The “great tribulation” refers to the time of crisis at the close of the age of man. Jesus spoke of “great tribulation” in Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
American King James Version×and told John to write of it in Revelation 7:14 Revelation 7:14And I said to him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
American King James Version×.
Several events are prophesied to occur during the crucial last days:
The area outside of the temple in Jerusalem will be controlled by non-Israelite powers (Revelation 11:2 Revelation 11:2But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
American King James Version×).
- The two witnesses of God will fulfill their commission (verse 3).
The beast power, a counterfeit of the Kingdom of God, will dominate world politics, religion and economics (Revelation 13:5 Revelation 13:5And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given to him to continue forty and two months.
American King James Version×).
An unparalleled “time of great trouble” will come on the people of Israel, affecting also “the holy people” (Daniel 12:1 Daniel 12:1And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
American King James Version×, 7).
Notice that a common time-period is mentioned in conjunction with these events:
- 42 months.
- 1,260 days.
- “A time, times, and half a time.”
These are variations of the same period - 3 ½ years (not seven years, as commonly suggested by many rapture-believers for the time of the great tribulation).
Note Wycliffe Commentary's notes on Daniel 12:7 Daniel 12:7And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was on the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by him that lives for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.
American King James Version×:
“The consummation is to take place when the three and one-half times (3 ½ years; 1,260 days; 42 months) so frequently mentioned in Daniel's previous prophecies and in the Revelation are run out.”
Rapture theorists base their idea of a seven-year tribulation on a single reference, Daniel 9:27 Daniel 9:27And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured on the desolate.
American King James Version×, which tells of a covenant made “for a week” by a “prince who is to come.” This prince will cut off sacrifices “in the midst of the week,” an act that will herald the beginning of the crisis at the end. A week in prophecy, goes the reasoning, represents a year and hence refers to a seven-year period.
(Some believe the prince to be the Antichrist, while others believe it is Christ. The Messiah was cut off in the midst of a week, or after 3 ½ years of His earthly ministry, as well as on a Wednesday, the middle of a literal week.)
If this is a prophecy of the Antichrist, the crisis begins “in the middle,” or after 3 ½ years, leaving another 3 ½ years remaining for the fulfillment of the close-of-the-age events mentioned above. Note as well that the period would also be the same as prophesied in the above references to the main events of the end.
Clearly the Bible does not support the idea of a seven-year tribulation.