To Seal or Not to Seal the Book? (Daniel 12 Versus Revelation 22)


Series: “Little Gems from Our Study of the Book of Revelation”

The following study was published earlier today in The Fulfilled Connection (TFC) Magazine, and was adapted from our study of Revelation 22 (Part 2):

What a difference 600 years can make. It certainly made a difference when it came to the visions shown to Daniel (605 – 536 BC) and to John (around 65 AD*). As we will see, one prophet (Daniel) was told to seal his book, and about 600 years later the other (John) was told to keep his book unsealed. Daniel was told that the fulfillment of his visions was a long way off, and about 600 years later John was told that fulfillment was right around the corner.

Many have observed the parallels between what Daniel and John saw in their respective visions. For example:

(a) Daniel foresaw a king, arising from the fourth beast (kingdom), who would “persecute the saints of the Most High.” The saints would “be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time,” i.e. 3.5 years (Daniel 7:25).

(b) Very similarly, John saw a beast who “was given authority to continue for forty-two months” (i.e. 3.5 years), and “it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them” (Revelation 13:4-7).

Without a doubt, Daniel and John were granted visions of the same event, future to both of them. Or, in John’s case, had it already begun? “I, John, both your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9).**

One group of Bible teachers, whose eschatology differs from my own, has created the following chart to demonstrate how Daniel and John both repeatedly spoke of a 3.5 year time period:

Different Descriptions of a 3 ½ Year Period

Bible References

42 months

Rev. 11:2,13:5

1260 days

Rev. 11:3,12:6

3.5 years

Dan. 9:27

Time, times & ½ a time

Dan. 7:25, Dan. 12:7, Rev. 12:4

At the end of John’s visions, he recorded a very significant instruction given to him by an angel:

Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’ And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. ‘Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book’And he said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand‘” (Revelation 22:6-10). 

Interestingly, Daniel was given opposite instructions. He was told to seal his book:

But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end… it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished… And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end’” (Daniel 12:4-9)

Daniel was told to seal his book because “the time of the end” for his people was in the distant future. However, John was told that what he saw was about to take place and therefore he should not seal his book. The contrasts between these two sets of instructions can be seen in this chart:

DATE

Around 540 BC

Around 65 AD

PROPHET

Daniel

John (Revelation)

SEAL or DON’T SEAL?

But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4); “And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9).

And he said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book…’” (Rev. 22:10).

FAR AWAY or AT HAND?

Therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future” (Daniel 8:26); “Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come” (Daniel 10:14).

“…for the time is at hand” (Rev. 22:10).

Around 540 BC, Daniel was told that the time of the fulfillment of his book was still far away, but around 65 AD John was told that the time of the fulfillment of his book was near. This makes no sense if Daniel and John were prophesying about events in the 21st century or beyond, as both would be far away, and about 2600 years in Daniel’s case and about 2000 years away in John’s case. It does makes sense, however, if both Daniel and John were prophesying of events in John’s time. Here’s what the difference looks like:

Time Frame if These Prophecies Remain Unfulfilled

Time Frame if These Prophecies Were Fulfilled in John’s Day

To be fulfilled in the 21st century or beyond

Fulfilled around 70 AD

Daniel: “many days to come” = 2600 years later and not yet fulfilled

John: “at hand” = 2000 years later and still not fulfilled

Daniel: “many days to come” = fulfilled 600 years later

John: “at hand” = fulfilled a few years later

Daniel was told that his prophecies concerned “the time of the end” for his people in Israel, and the complete shattering of their power (Daniel 12:7). That “time of the end” had come in John’s day, and therefore he wrote that “the time” was “at hand.” It was the end of the old covenant age, and the time for judgment upon adulterous, unfaithful Israel – a judgment which Jesus had so often predicted (e.g. Matthew 21:43-44, 22:7, 23:34-36, 24:1-51; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 17:20-37, 19:41-44, 21:5-36). This judgment was made complete during the Roman-Jewish War of 67-73 AD, and Josephus graphically recorded the shattering of national Israel in his book,The Wars of the Jews, published in 75 AD.

