The Seventy Weeks (Part 2)By Pastor Boffey on Sunday, August 12, 2012.
The Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27) In the last few chapters of the Book of Daniel, God showed Daniel a number of events that would occur before God finished dealing with natural Israel. DAN 12:7. A. This season is called “...the latter days” (DAN 10:14; HOS 3:4-5; JER 23:20) and includes the historical events of the Books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. B. These latter days are the post-Babylon era of Israel which culminate in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, the desolating of Judea and the scattering of the Jews. C. They stand in contrast to “...the former days...” (ZEC 8:10-12) which preceded the Babylonian captivity during which former prophets warned them of the dire consequences of their sins but were disregarded. ZEC 1:4; 7:7, 12 c/w 2CH 36:15-16. D. The post-Babylon prophets to Israel include Daniel, Zechariah, Haggai and Malachi but also John the Baptist, Jesus Christ and some N.T. prophets. LUK 7:28 c/w JOH 1:31; MAT 15:24; 23:34. E. Mark the phrase, “...scatter the power of the holy people...” (DAN 12:7). 1. Israel was meant to be a holy nation, conditionally. EXO 19:5-6; DEU 26:18-19. 2. Collective national sin defiled her identity, pre-Babylon. ISA 1:21-23; JER 2:3. 3. Yet after her punishment in Babylon, her identity was graciously cleansed according to God's promise. ISA 1:24-26; ZEC 8:2-3. 4. But regaining their holy identity would not exempt them from God's judgments if they corrupted themselves in the post-Babylon era since their terms of survival were reinstated to “...as at the first” (JER 33:4-11), i.e., conditionally under promise of certain and irremediable cursing for gross, aggravating sin. DEU 28:15-68. The prophecy of the seventy weeks came in the waning days of the Babylonian captivity when the kingdom was taken from the Chaldeans by the Medo-Persians. DAN 5:31 c/w DAN 9:1. A. Daniel “...understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (DAN 9:2). c/w JER 25:11-12; 29:10. 1. Mind that the books from which Daniel got understanding about God's plan were obviously Scripture, not footnotes, fables or fantasies. 2. Mind that the understanding obviously came from reading. c/w EPH 3:4. 3. Jesus said of Daniel's prophecy, “...whoso readeth, let him understand...” (MAT 24:15). 4. Like some of Paul's writings, there are here “...some things hard to be understood...” (2PE 3:16): not ALL things, and not impossible---just hard. B. This knowledge prompted Daniel to fast and pray, confessing national sins and his own sins. DAN 9:3-19. C. In response, God dispatched the angel, Gabriel, to give Daniel skill and understanding. DAN 9:20-23. 1. Gabriel had previously been sent to make Daniel understand a troubling vision of future events. DAN 8:15-27. 2. The significance of Gabriel should not be overlooked. a. The only other times his name comes up are when he appeared to Mary and Zacharias. LUK 1:19, 26. b. The priest, Zacharias, as a teacher of the law (MAL 2:7) was likely familiar with the importance of Daniel's prophecy given uniquely by Gabriel. c. That the same Gabriel who clearly declared to Daniel the time of Messiah's The Seventy Weeks 8-5-12 Page 1 coming should appear again near the appointed season (c/w LUK 3:15) should have caught Zacharias' attention! Some observations about the prophecy: A. Messiah is central to the prophecy: it measures to Him, details His work and cutting off, and presents the awful aftermath of His cutting off. B. It is the only O.T. prophecy that provided a specific timeline to the Messiah of promise. 1. The timeline has a definite starting point, “...from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem...” (v. 25). 2. NOTE: the beginning of this divine timer is not from the beginning or the completion of any building, nor from any other mark; it is from the decree. C. The timeline is determined upon Daniel's people and holy city: Jews and Jerusalem. 1. determine: To put an end or limit to; to come to an end. 1. trans. To put an end to (in time); to bring to an end; to end, conclude, terminate. 2. This set the future extent of God's dealings with Israel: the end of this timeline of seventy weeks which is here called the consummation (v. 27). a. consummation: The action of completing, accomplishing, fulfilling, finishing, or ending. b. By comparing v. 26 with v. 27, the consummation is the end of the war. c. The end of the war during which Jerusalem was destroyed completed Gabriel's prophecy. 