The Structure of the Seven Years of Tribulation

By Clovis E. Miller

In this article, we will look at the steps involved in showing how the seven holy convocations (feast days) of Israel, as found in Leviticus 23, may possibly represent the framework for the structuring of the 7 years of tribulation, which is to take place before the Revelation of Jesus Christ from heaven. There is no attempt made here to be dogmatic in the viewpoint presented. It is offered only, to give an outline of a possible intrepretation of how these events may correspond prophetically to events of the lasy days.

The Feast days (holy convocations) of Israel, found in Lev. 23 are:

1) Slaying the Passover lamb (14th Nissan)
2) Unleavened Bread (15-21 Nissan - Begins and ends with a sabbath day)
3) Firstfruits (the Sunday following the first sabbath of Unleavened Bread)

4) Ingatherings or Feast of Weeks (50 days after Firstfruits)

5) Trumpets (Tishri 1)
6) Day of Atonement (Tishri 10)

7) Tabernacles (Tishri 15-21)

Fulfilled in the past:

1) Jesus was crucified (as God's Passover Lamb) on the 14th day of the Jewish Month of Nissan (the day of preparation, for the first sabbath of Unleavened Bread). {Ex. 12:5-6 ; John 1:29 ; I Cor. 5:7 ; Mark 15:42 ; Luke 23:54 ; John 19:31}

2) He was place in the tomb at the end of that day, as the evening of the first sabbath of the seven days of Unleavened Bread drew near. {John 6:35 ; 12:24}

3) He remained in the tomb for three days and three nights. {Matt. 12:40}

4) Based on Jesus coming out of the tomb on Sunday, a Wednesday crucifixion is indicated for His words in Matthew 12:40, to be literally fulfilled. Jesus would have been resurrected on the 17th of Nissan (shortly before the end of the weekly sabbath), 72 hours after His death, or His burial. "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is also Lord of the sabbath." {Mark 2:27-28}

5) He came out of the tomb, after the weekly sabbath was finished as a fulfillment of the feast of Firstfruits ( the Sunday following the first sabbath of Unleavened Bread). This occurred sometime between the start of the 18th day of Nissan, in the evening, and first light of the following morning. {Lev. 23: 10-11 ; Luke 24:1}

6) He ascended to heaven on the fortieth day after coming out of the tomb. {Acts 1:3, 9-11}

7) Ten days later, on the feast of Weeks (50 days after coming out of the tomb), the Holy Spirit came down and the church was born (Pentecost). {Lev. 23:15-16 ; Acts 2:1-5, 41}

To be fulfilled in the future:

8) The next holy day in this series to be fulfilled will be feast of trumpets. The event associated with this day will be the rapture of the church, {Lev. 23: 24-25 ; I Thess. 4: 16-17 ; I Cor. 15:51-52}. While its yearly occurance falls on the first day of the seventh Jewish month, called Tishri (in the Fall season), we do not know the actual day in which the fulfillment of this feast day will occur. This is due mainly to the discrepencies which exist between the various calendars which have been used down through time. It's as though the Lord planned it that way, so that no man indeed would know the day or the hour {Matt. 24:36}. We can however, be sure that when the rapture of the church does occur, it will be a fulfillment of this feast day. It is reasonable to believe that if the first four feast days were fulfilled with such exact timing, that the remaining three feast days will also be fulfilled with the same accuracy. The rapture occuring on this day, fits perfectly in the timing of the seven years of tribulation, as we shall see. For a more in depth study of the Feast Days of Israel, a link is found at the end of this article.

One important consideration to bear in mind with regard to the fulfillment of these events is that, while the timing of feast days themselves is based on the lunar cycle of 28 days (each month begins with the new moon); the prophecies concerning the tribulation period are based on a calendar of 30 days per month. This is attested to in both the Book of Daniel {7:25 ; 12:7,11} and the Book of Revelation {12:6 ; 13:5}. This further adds into the mix that no man knows the day or hour of His return for the church. It's easy to see that if the months were based solely on the lunar cycle of 28 days, it would not be long until the feast days would fall completely outside of the seasons in which they were intended to be remembered. Several of the feast days deal with offering grain which is harvested at the time of the specific feast. If the feast day fell outside the season of that harvest, keeping the feast according to Scripture would be impossible. Therefore, adjustments to the calendar have been, and still are, made periodically to compensate for this problem.

9) Using the pattern of the ascension of Jesus to heaven ten days before Pentecost as a type of the rapture; we may see a similiar occurance with the rapture of the church on the feast of Trumpets. Ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven, great joy came down upon the people on the day of Pentecost.

With the rapture of the church on some future Tishri 1, and counting ten days after that point, brings us to Tishri 11 (the day following the Day of Atonement). It appears that on that day, a period of great sorrow will commence as the people confirm the covenant with the Antichrist {Dan. 9:27}. This period is referred to in the Gospel accounts as the "beginning of sorrows", (the first 42 months of the seven years of tribulation).

