Events During the First 3½ Years
The beginning of the time of great trouble called Daniel’s 70th Week (or more correctly, Daniel’s 70th set of 7 years in God’s countdown to Christ’s Return, which is the final 7 years of this age) is the point that the Bible gets very specific concerning the timing of significant events. It may seem incredible, but the day that the Antichrist signs a treaty setting up his world empire, the final 7 years will begin ticking down and the relative timing of many of the prophetic events leading up to the Return of Christ will be known with a high degree of certainty. The first 3½ years will be the time when the Final World Empire arises with the Antichrist at its helm. See the chronological timeline for this period in the previous section for a detailed list of events related to this section.
Before the start of Daniel’s 70th Week, it was impossible to know when any of the major prophetic events would occur in the future. Christ plainly said to his Disciples that the dates related to End Times events and His Return were hidden by the Father:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only”.
Jesus also said that we couldn’t know when the predicted events would occur before they happened, we could only watch events unfold with an eye toward Biblical prophecy to know when the End Times was approaching.
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
However, the day when the Antichrist signs the treaty setting up his empire, which will be the starting point of the first 3½ years, the principle of uncertainty surrounding the timing of events will be removed. At that point, God’s final timeline for this world will begin and the exact dates of many events leading up to the Second Coming will be known. Based on the detailed prophecies in the Bible concerning the final 7 years, once that period starts we will be able to calculate the timing and sequence of major events during the Antichrist’s reign.
For instance, the book of Revelation states that the Antichrist and his kingdom will be allowed to continue for 42 months (Rev. 13:5), which is a very specific length of time. If we combine this with knowledge from Daniel’s prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (or the 70 sets of 7 years), we know that each year of the 7 years within the 70th Week will be 360 days long (which is the Jewish calendar year). Using this figure for the number of days in a Jewish year, each month must be 30 days in length (360/12 = 30); therefore the total length of the Antichrist’s reign can be easily calculated to be exactly 1,260 days [(42 months × 30 days/month) = 1,260 days)] or the first 3½ years leading to the end (see the timeline illustration at the beginning of the previous section).
Furthermore, since Daniel 9:25 states that the final 7 years will begin with the Antichrist signing a treaty with many nations and Revelation 13:5 says that his kingdom will be allowed to continue for 42 months, this tells us that the time of his empire must span the entire first half of Daniel’s 70th Week (or the first 3½ years). The timing of these events can be seen mapped out to the left of the arrow in the timeline as a series of labeled dimensional time segments (see the timeline here).
It is during this first half of the final 7 years that the Man of Sin will have full power to do almost anything his evil heart desires. As time passes, his grip on the empire will become ever more powerful until, in his mind, he becomes the greatest leader in history.
Both the prophet Daniel and the Apostle Paul indicated that an illusion of peace and safety would characterize the first 3½ years. Daniel says that “by peace [the Antichrist] shall destroy many” (Dan. 8:25). Paul confirms this fact by warning that when the world finally thinks it’s in a period of “peace and safety” “then sudden destruction” will come upon them and they shall not escape (1 Thess. 5:3).
Persecution and Trouble
Many of the important prophecies about the first 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th Week don’t include exact dates or times that can help us know when events will occur during this period; however, these prophecies still provide vital information about the conditions within the Antichrist’s Empire. Some of the prophecies relate to revolutionary (and terrible) new policies the Antichrist will enact and what will happen to the followers of Christ as a consequence. Other prophecies relate to sin and judgment, which is an important Biblical cause-and-effect principle that will build to a level never before seen on earth. These prophecies are listed in the timeline illustration at the beginning of the previous section and shown as bullet points to the right of the arrow, including the associated Bible references.
