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01 June 2020

Missing Seventy Weeks

SYNOPSIS - Despite its frequent use of the book of Daniel, Revelation does not apply Daniel’s “seventy weeks” prophecy to any of its visions.

Empty Chair - Photo by Jean-Jacques Halans on Unspla
The 
book of Revelation never cites or alludes to the “seventy weeks” prophecy from the book of Daniel, a passage from the Hebrew Bible that is foundational to the chronologies and expectations to many interpretations about the end-times. Revelation never attempts to use Daniel’s prophecy for its chronology or in any of its visions - (Daniel 9:24-27). - [Photo by Jean-Jacques Halans on Unsplash].

Yet, despite this omission, several passages from Revelation are connected to the “seventy weeks” prophecy in popular teachings about the “last days,” and often, it is the basis for end-time chronologies and event sequences. 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).
To reiterate, the problem is that not a single citation from, or verbal allusion to, the “seventy weeks” is found in Revelation, although the book utilizes several other passages from Daniel, and in some cases, multiple times - (e.g., Daniel 7:21 in Revelation 11:712:17 and 13:7).

If understanding the “seventy weeks” is vital to a correct understanding of end-time prophecy, why is it missing from Revelation? John was certainly familiar with the book of Daniel - His frequent allusions to it demonstrate this beyond any doubt. Likewise, he certainly knew about the “seventy weeks,” yet he never used it in his book.

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

Yahweh showed King Nebuchadnezzar “what things must come to pass in later days,” a phrase found four times in Revelation to mark the start of literary sections, except, in Revelation, “later days” is changed to “soon” - (Daniel 2:20-28Revelation 1:1-3).

In Daniel, the vision of the four beasts culminated with the “saints possessing the kingdom forever.” In Revelation, the “four beasts” become a single beast that ascends from the sea. 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. John was well-versed with the book of Daniel and did not hesitate to apply key passages from it to his visions, sometimes repeatedly. Nevertheless, he omitted any reference to the “seventy weeks.”
In fact, Revelation utilizes language from every chapter of the book of Daniel EXCEPT the ninth chapter with its “seventy weeks.” The omission speaks volumes – the prophecy is not integral to the chronology or the event sequences of the book of Revelation.

Furthermore, Revelation does not simply restate prophecies from Daniel; instead, it 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.” The “later days” and “season of the end” in Daniel are changed to “soon” and “at hand” in the book of Revelation. Daniel’s “four beasts from the sea” become a single “beast ascending from the sea” in Revelation, and one that includes in itself the animal features of all four beasts from Daniel - (Revelation 11:2-3, 13:5).

Thus, Revelation reinterprets prophetic pictures from Daniel and applies them in new ways. However, it never uses language or imagery from the “seventy weeks” prophecy – modified or not.

The omission of this important prophecy from the book of Revelation should caution us not to read our assumptions about the “seventy weeks” too quickly into the visions of Revelation.




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