How long does scripture say the tribulation will last?
The Bible reveals that the Tribulation Period will be 7 years in length. If you put two facts together, you can see this truth.
First, God’s two witnesses prophesy during the Tribulation Period for 3 1/2 years. Revelation 11:3-7 says, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.”
A thousand two hundred and threescore days is 1,260 days (a score equals 20), which equals 42 months (based on a 30 day month), which equals 3 1/2 years. It is important to note that God’s two witnesses are the ones calling down the plagues for the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation Period. When their testimony is finished (their job is done), God allows them to be killed.
Now, at that point, Satan is cast out of the heavenly realm. Remember, Satan is not in hell right now, but is free to roam upon earth, and also he has access to heaven. His access to heaven is going to end at the middle of the Tribulation Period. Revelation 12:-14 says, “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.”
The woman referred to there is God’s people, Israel. Notice that she now needs protection for 1,260 days (which is 42 months, or 3 1/2 years). Why does she need this special protection? Because Satan is cast out into the earth, and knows that he only has a short time (3 1/2 years). That last verse above bears this out, also, when it says, “where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” A “time” equals 1. “Times” equals 2. A “half a time” equals 1/2. If you add up 1+2+1/2, that equals 3 1/2.
There are other references which show that the Tribulation Period is 7 years long total, but adding these two passages shows it clearly. God’s two witnesses prophesy for the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation Period, and then they are killed. Satan then torments people for the second 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation Period (during that last 3 1/2 years, God also sends down 3 sets of judgments to torment the wicked). So when you add these two periods together, you have 7 years total.