Modern dispensationalists have taught that there is to be a seven-year time of destruction and judgment. It is based primarily on the notion that the “clock” supposedly stopped because the Jews rejected the Messiah, and so God imposed an interim “Age of Grace” so “gentiles” could be saved.
Never mind that gentiles had already been invited to worship God in this “house of prayer for all the peoples” (Isaiah 56:7). Never mind that grace had already been well established in the law, most prominently in the Jubilee.
By dividing time into the Age of Law, followed by the Age of Grace, men gave the impression that there was no grace prior to Christ, nor was the law important after His death on the cross. This misunderstanding alone blinded the people to an understanding of His word.
The end of the “Gentile” period, they say, will end with the “rapture,” at which time Daniel’s 70th week will start up again, marking also the start of the “Great Tribulation.”
But history itself proves that Jesus was crucified at the end of the 70th week of Daniel, so one cannot use the 70th week of Daniel itself to prove a 7-year tribulation.
But what about the idea of Tribulation itself? Is there yet to be a time of tribulation, whether based upon the Dispensationalist view or not? If so, when is it? How long is it? What is its purpose?
The Laws of Tribulation
The real source of the misunderstanding began when men cast aside the law, blinding themselves to its revelation. The laws of tribulation are found in Lev. 26 and Deut. 28. It is according to these laws and for the reasons stated therein that God has brought judgment (tribulation) upon Israel throughout history.
Leviticus 26:1-13 presents first the blessings for obedience to the divine law. Then in verses 14-16 we read,
14 But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments; 15 if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments and so break My covenant, 16 I, in turn, will do this to you . . .
What follows is a lengthy list of divine judgments for refusing to obey the law of God and for being “hostile” against God. At various points in the text Israel was told that if they remained hostile to God, God would judge them “seven times,” as, for example, we read in verses 23 and 24,
23 And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me, 24 then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins.
Israel could even end up in captivity in foreign lands, if they continually refused to be obedient.
33 You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste.
In a parallel passage in Deut. 28:48, this is called “a yoke of iron.” Once in captivity, the only way to end the divine judgment is by repentance. Lev. 26:40-42 says,
40 If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me— 41 I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob . . . Isaac, and . . . Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.
Note that it requires repentance of their hostility to Yahweh, the Lawgiver, before God will reverse their captivity. To be hostile toward Jesus is to be hostile toward Yahweh.
Yahweh is Yeshua-Jesus
It is important to recognize first that Yahweh in the Old Testament was incarnated in Bethlehem as Yeshua, or Joshua (Jesus). The Hebrew name means “salvation” and appears often in Scripture. For instance, when Simeon saw the baby Jesus, having had prior revelation, he said in Luke 2:29 and 30,
29 Now, Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, 30 for my eyes have seen Thy salvation [Yeshua].
Simeon understood by revelation in the Word that the Messiah would be named Yeshua, and it had been revealed that he would see the Messiah before he died. Thus, when Mary and Joseph brought Yeshua-Jesus to the temple, Simeon was waiting, for he knew He would be brought to the temple according to the law.
Jesus also knew that the Scriptures prophesied of Him by name. In John 7:37 Jesus said, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” This was a reference to Isaiah 12:2, 3, saying,
2 Behold God is my Yeshua, I will trust and not be afraid; for Yah Yahweh is my strength and song, and He has become my Yeshua. 3 Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of Yeshua.
In other words, Yahweh became Yeshua, from whom we may draw the water of the Holy Spirit in order that we too might become wells of living water. Isaiah was actually quoting from Exodus 15:2, saying,
2 Yahweh is my strength and song, and He has become my Yeshua; This is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will extol Him.
Since Yahweh was the One who gave the law to Moses, it is evident that the law was given to Israel by the One later known as Jesus Christ. Hence, in the laws of tribulation, we see that when Israel acted with “hostility” against Yahweh, they were really acting with hostility against Yeshua, Jesus Christ.
This is the reason for tribulation, and the only way to reverse that tribulation would be to cease being hostile to Yeshua-Jesus. There is no way to truly understand the reason for tribulation until we see that it is all about ceasing to be hostile to Jesus Christ. The lawful cause of tribulation is not the rise of Antichrist but Israel’s hostility to Christ.
