The Time of the End
A Study About the Book of Revelation
Arlen L. Chitwood
Daniel’s Seventy Weeks
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.”
And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. (Revelation 6:1, 2)
Time during which the inheritance is redeemed (time covering the breaking of the seven seals on the scroll, resulting in ensuing judgments) [chapters 6, 8-10, 11b, 15, 16]) and time covered by corresponding events (depicted in chapters 7, 11a, 12-14, 17-19a) is often referred to as Daniel’s Seventieth Week. In Daniel’s prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27), sixty-nine have been fulfilled, and one remains to be fulfilled. This last week, a period of time covering seven years (the complete prophecy covers 490 years), forms the time during which events in Revelation 6-19 will occur.
Times of the Gentiles
Daniel, in the overall scope of his book, deals with the Jewish people in relation to the Times of the Gentiles, with a particular emphasis on that which will occur during the final seven years of this time. And the book also goes on to relate that which will occur once the Times of the Gentiles has run its course.
The final seven years of the Times of the Gentiles, where Daniel places the emphasis, are singled out in Daniel’s prophecy as the final week of the Seventy-Week prophecy. Then, immediately following the end of this time would be events leading into the Messianic Era or events within the Messianic Era.
The Times of the Gentiles, succinctly defined, is that period of time when Israel finds the scepter removed from her hand and placed in the hands of the Gentile nations.
The Times of the Gentiles began with the Babylonian captivity about 605 B.C., when the southern two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) began to be uprooted from their land and transported captive to Babylon (the Jewish people being uprooted from their land and being taken captive to Babylon in this manner occurred in three stages, lasting about nineteen years, until 586 B.C.).
The northern ten tribes had previously been carried away captive by the Assyrians, over one hundred years before (beginning abt. 722 B.C.). And an uprooting of the southern two tribes completed the dispersion of the Jewish people, bringing an end to the theocracy. The Times of the Gentiles will end following the Jewish people being brought to the place of repentance. And this will occur by the Jewish people being brought to the end of themselves through judgments during the coming Tribulation, during Daniel’s unfulfilled Seventieth Week, during the time covered by Revelation 6-19a.
The Jewish people, following their repentance and acceptance of the nation’s Messiah, will be gathered out of the nations and be restored to a healed land. Then, Gentile world power will be destroyed, the scepter will be taken from the hands of the nations, and it will be given back to Israel, within a restored theocracy.
Daniel deals with the Times of the Gentiles solely in relation to Babylon. Gentile world power is seen centered in Babylon at the beginning, for several subsequent centuries during, and at the end of this time.
The Times of the Gentiles is introduced in Daniel by and through a dream. God had placed the dream in Nebuchadnezzar’s mind, and God then revealed the dream and the interpretation to Daniel, who made both known to the king.
The dream is given in Daniel 2:31-35, and the interpretation follows in Daniel 2:37-45. The dream has to do with “a great image” that is seen standing in Babylon, consisting of four parts, representing four periods of the Babylonian kingdom during the “times of the Gentiles”:
1. Head of gold, representing the kingdom under Nebuchadnezzar and any immediate successors prior to its conquest by the Medo-Persian Empire (about 605-538 B.C.).
2. Breast and arms of silver, representing the kingdom under the Medes and the Persians prior to its conquest by the Grecian Empire (about 538-330 B.C.).
3. Belly and thighs of brass, representing the kingdom under Greece (about 330-323 B.C.; then, following Alexander the Great’s death in 323 B.C. and a four-way division of the kingdom, the kingdom of Babylon gradually faded from view as a world power).
4. Legs of iron and feet part of iron and part of clay, representing the kingdom under Antichrist (Daniel’s Seventieth Week, yet future, with Babylon re-emerging as the center of world power).
The dream involved God’s revelation to man concerning the Times of the Gentiles, from beginning to end, with a particular emphasis on the end, the last seven years (e.g., more space is give to the fourth part of the image in chapter 2 than to all the other three parts combined; and the same thing is seen in other parts of the book when the whole of the kingdom is in view [cf. chapters 7, 8, 11]).
