Daniel’s 70th Week (Daniel 9:24-27)
Within the last few centuries many earnest, Godly and sincere Bible commentators and teachers have sought to interpret the meaning of Daniel’s Seventieth Week. Of course whenever we look at a Bible verse we also need to look at it in the light of its context by looking at the verses that precede it and follow it. Also we need to look at the Co-texts, that is to say what the Bible also teaches in relation to the verse we are seeking to interpret. Also we need to look at it in the light of when it was written, to whom it was written, what it meant for them at the time and what it means for us today.
The translation used is the English Translation of the Septuagint, which gives us a very clear meaning of this prophecy. The conclusion arrived at concerning this passage of scripture will differ from most of the modern prophecy teachers today. To be true to the text itself several different reliable translations were considerd. The text of the English translation of the Septuagint was quite clear in its meaning and application. With these things in view let’s now read the text of Daniel 9:24-27.
Vs.24 Seventy weeks have been determined upon thy people, and upon the holy city, for sin to be ended, and to seal up transgressions, and to blot out the iniquities, and to make atonement for iniquities, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy. 25 And thou shalt know and understand, that from the going forth of the command for the answer and for the building of Jerusalem until Christ the prince there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks; and then the time shall return, and the street shall be built, and the wall, and the times shall be exhausted. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, the anointed one shall be destroyed, and there is no judgment in him: and he shall destroy the city and the sanctuary with the prince that is coming: they shall be cut off with a flood, and to the end of the war which is rapidly completed he shall appoint the city to desolations. 27 And one week shall establish the covenant with many: and in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away: and on the temple shall be the abomination of desolations; and at the end of time an end shall be put to the desolation.”
Before we look at the text itself we need to turn to another passage in the Old Testament that is found in the book of Leviticus from the Septuagint.
(Leviticus 25: 8-10) “And thou shalt reckon to thyself seven sabbaths of years, seven times seven years; and they shall be to thee seven weeks of years, nine and forty years. “In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall make a proclamation with the sound of a trumpet in all your land; on the day of atonement ye shall make a proclamation with a trumpet in all your land. And ye shall sanctify the year, the fiftieth year, and ye shall proclaim a release upon the land to all that inhabit it; it shall be given a year of release, a jubilee for you; and each one shall depart to his possession, and ye shall go each to his family.”
In these verses we are told that after every 49 years the Israelites were to celebrate a year of Jubilee. The word “Jubilee” comes from the Hebrew word that means to be “jubilant” and to “exult. The word is related to the Hebrew word for ram’s horn or trumpet. The Jubilee year was launched with a loud blast from a ram’s horn on the Day of Atonement, signifying a call to joy, liberation and the beginning of a year for doing justice and loving mercy. The fiftieth year was a special year in which to proclaim liberty throughout the Land of Israel (25:10).
Specifically, individuals who had incurred debts and had sold themselves as slaves or servants to others were released from their debts and were set at liberty. Even land or property that had been lost to others would be returned to their original owners. The whole celebration itself was to do with the redemption of Israel from bondage to sin and death. Of course it looked forward to the coming our Lord Jesus, Israel’s Messiah, who Himself would be the Jubilee and the one who would by His atoning death bring in “Everlasting Righteousness” for Israel and for the whole world. Also the blowing of the Ram’s horn foreshadowed the Second Coming of the Messiah, which according to the New Testament is inaugurated at the sounding of the Last Trumpet.
The year of Jubilee not only looked forward to the first coming of Jesus but also to His Second Coming as well. Isaiah the prophet makes this clear when prophesying about the work of the Lord Jesus our Messiah. He mentions the proclamation of “liberty to the captives” which Jesus brought by His first coming but then Isaiah goes on to say, “and the day of recompense of our God” which the Lord Jesus will also bring with Him when he comes back again at the sound of the Last Trumpet to announce His return and the inauguration of His Millennial Kingdom! Indeed in that day the “everlasting righteousness” Jesus purchased at the cross will cover the earth as the waters cover the seas! This will be the ultimate Jubilee for Israel and for all the redeemed who have been longing for His appearing.