3. NOTE: Even if one assigns the 70th week to the Second Coming of Christ (as many do), the prophecy still demands a termination point. So how can there be a glorious Jewish millennium after that? D. The prophecy blends together four things in close proximity to each other at a future season: the arrival of the longed-for Messiah, the cutting off of Messiah, the cessation of (Mosaic) sacrifice and oblation, and a horrific destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in a desolating war. 1. That such things were so associated must have been enigmatic. 2. “...We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever...” (JOH 12:34). “What is this “cutting off” of Messiah?” 3. Did not Jeremiah say that in Messiah's days, “...Judah shall be saved, and Jerusalem dwell safely...” (JER 33:15-16)? “What is this destruction and desolation?” 4. Did not Jeremiah also say of Messiah and His days, “Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually” (JER 33:18)? “What is this cessation of sacrifice and oblation?” 5. The concerned might well have been asking themselves things like, “What manner of time could Gabriel have been implying?” 1PE 1:11. E. The timeline has three divisions: seven weeks, threescore and two weeks, the last (70th) week. 1. Reason, chronology and comparative study demand that these are not weeks of seven solar days but weeks of years. a. Israel had long ago been familiarized with this principle. GEN 29:27-28; LEV 25:8; NUM 14:34. b. Considered lineally, the prophecy thus brackets 490 years of time. c. However, the unit of time under consideration here is a heptad of years, of which there are 70 required to fulfill the prophecy's details. The Seventy Weeks 8-5-12 Page 2 The divisions basically represent: a. Seven weeks for the rebuilding program during troublous times. b. Threescore and two weeks of history that culminate in the coming of Messiah. c. One week during which Messiah is cut off. Messiah is cut off “...AFTER threescore and two weeks...” This is very important. “The covenant” is confirmed with many for one week during which sacrifice and oblation is made to cease by the same person who confirms the covenant. v. 27. After Messiah is cut off, a prince brings destruction and desolation by war. v. 26. Overspreading of abominations make desolation. v. 27. 1. Jesus Christ made specific reference to this in the Olivet prophecy where He warned His disciples to therefore flee Judea. MAT 24:15-16. 2. The parallel account shows that this refers to armies compassing and hedging in Jerusalem. LUK 21:20-21 c/w LUK 19:42-44. Something (“that”) determined “...shall be poured upon the desolate” (v. 27). In review, the following must take place within the 70 weeks of this prophecy: 1. Jerusalem and its wall would be rebuilt. v. 25. 2. The temple would also be rebuilt, since there is a sanctuary destroyed. v. 26. 3. Messiah the Prince comes. v. 25. 4. The most Holy is anointed. v. 24. 5. Messiah is cut off. v. 26. 6. Transgression is finished. v. 24. 7. An end is made of sins. v. 24. 8. Reconciliation is made for iniquity. v. 24. 9. Everlasting righteousness is brought in. v. 24. 10. Vision and prophecy is sealed up. v. 24. 11. Sacrifice and oblation are made to cease. v. 27. 12. Messiah confirms the covenant with many for one week. v. 27. 13. A prince comes whose people destroy and desolate Jerusalem, etc. v. 26. 14. Something determined shall be poured upon the desolate. v. 27. NOTE: A straightforward, logical reading of DAN 9:24-27 leaves unbelieving Jews without excuse. 1. The destruction of the city and sanctuary and the desolating war (vs. 26-27) are plainly a prophecy of the devastation wrought by the armies of Rome under Titus in the latter part of the 1st Century. This is even acknowledged amongst the Jews. 2. But Messiah the Prince clearly comes before Jerusalem's fall in 70 A.D., so looking for some other Messiah subsequent to that is utterly vain and the product of unbelief. Consider the starting point of the 70 prophetic weeks. A. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem...” (DAN 9:25). The clock started with the decree. B. The question is “Which decree?” Over the years at least four different decrees have been forwarded as the proper one: Cyrus,' Artaxerxes,' Ahasuerus,' Darius,' etc. 1. The diversity of opinion on this has largely been the result of a reliance upon unprovable pagan chronologies (preeminently that of Ptolemy, a 2nd C. A.D. heathen astronomer) which have been sometimes utilized (exploited?) to support a particular eschatological scheme. The Seventy Weeks 8-5-12 Page 3 However, as Martin Anstey demonstrated in his “Romance of Bible Chronology,” there exists within Scripture an unbroken chronology from Creation to Christ that accurately establishes the appropriate dates and also shows other chronologies to be in error. 