How Long Is the Great Tribulation?

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How Long Is the Great Tribulation?

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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 and told John to write of it in Revelation 7:14.

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).
  • 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).

An unparalleled "time of great trouble" will come on the people of Israel, affecting also "the holy people" (Daniel 12:1, 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 1/2 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:

"The consummation is to take place when the three and one-half times (3 1/2 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, 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 1/2 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 1/2 years, leaving another 3 1/2 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.