In that day there should be given to them that mourn in Zion glory instead of ashes, the oil of joy to the mourners, the garment of glory for the spirit of heaviness: and they shall be called generations of righteousness, the planting of the Lord for glory. Since all of the Law is fulfilled in the Messiah ourLord Jesus then He is our perpetual Jubilee as believers! His atoning death has once and forever done away with the need for sacrifices and offerings for sin!
One thing to always keep in mind is that wherever the Bible uses the number seven it denotes a complete and finished work of God. For example, God’s work of creation was finished in seven days. Man was to work for six days but rest on the seventh day. The Israelites were to work their fields for six years but give the land its rest every seventh year. The armies of Joshua marched around Jericho seven times before the city fell. Seven times past by King Nebuchadnezzar before God’s word of humbling him was complete. Seven trumpets are blown in Revelation to complete God’s purposes for this present age. The number seven always has to do with a perfect and complete work of God! So when we look at the prophecy in Daniel chapter nine regarding the final ‘week’ we are dealing with something that God completes within a period of that ‘one week.’
Now Daniel was before the Lord in prayer, confessing his sin and the sin of the people Israel. He also realised from reading the prophet Jeremiah that Israel had to go into captivity for seventy years. Not only did he confess his sins and the sin of his people but also called upon the mercy of God to bestow forgiveness for sin and righteousness upon His people Israel. He was not only praying for his people but also for the restoration of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. While he was speaking and praying and confessing his sins and the sins of Israel the Angel Gabriel appeared to him and touched him at the hour of the evening sacrifice and gave him the answer to his prayers for Israel and for the Holy City Jerusalem.
When we see the sacrifice mentioned it is always foreshadowing the cross. The whole context of this prophecy is related to the atoning work of the Messiah who would be “cut off” not for his own sins but for the sins of His people Israel and for the sins of the whole world. Indeed He would be “the sacrificial Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” Of course Gabriel was the same angel who announced to Mary the birth of Israel’s Messiah the Lord Jesus.
Within a period of seventy ‘weeks’ or seventy ‘sevens’ Daniel’s prayer would be answered. Notice that the entire period was related to the number seven. Within the seventieth ‘week’ God’s redemptive plan for Israel and Jerusalem would be accomplished, a perfect and finished work! Indeed the land of Israel will have its “Sabbath rest” when the Lord Jesus comes back! Now let’s look at the text of Daniel 9:24-27.
(Vs.24) “Seventy weeks have been determined upon thy people, and upon the holy city,”
Now according to the Bible a “day” can represent “a year” when God is dealing with His people (Numbers 14:34) (Ezekiel 4:6). Based on this principle of interpretation Daniel’s Seventy Weeks would add up to 490 years by the lunar calendar. In the text itself we are told when the 490 years actually started. The entire prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 covers a period of “seventy weeks.” (490 years). This period applies to one complete, sequential block of time. This prophecy would start during the Persian period and would end during the time of the Messiah. These “weeks” had been determined or fixed by God according to the text. Once they had been completed God’s redemptive purpose for Israel and the city of Jerusalem would be accomplished.
This whole prophecy in Daniel chapter nine is clearly referring to the work of redemption as Daniel was praying for the redemption of Israel. There would be seven things that God said would be accomplished by the end of the seventieth week, seven things that would not only be accomplished for Israel but in reality for the whole world. These seven things are all directly related to the atoning work of the Messiah. Now let’s look at what they are starting with verse 24.
(Vs.24) “Seventy weeks have been determined upon thy people, and upon the holy city, for sin to be ended, and to seal up transgressions, and to blot out the iniquities, and to make atonement for iniquities, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy.”
