THE ANSWER TO WHEN – part 8:
Matthew 24:32, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. Verse 33. So also, when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates. Verse 34. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Verse 35. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Jesus uses a simile to compare the unmistakable changes of earth’s seasons to the changes of the eschatological seasons, and tells us that when we see these changes, we will know that he is near, in fact He is at our very gates.
AN IMPORTANT CHRONOLOGICAL MARKER: Jesus emphasizes this point, telling us that this generation, the generation that follows the unmistakable signs of his return, will not pass away until all the things to come, take place. This is the urgent message that we will now have entered the final seven years of the Great Tribulation, the great and terrible day of the Lord, Daniel’s 70th week which began with the breaking of the 6th Tribulation Seal. We can get a better understanding of the meaning of these verses by reading Daniel chapter 12.
Daniel 12:1, “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise.
- And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time;
- and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.
- Verse 2. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
- Verse 3. And those who have insight will shine like the glow of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
Verse 4. But as for you, Daniel, keep these words secret and seal up the book until the end of time; many will roam about, and knowledge will increase.”
Verse 5. “Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others were standing, one on this bank of the stream and the other on that bank of the stream.
- Verse 6. And someone said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, “How long will it be until the end of these wonders?”
- Verse 7. And I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever
- that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, (i.e., three and one-half years); and as soon as they finish smashing the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed.
- Verse 8. But as for me, I heard but did not understand; so, I said, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?” Verse 9. And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words will be kept secret and sealed up until the end time. Verse 10. Many will be purged, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.
Verse 11. And from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Verse 12. Blessed is the one who is patient and attains to the 1,335 days! Verse 13. But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will rest and rise for your allotted portion at the end of the age.”
Both of these prophecies deal with specific time periods associated with the seven-year tribulation. The tribulation begins with the signing of a peace treaty between the Antichrist and Israel, intended to be for one “seven,” that is, a set of seven years.
But the “seven” is divided into halves: midway through the seven years, the Antichrist breaks the treaty and sets up in the temple a sacrilegious object (the “abomination that causes desolation”).
The phrase “in the middle” indicates that the first half of the tribulation lasts for 3½ years (1,260 days, using a “prophetic year” of 360 days). Likewise, the second half of the tribulation lasts another 1,260 days (another 3½ years), for a total of seven years.
The 1,260 days of the second half of the tribulation begins as the Antichrist breaks the treaty, occupies the third Jewish temple, and sets up a profane and sacrilegious object of worship. This 1,260-day period ends when the Antichrist is defeated at the battle of Armageddon upon Jesus’ return to earth. At that time, the tribulation will be at an end.)
Revelation 11:3 specifically mentions 1,260 days, which corresponds exactly with Daniel’s prophecy of the abomination of desolation.
In Revelation, we have an added detail: two divinely appointed witnesses will preach and perform miracles for the first half of the tribulation, according to the chronology of Revelation.
These two witnesses are killed at the midpoint of the tribulation; their bodies will lie in the streets for three and a half days as the world celebrates their demise; then they will be resurrected and taken up to heaven (Revelation 11:7–13).
The 1,260 days of the second half of the tribulation begins as the Antichrist breaks the treaty, occupies the third Jewish temple, and sets up a profane and sacrilegious object of worship.
This 1,260-day period ends when the Antichrist is defeated at the battle of Armageddon upon Jesus’ return to earth. At that time, the tribulation will be at an end.
In Summary: Here is the Timeline
Sometime after the rapture of the church, which occurs at the 6th Seal, the Antichrist enters a treaty with Israel. This begins the seven-year tribulation.
At the midpoint of the tribulation (1, 260 days later), at the Seventh Tribulation Trumpet, the Antichrist breaks the treaty, desecrates the temple, and begins to persecute the Jews.
At the end of the tribulation (1,260 days after the desecration of the temple), Jesus Christ defeats the forces of the Antichrist.
During the next 30 days (leading up to 1,290 days after the desecration of the temple), Israel is rebuilt and the earth is restored.
During the next 45 days (leading up to 1,335 days after the desecration of the temple), the Gentile nations are judged for their treatment of Israel.
NEXT: THE ANSWER TO WHEN – part 9: AS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH.
PREVIOUS: THE ANSWER TO WHEN – part 7: THE 6TH TRIBULATION SEAL.
THE INTRODUCTION: THE END OF THE AGE?