Why An Obsession with Eschatology is a Waste of Time, Part 7

Posted By on June 27, 2010

The question to address in this post is much simpler than others:Is there any biblical proof that the 70th week of Daniel = the tribulation period?

This equation is critical to the pre-trib, premill view of the rapture. That is, without this equation, that view is very damaged.

Sure, there are plenty of biblical references to a time of tribulation, “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” and of course there is the “70 weeks” prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. But is there any biblical proof that these terms overlap or are to be defined by each other? Is the 70th week of Daniel ever called or alluded to as a period of tribulation? You’d think that would be important (at least I would).

A couple of observations are in order on this one – I’d like some participation from you all, too.

1. Here is a link to all the occurrences of the word used in Matthew 24 for “tribulation” (Greek: thlipsis). Does any use of the term allude to Daniel 9’s 70th week?

2. Notice that in Daniel 9 the only reference to “trouble” (v. 25) is placed before the 70th week. The Septuagint does *not* use thlipsis in this passage to translate this word.

3. The only time Daniel 9:24-27 is specifically referenced in the New Testament is Matt. 24:15. Note that the “tribulation” period in Matthew *follows* in Matt 24:21 (the earlier reference to “tribulation in 24:9 is obviously personal to each of the disciples of Jesus’ day). This suggests that the tribulation period cannot be the 70th week of Daniel, though *part* of that 70th week is defined as a period of tribulation. This is a common position of the pre-wrath rapture view.

So, what I’d like in terms of interaction is for those who would define / equate the 70th week of Daniel with a seven year tribulation to provide some textual support for that view.

We’ll get into the 70 weeks prophecy itself shortly.

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29 Responses to “Why An Obsession with Eschatology is a Waste of Time, Part 7”

  1. Robbie says:

    Lev 26:27-35; Jer 25:1-14; Ezk 4:4-8; Dan 9:23-27
    Moses says the land must enjoy its sabbaths, and he supplies an if-then conditional promise. If Israel keeps the Law then they get the blessing of staying. Moses didn’t discuss Jerusalem, as it did not exist yet. Jeremiah does and then elaborates on Moses’ promise. Jeremiah indicates a 70 year exile, so the land can rest.
    Ezekiel and Daniel need to be weighed together, as they are fairly close in time and context about the specific details of the city of Jerusalem. Daniels time frames: 7×7 and 7X62 and 7X1 are all tied to the city of Jerusalem and its temple rituals.
    Jesus said destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days. His assertion of resurrection confounded the literalists of His day, much as the literalists of our day are confounded into a Trib down memory lane that is both ill advised and fruitless. Paul does mention the temple being desecrated by a man of lawlessness but that does not necessitate a 7 or 31/2 year time.

  2. Nobunaga says:

    I have nothing really to contribute in defense of this view, but this view has been the one i have been most exposed to by listening to sermons online from good preachers such as John McArthur and the likes.

    what makes it appealing is that i can see freedoms in the world being taken away bit by bit and power being more and more centralized, along with Israels being the burdensome stone to the world. With that said it is not so much biblical, it’s interpretation of prophecy from the news which i know is not the proper course, but there you go it all thats out there for the layman like myself. So i’m watching intently hoping to learn something here, sorry i cant contribute, its too confusing and i have no clear opinion at the moment on it as a result of all the people who are teaching who should be studying e.g pacific floor face guy. I think there will be a few more like me.

    • MSH says:

      understood; what I’m saying to this point isn’t complicated, though. A view either derives from the biblical text or it doesn’t. The task is to try as much as possible to discern what the text is saying, not the newspaper.

  3. Robbie says:

    Mike: My apologies for the lack of clarity. My point is that any attempt to produce a one to one ‘fulfilment’ of Daniel’s last week to accomodate 21st century views are as fruitless as 1st century attempts to discredit Jesus because He did not fit a particular prophetic view held by the Pharisees. Jerusalem and the temple are central to the weeks of Daniel. I think it is unwise to shoehorn stuff. We’ll see Him when He gets here.

  4. Lauren says:

    Unto Messiah the Prince, Daniel 9:25b.. encompasses 7 shavuots, 62 HAVE COME AND GONE, the 63rd occurred on May 19, 2010.

