Returning to the prophet Zechariah, we see the same message,
“Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then will the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives…” Zechariah 14:1–4a
Daniel 12:1–3 tells of the same sequence. So do the Gospels of Matthew (24:29-51) and Luke (21:25-36). Matthew 25 narrates several parables that have the express purpose of warning that there is to be only one return of Jesus Christ, and that if we are not ready for it then we will miss out on a place in the kingdom.
Why then, is there this ‘7-year, escape tribulation’ theory?
It comes from an interpretation of the seventieth week of Daniel’s vision of the seventy weeks (Daniel 9:20–27). Those who hold to this position believe that the first sixty-nine weeks have been fulfilled with the first coming of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. They assert that between the first sixty-nine weeks and the seventieth week, an indefinite period of time exists; a period of time extending from Christ’s first coming until the beginning of the tribulation.
However, we find it very difficult to believe that Daniel’s seventy weeks can be divided up in this manner. Daniel was told that these seventy weeks would be divided up into three periods:
- a seven-week period, followed by
- a sixty-two week period, followed by
- a one-week period.
Each week would represent a period of seven years. Since period (2) followed period (1) without any intervening gap, and since there is nothing to indicate that there is a gap between periods (2) and (3), it is only logical to assume that period three followed consecutively after period (2).
In fact it clearly did have its fulfilment. The sixty-nine weeks were fulfilled when Jesus began his ministry, probably about AD29. In verse 27 it states that “he [the Messiah, v25] shall confirm the covenant for one week [ie, the seventieth], but in the midst of it he would cause the sacrifice to cease”. In the preceding verse he was spoken of as being cut-off. Three and a half years after Jesus’ ministry began, it was cut-off through the sacrifice of his own body. After a further three-and-a-half years of the apostle’s ministry, the Gentiles were admitted to the church (or, ecclesia (Ecclesia is a Greek word meaning a selected [‘called out’] group of people.)) of God. This seventy-week prophecy of Daniel had received a complete fulfilment.
Again, Daniel uses a time period described by the phrase, “time and times and the dividing of time” (Daniel 7:25; 12:7 and Revelation 12:14). The expression ‘times’ means years, and if we allow 360 days per year, as the basis of the Babylonian calendar that existed at that time, the phrase is interpreted as follows:
time 360 x 1 = 360
times 360 x 2 = 720
dividing of time 360 / 2 = 180
This number comes up again in Revelation 11:3 and 12:6 as 1260 days, and in Revelation 11:2 and 13:5 as “forty and two months”: seven references altogether. But the same principle used in interpreting the seventy-weeks prophecy, that of a day standing for a year, is ignored at this point, and the period is taken literally at face value of 3½ years. But this ignores the principle acknowledged earlier, that Daniel uses the day–for–a–year Divine principle, as did Ezekiel:
“Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shall bear their iniquity. For I have laid on thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.” Ezekiel 4:4–6
The 1260 days represent a period of supremacy of the Roman beast for 1260 years, which was fulfilled in the period from the acknowledgment of the Pope as Universal Bishop by Justinian in 533AD, till the Papal power to persecute was broken by the French Revolution in 1793: a period of exactly 1260 years.
There is no evidence for the fanciful ‘rapture, then seven years in heaven’ theory. It is inconsistent with logic, and it is inconsistent with the Bible message as a whole.
There is going to be a period of tribulation on the earth, and it is clear that we will to a significant degree be exposed to it. But we will have a measure of protection, for Christ will return to take aside his saints for judgment. At the end of Arma-geddon, Jesus will set up his Kingdom, and this will continue for about 1000 years, after which sin and its effects will be completely removed from the earth forever. You can be part of that Kingdom if you are ready for Christ when he returns.
World signs show that his return is very close. In the meantime, we ask that you think about your salvation, and check for yourself the message contained in the Bible.