1. “For sin to be ended” or we could say, “to put away sin.” Daniel had been confessing his sins and the sins of Israel knowing their long history of sin and that the exile of the Jewish nation to Babylon was a judgment on them by God for their disobedience and willful rebellion. For “sin to be ended” not only refereed to Israel’s sin but to sin itself and its power to keep people under its power and enslaved to Satan. Indeed we are told in scripture concerning the work of our Messiah that, “He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26) And again it is written of Him, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29) and again it says, “He will save His people from their sins,” (Matthew 1:21) from its guilt, its power and its consequences. Again it is written, “The reason that the Son of God was revealed was that he might destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8) Of course the devil’s work is all sin and all rebellion. The Lord Jesus was the sacrificial “Lamb” not only for the sins of Israel but for the sins of whole world. As it is written of Him, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John2:2)
There are many other references in the New Testament that clearly show that sin and Satan’s power to keep people enslaved to it was destroyed by the Lord Jesus and His atoning work. Indeed sin’s power to keep men enslaved to it was terminated and when a person repents of sin and turns away from it with all of their heart and turns towards God for mercy, cleansing and pardon by faith in Jesus the Messiah, then the power of sin over their life will also be broken. Indeed the day will come when after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in that all Israel will also be saved! (Romans 11:25-27)
2. “To Seal up Transgressions.” Again not only would the Lord Jesus put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself and by bearing our sins in His own body upon the tree but by His death would also “seal up transgressions.” He would remove the sentence of death hanging over Israel and over all men. He would nail the list of our offences to the cross. As it is written of Him, “Having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:14) Indeed it is written, “Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12) and again scripture says; “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us!” (Psalm 103:12)
3. “And to blot out the iniquities.” Once again our sins and offences were not only forgiven, but also blotted out, erased, removed! As it is also written, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud your sins, Return to Me for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22) Not only has sin itself been blotted out but when we turn from sin to the Lord our personal sins are also blotted out! Indeed Peter tells us this when he said, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19) Indeed this is good news for Israel and for the whole world if they will listen and heed the Word of the Lord!
4. “And to make atonement for iniquities.” This can refer to no one else other than the Messiah our Lord Jesus the Saviour of all men including Israel. The atonement was made through the shed blood of Christ as it is written, “Without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22) Indeed God can and will pardon sin only on the basis of the shed blood of the Messiah and through faith in Him as Saviour and Lord. There is no other way for men to approach God whether they are Jew or Gentile! When the Lord Jesus cried out “it is finished” the curtain covering the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom forever doing away with the need for sacrifices and offerings for sin. He Himself was the atoning sacrifice. The Great High Priest who offered His own body on the altar of the cross! He was the “curtain” as it were when His body was “torn” at the cross.
Only on the basis of His shed blood can anyone approach God with boldness and confidence whether Jew or Gentile. As it is written, “Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more will we be saved from God’s wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9) And again it is written of Him, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7) As it also says in scripture, “We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:11) Indeed we must receive the atonement by faith if we would be saved.
When the Israelites were in Egypt they were to shelter under the blood from the destroying angel, however, it would have been no good keeping the blood in the bowls. It was only when they applied the blood by faith to the doorposts of their homes that they were spared from the wrath of God. It is not enough just to believe that the blood of Jesus has atoned for our sins we must put ourselves under the blood by faith! It was only when the Lord saw the blood applied by faith that He passed over the houses of the Israelites.
