You say that the Great Tribulation will last approximately 3 1/2 years, followed by the Heavenly Signs and the Day of the Lord. You also say that the Day of the Lord will last approximately one year and that at the end of the Day of the Lord, Jesus Christ will return. Others say that the Great Tribulation will last for seven years. Does this mean that once the Great Tribulation begins, there will be at least 4 1/2 years [or even 8 years] until Christ returns (3 1/2 years [or seven years] duration of the Great Tribulation plus 1 year duration of the Day of the Lord)?
No, it does not mean that at all.
First, let us establish how long the Great Tribulation is supposed to last. In a previous Q&A on this issue, we wrote the following:
“When the Great Tribulation ends, Christ will return. In fact, He will return to shorten the time in order to prevent all human beings from being destroyed (compare Matthew 24:22)… Some claim that the Great Tribulation will last for seven years. However, there is absolutely no Biblical evidence for that teaching. The Bible dogmatically postulates throughout that the Great Tribulation will not last longer than approximately 3 1/2 years… We read in Daniel 7:25: ‘He [an endtime religious leader, the ‘man of sin,’ also called the ‘false prophet’ in Scripture] shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand FOR A TIME AND TIMES AND HALF A TIME.’
“During the Great Tribulation, a religious power under the lead of the ‘false prophet,’ in collaboration with a military power under the lead of the ‘beast,’ will persecute the saints. They will do so for ‘a time and times and half a time.’ The commentary of ‘Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge’ (TSK) explains that this phrase means ‘three years and a half, or reckoning thirty days to a month, 1,260 days.’
“The Nelson Study Bible agrees, stating (in their annotation to Revelation 11:3) that ‘a time and times and half a time’ is ‘a period of three and a half years…’ The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown (JFB) states that the period of ‘one year, two years, and half a year’ equals ‘1260 days’ or ‘forty-two months,’ adding that the phrase is to be understood quite literally as three and a half years of persecution…
“A further reference to Satan’s attempt to persecute the saints during the Great Tribulation can be found in Revelation 12. Some members of God’s true Church will be protected from Satan’s attacks in a place of safety here on earth (compare Revelation 3:10). Others, however, will have to endure Satan’s persecution–and Satan will use his ‘instruments’–the beast and the false prophet–to bring about such persecution… The passage in Revelation 12:13-17 reads:
“‘Now when the dragon [Satan the devil, Revelation 12:9] saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly [this describes supernatural protection and involvement, compare Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11-12; Isaiah 63:9] into the wilderness to her place… where she is nourished FOR A TIME AND TIMES AND HALF A TIME, from the presence of the serpent…
“All Biblical references to the duration of the Great Tribulation speak of 3 1/2 years. The concept that the Great Tribulation would last for seven years is not Biblical. In fact, there is not one single Biblical passage suggesting that the Great Tribulation would last longer than 3 1/2 years–as mentioned, it is even possible that the time of the Great Tribulation will be cut short.”
What is meant, then, by the statement that the Heavenly Signs and the Day of the Lord will “follow” the Great Tribulation?
In a previous Q&A, we explained the meaning of this phrase, when we discussed the difference between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord:
“…the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) is followed by the Heavenly Signs (Revelation 6:12-14; Joel 2:30-31; Matthew 24:29) and by the Day of the Lord (Revelation 6:17). The indication is, from Scripture, that the Day of the Lord begins one year before Christ’s return (compare, for example, Isaiah 34:8). But even as the Day of the Lord does not end with Christ’s return, but is ongoing, so the Great Tribulation (which begins approximately 2 1/2 years prior to the Day of the Lord) does not end, either, when the Day of the Lord starts. Rather, it continues until Satan, who causes the Great Tribulation to occur, is removed from his throne.
“Christ returns to cut the Great Tribulation short (Matthew 24:21-22). This means, the Great Tribulation is still ongoing — it overlaps for one year, in that sense, with the Day of the Lord. So, all in all, the Great Tribulation lasts approximately 3 1/2 years, but during the last year of the Great Tribulation, God starts to intervene — approximately one year before Christ’s actual return…”
In the above-quoted Q&A, we also pointed out that the Day of the Lord is the day of GOD’S wrath, while the Great Tribulation is the time of Satan’s wrath. Continuing:
“So, we see again that the Great Tribulation lasts, technically, approximately 3 1/2 years, but the last year of that time period overlaps with the beginning of the Day of the LORD — which describes the time when God intervenes in human affairs.”
The Heavenly Signs and the Day of the Lord “follow” the Great Tribulation in the sense that the Great Tribulation begins first, and after it has begun (but not ended), the Heavenly Signs and the Day of the Lord will begin. We did not mean to imply, nor does the Bible teach, that the Great Tribulation ends before the Heavenly Signs begin, and that the Day of the Lord begins after the Great Tribulation and the Heavenly Signs have ended. Rather, the Heavenly Signs and the Day of the Lord BEGIN and therefore “follow” the Great Tribulation, once Satan has commenced to pour out his wrath on modern physical and spiritual Israelites.
For an in-depth study of the biblical concepts of the Great Tribulation, the Heavenly Signs and the Day of the Lord, please read our free booklets, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord” and “Is that in the Bible–the Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”
Lead Writer: Norbert Link