MISCONCEPTION: The Seven Year Tribulation
The seven year tribulation is very possibly the greatest misconception of End-time Bible prophecy. Many Bible teachers, including most of our well known scholars today, assume that the seven year tribulation is another term for Daniel’s 70th week. This assumption has brought much confusion to our understanding of how the end-times will play out at the conclusion of this current age, known as the age of grace. The apostle Paul warned us that the time would come when myths and/or fables would be taught instead of the truth of God’s word, and I believe we have been living in those days for quite some time now.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
What started out as a simple assumption has become a great misconception that has distorted the perception of countless believers, making it very difficult to have a solid understanding of the end-times. It has even muddied the water of all rapture theories (pre-, mid- and post-tribulation rapture), which were designed to more easily classify the various rapture views or positions held by individual scholars. Have you ever tried looking for something in muddy water? Unless the object you’re seeking is very close to the surface, you can forget about seeing whatever you’re looking for. Likewise, so goes our vision of the end-times when we start jumping to conclusions by adding our assumptions, misconceptions and pre-conceived beliefs to the truth we are given in God’s word. This is not a good mix.
It’s true that Daniel’s 70th week will last seven years (Dan. 9:24-27). Seventy (70) weeks of years were determined for the people of Israel (70×7=490 years), beginning from the command to rebuild Jerusalem, which was destroyed by the Babylonians, until the anointing of the Most Holy (Christ). However, Christ was cut off (crucified) after only 69 weeks (483 yrs), which left the 70th week or final seven years remaining to be fulfilled before He returns. These are the final seven years the world will witness just before the second coming of Christ, when the King of kings and Lord of lords returns with His saints to rule and reign on the earth for 1000 years, which is commonly known as the millennial Reign of Christ.
Now, since we know that Christ was, in fact, cut off after 69 weeks (483 yrs) according to Scripture, we also know that Daniel’s 70th week (final 7 yrs) still remains and has not yet been fulfilled. These final seven years must be fulfilled according to Scripture, however, the same can not be said of the so-called seven year tribulation. Although these two terms are commonly used interchangeably, they are not and can not be the same thing. Seven years remain unfulfilled, but there is no mention of a seven year tribulation anywhere in God’s word. There is simply no such thing. Now let me tell you why I believe this, then I’ll provide the Scripture to support my claim.
There are two glaring contrasts here. The days of tribulation actually begin in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week (7 years), after the abomination of desolation, according to Scripture and most scholars agree. But not only does the tribulation begin at the mid-point of the final seven years, but Scripture also tells us that the days of tribulation are cut short for the sake of the elect. Daniel’s 70th week (7 yrs), on the other hand, can not be cut short at all, unless, of course, the prophet Daniel gave us a false prophecy, which is not even remotely possible. We know that Daniel could not have been a false prophet, because Christ, Himself, points back to Daniel’s prophecy in Matthew 24 and Mark 13.
Daniel 9:24-26Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.  So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.  Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
In the passage above we see (7) sevens [49 yrs.], then another (62) sevens [434 yrs.], which equal 69 weeks or 483 years and then Christ was cut off, which leaves the final seven years or Daniel’s 70th week remaining (see passage below). Also notice the abomination of desolation begins at the mid-point or middle of the final seven years.
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.
And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
Here’s more about the abomination of desolation in the passages below.
And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
Now lets take a look at the abomination of desolation, along with the time remaining to the end:
And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.
Now here’s the kicker. From the passage of Scripture above, we can understand that Daniel’s 70th week will not be shortened at all. From the abomination of desolation in the middle of the seven years, we see not only the alloted 1260 days, 42 months and/or 3 1/2 years, but we also see an extension of 30 days (1290), with another addition of 45 days (1335) as well. Scripture is not clear as to what will happen during these two extensions, but it should be as plain as day that the days of Daniel’s 70th week will not and can not be shortened at all, and that the end must come at the time appointed. However, the same can not be said of the tribulation, which proves that the two are as different as night and day. Now let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about the tribulation.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.  When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)  Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:  Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:  Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.  And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!  But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
In the passage above, Christ, Himself, is telling us that the tribulation will begin after the abomination of desolation occurs, at the mid-point of Daniel’s 70th week of seven years, just as Daniel said it would. It shows the same exact starting point, but there is something here that is also very different. The days of tribulation will be shortened for the sake of the elect, otherwise no flesh would be saved. This creates another problem for scholars assuming the tribulation is seven years in duration. And not only are the days shortened, but Christ also tells us that no one knows when the days of tribulation will be shortened, not Christ, nor the angels, but only His Father in heaven knows. Two things are certain here. The tribulation is not a seven year period of time and Daniel’s 70th week can not be shortened.
It seems that some scholars have created for themselves another tribulation out of thin air. They want us to believe the first 3 1/2 years of Daniel’s 70th week are the tribulation, and the second 3 1/2 years are the great tribulation. They describe the first half as a pseudo-peace or false peace, and the second half as the great tribulation. The trouble is that a pseudo-peace would not resemble the tribulation that Christ speaks of in any way. Furthermore, there is absolutely no mention anywhere in Scripture of a tribulation occurring before the abomination of desolation. Christ has referred to this terrible time as both, the great tribulation (Matt. 24:22), and the tribulation (Matt. 24:29).
Since this thread shows what the tribulation is not, next time I’ll discuss what the tribulation actually is. Stay tuned.