The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
by Thomas Ice
As I continue a study of Daniel 9:24-27, one of the foundational prophetic passages in Scripture, I will complete the examination of the six prophetic purpose clauses. Previously I dealt with the first three of six clauses. These clauses are prophetically important, because if they are descriptive of items that have yet to be fulfilled, then the seventy weeks of Daniel have yet to be fulfilled. This means that the final (70th week) has to be future to our day since all of the purposes must be brought to completion by the end of the prescribed time period.
In my previous article in this series I noted that the six prophetic purpose clauses were divided into two groups of three. That is to say, that the first three clauses had to do with the sin issue in relation to Israel, while the second triad relate to Godís righteousness. I will now examine prophetic purpose clauses four through six.
4) To Bring in Everlasting Righteousness
The first of the three Hebrew words that compose the fourth purpose clause is the infinitive which is usually translated into English as "bring in." This is a widely used Hebrew verb that has the primary meaning of "come in, come, go in, or go." Since this occurrence of the verb is in the causative Hebrew stem known as hiphil, it has the sense that "everlasting righteousness" will be caused to come in.
The righteousness to be brought in is the same word Daniel uses during his initial prayer in 9:7, where righteousness is said to belong exclusively to the Lord. David Cooper explains:
The English word, righteousness, primarily refers to the correct and proper motives and dealings of man with man. Godís righteousness would, therefore, consist of His correct attitude and actions towards His creatures and His standards for them. . . . It also carries that idea.
Thus, the righteousness to be brought in will not be the twisted and volatile standards of human invention. Instead, Godís righteousness will be a changeless measure of Godís enviable code.
The Hebrew Lexicon of Brown, Driver, and Briggs (BDB) says that the Hebrew noun holamim has the core meaning of "long duration, antiquity, futurity," The Lexicon specifically says that the use in Daniel 9:24 is a plural intensive and thus renders it with the specific sense of "everlastingness, or eternity." Cooper provides a literal translation of "righteousness of the ages," which captures its precise English meaning and notes that it
signifies that there are rules or formulas of attitude and conduct that are right and will be reckoned as correct throughout all agesó past, present, and future. . .
When, however, the 490 years are completed and the Almighty brings in His great regimé of righteousness, these eternal principles of justice and equity will be in force; therefore, Gabriel said that at this future time God will bring in the righteousness of the ages
I believe that this clause is a prophecy concerning the future time we know as the kingdom or millennial reign of Christ (see Rev. 20:1-9). This means that it is yet future to our own day. In contrast to Israelís many failures of the past to live up to Godís righteous standards (cf. Dan. 9:3-19), this time the Lord will provide everlasting righteousness for the nation. Randall Price points out that Gabriel has
. . . in view a theodicial "age of righteousness" (cf. Isa. 1:26; 11:2-5; 32:17; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:15-18) that resolves the theological scandal (note Dan. 9:15-16) of the former age characterized by "the rebellion" (i.e., Israelís rejection of the Messiah). Therefore, this age will be vindication of Godís promise to national Israel (Ezek. 36:17-23) and a reversal of her condition and fortunes with respect to Messiah, hence a "messianic age" or the messianic kingdom.
5) To Seal Up Vision and Prophecy
This triad of Hebrew words commences with the same infinitive used above in the second clause which was "to make an end of sin." The notion of this Hebrew word "seal up," carries the idea of completion. In this context it is rendered "seal up" since the last thing done by a writer as he completes a letter or document is to seal up the finished product. Charles Feinberg expounds that this
refers to giving the seal of confirmation to Daniel and his vision by fulfilling his predictions. In Isaiah 8:16, this phrase meant that the prophecy was complete, and the command was given to bind it up, to roll it up like a scroll and seal it. Again, in Daniel 8:26 the thought was to seal up the prophecy and make a permanent record of it, so that when it is fulfilled the event can be compared to the prophecy to show how completely the one corresponds to the other.
The dual nouns, which are singular, are literally translated "vision" and "prophet." Prophet is a concrete noun put for the abstract thing that the prophet produces, which is prophecy. Vision is a prophetic vehicle (cf. Dan. 7), while the human instrument is the prophet who produces the prophecy. Both are collective nouns for the sum total of all vision and prophecy.