    Which was exactly 30 days AFTER the Obama administration sided with the UN for the first time and in essence pitted it against the world with Obama being recompensed with the “Gulf oil spill” tragedy the next day starting “Jacobs Trouble”. http://signsofthelastdays.com/

    These 69 weeks/shavuots are enclosed in the ‘last generation’ that began on September 15, 1947 and ends when the ‘great trumpet’ is blown on the last day of Sukkot October 24, 2016.

    The final or 70th shavuot will occur in the Millenium on Sivan 6 5777 or May 31, 2017.

    So in answering your opening question, “Is there any biblical proof that the 70th week of Daniel = the tribulation period?”

    You had better believe it! These next 31+ months up to Passover March 25/26, 2013 will be filled with natural catastrophes that bring tribulation on this earth including massive ‘economical’ tribulation.

    It will be at this time the remnant and the ‘grafted in’ gentiles are miracuously delivered into the wilderness just like it was at the first “Exodus” ,Revelation 12:6 and 14-17, Isaiah 14:1-2 and Ezekiel 20:33-38 for starters.
    Shalom, Lauren

    • MSH says:

      We can add this to the myriad of other such attempts to plot all this out. I’ll also go out on a limb and say it will also be added to the predictive schemes that have failed (come 2017). There have been so many attempts to organize the sevens and they have all come and gone. Thirty years ago everything was filtered through the soviet Union (“Co;d War hermeneutics”); now everything revolves around Obama (“Marxist crisis hermeneutics”).

      Here’s something you omitted: where does the biblical text tell us that this is how we are to approach the 70th week? You’ve assumed it, but on what basis?

  5. CCM says:

    Dr. Heiser,

    I’m having trouble understanding how to break up the plot lines between Matt. 24 and Dan. 9 as you discuss in observation #3 above.. Are we supposed to take Matt. 21 as discrete from the warning in Matt. 24:15 or a continuation? Does ‘For then there will be great tribulation…’ describe a reference back to 24:15 or the beginning of another stage?

    If it’s a continuation, then I can see how the 70th week, Dan. 9:27, gets connected to the tribulation, Matt. 24:15. As in, the abomination of desolation is described in the same verse, Dan. 9:27, as the ‘one week’ and thus completes the circle with Jesus’ warning to flee at the sight of the abomination of desolation in Matt. 24:15 and the tribulation in Matt. 24:21.

    That is unless Dan. 9:27 is actually two discrete elements. I could see how the abomination of desolation event that follows the ‘one week’ isn’t necessarily connected. How do we parse that?

  6. CCM says:

    Are we supposed to take Matt. 24:21 as discrete…


  7. Nobunaga says:

    Yes what you have said is not complicated so far, it’s all the countless theories that i have listened to that are. So do you see the Feasts of the Lord as having any relevance to this discussion on end times ?

    fast of TISHA BE-AV The 9th day of AV Moses broke the Tablets of the Torah; also the Babylonian Army broke through the walls of Jerusalem and The Roman Armies attack of the Temple mount on this day caused the cessation of the sacrifice. The 9th of AV marks the Destruction of both Solomon’s Temple by the Babylonians in 587 B.C and Herod’s Temple by the Romans in A.D. 70.

    A total of eight major disasters have occurred on this date to the nation of Israel. This is a phenomenon unprecedented in the history of all the nations of the world. Zechariah spoke of this day of mourning (7:5) taken from Ariel.

    • MSH says:

      Can you give me the exact verse references for the days/dates you mention? I’d like to check some chronological items with them.

      Other nations have had more than 8 disasters. And any count is artificial, since the historical sources are so incomplete (e.g., how do we know that ancient New Zealand didn’t have eight natural disasters? Because there’s no history written about it).

  8. CCM says:

    I guess I’m asking if the phrase ?????? ???? in Dan. 9:27 is supposed to be taken as something identified directly with the time period described as ??? ????? in the text preceding it.

    Ohhh, wait…I think I get it. If we make the assumption that they are related AND that Jesus is describing the abomination followed by tribulation in Matt. 24:15-21, THEN we arrive at the conclusion that the 70th week equals the tribulation.