10) Using a thirty day calendar, at this point, and counting forward exactly 42 months (42 x 30 = 1260 days) from Tishri 11 brings us to Nissan 10, in the spring season. The ending of that day will close the period referred to in Scripture as "the beginning of sorrows" {Matt. 24:8}. It was on Nissan 10, that the Jewish people were commanded to select the lamb for the Passover sacrifice {Ex. 12:3}.

It is likely that on this date, that the image of the beast (probably the image of the lamb of a goat) will be offered as a replacement for daily sacrifice which will have been taken away. Both the lambs of sheep and of goats were acceptable as Passover sacrifices {Ex. 12:5}. However, in both Scripture and Satanic worship, we find that the goat is also used as a symbol which denotes rebellion against God {Matt. 25: 33}. This subject is covered in more detail in the article on the 1,335 Days of Daniel 12, found on the Bible Topics Page.

11) Exactly 3 1/2 years into the tribulation period, on Nissan 11, the Antichrist will enter the temple at Jerusalem, proclaim himself to be God, and then dedicate the image of the beast. With the setting up of the image (the Abomination of Desolation) in the temple, the beginning of sorrows ends, and the 42 months of great tribulation will begin {Matt. 24:15-21}.

12) Counting 42 months from Nissan 11 brings us back to the Day of Atonement, Tishri 10, in the fall season. This day is the most solemn of Israel's holy days. In it, every person is to afflict their souls and mourn, or be cut off from among the people {Lev. 23: 27-29 ; Zech. 12:10-14}. It is also on this day, exactly 84 months (7 years) since starting, that the tribulation period shall be brought to a close, with the Revelation of Jesus Christ and the destruction of the Antichrist and False Prophet {Zech. 14:3-4 ; Rev. 19:11,20}. Final atonement for the sins of Israel shall also be realized by the people on that day {Dan. 9:24} .

13) The Feast of Tabernacles is the seventh and last of the holy convocations. It will be fulfilled as the millenial reign of Christ and the saints, when God, will literally tabernacle (dwell with) men in a world, which will be redeemed from the curse brought upon it by the fall of Adam and Eve. Unfortunatley, after a thousand years of peace and prosperity, man's evil side will arise again, resulting in the destruction of this world, along with the wicked; and the creation of a new heaven and earth. The latter will endure forever and in it will never be found a trace of sin or a curse.

The Doctrine of Imminence, as taught by many, states that the Lord Jesus may return at any moment of any day, of any season, of any year. The great commission, given by Jesus, stating that the church was to take the Gospel into all the world, makes it clear that His return was not a matter of imminence for those believers. Spreading the word was a slow process in those days; and in fact, even with the technology we have, it is still going on until this very hour. At the same time, every believer is cautioned to be looking for His return (an act of obedience, intended to motivate us to stay on the right path). Matt. 24: 48-51 seems to be geared to those who abuse the longsuffering of the Lord with a dying world. While the departure of the church may not have been imminent to the earliest believers; the departure from this world by those professing Christians, who are abusive to others, or worldly in their outlook, should be reckoned by themselves as immenient. The Lord's warning is quite clear.

The writer of this article takes the position that we may know the season of His return (the feast of trumpets, in the Fall); but we cannot know which occurance of that feast day He will come on. This understanding does not violate the Lord's words stating, that only the Father in heaven knows the day or hour He will come for His church {Matt. 24: 36}. We should be continuously looking forward to the season of His return. Even if it passes this year without fulfillment, we should be focused on the idea that it may be the next time. That, in itself, should be an incentive to work more for the Lord, if He gives us another year, rather that becoming slack in our duty, abusive to others, or worldly in our outlook.

The "surgical removal" by early church councils, of many teachings or insights which were handed down by the Jewish people (i.e. the sabbath day, firstfruits, the holy convocations of God, ect.), has created a great void for the modern church to deal with. The removal of such links with the original church, which was fully Jewish, makes a proper understanding of many Biblical passages difficult, if not impossible. This is especially true for those who are not aware of the changes made by those councils, which were often, by their own admission, anit- Jewish in sentiment. It's a real instance of throwing the baby out with the bath water. The fulfillment of the first four feast days of Leviticus 23, is easily provable by Scripture. When it's all said and done, it will be shown that the final three will have been undeniably proved, as well.

This writer has a certain understanding concerning such matters. At the same time, I would not be so bold, as some are, to feel that my understanding is infallible. Whether you agree with it, or not, this simple article is presented for the edification of all Christians; and to say that we should be careful to confirm for ourselves what we accept as the truth, or as sound doctrine.

For a more in depth study of the Feast Days of Israel Click Here.

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