Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective
In part four of this series, we stopped just as we had gotten to what is undeniably the most debated verses in Daniel 9, verses 24 – 27. In these verses, a timeline of sorts is revealed to Daniel about the entirety of what has become known as the “times of the Gentiles,” which was first introduced in Daniel 2 and expanded on slightly in Daniel 7. Let’s look at the verses in question.
24 Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. 25 So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. 26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate (Daniel 9:24-27; NASB).
The “man” Gabriel presents this information to Daniel in terms that he can understand based on his own knowledge and understanding of the Mosaic Law. Daniel would realize immediately that the “seventy weeks” reminds him of Leviticus 25:8-12 as we referenced in part three of this series. In that Scripture passage, verse 8 provides us the actual meaning of what Gabriel means by “weeks.”
You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years.
If seven weeks in the above passage from Leviticus equals forty-nine (49) years, then obviously seventy weeks would refer to a larger number. In fact, if we use the same math applied in the Leviticus passage, seventy weeks in the Daniel passage would logically refer to a total of 490 years. Few Bible scholars disagree with this because it is so clearly apparent.
Among those who do agree that seventy weeks equals 490 years, there are some scholars who also believe that the entirety of the 490 years/70 weeks has already been completely fulfilled and lies in our past. If this is true, then there is nothing left of Daniel 9 that has anything to do with our present or even the future. Therefore any discussion of it is essentially just a completely fulfilled prophetic lesson, but complete history in nature. Is there a way to know for certain? Yes, there is and as often is the case in Scripture, it is left up to only very few individual words almost buried in the text of Daniel 9:24-27.
Gabriel is speaking about three separate and distinct “weeks” of time. He first starts out by stating that the entire time period he is referring to will total 70 weeks (490 years). That we clearly understand from verse 24. He provides a general summation of what will happen during that entire 490 years and please notice Gabriel is talking to Daniel about Daniel’s people (“your people”), and Daniel’s holy city (“your holy city”).
Please remember that Daniel had just been praying for his people (the Jews), the Land of Israel, and Jerusalem. This was what was in Daniel’s mind and prayer and Gabriel was sent to respond to that prayer. In effect, Gabriel is confirming to Daniel that the answer he brings does relate to Jewish people, Israel, and Jerusalem.
The first distinct period of weeks is seen in verse 25. There Gabriel mentions a period of seven weeks (49 years), and sixty-two weeks (434 years), which run consecutively without a break. He says, “…from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;” Though two separate periods of time, they run one immediately after the other for a total of 483 years (49 + 434 = 483). The third and final installment of the 70 weeks (or 490 years) – the actual 70th week – which equals one week or seven years is yet to come. Before we get to that final week, let’s see what Gabriel says is going to happen during the first set of seven weeks (49 years) and the second set of sixty-two weeks (434 years).
Essentially, Gabriel tells Daniel that from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, there would be two “weeks” divisions but would total 483 years (7 weeks/49 years + 62 weeks/434 years). As indicated on the chart, there were a total of four Persian decrees but the most probable decree issued was the one created by Artaxerxes in 445 BC when Nehemiah was granted permission to go to Jerusalem to begin rebuilding the wall and Jerusalem itself. The second subdivision or 62 weeks (434 years) was a time when God was virtually silent and represents the time between the two testaments, from the last word of God in the Old Testament to the birth of Messiah in the New Testament.
Note the other chart included that details the exact number of days from the issuing of the decree in 445 BC to the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey. In between these two points is a total of 173,880 days, which equals 483 years (based on the Jewish calendar where one year equals 360 days).
In effect, this amount of time covers the first two subdivisions of 70 weeks; the first seven sevens and the second sixty-two sevens. This leaves one “seven” or period of seven years to go. When the three separate subdivisions of weeks are clearly seen, what is known as the “gap” between two of those subdivisions comes into focus.
From the start of the restoration project of Jerusalem (with Nehemiah), until the Messiah entered Jerusalem riding a colt, a total of 483 years transpires consecutively, without a break. God’s silence to Israel does not constitute a break or gap. Time was still counted downward as far as the “weeks” were concerned. God’s silence only meant He had nothing to say to Israel until Messiah was born. Then He began speaking to Israel (and the world), again through God the Son.
So if there is a break or gap in the time period God has allotted for the “times of the Gentiles,” where is it or is it just something people have made up to try to make their preconceived theology square with Scripture?
Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing…
Note the words “then after the sixty-two weeks…” This is pointing to the time immediately following the Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem ends (the second set of sevens; the sixty-two sevens). After that period of time ends, several things happen.
These have been grouped together under three headings on the chart labeled, Program, Purpose, and Meaning of the Seventy “Sevens” of Daniel 9. Notice that these things are to occur after the second set of sevens, but will also occur before the final week (v. 27) begins. A failure to grasp will create erroneous conclusions.
After the end of the sixty-second week (when Jesus rides into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna!”), several days later He would be “cut off” or crucified. Is it part of the final or 70th week?
Several other things also occur after the sixty-two weeks ends as listed above. Notice the text speaks of the “people of the prince who is to come” are going to destroy the city and the sanctuary. In AD 70, the Romans (Gentiles), attacked and destroyed much of Jerusalem. The Jewish Temple was also destroyed during that attack and over a million Jews perished in that attack. This occurred roughly 40 years after Jesus’ life so if the final week (seven years) had occurred here, it would already be over and done with and we would be looking back at it.
The other thing that was decreed to occur after Messiah was crucified (and beyond the sixty-two weeks time frame), was the “end” which was to come with a “flood” and there would be wars and desolations until the end. Unless referring to an actual body of water, the “end” and “flood” in the Bible refers to a military action. The context of that verse has to do with wars and desolations. The end of Jerusalem and the sanctuary occurred with a “flood” of Roman legions sacking Jerusalem.
Since the AD 70 sacking of Jerusalem, there have been continued wars and conflicts there and Scripture tells us that these will continue until the end of this age, which will be purposefully brought to an end by the physical return of Jesus. In fact, this age will end with the build up to a final war, Armageddon (Revelation 16). This war is solely designed by Satan (through Antichrist) and his world forces to keep Jesus from returning to earth. Satan’s efforts will fail miserably (2 Thessalonians 2).
The term “desolations” normally refers to a trampling of what God considers holy, like the Jewish Temple. This constitutes sacrilege when Gentiles go into areas of the Temple they are not allowed or when Jews do things inside the Temple that are also not allowed. Since the temple was destroyed in AD 70, the Temple Mount itself has become the site of now three separate Islamic mosques. Today, anyone can walk (trample) where the Holy of Holies once stood.
The fact that these Gentile houses of worship have been built on an area God dedicated to Himself represents a continuing desolation since the Temple Mount (Mt. Moriah) has always been a special area as far as God is concerned. It is where Abraham would have sacrificed his promised son Isaac if not stopped from doing so. It is where Jesus was crucified. The desolations occurring there will continue even into the Tribulation period.
Remember, these things occurred after the end of the sixty-two weeks, or the second subdivision of weeks. Are we still in that period of time between the end of the sixty-second week and the start of the final week which begins in verse 27 or has the final week come and gone?
We will discuss that next time.