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CHAPTER IX
THE COURSE AND CHARACTER
OF THE "LAST DAYS"

PART 1: THE FIRST SIXTY-NINE
WEEKS OF DANIEL

INTRODUCTION

The Apocalypse or the Revelation can be divided into four distinct parts as follows:

  1. Part one (chapters 1-3): introduction and the letters to the Seven Churches.

  2. Part two (chapters 4-5): the disclosure of God's glory and authority.

  3. Part three (chapters 6-19): the prophecy itself.

    1. Seven Seals* (chapter 6): the first half of the Seventieth Week.

    2. The Seven Trumpets* (chapter 8): the second half of the Seventieth Week.

    3. The Seven Vials* (chapters 15-16): the wrath of God.

* It is important to note that these events are enfolded in each other; that is to say, the Seven Vials proceed out from the Seventh Trumpet; and the Seven Trumpets proceed out from the Seventh Seal. The remaining or intervening chapters (chapters 7, 9-14, and 17-19) fill in the details glossed-over by the chapters cited above, i.e., chapters 6, 8, and 15-16.

[Click here to see chart #1]

  1. Part four (chapters 20-22): the conclusion, which itself consists of three parts:

    1. The Judgment (chapter 20).

    2. The Millennium (chapter 20).

    3. Eternity and New Jerusalem (chapters 21-22).

THE SEVENTY WEEKS

Having outlined the Apocalypse, it is now necessary to apprehend - at least to some degree - the time elements at play in the "Last Days." To do so, however, it is essential to go back to the prophecy of Daniel where the chronology of God's program with regard to BOTH Israel and the Church is sketched-out.

REVEALING HIS GLORY AND AUTHORITY
IN BOTH ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

To reiterate quickly what we have already said, God has a program for both the heavens and the earth, the purpose of which is to ultimately manifest His glory and authority in both spheres. Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder and first president of Dallas Theological Seminary, writes:

"... throughout the ages God is pursuing two distinct purposes: one related to the earth with earthly people and earthly objectives [Israel] ... while the other is related to heaven with heavenly people and heavenly objectives [the Church]..."

At the heart of God's program, then, is the aim of establishing His authority in:

  1. The earth through Israel and

  2. The heavens through the Church.

To accomplish this purpose, God has labored over a space of some 4,000 years, beginning first with Israel, and ending finally with the Church. In each time frame, God dealt primarily with only one entity: first Israel, and then the Church. For the first 2,000 years, from Abraham to Christ, God labored with Israel, building it up and shaping it as a corporate entity; then He seemingly put Israel on the shelf, and concentrated on the Church [from Pentecost to the present].

THE VISION OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS

The vision of the Seventy Weeks essentially outlines this course of events, defining the date when, in the providence of God, Israel was to be set aside temporarily while God began His good work with the Church, and fixing the one event which would bring to a close God's labor with the Church and the time wherein God would, like some great master-craftsman, finish His work, put down His tools, and - for the first time - raise them BOTH up together.

The vision of the Seventy Weeks is contained in the Book of Daniel, chapter nine. Daniel had a vision of Seventy Weeks that was determined on his people to finish their transgressions, make an end of their sins and bring in everlasting righteousness.

The expression, Seventy Weeks, should really be read seventy sevens. Whether these sevens are days, weeks, or years is to be determined by the context in which they are used. The period of the Seventy Weeks is essentially divided into two parts by the prophet: the first sixty-nine weeks [or sevens (which itself is also divided into two parts - from the decree of the king to the restoration of Jerusalem (seven weeks); and from the restoration (verse 25b-27a) to Messiah, (sixty-two weeks)] and then the final Seventieth Week.

THE FIRST SIXTY-NINE WEEKS

Daniel had been studying the prophecy of Jeremiah and had learned from it that the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity were drawing to a close [the captivity had begun in B.C. 606, and sixty-eight years had elapsed since then]. This discovery thrilled Daniel and he set his face towards God and poured out his soul in one of the most wonderful prayers recorded in the Scriptures. His prayer was interrupted by the appearance of the angel Gabriel, who had been sent at the commencement of the prayer to give Daniel understanding in the matter. Daniel was told that sixty-nine weeks [sevens] would pass from the going forth of the commandment to "restore and build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince" [Christ].

The date of the commandment is given in Nehemiah 2:1 as the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, the king, which was the fourteenth day of March, B.C. 445. The day when Jesus rode in triumphal entry into Jerusalem as Messiah the Prince was Palm Sunday, April 6, A.D. 32. But the time between March 14, B.C. 445 and April 6, A.D. 32 is much more than sixty-nine literal weeks. What explanation is there to this?

