DANIEL’S 70TH WEEK
Several people call this time the Tribulation Period or the Great Tribulation. This is going to be a 7 year period in which are some of the worst wars, famines, deaths, and other terrible things that this planet has, or ever will, see. Mankind will be at his worst, because they have walked so far away from God that they will not accept Him even though they realize they are going through judgments from God. And yes, God will be judging people. The Lamb of God will open up 7 seals on a scroll, and we will see terrible things happening. 7 angels will blow 7 trumpets, and again terrible things will happen. 7 angels will pour out the 7 bowls of God’s wrath against the world and more terrible things will happen. Also during this time, a very powerful man will rise to power who is inspired and led of Satan himself. We refer to him as the Antichrist. Although in the book of Revelation, he is referred to as the Beast. This person is against Jesus; he will deceive many people into thinking that he is the Christ. He will appear to be a man of peace, until he steps into the place of God to proclaim himself as god; then will come wars, famines and pestilences which will kill about half of the people on the planet. During this time we also see the ultimate manifestation of the rebellion of man, the apostasy of Israel, the Rapture of the Church, the consummation of the “times of the Gentiles”, the spiritual rebirth of Israel, the destruction of the armies of the world at Armageddon and the defeat of the Antichrist and Satan. Not only in this time does God send his judgments against this planet, but this is a time when His wrath comes against this planet.
But you say that God is a God of love, and a God of love would never let any terrible things like this happen. Yes, God is a God of love. That is why He sent His only begotten Son as an innocent and helpless baby to live a pure life and then die for our sins. He has sent the best gift that He could to give us eternal life. So all we have to do is accept Jesus into our lives as Lord and Savior and He will give us the help to live the lives that He expects from us. What many people fail to realize is that God is not only a loving God, but He is also jealous and holy. He cannot just look upon our sin and smile it away because we are just being children. He has given us His Holy standard in the Bible and He expects us to live by it. He is not a double standard God who tells us to live one way but He lives another way. God lives by His word in such a way and with such passion and love that we cannot comprehend that love or live anywhere near that standard. 1 Cor. 1:25 says: “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Since God is a Holy God, He does have to judge us for the sins that we have done and the right that we should have done, but did not. We do have to account for our lives. The End Times we will go through is part of God’s judgment against the earth.
But it is not just God taking out His anger on mankind. God does have a purpose in having this Tribulation period. Actually, He has 6 purposes which we find it in Dan. 9:24.
1. “To finish the transgression” God loves His people Israel. But they rejected Jesus as their Messiah. This is a time when God has set aside to “be a time of trouble for Jacob” per Jer. 30:7. This will finish this transgression of Israel and bring them to their Messiah.
2. “to put an end to sin” The end of this period Satan will be bound up, which will bring an end to the tempter and man’s sin.
3. “to atone for iniquity” This is a reference to the revival that will happen to the people of Israel when they come to Jesus as their Messiah.
4. “To bring in everlasting righteousness” At the end of this time Jesus will come for His 2nd return and then set up His Millennial Kingdom. There will be a brief insurrection at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, but it will be very short lived so it won’t interfere with the final period of righteousness and peace.
5. “to seal both vision and prophet” When Israel has come to their Messiah and Jesus sets up His eternal reign, there will be no need for visions and prophecy.
6. “to anoint a most holy place” This is probably in reference to Mount Moriah, where Solomon’s Temple was built over the place where Abraham was going to sacrifice his son Isaac. Currently the Dome of the Rock, the 3rd most holy site in Islam, is sitting in this place. The Temple will probably be set up so that it will never be torn down.
How will this period begin?
The entire 7 year period of the Tribulation is correctly called the 70th Week, as found in Daniel. This 70th Week can be divided into 2 periods of 3 ½ years. The first 3 ½ years is the Tribulation and the last 3 ½ years is the Great Tribulation. It is this last 3 ½ years that will see the Day of the Lord and 7 bowls of God’s Wrath be poured out. Whereas the first 3 ½ years won’t be a walk in the park, it will have its devastation, the final 3 ½ years will be the worst that this planet has seen or will ever see.
Keep an eye on the Middle East; that is where it will begin. Ezekiel 38 talks about several nations invading Israel. Iran will be among the nations starting it, and it looks like they will drag Russia down into this fight. But God will give Israel the help needed to defeat this attack. We don’t know exactly how it will begin, but these nations will probably be involved in it.
The beginning of the Tribulation is told about in Dan 9:26-27. That is when the Antichrist, “the prince who is to come” will make a covenant in the Middle East to make peace with Israel for 7 years. It could be a covenant to end this war with Russia. But the Antichrist will break this covenant in the middle of the 70th Week. It is this covenant that will be the trigger that starts the prophetic clock to begin this final 7 year period.
