Why the Tribulation is 7 Years Long

You may have seen people talk about how the tribulation will last for 7 years. How do people know that the tribulation will last for 7 years? Where does that number come from?

In this article, I will show you how we can know that the tribulation will last for 7 years.

The 70 Weeks of Daniel

“Tribulation” is a popular term to describe the 7-year period when most future Bible prophecy events will take place. Another term that talks about the same time frame is the 70th week of Daniel. The 70th week of Daniel comes from Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks.

Gabriel told Daniel that 70 weeks have been given to the people of Israel and the city of Jerusalem to bring about several things:

“(24) Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (25) Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” (Daniel 9:24-26)

Most Christians who study Bible prophecy agree that the first 69 weeks of this prophecy was fulfilled over several-hundred years:

  • Start of the 1st Week: The call to rebuild Jerusalem in the 20th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus’s reign (Nehemiah 2:1-5).
  • End of the 69th Week: The death and ascension of Christ.

Therefore, Gabriel did not mean 70 literal weeks where each week is 7 days in length.

The 70th Week of Daniel or Tribulation

We can find the length of a prophetic week by reviewing the 70th week of Daniel. The Antichrist will confirm a covenant with Israel and others for a “week” but will break it at the midpoint of the week.

“And he [Antichrist] 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.” (Daniel 9:27)

3.5 Year Halves

The 2nd half of the week will be a time of severe persecution. This period of time will last for “time and times and the dividing of time”:

“And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” (Daniel 7:25)

The Hebrew word for “time” is “mô‛êd”, which also can mean “a year”.

  • Nearly every commentator who analyzes Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy agrees that “time and times and the dividing of time” means 3 ½ years.
  • The 2nd half of the 70th week of Daniel is 3.5 years long, so a prophetic week is a 7-year period.

Or 1,260 Days

We learn that 3 ½ prophetic years is the same as 1260 days in Revelation 12:6, 14.

“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” (Revelation 12:14)

“And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” (Revelation 12:6)

(If we divide 1260 days by 3 ½ years we will find that a prophetic year is 360 days long)

Or 42 Months

Similarly, 3 ½ years is also defined as 42 months in Revelation 11:2-3:

“(2) But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. (3) And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” (Revelation 11:2-3)

(Therefore, a prophetic month is 30 days long as 1260 days divided by 42 months equals 30 days).

Putting It Together

Given this information, we can confirm that the 70th  week of Daniel or tribulation will last for 7 years or 2,520 days in 3 ways:

  • 30 Days (in a Prophetic Month) x 42 Prophetic Months (in Half a Prophetic Week) x 2 Halves = 2520 Days
  • 7 Prophetic Years (in a Prophetic Week) x 360 Days (in a Prophetic Year) = 2520 Days
  • 1260 Days in “Time, Times, and Half” x 2 Halves = 2520 Days.

The Great Tribulation

You may also hear of a term called the “great tribulation”. The tribulation and the great tribulation are not the same thing. Learn more about the great tribulation by reading my article called: “Why the Great Tribulation Will Be the Worst Persecution Ever“.

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Wayne Croley
Wayne Croley

Hi! I’ve studied and written about Bible prophecy since I was a teenager. My goal is to make Bible prophecy easy for you to understand while avoiding the sensationalism seen elsewhere. I am the author of several end time books, including Prophecy Proof Insights on the End Times, a comprehensive book about the end times. I hold an M.B.A. and degrees in Managerial Economics and Political Science.