It is only when, by faith, we have invited and allowed the Holy Spirit to apply the blood of Jesus to the doorposts of our heart and life that we will be spared the wrath of God. It has always been and will always be that forgiveness of sin can only be based on the shed blood of the Messiah. In the Old Testament the blood of bulls and goats did not have the power to get deep down on the inside of a person, however, it is only “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered up Himself without spot to God, that is able to cleanse our conscience from dead works so that we may serve the Living God!” (Hebrews 9:14)
5. “And to bring in everlasting righteousness.” Man’s greatest need is to have righteousness before a Holy and perfect God. Not righteousness produced by man but provided by the Righteous One Jesus Christ. Israel had works based righteousness, as do all who try to justify themselves before God by works. As it is written, “There is none that is righteous, no not one for all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Indeed Isaiah the prophet says, “Our righteousness is as filthy rags (literally-“as a woman’s dirty menstrual rag”) in His sight.” (Isaiah 64:6) And again it says, “But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy, He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)
Righteousness is bestowed upon us by faith alone as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17) And again it says, “It is because of Him that you are in the Messiah Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:30) Are you in Christ? Are you sheltering under His blood by faith to escape the day of wrath? Are you boasting in His righteousness or going about to establish your own righteousness before God? The righteousness of Jesus the Messiah, received by faith, is an everlasting righteousness just as redemption is an eternal redemption. At the cross the Lord Jesus provided everlasting righteousness for all men and that same righteousness received by faith is for the Jew as well as the Gentile! (Romans 3:21-31) Through this everlasting righteousness provided in and through the Messiah “the many” are justified before God. (Isaiah 53:11)
Ultimately when the Messiah reigns from Jerusalem His righteousness will cover the earth as the waters cover the seas. In that day the remnant of Israel that has looked upon Him whom they have pierced will weep and mourn and yet rejoice over their long lost older brother! What a day that will be for Israel and for the world! What a reunion that will be for the Lord Jesus when He is reconciled to his family! This will be the ultimate outworking and fulfilment of everlasting righteousness for Israel and for the whole world for a thousand years and then going on into eternity forever and ever. Amen!
6. “To seal the vision and the prophet.” Now the use of the Metaphor “to seal” is derived from the ancient custom of attaching a seal to a document to show that it was genuine. (Jeremiah 32:10) (John 6:27) (1 Corinthians 9:2) The Lord Jesus “sealed” Old Testament prophecy by fulfilling what was written of Him. As scripture repeatedly says, “that it might be fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets.” (Acts 3:18)
All of the prophecies concerning first coming of the Lord Jesus the Messiah were literally fulfilled. Not one prophecy failed to come to pass. Indeed after His resurrection the Lord Jesus appeared to disciples on the Road to Emmaus said to them, “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44) For centuries the prophets had foretold the first coming of Jesus through visions and prophecies and these have been recorded for us in the Old Testament. While there are prophecies yet to be fulfilled in relation to His Second Coming the prophecies concerning His first coming and His work of Salvation were completely fulfilled. In the context of this prophecy given here in Daniel “the vision and the prophet” concerning Jesus’ First Coming, His life, His ministry, His death, His Resurrection and Ascension were all sealed! Finished! Completed! This is the context of this Salvation provided for Israel and for the whole world. There is only one way of Salvation for Israel and for the world and that is through the merits and blood of the Lord Jesus the Messiah who said, “I am the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) Again Paul the apostle tells us that, “Salvation is found in no one else. For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
If all of the prophecies concerning the First Coming of Jesus were literally fulfilled then the prophecies of His Second Coming must also be literally fulfilled! Now that we have the complete Canon of scripture the “vision and the prophet” are now completely sealed! Nothing can be added to it! This is also the context it is used here in Daniel chapter nine. Not one word from God will ever fail. As scripture says, “Every word of God proves true!” (Proverbs 30:5) and again it is written, “The flower fades and the grass withers but the word of our God shall stand forever!” (Isaiah 40:8) So then the Lord Jesus our Saviour and Messiah is the fulfilment of vision and prophecy!
7. “And to anoint the Most Holy.” In the Bible the Lord Jesus Himself is called, “the Holy One” or “the Holy One of God.” (Acts 3:14) (John 2:20) (Mark 1:24) (Acts 2:27) (Revelation 4:8) Gabriel announced to Mary that, “the Holy thing that shall be born to you shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) Just as the Shekinah came down over the Temple to rest upon the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant so the Holy Spirit came down to rest upon the Lord Jesus Christ the living Temple of God in the flesh. Indeed it is written of Him, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18-19) The year of the Lord’s favour of course was the year of Jubilee! Through the work of the Messiah there would be an endless year of Jubilee announced for Israel and for all who would call upon the name of the Lord to be saved! (Joel 2:32) The Lord Jesus Himself is the fulfilment of the Law and the prophets within Himself and He is also our everlasting Jubilee!