We are confronted with a cipher, a puzzle.

It is clear to every careful student of the Word of God that there is a "time element" in the Scriptures. We come across such expressions of time as hours, days, weeks, months, years [all of which are used in cipher-like contexts], and finally, such exotic expressions as "time, times, and the dividing of time." To be intelligible and to avoid confusion, they must all be interpreted on the same scale. What is that scale? It is given in Numbers 14:34:

"After the number of the days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years."

The Lord's scale, then, is that a day stands for a year.

Also, we must not forget that there are years of different lengths. The Lunar Year has 354 days. The Calendar Year has 360 days. The Solar Year has 365 days. The Julian Year has 365-1/4 days. Which of these years shall we use in our calculations?

The key is once again found in the Word of God. In Genesis 8:3 [in the account of the Flood], we find that the five months from the 17th day of the second month until the 17th day of the seventh month was reckoned as 150 days, or thirty days to a month or 360 days to a year. So a "Prophetic Year" is 360 days.

No more careful study has been made of the problem of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel than that by Sir Robert Anderson in the Coming Prince. Anderson reckons the chronology of the Sixty-Nine weeks thus:

"'From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks.' An era therefore of sixty-nine 'weeks,' or 483 prophetic years reckoned from the 14th of March, B.C. 445, should close with some event to satisfy the words, 'unto the Messiah the Prince'.

"No student of the gospel narrative can fail to see that the Lord's last visit to Jerusalem was not only in fact, but in the purpose of it, the crisis of His ministry ... now the twofold testimony of His words and His works had been fully rendered, and His entry into the Holy City was to proclaim His Messiahship and to receive His Doom ...

"And the date of it can be ascertained. In accordance with the Jewish custom, the Lord went up to Jerusalem upon the 8th Nisan, 'six days before the Passover'. But as the 14th, on which the Paschal Supper was eaten, fell that year upon Thursday, the 8th was the preceding Friday. He must have spent the Sabbath, therefore, at Bethany; and on the evening of the 9th, after the Sabbath had ended, the Supper took place in Martha's house. Upon the following day, the 10th Nisan, He entered Jerusalem as recorded in the Gospels.

"The Julian date of that 10th Nisan was Sunday the 6th April, A.D. 32. What then was the length of the period intervening between the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the public advent of 'Messiah the Prince' - between the 14th March, B.C. 445, and the 6th April, A.D. 32? THE INTERVAL CONTAINED EXACTLY AND TO THE VERY DAY 173,880 DAYS, OR SEVEN TIMES SIXTY-NINE PROPHETIC YEARS OF 360 DAYS, the first sixty-nine weeks of Gabriel's prophecy."

Anderson arrives at his figures as follows:

"The 1st Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes [the edict to rebuild Jerusalem] was 14 March, B.C. 445.

"The 10th Nisan in Passion Week [Christ's entry into Jerusalem] was 6th April, A.D. 32.

"The intervening period was 476 years and 24 days [the days being reckoned inclusively, as required by the language of the prophecy, and in accordance with the Jewish practice].

"476 x 36 = 173,740 days
"Add 14 March to 6th April, both inclusive = 24 days
"Add for leap years = 116 days
173,880

"And 69 weeks of prophetic years of

360 days [or 69 x 7 x 360] = 173,880 days."

Thus, as Pentecost suggests,

"... Anderson shows us that the sixty-nine weeks began with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and terminated at the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday of the week of the Lord's death. The corrected reading of Luke 19:42, spoken as our Lord came into Jerusalem on that day is most significant: 'if thou also hadst known, even on this day, the things which belong to thy [Jerusalem's] peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes.' The accuracy of Daniel's prophecy is observed in that he states 'after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off' (Dan. 9:26)."

NOW THINK LONG AND HARD ABOUT HOW EXTRAORDINARY THIS ALL IS - THE CIPHER IS EXACT RIGHT TO THE VERY DAY FROM THE DECREE TO REBUILD JERUSALEM TO CHRIST'S TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM. HOW PRECISE THE PROPHETIC SCRIPTURES ARE!!

THE INTERVAL BETWEEN THE SIXTY-
NINTH WEEK AND THE SEVENTIETH WEEK

Then the Scriptures indicate that there was to be a break in God's program with Israel which would occur between the Sixty-Ninth and the Seventieth Weeks, and that this break would continue to a war yet distant in the future. why? So that God could "build-up" the Church. The span of time would be ended by a war through which Israel would once again be restored back into the mainstream of God's purpose. The Seventieth Week itself would commence with a "covenant that is made with many for one week," or for seven years.

