by John R Ecob DD
How do we explain the words of Jesus when He said,
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened (Matthew 24:21-22).
Does this mean the 7 years will be reduced in duration?
Daniel said the Tribulation would last for the 70th “week” or 7 years in chapter 9 of his prophecy. In Daniel chapter 7 he wrote that Antichrist would
think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time (1) and times (2) and the dividing of time (1/2) (Daniel 7:25).
Antichrist will sign a covenant with Israel at the beginning of the seven years but he will not take up his power until the midpoint of the 7 years so his reign will be for 1+2+1/2 = 31/2 years. This is repeated in Daniel chapter 12:7 which describes the second half of the Tribulation when Israel is being afflicted by the Beast.
During the first half of the seven years Antichrist must stand aside while Russia and Islam invade Israel and Israel turns to the Lord (Ezekiel 39:22). But after Russia and Islam are destroyed by God, Israel is converted, and the Asian nations have been desolated in the Great Asian War of the sixth trumpet judgment (Revelation 9:13-21), conditions will be right for Antichrist to assume universal control.
The Book of Revelation specifically states that the first half of the Tribulation will last 1,260 days (Revelation 11:3) and the second half 1,260 days (Revelation 12:6), 31/2 years (Revelation 12:14) and 42 months (Revelation 13:5). Seven times the Scripture indicates that the Tribulation will last for seven years comprised of two periods of 31/2years and if duration of that period is reduced (shortened) all of those prophecies must change. Yet Jesus said that “those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:22). How can they be shortened when seven prophecies must be exactly fulfilled?
The answer is in the first two words; “those days”. In the preceding verses of Jesus’ statement He described the first half of the Tribulation (Matthew 24:7-14) and the mid-point of the Tribulation (Matthew 24:15). Then from Matthew 24:16 to 28 Jesus described the second half of the Tribulation that will be the reign of the Beast and He called it “great tribulation”.
“Those days” are the days of the judgments of the second half of the Tribulation. At the end of the first half of the Tribulation seven Seals and seven Trumpet judgments will have desolated the world when seven Thunder Judgments are announced (Revelation10:3-4). These begin the second half of “great tribulation” and are cancelled. John is told to “write them not”. That is the shortening, reduction, of the judgments of the Tribulation. If these were poured out “no flesh” would survive including Israel. But Israel and saved Gentiles must be here when Christ returns!
It is not a reduction of the number of days in the Tribulation but a reduction in “those days” of judgment i.e. the days of the judgment.