According to this prophecy in Daniel chapter nine the work of redemption for Jerusalem, for Israel and for the whole Gentile world would be finished with the coming of Jesus. The need for sacrifices and offerings to atone for sins would be abolished. The curtain of the Temple would be torn from top to bottom! As it is written of the Lord Jesus, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one (Jew and Gentile) and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, this making peace and in this one body to reconcile both of them (Jew and Gentile) to God through the cross by whish He put to death their hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14-16)
So then, the seven things mentioned in this passage were all fulfilled by the work of Jesus at the cross, a perfect work! A finished work! As it is written of Him; “Because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14) This is indeed the provision of everlasting righteousness offered to Jew and Gentile alike. God does not show favouritism because it is written that, “all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved!” (Romans 10:13)
Now let’s continue with the text…
(Vs.25) “And thou shalt know and understand, that from the going forth of the command for the answer and for the building of Jerusalem until Christ the prince there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks; and then the time shall return, and the street shall be built, and the wall, and the times shall be exhausted.”
Now the date from which the 70 weeks was to be counted was the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. There were actually three decrees issued by Persian kings for this purpose. The main one of these was issued in 457 BC by Artaxerxes. Based on the year-day theory of Ezekiel 4:6 all up, there would be 490 years from the decree which would bring us down to the year of Jesus’ death in 33AD, (490-457=33) This makes sense if you use the Jewish calendar which has a 360-day lunar year, the time would be near the very crucifixion of Jesus Christ in 33AD. Also in the book of Ezra some of the troubles that confronted the Jewish remnant in the land were during those years of rebuilding. At that time “the street and the walls were to be rebuilt in troubled times.” Indeed it would be an “exhausting time” for the people of Jerusalem. Of course much more could be said about this time period and there is no end to the various commentators on this passage of the Bible. However, we need to move on. Now let’s continue with the text…
(Vs.26a) “And after the sixty-two weeks, the anointed one shall be destroyed, and there is no judgment in him…”
Notice that the Messiah was “destroyed” or “cut off from the land of the living” after the “sixty-two weeks” which follows the “seven weeks.” If you take the seven sevens or seven weeks that adds up to 49 weeks,and take the 62 weeks and then add them up it comes to a total of 69 weeks. The Messiah our Lord Jesus was cut off in the middle of the Seventieth week. There is no reason to put a gap of time between the 69th and the 70th week as some commentators do. Now we are told in the text that the Messiah our Lord Jesus did not die for His own sins as He was perfect and without sin. We are told that there was “no judgment in Him” or we could say there was nothing in Him that deserved death. He was spotless and without sin. (Hebrews 9:14) He was cut off for the transgressions of His people Israel. (Isaiah 53:8) However, His death was not only for the Jewish people but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)
(Vs.26b) “…and He (the Messiah) shall destroy the city and the sanctuary (Jerusalem and the Temple) with the prince that is coming (Titus the Roman General) they (the city, the temple and the people) shall be cut off with a flood, and to the end of the war which is rapidly completed he (The Messiah) shall appoint the city to desolations.”
Of course in 70AD this prophecy was literally fulfilled. When the Romans had sacked Jerusalem and burned the Temple with fire the Roman soldiers erected pagan emblems of worship to Zeus on the Temple Mount declaring Roman domination over the Jewish people. From that time of the city of Jerusalem was appointed to “desolations.” Ultimately, in the second century AD, the Emperor Hadrian ruthlessly crushed the final Jewish rebellion led by Bar-Kokhba against the Roman Empire. This event effectively closed the Jewish wars with Rome. Because the Jewish nation had rejected their Messiah God’s judgment fell on the people, on the city and upon the Temple itself. God Himself appointed Jerusalem and the Temple to desolations. Indeed the Lord Jesus had said to the Pharisees “Your house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23:38) (Luke 13:35)
And now we come to the Seventieth “week.” This “week” of course using the day for a year principle would be a time period of seven years.
