Why the Tribulation is 7 Years Long

70 Weeks

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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10 thoughts on “Why the Tribulation is 7 Years Long”

  1. Hi there, here’s why I do not believe in a seven-year tribulation:

    1 = Antichrists do not make covenants with God’s people. Only God does (Exodus 19:4-8; Jeremiah 31:31-33). It is not logical to assume, that the Antichrist makes a covenant in Daniel 9:27; when this theme is not found anywhere in Scripture.

    2 = Verse 26 mentions the “people” of the prince. Not the “prince” of the people. The context of Daniel 9:26 (the last part), is about the “people” (more than one person) of the prince. This means that the first part of Daniel 9:27 when referring to the ‘he’, could not be addressing the individuals (people) in verse 26. It goes from plural (people) to singular (he).

    3 = The only ‘he’ referred to, from Daniel 9:24-27, is the Messiah in verse 26 (first part), which says, “…Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself…” The Messiah is one person, and clearly fits the ‘he’ (one person) of Daniel 9:27.

    4 = The entire prophecy is about the Messiah. What possible reason is there, to assume that the Antichrist is the ‘he’ in Daniel 9:27?

    5 = If you take the seven years and place it in the future, how will the rest of the 2,300 year prophecy be fulfilled? As most believe, that before the supposed seven year tribulation, the church is raptured and then after the seven years Christ comes, but what about the 1,810 years that lead to the cleansing of the sanctuary? This seven year tribulation makes the Bible have an unfulfilled prophecy. The sanctuary has to be cleansed before Christ comes.

    6 = All the other time periods are continuous. Noah preached 120 years, with no break in-between. He never preached 60 years and then waited 10 years, before returning to preach for the rest of the 60 years. Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He did not fast 20 days, and then wait 5 years before fasting the rest of the 20 days. Why then, should the 2,300 year prophecy be fragmented? It doesn’t make sense.

    7 = The last week started with Jesus’ baptism (Daniel 9:25). The word ‘Messiah’ means ‘anointed.’ Jesus Christ was anointed at His baptism (Matthew 3:16-17; Acts 10:38), His name [Christ] also means Messiah (see John 1:41; John 4:25-26). He also said in Mark 1:14-15, “The time is fulfilled…” What time prophecy, before Christ, predicted His coming? The 2,300 days/year prophecy. Also, the word ‘time’ in Greek is ‘kairos’ meaning “a set or proper time.” Daniel 9:24-27 is the only time prophecy pointing to Christ as Messiah. Jesus put an end to sacrifices and offerings in His death (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14-17), which was in the middle of the week. If the sacrifices were cut off in the middle of the week, and Christ ended them at His death, clearly Christ died in the middle of the week. Also, Christ established a Covenant at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-29), and it was activated when He died (Hebrews 9:15-17).

    1. The leaders of Israel and Jerusalem do not make a covenant with God in Isaiah 28. They reach an agreement known as the “covenant with death”. I believe the covenant with death is the same covenant as Daniel 9:27. Isaiah 28:14-18:

      “(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: (16) Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (17) Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. (18) And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.”

      I do not believe the 2300-day prophecy is a prophecy of 2300 years. I believe the 2300 days pertains to an actual 2300 day period during the end times. I go over that in much more detail in my books.

      1. Hi there, here are a few reasons why we should apply a day for a year:

        1) The symbolic time periods are always found within the context of apocalyptic passages where symbols predominate. For example, the three and one half times are found in the context of four symbolic beasts, a symbolic sea, symbolic winds, symbolic clouds, symbolic horns, and a symbolic little horn. Similarly, the 1260 days are found in a context where a symbolic woman, clothed with a symbolic sun, stands on a symbolic moon, with 12 symbolic stars on her head. She is persecuted by a symbolic dragon who has seven symbolic heads, ten symbolic horns and who casts a third of the symbolic stars to the earth. In Revelation 13, the 42 months are found within a context where a symbolic composite beast, with ten symbolic horns, receives its power from a symbolic dragon. It also arises from a symbolic sea and later uses a symbolic image beast to impose a symbolic mark! The same could be said about Daniel 8. There we have a symbolic ram, a symbolic he-goat, and a symbolic little horn. It only stands to reason that if the scenes where these time periods are found in are symbolic, then the time periods must also be symbolic!!

        2) In the book of Daniel, the word ‘days’ can mean ‘years’. Daniel 1:5 refers to three years but in Daniel 1:18 the same period is described as ‘days’. The seven times of Daniel 4:25 are referred to as ‘days’ in Daniel 4:34. Daniel 5:11 speaks of the days of Nebuchadnezzar. These days were obviously years. Compare, Daniel 2:28, 44 where ‘latter days’ and ‘days of these kings’ means ‘years’. See also, Daniel 8:14, 26; 10:14; 12:13; 11:20; 11:33 in the light of Daniel 7:25; 12:7.

