Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective
The subdivision of weeks as well as the gap that exists between the second subdivision of 62 weeks and the final 70th week.
In our last article in this series, we talked mainly about Daniel 9:24-26, which constituted the two subdivisions of “weeks” in Daniel 9. Those separate (though consecutive), weeks would total 483 years (7 weeks/49 years + 62 weeks/434 years). Gabriel had originally told Daniel that “seventy weeks” had been decreed for his (Daniel’s) people and for his holy city (Daniel 9:24).
We spent some time highlighting what was scheduled to occur during each of those two subdivisions. We took time to explain that several things mentioned by Gabriel happened after the second subdivision (62 weeks/434 years) came to end. One of the things that was to happen after the 62 weeks came to an end was the crucifixion of Jesus. This clearly happens beyond the scope of the 62 weeks because the text states, “Then after the sixty-two weeks…”
The 62 weeks comes to an end, and then several things occur, one of which is the crucifixion of Jesus. We discussed several other things that also take place after the 62 weeks comes to an end. It is actually clear in the text of Scripture that the crucifixion and the other events we mentioned last time (including the destruction of Jerusalem by Roman armies), take place after the 62 weeks has come to an end.
So, there can only be one of two solutions then. Either the things that occur outside of the 62nd week are happening inside the final or 70th week or there is a “gap” of time between the 62nd week (which is actually the 69th week since the 7 weeks and 62 weeks run concurrently), or the 70th week began immediately after the 62nd/69th week came to an end.
We were able to show that each “week” presented by Gabriel to Daniel equaled a period of seven years. This is based on verses from Leviticus 25, where we clearly learn the time frame for “weeks” here.
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 (Leviticus 25:8; ESV).
Here, God (the Author of all Scripture), defines terms for us so that there is no doubt at all. Each of the “weeks” in the first 7 “weeks” and then the 62 “weeks” represents a period of time equaling seven years. This is how we know that the first seven “weeks” equals 49 years and the second subdivision of 62 weeks, equals 434 years. Together, they equal a total of 69 weeks or 483 years. There is one “week” or period of seven years left and that is the 70th week.
Now, I have seen people use all sorts of mathematics to accomplish a magical feat of trying to figure out how long the 70th week is or while people will agree that each of the first 69 weeks is made up of 69 periods of seven years each, when they get to the 70th week, all of a sudden, they use a completely different measurement and there’s no reason for it other than the fact that have to make the Scripture fit their preconceived idea of 70 weeks.
However, if there is a gap – and I believe we’ve shown that one does exist – there is no reason to do the mathematics gymnastics that many are prone to do. Why can’t the 70th week be simply another period of seven years, just like all the other weeks are in Daniel 9? Why is there this apparent need to add time to the 70th week? If a gap exists, then it is possible that the 70th week has not actually begun yet. Is that possible?
There are places where gaps of time actually exist in Scripture without that gap being necessarily noted. It’s not unheard of and a great example of this is found in Zechariah 9:9-10.
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Verse 9 above clearly highlights the first coming of Jesus and in fact, it prophesies the very ride He took into Jerusalem we call the Triumphal Entry, just several days before His crucifixion after being rejected by the religious leaders of Israel. But look at verse 10. Has that happened yet? No, and it won’t happen until Jesus returns in His second coming, will it?
Yet, the gap between those verses is only implied and from our vantage point. The Old Testament sages, rabbis, and scribes would read those verses together and in their minds, they understood that when Messiah came (v. 9), He would fulfill verse 10 at the same time. Clearly, this did not happen. Is Scripture wrong? No, it simply provides a gap between those two verses without saying there is a gap.
Actually, the passage in Daniel 9 is more obvious in pointing to a gap between the end of the second subdivision of 62 weeks (to get us to the 69th week), and the start of the final seven-years or 70th week.
Think of it like this. When you take time out of your day to watch a pro football game, you know ahead of time that each quarter lasts for exactly 15 minutes. Moreover, there are four quarters in each game. That means that the game is over in 60 minutes. However, that’s not actual is it? Most pro games last for three to four hours, which is why for people who are heavily into watching these games, it becomes an entire afternoon affair.
