellis Skolfield.]

Daniel was raised under the Levitical Code through the law of Moses, that depicts a numerical progression like this: one seven, multiple sevens, and then a unique seven called shavua, which is a Jubilee (shavua) year of 360 Sabbaths.  Ellis shows it like this:

THE LEVITICAL CODE

1stOne Seven (a shavua) of years

2nd:  Seven sevens (shavua) of years

3rd:  One unique Jubilee (shavua) year with 360 Sabbaths

DANIELS 70 WEEKS

1st:  seven sevens of years, 7 Shavuim

2nd:  62 more sevens of years, 62 Shavuim

3rd:  one unique Shavua with 360 Sabbaths

 

I can already hear the critics!  It shouldn’t be this hard!  Except that the angel told Daniel in 12:9, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”  The understanding of these prophecies has been sealed until the “time of the end”.  Which means at the time of the end, the understanding is unsealed.

The book of Daniel is written in Hebrew and Aramaic, and as I understand it even has some Chaldean phrases interjected.  Daniel’s “chapters” are out of chronological order.  Chronologically, chapter five was written between chapters eight and nine, and chapter six was written between chapters nine and ten.  Why?  Because it was written as a chiasm.  Its themes repeat and retell the same thing in different ways.

Daniel’s prophecy was written to the Jews about the Jews and Jerusalem.  It was written in the language and understanding of the Jews.  These concepts (chiastic structure and varying a word – shavua and shavuim) would not be complex to a Jew.  We just have to learn their language to understand it.  Ellis expounds this concept by teaching understanding from the writer’s point of view, not the reader’s!  (especially, I might add, something over 2500 years old)

So if we take the 360 Sabbaths of the shavua of Daniel 9:27 and multiply it by seven, we get 2520 prophetic years, which recalculates to 2484 solar years (2520 x .9857).  Now when we do the math for the “one week” of Daniel 9:27, we get the year 1948.  (536 B.C. + 2484 solar years)  Does it make sense now??  (Remember the prophecy was for the Jews about Jerusalem!)

So all of the things spoken of in Daniel 7:27 during the One Week are completed in 1948.  What happened in 1948?  The Jews returned to Israel.  Remember this prophecy is about the Jews and for the Jews!

Let’s look at the passage again:

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.

I’m going to quote Ellis’s interjections here to help break it down:

27 And he (a satanic prince) shall confirm the covenant with many (Jewish people) for one week:  (2520 prophetic, i.e. 2484 solar years) and in the midst of the week (the Jubilee week) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, (by making the temple mount spiritually desolate) and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

To really help us understand what’s being spoken of here, look at the word abomination and desolation.  Abomination is “shiqqots” in Hebrew and desolation is “shamen” in Hebrew.  These are the same words spoken in Daniel 12:11 as the “abomination of desolation”.  What is the chance these are the same things being talked about?

Now consider that “in the midst of the week” means in the middle of this time span.  What would be the middle by our math calculations?  706 A.D. would be the year after the Dome of the Rock was built.  (Remember this for later.)  The prophecy says the temple mount will become spiritually desolate and full of abomination at the time of the middle of the One Week – 706 A.D.

Remember that this prophecy is to the Jews and about Jerusalem?  Doesn’t 1948 historically represent Jerusalem??

Pause…  Let’s visit Daniel 12 for a minute.  Daniel 12 actually starts at 10:1 with:  “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.”

So we know that this vision was given in 533 B.C. because Daniel told us when he got it.  We also know that this revelation was true, but its fulfillment would be quite awhile, i.e.  “the thing was true, but the time appointed was long”.

The revelation ends with this key:

6 And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?

7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and swore by him that lives for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

8 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?

9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

10 Many 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.

11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

12 Blessed is he that waits, and comes to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

13 But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shall rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

Let’s take the 1290 days of Daniel 12:11 and apply the same principles we did to Daniel 7.  To do that, we have to determine the year the sacrifices were abolished.  I’ll let you do your own research on that, but for simplicity now I’ll tell you that although Nebuchadnezzer destroyed the temple in 586 B.C., we know from Jeremiah (41:5) the Jews were still offering sacrifices after the temple was burned.  At the end of Jeremiah we read that the remaining Jews were carried away, and that would indicate the time the sacrifices ceased, which would be 583 B.C.

So if we do the math now, we’ll take 1290 lunar days and convert them to solar to get 1271.5 solar days, and then we’ll apply the days for years like this:  583 B.C. + 1271.5 days/years = 688 A.D.

Therefore, if we’ve done our math correctly and applied prophecy appropriately (to the Jews about Jerusalem), the abomination that causes desolation should have been set up in 688 A.D.  The short answer is that is when the Dome of the Rock was built in Jerusalem, on the Temple site.

[Abd el Malik ibn Marwan, Moselm Kalifah, built a memorial to Muhammad called the Dome of the Rock from 685-705 A.D.  You can look it up and get any number of dates in those years, but 688 is right in the  middle of that span and some sources cite it as the year it was started.]