Some think that this clause was completed during the first coming of Jesus. Preterist Ken Gentry advocates this view:
The fifth result . . . has to do with the ministry of Christ on earth, which is introduced at His baptism: He comes "to seal up vision and prophecy." By this is meant that Christ fulfills (and thereby confirms) the prophecy (Luke 18:31; cf. Luke 24:44; Acts 3:18).
Gentryís naked assertion is typical of those who advocate such a position, which is lacking any exegetical support. Allan MacRae rightly concludes that there "is no Scriptural warrant for saying that the functions of the Old Testament vision and prophecy came to an end at the time of Christís first advent or that these terms do not also include visions and prophecies of the New Testament." Harry Bultema declares,
"Prophecy" does not refer to Christ here but to prophecy in general. The "vision" this verse speaks of is not a reference to this vision nor to any of the other visions Daniel received, but together with the word "prophecy" refers to all predictions. A scroll was not complete until it was completely filled. Thus this sealing of a scroll became a symbol of fulfillment (Isa. 8:16). So also here it indicates a complete fulfillment of all prophecy.
This fifth prophetic declaration, like the previous can only refer to a future time when all prophecy will be fulfilled relating to Israel. There are yet hundreds of future prophecies relating to Israel and Jerusalem that await a future fulfillment.
6) To Anoint the most Holy
The sixth and final prophetic clause begins with the Hebrew verb usually translated as "anoint" means to pour oil on something or someone. BDB says that it is used specifically in Daniel 9:24 to "anoint or consecrate to religious service."
This much debated phrase usually translated in English as "most holy" is a dual use of the same Hebrew word. This is a common occurrence in Hebrew when the superlative of a noun is intended and such is the case here. The first use of the word is singular, while the second one is plural and can literally be rendered "most holy," or "a most holy place." The German commentator C. F. Keil notes that the same exact phrase is used in Ezekiel 45:3 of a future temple and concludes that "the reference is to the anointing of a new sanctuary, temple, or most holy place." Specific reasons for this interpretation of the sixth clause is stated well by Leon Wood.
The phrase "holy of holies" (qodesh qadashîm) occurs, either with or without the article, thirty-nine times in the Old Testament, always in reference to the Tabernacle or Temple or to the holy articles used in them. When referring to the most holy place, where the Ark was kept, the article is regularly used (e.g., Ex. 26:33), but it is not when referring to the holy articles (e.g., Ex. 29:37) or to the whole Temple complex (e.g., Ezek. 43:12). In view of these matters, it is highly likely that the phrase refers to the Temple also here, which, in view of the context, must be a future Temple; and, since the phrase is used without the article, reference must be to a complex of that Temple, rather than its most holy place.
Without exegeting any of the details of Daniel 9:24, Ken Gentry, like many non-literal interpreters, simply declares that this clause refers to Jesus, "at His baptismal anointing that the Spirit came upon Him (Mark 1:9-11)." As Leon Wood documented above, this expression is never used of a person, only of things. "So it is not a reference to the Messiah. Nor to the church, for the church is nowhere mentioned or found in the whole prophecy of Daniel," declares Harry Bultema. "It refers to Danielís people Israel. . . . It refers to the state of bliss and holiness of all Israel after the Savior has come to Zion and has turned away the ungodliness from Jacob (Rom. 11:26)." Thus, we see that this final prophetic purpose clause also awaits a future fulfillment.
As we survey the lessons from all six prophetic purpose clauses, we find that none of them have yet to be fulfilled in their entirety. Therefore, we know from the goals that our Lord set for His people (Israel), and for His city (Jerusalem), that there remains a time of future fulfillment. "Therefore, this twenty-fourth verse of our chapter," notes David Cooper, "read in the light of the various predictions of the prophets, is obviously a forecast of the establishment of the kingdom of God upon earth in all its glory." G. H. Lang echoes Cooperís thoughts when he concludes:
We have now before us an outline of the whole prophecy. And, after considering the statement of results which are to follow God disciplinary dealings, we cannot but conclude that the close of the Seventy Sevens must coincide with the end of the present order of things and the beginning of the Coming or Millennial Age.
Even C. F. Keil, the German scholar, cannot resist the clear implications of this prophecy when he states: "From the contents of these six statements it thus appears that the termination of the seventy weeks coincides with the end of the present course of the world."
In my next installment I will return to the issue of the seventy weeks and examine some of the chronological issues relating to it.
EndnotesLink to Word document containing footnotes