A reader a while back asked me something along the lines of “how shall we know when the “tribulation” has definitely begun”. This is an important question to address because there is a lot of speculation about when the seventieth week of Daniel (the seven year time period that most people refer to as the “tribulation”) might begin or what people are going to see before it begins. It would be useful for us to have some definitive signposts that we look for so we do not get caught off guard when the seventieth week of Daniel does begin or get caught up in premature proclamations that the seventieth week of Daniel has already begun.
I will provide a few definitive signposts that can help us assess whether the seventieth week of Daniel has begun or is about ready to begin in this article.
Signpost 1: The Appearance of a Very Charismatic Leader from Obscurity
The Book of Daniel indicates that the Antichrist will begin his ascent from relatively humble beginnings. Daniel 7 refers to Antichrist as a “little horn” when he begins, which indicates he will be lesser in stature than other leaders (horns) initially.
“(20) And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows…(24) And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.” (Daniel 7:20, 24)
The Antichrist is not going to be an ordinary political leader. The Bible emphasizes that this he is going to be extremely charismatic; he’ll speak “very great things”.
“And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.” (Daniel 7:20)
I believe the Antichrist will possess extraordinary levels of charisma. It’s quite possible that the Antichrist’s charisma will exceeds the charisma of Adolf Hitler, who was so charismatic that many people (including his generals) described him as having a hypnotic effect on them.
Signpost 2: The Covenant with Many
Perhaps the most apparent signpost that’ll alert people that the seventieth week of Daniel has begun is the confirmation of the covenant with many. Daniel 9:27 indicates that the confirmation of the covenant with many will come at the beginning of the seventieth week:
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst 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 upon the desolate.” (Danil 9:27)
I believe it’s highly likely that people alive at that time will hear about the covenant because the Middle East does attract a significant amount of media attention. News about Middle East peace negotiations is almost always reported on the radio, Internet, and newspaper, etc. I expect the confirmation of this covenant to be a big event, so I expect it to be highly publicized.
The Bible gives us clues about the nature of the covenant. The following four characteristics might enable a person to distinguish/identify the covenant specifically spoken about in Daniel 9:27 versus a relatively unimportant covenant.
1. The Length of the Covenant
Daniel 9:27 suggests that the covenant is intended to last for “one week” (or “one seven” in Hebrew). A prophetic week is seven years long, so a person should look for an agreement that is legally in effect for seven years.
2. The Signee
Daniel 9:27 mentions that an individual “he” will confirm a covenant with many. This implies that one of the sides participating in the agreement may be an individual rather than a political organization.
- One could argue that the individual might represent a political organization like the United Nations. However, Daniel 9:27 later goes on to say that the same “he” will cause the temple sacrifice to cease and will be responsible for the establishment of the abomination that causes desolation. This would suggest that “he” is working on his own behalf rather than working on behalf of a political organization. It is difficult to imagine a political organization ordering their chief representative to stop temple sacrifice and to establish an abomination that causes desolation.
I believe “he” is the Antichrist. Therefore, a person should look to see if one of the agreeing parties is an individual working on their own behalf instead of working for a political organization. A person should be extra suspicious if “he” gets much of the credit and accolades for being the driving force behind the agreement.
3. The Nature of the Covenant
There is a lot of speculation about what terms and conditions may exist in the covenant. I believe Isaiah 28 most accurately describes the nature of the covenant. The covenant is given an ominous name in Isaiah 28: the “covenant with death”:
“(14) Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. (15) Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:” (Isaiah 28:14-15)
The covenant with death may include the Antichrist guarantying the security of Israel. Isaiah 28:15 indicates that Israelis leaders will be so overconfident that they will be protected by this covenant that they will believe they will not be harmed even if the world is collapsing around them:
“Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:” (Isaiah 28:15)
Therefore, a person should look for a covenant that is heralded as bringer of peace in the Middle East, especially by Israel’s leaders. Any peace created from an agreement is a false one because the peace will only be temporary.
4. The Timing of the Covenant
I believe the seventieth week of Daniel most likely will begin between late October and middle November of a given year. Consequently, I believe the confirmation of the covenant with many would occur during this timeframe. Therefore, a person should be particularly alarmed if a covenant is confirmed between late October and middle November and meets the other criteria mentioned above.
Signpost 3: A War Leader Dominates His Opposition
A person may be able to determine whether they are living in the seventieth week of Daniel by checking to see if the following major development is transpiring. The Book of Daniel depicts the Antichrist as a war leader who will dominate anyone who crosses his path, including the strongest of opponents:
“(36) 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. (37) Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. (38) But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. (39) Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.” (Daniel 11:36-39)
A person alive at that time can probably identify that the Antichrist is ascending when they see him fighting and defeating very strong opponents.
Signpost 4: Extreme Global Famine & Widespread Death
Revelation 6:5-8 describes extreme famine and death impacting the entire world. The famine will be so extreme that the price of wheat and barley will skyrocket to unprecedented levels:
“(5) And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. (6) And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:5-6)
Meanwhile, death will become so commonplace that a 25% of the world’s population will die from various causes, including from disease:
“(7) And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. (8) And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death [disease], and with the beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:7-8)
A person alive at that time should be able to conclude that they are living in the seventieth week of Daniel when they see extreme global famine and observe the death of a quarter of the world’s population within a short timespan.
A Potential Signpost: The Third Temple
The Antichrist cannot establish the abomination that causes desolation unless a Third Temple is built in Jerusalem and sacrifice is underway in that temple. Some speculate that the building of the Third Temple could be permitted by the covenant with many. However, the Third Temple could be theoretically built before the seventieth week of Daniel begins.
The Third Temple’s construction and completion would be a major indication that major events may soon unfold because there has not been a temple of God in Jerusalem since the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 A.D. The initiation of temple sacrifice would be even a greater indication that the Lord is readying to proceed with His end time plan.
We’re Not in the Seventieth Week Yet
I do not believe we are currently living in the seventieth week of Daniel because we have not yet seen the signposts I’ve listed. There’s not yet a “solution” to the problems in the Middle East. In addition, there has not been a war leader who has dominated the strongest military opponents in the world recently. If you would like to learn more about identifying the Antichrist, click this link for an article on the topic.