Bible Question:

My question is about the seventy weeks mentioned in Daniel 9:25-27. Please detail why this prophecy is so vital to understanding the purpose of the tribulation period, the future of Israel and God's prophetic time clock. Thank you for your help.

Bible Answer:

The book of Daniel is very important to understanding the book of Revelation since Daniel outlines the rest of history as it relates to the nation of Israel – not the rest of the world. Daniel contains many prophecies but the major ones about the future occur in Daniel 2, 7, and 9. The picture below shows the connection between Daniel’s prophecies.

Prophecies of Daniel

Literal Fulfillment

The first important fact to notice is that the prophecies in Daniel 2 literally came true. In Daniel 2, the prophet explains a dream of Nebuchadnezzar. In the dream the king saw a statue with a gold head, bronze chest, silver waist, legs of iron, and toes of iron and clay. Then a stone, not made with hands, crushed the statue and a mountain appeared (Dan. 2;31-35). So Daniel explains the dream to the king (Dan. 2:36-45). The gold head is the first kingdom which is the Kingdom of Babylon. The second kingdom is Media-Persia (Dan. 5:25-31; 8:20), the third is Greece (Dan. 8:21), and the fourth one is Rome. The ten toes, the stone, and the mountain are explained later in Daniel 7.

We know from history that Babylon was conquered by Media-Persia, which was conquered by Greece, which was conquered by Rome. Now we should expect the prophecies about the stone and the mountain to be literal too! This is a very important truth about the book of Daniel – its literal interpretation.

Literal Tribulation

More detail about the stone and the mountain are provided in Daniel 7 and 9. In Daniel 7, the imagery changes to four beasts: lion, bear, leopard, and a dreadful beast (Dan. 7:2-8). History tells us the lion, bear, and leopard were symbols of the first three nations. The last animal is not really described.

After describing each beast, Daniel describes ten horns on the last beast. It is important to remember that the statue in Daniel 2 had legs of iron and feet or ten toes made of iron and clay. These two dreams are connected. Only this dream goes farther. Now we are told a new horn arises and kills three of the horns. After that the kingdom comes, judgment follows and the eternal kingdom is set-up (Dan. 7:9-14).

When we look at Revelation 13 and 17 we will find the same symbolism used there.

. . . And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.. (NASB) Rev. 13:1-2

And the beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose and they give their power and authority to the beast. (NASB) Rev. 17:11-13

Revelation is expanding on the dreams we saw in the book of Daniel. Most of Revelation is about the tribulation period. In chapter 20 we see the earthly kingdom and judgment.

Daniel’s 70th Week

The third major dream is found in Daniel 9:25-27. This prophecy predicts when Jesus will die, and predicts a future tribulation. You may want to download two timelines which explain in detail the seventy weeks to Jesus’ death and a timeline of Jesus life. This is a major prediction here in Daniel. Jesus did come according to Old Testament prophecies, just like the others in the book of Daniel.

Daniel 9:26-27 goes on to tell us that after Jesus’ death – sometime in the future – the “prince who is to come” will make a peace treaty with Israel for one week, which is seven years. But in the middle of this week he will break the agreement and declare that he is God. This seven year period is divided into two parts. Each part is three and one half years. The first 3.5 years are peaceful, and the last 3.5 years Jesus called the great tribulation (Matt. 24:21). The book of Revelation also calls it the great tribulation (Rev. 7:14). However, Daniel 9 does not include the kingdom because its main focus is the coming of Messiah.

Conclusion:

The book of Daniel, and our Lord’s comment on the end times (Matt. 24:1-25:46) help us to understood the book of Revelation. Daniel used symbolism that was easily understand and was literally fulfilled. Jesus treats Daniel as an authority when he refers to the future tribulation period (Matt. 24;15). So when Revelation uses the same symbolism used in Daniel, we should understand it to have the same meaning as in Daniel. The old Roman Empire will return to power and the tribulation will start. There will be a time of peace followed by a time of great pain. This will literally happen, just as the sequence of nations was literal and the death of Jesus was literal.