God gave the dream about the “great image” by and through the Gentile world ruler of that day (2:1ff). God then revealed both the dream and the interpretation to a Hebrew prophet (2:19-23), in complete accord with a principle that He had previously laid down:
He declares His Word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any nation [Gentile]; and as for His judgments, they have not known them. Praise the LORD! (Psalm 147:19, 20)
Or note Romans 3:1, 2 in this same respect:
What advantage then hath the Jew . . . ?
Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.
God simply does not reveal His Word through Gentiles. Though God had caused a Gentile king to dream, it took a Jewish prophet to make the dream known and to reveal the interpretation.
There is no such thing as God, in past time, using a Gentile to author a book in Scripture (note, for example, the fallacious teaching that Luke was a Gentile, which would have had God revealing His Word in the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts to a Gentile). That would be out of line with God’s clear statement from the Psalms or from Romans.
Gentile world power is seen existing in Babylon for almost three hundred years at the beginning, but it is seen existing in Babylon for only seven years at the end. Nebuchadnezzar was the king in Babylon at the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles, and Antichrist will be the king in Babylon at the end of this time.
Babylon was the world power when the southern two tribes were carried away captive, and the Israelites were, accordingly, taken to Babylon. Assyria had been the world power when the northern ten tribes had previously been carried away captive, and those removed from the land at this time had, accordingly, been taken to Assyria. But, following this time, Babylon had conquered the Assyrian empire.
Thus, it is only natural that the Times of the Gentiles in Scripture would have a peculiar relationship to Babylon. This period of time began with a world kingdom in Babylon, it continued for almost three hundred years with a world kingdom in Babylon, and it will end with a world kingdom in Babylon. This is how Daniel presents matters in his book.
(The preceding is further developed in chapter 28 of this book.)
This is also why Israel in her harlotry is seen associated with Babylon so much in the book of Revelation. This book, as it has to do with Israel (chapters 6-19a), relates God’s dealings with this nation during the last seven years of the Times of the Gentiles, when Babylon reappears as the main power among the Gentile nations. And Israel, scattered among the nations, will find herself in the same position as seen at the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles — dwelling within a Babylonian kingdom and committing harlotry in relation to this kingdom, which is exactly the way Revelation chapters seventeen through the opening verses of chapter nineteen present matters.
(For a more detailed exposition of Daniel’s image, refer to chapter 24 in this book or to the author’s book, The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, pp. 28ff. Also, concerning Israel’s harlotry, particularly in relation to Babylon, refer to this same book [the book in general, for Israel’s harlotry forms the central subject matter of this book].
Also, note that Daniel’s image presents matters as if the Babylonian power represented by the fourth part of the image [the future kingdom under Antichrist] immediately follows, in time, that which is seen represented by the third part of the image [the kingdom under Greece]. However, there is a gap of over two millennia between these two parts of the kingdom, which is not seen in the prophecy.
This may seem strange to the Western way of viewing material of this nature, but not so with those in the East. Those in the East are interested in the next important event, not in the time which might intervene between two events. And Scripture, humanly speaking, is an Eastern book.
Franz Delitzsch, a Hebrew scholar from past years, put the matter in these words:
“Prophecy sees together what history unrolls as separate.”
This same thing can be seen in Daniel’s vision of the “four great beasts” in chapter seven and the interpretation of the vision in chapter eight. These four great beasts simply present another picture of the four parts of the image in chapter two, with added details provided in the interpretation. And, as in chapter two, the complete prophecy presents matters as if there were no break in time between any of the four parts, though the same break in time exists between the third and fourth parts as exists between the third and fourth parts of the image.
Examples of this same thing can be seen in other parts of Scripture as well. This is simply a peculiarity of the way Scripture is structured, which is seen at the very beginning, in the opening two verses of Scripture.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. [Genesis 1:1, 2]
Scripture presents all of the events in these two verses together, as if no break in time exists. But, in reality, two breaks in time exist, a break between the two verses, and another break between the first two sentences and the third sentence in verse two.
Note another similar example in Isaiah 9:6. Over two millennia lie between the first sentence and the remainder of the verse, though Scripture places all of these events together, as if no break in time exists:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Or, another example would be Isaiah 61:1, 2:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.
