Greetings Eschatologists! What do you do when you’re finished studying the book of Daniel and the spirit of Antichrist? It’s obvious. You start a study of the book of Revelation. But before we get into the details of Revelation, there are a few things to know that will help you best understand the vision Jesus gave to the apostle John. That’s what this series is all about. Keep reading!
INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION
First in a Four-Part Series
by Karen Thompson
“Seventy Weeks Are Determined Upon Thy People and Upon Thy Holy City…”
The study of the book of Revelation must begin with a study of what is referred to as “Daniel’s 70 weeks.” As will be revealed, the events in Revelation are the fulfillment of Daniel’s 70th week!
We read about Daniel’s 70-weeks prophecy in Daniel chapter 9. The chapter begins with Daniel seeking God in prayer about the Jewish exiles who had been living in Babylon. Daniel and the first group of exiled Jews had been living in Babylon for 70 years; and according to prophecy, it was time for them to return to Jerusalem. Daniel was praying about Jeremiah’s prophesy about Jerusalem and the exiles: “For thus says the Lord: after seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place [Jerusalem]” (Jer. 29:10). It was prophesied the exiles would return to Jerusalem after 70 years!
As Daniel was praying about returning to Jerusalem after the fulfillment of a 70-year exile, he was surprised by a visitor. The angel Gabriel appeared to him with a message from the Lord. He informed Daniel about an additional judgment of seventy weeks the Jewish people would experience. Gabriel said that when this additional 70-weeks judgment was completed, God’s divine will and plan for Israel would be accomplished.
Gabriel said to Daniel, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Dan. 9:24). Gabriel listed five things that will be accomplished when Daniel’s 70th week is fulfilled.
- “To finish the transgression and to make an end of sins”: This is talking about the rebellion of the Jewish people toward God coming to an end.
- “To make reconciliation for iniquity”: The word “reconciliation” is the Hebrew word kaphar and it means “to cover, purge, make an atonement.”1 Israel’s sins will be atoned collectively as a nation.
- “And to bring in everlasting righteousness”: When Israel’s rebellion toward God has come to an end and the people repent of their sins, both nationally and individually, they will become a righteous and holy nation. It will be an “everlasting righteousness,” meaning it will never end. This is talking about the Jewish people and Jerusalem being holy and set apart to rule and reign in righteousness with our Lord. The prophet Zechariah also prophesied about Jerusalem becoming a city of truth and righteousness (Zec. 8).
- “And to seal up the vision and prophecy”: All the prophetic words and visions spoken about Jerusalem and the children of Israel will be sealed up at this time. This means all the visions and prophesies will be fulfilled and come to pass at the 70th week.
- “And to anoint the most Holy”: Some think this is referring to the temple in Jerusalem.
These 70 weeks, however, are not weeks of days. They are weeks of years. So 70 weeks of years are calculated as 7 times 70, totaling 490 years. At the end of 490 years, Israel was supposed to have experienced the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to be that holy and set apart nation.
Gabriel went on to tell Daniel about how this 70 weeks of years would be divided into three segments of time: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Dan. 9:25–27).
The 490 years were divided into three segments of time: 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week. During each of these segments of time, certain events were to take place. The first segment of time of 7 weeks, or 49 years, began when the commandment to restore Jerusalem was given. From the time the commandment was given to restore Jerusalem until the city was actually restored was 49 years. The second segment of time of 62 weeks, or 434 years, would come to an end when Messiah was “cut off.” This refers to the Messiah being crucified.
The last segment of time of one week has not yet been fulfilled. What happened is that the 70 weeks were interrupted by the church age… and the Roman Empire. The 70-weeks prophecy was suspended after the completion of the 69th week. After the death of the Messiah, the Jewish people were in a constant state of rebellion with the Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor grew tired of the rebels in Judah and Jerusalem and decided to be done with them once and for all. As a result, the Romans brought about the fall of Jerusalem in 70 BC, burning it to the ground. A little later, the Bar Kokhba revolt took place which enraged the Roman Emperor Hadrian. As a result, he determined to erase Judaism from the province. He commanded all the Jewish people from the area to leave, forcing them to become exiles in foreign lands. Then he renamed the land of Judah to Palestine.
If you recall, the 70-weeks prophecy was about Jerusalem and the Jewish people: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.” With no Israel and no city of Jerusalem and no Jewish people living in the area, it was impossible for Daniel’s 70th week to be fulfilled. But then in 1948, after two millennia, the nation of Israel was born, and the Jewish people from all over the world began to return, making it possible for Daniel’s 70th week to be fulfilled.
There is only one week of seven years left to be fulfilled. Eschatologists, those who study end time doctrine, refer to this last segment of time as “Daniel’s 70th week.”
What is fascinating is that when Jesus was still on the earth, God showed Him what would happen during the last week of seven years, the 70th week. In Matthew chapter 24, Jesus told the disciples much of what God showed Him would happen in Daniel’s 70th week. Everything Jesus talked about in Matthew chapter 24 is recorded in the book of Revelation.
Years after His death and resurrection, Jesus appeared to John in a vision when John was on the isle of Patmos, sentenced there by the Roman emperor for preaching the Gospel. Jesus revealed to John the events that would happen during Daniel’s 70th week. John was instructed to write down in a book everything he saw. The book, of course, is called The Revelation. When you read the book of Revelation, you are reading about what will happen during Daniel’s 70th week.
Daniel 9:27 tells us what is to happen during Daniel’s 70th week: “And he [Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
In this last segment of time, we know from Daniel’s other visions that Antichrist will invade Jerusalem. He will make some sort of covenant of peace “with many” for one week of seven years. The “many” refers to nations. But in the middle of the week, after 3 ½ years, Antichrist will break the covenant. He breaks it by invading Jerusalem. He will cause the “sacrifice and the oblation” (offerings) to stop. At this point in time, there is no temple in Jerusalem where sacrifices can be made. Because of this verse and others that speak about a temple during end times (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 11:1–2), eschatologists believe the Jewish people will have opportunity to build a temple. It is believed a temple will be built in the first half of Daniel’s 70th week when the nations are at peace.
There is one other thing you must keep in mind when studying Revelation. Focus your attention on Gabriel’s very first words he spoke to Daniel: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city….” Gabriel was speaking to Daniel when he said “thy people” and “thy holy city.” Daniel’s “people” are the Jewish people. And the “holy city” is Jerusalem. That means Daniel’s 70 weeks are about the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem.
Why is this information important? Because when Christians read Revelation, they make the mistake of thinking the events of Revelation are about them. When I say “them,” I mean Gentile Christians. Consequently, they interpret the various scenarios of Revelation from that point of view. That will only lead to wrong interpretations. It can’t be said too often: this seven-year span of time, Daniel’s 70th week, is about the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem. It’s about the Jewish people going through the worst time in their collective history and, ultimately, being reconciled with God. If you keep that perspective in mind while studying Revelation, you’ll stay on the right track in understanding the events recorded in it.
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