    HOWEVER, we don’t have to make that assumption. Is that right? Is there a chance that you could read Dan. 9:27 as two unconnected events? As in, ??? ????? and then something else happens later with the abomination?

    In that sense, I suppose the argument hangs on one’s assumptions about what’s happening in the 70th week in Dan. 9:27. Someone is confirming a covenant with many, but I don’t understand who that someone is supposed to be. I don’t see a subject in the Hebrew, just a conjugated verb ?????

    • MSH says:

      yes; it’s about assumptions — and as we’ll see, there are more. The whole point is (again) showing that one’s eschatological positions are ultimately based on a series of assumptions; they are not self-evident.

  9. CCM says:

    Oops, sorry. The Hebrew script didn’t come out. Should be something like this…

    para 1
    – phrase ‘shikutsim meshomem’ in Dan. 9:27
    – described as ‘khtsi hashavua’

    para 3
    – As in, ‘khtsi hashavua’ and then

    para 4
    – conjugated verb ‘higbir’

    • MSH says:

      I haven’t figured out yet how to make Hebrew show up here either. Next post will take us deep into Dan 9:24-27. Lots of gnarly stuff in there.

  10. CD says:

    Dear Dr Heiser,
    I appreciate your challenging and interactive “theology exercise”. I find it interesting that the more I study the bible, the more my view on this subject changes. Huh, imagine that… Anyway, I hope and pray that this is a good opportunity for the Lord to help stretch and grow our faith. I look forward to the study!

    It’s always exciting to see the Lord move and speak in our life. I’ve personally seen good fruit produced through my study of Eschatology over the past few years but, I’ve also seen an unhealthy obsession with the paranormal and prophetic future events. Regardless, I am learning that there is a fine balance between heaven and earth and the present and future. We are told to watch and be ready, but ultimately, we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph 2:10). We were created to glorify the Lord and produce fruit!

    Best Regards,

    • MSH says:

      thanks – and of course it is the obsession that I’m targeting (regardless of the view of the “obsessor”).

  11. Lauren says:

    Mr. Heiser you said I omitted and assumed with no “basis” where the biblical text tell us this is how we are to approach the 70th week.

    On the basis that Shavuot is the ‘Feast of WEEKS’ and the word weeks coming from the Hebraic word shabua that can refer to ANY PERIOD OF SEVEN meaning seven Shavuots or ten weeks of Shavuots is a correct “approach” to counting out the “seventy weeks”!

    In Matthew 24:22-34, Yeshua, speaking of the last generation said, that if the days hadn’t been shortened no flesh would be saved and that it would not pass until all these things are fulfilled”

    That includes the six requirements decreed in Daniel 9:24 to be fulfilled by the ‘Messiah’ upon Jerusalem and its people, with the last one, “to anoint the most Holy” occuring in the ‘Millennial’ reign where this SEVENTIETH Shavuot counts out on May 31, 2017.

    Mr.Heiser for you to say, “Ill also go out on a limb and say it will also be added to the predictive schemes that have failed (come 2017)”.

    Are you not paying attention to the BREAKING of God’s “everlasting inheritance covenant” that this administration in DC is pushing upon Israel to ‘divide’ God’s land and the destruction it is and will bring upon this land?

    What is going on in the “Gulf” today is a direct correlation to Obama’s “pushing” Israel. Read Isaiah 19 and verses 5-9 in particular, that is a strong commentary on the Gulf of Mexico today!

    The scoffers are RUNNING OUT OF ROOM TO SCOFF and can only scoff so long, probably having their ‘heyday’ on December 22, 2012 when nothing happens on 12-21-2012, the day before.

    They will have a rood awakening, having fallen into the trap some 90+ days later when around Passover March 25/26, 2013 the “sudden destruction” of the storm of the LORD will sweep them away!

    This generation is in the “FINAL SEVEN SHAVUOTS” with #69 occuring on June 12, 2016 and the generation ending on October 24, 2016.

    Shalom, Lauren

    • MSH says:

      literally, every one of these “obvious” correlations have been made before, just with other political events. I’ve seen them come and go since the seventies. My only request of you is that you don’t abandon the faith when you’re wrong.

    • str says:


      have you actually read the whole chapter in context before delving into irrelevancies like the feast of Shavuot? The weeks referred to are obviously weeks of years.

