We continue to explore the prophetic imagery of Revelation – the foretold great tribulation and the abomination of desolation. We are urged to read, pray, and do, so that we are able to discern the truth. It is important not to get lost in the imagery of the book. The main point stands–God is in control and we are called to be his witnesses. We begin this episode intertwining Revelation with the prophecies of Daniel 9.
The abomination of desolation
Jesus is saying to the disciples, huge tribulation is coming on the earth, and it’s going to be desolation of Jerusalem when the abomination of Daniel happens. The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel. So what’s that?
We’ve got great tribulation in the sixth seal. We’ve got three and a half years several places in Revelation. We’ve got Jesus saying the sign of my coming is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet. Now let’s go see that. And that’s going to tell us the time sequence.
Let’s go to Daniel 9:27. Then he—it’s talking about the antichrist here—shall confirm a covenant with many for one week. Now a week-long covenant doesn’t last very long, right? But what we’re going to see is this is actually a week of years. The literal here is he shall confirm a covenant with many for one seven. And the English translators are translating it week. It’s actually seven.
But in the middle of the seven—or the middle of the week—He—the antichrist—shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate. So, there’s the abomination of desolations.
Jesus says, the sign of my coming is triggered when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet. And it happens in the middle of a week, a seven-year period. And what was the time we saw in Revelation? What was it? Forty-two months. Three and a half years.
What’s the middle of a seven-year period? Three and a half years. You see how it’s coming together now?
The covenant starts the clock
So there’s a covenant between the antichrist and Israel; and that starts the clock. And in the middle of that time, in the middle of that seven years, the Great Tribulation starts when there is an end to sacrifice and offering; and this abomination of desolation starts the Great Tribulation clock, which is 1260 days.
Most of these judgments that we’re going to see, appear to happen within the 1260 days.
The backstory in Daniel
Now, let me roll back again and give you the context for this. If you go all the way back to Daniel 9:1, it says, In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes—Daniel’s now past Babylon, the writing on the wall has happened, Babylon’s fallen, the Medes and the Persians have come in, and now Daniel is in the administration of the Medes and the Persians.
—who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—the Medes and the Persians defeated the Chaldeans, the Babylonians.
In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord though Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish the seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
So we come to a time in Daniel where Jerusalem has become decimated. Who was it decimated by? Babylon. So Babylon has come in, decimated Jerusalem. They exile them. They’re in exile, and Jerusalem lies desolate.
Now this is intriguing. You’re going to have to really think about this. This is the murder mystery plot.
Jesus is standing in front of the temple and saying this is all going to be torn down. And the sign of his coming is when sacrifice is ended in the temple. Which means the temple’s going to be rebuilt; and the sign that he points to is back in the time of Daniel when Jerusalem is lying desolate. See the cycle? Desolate, rebuilt, desolate, rebuilt.
So there’s desolation in Jerusalem, and Jeremiah had predicted in 70 years this is going to end. He said, boy, the 70-year clock is coming to an end. Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls, seven years, 70 years in exile. What’s with this seven thing?
In the Bible, numbers mean something. To the Jews, they do all kinds of things with numbers. It goes beyond my comprehension. I get a little of it. But clearly in the Bible, seven is the number of completion. You have the seventh day, completes a week; and it’s a pattern all through scripture.
So this is completion, completion, completion, completion, completion. And what are we doing here? What’s the whole point of Revelation? We are bringing this age to an end and inaugurating a new age. We’re coming to completion.
So we’ve got 70 years and the desolation of Jerusalem. So he prays, and he confesses his sins. And he says, what’s happening? And we get down to Daniel 9:19.
O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city—which is Jerusalem which is lying desolate—and Your people—who are, the Jews. Israel. —are called by Your name.
You predicted 70 years. Jeremiah predicted it. It’s laying desolate. Please answer. It’s our fault, but please answer. Have mercy.
Gabriel explains to Daniel
Verse 20. Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel—any doubt about who this is talking about? It’s Israel—and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God—What city is built on the holy mountain? Jerusalem. Yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel—the angel—whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; and therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision—
This word vision is dabar, and it actually means the matter. This is more a revelation than it is a vision, which fits because this explains Revelation. This revelation explains that Revelation.
So here is what he tells him:
Seventy sevens are determined (translator translated weeks)
What has Daniel the prophet been praying about? The ticker is coming to the end on seventy years of desolation. So the angel comes and says seventy sevens are determined.
