Seven Years of God’s Wrath Coming We Call the Tribulation

September 12, 2013 at 12:35 PM 5 comments

The way the Bible lays out the 70 "weeks"

The way the Bible lays out the 70 “weeks”

I want to briefly explore the concept of the coming Tribulation. As I mentioned in the first part of this article, the word “tribulation” can mean a number of things. It can mean general tribulation as when Jesus speaks of “trials and tribulations” that we will experience in this life (cf. John 16:33). Who can disagree with that? Life is filled with trials, troubles, and general tribulation and it is so because of the fall.

When humanity chose to believe that Satan via the serpent was the one telling the truth and followed his advice, not only was the fallen nature developed at that point, but God needed to place a curse on the entirety of His Creation. Without that curse, animals would never become afraid of men and would never die naturally. With that curse, God inserted the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics into His Creation so that even though the animals had not directly sinned, they would unfortunately suffer as humanity would. This kept everything in balance.

But there are also portions of Scripture that deal with a very specific time in the world’s history when God will pour out His wrath over the course of seven years. This is the time of the Tribulation (not “a” tribulation). As mentioned in my earlier article, God does this for two very important reasons. If you haven’t read that article, I would encourage you to do before continuing with this one.

God will show His abject anger at the world for their constant rejection of Him and He will also pour out judgments on the various nations throughout the world for the way in which they have mistreated Israel.

Let’s take a brief look at Daniel 9, where we learn about something called “seventy weeks.” In this chapter, the value of a “week” is defined for us and we ultimately learn that one “week” represents a period of seven years. Let’s take a look.

Daniel tells us that it was during the first year of Darius, a Mede. It was during that time that Daniel committed himself to prayer and it was during that prayer that Daniel confessed the sins of himself and Israel. He agreed with God about the fact that Israel had rebelled and brought disgrace to His Name.

When we arrive to verse 20 through 23, we read, “Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God, 21 while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. 22 He gave me instruction and talked with me and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. 23 At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.”

Daniel was actually interrupted during his prayer by Gabriel, who had come to provide Daniel with information about the future, a future we call the “Times of the Gentiles” based on other portions of Scripture.

From there, Gabriel tells Daniel about the future and what will happen. Gabriel’s account, even though recorded before most of the things happened, is extraordinarily accurate.

24 Seventy 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.

25 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.

26 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.

27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

Verse 27 ends chapter 9, but let me start with verse 24. Notice Gabriel says “seventy weeks have been decreed for YOUR people and YOUR holy city” (emphasis added).

Who are Daniel’s people? He is Jewish and so are his people, therefore Gabriel is speaking only of Jewish people, or the nation of Israel. I realize that some commentators take “your” to also include the Church, but that is not possible and can only be done through allegory. The same applies to the second “your” referencing “your holy city.” That city can only mean one thing: Jerusalem. It cannot refer to any other city.

But what about the “seventy weeks”? We will discuss that and finish up with that in this article. Future articles will move onto the rest of verse 24 and the other verses.

Gabriel is telling Daniel that seventy weeks are determined.  Someone might come along and say “Hey, the word weeks; what about that?  Let’s take a close look at the word “weeks” then to see what we can learn about it.

Doing a brief word study on this word provides the following information.  We note that the Hebrew word here is shābûá.  This particular Hebrew word literally means “a period of sevens.”[1]

Seventy What?
The text then should actually read like this “Seventy sevens are decreed about your people… (emphasis added).”  But what does that tell us; seventy sevens of what?  Gabriel’s use of the word sevens here is as Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum notes, a bit of a play on words (cf. Footsteps of the Messiah).  What Gabriel is saying in essence is “Daniel, it’s not 70 weeks, but 70 sevens of weeks.”

In other words, the term sevens here is no different from when we might say in English that we were going to buy a dozen eggs.  The word dozen in itself does not say what the dozen refers to, but merely indicates a quantity.  It could be a dozen eggs, a dozen, golf balls, a dozen gallons of milk, a dozen cupcakes, or anything.  We know of course that the word dozen refers only to the quantity of something.

In this way Gabriel is saying to Daniel that 70 sevens are determined for the Jews.  So how do we know what the sevens actually refers to here?  Gabriel does not follow it up with “seventy sevens of days, for instance.  The meaning of the word sevens is only determined in the context of the entire chapter.

We know from the second verse of chapter nine that Daniel had been dealing with years, “I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to  the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years,” (Dan 9:2; emphasis added).

So we know Daniel was thinking in terms of years.  That is clear from the text and indisputable.  When Gabriel arrives, he clarifies for Daniel that it is not seventy years, but in reality it will wind up being seventy sevens of years.  Seventy sevens of years equal a total of 490 years (70 x 7).  This is where the 490 years come from and provides the total number of prophetic years in which God has decreed for Israel and the Holy City.  This then, is God’s timeframe; 490 years.

Let me stop here because this has already gone longer than I wanted it to go. We’ll be back next time with more about how this relates to the Tribulation. By the way, if you would like to read about this in more detail, download my book, “Between Weeks,” as a FREE PDF here.


[1] Stephen D. Renn, Ed., Expository Dictionary of Bible Words (Peabody: Hendriksen 2005 ),1036

Entry filed under: Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, second coming. Tags: , , .

Everyone’s Talking About a Coming Collapse. Could It Happen? 70 Weeks Means 490 Years and References the Tribulation Period of Matthew 24

5 Comments

  • […] our last article dealing with aspects of the Tribulation, we went to Daniel 9 to discuss the subject of the 70 […]

  • 2. libslayer2013  |  September 12, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    Oh man this is getting good. Great graph by the way.

    IS GOD A FAN OF THE NUMBER 7 OR WHAT? 😀

    • 3. modres  |  September 12, 2013 at 7:39 PM

      Thx! And yes, He certainly appears to be;)

      • 4. libslayer2013  |  September 13, 2013 at 7:36 AM

        I’ve always wondered, why 7? Why is this number so important? Do you know.

      • 5. modres  |  September 14, 2013 at 10:46 AM

        Seven is the member of completion. Three is also important too.


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