      The 70 Weeks Prophecy is given to Daniel at the time the Israelites were still in exile. His prayers are concerned with the end of that exile and the salvation of Jerusalem, not with anything the Obama administration (or any American for that matter) could be doing.

      The passage is quite difficult in its language and just as difficult in its interpretation. What is the “word to rebuild Jerusalem”, which is the starting point? Certainly sometime between 605 and 444 BC. Who is “Messiah the Prince” and does he come after 7 or after 7+62 weeks. Will the covenant be made firm or hard and who is the one doing this. Does the prophecy point to Antiochus or the Maccabees or Herod or Jesus or did it turn out to be false?

      It seems logical to me, that the 7 + 62 + 1 is one continuous time span – otherwise it wouldn’t be 70 weeks. But even if one allows for some gaps between the three units, a gap extending to 3 millenia is out of the question.

      To Mike’s question: Jesus referred to the 70th week and also spoke about tribulation – but that doesn’t necessarily mean the final tribulation in history, before the second coming.

      And a fixed 7-year-tribulation at the end of time IMHO contradicts the statement that “nobody knows time and hour”. How so, if one has the beginning of the tribulation – just add seven years and one would know it, if such schedules were true.

  12. Nobunaga says:

    Zechariah 7:5

    The 17th of TAMMUZ begins a 3-week period of national mourning leading up to the fast of TISHA BE-AV, the 9th day of AV. Taken from Ariel.

    Point taken about weather or not the exactness of historical events can be established.

  13. Clint says:

    Jesuit Manuel de Lacunza y Diaz was responsible for an end-time tribulation view which he published in his book “The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty.” Lacunza was expelled from Spain in 1765 and moved to Imola, Italy where he claimed to be a converted Jew named Rabbi Ben Ezra.

    Edward Irving translated Lacunza’s book from Spanish into English and published the view in his paper, “The Morning Watch”. Edward Irving was the founder of an early Charismatic cult known to be heretical which became known as the Irvingites.

    It was John N. Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren who went to the Irvingite meetings. He is responsible for expanding Lacunza’s tribulation view to a seven year tribulation period.

    There isn’t any biblical proof that the seventieth seven is an end time tribulation period of seven years!

  14. Clint says:

    The King James Versions translates the word ‘shavuim’ as “weeks” while the NIV translates ‘shavuim’ as “sevens”. Shavua is the word used in biblical and modern Hebrew to denote an ordinary seven day week.

    Shavuim is the masculine plural form of shavua which the NIV recognizes to be a peculiar form. Hence, it is rendered ‘sevens’ while the KJV rendered shavuim as ‘weeks.’ The usual plural form of shavua is shavuot not shavuim. Shavuot is the feminine plural form used throughout the entire Hebrew Bible whenever an ordinary seven day week is intended.

    Consequently, shavuim are nor ordinary seven day weeks! Shavuot would have been used and not shavuim if an ordinary seven day week was intended. Furthermore, the
    word shavuim appears only in the prophecies concerning the seventy weeks and in Daniel 10:2,3.

    Daniel 10:2 [NIV] “At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks.”

    Daniel 10:3 [NIV] “I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.”

    Daniel mourned for three shavuim yamim or literally for three ‘sevens’ of days. Although this context shavuim means ordinary weeks; notice that Daniel places the
    qualifying word yamim (meaning ‘days’) after shavuim. This is the only place in the entire Hebrew Bible where shavuim denotes an ordinary seven day week.

    Consequently, Daniel hints that the word shavuim appears without a qualifier as in Daniel 9:24-27 it has a different meaning. From the context of the prophecy, shavuim
    must refer to ‘sevens’ of years rather than days.

    First – Daniel was thinking in terms of years rather than days but also a definite multiple of ‘sevens’ (10 x 7) of years.

    Daniel 9: 1 “In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes[a] (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian[b] kingdom

    Daniel 9: 2 In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.

    Second – Daniel knew that the length of the Babylonian captivity was because of Jewish violations of the Sabbatical year. 2 Chronicles 36:21. Hence, the Jewish people
    were removed from the Holy Land so that the land may rest for seventy years.