(Vs.27) “And one week shall establish the covenant with many: and in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away: and on the temple shall be the abomination of desolations; and at the end of time an end shall be put to the desolation.”
Now let’s continue with this verse. “And one week shall establish the covenant with many:” Now the English translation of the Septuagint does not include the “he” although it appears in other translations. However, even if we include the term “he” it in no way alters or diminishes the sense of the text in its context. Now, most of the Evangelical Bible believing Christians today believe that the “he” of this text (if it is placed there) is not talking about the Messiah but the Antichrist. They have been wrongly taught that this covenant is a seven-year peace treaty made with Israel by the Antichrist that begins the last seven years of this present age. However, looking at the scripture in context and in light of its co-texts this is not the correct interpretation at all despite popular opinion within the majority of the rank and file of the Evangelical Church today. This whole idea was an interpretation that immerged in the nineteenth century through the teaching of JN Darby of the Plymouth Brethren.
This covenant that was established or confirmed refers to the New Covenant that God would establish through the blood of the Messiah the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Lord Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper and took the cup in His hands He said, “This is My blood of the new testament (covenant) which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28) (1 Corinthians 11:25) The word “testament” is translated “covenant.” Jeremiah the prophet also foretold that this covenant would be established through the Messiah. (Jeremiah 31:31) In the book of Hebrews we read, “How much more shall the blood of Christ…purge our conscience from dead works to serve the Living God. And for this cause He is the mediator of the New Testament (Covenant) (Hebrews 9:15) The Lord Jesus Himself is called; “the mediator of the New Covenant” (Hebrews 12:24) “the messenger of the covenant” (Malachi 3:1) and the shed blood is called, “the blood of the everlasting covenant.” (Hebrews 13:20) This indeed was “the New Covenant” promised by God that was established through the shed blood of the Messiah our Lord Jesus Christ. He confirmed or established the New Covenant in the seventieth ‘week’ which logically follows the sixty ninth ‘week.’ Now let’s continue…
“And in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away:”
When the Lord Jesus cried out “it is finished” and then died the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom putting an end to the need for a sacrificial system through which men could approach God. In the Old Testament sacrifices and offerings were continually offered up to God for the forgiveness of sin, however, the Lord Jesus the Great High Priest put an end to sacrifice for sin when He offered up Himself and shed His own blood as the price of our redemption. (Ephesians 1:7) Once His blood had been shed the sacrificial system was annulled or “taken away” His was the once and for all sacrifice for sin for all time. (Hebrews 10:12-13) God would no longer accept any other sacrifices for sin! In fact God Himself said exactly this when He says here through the Prophet Daniel; ”My sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away.” In fact if the Jewish people are successful in Israel and re-establish the temple sacrifices it will be an abomination in the eyes of God! Any system of sacrifice (or doctrine for that matter) in itself that seeks to find another way to atone for sin is offensive to the LORD because it is man’s substitute for the finished work of the Messiah. This is why the Roman Catholic Mass by Biblical standards is an abomination in itself! Of course we know from history that there were two covenants operating side by side as the Temple sacrifices continued for another 40 years at least after the death of Jesus and so we continue to read the text…
“And on the temple shall be the abomination of desolations;”
In 70AD the actual sacrifices and drink offerings were literally terminated when the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple itself. From that time on until the present time the words of Jesus have applied to Israel in that, “there house has been left to them desolate,” without a temple, without a High Priest and without a sacrifice offering for sin. This indeed was a judgment brought down upon them. Indeed it was the rejected Messiah Himself of whom Daniel writes when he says, “and he (the Messiah) shall destroy the city and the sanctuary (Jerusalem and the Temple) with the prince that is coming” (Titus the Roman General).
