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Chapter 3:

The Benchmark of Revelation

 

In the previous chapters we have shown how the Bible predicts a future seven-year period prior to the Second Coming of the Messiah. Furthermore, this seven-year period is divided into two equal halves by the setting up of the abomination of desolation within the Temple, at the very middle of this seven-year period. Specific three-and-a-half year periods are referred to throughout the book of Revelation:

- "But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months."

- "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth."

- "The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days."

- "The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach."

- "The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months."

Recall that the prophetic year is 360 days long, and therefore the 1260-day references describe exactly three and a half of these years. Forty-two months is three and a half years as well, and the phrase "a time, times and half a time" also refers to three and a half years. The fourth chapter of Daniel reveals that a "time" is a year, because King Nebuchadnezzar was given a seven-year sentence of madness, described as seven "times." The phrase "a time, times and half a time" refers then to a time, two times and a half a time, or three and a half years, exactly half of the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy. Daniel 7:25 also uses this phrase in reference to the Antichrist,

"He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time."

Daniel mentions a number of other "day" prophecies that might relate to the 70th Week, but these do not refer specifically to either the first or the last half of that final seven-year period:

- "He said to me, ‘It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.’ "

- "From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days."

- "Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days." 1

These references refer to portions of the 70th Week, but they are more complicated and not of immediate importance to this chapter. They are explained in an appendix at the end of the book. For now we will explore the prophecies that specifically refer to either the first or the last half of the 70th Week. They help to make Revelation an amazingly simple book to understand.


The Book of Revelation

Revelation is centered upon the 70th Week of Daniel, which is the final seven-year period of this age. The set-up of the image of the beast, also known as the abomination of desolation, divides this period into two equal halves. Revelation follows a script that is based on a pattern of sevens. End-times events begin with the opening of a scroll and the breaking of its seven seals. Following the breaking of these seals Revelation introduces seven angels who carry seven trumpets. After these angels have blown their trumpets then we are introduced to seven angels who carry seven bowls. Finally, after the seven bowls have been poured out on the earth, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is shown at the end of Revelation.

Before we go further it must be shown how important it is to understand that the seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls will be executed in the very same chronological sequence that is given in Revelation. In other words, first the seven seals are broken one by one and the corresponding events take place, then the seven trumpets are sounded one by one including their corresponding events, and finally the seven bowls are poured out one by one initiating their corresponding events. Revelation does not give a list of events that are fulfilled randomly in the future. Revelation does not play games, and does not promote confusion. Everything will play out in sequence and as scripted according to the seals, trumpets and bowls. This understanding is confirmed in a number of ways:

First of all, the seven seals must all be opened prior to the blowing of the seven trumpets because the opening of the seventh seal brings forth the angels who possess the seven trumpets,

"When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets." 2

Secondly, the seven bowls must be poured out after the seven seals are opened and after the seven trumpets are sounded because they are specifically described as the seven last plagues,

"I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues--last, because with them God's wrath is completed… And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed." 3

If they are the last plagues, then none can come after them and the seals and trumpets must precede them.

The straightforward chronological sequence of Revelation is a basic key to understanding the prophecies, and this chronology will be continually confirmed as we explore more and more of it. For now we will move forward and begin to show how the 70th Week of Daniel and its two three-and-a-half year halves relate to the seals, trumpets and bowls of Revelation.

Obviously, the 70th Week ends after the pouring out of the seventh bowl, which is the very last plague of Revelation, closely followed by the visible appearance of Jesus Christ in the clouds and the Second Coming. The next task is to identify the midpoint of the 70th Week in relation to the seals, trumpets and bowls, and then the next chapter will identify when the 70th Week begins in relation to the seals, trumpets and bowls.


The Two Witnesses

The midpoint of the 70th week of Daniel can be pinpointed within Revelation through a close examination of two powerful figures who will rise up during the end-times and directly speak out against the Antichrist. They will be God’s two most powerful saints upon the earth and they will be endowed with supernatural powers to gain the earth’s attention and to defend themselves. When their time ends the wicked people on the earth will rejoice at their passing. The eleventh chapter of Revelation describes their career,

" ‘And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.’ These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon."

The 1260-day career of the Two Witnesses corresponds to exactly half of Daniel’s final seven-year period. This is hardly a coincidence and it is entirely logical to expect that the Two Witnesses must then minister during either the last half of the 70th Week after the abomination is set up, or during the first half prior to the abomination. Let us examine some of the aspects of the last half of the 70th Week before coming to a conclusion.

The Career of the Antichrist

The Antichrist will publicly appear on the world’s political stage either prior to, or at the very beginning of, the 70th Week of Daniel. This will be explained in the next chapter. The prophet Daniel, in his vision of the four beast-kingdoms, tells us that he will rise up from a world kingdom and then take control,

"The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. " 4

The Antichrist is the "different" king who comes after the ten kings. After assuming political control he will attempt to gain spiritual control as well, and he will be aided by the False Prophet, a hugely influential spiritual leader whom we have previously determined will come from Rome. As the Antichrist’s lackey, the False Prophet will most likely be the one to "confirm the covenant" that will initiate Daniel’s 70th Week. Some time after this covenant is made Israel will preside over a rebuilt Temple and begin the ancient practice of animal sacrifices.

