The Trouble with The Tribulation
Whereas the significance of the number seven in Scripture is undeniable, a full commentary on the meaning of each of its occurrences in the Bible would require a lengthy work and the writing of a large volume, neither of which is our purpose in these short devotions. Thus, permit me to attempt to illustrate the scriptural significance of the number seven by pointing out its prominence in a single book of the Bible.
The Book of Revelation is undoubtedly a book of sevens. It speaks of: seven Spirits (1:4), seven churches (1:11), seven golden candlesticks (1:12), seven stars (1:16), seven seals (5:1), seven horns (5:6), seven eyes (5:6), seven angels (8:2), seven trumpets (8:2), seven thunders (10:3), seven thousand slain (11:13), seven heads (12:3; 13:1; 17:3), seven crowns (12:3), seven plagues (15:1), seven bowls (15:7), seven mountains (17:9), and seven kings (17:10).
The prevalence of the number seven in what is arguably the most important prophetic book in the Bible goes a long way toward proving the number seven’s spiritual significance in the Scripture. However, there is a conspicuously absent “seven” from the Book of Revelation. In the midst of all of its sevens, there is no mention of “seven years.”
The fact that there is no reference in the Book of Revelation to a seven-year tribulation period cannot help but call into question this keystone belief of modern-day eschatology. Furthermore, other terms and beliefs often employed and taught by today’s popular prophecy wonks are either not found in the Bible at all or only mentioned once or twice in all of Scripture. At the same time, one hears little or no mention at all today of things like “the day of the Lord”; a subject with which the Scripture is rife.
In light of the above, how can one not help but hold much of what is being taught by today’s most popular prophecy wonks suspect? Are we to believe what they say, things which are absent from or hardly mentioned in the Scripture, and ignore what God says, things with which the Scripture is rife? I’m sure you, like me, don’t think so.
In the study of prophecy, just as in everything else, we should be careful to follow the admonition of the Apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV), he admonishes us “not go beyond what is written.” We should never step outside of the parameters of God’s Word in anything that we believe or practice.