Christ, in the synagogue in Nazareth, read most of this passage from a scroll; but He stopped with the words, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then, after rolling the scroll up and handing it to the minister, He sat down. And the eyes of all those in the synagogue were fastened upon Him when He said,
Today this Scripture is fulfilled [lit., ‘This day this Scripture has been fulfilled’ (Greek: perfect tense, pointing to a fulfillment in past time, with the matter existing during present time in that finished state)] in your hearing” [Luke 4:16-21].
Christ stopped reading at this point in the passage because the remainder had to do with events that would occur at the time of His second coming. But note how the whole of the matter has been placed together in the two verses.
And understanding the manner in which Scripture is structured in this respect is vitally necessary when studying Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy. The complete prophecy, covering 490 years, appears to be fulfilled without a break in time throughout any part of the prophecy. But a break in time between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks has to be recognized [for evident reasons that will be shown]. And this break has already lasted almost two millennia.)
Seventy weeks [seventy sevens] are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there shall be seven weeks [seven sevens], and sixty-two weeks [threescore and two sevens]; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.
And after the sixty-two weeks [threescore and two sevens] Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself [lit., “and shall have nothing”]; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined [lit., “and to the end war and desolations are determined”].
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week [‘one seven’]; but in the middle of the week [the seven] he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate (Daniel 9:24-27).
The word “week” or “weeks” in the prophecy is the English rendering of the Hebrew word, shabua, which is a septenary number and could be better rendered “seven” or “sevens.” Therefore, for the remainder of this chapter, this is the terminology that will be used.
The word Shabua is used two places in the book of Daniel — in 9:24-27 and a couple of verses later in 10:2, 3. The word itself does not designate the length of the seven. The length (days, years, etc.) must be determined from the text and/or context.
In chapter nine, the prophecy consisting of seventy sevens is an end result of Daniel’s prayer concerning Israel’s captivity in Babylon. Daniel had understood from Jeremiah’s prophecy that the captivity in Babylon would last seventy years (v. 2; cf. Jeremiah 25:11, 12); he knew that this time was about up and he had sought the Lord’s face through “prayer and supplication, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”
He had confessed over and over the sins of the people, which had resulted in their captivity (vv. 3-19; cf. Leviticus 26:33-35, 40-42; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 29:10-14). And while Daniel was presenting himself before the Lord in this manner, the angel Gabriel (who had been sent at the very beginning of his prayer and supplication) appeared to him, making known to Daniel that he was there to provide more “skill to understand” surrounding the matter Daniel had been praying about (vv. 20-23). Then, to bring this to pass, Gabriel made known to Daniel the prophecy of the Seventy Sevens (vv. 24-27).
“Years” are in view in the context of the prophecy — the seventy-year captivity in Babylon from Jeremiah’s prophecy that Daniel had been praying about. Thus, it would only be natural to continue this thought and understand the prophecy of the Seventy Sevens as sevens of years.
This would be in contrast to the only other place in the book of Daniel where the Hebrew word shabua appears, in 10:2, 3. In these two verses, the shabua is specifically stated to be sevens of days. The Hebrew text has the word for “days” (yom) following the word shabua, letting the reader know that the sevens in view here are different than the sevens in the immediately preceding section (9:24-27).
(Most English translations [e.g., KJV, ASV, NASB] use “weeks” to translate shabua in both places in Daniel, probably causing an element of confusion, for the context in one shows that sevens of years are in view, and the text in the other shows that sevens of days are in view. The NIV translators took a different approach, using “sevens” in chapter nine but “weeks” in chapter ten.)
In short, the angel Gabriel made known to Daniel that it was not just ten sevens (70 years) but seventy sevens (490 years) that the Jewish people would have to remain in Gentile lands before being reestablished in their own land, with that which is seen introduced at the beginning of the prophecy then brought to pass — “to finish the transgression . . . .” (v. 24b).