3. Even Dr. C. I. Scofield (who originally had used Ptolemy's chronology as the basis for his system) later conceded after reading Anstey's work that Ptolemy's chronology was wrong. (C. I. Scofield, What Do the Prophets Say, p. 142) Scripture magnifies Cyrus as the man who would set the Jews free to rebuild their land. ISA 44:26-28; 45:13; EZR 1:1-4. 1. EZR 1:1-4 and 2CH 36:20-23 show that Cyrus definitely issued a proclamation to set the Jews free to return to their homeland and rebuild. This proclamation is called a commandment in EZR 6:14 which agrees with “...going forth of the commandment...” (DAN 9:25). 2. The Jewish historian, Josephus, stated that Cyrus had actually read the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him (which had been written about 200 years earlier) and concluded that God had given him a charge to send the Jews back to their land to restore Jerusalem and the temple. (Flavius Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 11, 1:1-2 of the 1957 English version published by The John C. Whiston Company) 3. Some object that Cyrus' proclamation was only to rebuild the temple, not Jerusalem. a. Isaiah's prophecy clearly stated that Cyrus' decree would include Jerusalem: “...even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built...” (ISA 44:28). b. Of Cyrus, God also plainly said, “...he shall build my city...” (ISA 45:13). c. Unless God lied or Isaiah was a false prophet, Cyrus is the only one whose commandment should be considered in DAN 9:25. d. The implication of those who refuse to accept Cyrus' decree is that when the Jews returned to build the temple that they took no pains to build houses for themselves, etc. But this is refuted by HAG 1:1-6; EZR 9:9; 10:9 which are letter-satisfaction of DAN 9:25. e. Even the testimony of the enemies of the Jews shows that they had indeed been building the city and walls, not just the temple. EZR 4:12. 4. Subsequent decrees confirmed Cyrus. EZR 6:1-15. 5. The decree of Cyrus is significant in that it marked the end of the 70 years captivity and the beginning of the 70 weeks of DAN 9:24-27 that led to true liberty. The great importance of correctly identifying the starting point of the 70 weeks is that it aids in properly identifying the time of the appearance of Messiah in history: 1. Was it at Christ's birth, His baptism, His presentation at the temple, His triumphal entry to Jerusalem, some other event? 2. A chronology based upon a faulty beginning cannot be reconciled with the terms of the prophecy nor of obvious history and can logically demand grossly twisted conclusions. An interpretation of DAN 9:24-27 that has gained great popularity amongst professing Christianity in the last 200 years is that significant portions of the prophecy have not been fulfilled. By contrast, a consistent reading of the text demands that all of prophecy was fulfilled in the 1st Century. A. The Fulfilled position may be summed up thus: 1. The 70 weeks are consecutive, sequential, uninterrupted, a determined time. The Seventy Weeks 8-5-12 Page 4 The restoring and building of v. 25 occurred in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Messiah the Prince came at the end of the 69th week (483 years from the decree). Messiah was anointed to begin His ministry and the 70th week. Messiah was the “he” (v. 27) Who did “...confirm the covenant with many for one week...,” that week being the 70th. 6. The covenant He confirmed was the New Testament. 7. Messiah's “cutting off” in the midst of the week was Christ's crucifixion. 8. Messiah's crucifixion finished the transgression, made an end of sins, made reconciliation for iniquity, brought in everlasting righteousness, sealed up vision and prophecy (v. 24), and caused sacrifice and oblation to cease (v. 27). 9. The “...people of the prince that shall come...” (v. 26) were the Roman armies of the 1st C. 10. The abomination of desolation (per MAT 24:15) were the armies that compassed Jerusalem which Christ's disciples would see. LUK 21:20. 11. The city and the sanctuary destroyed were the then-existing Jerusalem and its temple (and that was the only temple under consideration in the prophecy). 12. The destruction and desolation refer to the annihilating war prosecuted by the Romans against the Jews of the 1st C. which Jesus Christ said would come upon the generation to whom He spoke (LUK 11:50-51; 21:29-32) and would be a tribulation unparalleled in past or future history. MAT 24:15-22; 1TH 2:14-16. The Futurist position may be summed up thus: 1. The 70 weeks were suspended after the 69th week; the 70th week is future and only occurs after a gap of indeterminate time elapses. 2. God withheld the existence of the gap from Daniel and the gap was a secret dispensation called “the church age,” a parenthesis of time until a future age when national Israel and its temple would be restored. 