The way the Antichrist will break this covenant? The Temple will have been rebuilt in Jerusalem. We do not know if it will be rebuilt before the 70th Week, or during the first part of it. Dan 9:27 and Mt. 24:15 speak about that the Antichrist will commit the abomination of desolation. That is, he will stand in the Holy of Holies in the Temple and proclaim himself god. The Holy of Holies is a very sacred place inside the Temple. There is only 1 person who can go there; that is the High Priest. Then he can only go there one time of the year (The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur) to make atonement for the people’s sins.
This abomination of desolation has happened once in history; by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 BC. He ruled the Seleucid Empire between 175 BC till his death in 164 BC. Antiochus Epiphanes not only entered the Holy of Holies, but he also sacrificed a pig there. And although there are some Bible teachers who will argue that the abomination of desolation happened when Antiochus Epiphanes did it; it could not have been him. This occurred well before the time of Jesus. If Antiochus Epiphanes had committed this abomination, Jesus would not have mentioned it in Mt. 24:15; so we know this is still a future event.
The Apostle Paul has told us that there will be a blessed event sometime during the End Times in which the Lord will take His people up directly into heaven, and many Bible teachers believe that Christians won’t have to go through the suffering of the 70th Week. This is found in I Th. 4:15-17, “For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” Jesus will pick up His believers from the earth and take them directly to Heaven to be with Him. He is a God of love and mercy; He doesn’t want His people to suffer through the worst period there will be. So He will take us up out of here. These believers will be like Elijah and Enoch, who never suffered with death, instead they went to be directly with the Lord. But the Lord will only come for those who follow Him, even though non-believers might be right beside them. Mt. 24:40-41 “Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.” It might even be someone’s brother or sister, mom or dad, husband or wife that they are together with when the Lord calls the Christians up for the Rapture. No matter how close they are to the believer, the Lord will not take that person up into heaven. They will remain on the earth to suffer through the 70th Week because they chose not to follow Jesus. They might even believe in Jesus, that He is the Son of God, but they have not made the commitment to accept Him into their lives as Lord and Savior. Nonetheless, they will be left behind because they have not made the decision to follow Jesus. They will have to live through the tough times. They might even accept the Lord right after their loved one goes up, but midnight has occurred, the bridegroom has called the guests into the wedding; they have missed that chance to go straight to the wedding party. They now have to live in the darkness; and it will be a mighty dark time. But these unbelievers have not lost their chance at salvation; they will just have to endure some physical suffering for it if they do let Jesus in to their heart, because there will be a terrible persecution of the church.
WHEN WILL THE RAPTURE OCCUR?
The concept of the Rapture has only actually been around for a couple of hundred years, and no one knows exactly when it will occur. Some speculate that since Jesus has fulfilled many of the Jewish holidays, that the Rapture could occur during the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah. This is partly because Jesus said in Mt. 24:31, “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” No one knows for sure, but there is a chance it will happen on Rosh Hashanah.
As for when during the Great Tribulation it will occur, there are 4 different views of when it will occur.
Pre-tribulational – Before the 70th week of Daniel
Mid-tribulational – In the middle of the 70th week
Post-tribulational – At or near the end of the 70th week
Pre-wrath – Right before the opening of the 7th seal, which will be sometime in the 2nd half of the 70th week.
While Evangelicals agree that the Rapture will occur, they do not all agree on when the Rapture will occur. Each teaching has its strengths along with its weaknesses. Some churches have a particular view as part of their core doctrines. Others have a belief about it, but don’t make it a core doctrine. Much can be said about each of these views, as books have been written about them. But let me give you a condensed view about each one so you have a bit of an understanding of where they come from.
This is the oldest and most commonly believed of the four. It is one of the 16 Fundamental Truths of the Assemblies of God, of which I used to attend. Pastor Chuck Smith taught “Jesus wants every generation to believe it will be the last is that it maintains a purity in our lives.” This teaching can be traced back to John Darby and the Plymouth Brethren in 1830. It is based on the doctrine of immanency; that is, that Christ can come back at any time without the need of any prophetical event happening first. The theme of imminence runs throughout the Bible. All of the teaching regarding the Lord’s return emphasizes that it will happen suddenly, without warning. Even believers in the early days of the church lived in this expectancy. This teaches that Jesus will come back and take the church, and then the 70th Week will begin.
Pretribulationalists believe that the 70th Week is for judgment against Israel and not for the church. It will be the time of Jacob’s trouble; God will be dealing directly with the Jewish people to bring them to their Messiah. Therefore, Jesus will rapture His Church out of here before this terrible time so we don’t have to suffer through it. A good part of their reasoning is in Matthew 24:36-39 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Nobody knows exactly when the rapture will occur, not even God’s holy angels. We know that God wanted to save Noah from the flood, but God did not let that flood begin until Noah was safe and secure in the ark. God does let us go through trials and tribulations, but this is seen as proof that God will spare us from the 70th Week. That He will pull us up into the safety of His arms before He lets the Tribulation period begin.