If you’re Daniel, you’re thinking, well, aren’t we just ending—? Now 70 more. Seventy sevens are determined.
For your people and for your holy city—
What was he asking about? His people and the city. So the nation of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, its history is going to be determined in 70 sevens. And this is years. Because you can’t have the middle of a week be 1260 days and it not be years. So this is 70 sevens. Four hundred and ninety years.
So the rest of Jewish history and the history of Jerusalem is going to be resolved within a 490 year period. Here’s what those 70 sevens or the 490 years are going to accomplish. Within this 490 years, the following things will happen:
Number one: To finish the transgression.
Number two: To make an end of sins.
Number three: To make reconciliation for iniquity or sins.
Number four: To bring in everlasting righteousness.
This is a really good 490 years, isn’t it?
Number five: To seal up or finish vision and prophecy.
Number seven: To anoint the Most Holy. We’re going to take the most holy and make him king.
You want restoration for your people? It’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen within this 490 years. And it’s not only going to restore your people, it’s going to end sin. It’s going to put the Messiah on the throne. This is a really good 490 years.
Know therefore and understand—here’s how it’s going to happen.
Number one: That from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem—So now he’s telling him, your desolated city is going to be rebuilt. I’m sure that made Daniel very glad.
From that point, whenever that command happens—Until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks—seven weeks and sixty two weeks. So 49 years and then whatever 62 times 7 is. Years. So 483 years.
Now why did he divide into seven and then 62? Because after seven the street shall be built again and the wall. So after seven you get the wall and the street.
And after the sixty two weeks, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself; but for other people.
So now, this is kind of confusing, isn’t it? Because this 490 years, what happens during the 490 years is the Messiah is anointed king, and righteousness is brought into the earth. But now we’re all the way up to 483 years, and Messiah is cut off but not for himself.
And the people of the prince who is to come—which is Rome, and you can get that in the rest of the book of Daniel—the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
Here’s poor Daniel, and he’s like, when is Jerusalem going to be rebuilt? It’s going to be rebuilt, and there’s a decree that’s going to go out, and then 49 years later it’s going to be rebuilt; and then it’s going to be knocked down again during this time period where Israel’s going to be restored, and Jerusalem is restored, and sin is done away with.
Clearly a lot of stuff is going to take place during this 490 years.
The end of it shall be a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he—the prince who is to come—shall confirm a covenant with many for one week. So now you’ve got 483 years or 69 weeks of years. And at the end of that Messiah is cut off. And then another week starts at another time when this prince who is to come makes a covenant with Israel.
And in the middle of that covenant, in the middle of that week, there’s the abomination of desolations, and that’s what Jesus talked about, the abomination of desolations. That’s the sign of his coming.
Therefore you’ve got the book of Daniel predicting a culmination and a consummation. But within that, another desolation.
So think about it. Jesus is referring to this prophecy while the rebuilt temple is sitting there, predicting it’s going to be destroyed once again. And clearly within this prophecy, the people in the holy city are going to be restored, are going to bring in everlasting righteousness, and everything’s going to be fulfilled, including the lion shall lay down with the lamb, and the babies will play by the hole of the poisonous snake.
When Jesus was cut off, the clock stopped
Well, what wasn’t clear to them, and you can see at the end of Daniel, it says, seal this up for now. Nobody’s going to get it for a while. But at the end of the age, people are going to start to understand.
Well, we can understand this now because these clocks start and stop like your stopwatch. You start it. You stop it. And it doesn’t start again until you click the button again. So what Jesus did with these clocks is he started the clock the 70 years in exile, and then he ended the clock the 70 years. Then when the proclamation to go out and restore Jerusalem happened, he started another clock. And that clock goes for seven weeks. Jerusalem is restored. And then that clock goes another 62 weeks, and Jesus is cut off.
Now we can just do this math roughly. From the research I’ve done, I don’t think anybody really understands these dates incredibly well. But Artaxerxes, the scholars think his reign started in 465 BC.
Nehemiah says in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes all the things happen where Artaxerxes told him to go rebuild Jerusalem. And that would be, then, 445 BC.
If you take four-hundred-and-eighty-three 360-day years and convert them to 365-day years, and add that to 445 BC, you get 31.38 AD.
So, I don’t think anybody knows exactly when these proclamations happened or what specific aspect of Jesus’ ministry constituted being cut off, but it falls right in there, doesn’t it? It’s right there in the ball park that clearly that’s what this is talking about.
And then the clock stops. And we’ve been with a stopped clock ever since. And the clock for Israel doesn’t start up again until this covenant is made.