At a certain point within the first half of the 70th Week the Antichrist will be killed. His soul will depart his body and be sent to the Abyss, the bottomless pit, also known as Hell. Some time later his soul will come up out of the Abyss, his body will be resurrected, and he will begin his reign of terror upon the earth. There are two texts which describe these events,

"One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast." 5

"The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come." 6

The Antichrist will suffer a fatal wound, but then he will be healed. He will be alive, then he will be dead, and then he will be alive again. At his death his soul will go to Hell, also known as the Abyss. Then he will come out of the Abyss and re-inhabit his previously dead body. The response from the people of the earth is the same in both texts: they are astonished at this miraculous event!

The resurrection of the Antichrist will most likely occur very near to the midpoint of the 70th Week when the False Prophet orders the stopping of animal sacrifices within the Temple and orders the image of the Antichrist be set up in the Holy Place. From this point until the very end, the Antichrist will be in a position of complete authority over everyone within his worldwide kingdom. This fact is given in two texts,

"One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints." 7

"He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time." 8

Both texts describe the Antichrist being given complete authority for exactly three and a half years. Paul tells us that this authority will expire at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ,

"And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming." 9


Gentile Control of Jerusalem

Another aspect of the last half of the 70th Week is that Jerusalem will be given over to the Gentiles during this period,

"But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months." 10

This is obviously the last half of the 70th Week because during the first half Jerusalem and the Temple will be controlled by Jews who are offering the animal sacrifices.


The Flight of the Remnant

A final aspect of the last half of the 70th Week is the protection of the Jewish remnant who will obey the words of Jesus, words he gave to His disciples on the Mount of Olives almost 2000 years ago, warning of the abomination of desolation,

"So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel [--let the reader understand--] then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again." 11

There will be many people living in Israel and Jerusalem who will witness the abomination of desolation being placed within the Holy Place of their Temple. Some of them will remember the words of Jesus and drop what they are doing and flee to the mountains. By warning them to flee Jesus was promising that they would be protected. The twelfth chapter of Revelation shows the fulfillment of that promise,

"A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head… She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him… When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach."

The woman represents Israel, who produced the Messiah who was taken to heaven. At a certain point in time Satan and his angels were cast out, or will be cast out, of heaven. Satan will pursue Israel, but the faithful Jews who obey Jesus’ words to flee at the sight of the abomination of desolation will be protected in the desert for the entire last half of the 70th Week. The area in which they will live is a mountainous desert area, most likely centered around the ancient desert fortress city of Petra in the mountains of southern Jordan. This is the only area in the entire world where the Antichrist will not be in control. This area is mentioned by the prophet Daniel in his passage describing the Antichrist’s career,

"He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand." 12

Edom and Moab are ancient countries that once occupied the area of southern Jordan. The Jewish remnant that flees to this area will be protected from the Antichrist for three and a half years by the archangel Michael, who will once more assume his role as protector of Israel. 13

This brings us back to the Two Witnesses. As we have discovered, the last half of the 70th Week is characterized by Gentile control of Jerusalem and by a mass flight of believers into the desert. It will also be a time when the Antichrist is given complete control over everyone within his kingdom, as well as unrestricted power to oppress, capture and kill the saints.

The Two Witnesses however, seem to be endowed with competing powers because no one is allowed to harm them during their careers, "If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die."

So here we have two competing powers, that of the Antichrist to kill the saints, and that of the Two Witnesses to defend themselves from aggressors. Who would win in this battle? The conflict is resolved once it is understood that the 1260-day career of the Two Witnesses takes place entirely within the first half of the 70th Week, while the Antichrist’s 42 months of unlimited power over the saints occurs entirely within the last half of the 70th Week. The Two Witnesses’ powers of protection expire on the very day in which the Antichrist inherits his power over the saints. The Two Witnesses are his most visible, most powerful and most influential enemies and it makes sense that he will begin to exercise his unlimited power over the saints by killing them first. The following texts make this clear,

"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed."

"And there was given unto the beast [the Antichrist] a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them…"

"And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them." 14

The Antichrist is given the power to "make war on and overcome" the saints at the same time that the testimony of the Two Witnesses ends. Then he will immediately "make war on and overcome" the Two Witnesses. For the most part the wicked world will hate the Two Witnesses because of the plagues that they will cause to get the world’s attention. When these two powerful saints, who previously were able to defend themselves against all aggressors, are finally killed by a resurrected Antichrist, then the world will rejoice that their "tormentors" are gone and they will praise the Antichrist. Perhaps the demise of these powerful men of God at the hands of the Antichrist will be the reason the world cries out, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" 15  After the Two Witnesses are killed their bodies will be left in the street like so much rubbish, but then after three and a half days, as the world looks on in horror, they will be resurrected by God and taken up into heaven.