Another reason to believe in the Pre-Trib Rapture is found in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. Here Paul says that certain things must take place before the Day of the Lord can begin. A person called the man of sin, or the Antichrist, must appear. Verse 7 says that before Antichrist can appear, the restraining power that has been holding him back must be removed. Many believe that this restraining power is the Church. So when the church is gone, then the Antichrist can reveal himself. It is also believed that this restraining power could be the Holy Spirit. Since the Lord has promised that the Holy Spirit will never leave a Christian, then the Christians must be raptured away for the Holy Spirit to leave the earth. Thus the Holy Spirit, and true Christians, will be raptured away before the Antichrist makes himself known.
The Bible warns us to be watchful for the Lord’s appearing. It never teaches to watch for the Great Tribulation or the appearance of the Antichrist. If we were watching for these events, then it would destroy the teaching of imminence that is throughout the New Testament. That is why we are to be looking for the Rapture, and not the 7 year period to begin.
This is more recent in origin. It was first written about in a book in 1941 by Norman B. Harrison. Many people believe this a mediating position. They see some truths to Pre-tribulation and Post-tribulation arguments, but see faults in each position. This position believes that the Rapture will happen 3-½ years into the 70th Week, or exactly halfway through it. Since the first part of the 70th Week is the Tribulation, and the 2nd week the Great Tribulation, they see Christians going through some of the Tribulation, but they believe this is when the Rapture will happen because Christians will not have to suffer through the bowls of wrath during the Great Tribulation. There are a few places where 3-1/2 years is implied.
A big reason for this belief is found in Dan 7:25 “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” Mid-Tribulationists believe this time, times and dividing of time shows that Christians will go through a persecution from the Antichrist for 3-1/2 years.
This position is not held by very many teachers.
A note on the previously mentioned 2 Thessalonians 2:7; about the one who holds the Antichrist from making himself known. This passage does not keep Mid-Trib, Pre-Wrath or Post-Tribbers from expecting the rapture to come first. The Bible does not specify who it is that is taken out of the way. In the Old Testament, Job was under God’s protection from Satan; but God pulled that protection away from Job so Satan could harm, but not kill, him. It could be that God pulls away some protection in that time and gives Satan the ability to cause more damage on this earth. Maybe it is some protecting angels that are pulled back; we are not specifically told who it is.
This is the viewpoint that is most recent in origin. It has been put forth by Marvin Rosenthal in his book “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church”. Whereas it does have similarities to the Mid-Tribulation viewpoint, it has some variances that help to explain some discrepancies that Mid-Tribulation cannot explain. So it is not the same theory. Rosenthal also puts forth that the Church will have to go through most of the 70th Week and struggle through the trials and problems that are associated with the largest portion of that period. But instead of the Rapture occurring exactly halfway through it, the Rapture will occur in the second half of the 70th Week, right before the 7 bowls of God’s wrath are poured out. The premise being that God has not promised to keep His people from suffering tribulation, but will keep them away from His wrath.
The Pre-Wrath view uses the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 its guideline, going in a linear, chronological sequence of Jesus’ account of the End Times; this being in parallel to the seals of Revelation 6 in nature. Its timeline goes like this:
1. Mt. 24:19 talks about the beginning of birth pains, these are wars, famines and earthquakes that will happen around the world. This lasts around 3.5 years after the Antichrist makes a 7 year covenant with Israel.
2. The Antichrist commits the ‘abomination of desolation’ and begins his reign. This begins the great tribulation, a time of unequaled worldwide distress and persecution of Christians.
3. Sometime during this period, the sun will be darkened and the moon won’t give any light (Joel 2:10, Mt. 24:29). This coincides with Rev 6:12, the opening of the 6th seal, when the sun turns black and the moon blood red. It is these cosmic disturbances that signal the approach of the Day of the Lord.
4. Next, Jesus appears, coming on the clouds of the air and the Rapture of the church will occur. This coincides with Rev. 6:12 when people call out “hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”
5. God’s wrath is poured out on the remaining unbelievers with the remaining trumpets and bowls mentioned in Revelation, this is called the ‘day of the Lord’ (Joel 2:11). Since the Lords Second Coming and the Rapture have occurred, Christians will have avoided God’s wrath, thus the term ‘Pre-Wrath Rapture’.
This position espouses the belief that the church will have to go entirely through 70th Week period. At the end of this period of God’s wrath, then will Jesus come back on the earth. There are a few scriptures that they use for this belief. Mt. 24:29-31 (ESV) “Immediately ‘after the tribulation of those days’ the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. ‘And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other’. Notice how it says ‘immediately after the tribulation’ of those days. So this passage indicates that it is after the Tribulation when Jesus will send out His angels with a trumpet call and gather together the elect, or believers.