In contrast to the incredible euphoria and hype that will be touted by the elite and the mainstream media at the Antichrist’s rise, his reign will not usher in a time of global peace and prosperity. In fact, just the opposite will occur. When the Holy Spirit pulls away from inhibiting the Antichrist’s rise to power (2 Thess. 2:6-8), God will also pull back from inhibiting many other actions of evil in this world. Self-control and good character will quickly disappear while bad behavior and hatred will grow ever stronger. People wanting to do grossly immoral or criminal acts will rapidly sear their conscience into committing increasingly terrible actions of depravity and violence. This degeneracy will cause sin to spiral out of control into increasing chaos as the final 7 years progress.
Instead of being the Utopian paradise as the Antichrist and his followers will promise, the world will enter into an accelerating period of open sin and rebellion against God, resulting in the curse of sin devouring the Earth as its judgment (Genesis 3:17-19). Isaiah predicted this time and said,
“The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.”
The Antichrist is predicted to be openly and vehemently against God (Dan. 11:36; 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:6). The people who follow the Antichrist will go along with his evil ways and reject God and Jesus Christ. They will turn against everything that is Godly or righteous. The Apostle John says this regarding the Antichrist:
“And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in Heaven.”
The Antichrist’s hatred of God and Jesus will result in an attempt to wipe out everything associated with Christianity and the followers of Christ. This will include changing or eliminating Christian holidays, calendar events, special tax benefits that churches have today, and nullifying any public talk of Christianity or its principles—but this will be only the beginning of persecution.
Even now, in many parts of the world churches are being attacked, buildings burned to the ground, and Christians killed for their faith. This has not just happened in communist or Islamic countries, which already hate Christ and his followers. Churches in Europe, Canada, Australia, and even the United States have been viciously attacked, destroyed, and burned, and some have even suffered the onslaught of deadly armed terrorist attacks.
Early in the Antichrist’s reign, he will move to change the laws of the world. During this seismic shift in policies, he will seek to control all people through surveillance and identification. Several mechanisms will quickly be put in place, including a decree that every person must have a valid ID (the name of the Beast), an assigned number (the number of the Beast), and a government-issued mark on their right hand or forehead (the Mark of the Beast). No one will be able to participate in society without these mandated ID documents.
When the Antichrist comes to power, the persecution of Christians will become exponentially worse, mainly because Christians will dare to turn against the Empire by refusing his decrees and rejecting the Mark. Churches will be destroyed all over the world and the followers of Christ will become outcasts. Christianity will be outlawed altogether, and those who are caught with Bibles will be arrested, and imprisoned, and many will be put to death.
However, the strong Biblical prophecies of the Last Days will let true Christians know that they can never align themselves with the Antichrist. When believers refuse to take the Mark of the Beast and follow the Empire (worship it), this will enrage the Antichrist even further and result in worldwide persecution of the followers of Jesus. The Lord predicted these times as he talked to his disciples on the Mount of Olives:
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
And then shall many lose faith and shall betray one another and shall hate one another.
And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many.
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
During this time, the Lord’s Two Prophets will rebuke many people and many nations will be judged because of sin. God will give these prophets power to cause major regional catastrophes, such as drought, failed crops, disease, natural disasters, and economic collapse.
The rebellion from the Antichrist’s reign by the followers of Christ combined with the testimony and judgment of God’s Two Prophets will provoke the Antichrist and his people into a furious rage. However, John says that if the Antichrist’s forces try to harm the Lord’s prophets, then fire will come down from heaven to devour them. In other words, they will be supernaturally protected for the entire 1,260 days of their ministry, which is during the first half of Daniel’s 70th Week (the last 7 years of this age).
Despite this open display of God’s power, the enemies of Christ will be blind to the miracles that the prophets can do. The spirit of antichrist that will arise during this time through the working of demons will be so strong that some people will refuse to see the truth of God’s Word even when it becomes plainly visible. Their incensed anger and hatred toward Christians will rise to the boiling point and overflow with violence. For the first half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week, the Saints of Christ will be worn out by the war and persecution launched against them by the Empire of the Beast and its leader, the Antichrist.
The prophet Daniel predicted:
“And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hand until a time, and times, and the dividing of time.”