    Undoubtedly, Daniel was thinking in terms of years rather than days. Hence, the ‘sevens’ refer to ‘sevens’ of years. The accepted line of reasoning assumes that ‘sevens’ are periods of seven years.

    I quote from Alva McClain’s study of the seventy weeks, “The form is really a participle meaning besevened, i.e. computed by sevens.. .and here gives evidence of the fact that the word was originally masculine. What led Daniel to employ the masculine instead of the feminine however, is not clear unless it was for the deliberate purpose
    of calling attention to the fact that the word “sevens” is employed in an unusual sense. The word means divided into sevens…”

    E. J. Young points to an answer for the puzzle: Shavuim or ‘sevens’ are periods of time computed by sevens. Speaking explicityly, they are divided into sevens. Hence,
    something ‘computed by sevens’ or ‘divided into sevens’ is as an integer multiple of seven. Consequently, the meaning is the same. One must ask “seven” what? Days,
    months, or years?

    The context of the prophecy reveals the period of time. Daniel was thinking in terms of years…the seventy years of Babylonian captivity. Shavuim are periods divided into seven years, equivalently, periods that are integer multiples of seven years!

    Tragically, Young didn’t follow the logical conclusion of his insight but assumed the ‘sevens’ were ‘symbolical’ periods of indefinite length. But he did forthrightly observe

    that ‘sevens’ are periods that are ‘divided into sevens’ which opens the way for us to understand the ‘sevens’ as multiples of seven years.

    Consequently, Daniel’s 70th week requires a multiplier!

  15. Larry says:

    There is a small error here. Matthew 24-15 doesn’t directly refer to Daniel 9:24-27. It refers to Daniel 11-31. To me it seems he is implying that Daniel 11 must occur in the 70th week.

  16. Richard Neal says:

    I would like to play Michael, but you ask “So, what I’d like in terms of interaction is for those who would define / equate the 70th week of Daniel with a seven year tribulation to provide some textual support for that view.” This is, as I am sure you are quite aware of, a loaded question?…To equate Daniel’s 70th Week with The Great Tribulation Period – as if the two are one in the same time period is an impossibility as no where in Scripture are the two ever equated as being one and the same event. Nor can one support a “pre-tribulation rapture” event from Scripture as well since a “pre-tribulation rapture” event is never taught throughout Scripture….Scripture teaches us that there are, indeed, four eschatological time periods, i.e., The War of Gog and Magog (Eze 38, 39), Daniel’s 70th Week (Dan 9), The Great Tribulation Period (Matt 24) and The Day of the Lord’s Wrath, or The Day of the Lord spoken of throughout Scripture. In brief: The War of Gog and Magog ends (Eze 39) and the Antichrist, as the King of Daniel’s infamous “fourth beast” or “empire (Dan 7:7; 8:9-12), enters into a seven year peace treaty with Israel (Dan 9:27) as a result of the disastrous War of Gog and Magog. This act – this signing of the peace treaty between the Antichrist and Israel is the single event that begins Daniel’s 70th Week (Dan 9:27). Halfway through Daniel’s 70th Week the Antichrist will perform “the abomination that causes desolation” act (Dan 9:27; Matt 24:15) – This single act begins The Great Tribulation Period (Matt 24: 15-21). The Great Tribulation Period, however, will “be cut short” (Matt 24:22) for the sake of “the elect” – the Church, which will reach a state of almost extinction. This act of “cutting short” The Great Tribulation Period is, indeed, the rapture event (Rev 6:12), but it is a “pre-wrath rapture” event rather than a “pre-tribulation” event. Why, because the Church is promised to never suffer God’s wrath (Rom 5:9; 1st Thess 5:9). With the “pre-wrath” rapture event fulfilled, and with it Jesus Christ’s promise to His church (Matt 24:22) – both Daniel’s 70th Week and The Great Tribulation Period come to an end and The Day of the Lord’s Wrath begins when He will judge all people and nations – including Israel – who have not repented and, as a result, become citizens of the Kingdom of the great King…I would welcome a critique by you of my new book – http://www.KingdomOfTheAntichrist.com

    • MSH says:

      You’ve assumed a lot here. My initial question would be how Gog and Magog in Revelation fit your timeline. Ever seen that?

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