I’ve been asked to put in writing what I’ve been teaching for many years now, which is… Exactly how long is the Tribulation period? Of course, those familiar with the subject already know the answer—it’s a seven-year time frame. However, the purpose of this article is not to dissuade anyone from that belief (based upon prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27) but rather, to consider the possibility that part of that period has already taken place during our Lord’s ministry.
Sometimes in biblical exegesis, there is a tendency to become so super focused upon the specifics that we often miss what one is looking for—the truth! In other words, the typology of the Bible is so amazing that, if we allow it to teach us what’s right and then fill in the blanks with the specific verses, the picture becomes a lot clearer. There are over 31,000 verses in the Bible, and often, we either wrest scriptures out of context or just throw them around when we want to emphasize or prove a point why we are right. Don’t worry there will be plenty of verses to look at to see if what I’m saying makes any sense.
If you understand that the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry was three and one-half years, then that will be a good place to begin. If you also have dispensational teaching, you would probably know that Jesus came to set up the kingdom which was promised to King David some thousand years before the Lord ever started his earthly ministry (See 2 Samuel 7:12-17). So, we have a promise of a kingdom to David’s seed because we know from scripture that Jesus was born in the lineage of David, as shown in Matthew’s genealogy as well as the main account found in Luke 3:22-38 (There are many other scriptures about Jesus coming from David’s lineage, but I’ll not invest more time in that because if you don’t already firmly believe in this, then the complexity of this subject may be too much to absorb.)
The fact that Jesus was rejected by the Jewish hierarchy (Sanhedrin) is abundantly clear in John 1:11, as well as the other three gospel accounts of the Lord’s ministry. So here’s the thought: If Jesus was coming to set up the long-awaited kingdom promised to King David, then he must also have had, by necessity, all things in place in which to accomplish this massive undertaking. We have Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Holy One, etc.; we also have the antichrist which we find in Judas, “…the son of perdition” (Jn. 17:12), who was indwelt by Satan (Luke 22:3-5). In other words, Judas became Satan manifest in the flesh, “…the mystery of iniquity…” (2 Thes. 2:7) as per the Apostle Paul.
This brings us to an interesting juncture as to why so many Bible scholars miss the obvious cross reference for “Then entered Satan into Judas…” (Lk. 22:3) to that of Zechariah 11:10-13, which talks about a “covenant” being “…broken in that day.” What day you ask? Well according to Zechariah’s text, it’s talking about when Judas betrayed Jesus for “…thirty pieces of silver” which were “cast” to the “potter.” Now see Matthew 27:5-10. Bingo! That puts us right back to the end of the Lord’s ministry on earth or the end of three and one-half years of dealing with his own people while, all along, fulfilling scriptures from the old testament and in so doing, specifically, Daniel’s 70th week.
“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 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…” (Dan. 9:26-27).
Please pay note to the colon found after “one week:” Because of this, we know that there can and will be a gap in time before being completely fulfilled. Now back to the covenant: If the “he” of verse 27 is the “Messiah” mentioned in verse 26, then “he” would be Jesus. If the “he” is referring to the “prince” (the antichrist) mentioned in verse 26, then “he” would be Judas. Both are covered in what happened next, historically.
Jesus sent out the apostles to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth in Matthew 10, as well as Luke 9 and Mark 3. By this action, Jesus was confirming the covenant by power to work signs and wonders. Judas, also being part of the 12 apostles, was given this power as well. (On a side note: when the Bible talks about the antichrist deceiving people by means of those miracles, it’s the same means that was used 2,000 years earlier when the apostles were performing signs and miracles to establish the covenant, but in Revelation 13, it’s the opposite in that it’s the antichrist using his powers to establish his kingdom.) The point remains that something is trying to be established by The Christ as well as the antichrist.
In Matthew 6:9-13, the Lord’s prayer to his disciples is clearly a prayer to bring in the kingdom, and that makes sense because all that were present were Jews to whom the promise was made. So, if we have Jesus the Messiah, his apostles working miracles, Judas who will be the antichrist, and John the Baptist heralding Jesus as the Lamb of God (who also happens to be Elijah according to Jesus himself “… That Elias is come already, …Then the disciples understood that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist.” (Mat. 17:12,13), then all is in order. The scriptures are plain; although we may not fully understand it, my point remains that everything was in place to set up the long-awaited kingdom.
The apostles presented the kingdom to Israel, and we know what happened—they rejected his messiahship. The writing by Pilate over Jesus’ cross said, “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS… and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin” (Jn. 19:19). This covered all three types of people in the world: Hebrew for the Jew, Latin for the Gentiles, and Greek for the Christians or followers of Jesus.
If we look back at the prophecy in Zechariah 11:10, it is interesting to note that the word “covenant” is used when it is broken as well as in Daniel 9:27 when it is confirmed. So, it’s confirmed through signs and miracles and broken when Judas betrays Jesus. This all perfectly coincides with the three and one-half years of the Lord’s ministry. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Notice in Mark 1:15, Jesus said, “…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye and believe the gospel.” First of all, what “time is fulfilled”? Secondly, “believe” what “gospel”? If Daniels’ 70th week starts, or the 69-week period (representing 484 years) was fulfilled at this point, then Jesus’ ministry would start the 70th week period. When Jesus Christ says “believe the gospel,” that clearly is not the “gospel” of His death, burial and resurrection because He is still on earth spreading the opportunity for Israel to accept the kingdom, therefore He was talking about the “gospel” of the Kingdom! Once Jesus was betrayed and “cut off” from the land of the living, He was also fulfilling that portion of prophecy in Daniel 9:26.
Additionally, have you noticed when reading the Book of Revelation that the reference is always “forty and two months,” “a thousand two hundred and threescore days,” or “a time, and times, and half a time?” They all refer to the same allotment of time—three and one-half years. The Book of Job is 42 chapters long coinciding with this time frame of 42 months. Job means one persecuted. That’s very clear by reading the account as well as who he represents—Israel during the Tribulation!
Job gets picked out, to be picked on, only to be picked up. He gets restored after he sees God and repents and prays for his “friends.” So too, Israel repents and gets restored after they see Jesus, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him…” (Rev. 1:7); “…they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, …” (Zec 12:10b).
Another example of this biblical doctrine is revealed in John 20:29, “… because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: …” Thomas was spoken to by Jesus in the text, and he represents unbelieving Israel who will only believe when they see Jesus. In Revelation 4:1-2, John gets raptured or taken up to heaven to receive the revelation of future events before the Tribulation begins in chapter six. John represents the Church where “God hath not appointed us to wrath…” (1 Thes. 5:9) so, clearly, this Tribulation period is referred to as “… the time of Jacob’s trouble…” (Jer. 30:7). Jacob is Israel. A sincere follower of truth can discern that the Church is raptured before this period.
One last thought: As far as any Christian today reading this article, please understand that this has no bearing upon the Church (body of believers). I believe, as well as any Christian reading this should, that the Church will be raptured off the earth before the countdown to Armageddon begins. This is plain, pre-millennial rapture doctrine taught for years throughout America as well as biblical Christianity world-wide. Again, it’s the typology which reinforces these sound biblical doctrines. I could go on and on showing other examples in the Bible to prove this teaching, but suffice it to say, my main thought for this article is to show the 42-month period of our Lord Jesus’ ministry was, actually, the beginning or first half of the Tribulation, hence, leaving only the second half (“forty and two months”) left to be satisfied.
Written by: Dr. Joseph Costa, Pastor