August 25, 2019

Towards the middle of the sixth century before Christ, Daniel had a numerical revelation about the time it would take before the triumph of the Messiah, and with it, how long the mediator plan of the Jewish people would last.

While an adolescent, Daniel was taken captive to Babylon, in the deportation suffered by the Hebrews in the year 586 B.C. He grew up there showing exceptional wisdom, which made him become Prime Minister to various Kings.

By reading the Prophet Jeremiah, Daniel understood that the deportation was about to end, and while asking God when the Messiah would arrive to restore Israel, he received from the archangel Gabriel one of the most exact mathematical prophecies of the Scriptures.

Gabriel said to him: “Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and for your holy city, then rebellion will end and sin will stop, guilt will be expiated, everlasting justice will be introduced, vision and prophecy ratified, and a most Holy one will be anointed (Dn 9, 24).

For the Hebrews, a “week” (Shabua) means seven years, the seventh being a sabbatical year for the earth. That’s how Daniel was able to know that the Babylonian captivity was going to last 70 years. (10 “weeks” x 7 years).

Gabriel, besides informing Daniel that the time for the restoration of Israel and the triumph of the Messiah would be 490 years (70 “weeks” x 7 years), also lets him know, with incredible accuracy, the beginning and the end of the first 69 weeks: “Know then and understand: from when the order is given to rebuild Jerusalem, until the Messiah Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty two weeks” (Dn 9, 25).

This period of 69 “weeks” (483) is exactly the time from the year in which the King of Persia, Artajerjes, gave the order to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple (457 B.C.), until Jesus was anointed on the occasion of His Baptism in the Jordan (26 A.D.); in other words, from the month of Nissan of the twentieth year of the reign of Artajerjes (Nehemiah 2, 1-8) until 30 A.D., if the four years calculation error are taken into account.

Besides, Gabriel reveals to him one of the most exact prophecies about the end of Jesus’ life in His first coming: “And after sixty two weeks the life of the Messiah will be taken, but not by Himself” (Dn 9, 26).

Nevertheless, seven years went by after the Resurrection and the triumphal return of Christ did not occur. From this it can be deduced that between the 69 and the 70 “week” there is an indefinite interval of time, and that Daniel’s last week still remains to be fulfilled.

Regarding this last week that remains, Gabriel revealed to the Prophet Daniel that a leader, who Saint John would later call the “Antichrist”, would seal a global alliance with other world leaders, try to subdue all nations and religions, would persecute the faithful and the saints (Dn. 7, 25), and after three and a half years would outlaw the Divine sacrifice: “For one week he shall make a firm compact with the many; and in the middle of the week he shall abolish sacrifice and oblation; and in the Temple wing there will be desolate abominations until the end, until the ruin that is decreed is poured out upon the horror” (Dn. 9, 27).

From the time Daniel received the revelation, the identification with real facts would remain hidden until the end, when the protagonists would be able to identify them, as these facts became more evident: “As for you Daniel, keep these words secret and seal the book until the end time, then many will open it and knowledge will increase” (Dn. 12, 4).

In the era of the Church, almost seven centuries after Daniel, in the year 96 of our era, the Apostle John had a revelation in which Jesus Christ made known to him what the history of the Church would be (Chaps. 1 and 3 of the Apocalypse) and what would happen during the seven years of the 70 “week” of Daniel (Chaps 4 to 19). Christ and the four Evangelists called this period the “Great Tribulation”.

Saint Matthew says: “When ye therefore see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (He who reads, let him understand), then, those who are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains (...), for then there shall be a Great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Mt. 24, 15).

From Matthew’s revelation “Nor ever shall be” we know that after the seven years of the Great Tribulation and the Parousia, human history will continue on this earth, and it is the Apostle Saint John who tells us that this later period will last a thousand years (Meaning a “Long period” or perhaps, an actual thousand years): “And He caught the dragon, that old serpent, who is Satan, and He chained him up for a thousand years; and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little while” (Apoc. 20, 2-3).

Saint John and Saint Paul tell us that five circumstances characterise the Great Tribulation: 1) Wars that finish with a false peace agreement in favour of Israel; 2) natural disasters and cosmic cataclysms; 3) Rapture of the faithful and persecution; 4) financial collapse and scarcity; 5) generalised apostasy and world government of the Antichrist.

Although the events of these seven years constitute a painful purification, the important thing is that they are a prelude to a promising finish, the triumph of good and the admirable renewal of human nature and of all created order, “The universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of His holy prophets” (Acts. 3, 21).

Saint Luke tells us that the nearness of Christ’s return constitutes a hope for us to be secure and confident when the Great Tribulation begins: “When you see that these things are about to happen, then look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand”. (LK 21, 28).

It is true, yes, that we are talking about a purge, but of one that precedes the fulfilment of all the promises to free us from the evil and sin that subjugates mankind: “So also Christ will appear a second time, not in relation to sin, but to save those who hope in Him” (HB. 9, 28).

The Great Tribulation is the supreme battle between good and evil, it is the purification that will precede the Parousia, it is the end of times for the nations before human nature and creation are renewed, it is the harvest that separates the corn from the darnel, it is the realisation of the original design of the Creator, it is the condition that will cause the greatest manifestation of God in history.

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José Alberto Villasana Munguía

José Alberto Villasana Munguía is a Writer and analyst of political, economic and religious international affairs.

He studied Theology in the Gregorian University in Rome, Philosophy in the Angelicum University in Rome, Classical Humanities in the Centre for Higher Studies in Salamanca, Spain and International Communications in the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), specialising in Eschatology since 1995.

He is Academic Adviser to the International Institute of Human Rights.

He is a director member of the Journalist’s Club of Mexico.

He is President of the pro life civil association “Life to be Born” (Vida para Nacer).

He has received the National Award for Journalism on three occasions in the categories of in-depth investigation.