By Rev. Bill Lee-Warner
Will there be a great revival during the 70th Week of Daniel?
A common misconception among pretribulationists is that there will be some kind of great revival during the 70th Week of Daniel, the final seven years of history (the “Tribulation” period). Pretribulationists insist that after the church is removed prior to the beginning of the 70th week, people will turn to Christ by the thousands. They point to the great multitude in Revelation 7 as indicating this. It is true, there will be a gathering of God’s elect from “every nation and all tribes, peoples and tongues” (Rev. 7:9) some time after the beginning of the 70th week. The question is, is this an ingathering of new “post-rapture” saints or is this the gathering of the elect (Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27; Luke 21:28), the rapture of the church? It becomes apparent that the timing of the rapture is the real question.
If it can be shown that the great multitude is indeed the raptured saints of all the ages, then it necessarily follows that the multitude in Revelation 7 doesn’t refer to an ingathering of new believers resulting from a great revival. If this multitude in Revelation 7 “from every nation…all tribes…peoples and tongues” (7:9) is the raptured church of all the ages, then we can conclude that the church will enter the 70th week and experience some portion of the events described.
It behooves every believer to be like the Bereans of Acts 17:11 who searched the Scriptures to “see whether these things were so”. To arrive at an answer to these matters, we need to look closely at Scripture.
We should begin first by reminding ourselves of 5 cardinal rules of hermeneutics (Bible Study methods):
1. Scripture should be read in its normal, natural and customary sense. This of course allows for figures of speech.
2. All Scripture should be read in context. This means that the interpretation of Scripture should be looked at in the light of the verses and book in which the passage is found.
3. Always compare Scripture with Scripture. In other words, Scripture is its own best commentary. All the passages touching on a particular matter need to be harmonized before truth is found.
4. Scripture never contradicts Scripture. We have not found truth until we find the common denominator that makes all the passages fit together.
5. The recognition of near/far applications of prophetic literature. Barton Payne says, “Biblical prophecy may leap from one prominent peak in predictive topography to another, without notice of the valley between which may involve no inconsiderable lapse in chronology.” (J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, p. 137)
Using the above principles of hermeneutics, we should be able to come to a solid conclusion as to the question of who these saints are in Revelation 7 that come out of the great tribulation.
As we read through Revelation 6, using the first principle of hermeneutics, we are exposed to the breaking of 6 seals on a scroll. When we come to the 6th seal, we learn that a cosmic signal is given announcing, as the context says (2nd principle of hermeneutics), the time for the “wrath of the Lamb”.
The signal indicating the arrival of the wrath of God is said to be when “the sun became black as sackcloth…and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth…and the kings of the earth…hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains…” (Rev. 6:12-13). Using the 2nd principle of hermeneutics, in the Old Testament, Israel was reminded again and again of a coming day when “the sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” (Joel 2:31). The prophet Isaiah said, “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light…” (Is. 13:10). These similar descriptions are in the context of the repeated announcement to Israel known as the Day of the Lord. Consistently in Scripture, the Day of the Lord is a reference to the time of God’s judgment and wrath against wicked and rebellious mankind. (ca Zeph. 1:14-18)
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul clearly told the Thessalonian believers (and all believers) “to wait for [God’s] Son from heaven, whom He (God) raised from the dead … who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thess. 1:10) Again, in chapter 5, Paul says, “God has not destined us (in context, believers) for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 5:9) The wrath he’s speaking of (again, in context) is the wrath of God, the eschatological Day of the Lord. (cf. 1 Thess. 5:2) Therefore, the question to be asked is, “When does the Day of the Lord’s wrath begin in the end times?” Joel tells us clearly: “The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” (Joel 2:31) Note the time sequence: first the cosmic disturbances and then, the day of the Lord’s wrath.
In Revelation 6:12-13, at the opening of the 6th seal, the same signal announcing the coming of God’s Day of the Lord wrath is given. Even the people of the world recognize that the wrath of the “Lamb” has come (Rev. 6:16). Paul’s argument in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 5:11 is that the believers of Thessalonica ought not be disturbed that the Day of the Lord has come even though they were experiencing severe persecution. He reminded them that believers would continue to be here on earth until “the coming of the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:15)
Jesus said in the Olivet Discourse that the coming of the Lord would be “after the tribulation of those days” and after the cosmic disturbances in the sun, moon and stars. (Matthew. 24:29-31)
The conclusion we can draw from the above study is that the Day of the Lord doesn’t begin until sometime after the beginning of the 70th week. That means that Christians will enter the 70th week and be present during a portion of the events described in the book of Revelation.
It must be noted that the book of Revelation is sequential. Revelation 6 ends with the cosmic disturbances as foretold by Joel, Isaiah, Jesus, and others. Revelation 8 introduces us to the opening of the 7th seal which ushers in the 7 trumpet judgments, the wrath of God as recognized by the world in Revelation 6:16-17. Therefore, if the church is to be rescued before the coming of the wrath of God as promised (1 Thes. 5:9), and His wrath begins with the Trumpet Judgments (Revelation 8), then the multitude of Revelation 7 must be the raptured saints.
