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01 June 2020

Seventy Weeks of Daniel Missing in Revelation

Synopsis:  Despite its frequent use of Daniel, the book of Revelation does not apply its “Seventy Weeks” prophecy to any of its visions.

Photo by Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash
Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash
The application of the prophecy of the “Seventy Weeks” from the Book of Daniel is missing from the book of Revelation, an Old Testament prophecy foundational to the chronologies and expectations of several popular interpretations concerning the end-times. That is, Revelation never attempts to use the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy for its chronology or to shed light on any of its images. The book includes no verbal allusions to the passage from Daniel 9:24-27.

For that matter, no New Testament book attempts to apply the “seventy sevens” or any of its parts to any end-time predictions. Nevertheless, passages from Revelation are often coordinated with this prophecy from Daniel in popular teachings and books about the “last days.” For some interpretations, it provides the basis for understanding the chronologies and sequence of events of the last days. For example:

“No portion of the Old Testament scripture is as essential to unlocking the mysteries of the prophetic plan for God’s future program for Israel and the nations than the book of Daniel and, of all Daniel’s prophecies, the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks provides the indispensable chronological key to New Testament prophecy” (from The Seventy Weeks of Daniel by Randall Price).
“The prophet Daniel gave the framework of the Tribulation era in Daniel 9:24-27” (Hal Lindsey, Vanished Into Thin Air [Beverly Hills:  Western Front, 1999], p. 210).

The problem is not a single reference from or verbal allusion to the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy is found in the Book of Revelation, period, although the book utilizes several other passages from Daniel, in some cases, multiple times (e.g., Daniel 7:21 in Revelation 11:7, 12:17 and 13:7).
As stated, the Book of Revelation makes no attempt to correlate its chronology or sequence of events with the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy. If it is so vital to end-time prophecy, why is it not used in Revelation? John was certainly familiar with the Book of Daniel - His frequent allusions to it demonstrate this beyond any doubt. He certainly knew the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy, yet he did not employ it. 

For example, the request of Daniel to the prince of the eunuchs to “prove us ten days” is applied to the church at Smyrna. This congregation was to have “tribulation ten days,” just as the Jewish exiles were tested ten days on a diet that excluded any foods offered to Babylonian idols (Daniel 1:12-14, Revelation 2:8-11).

God showed King Nebuchadnezzar, “What things must come to pass in later days,” a phrase found four times in the book of Revelation where it marks the start of new literary sections, only, it changes “later days” to “soon” (Daniel 2:20-28, Revelation 1:1-3).

The vision of the four beasts ascending from the sea climaxed in Daniel with the “saints possessing the kingdom forever.” That vision is reflected in the single beast from the sea in the Book of Revelation. As in Daniel, this “beast” wages war against the “saints” and prevails over them (Daniel 7:1-22, Revelation 13:1-10).

The examples can be multiplied. The point is, John was well-versed with the book of Daniel and he did not hesitate to apply key passages from it to his visions, sometimes repeatedly. Nevertheless, he omitted any reference from or allusion to the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy.

In fact, Revelation utilizes language from every chapter of the Book of Daniel EXCEPT its ninth chapter with its “Seventy Weeks” prophecy.  The omission speaks volumes - the “Seventy Weeks” is not integral to the chronology or the event sequences of the book of Revelation.

Furthermore, the book of Revelation does simply restate prophecies or chronological references from Daniel but, instead, reinterprets and reapplies them. For example, the “season, seasons and divided season” from Daniel becomes, “forty-two months” and “a thousand two-hundred sixty days” (Revelation 11:2-3, 13:5).

For example, the “later days” and “season of the end” in the book of Daniel become “soon” and “at hand,” respectively, in the book of Revelation. The four beasts from the sea in Daniel become a single beast from the sea in Revelation, a single entity comprised of all the animal features of the four beasts from Daniel.

The book of Revelation routinely reinterprets prophetic pictures from Daniel and applies them in new ways. However, it never uses language or imagery from the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy; nowhere does it link or coordinate its prophetic events with those of the “Seventy Weeks.”

Likewise, in their many statements about the “last days” and the return of Jesus none of the New Testament writers ever refer to the “Seventy Weeks” of Daniel. The only reference remotely related is the warning of Jesus about a coming “abomination of desolation,” however, his citation is from Daniel 11:31-36, not Daniel 9:27. The same is true of the Apostle Paul’s prediction of a coming “man of lawlessness” in 2 Thessalonians2:1-4.

The omission of this important prophecy from such New Testament contexts should serve as a cautionary note to interpreters not to make hasty conclusions or read their assumptions from Daniel too quickly into Revelation. We ought also to reconsider whether the “Seventy Weeks” prophecy is integral to a biblical understanding of the last days and the return of Jesus in glory.

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