The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
by Thomas Ice
Gabriel divides his prophecy of seventy weeks of years to Daniel into three sections: seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one week. The final week of years—seven years—is detailed in Daniel 9:27. Previously I dealt with the first part of verse 27, "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week." This time I will be focusing upon the rest of verse 27, which says, "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." This verse tells us what will happen during the final week of years, which I believe to be a yet future seven year period often called the tribulation.
In the Middle of the Week
Since the week of years is a seven-year period, the middle of a week of years would be three and a half years into the seven-year period. Interestingly, Daniel 7:25 and 12:7 both refer to a three and a half year period (time, times, and half a time). The context of both passages speak of the future time of the antichrist or the beast. This would support a futurist understanding of the seventieth week of Daniel 9:27. Daniel 7:25 says, "And he will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time." While this passage was given to Daniel before he received the revelation of chapter nine, it seems clear that the logic for the chronology of Daniel 7:25 is drawn from the seventy weeks prophecy of chapter nine. Daniel 12:7 reads as follows: "And I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed." Both Daniel 9:27 and 12:7 speak of the antichrist’s rule coming to an end at the conclusion of the same three and a half year period. This supports the notion that they both refer to a yet future time that we often call the Great Tribulation. Dr. John Whitcomb notes,
This important prophetic statement clearly refers to the same time units as previously described in the end-time activities of the Antichrist ("little horn") of Daniel 7, where "he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they [the saints] will be given into his hands for a time, times, and half a time" (7:25). The clarification provided here is that the three-and-one-half-year period at the beginning of which Antichrist "shall cause a covenant [with the many] to be made strong" (literal translation). Then, for some unexplained reason, "in the middle" of this final seven-year period "he will put a stop to sacrifice [zebâh, bloody sacrifices] and grain offering [minhah, non-bloody sacrifices]."
This past weekend, I attended a conference in which my friend Hal Lindsey spoke. He used a phrase that I think applies to non-literal interpreters like Gary DeMar and Dr. Kenneth Gentry who do not provide a textual interpretation of this passage. They are rightly called "allegorical alchemist," because they try to brew-up interpretations from out of thin air by just stating and then declaring them to be true. In Daniel 9:27 they attempt a topical approach, selecting a word or two from the passage and declaring that "Daniel’s famous prophecy finds fulfillment in the first century of our era." DeMar is even more bizarre in his alchemy when he teaches:
As the result of the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, they would lose their inheritance. This would not occur for another forty years (Matt. 21:33-46; 22:1-14). Similarly, Jesus pronounced the temple "desolate" when He walked out of it even though its destruction did not come for another forty year (23:38). In principle, it was a "done deal" when He turned His back on the temple. It is no wonder that Jesus described the temple as "your house" (23:38). The temple’s destruction was a consequence, a result, of the apostate Jews’ rejection of Jesus (see 2 Sam. 13:32; Job 14:15; Isa. 10:22; Lam. 2:8; Luke 22:22). . . .
. . . The sentence is determined on one day while the sentence may not be carried out until some time in the future. In similar fashion, we are told that the destruction of Jerusalem was "determined" within the seventy weeks while the sentence was not carried out until forty years later.
In response to Dr. Gentry’s claim that Daniel 9:27 refers to Christ’s salvation covenant see my previous installment of this series (Part IX). Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost further explains:
This covenant could not have been made or confirmed by Christ at His First Advent, . . . because : (a) His ministry did not last seven years, (b) His death did not stop sacrifices and offerings, (c) He did not set up "the abomination that causes desolation" (Matt. 24:15). Amillenarians suggest that Christ confirmed (in the sense of fulfilling) the Abrahamic Covenant but the Gospels give no indication He did that in His First Advent.