When one looks at the description of who is present when this multitude arrives in heaven, it becomes clear that the multitude is the “gathering together of God’s elect from the four winds…” (Matthew 24:31). Notice who is present in Revelation 7:9 – 11: (1) God Almighty, (2) the Lamb, (3) all the angels, (4) the elders, and (5) the four living creatures. If the church was raptured before the 70th week, where is she? Surely the church, the bride of Christ, would be present to welcome this multitude coming out of the great tribulation (7:14)! But, they are not even mentioned. Could it be this multitude isn’t mentioned because, as the scriptural timing indicates, this is the raptured church and not the result of a great revival after the rapture?
Then, consider that this group is holding palm branches in their hands. They are clothed in white robes and are standing before the Lamb. What does that mean? It means they have bodies. What’s so significant about that? Paul indicates to us in 1 Corinthians 15 that believers receive their resurrected bodies at the time of their resurrection. This multitude has resurrected bodies.
An additional consideration to be made is the attitude of the world toward God during the time of the 70th week. Note the following: “and the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent” (9:20), “and they did not repent…” (9:21), “and the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast and they worshipped the dragon… and they worshipped the beast…” (13:3-4), “and they blasphemed the name of God … and they did not repent, so as to give Him glory” (16:9), “and they blasphemed the God of heaven…and did not repent of their deeds” (16:11), “and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail” (16:21). The increasing response of mankind during the 70th week is not one of repentance and salvation, but one of rejection and the cursing of God. It seems unlikely then that there will be a great revival among the people of the world during those days.
A common assumption of pretribulationists is that there will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists traversing the world in the 70th Week of Daniel. In the New Testament, there are only two places where this group is mentioned: Revelation 7 and 14. In Revelation 14 we discover that this group is the “woman” who was also spoken of in Revelation 12:6 and 14 who hid in the “wilderness” and was protected by God (note: Rev. 7:3 and Rev. 12:6,14) until the conclusion of the 70th Week of Daniel (Ez. 20:37-39) when “all Israel will be saved”. (Rom. 11:26)
If we adhere to the principles of hermeneutics where we should take Scripture at face-value and in context, there is no indication that there is a revival during the 70th Week of Daniel nor are the144,000 bringing thousands to Christ during the 70th Week of Daniel.
It should be noted that the apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 says that in the days of the appearing of Antichrist during the 70th Week of Daniel, Satan will perpetrate a massive deception upon mankind. One might well wonder what that will be like. Additionally, Paul also tells us that God Himself will send upon mankind a deluding influence “so that they might believe what is false”. That doesn’t sound like the kind of atmosphere where there will be thousands coming to Christ.
Finally, it must be understood that the entire 70th week of Daniel is not the wrath of God. Since pretribulationists believe the church will be raptured before the 70th week, it follows that the entire 70th Week will be the Day of the Lord’s wrath. Why? Because Jesus clearly taught in Luke 17:26-30 (ca Matthew 24:29-31 and 37) that the rescue of the righteous and the wrath of God fall on the same day – back to back. Using this reasoning, it must be admitted that the church has to be removed from earth before the 70th week of Daniel.
However, if the entire 70th week of Daniel were the judgment of God, serious problems arise. First, the wrath of God isn’t even spoken of until the 6th seal, well into the 70th week. If the first seal of Revelation 6 represents a false messiah/christs as taught by Christ in Matthew 24:5, then God would be guilty of sending deceivers to deceive even His own. Unthinkable. Then, there’s the matter of the 5th seal martyrs. If the entire 70th week of Daniel is the wrath of God, God is guilty of martyring His own. Jesus spoke of a house being divided against itself not being able to stand. Again, unthinkable! In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 2 verses 11 and 17, God declares unequivocally that in His day (the Day of the Lord) He alone will be exalted. Paul tells us that at the midpoint of the 70th week, Antichrist will exalt himself. (2 Thessalonians 2:4). That line of reasoning demands there be two separate occasions during the 70th week, one of which being when God exalts Himself and the other when Antichrist exalts himself.
We learn from the announcement of the onset of the Day of the Lord (the 6th seal) that God will judge the world when He alone will be exalted. Prior to the 6th seal, Antichrist will exalt himself when he persecutes all who will not bow to him and worship him (Rev. 13:7-8). That demand from him begins at the midpoint of the 70th week, the 4th seal when mankind will be offered a choice: worship Antichrist and live but endure an eternity separated from God or refuse to worship Antichrist and die. Those who are true bond-servants will then enjoy an eternity in heaven.
For the above reasons, it becomes apparent that there will not be a great revival during the 70th week of Daniel. The multitude spoken of in Revelation 7 must of necessity then be the raptured church.