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03 September 2017

Time of Fulfillment - Daniel in Revelation

Dusk - The End has arrived
The book of Revelation uses Old Testament passages more frequently than any other book in the New Testament, especially passages from the book of Daniel. But it does so allusively, never directly citing a passage. Instead, John folds phrases from key texts into his narrative, often modifying specific words or verb tenses to make a prophetic point.
The opening paragraph of Revelation provides two examples of how John applies verbal allusions to passages from Daniel to his day and to his audience, the seven churches of Asia. A verse from the twelfth chapter of Daniel is especially pertinent since it is commonly presented as a prediction that the correct understanding of key prophetic texts would only become apparent in the final years before the end of the age (“Shut up the words and seal the book, even to the season of the end).
When applying Old Testament verses, the book of Revelation uses the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament and does so consistently. Several phrases occur more than once. Note the following examples:
(Daniel 2:28 [Septuagint]) - “There is a God in heaven that reveals mysteries and he has made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what things must come to pass in later days.”
(Daniel 12:4 [Septuagint]) - “Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the season of the end.”
(Revelation 1:1-3) - “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to make known to his servants what things must shortly come to pass…Blessed is he that reads and they that hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things that are written therein, for the season is at hand.”
(Revelation 22:10) - “And he saith unto me, Seal not up the words of the prophecy of this book; for the season is at hand.”
The first example occurs in the book’s opening passage where John is given a “revelation” (apokalupsis) with which to make known to God’s servants, “what things must come to pass soon.” The phrase in Greek reads, ha dei genesthai en takei. The clause, en tachei, denotes “with speed, quickly, soon” (cp: Luke 18:8; Acts 12:7; 22:18; 25:4; Romans 16:20, 1 Timothy 3:14).
The source of this allusion is Daniel 2:28 (Septuagint), which reads, “there is a God in heaven that reveals (apokaluptōn) mysteries, and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what things must come to pass in later days (ha dei genesthai ep’ eschatōn tōn hémerōn)."
But the book of Revelation modifies Daniel’s original phrase by changing “later days” to “soon.” What was once expected in a remote future was at hand in John’s day.
The second example occurs when John is informed that the “season is at hand.” “Season” translates the Greek noun kairos or “season”; “at hand” represents the Greek engus or “near.” It stresses proximity and imminence (cp: Romans 13:12; 1 Peter 4:7). The source of this second example is Daniel 12:4: “Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the season of the consummation.” In the Greek Septuagint, the term “season” or kairos is used, the same word found in Revelation 1:3.
Daniel was commanded to “seal” the book until the “season of the end.” Revelation indicates that the promised “season” was now at hand, if not already underway. In Revelation 22:10, unlike Daniel, John was told NOT to “seal up the words of the prophecy of the book,” precisely because “the season is at hand,” the latter clause repeating the one read previously in Revelation 1:3. In other words, from the perspective of John, the promised season of fulfillment and revelation had arrived or, at least, was imminent in the late first century.
Theologically, John is not breaking new ground. Though perhaps counterintuitive, the view of the early church was that the predicted period known as the “last days” began with the death and resurrection of Jesus. This radical change in the era is evidenced above all by the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all believers (e.g., Acts 2:16-21; Ephesians 1:10; Hebrews 1:1-3).
The point from the book of Revelation is that the season of fulfillment anticipated by Daniel has commenced. The events portrayed in Revelation were already being set in motion in John’s time; what was once expected in a distant future had commenced. The warnings and promises from Daniel were now applicable to the churches of Asia. This does not mean that Revelation’s visions were completely fulfilled in the first century; it does mean that the future events portrayed in it are even now underway.
The vision that John received on Patmos concerns far more than just history’s final few years before the return of Jesus. What was hidden to Daniel was made plain to John of Patmos and his first audience.

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