Does the Bible teach that the tribulation will last for seven years?
This claim has been repeated so often, that multitudes assume it to be gospel truth without questioning whether it be so. But where is the proof of such a claim? Surely it is not found in the Bible. It is built solely on the theory that the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy refers to seven years of tribulation. Therefore, let us examine this prophecy in the light of its context and the New Testament.
Daniel 9:24-27 describes one of the most profound prophecies in the Bible concerning the promised Messiah known as the Prophecy of Seventy Weeks, which, when rightly understood, will strengthen one’s faith in the divine inspiration of God’s Word. In the King James version of the Bible, the title “Messiah” occurs only twice in the Old Testament. Both instances are found in this significant prophecy, which foretold precisely (1) when the Messiah would appear, (2) the length of His earthly ministry, (3) when He would be crucified, and (4) the six results that would be accomplished. It also foretold the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem, which occurred in 70 a.d.
As a result of reading the prophecy of Jeremiah (see Jer. 25:11,12),
Daniel, himself an exile in Babylon, realized that Israel’s
70 years of captivity in Babylon were coming to an end. Therefore,
he sought the Lord in prayer and fasting, confessing his sins and
the sins of his people in hope that the restoration would take place
as promised. In answer to his prayers, the angel Gabriel appeared
and revealed to him the Prophecy of Seventy Weeks. Thus, the 70
years of captivity were to be followed by a period of 70 weeks,
which are generally understood to mean that each week stands for
seven years. It is not unusual for the Bible to speak of “each
day for a year.” See Numbers 14:34 ; Ezekiel 4:6. Therefore,
70 weeks represent 490 years (70 x 7 = 490).
There are, however, varied interpretations and much controversy concerning Daniel’s 70th week. Some believe that an interval or “gap” of the entire Church age falls between the 69th and 70th week. Stating it briefly, according to this “gap” theory, Jesus Christ was crucified in the 69th week, and the 70th week represents seven years of Tribulation that are supposed to begin after the rapture of the Church with the Antichrist making a covenant with Israel.
The purpose of this study is to show that Jesus Christ was crucified in the 70th week, not the 69th week and that Jesus confirmed the covenant, not the Antichrist. In other words, the 70th week does not represent seven years of Tribulation, nor the rapture occurring before then, nor the Antichrist making a covenant with Israel.
Let us begin by reading Daniel 9:24. “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, to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.”
This verse tells us that “seventy weeks are determined” to the fulfillment of six predicted events. In other words, all six events are to be accomplished within the time frame of seventy weeks, not before.
But when will the seventy weeks begin and how will all six events be accomplished? This information is given in verses 25 and 26, which reads as follows: “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 time. 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.”
To understand these two verses, it is important to observe that the seventy weeks are divided into three consecutive periods of time—7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week.
• The first time frame of 7 weeks or 49 years covers the rebuilding of the city and the temple during troublesome times. It marks the beginning of the 70 weeks and begins from “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” (v. 25).
• The second time frame is 62 weeks, which is 434 years of
silence, and is also seen in verse 25. This period covers the time
from the end of the restoration period (under the prophets Haggai,
Zechariah, and Malachi) “unto” the appearance and anointing
of “Messiah the Prince” (v. 25). It includes the period
of time between the Old and New Testaments and brings us to the
end of 69 weeks. Verse 25 exhorts us, “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.”
Thus, a total of 69 weeks must be fulfilled “unto the Messiah”—7 weeks for the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple, then a period of 62 weeks would pass until the Messiah would be revealed. Therefore, since 69 weeks must be fulfilled unto the Messiah, He would be anointed and begin His earthly ministry in the 70th week, not the 69th week, as many claim.
• The third time frame is the 70th week (7 years). This period covers Christ’s whole ministry and follows consecutively “after” the 69th week (v. 26). In other words, there is not a time element or gap between the 69th and the 70th week.
By comparing Scripture with scripture, we see five scriptural proofs which show that Christ’s whole ministry was fulfilled in the 70th week, not the 69th week:
To begin with, according to verse 25, a total of 69 weeks must be fulfilled “unto the Messiah,” which means that He would be anointed and begin His earthly ministry as the Messiah in the 70th week.
On what occasion was Christ manifested to Israel as the Messiah? This name occurs only twice in the New Testament, and both instances are found soon after the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus at the time of His baptism in water (John 1:41; 4:25,26). The testimonies from Christ’s followers in John chapters 1 and 4 affirm that the baptism of Jesus marked the time of His anointing and His manifestation to Israel as the promised Messiah:
John the Baptist stated, “And I knew him not: but that he [Jesus] should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. . . . I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. . . . And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:31-34). See also Luke 3:15,16.
In verse 41, Andrew testified to his brother Peter, “We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ [the Anointed].”
In verse 45, Philip said to Nathanael, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth.”