PART 2: THE PROPHECY OF
THE SEVENTIETH WEEK

INTRODUCTION

The Seventieth Week, which will be of a seven year duration, can be divided into two periods, each of a three and a half year duration [1,260 days, 42 months, "time (1 year), times (2 years) and half a time (one half year)"], the first half being known commonly as the "Beginning of Sorrows" (Matt. 24:8), and the second half as the "Great Tribulation" (Rev. 7:14). [Click here to see chart #2.]

THE THREE SIGNPOSTS OF
THE SEVENTIETH WEEK

Thus, we have a course of events which spans a period of seven years and which is marked off into two distinct periods by three well defined events. These events are as follows:

  1. The beginning: THE TREATY WITH DEATH AND HELL through which Anti-Christ, as "King of Babylon," will guarantee Israel's security in a defense pact against the Northern Powers; this treaty will provoke the events of the Gog/Magog War and the first half of the Seventieth Week.

  2. The middle: the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION.

  3. The End: the BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON.

[Click here to see chart #3.]

THE SEVEN SEALS, THE SEVEN
TRUMPETS, AND THE SEVEN VIALS

The character of the first half of the Seventieth Week will be defined by the Seven Seals; that of the second half by the Seven Trumpets; and the end [the Judgment, which will actually occur immediately AFTER the Seventieth Week] by the Seven Vials. Throughout the length of this entire period, two themes or "currents of action" are carefully interwoven or interlaced into the course of events - one earthly and the other heavenly, one physical and the other spiritual.

THE COURSE AND CHARACTER
OF THE SEVENTIETH WEEK

The entire course and character of the Seventieth Week are outlined in Matthew chapter twenty-four:

INTRODUCTION

"And as he (Christ) sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

"And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you


THE SEVEN SEALS
1st half of 70th Week
i.e., the Tribulation)
The "Beginning
Or Sorrows"

1,260 days, 42 months,
"time, times and half a time"


"For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ: and shall deceive man.

"AND YE SHALL HEAR OF WARS AND RUMOURS OF WARS: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

"FOR NATIONS SHALL RISE AGAINST NATION, AND KINGDOM AGAINST KINGDOM: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

"ALL THESE THINGS ARE THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS.

"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.

"And then shall many [who have merely professed to be Christians] be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.


THE ABOMINATION
OF DESOLATION
Mid Point


"WHEN YE THEREFORE SHALL SEE THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION SPOKEN OF BY DANIEL THE PROPHET STAND IN THE HOLY PLACE (WHOSO READETH, LET HIM UNDERSTAND)

"Then let them ... flee ...


THE SEVEN
TRUMPETS
2nd half of the
70th Week
The "Great
Tribulation"

1,260 days, 42 months,
"time, times and half a time"


"For then shall be GREAT TRIBULATION [the second half of the Seventieth Week] such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be [again].


THE SECOND
COMING OF CHRIST
End of the
Tribulation
Resurrection &
Rapture of the Saints


"Immediately after the tribulation of those days [the second half of the Seventieth Week] shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,

"And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet [the trumpet spoken of in I Thess. 4:16-17: 'For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with ... the TRUMP of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.'], and they shall gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:3-16, 21, 29-31).


THE SEVEN VIALS
The Wrath of God



PART 3: THE SEVEN SEALS

The union of the church and the state - oh what a sinister and evil potion this is, when religion and politics are mixed together. No more lethal and noxious poison exists.

INTRODUCTION

The Seven Seals relate specifically to the Antichrist and result from his terrible rule and wars of conquest, beginning first with the Gog/Magog War, and extending from there over the entire length of the first half of the Seventieth Week. They are as follows:

  • The First Seal [The White Horse of the Apocalypse]: Antichrist going forth to conquer.

  • The Second Seal [The Red Horse of the Apocalypse]: war and bloodshed which inevitably follow in the wake of conquest.

  • The Third Seal [The Black Horse of the Apocalypse]: famine which always follows in the path of war. And in the hand of this terrible personage is a pair of balances; and there is a saying that issues forth from this horseman: "A measure of wheat for a penny [literally - denarius, a Greek coin which represented a WHOLE DAY'S wages], and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." The meaning of this is that the condition of man during this era will be reduced to such that he will have to labor a whole day simply to buy a loaf of bread or three measures of barley. But the second part of the saying ["... and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine ..."] means that the famine in these days will not extend to what might be called a "global elite of worthies" who have evidently allied themselves to the anti-Christ's policy of conquest - only the rich in the ancient world could afford oil and wine.