That time of judgment was 600 years in Daniel’s future, but it took place in John’s generation. This is why Daniel’s book was sealed, but John’s book remained unsealed.

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*The following articles contain a wealth of evidence that the book of Revelation was written prior to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD:

[1] External Evidence for An Early Date
[2] Internal Evidence for An Early Date (Part 1)
[3] Internal Evidence for An Early Date (Part 2)
[4] Internal Evidence for An Early Date (Part 3)
[5] Internal Evidence for An Early Date (Part 4)
[
6] The Book of Revelation Written Before 70 AD (An Illustration)

**According to the church father, Tertullian, John was exiled to Patmos by Nero after John miraculously survived Nero’s attempt to boil him in oil.

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A Revolution in the Realm of Eschatology


I belong to a Facebook group called “Charismatic Preterist Movement,” led by my friend, Maurice Perry. The purpose of the group is “bringing charismatic saints together who hold a fulfilled (preterist) eschatological position.” Yesterday Maurice highlighted the group description. I love the way it’s worded, and, for the most part, it resonated so much with my own outlook that I’ve decided to re-post it here:

Once again, it’s time for reformation in our church. For far too long, the seduction of dispensationalism and the futurist eschatological viewpoint has held the church captive in a state of fear, escapism, and lack of zeal and compassion for missions, ministry, evangelism and reaching the lost.

The Charismatic Preterist Movement (CPM) is a company of Christians that is dedicated to promoting Sola Scriptura, proper exegesis and hermeneutics in an effort to dismantle every lie and strong delusional tactic constructed by Satan to keep the corporate Body of Christ in a state of slumber, inactivity and perpetual hope deferred. CPM also believes that the same Holy Spirit that moved in power, signs and wonders through men and women in the 1st century church can, will, and desires to do the same today through yielded human vessels that have compassion for the lost and those that are bound.

What Do We Believe?

1. Everything Jesus said would happen, happened exactly as and when He said it would — within the lifetime of his contemporaries.

2. Everything every New Testament writer expected to happen, happened exactly as and when they expected it would — within their lifetime — as they were guided into all truth and told the things that were to come by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).

3. Scholars across a broad spectrum are in general agreement that this is exactly how every NT writer and the early Church understood Jesus’ words. If they were wrong on something this important, how can we trust them to have conveyed other aspects of the faith accurately, such as the requirements for salvation?

4. No inspired NT writer, writing twenty or more years later, ever corrected their Holy Spirit-guided understanding and fulfillment expectations (John 16:13). Neither should we. Instead, they intensified their language as the “appointed time of the end” (Daniel 12:4; Habakkuk 2:3) drew near — from Jesus’ “this generation” (Matthew 24:34), to Peter’s “the end of all things is at hand” and “for it is time for judgment to begin” (1 Peter 4:7, 17), and John’s “this is the last hour . . . . it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).

5. God is faithful (2 Pet. 3:9) and “not a man that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19). Faithfulness means not only doing what was promised, but also doing it when it was promised.

6. 1st-century fulfillment expectations were the correct ones and everything happened, right on time — no gaps, no gimmicks, no interruptions, no postponements, no delays, no exegetical gymnastics, and no changing the meaning of commonly used and normally understood words. Such manipulative devices have only given liberals and skeptics a foothold to discredit Christ’s Deity and the inerrancy of Scripture.**

7. What needs adjusting is our understanding of both the time and nature of fulfillment, and not manipulation of the time factor to conform to our popular, futuristic, and delay expectations.

8. The kingdom of God was the central teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a present but greatly under-realized reality, and must again become the central teaching of His Church.

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**As an example of point #6 above, the famous author, C.S. Lewis, taught that Jesus meant for His disciples to believe that His eschatological predictions would take place in their own time, but that He didn’t know what He was talking about:

“The apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else. This is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.” (Essay: “The World’s Last Night” (1960), found inThe Essential C.S. Lewis, p. 385.)

I appreciate a lot of C.S. Lewis’ writings, but this quote is tragic. Jesus wasn’t wrong. He told the truth. He kept His word. He did what He said He would do within the time frame He set for Himself to do it. The church is overdue for a revolution that makes it clear this is our common position.