(The seventy years spent in Babylon, in one respect, foreshadow a much longer period of time during which the land from which the Jewish people had been uprooted would, of necessity, lie fallow and realize her Sabbaths. The land would need to lie fallow for seventy Sabbath years, something necessary to fulfill the requirements of the Law [Leviticus 25:3-5; 26:33-35; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21]. And, with a Sabbath year occurring only once every seven years, this would require seven times seventy years — four hundred ninety years.
This is what the angel Gabriel made known to Daniel through the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27. A remnant would be allowed to return at the end of seventy years. But the return of the entire nation and the restoration of the theocracy would have to await the complete fulfillment of the four hundred ninety years.
Then, in another respect, according to Jeremiah’s prophecy, the Israelites had spent the complete time removed from their land, in Gentile lands, which God had specified [seventy years — a complete period of time (7X10, both numbers showing completeness)]. Also, according to Jeremiah’s prophecy [Jeremiah 25:11, 12; 29:10-14], concerning God visiting and restoring the Jewish people at the end of these seventy years, the entire nation could have returned at this time had national repentance occurred.
But the nation, by large, at the end of these seventy years had settled down in Babylon and remained unrepentant. Thus, any continued restoration of the nation beyond a returning remnant — with repentance shown by a remnant of the people [e.g., Daniel 9:1-19] — did not occur at this time. And another period of time during which Israel would have to remain in Gentile lands was revealed — not just seventy years this time but intensified by SEVEN [7X70], four hundred ninety years. The time during which the Jewish people would remain dispersed among the nations was increased in exact accordance with God’s warning previously revealed through Moses [Levitucs 26:14-21].
Something very similar to the seemingly paradoxical overall scope of the preceding was seen almost six hundred years later. This occurred in connection with the Jewish people very near the end of the four hundred ninety years, during the offer and re-offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel, contingent on national repentance [as seen in the gospel accounts and the book of Acts].
In one respect, had national repentance occurred, the kingdom would have been restored to Israel at the full end of Daniel’s prophecy [with time in the last “seven” (seventieth week) of the prophecy being brought to completion]. But, in another respect, the kingdom could not have been restored to Israel at this time; time in the prophecy, of necessity, had to stop one “seven” short of completion [e.g., only 4,000 of the 6,000 years in the septenary arrangement of time during Man’s Day, introduced in Genesis 1:1-2:3, had expired; and the 2,000-year dispensation in which God would deal with the Church, seen, for example, in Genesis 24, must yet occur].)
Also, between the end of the seventy years of Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the Israelites in Babylon and the beginning of Daniel’s prophecy of the four hundred ninety years, bringing matters surrounding the dispersion of the Jewish people to a close, there is another break in time. Jeremiah’s prophecy of the seventy years ended about 535 B.C., but Daniel’s prophecy concerning the four hundred ninety years did not begin until about 444 B.C.
The prophecy of the Seventy Sevens begins with “the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem” (v. 25a), and that command, according to Nehemiah chapters one and two was issued by the Persian king, Artaxerxes, in the twentieth year of his reign, which, according to secular history, was 445 or 444 B.C.
(There are earlier decrees in Ezra, issued by Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes [1:1, 2; 4:1-5, 11-24; 6:1-5, 14, 15; 7:11, 20, 27], which had to do with the Temple. But the decree by Artaxerxes in Nehemiah is the only decree issued that had to do with the city itself, which the prophecy in Daniel specifically singles out [2:1ff]. And this is the only decree that fits the chronology of the prophecy in Daniel; and it fits this chronology exactly, to the day.)
From the issuing of the decree by Artaxerxes “to restore and build Jerusalem” until the time Israel’s Messiah appeared (cf. Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1ff) would be sixty-nine sevens (483 years), and at the end of this time Israel’s Messiah would be “cut off” (vv. 25, 26a).
(The Hebrew word translated “cut off,” karath, is used many times in the Old Testament referring to the death of individuals [e.g., Leviticus 7:20, 25, 27; Numbers 19:13, 20]. And it is apparent that this is the manner in which the word is used relative to Israel’s Messiah in Daniel 9:26a.