What’s the problem? The problem has to do with the fact that there are sometimes huge gaps of time that are not counted as the time within each quarter. Every time a time-out is called, the clock stops. Every time a play ends, the clock often stops. There is more time outside the four quarters designated for what is known as “half-time” meaning the extended time between the second and third quarters of the game. This half-time period can last for at least 12 minutes, but none of this time goes against the 15 minutes for any particular individual quarter.
A quarter in football is exactly 15 minutes. Four quarters make up a game of 60 minutes, but including all the various time-outs, end-of-plays, half-time and other things, there is at least another 60 minutes or more dedicated to the football when it is not in play. No one watching a football game actually expects the game to be over in exactly 60 minutes but in the end there is only 60 minutes of playing time counted.
I believe it is the same with God’s prophetic timetable with respect to the way Gabriel laid out the 70 weeks and its subdivisions. There is clearly an implied (though unseen ahead of time), gap between verses 9 and 10 in Zechariah 9 and there is also a time gap actually provided in Daniel 9:24-27, which occurs after the end of the second subdivision of 62 weeks (which again, is also the 69th week), but before the 70th week.
But is there a way to know for certain when this 70th week actually begins or is it left up to our best guess? Has it already occurred? We know when a football game’s play starts again after each time the clock stops. Either the ball is hiked, or some other action happens on the field to indicate play has once again begun and time for that particular quarter once again counts down, just as we know the time for that particular quarter stops when a whistle is blown, a player is tackled, or steps out-of-bounds. Yet, even when time for that quarter stops and is not being counted down, time in the real world continues, doesn’t it?
Let’s look at Daniel 9:27 to see what we can see from that verse and maybe there are some clues as to an event that literally kicks off that final, 70th week.
And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator. (ESV)
Several things are happening in the above verse. First of all, we learn of another “week” so we can rightly assume that since the text has already completely dealt with weeks up to and including 69, this must be referring to the final or 70th week. The text specifically mentions “one week” and then divides that final week into two halves. The first part of the week seems to go well where it is implied that the sacrificial system is once again up and running. How has this occurred? Likely because of the “strong covenant” the “he” shall make with the “many.”
Ultimately, verse 26 also tells us that the one who “desolates” receives his due recompense (“poured out on the desolator”). We’ll talk more about that next article because some believe this refers to Jesus and suffering the Father’s wrath while on the cross. However, it should be clear that the crucifixion already occurred between the second subdivision and the third, during what is the “gap” or the “time out” in play here. The crucifixion occurred some forty years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. If we are going to call each week a period of seven years, then we have to do the same for those folks who do not believe a gap occurs at all. In effect then, the timing is completely off and makes no sense.
But who is the “he” in this verse. There are many who lump all of the pronouns “he” together in Daniel 9:24-27 as referring to Jesus, or Messiah. This would be incorrect simply because of the law of first antecedent, meaning that the “he” in verse 27 must be referring back to the closest actual noun or person. We need to figure out who that noun is before we can continue. If it is Jesus, how would He make a covenant and then do something to halt the sacrifices halfway through the week? Historically, any time the sacrifices have ceased it has been due to something bad, something that desolated the Temple area and we’ve talked about the incident in 168 BC with Antiochus Epiphanes IV previously, which is an excellent example (cf. Daniel 8).
If the sacrificial system has once again been undertaken (that is not occurring now, in our day), that obviously refers to the Jewish people because once again, the entirety of Daniel 9 is connected to the Jews and their holy city (Jerusalem). The sacrificial system within the Law is the very foundation upon which God relates to people at all. It is the way in which He has chosen to be addressed; with sacrifices. These of course, point to the all-sufficiency of Jesus in His once-for-all sacrifice.
Even though the crucifixion has already occurred, orthodox Jews still believe they must get to a point where the sacrificial system can once again be reinstated in order for them to have a right relationship with Jehovah. We know this is not the case, but they do not know it. All Jews who die without Jesus die in their sins. There is no salvation for them. Only those Jews living during the Tribulation period whose eyes are opened by God to the truth that Jesus is Messiah will gain salvation just as the thief on the cross gained his. They will realize that their renewed sacrificial system means nothing apart from Jesus and in fact, that He paid it all. I believe this is why God allows the sacrificial system to be restored and of course, the “prince” who brings that about has his own reasons for doing so, which we will get into in a future article.