So now we have the abomination of desolation prophesied and fulfilled with the Dome of the Rock in 688 B.C.  It’s spoken of in Daniel 7:27 in the middle of the “week”, and again in Daniel 12:11.  But to be sure, we can follow the next verse to its completion by doing the same math and applying the same principles.

12 Blessed is he that waits, and comes to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

Before we get there, let’s remember Christ’s words in Matthew 24:15-22 (NASU):

15 “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.  17 “Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house.  18 ” Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.  19 “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!  20 “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.  21 “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.  22 “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 

If we understand Daniel’s “abomination of desolation” correctly, it’s the construction of the Dome of the Rock on the temple site in Jerusalem.  Now don’t Christ’s words make more sense???  When the Jews and Christians see the Dome of the Rock being built, they need to flee!! Why?  Because a Moslem conquest was coming!  Christ is warning them to get out of town!  Flee for your very lives because war and desolations are coming!  Look at the history.  That is exactly what happened!  The Moslem caliphates began their conquest through the Middle East and marched right up to and through Europe.

Now go back to Daniel for a minute, and the “blessed is he who comes to the 1335th day”…

1335-1290 = 45 days

45 x .9857 = 44.3565

688 A.D. + 44.3565 = 732 A.D.

If we’ve applied everything correctly, something significant must have happened in 732 A.D.  Google “what happened in 732 A.D.?”  and you will get pages about the Battle of the Tours.  This is the Battle that ended the Moslem conquest across Europe.  Had this not been victorious by the infidels (France and the non-muslim people), Islam would have overcome Europe and so would have gone the world.

Now revisit Christ’s words with this history and perspective and see if they don’t make more sense.  When you see the Dome of the Rock being built, flee!!  Flee for your lives because war is on its heels!  Pray you aren’t pregnant or nursing!  Pray it’s not winter!  Pray it’s not on a Sabbath!  Flee!  And here’s where you have the “great tribulation” spoken of by none other than our Lord and Savior.  THIS tribulation, this war of Moslems against infidels will surpass all other historical tribulations and there will be none other like it.  (verse 21)  And then catch verse 22, “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”  Not the hours in the day, but the number of days.  Otherwise the believers would have been slaughtered and the (still future) elect would not have been born.

Now look at that again beside Daniel 12:12:  “Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.”

There is not a seven year tribulation.  The great tribulation of Christ’s own prophecy has come and gone, and it was the horrific Islamic conquest of the Middle East into Europe.  Yes, there are plenty of tribulations for God’s people since then and will continue until Christ’s return, but there is not an accelerated seven year tribulation with an antichrist yet to come.  That is a false teaching.

 

 

11 thoughts on “Why I don’t believe in a future seven year tribulation

  1. Wow…so you “see” no tribulation period of great intensity foistered on Christ’s body & the Jews from “the man of sin” (666) in the immediate future, just prior to Christ’s visible return…?

    1. Oh I see all kinds of tribulation, just not a specific 7-year tribulation, nor will it be the “great tribulation”, as that already happened. As far as an intense tribulation on Christ’s body and the Jews, that is already happening and has been. Christians are murdered/martyred at the rate of one every 3-5 minutes for their beliefs. And I do believe it will increase or intensify the closer to Christ’s return, but the intensity is pretty high right now and shows no real sign of letting up.

      1. While I am only a novice when it comes to prophecy and Christ’s return, I will say that I tend to agree with you that the “great tribulation” Christ spoke of has already been fulfilled — way back in his day. That is what you’re saying, right? But I see no particular reason to believe that Christ’s return is in the very near future (as much as I’d like to).

    1. I see u r attracting some ill-informed preterists to this convo…must say that your thoughts on the trib seem to lean uncomfortably in the preteristic direction…??

    2. I have a few thoughts on the man of sin/666 topic — probably too long and discombobulated for right here and now, but will try to pen them when I get a chance. If you’re referring to the man who exalts himself as God, isn’t that what the Pope does? And hasn’t that gone on for centuries and through generations? Again, that’s just a surface reaction. I can touch on this in the near future.

    1. “Preterism”
      Is it really important?
      I don’t think so, unless it leads you to believe that Christ is not coming again.
      Then, indeed becomes important.

      But probably only about one in a hundred professing Christians has even heard of the term, much less can really explain it. It is only a few prophecy buffs that make it their claim to fame, while neglecting far weightier matters of God’s Word. Unfortunately, “….preterism is guilty of magnifying and exalting a very limited historical event, one that has a relatively marginal significance in Scripture, to the status of a cosmic redemptive event with eternal significance.” — Jack Cottrell

      http://jackcottrell.com/notes/the-preterist-view-of-christs-second-coming/

    2. Sorry, Roy. I’ve been out of state and dealing with some urgent family matters. I have not been by my computer for any significant amount of time in over a week. I don’t know about any scrubbing of comments? I haven’t had time to reply to anything, nor do I know what you mean by scrubbing comments.

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