Studies in Daniel and Revelation

Daniel’s 70th Week and the Tribulation

This chapter of Daniel has been referred to as “the backbone of Bible prophecy” by Sir Edward Denny, and the title is an apt one. Much of our understanding of the Tribulation as described by John in Revelation and by Jesus in His Olivette Discourse comes from this handful of verses:

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” (Daniel 9:24—27)

1. Background

In the opening verses of chapter 9, we see Daniel, a devoted man of God, in the first year of Darius, pouring over the Word of God. He did not have a completed Word of God as we have today, but he valued what had and tried to grasp what he had been reading. As he studied the words of the prophet Jeremiah, he noticed that twice (read Jeremiah 25) God said that He had a 70 year plan for the desolation of Jerusalem, that is, a total of 70 years would elapse from the time Jerusalem was destroyed until it is was to be rebuilt and inhabited once again.

Daniel was an educated man, and as he looked back over his life, he realized that since he had been taken captive as a very young man and had spent all those years in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, then in the court of the Medes and Persians, that the 70 years was almost up and that, according to what God said through Jeremiah, Jerusalem must be rebuilt soon.

So, being also a man of prayer, Daniel goes to prayer on behalf of his people, confessing the sins of his people to God, asking for mercy and forgiveness, and asking God to restore Jerusalem according to what he had learned from Jeremiah.

Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us. (9:15—16)

In answer to Daniel’s wonderful prayer, we read this—

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill— while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision: (9:20—23)

2. The 70 Weeks

The expression “seventy weeks” literally means “seventy sevens.” We know it refers to years because this answer is in reference to a prayer that concerned years, not days. So, then, the phrase “seventy weeks” or “seventy sevens” refers to “seventy sevens” of years, or seven times 70 years. The period of the “seventy weeks,” then, adds up to 490 years all together. Notice what Daniel is told:

“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.” (verse 24)

A total of six events are to take place during these 490 years relative to Israel and Jerusalem for six distinct purposes:

1. To finish transgression. The Hebrew word for “transgression” means to “revolt,” “rebel,” or “sin” against a lawful authority. The transgression referred to here refers to Israel’s rebellion against her God. This prophecy, then, foretells the culmination of that rebellion. The law was added because of their rebellion until Christ should come with the intention of leading Israel to Him (Galatians 3:17—25). But they did not recognize Jesus Christ as their Messiah, and they were summarily dismissed from God’s presence and favor as a nation and they will not be received back into His good graces until the Second Coming.

2. To put an end to sin. This refers to Israel’s sins, and this will be fulfilled at the Second Coming. This “end of sins” will happen after the Tribulation when Israel is re-established as a nation and from that time on Israel, as a people, will follow and obey her God forever (Ezek. 36:24—30; 37:24—27; 43:7; Zech. 14:1—21).

3. To atone for wickedness. The Hebrew word avon refers to something perverse or crooked. Again, it refers to Israel’s wickedness, or warped appearance in God’s eyes. While atonement for the whole world was made on the Cross, Israel as a nation has yet to appropriate its benefits and will not until Christ’s return.

4. To bring in everlasting righteousness. Once Israel has been completely redeemed and forgiven and restored as a nation, everlasting righteousness will be ushered in (Isa. 9:6—7; 12:1—6; Dan. 7:13—14; 18, 27; Matt. 25:31—46; etc.)

5. To seal up vision and prophecy. This means to bring all prophecies to their conclusion by fulfilling them. When the end comes and Israel is redeemed and restored, there will be no more need for prophets or prophecy, Jeremiah 31:31—40; Isa. 11:9.

6. To anoint the Most Holy Place. This refers to the cleansing of the Holy of Holies in the temple and ridding Jerusalem of the abomination of desolation and of the Gentile presence. It also refers to the founding of the Millennial kingdom Temple of Ezekiel 40—43; Zechariah 6:12—13.

The time it takes these six events to take place will add up to 490 years.

God helps us grasp these years by dividing up these 490 years into three distinct time periods in verses 25—27.

