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CONTRASTING EXPECTATIONS IN DANIEL AND IN REVELATION

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  June 7, 2012 — 2 Comments

Revelation is as fascinating a book as it is a confusing one. However, 99% of the confusion is dispelled if we take seriously its own statements about when its judgments are expected to occur. These judgments are not destructive of the postmillennial hope for the historical long-run because these judgments are expected in the historical short-run — in John’s own day.

In the last two articles I highlighted the specific near-term terms (no pun intended) and their strategic placement in Revelation. In this article I consider a command by an angel to John which shows that Revelation’s events were to occur soon.

Scholars recognize a literary relationship between Revelation and Daniel, with Daniel being one of the leading sources of John’s imagery and thought. In each book an angel appears to the writer. Interestingly, though using very similar language, the angel instructs John to take action exactly opposite that to Daniel. These contrary directives arise from the widely separated places in history where John and Daniel find themselves.

Note the literary similarity of the commands to Daniel and to John. But also note their opposite historical expectation and results:

Daniel 12:4: “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time.”

Revelation 22:10: “And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”

Daniel lives several hundred years before John, and the angel directs him to “seal up the book.” But much later in history a similar angel instructs John (writing a similar, apocalyptic work) not to seal up the book — “for the time is near” (Rev. 22:10). What could be clearer? Daniel’s expectations are long term; John’s are short term.

As I have shown in these three articles is that when all is said and done, John writes Revelation while anticipating events looming in his own day. He is not writing about events two or three thousand years distant. He would be mercilessly taunting his original first century audience, who is suffering grievous tribulation and who is being told the divine judgments upon the evildoers are “shortly to come to pass” or “near,” if he had to confess to them that he was just kidding.

Our understanding of the main thrust of Revelation, then, must be “preteristic” rather than “futuristic.” “Preterism” is based on the Latin word praeteritus, which means “gone by.” The preterist approach to Revelation teaches that John was prophesying events future to his own day, but which are now in our past. Futurism teaches that all the events of Revelation (from ch. 4 on) are still in our future.

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 80 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

2 responses to CONTRASTING EXPECTATIONS IN DANIEL AND IN REVELATION

  1. What does this date relate to?

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. June 9, 2012 at 6:30

      It shows that in the OT the prophecy was sealed up because the time was distant. But in Revelation John is told the exact opposite: Don’t seal up the prophecy because the time is near. That is, Revelation is not for the distant future like Daniel, but was for the immediate future. Revelation was dealing with first century events, not last century events. Revelation was prophesying the destruction of the Temple and the conclusion of the old covenant in AD 70, not the destruction of the world and the conclusion of new covenant history at the Second Advent.

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