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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chronology of Revelation, Part 3

So you may be asking yourself, "Why does he belabor this so much?" Well, the reason is pretty simple.  It's a major Bible teaching--not just the events, but also the chronology.
The first thing to understand about the book of Revelation is that it really is a book designed to help you understand the future. If you are a Christian, you need to know this material so that you can react to what is coming.  If you're not, you are being warned.
So. The chronology is a bit complex, but it resolves itself (mostly) into three passages:
1. Daniel 9
2. Matthew 24 (and the parallels in Mark and Luke).
3. Revelation 4-19.
It's tough, as I said, to figure when all this starts, how long it lasts (actually, THAT'S in Daniel), and when it ends (that's in Daniel as well).
Here's the first passage (New American Standard Bible, 1995):
Daniel 9-The angel Gabriel is giving Daniel the information on which the timeline of Bible prophecy is built, in response to Daniel's prayer regarding the Captivity:
24 "Seventy 'weeks' (literally, "sevens") have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.
25 "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.
26 "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
So what we have here is several things:

1. The complete fulfillment of the prophecy involves a number of things (I'm using weeks to mean "weeks of years," which is what fits):
  • "To finish the transgression"--the Jews' rebellions against God.
  • "To make an end of sin"--i. e., to fill up the sins of God's people
  • "To make atonement for iniquity"-- i.e, to complete a final atonement
  • "To bring in everlasting righteousness"--i. e., to complete God's work in the earth regarding righteousness.
  • "To seal up vision and prophecy" i. e., to fulfill it.
  • "To anoint the most holy place" i. e., to anoint the Temple (the "most holy," KJV is a place, the holy of holies within the temple.)
In other words, all the events that Gabriel is describing happen within the time frame of these seventy "sevens."
2. However, if you look carefully, you'll see that something is missing:
"Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 
"Seven weeks and sixty two weeks" until "Messiah the Prince;" counting consecutive years from the time that Gabriel starts (the decree), brings us to something after the birth of Christ.  Older authors suggested it was pretty exact, i. e. the time that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey.  Probably not that exact, but close.  
However the thing that's missing (62 weeks plus 7 weeks is 69 weeks, not 70) is a final period of time, known variously as "Daniel's 70th week," and "the Tribulation Period," and lots of other things. It's THIS time period to which Matthew 24 and Revelation 4-19 refer. It's a time period bound by specific years, in which the church is not mentioned, and the focus of God's work returns to Israel; Christians are heavily persecuted (worse than now?? YES!), die for their faith, and suffer immensely. This is one of the main foci of the words of Jesus in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. In the book of Revelation, the information presented in chapters 4-19 agrees with this, but the focus is more about what God is doing to establish His own Kingdom in place of Satan's kingdom. This time period is 7 years long, and it's divided into two "pieces."

Here's the way I think it works out (remember, we're not there yet, so all this is subject to instant revision):

3. Revelation 4-19: the seven years, the 70th week of Daniel:

----------------------------------------- <<>> ---------------------------------
Revelation 4-11,                                        Revelation 13-19, Up to when the Antichrist
Up to when the Two Witnesses                 is defeated, and Christ returns.
Finish their Testimony                              Begins with "The Beast rising out of the Sea,"
The first 3-1/2 years...                               which is the "second half of Daniel's 70th week."

Notes: The second half of Daniel's 70th week is extensively discussed in the Bible.  I'll write about that next. It's referred to in Daniel 12 and lots of other places.  It's the worst time in Israel's future. 

4. So why is this important? Isn't it in the future? What does it have to do with us? 
Lots.  It tells you that God actually has a plan for the world in which we live.  It warns us to be ready for His return.  We don't know when that will be. It tells us the basis for the separation between good and evil. It makes the key to life our eternal destiny.
It asks and answers the question, "Where will you spend eternity?" 
By the way: Where will you spend eternity? It's a long time, you know.

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