During this intense period, those who do not want to side with evil will begin to seek God for the first time. With the overwhelming evidence for the truth of the Bible along with the intense persecutions and the curse of sin devouring the world, people will begin to cry out to God. As the world gets darker, they will be led to repentance and they will cry out to Christ in numbers never before seen. As everything falls apart in their lives, people will turn to God and Jesus for salvation as the only hope in a hopeless world. Throughout the reign of the Antichrist and especially throughout the last half of Daniel’s 70th Week (which is the Great Tribulation), millions and millions of people will be saved by calling out to Jesus for help.
The Apostle John described the result of this tremendous turn to faith as he saw in heaven a great multitude of people that no man could number stand before the throne of God (Rev. 7:9-17). Although the vision that John saw came from the last half of the final 7 years when the Great Tribulation was nearing an end, the beginning of this harvest of souls will start during the reign of the Antichrist, or during the first 3½ years. Countless people will come to the Lord and suffer through the time of the Antichrist and the Tribulation, giving up their lives in a dying world to gain the promised salvation, immortality, and glory to come.
Approaching the End of the Antichrist’s Reign
Thus, for the first few years of Daniel’s 70th Week, the power of the Antichrist will increase unabated. Despite the judgments proclaimed by the Two Witnesses during this period, he will continue to expand his influence and global leadership over the empire as well as his persecution of Christians until he makes one catastrophic mistake. Toward the end of his allotted 3½ year reign, he will so delude himself in his heart because of his successes and global celebrity that he will actually believe he is God incarnate and the savior of the world.
When pride wells up and causes him to think that he has become God (just as Lucifer thought he could become God just before he fell), his next acts will result in the fulfillment of the predictions of Daniel (Dan. 9:27), Jesus (Matt. 24:15) and Paul (2 Thess. 2:4).
As inferred from these prophecies, the Antichrist will arrive in Jerusalem sometime before the mid-point of the final 7 years. There he will commit a heinous act of sin that the Bible calls the Abomination of Desolation. This singular event will become an earth-shattering turning point that will change his fate and that of the world’s forever.
Supported by his security team and military forces, the Antichrist will enter the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. He will then order the cessation of the sacrifices and enter the inner chamber and sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, and there proclaim himself to be God and savior of the world. That one act will actually be the most important turning point of the entire final 7-year period. Almost immediately after the Antichrist dares to commit this abomination, the Lord will cause the end of his empire with astonishing speed and violence.
The prophet Daniel is very specific as to when this event will occur. In the last chapter of his book, an angel told Daniel precisely at what point the Abomination of Desolation will happen with respect to the last 7-year period. According to the angel’s own words, from the time that the Abomination occurs to the very end of the age, there would be exactly 1,290 days.
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.”
Since we already know that Daniel’s 70th Week will be divided into two equal 1,260-day periods, the Abomination of Desolation must therefore occur exactly 30 days prior to the mid-point of the final 7 years (see the left side of the timeline; 1,260 days + 30 days = 1,290 days left before the end). Thus, only one month before the predicted end of the Antichrist’s reign, he will commit the grievous act of Temple desecration and self-pride that will cause the Lord to intervene and make his evil empire crumble. It will be the Abomination that makes the entire world desolate!
At this time, as the Antichrist comes forth from the Temple in apparent jubilant victory, he will encounter the primary focus of his remaining resistance—the Two Witnesses (see the previous section). The Lord’s Two Prophets had been prophesying against the Antichrist and his empire since the beginning of his reign. They were the leaders of all Christians and now, fresh from his exuberant (but false) victory of declaring himself God, he will go forth to get rid of these two thorns in his flesh once and for all!
At precisely the end of the first 3½ years, after exactly 1,260 days of the Antichrist’s reign over the Final World Empire, he will succeed in killing the Two Prophets on the streets of Jerusalem. However, this will not be the victory he thinks it is. Combined with the Abomination of Desolation, the murder of the Lord’s Two Witnesses will be the final act he will accomplish before his empire crumbles into utter destruction!
Next: The Final 3½ years (coming soon)