Modern Zionism, on the other hand, seeks to return to the old land and lay claim to it while yet in a state of hostility against Yeshua. They claim to be followers of Yahweh, of course, but if that were the case, God would never have cast them out of the land and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. We read in 1 John 2:22, 23,
22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
From a New Testament viewpoint, one cannot claim the Father (Yahweh) without confessing the Son (Yeshua). Yahweh is Yeshua, the Son of El Elyon, the Most High God. Leviticus 26 makes it clear that God would remember His covenant ONLY WHEN Israel confessed its hostility to Yahweh-Yeshua-Jesus.
The Jewish Revolt and the Tribulation
The bulk of the “tribulation” prophecies in Matthew 24 deal specifically with the tribulation surrounding the Jewish revolt from 66-73 A.D. It began while people were walking to Jerusalem to attend the feast of Tabernacles celebration in 66 A.D. The people fought and nearly destroyed Rome’s 7th Legion, which then brought about a reprisal from Rome.
Many of the Jewish zealots thought that God would be forced to save them and His temple, and so they were determined to fight to the end. Their zeal proved to be disastrous. However, Christians remembered what Jesus had said in His warnings in Matthew 24. When there was a lull in the fighting in 68 A.D., due to Nero’s death, the Christians left Jerusalem and settled across the Jordan River in the town of Pella. We read of this in the History of the Church by Eusebius, the fourth-century bishop of Caesarea:
“Furthermore, the members of the Jerusalem church, by means of an oracle given by revelation to acceptable persons there, were ordered to leave the City before the war began and settle in a town in Peraea called Pella.”
A more complete account of this revolt and the destruction of Jerusalem can be found in my book, Lessons from Church History, Volume 2 entitled, The Jewish Revolts.
Certain schools of thought teach that the entirety of Matthew 24 was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem from 66-73 A.D. They fail to take into account the fact that Jerusalem has been rebuilt (more than once since then) and that this means Jerusalem will have to undergo yet another time of tribulation in order to fulfill the word of Jeremiah. Recall that the prophet was instructed to take the old clay jar and smash it in gehenna. We read in Jer. 19:10, 11,
10 Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you 11 and say to them, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Just so shall I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel which cannot again be repaired.”
In the days of Jeremiah, the city was destroyed, but it was later “repaired” under Nehemiah. It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., but later rebuilt. It is today a functioning city as of this writing, having been repaired multiple times over the centuries.
Hence, Jeremiah’s prophecy has yet a final fulfillment. For this reason, Jerusalem must yet again be destroyed, after the Zionist experiment has run its course—unless, of course, the nation repents of its hostility against Jesus Christ.
Will this again be a seven-year time of tribulation, as it was in the first century? I do not know, but if so, it will be because the pattern has been set in the first century—not because Daniel’s 70th week was deferred.
We do know that prophetic history tends to repeat itself, so it is possible that a seven-year tribulation period will emerge as we saw from 66-73 A.D. But Isaiah 29:5, 6 seems to indicate a sudden nuclear destruction, and Paul seems to confirm this in 1 Thess. 5:3.
The most important thing to see is that Jerusalem is slated for utter destruction. How long that takes is not the important factor. The Dispensationalist teaching that Jerusalem will be the capital of the Kingdom of God in the age to come does not take into account Jeremiah’s prophecy of utter destruction upon Jerusalem.
Further, when we study Paul’s discussion of the two covenants in Galatians 4, we see that the old Jerusalem is “Hagar,” that must be cast out. Hagar can never bring forth the Kingdom of God, for Ishmael is not the heir of the promises (Gal. 4:30).
Earlier, we noted the tribulation statement in Lev. 26:24 regarding “seven times.” If Israel cast aside the law of God and lived their own carnal lifestyle, then God would punish the nation “seven times.” Most people picture the intensity of judgment being increased seven times. But Daniel interprets this as an increase in length, rather than intensity. The “little horn” of Dan. 7:25 was given a time frame of “a time, times, and a half a time,” which is half of “seven times.”
In the book of Revelation, John gives us the clearest definition of this “little horn,” defining 3½ “times” as “forty-two months” (Rev. 13:5). A “time,” then, is twelve months, a year, or 360 days, which is the mean distance between a solar year and a lunar year.
Prophetically speaking, it is 360 YEARS in long-term prophecy.
Seven times, then, is 2,520 years (7 x 360). For this reason, we see the most important biblical events reaching their conclusions after 2,520 years. As I showed in my book, The Prophetic History of the United States, all of the important events in modern history, beginning in 1776, occur on cycles of 2,520 years.