Also in 1 Th. 4:15-17; “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that ‘we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord’, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 ‘After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up’ together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” Post Tribulationists will show how this passage shows that any believers who are still alive after the Tribulation when the Lord comes back; these are the ones who will be Raptured. It indicates how some believers will no longer be alive, that they might have been killed for their faith. So you see; it is a matter of perspective when you are reading this passage as to the way you interpret it.
One big difference that separate Post-Tribulation from Pretribulation, Midtribulation and PreWrath beliefs, is that Post-Tribulation view holds that Christians will not be exempt from the Great Tribulation. So they believe any surviving Christians will have to go through this entire period before they are raptured away. They more hold that this is a time of God’s judgment of the earth, not His wrath.
Personally, I am a pan Tribulationist, I think it is going to pan out God’s way. Whereas I am hoping for the Pre-tribulation Rapture, I am expecting the Pre-Wrath Rapture. There are passages of Scripture that say that believers will be killed during the 70th Week. Yet if the Pre-tribulation Rapture is true, then all the saints will be taken away before the 70th Week occurs. They will say that after the saints disappear, then many people will accept Jesus into their lives and these will be the ones who lose their lives. They point to the 144,000 in Rev. 7:1-8 as being evangelists who go throughout the world witnessing of Jesus so many people come to know the Lord. Those Christians who come to faith during the Tribulation are the ones who will be slain. But this passage only says that these 144,000 are 12,000 of each of the tribes of Israel that are sealed. In Rev. 14:1-5 we see these 144,000 again, but it indicates that they are the only ones who were redeemed from the earth, as they are the only ones who could sing the new song before the throne of God. No indication that they successfully evangelized anyone.
We can speculate about when the Rapture will happen, and nobody knows for sure. There are several intelligent and knowledgeable theologians and Bible teachers who have read the various passages of the Bible and come up with different conclusions. But one thing is for sure; we need to be ready for whenever it occurs. If it is Pre-tribulation, we need to be found righteous and holy in God’s eyes now; to be doing His work so we can avoid the 70th Week. But if the Mid-tribulation, Pre-Wrath or Post-tribulation views are correct, we need to have a strong relationship with the Lord so that we will be able to endure the trials we will have to go through during the 70th Week. Many people will fall away from the Lord during the End Times, and we do not want to be one of them. This is why I believe that we cannot rest our hope in the Pre-Tribulation rapture. Because if our eyes are fixed that the Lord will take us away before the Tribulation, and he doesn’t, many people will fall away from the Lord because they have their hopes in the wrong belief. We might have to go through some, or all, of the 70th Week, and we will need the strength of the Lord to make it through. If we are not prepared to go through it, our faith could falter and we could give in to doing what God has commanded us not to do. God never promised that we would not be persecuted. He said we would be persecuted and will have to endure hard times. But He has promised to give us the strength, joy and peace that are needed to go through those times. That strength is not promised for people who just call themselves believers, but only for those who seek after the Lord. Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.
The Bible does mention that a lot of people who proclaim some kind of faith in the Lord will fall away from Him in the End Times. To what degree they had faith, we do not know. 2 Th. 2:3 (NASB) “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.” Paul shows us here that this great apostasy will occur when the Antichrist appears. The definition of apostasy, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is ‘renunciation of a religious faith’. So these people had to have had some kind of faith in Jesus, or else Paul could not have called this an apostasy. If it is a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, these people probably were not truly saved in the first place. But if one of the other 3 views are correct, then some true Christians might give in to bad teachings that will draw them away from the living God and unto the Antichrist, who will try to appear as the Christ.
Let me give you this, as a personal theory, who again hopes for, but does not trust in, the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Let us say that Christians are expecting the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, but that does not happen. The Antichrist appears so that Christians have to live through the beginning of the 7 year Tribulation period, they have to suffer through persecution and see some of the Tribulation events start to unfold before them. How many weak Christians might give in and renounce the Lord? The pressure will be on; they might not be able to take the persecution because they have been taught that God wants to bless us. This is another reason why I want to warn Christians, so we know to be strong in case we do have to go through part or all of the Tribulation period. We are not to give up our faith because the world is turning against us; because our hope is in Heaven, not upon the earth.
NO ONE KNOWS THE TIME
Whereas I, and many other Christians, believe we are in the End Times, we do not know for sure. There are many famous predictions of when the End Times will begin. I even found where Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel predicted the generation of 1948 would be the last generation, and that the world would end by 1981 at the latest. Some are false prophets; some are well meaning Christians who are just mistaken. Jesus said in Acts 1:7 that it is not for us to know the times or the dates when He will come back, but we are just to be His witnesses. So let us be found doing God’s work for our lives and being ready for whatever is in store for us.