What Dr. Gentry says just does not explain Daniel 9:27 in context. When one’s interpretation cannot explain the details of a passage, then an allegorical alchemist, like Dr. Gentry, will take words or phrases out of context and place them into a different context so that, to some, it appears that he has explained the passage. Yet, he has nothing of the sort and this a clear example of his interpretative slight of hand. The text of verse 27 is simple not explained by Dr. Gentry’s statements.
In a way, DeMar’s explanation is even worse than his partner in crime—Dr. Gentry. While verse 27 clearly says that the events to which it speaks will take place within the seven-year period, DeMar changes the meaning to simply mean "determine." Verse 27 says that in the middle of the seven-year period "he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering." This is the language of something that is to actually take place. This is not the language of something that someone is proposing to do later. The final part of verse 27 says, "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." How is this just a proposal of what has been determined, when passage clearly says that this will take place within the timeframe?
The Abomination of Desolation
Verse 27 says that in the middle of the week (three and a half years), "on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate." Here we have a reference to the Antichrist who will do something to desecrate the Temple. This did not happen near the time of Christ’s first coming. If it did, then what event was it? If it happened in a.d. 70, as some might say, then it could not have happened within the time-span of the seventy weeks of years by anyone’s calculation. Yet, Jesus said in Matthew 24:15, "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)." Here we have the interpretation of Jesus concerning the event Gabriel describes to Daniel in 9:27. The event has to be future to the time of Christ, and since nothing like it corresponds to within seven years of His prediction then we have to see this as a yet future event. Thus, another reason for a gap or postponement of time between the sixty-ninth week of years and the seventieth week. Posttribulationist Dr. Robert Gundry notes:
Moreover, to place the complete fulfillment of the seventieth week at a.d. 70 or before severs the obvious connection between Daniel 9, Matthew 24, and Revelation. (Compare "in the middle of the week" [Dan. 9:27], forty-two month and 1,260 days [Rev. 11:2; 12:6; 13:5], and time, times, and half a time [Dan. 12:7; 7:25; Rev. 12:14]. Under the historical view, if the relationship between Daniel and Revelation were retained, Revelation, which was written probably a quarter century after the destruction of Jerusalem, would be history instead of the prophecy it purports to be.
A Complete Destruction
The latter part of verse 27 says, "even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate." Once again, when did this happen in conjunction with Christ’s first advent. It did not! Therefore, another reason to see this as a yet future event when the Antichrist will be destroyed at the second coming of Christ, which will bring to an end the seventieth week of years.
In another interpretation put forth by Gary DeMar that violates the clear statements of the biblical text, he sees the abomination of desolation taking place in a.d. 70.
The abomination of desolation is mentioned in one Old Testament book (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). . . . There was no doubt in the minds of those who read and understood Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:15 that the abomination of desolation prophecy was fulfilled in events leading up to the temple’s destruction in a.d. 70.
In addition to the problem that an a.d. 70 fulfillment does not fit into anyone’s scheme of the seventy weeks of years, none of the Romans, such as Titus, could be said to have been destroyed after performing the supposed deed. Dr. Randall Price rebuts such an approach with the following:
However, historically, no known Roman leader ever "made a covenant with the Jewish leaders . . . for seven years, and so this awaits future fulfillment when seventieth wee commences.
. . . However, if this is applied to the Romans in their crushing the Jewish Revolt in a.d. 70, the how was the Roman empire punished at this point, since the fall of the empire itself was still several hundred years away?
It is obvious that these events of verse 27 did not take place at or in conjunction with Christ’s first coming in the first century a.d. A gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week is needed because it is what the text intended to make this prophecy work out in history with the exact precision that our Lord intends. It is a shame that some let theological bias prevent them from seeing this, and many other passages, as God intended them when He revealed them to His prophets. No other approach works and when one takes the final week of years literally then this harmonizes with hundreds of other verses that speak of the tribulation period that will lead up to the defeat of Christ’s enemies and the victory of our Lord. Hopefully these events are just on the horizon. Maranatha!
EndnotesLink to Word document containing footnotes