After the Temple had been destroyed the Romans raised pagan emblems of worship on the Temple Mount and worshipped them and in doing this it was another “abomination of desolation” like the one made by Antiochus in the time of the Maccabees when he slew a pig on the altar of the temple. However, according to the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew chapter twenty-four there will be another abomination on the Temple Mount by the Antichrist himself. (Matthew 24:15) The Man of Sin will sit in the Temple and demand to be worshipped as God. (2 Thessalonians 2:4) Today a perpetual abomination stands on the Temple Mount. Written on the wall of the Mosque of Omar today inside and outside are the words “God has no Son” and scripture tells us that whoever denies the Father and the Son relationship in the Godhead is the Antichrist! (1 John 2:22) Finally we read…
“And at the end of time an end shall be put to the desolation.”
When the Messiah returns at the end of this age He will destroy the Man of Sin and his armies with the command of His mouth and by the splendour of His Second Coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:8) At that time the Church will be raptured, (Matthew 24:31) (1Thessalonians 4:14-18) (1Corinthians 15:51-52) Israel delivered (Zechariah 12:10) (Romans 11:25-27) and the “everlasting righteousness” provided by the finished work of the Messiah established on the earth. At that time the Millennial Kingdom of the Messiah will commence with the lord Jesus reigning over the nations from the city of Jerusalem. Indeed in that day the prophet Isaiah proclaims; “the Word of the LORD will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9) Indeed Daniel’s prophecy was wonderfully fulfilled and points to the perfect and finished work of the Messiah to bring about “everlasting righteousness “ for Israel and for the whole world in fact!
To put a “time gap” between the 69th and the 70th week and calling this gap of time “the Church Age” is to put an interpretation on this passage that cannot be supported by scripture. There is no Biblical reason to insert a “time gap” between the 69th and the 70th week as the seventy weeks taken consecutively perfectly describes the work of our Lord and Saviour to provide a perfect and complete salvation for Israel, for the Holy City Jerusalem and for the whole world.
Furthermore, to take the New Covenant established and ratified by Jesus and apply it to a seven-year covenant made by the Antichrist with Israel, which he breaks after three and a half years, is to relegate the work of Jesus to a tragic miss-interpretation within the context of the whole of Daniel chapter nine. In fact this interpretation actually denigrates the work of the cross. Darby and others may well have been sincere when seeking to understand the “Seventieth Week” in the way they did but made a fatal error in applying the work of the Messiah to the Antichrist! This is a gross error that is still being perpetually taught in the Evangelical world today! I am persuaded that after 3 ½ years of perfect ministry the Lord Jesus was put to death to establish the “Everlasting Covenant” once and for all time and by His death put an end to the Old Testament sacrificial system.
Some will also argue that the Lord Jesus never made a seven year covenant with Israel. However, this objection is not a problem. Of course the Lord Jesus did not make a seven year covenant with Israel as His covenant was “the everlasting covenant” ratified for all time by the shedding of His own blood (Matthew 26:28). The eternal nature and permanency of this covenant is clearly taught in the Book of Hebrews and also in Daniel chapter nine where Daniel himself refers to the nature of this covenant calling it “everlasting righteousness.” If the “seventy sevens” are 490 literal years by the Jewish Lunar Calendar then of course Daniel’s 70th week must also be seven literal years. So then how do we understand these last seven years?
In the light of history and in the light of what the Lord Jesus Himself said in Matthew chapter 24 regarding Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks it would be more appropriate to place a gap of time between the first 3 ½ years and the last 3 ½ years of the 70th week. This makes better sense. Also in the light of history it is interesting that the Jewish war with Rome commenced in the spring of the year 66AD during the reign of Nero and culminated with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. Historically it was 3 ½ years in duration.
In 70AD the sacrifices and offerings were literally taken away when the Temple itself was completely destroyed by the Romans. It would seem that after Jesus died and rose again God actually gave Israel almost another 40 years to repent before the “axe was finally laid to the root” and their house was “left to them desolate.” Ultimately the war with Rome ended with the destruction of the Bar Kokhba rebellion which began in 132 AD.
