What is the significance of the “ten days” mentioned in scripture? In particular, there is a rather mysterious mention of ten days of tribulation in Revelation 2:10. Nothing in scripture is purely arbitrary or random so I have looked into what the ten days means.
Some hints in the Old Testament
The price of REDEMPTION was TEN gerahs, half a shekel (Exo 30:12-16). This sum was the Atonement price for each individual, given to the Temple.
We remember that before Israel escaped from Egypt, there were TEN judgements on Egypt but only THREE of these befell Israel who were hidden and covered in Goshen. (Exodus 8:22-23: “And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and your people…” )
By the way, I find it fascinating that the same TEN plagues befall the world in the endtimes, according to Revelation, but once again only THREE are experienced by God’s people, and after that they are “hidden in Goshen”. See this article and also this account and comparison .
I now believe, after having studied all aspects of the ten days in scripture, that it refers to a specific time of waiting, trusting and testing just before the Coming of the Lord, ten days of anticipation for the final redemption.
The ten days motif also gives us a really important clue about the sequence of events leading up to the Lord’s Coming. Let me explain:
Before the predicted destruction came, and before the New Earth was seen, Noah and his family (all the righteous of the earth) waited, hidden inside the Ark.
There were precisely TEN generations before Noah and the rescue from the Flood. Noah and his family then entered the Ark at God’s command on the TENTH day of the month. They then waited seven days hidden in the Ark before God shut the door and the rain began. (Genesis 7:10).
They are calculated to have been on the Ark for a total of 370 days, which is (in the lunar calendar) a year and TEN DAYS.
Israel likewise had a period of seven days of waiting and spiritual preparation between Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets as we call it, and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). However, this entire period covers TEN DAYS if you count in the two festivals, since the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) is celebrated for two days and Yom Kippur itself for one. Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement is celebrated on the 10th day of the month.
Ten Days of Awe
In the period between New Year and Atonement, and before the rejoicing of God’s presence in Tabernacles, God’s people waited, prayed and sought forgiveness.
The day of shouting and trumpets in Israel is celebrated as Rosh Hashanah, the “head of the year” or in other words, New Year. Unlike any other festival, it is celebrated at the new moon, and is the only festival without a specific historic event associated with it. It is merely commanded as a “day of rest” (Leviticus 23:23–25).
Rosh Hashanah is also known as Yom Teruah or the Day of Trumpets. The word teruah means “to shout or make a noise” so this holiday is marked by the blowing of the shofar in Jewish synagogues around the world.
The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur [on the TENTH day of the month] are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the “Days of Affliction”.
The people are waiting for and preparing for the day of judgement.
On each day of the previous month the trumpet is sounded. This entire period is seen by Israel as a time for repentance, contrition and preparation in order to be in a state of righteousness before God on the Day of Atonement, when the names of God’s faithful will be finally sealed into the Book of Life.
There are SEVEN ordinary days in between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. But by adding the two-day Trumpets Feast, and the Day of Atonement, the “Days of Awe” equals TEN days.
- The reason that Rosh Hashanah is a two-day festival is because of the uncertainty of knowing exactly when the new moon has been seen. (No man knows the day or the hour!) At least two witnesses are required to verify the appearance of the new moon.
Thus, as in the story of Noah and the Ark, after summoning and gathering God’s people there is a period of seven to ten days before the End.
Seven Days March Round Jericho
There is a period of seven days before the destruction of Jericho, during which God’s people prepare for the victory.
The foregoing explanation of the seven days, stretching into ten days, of trumpet-blowing and preparation, may remind some of the bible’s account of the destruction of Jericho. (Joshua 6:1-20) While not exactly in line with the theme of this article, it has some similarities.
Here again we have a sequence of events, with the blowing of trumpets for seven days as the people silently circled the city of Jericho, and on the seventh day the intensity of the seven circuits, shouting aloud, and blasting of trumpets immediately followed by victory and the destruction of the wicked.
“When you hear them sound a LONG blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” (verse 5)
“The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!” (verse 16)
In a similar way, the trumpet sounds every day during the month of Elul (6th month) in preparation for Rosh Hashanah, and the final shofar blast of that day is called the “last shofar” – i.e. the “last trumpet”. On that Day, the trumpet is blown up to a hundred times! It is a day of loud noise, shouting and the blowing of the trumpet.
On that day also it is said the the Book of Life and Book of Death are opened, but there is a period of ten days before the final judgement!