But what keeps orthodox Jews from reinstating the sacrificial system now? The fact that the Islamic mosque, Dome of the Rock sits atop the very place where the Jewish Temple of Jesus’ day is said to have existed. In order for the Jews to reinstate the sacrificial system outlined by Moses, the Dome of the Rock would either have to be gone or it would need to be determined that it is not sitting exactly where the Jewish Temple sat allowing room for Jews to build at least part of another temple, if only one that had a Holy of Holies and a place for the altar. Once this occurred, the sacrificial system could be restarted. Verse 26 implies that it is restarted and that something the “prince” does causes it to cease.
It would seem then that this “he” in verse 27 manages to create a covenant with the “many” (likely referring to Israel’s leaders) that allows them to begin to offer sacrifices again. This covenant brokered by this “prince” somehow placates the Jews and the Arabs that surround that nation and allows Israel to begin again with their sacrificial system. How this works out is anyone’s guess and until it actually happens, we won’t really know. We do know that Muslims/Arabs are extremely against Jews having any real access to the Temple Mount. Certainly, they do not want the Jews to start sacrificing again because Muslims see this as an affront to Allah.
We have a huge mosque sitting atop the Temple Mount and Muslims/Arabs are extremely protective of it even going so far as to throw rocks at Jews and Christians who try to approach that area. Though the victory of 1967 granted Israel the unification of Jerusalem on paper, the leaders of Israel continued to allow Muslims to act as security for the Temple Mount, when they could have taken control of it. Because they left it in Muslim control, those same Muslims have grown fearful over the years that the Jews would try to physically wrest control from them. The unrest people between Jews and Muslims has continued to grow.
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.
Notice there are references to two individuals in the above text, though some believe that both refer to the same individual. The first reference “Messiah” obviously points to Jesus. We’ve already dealt with that and there is no doubt (or shouldn’t be) that the title Messiah refers to Jesus.
The “he” in verse 27 of necessity must refer back to verse 26 where two individuals are actually referenced. The “law of first antecedents” means that it would of necessity refer back to the reference closest to it. That would not be “Messiah” but would in fact be “the prince who is to come.” Who is this prince? The text tells us that this “prince” is prince over the people who destroyed the city and sanctuary.
This second reference to “the prince who is to come” is in connection with the people who destroyed “the city and the sanctuary.” While some hold that this “prince” is also referring to Jesus, that cannot be the case because the people who destroyed the city and the sanctuary were Gentiles (Romans) as we’ve already shown. Jesus came to restore the House of Israel. His ministry was not to Gentiles in general, but only on a one-to-one basis. Clearly then, this “prince” refers to a completely different person who is not Jesus, but one who is connected to Gentiles and who goes onto establish or broker a covenant with the “many” for “one week” of God’s prophetic program of the “times of the Gentiles.” This is yet future as it has not occurred yet, though some argue that it has.
Please notice the nuances in verse 26 where we are told the “people of the prince who is to come,” clearly indicating that the people who destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple were of the same stock of the individual who would be the one to broker the covenant that would actually kick off the final or 70th week. In the middle of that week, he would do something that would cause the sacrifices to cease. Does this remind you of anyone? It should remind of Antiochus Epiphanes IV who did something similar in 168 BC. Then, he caused the sacrifices to cease (though he certainly did not broker any covenant at that time), because of how he desecrated the standing Jewish Temple. It appears that this individual referenced in verse 26 will do something similar that will also cause the newly reinstated sacrificial system to cease.
We’ve already gone further than we wanted to in this article, so we’ll pick this up next time to further investigate who this “he” in verse 27 might be and the problem he creates for modern-day Israel. We’ll also learn what Jesus says about this person in Matthew 24 and what the apostle Paul says about this particular individual in 2 Thessalonians 2.