The Antichrist is given unlimited power to oppress, capture or kill the saints that are within his kingdom for the forty-two month period that follows the midpoint of the 70th Week. For this reason the careers of the Two Witnesses will not extend past the midpoint of the 70th week. There are also a number of other reasons why the careers of the Two Witnesses fall entirely within the first half of the 70th Week:

1. The last half is characterized by Gentile control of Jerusalem, during which they "trample" the holy city. If the Two Witnesses had a post-abomination career their presence would prevent this from happening. Their presence would signify a "trample-free zone" due to the powers they have against their enemies.

2. A post-abomination career would accomplish very little due to the fact that Jerusalem will be the Antichrist’s capital and be populated with very few believers. Followers of the Antichrist will have taken the Mark of the Beast, and so preaching to them would be pointless. 16

3. On the other hand, a pre-abomination career would accomplish a great deal because the Two Witnesses could preach to a great number of possible converts and they could speak on a number of issues. They could preach against the "covenant with many," that was made with Israel’s leaders, they could speak out against the irrelevant sacrifices being offered in the Temple, they could warn against the inevitability of the Antichrist’s invasion and of the abomination of desolation, and they could prophesy on a number of similarly critical issues.

4. If the Two Witnesses are killed at the end of the 70th week, then this means that their resurrection into heaven would take place three and a half days after the end of the 70th Week, after the Second Coming. The Antichrist power lasts for forty-two months, and we know that Jesus returns at the end of the Antichrist’s career, and not any later. For this reason a post-abomination ministry of the Two Witnesses would be absurd, and only a first-half, pre-abomination ministry makes sense.

5. The resurrection of the Two Witnesses three and a half days after their murder is followed by a massive earthquake that strikes Jerusalem. This earthquake results in the death of seven thousand citizens and it is followed by the conversion of the rest of the survivors. 17  If the Two Witnesses were to minister in the second half of the 70th Week this conversion would be impossible, because by the end of the 70th Week the followers of the Antichrist living in the Antichrist’s capital will have been given the Mark of the Beast, which does not allow for repentance. However, if the Two Witnesses are killed at the midpoint and then resurrected three days later, it is entirely possible that the inhabitants of Jerusalem would all repent. Of course having missed their chance to flee at the first sight of the abomination they will be captured by the Antichrist’s forces, but at least these new believers will avoid taking the Mark of the Beast.

Only a pre-abomination ministry of the Two Witnesses makes sense given these facts.

It is important to understand and recognize that the 1260-day career of the Two Witnesses occurs in the first half of the 70th Week because the day of their resurrection coincides with the passing of the judgment known as the "second woe." This allows us to place the midpoint of the 70th Week within Revelation’s chronology of the seals, trumpets and bowls,

"But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon." 18

The three woes are the very same judgments as the fifth, sixth and seventh trumpets. 19

The text above tells us that the sixth trumpet judgment is ended exactly three and a half days after the midpoint of the 70th Week when the Two Witnesses are resurrected. From this we can know for certain that the seven seals are broken, and the first six trumpets are sounded, prior to the day of the Two Witnesses’ resurrection, and the seventh trumpet and the seven bowl judgments all occur within the last half of the 70th Week.

Indeed, this is proven by the straightforward reading of the book of Revelation: Chapters six through nine describe the seven seals and the first six trumpets, then the mid-70th Week events of the death of the Two Witnesses, the flight of the Jewish remnant and the setup of the abomination of desolation are described in chapters eleven, twelve and thirteen. The seventh trumpet initiates the seven bowls, which are then described in chapters fifteen and sixteen. The chronology of Revelation itself offers evidence that the seven seals and first six trumpets precede the midpoint of the 70th week and that the seventh trumpet and seven bowls come after the midpoint.

The next chapter will focus on the "great and terrible Day of the Lord," and explain when the 70th Week begins within the book of Revelation. The chart below describes our understanding thus far of how the seals, trumpets and bowls relate to the midpoint of the 70th Week of Daniel:

Ch.3 Chart.bmp (400374 bytes)

 

References to the two halves of the 70th Week

First half:

Revelation 11:3,"And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth."


Second half:

Revelation 11:2,"But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months."

Revelation 13:5, "The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months."

Daniel 7:25, "He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time."

Revelation 12:6,"The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days."

Revelation 12:14, "The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach."

 

Footnotes

1. Daniel 8:14, 12:11 and 12:12 respectively

2. Revelation 8:1-2

3. Revelation 15:1,8

4. Daniel 7:23-25

5. Revelation 13:3

6. Revelation 17:8

7. Revelation 13:3-10

8. Daniel 7:25

9. 2 Thessalonians 2:8

10. Revelation 11:2

11. Matthew 24:15-21

12. Daniel 11:40-41

13. Revelation 12:7, Daniel 12:1

14. Revelation 11:3,5, 13:5-7, 11:7 KJV

15. Revelation 13:4

16. Revelation 14:9-11

17. Revelation 11:13

18. Revelation 11:11-14

19. Revelation 8:13

 

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