We read that “Those who had fully repented before or by the end of Yom Teruah, [Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah] were exempt from the process of the heavenly court trial in the ten days which followed.” [Source]
In addition, there is a specially loud and LONG blast on the shofar in the final hour of Yom Kippur – it is called “The Great Trump,” known in Hebrew as the Shofar HaGadol, which happens at the “closing of the gates” after which nobody can enter in to be saved. (Distinct from the “final trumpet” seen above at Rosh Hashanah.)
Neilah: The Closing of the Gates of Heaven
Neilah is the closing or final service of Yom Kippur. It is the Jewish belief that the gates of Heaven are open during the days of repentance to receive our prayers for forgiveness and that they close after the neilah service. (Specifically, they are open on Rosh HaShanah to let the righteous into Heaven and remain open until the neilah service of Yom Kippur.) When the final blast of the shofar (the Shofar HaGadol, the Great Trumpet) is heard at the end of the neilah service, those who have observed the day with sincerity should feel that they have been inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life. [Source]
Seeing the Pattern
I hope that by now you will be seeing the scriptural pattern that is emerging from these accounts. After a time of preparation, in an atmosphere of growing wickedness, God’s people are summoned to “enter in” and are then hidden for 7-10 days before the ultimate destruction arrives. After that, there is victory, rejoicing, a new world, a new era, and now we will see this involves a wedding feast, too.
Isaac and Rebekah
The Bride of the Son has a long journey towards her Lord, and patiently awaits the moment she looks up to see him.
The account of Abraham sending out his servant to find a bride for his son is really an almost perfect parable of the Father’s search for a Bride for his Son, the Lord Jesus. It is found in Genesis chapter 24.
What is noticeable throughout, is the repeated motif of the TEN. For instance:
- Gen 24:10 – the servant took ten camels.
- Gen 24:20 – Rebekah drew enough water for all ten of the servant’s camels.
- Gen 24:22 – the servant gave her two bracelets of ten shekels weight of gold.
- Gen 24:55 – her family requested Rebekah remain for ten days
- Gen 24:60 – they blessed Rebekah to “become thousands upon ten thousands”.
Of these, by far the most interesting is the request that Rebekah stay with her own family for ten days. In terms of the gospel parable, Rebekah is the Church, and Isaac is the Son of the Father (Abraham). Her family is her natural life in the world, in which she hears of Isaac and is called to leave her old life and travel to the new one with him.
That is her moment of “entering into the Ark” or as we would understand it, being saved – but just as before, there is a ten day period of waiting and preparation before she can move on.
Yet, praise God, we notice that the Betrothed is READY to go AT ONCE and turns down the offer of the ten days! Isn’t that remarkable. (24:55-58) Nonetheless, the pattern holds true because Rebekah now has a journey ahead of her while she waits, ponders, prepares and reflects until that moment that she looks up and sees Isaac the Son. (verse 64) Only after that came the longed-for wedding.
It would be very satisfying if we knew that the journey took ten days, but unfortunately we are not told.
David and Abigail – 1 Samuel 25
Ten days passed between the salvation of the Bride Abigail and her wedding to the King.
Here is another account where we encounter the TEN.
While David was exiled from his home he encountered a wealthy but ignorant and surly man called Nabal with a beautiful intelligent wife called Abigail. Hearing that the sheep were being shorn, David sent TEN men to ask for provisions. Nabal however turned them away with insults.
His wife Abigail saved the day by sending provisions herself, and when she met with David prevented what would otherwise have been a slaughter.
As with the previous account, Isaac and Rebekah, we have a woman (Abigail) coming out of the world and her own life to fall before the feet of David begging forgiveness of him. (David is another type of the Lord Jesus)
(Verse 35) “So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, Go up in peace to your house; see, I have hearkened to your voice, and have accepted your person.”
So this was Abigail’s moment of salvation where she came under David’s blessing and her life was spared. But now see what happens – again the TEN DAYS:
And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk: therefore she told him nothing, little or much, until the morning light. But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And it came to pass about TEN days later, that the LORD struck Nabal, that he died. (36-38)
It was only after this period of ten further days of being “in the world” and enduring an abusive situation that the MARRIAGE could take place between Abigail and David.
Daniel’s Ten Day Test
A period of ten days’ testing showed Daniel and his companions worthy of being presented to the King.
In the first chapter of the book of Daniel we read about those who were exiled as Jews from Jerusalem, and who were now living in Babylon as prisoners and servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
(Verse 5) “And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s food, and of the wine which he drank: so training them THREE years, that at the end of that time they might stand before the king.”
Amongst these were the renamed Jews Daniel (Belteshazzar) and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
(Verse 8) “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s food, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”
So here is a faithful man of God exiled in Babylon, the representation of the fallen world, who decided to put his faith in the Lord, even to the point of death. He persuades the king’s men to serve him and his companions only water and vegetables for TEN DAYS, a time of trial and testing, after which they believed they would be worthy to stand before the King. (verse 12) And so it came to pass!
