Let’s spend some time looking a little more closely at what Scripture teaches about the seven-year Tribulation. How do we arrive at a figure of seven years as being the length of the Tribulation? We must study the book of Daniel, which, besides the book of Revelation, is probably the most revealing book of the Bible relative to the end times.
In the ninth chapter of his book, we find that Daniel is a captive in Babylon with his fellow Jews. While studying the book of Jeremiah, Daniel discovered that the length of Jewish captivity in Babylon would be seventy years (see Dan. 9:2; Jer. 25:11-12). Realizing that that seventy-year period was almost completed, Daniel began to pray, confessing the sins of his people and asking for mercy. In response to his prayer, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and revealed Israel’s future right through the time of the Tribulation to the return of Christ. The prophecy contained in Daniel 9:24-27 is one of the most amazing in Scripture. I’ve quoted it below along with my bracketed comments:
Seventy weeks [these are obviously weeks of years, as we will see, or a total of 490 years] have been decreed for your people [Israel] and your holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression [ possibly the culminating act of Israel’s sins—the crucifixion of their own Messiah], to make an end of sin [ probably a reference to Christ’s redemptive work on the cross], to make atonement for iniquity [ no doubt a reference to Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross], to bring in everlasting righteousness [the beginning of the earthly reign of Jesus in His kingdom], to seal up vision and prophecy [ perhaps a reference to the end of the writing of Scripture, or to a fulfilling of all pre-millennial prophecy], and to anoint the most holy place [ possibly a reference to the establishing of the millennial temple]. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem [this decree was be made by King Artaxerxes in 445 B.C.], until Messiah the Prince [the Lord Jesus Christ] there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks [a total of 69 weeks, or 483 years]; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress [that is the rebuilding of Jerusalem, previously destroyed by the Babylonians]. Then after the sixty-two weeks [that is, 483 years after the decree of 445 B.C.] the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing [Jesus will be crucified in 32 A.D., if we calculate by the Jewish calendar of 360 days per year], and the people [the Romans] of the prince who is to come [the antichrist] will destroy the city and the sanctuary [a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by Titus and the Roman legions]. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he [the “prince who is to come”—the antichrist] will make a firm covenant with the many [Israel] for one week [or seven years—this is the Tribulation period], but in the middle of the week [at about three and a half years] he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations [when the antichrist sets himself in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, calling himself God; see 2 Thes. 2:1-4] will come one who makes desolate [Jesus will return], even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate [the defeat of the antichrist by Jesus] (Dan. 9:24-27, emphasis added).