He then went on to talk about all the signs that we find so easy to talk about: pestilences, disturbances in the natural elements, and conflict between tribes and nations. But, as if He wanted to focus in on the greatest sign of all, He reiterated, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:11). He reemphasized, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).
The apostle Paul, confirming the Savior’s admonitions, warned, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). As certainly as was foretold by the Messiah and corroborated by His servant Paul, deception is rampant in Christendom.
Deception by its very nature is dangerous and deadly. Simply put, it is sincerely believing something to be true when in fact it is patently false. Such is the popular notion of the Seven Year Tribulation which occurs after the Secret Rapture. Neither of these concepts can be found anywhere in Holy Writ. But where did they come from, and why are they so popular? The answer to the second part of that question is that sadly, an overwhelming majority of people who call themselves Christians do not study the Bible for themselves. Rather, they parrot the ideas of popular charismatic teachers who themselves have a perverse understanding of God’s plan of redemption and the Holy Bible which reveals it.
The answer to the first part of the question as to where the doctrine of the Seven Year Tribulation comes from may be a surprise to many. But the truth is that it comes from the very same source that all of the false teachings of Christendom originates, the Roman Catholic Church. As part of its Counter Reformation efforts, the Jesuit Order was established to stamp out the light that was being brought to the princes and masses by the Protestant Reformers, such as Luther, Calvin, and Knox.
Two outstanding Jesuit scholars were charged with negating the charge of the Reformers that the papacy is the anti-Christ power of Bible prophecy. One of them, Louis de Alcazar, developed the doctrine of Preterism, suggesting that the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, which undeniably identifies the Roman Papacy as the anti-Christ power of Bible prophecy, was relegated to the first century of the Christian era. The other Jesuit scholar, Francisco Ribera, generated the concept of Futurism, an idea placing the coming of the anti-Christ sometime in the distant, unknown future. Together, Preterism and Futurism, in the minds of their adherents, shielded the papacy from the clear revelation of God’s word relative to its position in salvation history.
Futurism, unlike Preterism, its twin sister, has captivated the minds of most of Christendom and continues to accomplish its purpose of taking the focus away from the Biblically revealed anti-Christian entity of the Apocalypse. Ribera’s clever misapplication of the final verses of the ninth chapter of the book of Daniel remains the foundational teaching of end-time prophecies in most of the Christian Schools. It thus becomes the beliefs of the masses who, not studying the Bible for themselves, are instructed by the graduates of those institutions.
The Seven Year Tribulation theory centers on the last four verses of the ninth chapter of the book of Daniel. The prophet Daniel, as he was instructed by the angel Gabriel, foretold the life, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. Daniel also refers to the anti-Christian power that would be in existence from Jesus time until His second coming. He writes, “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. 25) 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. 26) 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. 27) 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” (Daniel 9:24-27).
It is almost universally agreed that the seventy weeks mentioned in this passage of scripture (verse 24) is referring to 490 years based on the year/day principle found throughout the Bible (e.g. Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:6). It is also generally agreed, and correctly so, that Jesus began His Messianic ministry at the end of the 69th week (483 years) of the prophecy (verse 25).
The Seven Year Tribulation theory, better called the Seven Year Deception, takes the final week (seven years) of Daniel’s prophecy and places it sometime in the unknown future after the secret rapture occurs (Daniel 9:26). Nowhere else in Holy Writ, nor in the corridors of human affairs, nor in the vast expanse of space and time does such a concept exists. It is patently unrealistic and irrational to take a specified period of time, cut out a portion of it and then reconnect it at some later date. The reckoning of time has always been continuous.
Jesus did also confirm the covenant exactly as Daniel prophesied (verse 27). He declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). Mark affirmed, “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel”(Mark 1:14-15).
Besides, in order for a covenant to be confirmed, it would have had to be in place already. The covenant referred to by Daniel is not some agreement made between the Jewish nation and a yet-to-appear anti-Christ, as the proponents of the Seven Year Deception promote. Rather; Daniel is referring to the everlasting covenant made by the God of Creation after our first parents fell into sin (Genesis 3:15). It was the promise that a Redeemer would be sent to rescue, ransom and restore fallen humanity back to their Creator (Genesis 1:26-27; Matthew 1:21; John 17:20-21). It is this covenant that is the overarching theme of God’s plan of redemption and the Holy Bible which contains it . It was reiterated to Abraham and to all His descendants; yea, even to us today (Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 3:29).
Messiah did come as Daniel prophesied, ministered for 3 ½ years (middle of the week), and was indeed cut off Daniel 9:27). His ministry, though on behalf of the entire human race, was almost exclusively to the Jewish nation during His sojourn on planet earth. He declared, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). He admonished His disciples as He sent them out on their missionary journey, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6). Their mission was to take His plan of redemption to the rest of the world (Isaiah 49:6). Not until some 3 ½ years later (last half of the week, Daniel 9:27), with the stoning of Stephen and the conversion of the apostle Paul, that the gospel began to spread to the Gentiles (Acts 8:1-4; 10:33-48; 13:46). The seventy weeks (490 years, Daniel 9:24) determined upon the Jewish nation was thus completed.
Proponents of the Seven Year Deception look at the unfolding world events then try to apply it to their preconceived notions of the Apocalypse. Over the years, their yet-to-appear anti-Christ has shifted from Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to Kofi Anan, former General Secretary of the United Nations, to George W. Bush, among others. Now they have found the perfect candidate, President Barak Obama. Only God knows who will be next.
In that very discourse Jesus had with His closest disciples on the Mount of Olivet some two thousand years ago, He forewarned, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24:30-31). Hear ye Him.