Life-Study of Revelationby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
My burden in this message concerns the great tribulation. Revelation 8:13 says, “And I saw, and I heard an eagle flying in mid-heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to those who dwell on the earth because of the remaining sounds of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to trumpet.” The three woes of the last three trumpets (9:12; 11:14) will be the woes of the great tribulation (Matt. 24:21). As we shall see, they will occur in the last half of the seventieth week (Dan. 9:27), a period of three and one-half years (Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev, 12:14), forty-two months (Rev. 11:2; 13:5), or twelve hundred and sixty days (Rev. 11:3; 12:6).
Many Christians think that the great tribulation will last seven years. Some believe this because they understand the Bible in a careless and traditional way. But the word of the Bible is very accurate, and we must understand it in the way of being enlightened. No word in the Bible is wasted; every word is meaningful and accurate.
Let us now consider Daniel 9:24-27. Verse 24 says, “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.” The people mentioned here are Daniel’s people and the holy city refers to Jerusalem. According to the Bible, a week here does not mean seven days but seven years. If you say that the seventy weeks refer to seventy periods of seven days, you will never have the proper interpretation of this passage.
Verse 25 says, “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.” Here we see “seven weeks” and then “threescore and two weeks.” Verse 26 continues, “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.” The reference to Messiah’s being “cut off” points to Christ’s being crucified on the cross. The destruction of the city and the sanctuary refers to the destruction of the temple and of the city of Jerusalem under Titus in A.D. 70.
Verse 27 concludes, saying, “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.” Here we see that the prince will confirm the covenant for one week and that in the midst of the week, that is, after three and one-half years, he will cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. This means that he will discontinue the worship of God.
These seventy weeks constitute four hundred ninety years beginning from the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, who issued the decree to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 1:1; 2:1). The first seven weeks, forty-nine years, were for the finishing of the rebuilding of the street and wall of Jerusalem. From then until Christ was “cut off” were sixty-two weeks, four hundred thirty-four years. Since the end of the sixty-nine weeks, there has been a long period of suspension. Eventually, the time of the last week, the last seven years, will come. This is the source of the thought that the great tribulation will last seven years.
As we shall now see, this concept is not accurate. The last seven years, the last week, will be the time when Antichrist will make an agreement with the Jewish people. During the first half of these seven years, Antichrist will be friendly to the Jews. But after three and one-half years, he will change his mind. Although he formerly agreed that the Jews could worship God in the temple by offering the sacrifices, he will change his mind, set himself up as God, erect an image of himself in the temple, and force people to worship him and his image. Then he will begin to mistreat the Jews. Thus, the first half of the seven years will not be a time of tribulation, for during that time Antichrist will be friendly to the Jews. According to Daniel 9:27, “in the midst of the week” Antichrist “shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,” commanding the Jews to cease worshipping God and offering sacrifices to Him. Antichrist will also erect the abomination of desolation in the Holy Place. According to Revelation, the abomination of desolation will be the image of Antichrist set up as an idol in the temple.
Let us now turn to Matthew 24, a chapter which covers this matter of the great tribulation. In verse 15 the Lord Jesus said, “When therefore you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place.” When will this be? It will not be in the beginning of the seven years but in the middle of the seven years, at the time when Antichrist will discontinue the worship of God, set himself up as God, and put his image in the temple, which, in the eyes of God, is the abomination. Then in verse 21 the Lord predicted, “For then there shall be great tribulation, such as has not occurred from the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall be.” By this we see that the great tribulation, which begins in the middle of the last seven years, will be only three and one-half years long. The traditional teaching that it will be seven years long is inexact, and we should not follow it. It does not provide the proper details for the study of prophecy. Those who hold the traditional teachings speak of the seven years, neglecting that it is in the midst of the seven years that Antichrist will change his mind and that this will bring in the great tribulation lasting three and one-half years, the second half of the final week.
We also need to consider some verses from Revelation 12. Verses 5 and 6 say, “And she brought forth a son, a man-child who was about to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that they might nourish her there a thousand two hundred and sixty days.” The one thousand two hundred and sixty days are the equivalent of three and one-half years. After the man-child is raptured, there will be a period of three and one-half years, the last half of the seventieth week, the time during which the image of Antichrist will be set up in the temple. Then verses 7 through 13 reveal that there will be war in heaven, that the dragon and his angels will be cast out of heaven to the earth, and that the dragon will persecute the woman who brought forth the man-child. Verse 14 says, “And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman 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.” This “time, and times, and half a time” refers to the final three and one-half years. In this portion of the Word we see that Satan will be cast down from heaven to earth at the beginning of the last half of the seven years. This also proves that, strictly speaking, the great tribulation will last three and one-half years and not seven years.
Further proof of this is in Revelation 11:2, which says, “And the court which is outside of the temple cast out and do not measure it, because it has been given to the nations, and they will trample under foot the holy city forty-two months.” In this verse we are told that the city of Jerusalem will be trodden by the Gentiles for forty-two months. The Gentiles who will trample the holy city will be Antichrist and his armies. This corresponds to the prophecy in Daniel 9 where Antichrist breaks the covenant, sets himself up as God, and commands people to worship him. That will also be the time when he will trample the holy city. This will be during the great tribulation. Therefore, the great tribulation will start at the beginning of the last three and one-half years when Satan is cast down from heaven to earth. As we have seen, this is mentioned clearly in chapter twelve.
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