Once again the ten days is seen as a testing time, a time of serious preparation for the End.
(verse 17) “As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.”
Two New Testament Parables
Jesus refers to the ten as being a parable of the believers making preparation for his coming.
In two of his parables, Jesus used the number TEN to imply a waiting time, a time of preparation and faithfulness before the final day. He first spoke of his servants being provided with money and told to use it profitably while waiting for his return:
Luke 19:11-13 – The Parable Of The Ten Minas
While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called TEN of his slaves, and gave them TEN minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’
In another parable he tells us the fate of the one who failed to carry out the command, and who – through fear or laziness – did nothing whatsoever to serve the Lord, preserving only (as he thought) his own personal salvation. He was more interested is saving his own skin than obeying the Lord and becoming useful to Him.
Notice that this servant was not over-burdened with a task that was beyond him, because he was only given “one talent” compared to the other servants who had more.
In other words, as they say, “You had ONE job…….!”
“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:19-30)
Matthew 25:1-13 – The Parable Of The Ten Virgins
Again, the Lord uses the number TEN in an important passage referring to the waiting time before the Lord’s coming.
He pictures ten young women who are ALL going out to wait for the Bridegroom: “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to TEN virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom”.
As you no doubt already know, five of these women were wise and five were foolish, because five had spent time making practical preparations and the other five left it to the last minute and then depended on others to make up the deficiency.
They ALL had “oil in their lamps”, the oil being a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and their lamps being their spirits (compare Proverbs 20:27) but in the darkness they found they had no more than the basics, and needed oil in “their vessels” as well – the vessels being used in scripture to denote our lives on earth, activities, behaviour, good works, biblical knowledge, and all that pertains to the body and mind.
If the truth of God is a mere recitation of beliefs, rather than an actual life-changing experience, then it has not achieved what God intended, nor will it withstand the trials to come. See James 2:18-20 and following:
“But someone will say, “You have faith and I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that God is one. Good for you! Even the demons believe that, and shudder! O foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is worthless?”
The relevant point here is that the TEN refers to the preparation time and the waiting time (either used profitably or squandered) until the cry goes out “The bridegroom is coming!”
Ten Days of Tribulation
To return full circle, once again we see that the Lord prophesied of “ten days of tribulation” that would surely befall the Church (Revelation 2:10) during a time of persecution. But this tribulation is as beneficial to the Church as it is painful. The Lord says:
I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but you are rich) and I know the blasphemy of them who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which you will suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.
It is the devil who causes these believers to be cast into prison, using blasphemers and apostates as his tool. We see a reflection of this when the 5th seal is opened allowing John to see those who have given their lives at that time; and later at the Lord’s coming when those who had resisted satan, and “loved not their lives even to the point of death” (Rev 12:11) are raised and seated with Christ (Rev 20:4-6):
“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”
The Second Death
The “second death” is the Lake of Fire reserved for satan and all his followers. However, the above verse notes three important facts. First, those who die for their faith in Jesus during the Tribulation will later be resurrected to enter the Millennium and live with Him. Second, these martyrs will escape the lake of fire or second death. Third, they will reign with Christ throughout the Millennium.
The second death is also mentioned in Revelation 20:14-15: “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
At the end of time, even death and the grave (Hades) will be thrown into the lake of fire. In addition, every person not included in the Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire. This condition will be final; the destination is permanent.
In the Jewish festivals, the Book of Life was closed and the Gate of Heaven shut at the end of the Day of Atonement. Everyone whose name was not entered into the Book of Life at that time was unredeemed and therefore destined to the Second Death.
How utterly vital it is then, to make preparations during the ten days allotted for that purpose, and to “make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) for “every one that shall be found written in the book . . . shall awake to everlasting life“. (Daniel 12:1).
On the other hand, those who trivialise and blaspheme God’s offer of salvation, and those who give themselves over to sin and temptation, and the universal deception of the last days, can be “blotted out” of that book, a terrible fate! (Psalm 69:28 and Rev 22:19)
Revelation 3:5 promises that “He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white clothing; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”
In conclusion, the people of God were given a period of time, TEN DAYS, during which the trumpets of warning sounded and repentance was called for, along with preparations of mind, body and spirit, so that the awful fate of the Lake of Fire could be avoided – which is God’s desire. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 33:11) but stretches out the time of judgement to give everyone a chance to escape.
That is what we learn from the ten days – and may God help us to make use of that time profitably, and also to warn all those who will listen that they need to start making amends, and paying heed to the voice of God, before it’s too late. ARE YOU READY?