Have you heard the theory of the 7 year tribulation and rapture of the church? Daniel 9: 23-27 is used to promote this theory and its timing.
Amplified Version: “At the beginning of your prayers, the word giving an answer went forth, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved. Therefore consider the matter and understand the vision.
Seventy weeks of years, or 490 years are decreed upon your people and upon your holy city[Jerusalem, to finish and put an end to transgression, to seal up and make full the measure of sin, to purge away and make expiation and reconciliation for sin, to bring in everlasting righteousness (permanent moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation) to seal up vision and prophecy and prophet, and to anoint a Holy of Holies.
Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until the coming of] the Anointed One, a Prince, shall be seven weeks of years and sixty-two weeks of years; it shall be built again with city square and moat, but in troublous times.
And after the sixty-two weeks of years shall the Anointed One be cut off or killed and shall have nothing and no one belonging to and defending Him. And the people of the other prince who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood; and even to the end there shall be war, and desolations are decreed.
And he shall enter into a strong and firm covenant with the many for one week [seven years]. And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and offering to cease [for the remaining three and one-half years]; and upon the wing or pinnacle of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the full determined end is poured out on the desolator.”
According to the 7 year pre-rapture theory of the last days, the one week (7 years) of verse 27 have yet to be fulfilled. And they often call this the time of Jacob’s trouble. They propose that being this time only applies to the Jews, the Christians will have already been raptured to heaven by Jesus. Therefore, only the Jews and unbelievers need to go through the 7 years tribulation. They also use verse 27 to teach that at the beginning of these 7 tribulation years, a covenant will be made between the Jews and the antichrist. But after 3 1/2 years, the antichrist will be an abomination to God by standing in the temple and proclaiming himself god.
What if this interpretation is wrong? What if the church is not raptured out of the last days time of tribulation (trouble) that we read about in Revelation?
There are different ways to interpret Revelation. Much of it is written in “parable” form and our Western mindset does not understand the Hebrew mindset, unless we put some study into it. Another reason, is that we do not know ancient Mid East history. At one point, I believed the 7 year tribulation and rapture theory because that is what I was taught. Today, after doing some studying and research, I do not agree with the popular version of the pre-rapture theory and the 7 year tribulation. I will explain.
I discovered that this 7 year tribulation and rapture theory was first promoted by John Darby and The Scofield Study Bible in about 1832. The early church Christian writers like Irenaeus (who studied under the Apostle John), Tertullian, and Justin Martyr did not hold this view. I read some of their writings.
So, I decided to study and research it only by the lead of the Holy Spirit and not by other recent authors’ books or studies. I asked God to help me find the Truth in His Word by my own study. The first thing I did was to read the whole Bible from Genesis through Revelation. The whole Bible is consistent. And, I discovered that it reveals that the same patterns happen over and over again. Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
I also found that God’s Word only mentions Jesus coming to earth twice…once as the Son of Man born in a stable and the second time as the Son of God from heaven, coming again as King. The Bible says nothing about Him coming in between those times, just for His people in a rapture. I began to learn the scripturally, the rapture or “catching away” of God’s people comes immediately previous to Jesus return as King…we are caught together with Him before the wrath of God comes against all the evil in the world. In Revelation, this is just before the bowls of wrath are spilled out.
You will likely find many new thoughts as you read through my studies. I believe they are scriptural (to my current understanding). Yet, I know that I do not know everything…and if someone can find an error with scripture to prove it, then I am happy to investigate and revise my thoughts as necessary. Parts of my interpretation of Revelation were believed by many in the past and are still believed by many today.
How then do we understand these scriptures in Daniel 9, if they do not relate to the last days of man before the return of Jesus? Daniel had been praying and asking God concerning how long the Hebrew Jews would be held captive in Babylon (reference the first verses of chapter 9). In verses 25-27, God is telling Daniel that from the commandment to build and restore the temple in Jerusalem until the coming of the Messiah, would be 7 weeks of years (49 years) and 62 weeks (434 years) of years and there would be a final period of 1 week (7 years). But these would still be troublesome times for Israel.
History shows that the first 49 years were in building and restoring Jerusalem and the Temple. It was a long and difficult task. You can find some of this in Britannica Encyclopedia. We can also read about the decree of Cyrus to rebuild and these building years in 2 Chronicles 36:23, Ezra, and Nehemiah. After the next 434 years, Jesus, the Anointed One, was killed (cut off) with no one willing to identify with Him or defend Him. Then we hear about the final years of Daniel’s ancient Israelite people (descendants of Abraham) in Jerusalem. In 70 AD, Jerusalem is destroyed and the people scattered across the earth. That is the final period of 1 week (7 years), the time of Jacob’s trouble.