In verse 49, Nathaniel declared to Jesus Himself, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.”
Then, in John 4:25,26, the woman at the well said to Jesus, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.”
The men of Samaria also proclaimed, “We have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” (John 4:42).
After Jesus’ ascension, the apostle Peter declared, “The Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us” (Acts 1:21,22). See also Acts 10:36-38; 13:23,24.
It should also be noted that after being anointed with the Holy Spirit, Jesus came forth preaching and saying “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14,15). No doubt He was referring to the prophecy of seventy weeks which stated that 69 weeks would be fulfilled “unto Messiah” (Dan. 9:25).
We have seen, then, three basic reasons why we know that Christ’s ministry as Messiah began at His baptism: (1) That is when God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and sent Him forth to begin His earthly ministry. (2) That is when He was recognized by others as the promised Messiah. (3) That is when Jesus declared, “The time is fulfilled.”
Here is the second proof which demonstrates that Christ’s whole ministry was fulfilled in the 70th week, not the 69th week:
Daniel 9:26 plainly states that the Messiah would be crucified “after” the 69th week, which is clearly the 70th week. It reads, “And after threescore and two weeks [that is, in addition to the first seven, making a total of 69 weeks] shall Messiah be cut off.”
In what week would the Messiah be cut off? In or during the 69th week? No! This verse plainly states that He would be cut off “after” the 69th week, which of course, is the 70th week.
Clearly, then, the 69 weeks being fulfilled “unto the Messiah” (v. 25) and “after” 69 weeks the Messiah being cut off (v. 26) refer to the same period of time. Thus, Christ was both manifested as the Messiah and crucified within the time frame of the 70th week.
Consider the third proof, which again indicates that Christ’s whole ministry was fulfilled in the 70th week, not the 69th week:
Through His death in the 70th week, the Messiah, not the Antichrist, would confirm the covenant with many for one week. Verses 26 and 27 in part reads: “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 he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.”
Notice the personal pronoun “he.” To whom does it refer? To Antichrist, as many claim, or to the Messiah? Clearly, in context it refers to the Messiah. Why? First of all, there is not the slightest hint or mention of Antichrist in the context. Messiah, the Prince, is clearly the subject of this entire prophecy.
Second, the singular pronoun “he” must refer to a noun previously used, which is clearly the “Messiah.” Some insist, however, that the pronoun “he” refers to “the prince that shall come.” But verse 26 doesn’t say that “the prince” shall come; it says “the people of the prince” shall come.
But even if that were possible, “the prince that shall come” is referring to the prince who would come with his armies to destroy Jerusalem. Obviously, then, since this event was already fulfilled in the past (70 A. D.), one does violence to the Scripture to make “the prince” pertain to one who is coming in the future, namely, the Antichrist.
Third, verse 27 does not say that “he shall make a covenant,” but that “he shall confirm the covenant.” Jesus, “the mediator of a better covenant” (Heb. 8:6), confirmed the covenant with His blood at Calvary and abolished the need of further sacrifices and offerings (Heb. 8:7-12; 10:1, 16-19; 13:20). He is “the messenger of the covenant” whom the Lord promised to send in the days of
John the Baptist (Mal. 3:1). Consider the following verses which further show that Jesus came to confirm the covenant:
• Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied that the Messiah would come “to remember his holy covenant. The oath which he sware to our father Abraham” (Luke 1:72,73).
• When instituting the Lord’s supper, Jesus said, “This is my blood of the New Testament [covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matt. 26:26-28). This statement is in direct accordance with Daniel’s prophecy: “And he shall confirm the covenant with many” (v. 27).
• The word “many” is often applied to those who
receive the New Covenant: “The gift by grace, which is by
one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Rom. 5:15). “He
shall see of the travail of his soul” and shall “justify
many” (Isa. 53:11), and shall “bring many sons unto
glory” (Heb. 2:10). Of course, we know that “many” consists
of “as many as” receive the Lord Jesus and “believe
on his name” whether Jew or Gentile (John 1:12).
• Old Testament prophecies link the coming of the Messiah with the New Covenant. See Isa. 55:3; 61:8; Jer. 31:31-34; 32:40; 33:14; Ezek. 37:25.
• The word testament is equivalent to covenant. Thus the two major divisions of the Bible could rightly be called the Old and the New Covenants.
• The apostle Paul wrote that Jesus Christ came “to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Rom. 15:8). See also Gal. 3:17.
• Moreover, the six events of Daniel 9:24 are guaranteed by the New Covenant. The New Testament associates these six events not only with the Messiah’s death, but with confirming the covenant:
1. To finish the transgression (Hebrews 9:15; 10:12-18).
2. To make an end of sins (Rom. 11:26,27; Isa. 59:20,21).
3. To make reconciliation for iniquity (Eph. 2:12-19; Heb. 9:11-15).
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness (Luke 1:67-75).