1. Period One, verse 25. This period consisted of a total of “seven weeks” or 49 years during which Jerusalem was rebuilt during difficult times. So, the 490 year countdown began with the Jews were allowed to return home to Jerusalem after their Babylonian captivity had run its course. There were a total of three decrees given the Jews to rebuild their city, but the clock started ticking after the third decree of 452 BC. Nehemiah 2:1—6; 19 tells the story of the 49 years it took to do the work.

2. Period Two, verse 26. The second period takes 434 years, or “sixty-two sevens,” to accomplish. It began right after the first period ended and continued without a interruption until Jesus Christ was crucified. History indicates that that exactly 434 years elapsed after These two time periods, 49 years and 434 years add up to a total 483 years, leaving seven years yet to occur, which will bring the total up to 490 years.

3. Third and final period, verse 27. The last time period will consist of one seven-year period known to students of Bible prophecy as “Daniel’s 70th Week.” The crucifixion of Christ concluded the 69th week and God stopped dealing with Israel as a nation. They were broken off in unbelief once again and their city ultimately destroyed. The 70th week will be fulfilled when Israel as a nation possesses Jerusalem exclusively. The 70th week will be the last seven years of man’s dominion of this planet, and will be parallel to the Antichrist’s seven-year treaty with Israel, Revelation 6:1—19; 21. All the events of this week (or the Tribulation) were not revealed to Daniel, but it was to Jesus (Matthew 24 and 25) and to John. This last time period will begin after the Rapture of the Church and will end at the physical return of Christ. Our present dispensation or age, known as the Church Age or the Age of Grace, is happening in between the 69th and 70th weeks. It as though we are living in a great parenthetical time period, where God’s plan for Israel is paused.

3. The Tribulation, Revelation 6:19—19:21

Daniel’s 70th Week is known better as the Tribulation, and it will begin to affect Israel when the Antichrist rises to power. Just prior to that, Israel as a nation will be undergoing persecution by the ten nation confederacy. The Antichrist will come out of one of those ten nations and will appear to be friend to Israel and will make a peace treaty with them, promising them protection and religious freedom. He will be, in fact, no friend to Israel. He will make the treaty with them because he will need their complete support, moral and financial, in his domination of the other nine nations.

The Tribulation is seen in two sections or divisions:

· Division One. The first 3 and one half years of the 70th Week are often referred to as “the lesser tribulation” because Israel will be at peace, generally, with the world because they will be protected by the Antichrist. This first division of the Tribulation takes in chapters 6:1—9:21 of Revelation.

· Division Two. This is the second 3 and one half years and is commonly referred to as “the Great Tribulation” because both the persecution of God’s people will begin when the Antichrist’s turns on them and God’s judgments will greatly increase in severity. This part of the Tribulation is seen in Revelation 10:1—19:21. Jesus, Daniel, Jeremiah, and many other prophets of the Old Testament speak of this period in Hebrew history as being worse than any time that has ever existed in the history of the world.

The purpose of the Tribulation is as follows:

· To purify Israel and bring them back in God’s everlasting plan (Isa. 2:6; 3:26; 16:1—5; 24:1—15; 26:20—21; Ezek. 20:33; 34; 22:17—22; Romans 11:25—29.

· To cleanse Israel from all those who rebel against God (Ezek. 20:33—34; 22:17—22; Zech. 13:8—19; Mal. 3:3—4).

· To bring Israel into the New Covenant (Ezek. 20:33—34; 36:24-28; Jer. 30:3—11; Zech. 12:100013:9; Mal. 4:3—4).

· To judge Israel and punish them for their rejection of the Messiah and make them willing to accept Him when He comes a second time (Ezek. 20:33—34; Zech. 12:10—13:9; 14:1—15; Matt. 24:15—31).

· To bring Israel to complete repentance (Zech. 12:10—13:9; Rom. 11:26—29; Matt. 23:39).

· To fulfill the prophecies of Daniel 9:24—24; Rev. 6:1—19:21; Matt. 24:14, 19; etc.).

· To cause Israel to flee into the desert of Edom and Moab and to be so persecuted by other nations that Israel will have to turn to God for help (Isa. 16:1—5; Ezek. 20:33—35; Dan. 11:40—12:7; Hos. 2:14—17; Matt. 24:15—31; Rev. 12).

(c) 2009 WitzEnd
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