To see and understand how the time from Artaxerxes’ decree to Christ’s crucifixion is exactly 483 years [using 444 B.C. and 33 A.D. respectively], note these figures: 444 + 33 = 477 years. But these are years of 365 days per year, and Scripture uses a 360-day year [cf. Genesis 7:11, 24; 8:3, 4; Daniel 7:25; Revelation 11:2, 3; 12:14; 13:5]. To convert, the total number of days is needed. Thus, 477 X 365.25 [.25 added for leap years] = 174,224 days. Then, divide 174,224 by 360, which gives 483.96 years. But bear in mind that only parts of the first and last years are to be used, which would leave exactly 483 years if the correct beginning and ending dates within their corresponding years were used [444 B.C. and 33 A.D.].
Thus, the Jewish people at the time of Christ’s first appearance could have looked at Daniel’s prophecy and Artaxerxes’ decree and not only have known that their Messiah would be in their midst in 33 A.D. but also that they would slay their Messiah that year. Christ was the Paschal Lamb, this Lamb was given to Israel, only Israel could slay this Lamb, and knowledgeable Jews would have known that. In fact, a knowledgeable Jew could have known the exact day and time Israel would slay their Messiah in 33 A.D., for he would have known the exact day and time when Israel would slay the paschal lambs.)
Then, according to Daniel’s prophecy, the Messianic Era would be ushered in seven years following Messiah’s death [cf. vv. 24, 26]. But, of course, this didn’t happen. Instead, God stopped the clock, so to speak, at the time Israel crucified her Messiah; and the last seven years await a future fulfillment.
The break in time occurs in the middle of verse twenty-six, between Messiah’s death and “the people of the prince that shall come,” who will destroy “the city [Jerusalem] and the sanctuary [the rebuilt Temple on the Temple Mount].” The “people of the prince that shall come” is a Hebrew idiom referring to the prince himself (cf. Daniel 7:18, 27 where this same expression is used).
(Note that this destruction of Jerusalem and the sanctuary can only refer to a future destruction, not to the past destruction in 70 A.D., as often taught [cf. Matthew 24:15-23; Luke 21:20-24; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4; Revelation 11:1, 2] Events in the prophecy must occur during time covered by the prophecy itself.)
This destroying prince is the man who will have made the seven-year covenant “with many” in Israel, marking the beginning of the last seven years of Daniel’s prophecy (v. 27). This is the man seen riding forth on a white horse in the book of Revelation when the first seal is broken, “conquering, and to conquer” (6:1, 2). And, as the ratifying of this covenant will mark the beginning of the seventieth seven in the book of Daniel, the breaking of the first seal of the scroll will mark the beginning of this period in the book of Revelation.
(Some have sought to see the antecedent of the pronoun “he” in Daniel 9:27 [the one who makes the covenant with many in Israel] referring back to the Messiah who was to be slain rather than to the prince that would come in v. 26. Grammatically, either could conceivably be the antecedent. However, “the prince” is the nearer antecedent, and the rules of grammar always favor the nearer as the antecedent in cases of this nature, unless, of course, something in the passage clearly shows that it isn’t.
In this case though, such doesn’t exist. In fact, the passage clearly shows just the opposite, that “Messiah” couldn’t possibly be the antecedent [e.g., Israel’s Messiah didn’t make a covenant with His people at the time of His first coming; and the Jewish sacrifices didn’t stop until the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.].)
When this future prince appears and makes his covenant “with many” in Israel, the Jewish people, in accordance with time in the prophecy, will be placed in the position of having just crucified their Messiah. The crucifixion occurred at the very end of and closed out the sixty-ninth seven. The Jewish people, time-wise in relation to the prophecy, will then be living at the very beginning of the seventieth and last seven. Time for them will be exactly as if Christ were still on the Cross, or had just been placed in the tomb, awaiting resurrection. And God will deal with the Jewish people accordingly (cf. Matthew 23:37-39).
But Daniel’s prophecy is about to be fulfilled, with the third day, referenced through events at the beginning of the prophecy, about to dawn. And on this day, the opposite of Christ occupying space on a cross or in a tomb will be in view. On this day, all of God’s firstborn Sons — Christ, Israel, and the Church — will be raised up to live in His sight.