  • The Fourth Seal [The Pale Horse of the Apocalypse]: pestilence and death which follow famine and war.

  • The Fifth Seal [The Persecutions of the Tribulation]: oppression directed against the saints of God [by both CIVIL and RELIGIOUS authorities] because of their testimony during the course of the first half of the Tribulation: "Take heed to yourselves: For they shall deliver you up to councils [the CIVIL authority]; and in the synagogues [churches - the RELIGIOUS authority] ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake for a testimony against them" (Mark 13:9).

  • The Sixth Seal [Casting out from Heaven of Satan & his angels]: {cf. Revelation 12:7-9) this seal has particular reference to the Abomination of Desolation and indicates [though indirectly] that the effect of these seals do not simply end with the close of the first half of the Seventieth Week, but continue on through to the end of the tribulation - that is to say, pestilence, death, martyrdom, etc. will continue to be felt; it's just that the effects of the Seven Trumpets will be added now to the effect of the Seven Seals.

  • The Seventh Seal [The Seven Trumpets].

THE THEMES OF THE SEVEN SEALS

Thus, a picture of the first half of the Seventieth Week begins to emerge. The paramount theme is one of incessant war, confusion, and chaos - at least in those parts of the world and within those circles which resist the cajolery and blandishments of Babylon and the Antichrist; world conquest is their sole object, and where flattery fails, brute force takes over. It is a time of titanic struggle and enormous striving; an era of great triumph on the one hand, and futile resistance on the other; a period of incredible victory on the one side and crushing defeat on the other.

THE WINNOWING OF THE CHURCH: THE
PERSECUTION OF THE SEVENTIETH WEEK

And now, in the midst of all this, the process of winnowing begins - the separation of the wheat from the tares, the good seed from the bad seed, the real Christians from those who had merely professed Christianity for advantage or gain.

"Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Mark 13:12-13).

Persecution, if it is anything, is certainly a sifting process. Throughout the Western World, and most especially in the United States, Christianity has enjoyed undisturbed peace for generations. With many who call themselves Christian - even "born again" - Christianity is not now the faith of ardent conviction, such as that which exists in the hearts of those believers who now so cruelly suffer for their faith in other parts of the world; rather the faith of the Western World, and most especially the United States, is one of rote truth, dead doctrine, and shallow emotion instilled into the mind by means of what today passes as "charismatic Christianity" - an evangelical Christianity with which a D.L. Moody, a Hudson Taylor, or a C.T. Studd would utterly not be familiar.

A persecution, breaking out today with great violence, after so many years of tranquillity, could not fail to winnow the Church. The atmosphere of Christianity in America has been corrupted. A secular spirit has crept in - one which even grasps after, of all things, naked and profane political power. Its leaders can be numbered among the most prominent in American Christendom; the sad truth is that many of these men are received with open arms by unbelievers into the highest recesses of worldly political power. It is against these kinds of leaders that Savanarola, the great fourteenth century Italian reformer railed when he charged:

"The Church had once her golden priests, and wooden chalices, but now the chalices are made of gold and the priests are made of wood."

Paraphrased and put in a modern context, it would read:

"The Church had once her golden pastors in small wooden buildings, but now the buildings are made of gold and the pastors are small little men made of wood."

Pember prophetically saw the condition of today's Church when he wrote more than 100 years ago:

"... [evangelicals] do indeed frequent their churches ... in crowds: they excite a feeling ... by grand buildings ... by beautiful music ... and strong political conviction. But if they clothe themselves with the semblance of devotion in their worship, they altogether lose this outward distinction in the world, and bewilder those who are honestly asking what they shall do to be saved by plunging into gaieties, frivolities, pursuits, and the business of this life, as if they were to remain among them forever ... The powers of the World to Come have lost their hold upon them, they are even as other men: so many points have been yielded, amusements permitted, and vices condoned, that it is almost impossible to distinguish them from nonprofessors unless they recite their creed [i.e., (in today's context) claim to be "born-again"] ... And although many are ready to confess that the Christian must take up his cross, yet being thoroughly satisfied that in these modern times the unwearied zeal of Christ and His apostles would be quite out of place, they can by no means find a cross to bear. If, however, God in His anger smite them with sickness, bereavement, disappointment, or loss, they talk of their trials, and comfort themselves with the thought that they are imitating the Lord by enduring troubles which they cannot in any way avoid."