From what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 24 and in Luke 21, He not only foretold the desecration of the Temple and the destruction of Jerusalem that would occur around 40 years later in 70AD but He also predicted the desecration of the Temple and the devastation of Jerusalem that would happen again at the end of this present age, a final desecration and devastation lasting for 3 ½ years by the Jewish Lunar Calendar (360 days in a year). Daniel also predicted this very same period lasting for 3 ½ years. This we know to be “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.” In Matthew’s gospel the Lord Jesus’ prediction about the desecration of the temple at the end of this age by the Antichrist was directly related to the “Abomination of desolation” spoken of by the prophet Daniel. (Matthew 24:15) (Daniel 11:31; 12:11)
In Luke chapter 21 it is clear that the Lord Jesus primarily spoke about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD but in Matthew chapter 24 His primary emphasis was on what would happen to Jerusalem and the Temple at the very end of this age. So what happened to Jerusalem and the Temple historically from 66AD until 70AD lasting approximately 3 ½ years foreshadowed what will happen at the end of this present age for 3 ½ years. Remember Jewish prophecy is “pattern” (i.e., prophecies with partial historical fulfilments but with an ultimate fulfilment). So then historically and prophetically it is most appropriate to place the “time gap” between the first 3 ½ years and the last 3 ½ years of Daniel’s 70th week!
As Daniel himself tells us “Seventy weeks (490 years by the Jewish Lunar Calendar) have been determined upon thy people, and upon the holy city, for sin to be ended, and to seal up transgressions, and to blot out the iniquities, and to make atonement for the iniquities, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy.” As we have already shown from scripture all of these things were accomplished by the death of the Messiah our Lord Jesus Christ after three and a half years of perfect ministry also fulfilling the first 3 ½ years of Daniel’s 70th week. It is logical that the 70th week follows the 69th week. Why do we even need to insert a “time gap” between them? Historically the “time gap” should really fall between the first 3 ½ years and the last 31/2 years of Daniel’s 70th week!
After the final destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD historically you have had an undetermined period of time when Israel had been “trampled under the feet of the Gentiles.” In 1948, after almost 2,000 years of Jewish exile, Israel was reborn as a Nation. There is still troubling times ahead for Israel and for the city of Jerusalem. Even though half of the people will again be taken into exile and the other half of the people will not be exiled from the city Israel will still remain a sovereign nation. They will never be totally uprooted as a nation again! Furthermore, “when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in then all Israel will be saved!” Before the Lord Jesus comes back the Lord will once again turn His saving grace towards His ancient people Israel because of the New Covenant He made with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah through the blood of Jesus (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The New Covenant was not made with the Church but with Israel. The wild olive branches, believing Gentiles, are grafted in among the natural cultivated branches, believing Jews, and together they share in the fatness of the Olive Tree, being Israel, and both are spiritually sustained by the root being the Lord Jesus the Messiah, “the root of Jesse.” (Romans11:7)
If the first 3 ½ years of Daniel’s prophecy were historically fulfilled in the Lord Jesus the Messiah ultimately the last 3 ½ years of Daniel’s 70th week must also be literally fulfilled. This will be the Great Tribulation or the Time of Jacob’s trouble when Jerusalem and Israel will be centre stage in world affairs. Like Titus, the Antichrist will attack Jerusalem and desecrate the Jewish Temple which will see the commencement of the Great Tribulation period. The Lord Jesus had 3 ½ years of perfect ministry ending with his triumph at the cross and through the work of the cross putting an end to the Jewish sacrificial system as a means of approaching God. The literal outcome was the stopping of the Temple sacrifices in 70AD. The Antichrist will also have 3 ½ years to exercise his work which will end in defeat. Satan suffered his first defeat at Jerusalem and he will suffer His last defeat at Jerusalem when Jesus comes back. Only then will the seven years that Daniel predicted have been completely fulfilled literally, and historically. Only when the Lord Jesus comes back will Israel and the Holy City enter into their “perpetual Jubilee” and walk in “Everlasting Righteousness” among the nations that have survived the Time of Jacob’s Trouble! Only then will “an end have been put to the desolation.”