Now clearly there wasn’t even an Israel. They were just dispersed until 1948. And in 1948, Israel was reconstituted. So now, there’s a lot of anticipation. Just like there was at the time of Jesus. Because everybody can do this math. And there was a tremendous amount of Messianic anticipation. But they didn’t understand this gap.
This gap is called in Romans 11:25 the time of the Gentiles. So we’re right now in the time of the Gentiles.
So now let’s go back, all the way through.
You had 70 years of exile. Then Daniel prays, and says, “When are you going to restore Jerusalem and my people?” And Jesus answers through Gabriel. And he says here’s how it’s going to happen:
You got 69 weeks of years, 69 sevens. Messiah’s going to be cut off. Within that, after the seven sevens, Jerusalem will be restored. And then Messiah’s cut off.
Then the prince of the people who’s to come, after some lag, is going to make a covenant with Israel, in the middle of a week, in the middle of a seven, in the middle of a seven-year period. Then there’s an abomination of desolation.
And Jesus told his disciples that that is triggering the Great Tribulation. And it’s going to be a time that’s so bad, you just drop whatever you’re doing and run and flee. Because that’s how bad it’s going to be.
Now all the way to Revelation. In Revelation we see from the throne room this three and a half year period probably. It could be any time during the seven-year period. But probably the three and a half year period, beginning to be inaugurated. And it starts by unrolling the seals.
You unroll the seals, and in the seventh seal, you get seven trumpets. The last three trumpets, three woes. The seventh trumpet, the kingdom is inaugurated. Satan is evicted from heaven. He goes to earth. He’s furious because he knows he has very little time. He’s been kicked out of heaven.
And then the bowl judgments are poured out, which include the prayers of the saints of all history. And terrible judgments are enacted on the earth.
And then Jesus comes down and conquers. The Millennial kingdom is inaugurated. Then there’s one more rebellion, judgment, a new heaven and a new earth.
History is already written
All predicted way back here, and not just predicted way back here, but let’s just look at Acts 17:26. And it’s so important to remember this when you’re in an era where things are going bad. Acts 17:26. And He—God—has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.
History is already written, even while we’re being admonished in this book to be faithful witnesses. Whose choice is that? It’s ours. It’s our choice.
So Revelation is consistent. Read, understand, do.
What do you want to read? Understand? Well, first understand the events, the circumstances that are in your life, they’re all orchestrated by God. He’s the one that determines them. Are you going to be a victim, or are you going to act out of choice? Are you going to be afraid, or are you going to act courageously?
That will determine not what family you’re in. What family you’re in is determined solely by whether you’re born into that family or not. And spiritually that has to do with just one thing: have you believed on Jesus. What we’re talking about here is, who are you going to become? What is your reward going to be?
What Jesus says is my kingdom inevitably is going to destroy the kingdom of the world. It’s going to obliterate it. And when I install my kingdom, I’m going to put my throne on the earth.
And do you know who I’m going to have on my throne with me? The overcomers. The nikaos. The victorious ones. The conquerors. And I have conquered, Jesus says. I’m going to be a conqueror. And I want you to sit beside me.
That, however, is not a matter of birth. That’s a matter of being worthy. Was Jesus God before he came to earth and learned obedience even to death on the cross? Of course he was. His essence did not change. What changed was he became worthy because he overcame. And God is offering us the exact same opportunity. Be worthy. Be my witness. Do not fear death.
Do Christians go through the Great Tribulation?
Now does that mean we’re going to go through this tribulation? This Great Tribulation? Don’t know. Don’t know for sure. We’ll talk about that later.
Here’s what we do know. Everyone’s life has tribulation. It may not be The Great Tribulation, but everyone’s life has tribulation; and everybody has something to fear, including our own deaths. And what the message here is, if we’ll not fear death, not fear rejection, and we will be his witnesses, we get to be an overcomer.
I hope you derive from this phenomenal comfort in the fact that God is in control, and that his throne has him on it. And even though Satan has access to heaven now, that will not continue forever. He will be thrown to the earth, and he will be in a position where at some point people will be walking by and saying, “Is that who everybody was afraid of?” He’s going to be like a beggar. That’s where we’re headed. But that’s not where we are today.
So, just as Jeremiah can look at desolation and be promised restoration, and Jesus can look at restoration and promise desolation, and Revelation can promise desolation and then restoration, so we are going to experience both. But the promise is, the restoration is sure. Who we can count on is unchanging.