Here is more history of those years: After the time of Jesus (33AD), Rome still governed the land, but Jerusalem was still managed by corrupt Judean kings. This was an agreement something like…Rome saying if you do not cause trouble, obey our military and leaders, and pay taxes, we will let you live in your country under your customs and religions. However, the Jewish populations began small revolts due to Rome’s high taxes and strict controls. In 66AD, the Jews organized for the The First Jewish Revolt against Rome. The revolt was successful in expelling the Romans from Jerusalem and setting up a revolutionary government that also began to influence the surrounding areas. This peace time without Roman rule lasted until the Roman attack on Jerusalem in 70 AD (3 1/2 years later).
The attack began quietly as the Roman armies allowed Jewish pilgrims to enter Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. This gave Christian Jews time to remember Jesus prophesy (Matthew 24) and flee Jerusalem before the devastation. Then, the Roman armies locked down the city in an attempt to starve them out. Eventually, Rome came in like a flood with desolations to destroy the city and temple sanctuary, thus causing sacrifices to cease.
The ancient Jewish historian Josephus wrote about this event. It was horrendous with over one million killed. The walls of the temple came down just as Jesus had prophesied to his disciples in Matthew 24. The abomination of paganism in the Temple including the Romans in the Holy of Holies caused it to be desolate of God’s presence. The Arch of Titus in Rome still shows the motif of the Roman armies bringing home the holy treasures of the Temple. Plus, in spite, the Romans built their fortress and military base on the place the temple had stood.
The last Jewish Zealot survivors perished in AD 73 (about 3 1/2 years later)at the mountain fortress of Massada, about fifty-six kilometers southwest of Jerusalem above the western shore of the Dead Sea. The time from the First Jewish Revolt in 66AD to the final blow at Massada in 73 AD is the 7 years. The 7 years began with Rome allowing Jerusalem to govern themselves, but then in the middle of those 7 years, in 70AD, they destroyed and burned Jerusalem and the Temple – including standing in the place where the Holy of Holies had been and building their own fortress on that spot. God was no longer there. That place was now desolate of God, and an abomination. The final defeat was in 73 AD at Massada. A total of 7 years with the abomination that makes desolate in the middle.
Flavious Josephus was an ancient historian of this time who was born a Jew but converted his allegiance to Rome. He wrote about the wars if Israel and the burning of Jerusalem. One of his works is called,”The Jewish Wars”. Josephus writes in graphic detail and language of these events. Josephus estimates that over 1.1 million Israelites died that day in Jerusalem! The blood was flowing in the streets!
It was horrible and devastating as God told Daniel it would be, greater than any other time Israel had been destroyed and captured as a nation. Jesus also told His disciples about this coming event in Matthew 24. This was after His disciples asked Him when the huge stones of the Temple would fall. And remember when Jesus was on His way to the cross, and he told the women to not weep for Him, but rather for their children? That was in 33 AD and Jesus knew what was coming in 70AD….a short time until their children would be adults living in this terrible tribulation and trouble!
Israel/Jerusalem, as the nation descended from Abraham, took a mortal blow. It was no more. It became a desolate place. Its people were scattered across the earth…the same as in the days of the Tower of Babel!
But, like God comforted Daniel by telling him the end of His plan…. of winning victory in the earth and God’s people living and reigning in righteousness, with the Messiah as King; so, Jesus also comforted His disciples…. by reassuring them of how it would all end with His victory, with Jesus as King of Kings, and His people reigning on earth with Him. We can take a closer look at Matthew 24 another time.
This message mainly ties up the thought that the prophecies of Daniel 9 are mainly for the ancient Jews (descendants of Abraham), with an ending message of comfort that God has the final victory and includes His people. It gives an alternative to the more recent 7 year tribulation and pre-rapture theory.
Why would it make any difference which interpretation we believe? My concern is that when people put faith in the pre-rapture theory, expecting to be taken out (raptured out) of any big tribulation…what happens if huge tribulation and persecution comes and there is no rapture? This would be unexpected! They will not be prepared for faith through tribulation! Will their faith and trust in God and in His Word fail? Will they think God has deserted them? Will they turn away from God when things get hard, even to the point of being threatened with death? But, if we know the true interpretation of prophecy, it will prepare us to endure in faith until the end….in faith, hope, and love of Father, Son Yeshua Jesus, and Holy Spirit….knowing they have the final victory! I think it is always important to pursue to know the truth.