3. Much of the detail of the prophecy is not yet fulfilled, including v. 24 and v. 27. 4. The “he” of v. 27 is a future antichrist prince who makes a covenant with a restored national Israel and this is what begins the long-awaited 70th week. 5. The sanctuary is a future rebuilt temple in which animal sacrifices will be again offered until the antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel midway through the 70th week. 6. Antichrist causes the sacrifice and oblation to cease. 7. The abomination of desolation is an image of Antichrist placed in the temple. 8. Antichrist and his forces reek terrible destruction and desolation upon restored national Israel and this is the “great tribulation” that Jesus spoke of in MAT 24:21. 9. This “great tribulation” will last 3-1/2 years until Messiah comes to complete the 70th week by overthrowing antichrist and setting up His Messianic world kingdom. 10. The horrors of 70 A.D. are marginalized. Some preliminary observations about the Futurist position: 1. Antichrist is nowhere mentioned in the passage. 2. Nothing is said about a covenant being made to allow animal sacrifices. 3. Nothing is said about a covenant being broken. 4. Why is an argument not made for a gap between the 7th and 8th week? a. A major proponent of the Futurist position, Dr. C. I. Scofield, had a thing for unwarranted gaps. b. He placed one between GEN 1:1 and GEN 1:2 during which he supposed a primeval order was destroyed by God's judgment for sin long before Adam The Seventy Weeks 8-5-12 Page 5 was created (“The Gap Theory” of long geologic ages). See his footnotes on GEN 1 in the Scofield Reference Bible (SRB). c. He implied a gap in the fourth division of Nebuchadnezzar's dreamed colossus that separates the contextually obvious association of the arrival of the kingdom of heaven with the days of the Roman empire at Christ's first advent. See the SRB footnotes on DAN 2. d. He placed a gap between the 69th and 70th week of DAN 9:24-27. e. He placed a gap between the deliverance of the righteous and the destruction of the wicked in his SRB footnote on MAT 13:30. f. He placed a gap between the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the wicked in his SRB in-text note on JOH 5:28-29 and his SRB footnotes on 1CO 15:52, 1TH 4 and REV 20. The Futurist's parenthetical gap between the 69th and 70th week in which they insert the “not yet disclosed...mystery-form of the kingdom” church age (SRB footnote on MAT 4:17) must also include the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Messiah since that occurred AFTER the 69th (7 + 62) week! a. Since the Futurist deems the church age to be essentially just a “gap-filler,” it would seem that the sufferings of Christ should be similarly marginalized. b. Lest one think that the above statement is outrageous, it should be remembered that the Dispensationalist/Futurist's Christ is accounted a failure for not taking David's throne or setting up the Divine Kingdom or fully settling the sin debt forever of all God's elect at His first advent. That is a marginalized Christ! c. NOTE: Scripture does NOT teach that the church age is a parenthesis to be replaced by a Jewish kingdom doing business again under a Mosaic system of sacrifice. It teaches that the Mosaic system was a parenthesis to bring God's church as far as Christ Who reformed it into the gospel church for His praise forever! LUK 16:16; GAL 3:19, 24-25; HEB 9:10. d. Both the sufferings of Christ the King and the introduction of the church age were declared by the prophets: they were not secrets in that sense. LUK 18:31-33; 24:25-27; ROM 15:8-12; ACT 15:14-17; 26:22-23. e. As noted earlier, pushing the 70th week into the distant future from the 69th week does not help the Futurist's position since the end of the 70th week (whenever it occurs) is the determined END of the divine timer for Daniel's people (Israel) and his city (Jerusalem). And that forbids any notion of a Messianic/Jewish kingdom age ruled from Jerusalem. There are six specific things in DAN 9:24 that can be shown to pertain to Messiah and His mission. A. That they were intended to be associated with the first advent of Christ is evident from the language of the next verse. B. “Know therefore...” (v. 25) is a conjunctive adverb phrase which logically links the events of v. 24 with their intended end, “...unto the Messiah the Prince...” Christ is the focus of the prophecy. C. Obviously, the events of v. 24 did not occur in 69 weeks or the prophecy would have read, “Sixty-nine weeks are determined...” But the 69 weeks only reach to Messiah's arrival. D. All 70 weeks are required for the events of v. 24 and those events are tied to Messiah. If He didn't do those things in the 70th week, what did He do?