THE UNION OF THE CHURCH AND
THE STATE: A POISONOUS MIXTURE

Indeed, it is an evil specter that has noiselessly glided into the Church while it slumbered and slept, seducing the saints into an unlawful alliance with the state - the sphere of Satan's authority and power. The Church is flattered by the attention of the state; it embraces it. Worldly advantage has no doubt been gained; but alas, it has been gained at the cost of the honor and glory of the Church's heavenly Lord and Savior.

The testimony of her heavenly character is lost when the Church embraces worldly political power and her place of separation from the world is surrendered. She falsifies the Word of the Lord which says of His disciples,

"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:16).

True, in appearance, Christianity in the last few years has gained a victory in the United States with its false alliance with partisan party politics. The Church is rich and increased with wealth, politicians curry its favor; but this is the glory of the world, not of a crucified Christ. It is the world that has gained the victory, not true Christianity. And the natural consequence of this unlawful union of the Church with the state is that its doors are thrown open to unbelievers - unbelievers who will inevitably seek to use it to suppress the truth of the Gospel and the real saints of God. AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SCRIPTURES PREDICT WITH REGARD TO THE PERSECUTION OF THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEVENTIETH WEEK. It will in large part be a persecution directed against the saints of God by the professing Church - and not necessarily just the liberal and Catholic churches, but even that portion of the evangelical Church which today has so heartily embraced secular political power.

It is a deadly potion that the Church has mixed for itself, mixing patriotism to corrupt Gentile power (i.e., the United States) with the Word of God. It is spiritual fornication, the fornication of Babylon the Great. It is precisely this kind of thinking which has slaughtered the saints of God up through the centuries: the blood of the saints is involved here. God help those who drink of this potion! They are drinking damnation to themselves.

"... they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues [churches] and prison ..." (Luke 21:12).

Oh, what a sinister and evil potion this is, when religion and politics are mixed together, no more lethal and noxious poison exists. Few, if any, of our readers, outside of Northern Ireland, the Balkans, the Caucasus, or Iran, could possibly imagine its malice and deadly danger. With a toss of our heads, we are tempted instead to consign all such imagination to another age, to see such things as the result of superstition and nothing else. But in the frenzy of war and chaos - such as will characterize the Seventieth Week - such things have a way of reappearing. The things that we thought were dead and buried, we will find are not so dead after all - as those in the Balkans have found out to their horror.

THE NEW INQUISITION

We face a new Inquisition! An inquisition that will be forced upon us in the name of "God and Country," and not simply by strangers; but by those who we had deemed friends and neighbors, and by those - God help them - that we had thought of as our brothers and sisters in Christ.

"But you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death ... (Luke 21:16).

But what does this exactly mean? In the Inquisition of old, when a man was even slightly suspected of harboring thoughts contrary to the religious authorities of his day, "familiars" [or spies] of the Inquisition were employed to watch him, with the view of discovering the least excuse for handing him over to the tribunal. Had he said something against the impious union of the Church and the state? Did he hold an opinion of any sort contrary to that of the established religious authorities? Had he said something against the state itself? [Which, when state and Church are united, means, of course, betrayal of God.] Was he holding religious meetings in his home without permission or meeting in a church not approved by the state? [Which again - when Church and state are united - could mean not just religious treason, but state treason as well.] Any of these things were enough to create suspicion. He was now marked and denounced by the "familiars."

At midnight a knock is heard. The suspected man is ordered to accompany the "messengers." His wife and family know what that means; their distress is great. They must now take a last farewell of the beloved husband and father. Not a word of entreaty or of remonstrance dare be breathed. Thus, suddenly and unexpectedly did this frightful force pounce upon its victims. Wives gave up their husbands, husbands their wives, parents their children, etc. An impenetrable secrecy surrounded all the proceedings of this institution. And the workings of imagination only lent further to it's fearfulness. Neither rank, nor age, nor sex, afforded any defense against its watchful vigilance and pitiless severity.

THE TESTIMONY OF THE CHURCH
IN THE MIDST OF PERSECUTION

Such severity has a way of winnowing the Church - you can believe that! But, then, oh how the Church will shine! The dross washed away! The gold revealed at last!

"And they that be wise, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3)

And again -

"It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.

"So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves;

"For I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute." (Luke 21:13-15)

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