5. To seal up the vision and prophecy ( Rom. 15:8).
6. To anoint the Most Holy (Acts 13:32,33).
Therefore, since there is not the slightest hint or mention of Antichrist in the context; since Messiah, the Prince, is the subject of this entire prophecy; and since Scripture affirms that the Messiah came to confirm His covenant, there can be no doubt the personal pronoun “he” in Daniel 9:27 refers to the Messiah, not to Antichrist.
Scripture gives the fourth proof that Christ’s whole ministry was fulfilled in the 70th week, not the 69th week:
The Messiah would cause the sacrifices and offerings to cease “in the midst” of the 70th week, that is, after three and a half years of public ministry. Let’s look at highlights of Daniel 9:26,27: “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off . . . and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.”
Here we see additional facts about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In “the midst of the week,” that is, after three and one half years of public ministry, Jesus gave Himself for us as “an offering and a sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2). Thus, He not only confirmed the covenant with His own blood at Calvary’s cross, but caused the Old Testament sacrifices and offerings to cease (Heb. 10:2). The very moment Jesus died, “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matt. 27:51).
The ripping of the veil signified not only an end to the validity
of the Old Testament sacrificial system, but of the temple itself,
the priesthood, the Jews as a separate people, and Jerusalem as
a center of worship. All these Old Testament types are now fulfilled
in Christ and His Church. Moreover, Jesus opened the way for every
believer “to enter into the holiest” by His blood (Heb.
Clearly, then, the 70th week began with the opening of Christ’s public ministry at the time of his baptism when He was “about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23). Then, in “the midst of the week,” that is, after three and one half years of public ministry, Christ by His death, confirmed the covenant and caused the sacrifices and offerings to cease.
Consider the third proof which again indicates that Christ’s whole ministry was fulfilled in the 70th week, not the 69th week:
We have already read that God determined 70 weeks (not 69) to the fulfillment of the six-fold prophecy of verse 24, each of which came to pass as a result of the Messiah’s death and resurrection.
According to Daniel 9:24, “seventy weeks are determined” as the period of time in which six predictions must come to pass. Scripture indicates that they would be fulfilled by Messiah’s redemptive work at Calvary’s cross. Consider the following:
1. “To finish the transgression”—John 19:30; Heb. 9:15; Isa. 53:8.
2. “To make an end of sins”—Acts 3:26; Rom. 8:2; 11:26,27; Heb. 9:26.
3. “To make reconciliation [atonement] for iniquity”—Heb. 9:11-13.
4. “To bring in everlasting righteousness”—2 Cor. 5:21.
5. “To seal up the vision and prophecy”—Luke 24:25-27,44-47; Acts 3:18.
6. “To anoint [Jesus] the most holy” as Prophet (Acts 3:21-23); Priest (Heb. 8:1); and King (Heb. 1:8,9).
In summary, we have seen five scriptural proofs to show that Christ’s whole ministry was fulfilled in the 70th week, not the 69th week, as many claim.
Proof #1. Sixty-nine weeks would be fulfilled “unto the Messiah,” which means that He would be anointed and begin His earthly ministry as the Messiah in the 70th week.
Proof #2. The Messiah would be crucified “after” the 69th week, which is clearly the 70th week.
Proof #3. Through His death in the 70th week, the Messiah, not Antichrist, would confirm the covenant with many for one week.
Proof #4. The Messiah would cause the sacrifices and offerings to cease “in the midst” of the 70th week, that is, after three and a half years of public ministry.
Proof #5. God determined 70 weeks (not 69) to the fulfillment of the six-fold prophecy of verse 24, each of which came to pass as a result of the Messiah’s death and resurrection.
Clearly, then, the 70th week began with the opening of Christ’s public ministry at the time of his baptism when He was “about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23). Then, in “the midst of the week,” that is, after three and one half years of public ministry, Christ by His death, confirmed the covenant, and caused the sacrifices and offerings to cease. In the 70th week, He also fulfilled the six-fold prophecy of verse 24 as God had determined. Truly, Christ’s ministry, death, and resurrection were fulfilled in the 70th week, not the 69th.
We can be absolutely certain, therefore, there is not a gap between the 69th and 70th week—the seventy weeks are consecutive. In other words, the seventieth week does not speak of seven years of Tribulation, nor of the rapture occurring before then, nor of the Antichrist making and breaking a seven-year covenant with Israel.
This message is available by tape. For your free copy, write to Agnes Macdonald, 2948 Creekwood Drive, Salem, Virginia 24153.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow evening at this same time. God willing, I will be giving more evidence to show that the Bible does not speak of seven years of Tribulation. My subject will be—Does the Bible teach that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation? Invite a friend to listen with you. Until tomorrow, may God bless you and be with you.