        3) The little horn of Daniel 7 arose among the ten horns on the head of the fourth beast (Rome). It is clear from history that the Roman Empire was fragmented when the barbarians came from the northern sector of the empire and carved it up. Daniel 7 makes it clear that there are no gaps in the historical flow of nations. The lion is succeeded immediately by the bear, the bear is immediately succeeded by the leopard, the leopard is immediately succeeded by the dragon beast, the dragon beast then sprouts the ten horns and the little horn then arises among the ten. Now, if the little horn arose among the ten and the ten were complete in 476 A. D., and the little horn ruled until the judgment (in 1844), then the three and one half times of dominion of the little horn must be 1260 years, and not literal days. If the days were literal, then the little horn would have ruled only from 476-479 A. D. But the fact is that the Roman Catholic Church ruled for 1260 years!!

  2. I also believe that the number 7 has special interpretive significance in the scriptures. Going back to the creation narrative, we see that it took 6 days for God to create the heavens and earth, and everything that dwells therein. God’s resting on day 7 represented putting His capstone on the vast array of creative works. It’s also interesting to point out that the number 6 comes into play as Revelation comes into view for their will likely be approx 6000 years of mankind before the Great Tribulation unravels before the world’s eyes. Seven can be thought of as the number of completion. God will provide the capstone on 6000 years of mankind with a 7-year Tribulation. Instead of resting, God brings creation full circle and He sends His Son back to the earth to reign.

  3. 7 years and even 3.5 years is too long if Jesus said it will be cut short for the sake of the elect.
    With severity of the calamities that the bowl judgements will pour out, mankind will be wiped out in just a few months:
    -How would people last if all living thing dies because the seas and the ocean turns in to blood
    – People will die of thirst when all drinkable waters from rkvers and streams turns into blood.
    – Those Saints with the Smyrnan spirit will be given only 10 days to live and martyred when they will be captured and rounded up by the antichrist’s minions with no difficulty at all his tracking system.

    The 7 seals encompasses the whole prophetic end timeline, from Ascension to the end of the millennium.

    7 Trumpets judgement happens at end of the millennium, the end of the age, the last 3.5 years of Daniel’s Seventy Sevens (jubilees), from 445 BC to 3003.5 AD.

  4. I know it has become the normal usage of the word, but I have always been bothered by the term “tribulation” as applied to Daniel’s 70th week. I just call it Daniel’s 70th week. Nowhere in Scripture is that term “tribulation” applied to that seven year time period. The only tribulation mentioned for that time is the great tribulation which begins at the abomination of desolation and is cut short of the entire length of the second half of that week. Up to that point it is referred to as the beginning of sorrows. The reason I dislike it is because by misnaming different time periods, it has helped lead to wrong interpretations, such as the pre-trib theory. It is because they have made the terms “tribulation” and “Day of the Lord” synonymous instead of clearly defining and delineating them, that they place the rapture at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, for they equate tribulation with wrath. They don’t even restrict it to just the second half. By calling the whole thing “tribulation” they essentially extend the great tribulation to encompass the entire seven years and then make it be God’s wrath, not distinguishing between persecution and punishment. If we define and apply the terms appropriately, it gets rid of some of the misunderstandings.

    1. I don’t really like to use the word “tribulation” myself since people tend to confuse the tribulation with the great tribulation. However, I think I really need to use the word “tribulation” now so I can reach a broader audience. The term “70th week of Daniel” is searched by people using Google around 480 times a month. Meanwhile, tribulation is searched over 27,000 times a month by people using Google.

      1. Yes, I get where you are coming from. It’s a matter of getting people to listen first, and to do that you have to cater to certain things.

    2. Well, we have to realize that the New Testament was written in Greek. The Greek word thlipseos is used both in Matt. 24 in the Olivet Discourse to describe the period of suffering that will never be surpassed in the entirety of the world’s existence. Thlipseos is also used in Revelation 7:14 to describe the throng in Heaven who have made it through the Great Tribulation. οἱ ἐρχόμενοι ἐκ τῆς θλίψεως τῆς μεγάλης means “those who are coming out of the Great Tribulation.” FYI μεγάλης is megales or great, θλίψεως is thlipseos or “persecution, affliction, distress, tribulation.” It’s also noteworthy that Rev. 7:14 in Greek renders this in capital letters.

    3. Well, we have to realize that the New Testament was written in Greek. The Greek word thlipseos is used both in Matt. 24 in the Olivet Discourse to describe the period of suffering that will never be surpassed in the entirety of the world’s existence AND in Revelation 7:14 to describe the throng in Heaven who have made it through the Great Tribulation. οἱ ἐρχόμενοι ἐκ τῆς θλίψεως τῆς μεγάλης means “those who are coming out of the Great Tribulation.” FYI μεγάλης is megales or great, θλίψεως is thlipseos or “persecution, affliction, distress, tribulation.” It’s also noteworthy that Rev. 7:14 in Greek renders this in capital letters. I believe our planet has been in the “Beginning of Sorrows” for probably a hundred or more years. That just indicates the time period right before the Great Tribulation occurs. If you look at Revelation in terms of the breaking open of the seals, the ONLY time of peace occurs in the first seal. Everything after that looks gruesome and grisly, except for the celebrations in Heaven for His saints and the final Hallelujah in Rev. 19.

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