Israel’s “tribulation” began from 745-721 B.C., when they began to be conquered and deported by the Assyrians. The conquest of the first tribes began in 745 B.C., but the actual fall of Samaria (Israel’s capital city) occurred in 721B.C. This began:
The connection between Israel and America is not generally known, because most people have been taught that the Jews are Israel. But the time cycles themselves do not lie. Time is the great connector and establishes more truth than people realize. Israel’s scattering into Assyria began to come to an end with America’s Declaration of Independence, where the so-called “lost tribes” began to be regathered once again. Again, from the destruction of Israel’s capital city (Samaria) to the construction of America’s capital (Washington D.C.) was also 2,520 years.
The second great 2,520-year cycle, of course, involves Jerusalem, which was the capital of the southern Kingdom of Judah. Here again we see the relevance of this long time (“great”) tribulation of 2,520 years.
In this case we see that British General Allenby took Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire (modern Turkey) in 1917 toward the end of World War I. This put Palestine under British control and might have ended Jerusalem’s Great Tribulation, had it not been for another factor.
The Four Beast Empires
Jerusalem’s Great Tribulation was synonymous with the four world empires which dominated the city since 604 B.C., when Babylon first captured the city. The time of its captivity is also called “the times of the gentiles” (Luke 21:24). It was the time allotted to the “gentile” empires which had been given dominion in the earth after Judah’s kings failed to exercise the Dominion Mandate properly.
Though a remnant of Judah was allowed to return to the old land after 70 years, their tribulation did not end. They remained under the dominion of Persia, the second empire for two more centuries.
Then the third empire arose. Alexander the Great conquered Persia, establishing the Grecian empire. In 331 B.C. he took dominion over Jerusalem. The Grecian phase of the Great Tribulation lasted until 163 B.C., when God allowed Jerusalem to throw off the yoke of Antiochus Epiphanes on account of his attempt to turn the temple into an Epicurean shrine.
Judea was then ruled by the Hasmonean king-priests.
Jerusalem remained relatively independent for 100 years. Then in 63 B.C. the Romans took Jerusalem, and this began the fourth phase of the Great Tribulation.
After Rome fell in 476 A.D., various people fought to gain control of the city, especially during the Muslim era in the 7th century. Control of the city went back and forth for centuries, but the city never regained its independent status.
In 1917, General Allenby took the city from the Turks at the close of World War 1. British rule became the latest foreign occupation of Jerusalem. During those years, Jews immigrated to Palestine and declared “independence” in 1948. However, from a biblical perspective, the Jews too were foreigners, even though they claimed to be returning to “their land.”
Christians assumed that Jerusalem was independent once again. But because the Jews had not yet repented of their hostility to Christ, the tribulation of Jerusalem could not end. In fact, no tribe of Israel could lawfully return without such repentance.
The Jews got around this by a legal maneuver. They came in as Esau pretending to be Jacob. This identity theft was a reversal of Jacob’s sin of stealing Esau’s identity in Genesis 27:19, 24. Hence, God’s judgment awarded Esau a temporary right to commit identity theft toward Jacob.
The descendants of Esau-Edom had already been fully incorporated into world Jewry since 126 B.C., according to historians. So the Jews had two sets of prophecies to fulfill. In this case they chose to function as Edomites and pretend to be of Jacob. The bottom line is that Edom succeeded in being the next foreign occupier of Jerusalem.
Isaiah 29 thus treats the occupiers of Jerusalem as the city’s “enemies” (vs. 5), against whom God raises up other foreigners. The outcome is the final destruction of the city, where neither side are able to occupy the land.
Throughout this history of Jerusalem, there was just one century in which the city was independently ruled by the Hasmonean king-priests. Hence, by 1917 the gentiles had actually ruled the city for just 2,420 years—a century short of its allotment of “seven times” (2,520 years).
That is why the “times of the gentiles” did not begin to end until 2017. If the leaders of Mystery Babylon who control the world (as well as Jerusalem) had relinquished power and had declared a world Jubilee, they might have been able to keep their accumulated wealth. But God then hardened their hearts, as in the days of pharaoh, in order to have legal cause to judge them and to strip them of this wealth and to give it His people.
I believe we are now in a final 7-year phase from 2017-2024, in which we will see the fall of Babylon. This will not benefit the earthly Jerusalem, however, for God has set up a better city, a heavenly Jerusalem—the city that Abraham sought while living in the old land (Heb. 11:9, 10).
If I am correct, then this 7-year period should be viewed as a transition out of the Great Tribulation. It is proving to be a time of trouble, because Babylon has chosen to fight the decrees of God. This is not the time of the rise of Babylon, as many think. It is the time of Babylon’s fall.